My very first life-changing experience with The Richard Stockton College took place
Spring of 2013.
I was preparing for my first college graduation as the first member of my family to
graduate from college at Burlington County College, Pemberton, N.J.
Ms. Brina Seda recommended Stockton College. She was extremely adamant about my success
in earning my undergraduate degree in Social Work. I have never felt so valued and
appreciated as I did after my very first in-person visit to Stockton. Honestly, every
single person I met, greeted and had any contact with was warm, inviting and encouraging.
I absolutely love the campus, the small classroom settings, and always felt the faculty
had my best interest in mind. I was a full-time student commuting two hours one way,
four nights a week, and working 40 + hours Monday thru Friday. I never wavered, remaining
driven, and determined to earn my Social Work degree.
An unfortunate turn of events occurred when my job closed permanently after ten years
of employment. I was introduced to a "hardship" and "adversity" life experience I
have grown to appreciate. The job was under the Catholic Diocese, meaning unemployment
benefits were not required. After several months of diligent searching for full-time
employment, I had reached the breaking point, becoming disheartened, losing confidence
with the entire situation.
My checking and savings accounts were both depleted.
I had sold all of my materialist valuables and accepted that within a few days, I
would become homeless.
By the Grace of God, one of my relatives stopped by to check on me after discovering
my utilities had been shut off, and I had no food in my home during the Winter of
I packed the remainder of my personal effects and relocated to Pemberton, N.J.
Fast forward six years to March 2021. I called Stockton University requesting the
balance of my student loan. I learned my balance was $2,436.44. I have relocated back
home in Coastal North Carolina after becoming more overwhelmed with adversity.
I was offered a position with the State of NC Child Support, Enforcement Agent full
time and could resume making my student loan payments. I called the Stockton Bursar's
Office to confirm receipt of my payments in May 2021.
The unforeseen blessing of one phenomenal professional bursar agent Ms. Mimi Milazzo kindly answered my call. Ms. Mimi had no idea how our brief but encouraging conversation
not only changed my life, but saved my life. I felt like my dreams were disappearing
more everyday. Ms. Mimi reminded me that it's never too late, no matter how long it
takes us, we should never give up and keep striving to achieve our dreams. I thank
and praise God every day for Ms. Mimi and her loving, kind, kindred spirit.
The sweet gift of life, I applied to Stockton University, and was accepted May 2021.
I have NEVER felt more intentional and purposeful as I do today. I trust and believe
my dreams will come true and my best is yet to come. I cannot thank you all enough
for being so very gracious and supportive.
I am excited with a humbled heart for this next AMAZING chapter of my life.
Thank you, Stockton University professional family
Samala O. Smith