Berkeley Today Stories

Jessica Rienzi Berkeley College graduate

Berkeley College Graduate Grows as Novelist while Pursuing Career in Criminal Justice



In 2014, Jessica Rienzi graduated from Berkeley College with a B.S. in Justice Studies – Criminal Justice. She credits her time at Berkeley College in Woodland Park, NJ, for not only helping improve her writing skills, but also for motivating her to keep pursuing a career as a novelist.

Ms. Rienzi has been passionate about writing since elementary school. She writes stories for children and young readers, and has self-published four novels and collections of short stories. Her latest young-adult novel, Dawn: Before the Hunt (Volume 1), was released in September 2016 and is available via Amazon.

“I love the complexity of novels, and how it can open one’s mind to a different world and a different possibility,” Ms. Rienzi said. “I hope to grow as an author by writing stories that are more than simply something to read, but rather inspire the reader in some way toward their own hobbies or careers.”

A resident of Garfield, NJ, Ms. Rienzi also works as a teacher’s aide at the Anna C. Scott Elementary School in Leonia, NJ. Her role entails assisting students with special needs, preparing them to work independently, both in and outside the classroom. “I not only wanted to gain more experience with children, but also gain more skills and knowledge of how to talk with different types of people,” she said.

While balancing life as a novelist and teacher’s aide, Ms. Rienzi continues to search for more opportunities in the criminal justice field. “My instructors at Berkeley College taught me that you can do anything if you work for it, and to enjoy it all along the way,” she said.

Up Close with Jessica Rienzi

What does success mean to you?

Success to me means that you have passion to follow what you believe in and to have finished a goal you have set for yourself. It is all about getting closer to doing what you love to do and moving forward while learning along the way.

What initially inspired you to enroll in Berkeley College?

Berkeley College has a lovely atmosphere and the people who work at the College are great. They taught me a lot and helped me see what happens in different areas of work. Even though I went to Berkeley College for criminal justice, learning about other career opportunities helped me gain a better understanding of what I wanted to pursue.

How did Berkeley College prepare you for success?

Berkeley helped me to improve my writing, and taught me that working with different people can be inspiring and helpful.

In which ways do you see yourself being successful in the future?

I see myself growing as an author and helping others pursue that passion as well. I am also looking forward to going into a career in criminal justice and continuing to learn about all its components.

What advice would you give to college-bound students?

I would say that it may be hard and sometimes tedious, but there are always times where it will be fun and interesting. The more work you put into what you are doing, the more success and passion for your career choice you will gain.

What was your most memorable moment at Berkeley College?

Whenever we had “fun day” activities and games in the beginning of the school year outside. It was a great way to meet new people.