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Isabella Kellam

Hi Isabella, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us. So, you came to us as a junior after completing college-level courses during your time in high school. What made you choose Rutgers School of Business–Camden as your destination after earning credits at Rowan College of South Jersey?
What made me choose Rutgers was the reputation and location. I wanted to live at home to save money, but also wanted to go somewhere prestigious and reputable. Rutgers–Camden is a school that I am proud to attend and tell people about.

Well we’re certainly glad that you did! It speaks volumes to your motivation that you are preparing for graduation as a 19-year old. What has this past year been like for you?
This past year has been unlike anything I could have anticipated. I wasn’t following a traditional path after high school, but I still never expected my whole life to flip upside down. It began when the art studio I worked at for three years had to close due to the pandemic. I started EMT school and attended Rutgers SBC full-time. While taking online courses at Rutgers, I began to get out on the front lines as an EMT. Ultimately, it sounds worse than it was. I was constantly on the go prior to quarantine. So, when I had the chance to slow down and do my school work from home, it was actually a welcomed change of pace.

I’m sorry to hear about the studio’s closing. How did you make the pivot towards becoming an EMT for the Gloucester County EMS Department?
Thank you. It was sad, but to be honest I don’t think I would have had the heart to quit! The sudden change allowed me to grow and I had the opportunity to focus on the EMS path. By the time we had to quarantine, I had only completed half of my EMT courses. This made it difficult to continue with study groups, on the job learning, and in person classes. It was a tough transition, going from art to medicine, but once I passed the National Registry EMT exam I was excited to move on to new experiences.

Many have been through difficult times over the past year-plus, but our EMTs surely endure a full-force of the front-line pandemic stress – not to mention, you’ve done all of this while studying Management with a concentration in Human Resources! How have you been able to manage this?
Yes, it was not easy at first, but I strongly believe that becoming an EMT is the perfect job for college students. It sounds unusual, but there is a lot of down time between 911 calls. I use my time to do homework or get other things done (for example we are talking right now while I am at work!). All the while, I am getting paid and gaining really valuable experiences that you can’t find anywhere else. It also grants you a certificate that you will have for life. Never pass up an opportunity to invest in yourself!
Someone that really helped me stay on top of my unique situation was my academic advisor, Ms. Traum. She is always prompt with her replies and always seems to have the answers I need to continue to navigate my degree.

We’re so glad to hear that Ms. Traum has supported your journey to degree completion during uncertain times. Thinking back to a favorite class or lesson over your past two years, what is something you’ve learned that you believe will directly impact your success in your career?
My favorite class was Business Essentials. I had genuinely enjoyed learning and listening in that class. Professor Vance does a great job of simplifying the information. I learned a lot from him that will directly impact my future success. One phrase he often said (that I will always remember) was “Take care of your people” – which is the first rule of leadership. I foresee this impacting me as I hope to one day own a business. I know my network connections and employees will be the most important aspect of that, thanks to him.

There are so many little stories like that from our students. It’s great to hear the impact our faculty deliver. After your time completing a condensed degree in high school, navigating a pandemic, and approaching commencement, what is a piece of advice you would lend to GCIT’s Class of 2021?
The advice I would give is that your hard work will pay off! It may not feel like it for a while, but I promise it will. And to the underclassmen, GCIT offers so many unique opportunities, so make sure you take advantage of them. Your academic accomplishments will remain with you forever, so achieve as many as you can! Don’t overwork yourself, but always try to remember – you must work hard to play hard.

Thank you for your service as an EMT, Isabella, and we look forward to celebrating your graduation this winter.

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