Chad A. Murnaghan, 39, of Cape May Court House, began his journey at Atlantic Cape unemployed and a longtime blue-collar worker with no college education. To say he is exiting on a high note is an understatement, as the 2015 Commencement 4.0 Farewell Speaker, Thursday, May 21, with an associate degree in accounting.
“I would have to say my biggest challenge would have been dealing with self-doubt. Even after a semester or two of straight A’s in the beginning, I would still find myself second-guessing my newly found academic ability,” Murnaghan said.
When asked how he overcame the challenge, he simply stated, “Well, I didn’t really have any other choice but to overcome this challenge; I was going to finish my degree at Atlantic Cape Community College no matter what. Having a college degree was a dream of mine, so I simply dove in headfirst and just did it, I wouldn’t let my fears get in the way.”
When asked what opportunities he found along the way, he replied, “Quite simply, the opportunity at an open door to the rest of my life! I now have the start of a future that I control with an education. The opportunity I had been missing out on my whole adult life, and the opportunity to now advance in a whole new career, instead of being stuck in, what was to me, a dead-end job situation.”
When reflecting on his achievements at Atlantic Cape, he felt he owed not one, but a few, thanks for helping him get to this point. “First would be God, I would say a prayer just before each test or exam, and I must say it helped. Next, my family and friends for believing in me, especially when I may not have quite so much. Then, all of my professors, but especially my English professor, Regina Van Epps, who showed me what a truly devoted teacher is all about, and showed me I was worth it. Also, my counselor Colleen Hendrickson at the New Jersey Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, which is the reason I was able to attend college to begin with, after I was laid off and on unemployment at that time. Last, but certainly not least, Atlantic Cape Community College for being there for me, offering me excellent professors in classes where one is able to learn without feeling like just an enrollment number, and for being my pathway to success.
“Graduating from Atlantic Cape is truly meaningful to me in that it is a much greater feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment in life. I have always dreamed of having a college degree, and now I am able to pursue a new career in the field of my choosing. It’s a chance to better myself, my position in a job, and my financial earning potential. Atlantic Cape is an excellent educational experience that I would recommend to anyone, regardless of age, whether it be for a new start in life, a career change, or just for the sake of expanding one’s education and mind.”