Two moms and a career path

Courtesy of Rowan College of South Jersey
Receiving five-star awards at a Maryland conference are officers of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society chapter at Rowan College in Deptford: Co-advisor Shawn Rutter (left to right); Mackenzie Holland, vice president of membership and communication; Executive Vice President Megan Rinaldo; and co advisor Alejandra Valencia.

They prove no one is too old to go back to school

Second of two stories

Megan Rinaldo and Karen Paladino wanted to go back to school and become health-care professionals.

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Both moms are members of the Rowan College of South Jersey Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society who are now pursuing that goal at the school’s Deptford campus.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are, you always have a chance to enhance your life,” said Paladino, who is studying to be a radiology technology specialist and is already in the field full time at the Summit Surgical Center.

“I have realized how important it is to be a part of a clinical team.”

Paladino takes one class a semester and hopes to graduate in 2025.

“Being a part of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) has helped improve my leadership skills,” she noted. “A good leader must be a good listener and learn to deal with people with different personalities.”

Rinaldo is a single mother who will graduate from Rowan College this May and attend Stockton University in the fall.

“I will be studying for a bachelor’s degree in health sciences,” said Rinaldo, who is pursuing a career in nuclear medicine to do CAT scans and MRIs in a doctor’s office.

“PTK has helped me become a better student and a role model to my children,” she said. “I am the mom of two young boys, and am showing them that they can always reach for their goals in life.”

Rinaldo became interested in health care as a 10-year-old who had to help a grandmother in failing health.

“I would go to the doctor’s office with her,” she recalled. “Everyone was so caring and nice.”

For both Rinaldo and Paladino, going back to school has given them confidence and improved their academic skills. As members of PTK, they completed 12 credits with a 3.5 GPA or better and have maintained a 3.25 average.

Helping them along are two co-advisors from PTK at the Deptford campus: Shawn Rutter and Alejandra Valencia.

“I was the secretary of PTK during the 2017-’18 school year,” said Valencia. “The honor society inspired me to be a better student.”

She later graduated from Rowan University and now is pursuing a master’s degree in counseling education from Widener University. As a PTK co-advisor, Valencia tells current students “to take advantage of all the opportunities that are available to them. PTK is part of something big and opens doors.”

The next induction ceremony for new honor-society members will be on Wednesday, May 3, in the Rowan College auditorium.

“About 200 students have been invited,” said Rutter, who is in his fifth year as co-advisor. “We continue to grow.”

The PTK recently sponsored a recycling program of shoes, eyeglasses and books that generated funds for a $500 scholarship.

Rutter pointed out that the main goal of PTK is to help students academically and let them develop leadership skills.

Which is something that is happening in real time for the two future health-care professionals: Rinaldo and Paladino.

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