Carmona Cadet

Picture of Carmona Cadet

Nontraditional Student Receives an Osher Scholarship

Originally featured in the Spring 2009 newsletter

Single mother, full-time employee, and determined student, Carmona Cadet, 35, deservedly receives an Osher Scholarship offered to individuals who have experienced an interruption in their education for five or more years. The scholarship is intended to benefit students who have years of employability ahead of them—ideally aged 25 to 50.

Having come from Haiti, Cadet knew that education was the only way out of poverty. Her mother stopped attending classes in middle school and her father reached the 10th grade. She had two older brothers with a college education and she was determined to follow in their footsteps. Cadet enrolled at Mercer County Community College in the Summer of 2004 taking many night classes and trying to fit her work schedule around school.

Cadet learned how strong one had to be to get through the rigors of academics. Quitting her job was not an option. She lived paycheck to paycheck, encountered financial pitfalls covering childcare and barely made the rent at times. From time to time, friends and even family members attempted to discourage Cadet from continuing her education, but she stayed strong.

Prior to completing her Associates in Humanities and Social Science, Cadet’s choice to attend a 4-year college was limited because of her work and life. She knew she could not go far away, but her adviser at MCCC, having been very aware of her circumstances, strongly recommended “Rutgers, the local school with one of the best Social Work programs.” Cadet agreed that the New Brunswick Campus was the most convenient for her.

“When I received my acceptance letter from Rutgers, I jumped, because I was so happy for the opportunity to go to college in spite of my other responsibilities. Since my admission in Fall 2007, I’ve taken 15 to 18 credits each semester, and 6 credits in the summer. I was and am still able to keep up with my grades and continue to have a 3.8 GPA.” She admits attending Rutgers was difficult because she had to take time off from work to attend the classes that were not offered during evening hours. She was able to convince her supervisor to allow her to come in early so that she could leave work a bit early to make classes, but sometimes, she had to lose pay-time from work. Although she could have listened to her family and friends’ advice to quit school, Cadet attributes her good experiences at Rutgers as, “a blessing and dream come true.”

People always ask Cadet, “When do you find time to study?” Her candid response is, “I have no life besides school, work, and taking care of my son.” Cadet stays up late and studies on weekends and has convinced herself that she is enduring this temporary situation for a better future. “To me, education is a must do.” She urges other adults at Rutgers to never give up no matter the challenges and warns, “The only person who can stop you from reaching your goals is yourself.” Cadet regrets not being able to take full advantage of certain services that Rutgers offers, such as the learning centers, library services, the gym and events, but as a commuter, she adds, “It is difficult enough to navigate through the campuses to locate classrooms and other offices.” Overall, however, she has been successful and is scheduled to graduate this May. She has already been admitted into the Advanced Standing Masters in the Social Work program, which she will begin this summer.

Cadet is aware that she needs to set a good example for her son, Tristan, who is now 10, by showing him the importance of attaining an education. Recently, one of her co-workers told her that after 8 years away from school, she had decided to go back after pointing out, “If you can do it as a single parent, there is no excuse for me not to return since I am younger and have no children.” Another of Cadet’s friends from church, a single mother with three children, walked proudly up to Cadet to say that she was following Cadet’s example and taking online classes to complete a degree in psychology. “It is just a great feeling."