Berkeley Today Stories

Berkeley College Jhia Davis

Supportive Environment Helped Single Mother Thrive in College



Berkeley College Jhia Davis


Jhia Davis wants her children to understand the importance of higher education. The single mom learned this lesson when she was forced to re-enter the job market after her company relocated.

“I had an Associate’s degree in business and 13 years of valuable management experience, but without a Bachelor’s degree employers wanted to place me in entry-level positions,” Ms. Davis said.

She enrolled at Berkeley College in Woodland Park through the Transfer Opportunity Program (T.O.P.). This program offers scholarships to T.O.P. Scholars who have earned an Associate’s degree from a community college in New Jersey or New York. Scholarship amounts vary.

“My scholarship paid for my tuition. I was only responsible for books and technical fees,” said Ms. Davis, who graduated from Berkeley College with a B.A. in Business Administration in December 2014, and is now pursuing an M.B.A. at Montclair State University.

As a full-time evening student at Berkeley College, the single mom worked as a substitute teacher while also caring for her children ages two through 19 – three of whom are adopted. Ms. Davis recalls her second quarter at Berkeley College as the most challenging.

“It was during the summer when I didn’t have an income from teaching and had trouble paying for childcare while I was attending college. It was overwhelming, and I was ready to drop out,” Ms. Davis said.

Words of encouragement from a professor gave her the strength to keep going.

“Professor Catherine St. John told me that she saw greatness in me. That made all the difference on whether or not I continued with college,” Ms. Davis said. “At Berkeley College you are not just a member of the student body; everyone is supportive and they want you to do well.”

Ms. Davis continued her journey in education and her career. She earned an MBA in Business Administration with a concentration in Management from Montclair State University in 2016. Today she is a full time Administrative Specialist II for the State of New Jersey and works at the Morris County Superior Court in the newly created Pretrial Services Unit, where she is the Pro Bono Coordinator, the central judicial processing coordinator and the guardianship monitoring liaison. Ms. Davis continues to maintain a New Jersey Teaching Certification in Comprehensive Business and occasionally substitutes at neighborhood highs schools in Paterson, NJ.

Up Close with Jhia Davis

What does success mean to you?
Subjective elements are as important as the objective when talking about success. As an Administrative Specialist II for the judiciary, I am highly respected by my counterparts, compensation is adequate, and my benefits package is great, but my career falls short of my dream to become the CEO of my own corporation. My current position is a stepping stone, but it doesn’t provide that intellectual buzz, the wow factor, or that overall sense of accomplishment and success.
Right now I am successful because I am still working on becoming successful! Success is also helping others become successful.

What initially inspired you to enroll in Berkeley College?
I had to re-enter the work force when the company I worked 13 years for relocated in 2010. I had a wealth of experience, but it wasn’t backed by education, which created a huge dilemma for me. I returned to higher education to achieve my degree to complement my years of experience.

How did Berkeley College prepare you for success?
Berkeley College armed me for success with knowledge, and it helped me gain a better understanding of what it takes to become successful. Even with five children, a dog, a cat, a lizard and a full-time job, I graduated Magna Cum Laude! Had it not been for the encouragement, patience and understanding of my professors, I would have abandoned my goals to graduate so many times.

What advice would you offer today’s college-bound students?
I have an 18-year-old who is a college freshman, and the advice I gave her: “Stay focused and encouraged no matter what.” Attending college is an opportunity to tap into your greatness. Put yourself out there, interact with advisement, ask questions, and be front and center. Don’t be afraid to be different!

What was your most memorable moment at Berkeley College?
My most memorable moment was the day Dr. Catherine St. John, D.A., who is now retired, encouraged me to stay after I considered dropping out. I took her words of encouragement, and I hit the ground running. Not only did I finish with honors, I have never even thought about quitting anything again. She changed my outlook and my life.