Originally featured in the Fall 2011 newsletter
Donte Boyer has taken an unconventional path towards attaining a college degree. His journey to Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations can be described as life-changing. He says, “I felt I needed a college degree in order to advance in the construction industry and in the union.” As an adult, he has learned that instant gratification is short lived and that hard work and patience lead to success. A Trenton native, Donte decided to return to the classroom in his 30s.
At the age of 13, Donte knew he wanted to fix his grandmother’s house and later in life pursued a career in carpentry by attending an apprenticeship program in Trenton, New Jersey. He developed the skills needed to succeed as a journeyman carpenter with Princeton Carpenters Local 781: “I was searching on the computer and found out that in the state of Washington, you could earn credits for apprentice training. I asked my boss, who oversees the apprenticeship program in Trenton, if our program could do something similar."
Donte was eligible to participate in NJ PLACE - New Jersey Pathways Leading Apprentices to a College Education. NJ PLACE began in 2004 through the agreement among New Jersey colleges to award credit to graduates of participating federally registered apprenticeship programs. These apprenticeship programs are evaluated and recommended for academic credit by the American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT).
Through the collaboration of NJ PLACE and Mercer County Community College, Donte completed his Associates degree in Applied Sciences in 2010. After graduating, Donte learned about a new partnership between NJ Place and Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations. In January 2010, a New Jersey amendment was passed making it possible for participants completing the NJ PLACE program to transfer to a state 4-year college or university. Donte Boyer has become the first NJ PLACE graduate to take advantage of the new BS in Labor and Employment Relations degree program. He noted that "with NJ PLACE, skilled trade workers see that a college degree is within their reach." Donte knows firsthand that juggling work and spending time with family has been very challenging and credits his success to the support he receives from his family. His son thinks “it’s cool to have articles written about his father, but always asks when people will write about him.” Donte says “there have been many long days and very short nights while trying to achieve my degree, but the future benefits will be well worth it.”
When asked about his experience at Rutgers, he says, “I have met some wonderful students, staff, and professors while studying at Rutgers. This encourages me to excel." Donte highly recommends that all current and future adult students learn to manage their time and work to achieve a good grade point average: “My advice to any adult is not to delay their academic careers. It doesn’t matter where you start but how you finish.” Donte proudly maintains a 3.857 GPA and plans to graduate in October 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Labor and Employment Relations (579).