Berkeley Today Stories

Jay Calise, Berkeley College alumnus

Alumnus Overcomes Health Struggles to Graduate with Honors



At the age of 39, Jay Calise was placed on disability, and decided to have weight loss surgery after years of suffering from various health problems. He didn’t let his hurdles with health stand in the way of receiving an education, an opportunity that Berkeley College provided through online courses. “Being able to complete classes from home helped me gain an education while letting me properly heal from surgeries,” Mr. Calise said.

A resident of Bergenfield, NJ, Mr. Calise graduated with an A.A.S. in Health Services Administration in 2014. Despite having to balance school work with recuperation, he was able graduate with honors, getting inducted into Phi Theta Kappa and Alpha Sigma Lambda national honor societies. “These are the experiences that I will never forget,” he said. “I know that I earned my way to graduation and into the honor societies, but it was more than I could ever think of achieving, considering the condition I was in when I started. The professors I had at Berkeley College really helped bring out the best in me to accomplish this.”

Through it all, his drive to stay focused while overcoming his adversities with health can be traced back to one person – his daughter, Jacqueline, age 20. “I wanted to show her that regardless of age, anyone could go back to school, get a secondary education, and make something of themselves,” said Mr. Calise, adding that his daughter was also beginning college at the time. “All it took was the right motivation.”

After working in a temporary position in a doctor’s private practice, Mr. Calise was hired as a Customer Service Manager at ExamWorks in Roseland, NJ. In this role, he oversees scheduling of medical exams for New York City Workmen’s Comp and liability cases. Mr. Calise has been in good health and living a more active lifestyle since undergoing surgery.

Up Close with Jay Calise

What does success mean to you?
Being able to get up in the morning, go to work, come home at the end of the day, and know that I’ve made a difference.

What initially inspired you to enroll in Berkeley College?
The flexibility of online courses, and knowing Berkeley College as a prestigious college. With Berkeley offering online classes, I was able to complete my homework and projects while at home properly recuperating.

How did Berkeley College prepare you for success?
The courses that I took at Berkeley College helped me to hone my typing skills, as well as develop focus and problem-solving skills in a group setting. Those courses also helped prepare me to work in a corporate environment. Previously, I had worked in retail and food service, but never in an office setting.
Courses like creative writing, medical billing and coding, and anatomy in particular left a major impact on me. Given that I work with the public in my job, both over the phone and through email, there is always a need for eloquence in my speaking and my writing. Human anatomy knowledge is also very important for my role, as I work with my clients to schedule examinations for orthopedic problems, neurologic problems, as well as many other medical injuries. Understanding the human anatomy helps me help the client determine what examinations are necessary.

In which ways do you see yourself being successful in the future?
I am aiming to work my way toward a corporate title.

What advice would you give to college-bound students?
Go to college, study, do your homework, and stay focused.

What was your most memorable moment at Berkeley College?
Earning my way into the Phi Theta Kappa and Alpha Sigma Lambda national honor societies. It is possibly the most prestigious honor I could ever have had bestowed upon me.