Carolyn Lindner Regained Her Confidence at PCCC
Spotlight on the Class of 2019
Carolyn Lindner was at work when she received the call that she had been chosen as a valedictorian of the Class of 2019. “I was shocked,” she said. “But then I was excited.”
A member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Carolyn receives her associate’s degree in Liberal Arts/Psychology with highest honors and will deliver her valedictory address at the 47th Commencement evening ceremony.
For Carolyn, this happy conclusion of her PCCC journey is an affirmation of a decision she made two years ago, when she left another college and came to PCCC instead. “Coming to PCCC was the best move I could have made at the time,” she says.
An honor student at Lakeland Regional High School in Wanaque, Carolyn was unsure in her senior year of what her next step would be after graduation. Emotionally sensitive and prone to anxiety, she felt drained from coping with some challenging experiences at that time. “I wasn’t really making college plans the way my friends were,” she said.
Because her best friend planned to attend Rowan University, Carolyn applied there, too. But just days after she moved into the dorm, she dropped out. “I knew I wasn’t ready to go to a four-year university and be far from home,” she says. “I had just come out of a difficult time, and I wasn’t mentally or emotionally prepared for such a big change.”
That was in fall 2016, and Carolyn took the rest of the fall semester off to regain her strength and to think about what was best for her. “I wanted to stay local and PCCC seemed like a good option,” she said. “I would save money and the College’s Wanaque campus is just 10 minutes from my home.”
She enrolled for the spring 2017 semester, and almost as soon as she had her first class, Carolyn knew she had come to the right place. “I was aware of the reputation that community colleges have,” she said. “Even some of my friends questioned my decision to attend PCCC, but I found the classes to be perfectly good academically.”
Strong in math and sciences, Carolyn was surprised to find that she even enjoyed some courses outside her comfort zone. “I didn’t think I would like the class in art appreciation, but I did,” she said, naming Salvador Dali as one of the artists who captured her attention.
By the end of her first semester at PCCC, Carolyn felt she had regained her balance. “I got my feet wet in terms of college experience, and I regained my confidence here,” she said.
Carolyn knew from the start that she would major in psychology. “I’ve always been interested in it,” she says. “Besides, we have a lot of psychologists and psych majors in our family. I guess it’s just natural.”
One of her first classes at PCCC was Introduction to Psychology taught by Professor Lonna Murphy.
“I enjoyed every part of that class and Professor Murphy really inspired me,” said Carolyn. Since then, she has formed a bond with Dr. Murphy, and it was the professor who called her with the valedictorian news.
Carolyn is intrigued by the field of neural psychology and learning the way the brain works, especially in cases where people display multiple personalities or personality transformations caused by trauma.
Not surprisingly, her favorite class at PCCC was the psychology course, Theories of Personality.
When she transfers into a bachelor’s degree program, Carolyn plans to major in psychology and minor in biology to prepare for a career in research.
She has been accepted into a bachelor’s degree program at Caldwell University, on scholarship, where she will start in September. “Caldwell is a small school and not far from home, so that’s a good choice for me,” said Carolyn.
Based on her academic performance at PCCC, Carolyn has also been invited to participate this summer in a research project at Caldwell University focused on how brain function may play role in an individual’s tendency toward bias and similar personality traits.
Though Carolyn did not become involved in clubs or other student life activities at PCCC, she finds great satisfaction in playing softball and relating to her teammates. “I grew up in a baseball and softball family,” she said. “I played on school teams through high school, and this summer, I’ll be playing on a local team in Ringwood.”
Carolyn finds the sport therapeutic. “Playing softball takes my mind off everything and makes me feel so much better.”
As she prepares to leave PCCC, Carolyn has some advice for others who might hesitate to enroll at a community college. “Don’t listen to the negative things people tell you,” she says. “Coming to a two-year school can be a good way to start, and you will learn here. PCCC has given me the support I needed to be ready for a four-year university.”
Written and photographed by Linda Telesco