Lakewood Students Set to be Engaged and Inspired by Poet-Educator at GCU

Lakewood, N.J., Jan. 14, 2013—Lakewood High School students will get a glimpse of college life and the power that comes with persisting through graduation as they hear from poet-educator Carlos Ojeda, Jr., at 9:30 a.m. Friday, January 18 at Georgian Court University during GCU’s LakewoodTogether Teen Summit. 

Mr. Ojeda, a Newark native who recalls being labled by a high school teacher as “the greatest piece of garbage he had ever seen,” is a published writer and a former college educator who touts social activism, entrepreneurship and education as keys to success. “Every second that you live, every breath that you take, is a breath that you have to turn it all around,” says Mr. Ojeda. “Now is the time to transform the youth into leaders of today, not tomorrow,” he says.

A graduate of Bloomsburg University and Kutztown University, Mr. Ojeda is credited with being a positive role model and change agent. He served Kutztown as an admissions officer and helped move the number of minority students from 4.6 percent to 16 percent in just three years. He also served the school as the youngest, first and only Latino business professor, and later directed the Latino Business Resource Center.

Participants from nearby Lakewood High School will also hear from carer coach and motivational speaker Rod Colon, a Jackson resident who is founder of Empowering Today’s Professionals (EPT Network). Mr. Colon joins speaker Leanice Smith for a session on “What’s Next? Life After High School.”  Freehold resident and current GCU master’s student Karissa Merkel discusses “The R.E.A.L. You” alongside Karen Goff, Georgian Court’s dean of student affairs, and Melissa Ruiz, coordinator of residence life, will share insights on ways students can learn to “Take the Lead.”

Colleen Diveny, a GCU student development specialist, and Steafannie Nicholson, a resident assistant, will address issues of peer pressure and bullying, and a panel of other college students will take questions about university life.

“The students and staff from GCU and Lakewood are excited about this opportunity, and we are anticipating an enriching day for everyone involved,” said Ms. Goff, who is one of more than 25 educational leaders involved with Lakewood Together. The collaborative is led by administrators from the Lakewood Public Schools and the GCU School of Education, and addresses a range of critical issues—from student persistence and college readiness to parent involvement and customized professional development—all tied to school success.