Berkeley Today Stories

Berkeley College graduate Kimberly Zuniga

Mom and Daughter Graduate Together from Berkeley College



Berkeley College graduates Kimberly Zuniga and Patricia Henriquez


If actions speak louder than words, then Patricia Henriquez’ four children are getting the message loud and clear that a college education paves the way for opportunities and career growth. This spring when her family attends the 2016 Berkeley College Commencement ceremony they will have a double celebration. Ms. Henriquez is graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and her daughter Kimberly Zuniga is graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Justice Studies – Criminal Justice.

The road to a college degree has been a long one and both students stayed the course without ever losing sight of their goals. Ms. Henriquez, a native of Peru, prepared for college enrollment by completing a GED while her daughter was finishing high school. They enrolled together at Essex County College and graduated together in 2011 - mom with an A.A.S. in Accounting and her daughter with an A.A.S. in Criminal Justice. They both received Transfer Grants to pursue Bachelor’s degrees at Berkeley College. And at Berkeley they continued to excel, making the President’s and Dean’s List on numerous occasions.

“I am so proud of my mom. It’s been a long struggle pursuing an education while working and raising a family,” said Ms. Zuniga, who aspires to be a probation officer and is serving an extended internship at the Essex Vicinage Probation Division, which is within the Superior Court of New Jersey. “It was a great experience going through college together. We were able to encourage and support one another when times got hard. There were some quarters when I had a number of tests and papers due around the same time and I felt like quitting, but my mom encouraged me to keep going.”

The pair attended a number of classes together, frequently studied together, and drew on one another’s strengths to help get through difficult courses. Ms. Henriquez, who speaks English as a second language, turned to her daughter for support in preparing for English classes and tests, while Ms. Zuniga looked to her mom for assistance with math courses.

“I have always been close to my daughter, but I think we’ve grown even closer and made each other stronger as we worked our way through college,” said Ms. Henriquez, who was employed part time in the Accounts Payable Department at Essex County College until 2013, when she was hired as a full-time Accounts Payable Clerk.

Ms. Zuniga said that the bar has been raised high for her younger brothers.

“They are very excited about our achievement. And they know that if my mom could push through her challenges and earn a college degree, then there’s no excuse for them not to succeed as well,” Ms. Zuniga said.