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Alba Pagan is a Berkeley College student

Berkeley College Helps U.S. Navy Veteran Start New Career Path in Health Services



Alba Pagan is a Berkeley College student


Alba A. Pagan served in the U.S. Navy before arriving at Berkeley College, having been deployed once to Asia and once to Bahrain, off the eastern coastline of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf. She mostly worked in a Navy Engineering unit, a primarily male-dominated environment, as an electrician at sea. “I always felt like I had to work harder to prove myself. However, I had strong leadership in my division, giving me more confidence about my efforts,” Ms. Pagan said.

A resident of Teaneck, NJ, Ms. Pagan left the Navy with an honorable discharge after four years. Rather than continue with electrical work, she decided to transition into health services, looking for a career she could feel passionate about while helping others. She was further inspired to go back to school by her son, Jeremiah, age 3. “I wanted to show him how important education is,” she said.

Ms. Pagan began taking Health Services Administration courses at Berkeley College in Midtown Manhattan, having sought an educational institution that provided experienced professors and strong support to military veterans. Berkeley College has a dedicated Office of Military and Veterans Affairs, having been ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans by U.S. News & World Report for three consecutive years.

During her time at Berkeley College, Ms. Pagan has served as an outreach specialist for the Bergen County Division of Veterans Services in Hackensack, giving her the opportunity to help fellow veterans. She currently interns as an administrative assistant at the Jersey City office of Vanguard Medical Group, and continues to actively participate in events throughout Berkeley College. She has also been a Berkeley College Orientation Leader, helping incoming students become better acquainted with the College.

After she graduates with an A.A.S. in September 2016, Ms. Pagan will transition into a full-time position at Vanguard Medical Group. In addition to finding a new career path, Ms. Pagan also met Jose Pagan at Berkeley College, a fellow student and veteran of the U.S. Army whom she recently married.

Close up with Alba A. Pagan

What does success mean to you?

Success is achieving your highest personal and career potential.

What initially inspired you to join the U.S. Navy a year after high school?

At that time, I had two full-time jobs and was indecisive about my future. I did not want to invest in higher education without knowing what I wanted to do. Therefore, I decided to join the military. However, I joined the U.S. Navy because my grandfather served in Ecuador as a captain, and I wanted to follow in his footsteps. It’s the best decision I have ever made.

What was your training experience in the Navy like?

When you start, it’s a scary process. Boot camp was not as physically challenging as I was expecting it to be, but it was mentally difficult. During the electrician training, I was part of an engineering department that was male-dominated, so it was a challenge to prove I could do the same job that the males could do.

What initially inspired you to enroll at Berkeley College?

As a veteran, I searched for a school that had a close circle of veterans, as well as professors who cared about their students.

How did Berkeley College prepare you for success?

Berkeley College has professors who are involved in the fields they teach. They guided me, gave me insight into what to expect, and advised me on future career options that the healthcare field provides. Having professors who influence students to thrive helped prepare me for success.

In which way(s) do you see yourself being successful in the future?

I want to further my education to be successful in my career. I also want to find and participate in initiatives to help others, especially kids.

What advice would you give to college-bound students?

Get involved, and meet as many people as you can because those are the ones who might be helping you in your future.

What was your most memorable moment at Berkeley College?

My most memorable moment was the first time I was an Orientation Leader. I enjoyed guiding new students to do their best in school. Also, of course, the day I met my husband.