HCCC students are 1st to complete nursing degrees in New Jersey Pay It Forward program

Nineteen Hudson County Community College Nursing Program students were among 100-plus students in the state selected as initial New Jersey Pay It Forward program participants. Those 19 graduated from the college’s Nursing Program and were celebrated with a toast and a pinning ceremony at the HCCC Culinary Conference Center last month.

“I commend the students graduating today on their hard work and dedication in making it to this point,” Gov. Phil Murphy said. “I look forward to seeing the first group of graduates from our Pay It Forward Program go on to succeed in their careers and help enable the success of future cohorts of eager students. I know great things are ahead for each and every one of these nursing students, who will significantly assist communities throughout our state by filling critical roles among New Jersey’s health care workforce.”

“We are incredibly proud of our first Pay It Forward program nursing graduates,” HCCC President Christopher Reber stated. “A college degree is the great equalizer on the path to a sustainable career and enjoyable life. It provides the means to secure one’s family, and to help our community thrive. We are thankful to the state of New Jersey, Social Finance and the N.J. CEO Council for providing the resources to make students’ dreams realities, and for recognizing our Nursing Program as a vital component in helping students attain success.”

Those who helped commemorate the occasion included Reber, as well as David Socolow, executive director of the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority; Tara Colton, executive vice president for economic security at the New Jersey Economic Development Authority; Emily Apple, director of economic security, New Jersey Economic Development Authority; Darryl Jones, HCCC vice president for academic affairs; Heather DeVries, HCCC dean of academic affairs and assessment; Catherine Sirangelo, HCCC dean of nursing and health sciences; Lori Byrd, interim director, HCCC Nursing Program; and representatives from the New Jersey CEO Council and Social Finance, the nonprofit designing and managing the program.

For many students, like Eunice Rivera, a graduate of the program who accepted an offer to become an intensive care unit nurse at a nearby hospital, the New Jersey Pay It Forward stipend and emergency funds allowed them to focus on classes and worry less.

“The no-interest loan helps me stay in the here and now, instead of worrying too much about compounding interest that I would have to pay in the future,” Rivera said.

In addition to the Nursing Program at HCCC, the New Jersey Pay It Forward program serves HVAC and welding students at Camden County College and cybersecurity students at New Jersey Institute of Technology. The program aims to add more training programs and to serve more students in the coming years. Murphy has proposed an additional $2.5 million for New Jersey Pay It Forward in his Fiscal Year 2024 budget proposal.