Brooklyn-born, the life-long Mets fan grew up in Keansburg and has happily called Robbinsville home for the past 13 years.
Campbell Elementary School’s location, just a short distance from Middlesex College, is a fitting metaphor for Costanza’s full circle journey.
When he first came to Middlesex College as a high school graduate, he didn’t have the best outlook on his future prospects.
“I stumbled my way into Middlesex College, but it was very much a blessing in disguise,” he recalled.
“My experiences at Middlesex College ended up empowering me in a very practical way, but also in a very ambitious, change-the-world way. I felt that if I could come from where I came from and feel as empowered as I felt, I could do anything,” he shared.
Costanza earned 59 credits at Middlesex College, just one credit shy of getting his associate’s degree. But rather than taking a health class to get that last credit, Costanza opted to transfer to Rutgers sooner rather than later, eager to get a head start toward a bachelor’s degree.
After graduating from Rutgers, Costanza joined AmeriCorps, known as the Peace Corps for America, which landed him at a Trenton elementary school where he developed an afterschool program for second graders.
“That second grade classroom had a dynamic teacher who inspired me to get more involved in teaching,” he noted with a smile.
That dynamic teacher would alter Costanza’s life in more ways than one.
“Long story short, we’ve been married for 20 years, and have a beautiful 15-year-old daughter. So yeah, great things happen in service to others.”
In addition to his bachelor’s degree, Costanza holds a master’s in Early Childhood/Elementary Education from The College of New Jersey and a doctorate in Educational Theory, Policy, and Administration from Rutgers.
Costanza says his educational journey is a testament to the importance of nurturing confidence in young minds, a life-long lesson that, for him, began at Middlesex College.
“Middlesex College was a life-changer for me in so many regards. As a first-generation college student, and as somebody who struggled a lot in school, not because I was a stupid kid, but because I didn’t have the confidence,” Costanza explained.
“I had really good interactions with faculty and staff at Middlesex College, developed good study habits, and began to feel that I had a lot of control over my learning. So, Middlesex College was pivotal in setting me up for success at Rutgers. But more importantly, it set me up for success,” he said.