Jelicia Lewis’ family and friends may take up a whole row at Middlesex College commencement.
“My uncle is coming, my auntie is coming, my sister, my cousins, my biological grandmother is coming,” said Lewis smiling. “I think my pastor is coming. I gave him my information and he said he’d put it on his desk.”
After starting her studies at Middlesex College in 2014, Lewis is finally earning her Associate in Arts degree in Psychology, after overcoming the challenges of both her parents dying when she was young, being hospitalized for depression, not being able to drive and living in a group home in Perth Amboy.
“I got that I could be a leader and become anything that I want to be if I put my mind to it,” said Lewis. “I miss my mom and dad, but I just stayed motivated and on track.”
Lewis, 32, is from Newark, but spent most of her childhood in foster care. She attended three different high schools before graduating from Franklin High School in 2009.
She was briefly hospitalized for depression, but said she’s been able to overcome that challenge by remaining connected to her family and social network.
At Middlesex College, she was welcomed into the EOF (Educational Opportunity Fund) program which delivers an array of holistic support services necessary to achieve academic success, foster personal growth, financial support, and promote career development for students who qualify.
“EOF supported me in every way,” said Lewis. “They made sure I was passing all my classes so I could graduate and they were always encouraging me to keep going in college. They were always very nice to me.”
“Jelicia has chosen not to be defined by her circumstances,” said EOF Assistant Director Flora Stowe. “She looks to her goals and assesses what she may see in herself as a shortcoming and then seeks the resources to overcome the difference. For each goal attained she is grateful for the accomplishment, and she sets her eyes on the next goal. It is this perseverance that has made me proud.”
Lewis works part-time at Burlington Coat Factory. In her free time, she enjoys watching television and being with her family. She would like to continue her undergraduate education, maybe at Kean University, but hasn’t settled on the next step.
“I like psychology because I want to help people with mental issues and mental problems,” said Lewis.
For information about the 2023 Commencement Ceremony, visit middlesexcollege.edu/commencement.