Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Reforming His Future One Internship At A Time: Meet DeVonte Douglass

DeVonte Douglass always knew he wanted to go to college, but was not quite sure what program matched his interests most. Then, one day, he had a realization. He had personally witnessed family and friends going through the justice system without a supportive advocate or representation, and that is when he decided to make it his goal to become that person for others.

“I saw a need in the justice system for reformation, especially in Philadelphia and knew I wanted to make a difference, so that is when I decided to enter into the criminal justice field,” explained DeVonte.

DeVonte had originally heard about Peirce College when he was in high school from his assistant principal. At the time of deciding on colleges, he ended up going to a bigger school, but found it was not the right fit for him. That’s when he gave Peirce College a call.

“After not finding the right fit at my original school, I decided to call Peirce and spoke with Blake Scull, my Enrollment Specialist. He walked me through the application, took me on tour, and once I saw the law library, I was hooked. Blake has been there for me ever since and has always been a reliable resource for me,” said DeVonte.

DeVonte originally enrolled in the Associate in Science in Criminal Justice program eager to earn his first degree. After working hard, he accomplished this goal in 2018 and immediately moved on to earning his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.

Once DeVonte became invested in his education, he knew he wanted to do more to invest in his future. He looked into Peirce College’s internship program where he was able to be matched with Honorable Judge Zachary Shaffer for two different internship experiences.

DeVonte shared his most recent experience working for Judge Shaffer at the Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice, where he learned the ins and outs of the law. Judge Shaffer gave DeVonte responsibilities typically provided to law students. DeVonte was so dedicated to learning and growing, that he found himself excelling in his internship. DeVonte was assigned tasks that involved handling sensitive information, contacting critical personnel, and looking into job opportunities for the incarcerated. DeVonte took his internship very seriously and found it to be the perfect way to follow his dream of reformation in the justice system, learning from someone who shared his passion.

“I learned from Judge Shaffer how he dedicates himself to providing resources to those who have been sentenced to jail. He offers opportunities for them to better their lives through jobs, housing information, and more,” explained DeVonte. “I learned how important it is to offer these resources to assist in transitioning those incarcerated back into society.”

Beyond locating resources, DeVonte was also given the task of setting up next steps for those who were found guilty. He would discuss mental health evaluations, probation set-up and more, getting hands-on experience supporting individuals in the justice system.

With the combination of this internship experience and his knowledge from the classroom, DeVonte feels prepared to continue progressing in his educational journey right into law school. He said, “Through my internship, I gained so much and it was such a rewarding experience. And in my Peirce classes, I have and continue to learn unique ways to think and present ideas. I have been able to play devil’s advocate and take opposing sides to sharpen my debate skills. All of this combined has prepared me to move on to law school.”

DeVonte offered advice to all those also considering a career in the criminal justice field saying, “Make time for an internship and prioritize networking. It is so important in this line of work as you will get to meet others who share your passion and support your dreams. It is a great way to best prepare yourself.”

Peirce College wishes DeVonte the best of luck as he continues to complete his bachelor’s degree and pursue a law degree.

Monday, August 12, 2019

From Peirce Co-Workers to Peirce Newlyweds, Meet Mr. & Mrs. Marianno

This past June, Peirce College proudly welcomed back two former employees who are also Peirce alumni for an event they will never forget. On Friday, June 28, 2019, Kelly and Sophonie Marianno exchanged vows and officially became husband and wife right on Peirce’s campus in the heart of Center City.

Kelly and Sophonie originally met in May 2008 at Peirce College when they both worked in the Information Technology department. Sophonie was a customer service assistant for the IT team when Kelly joined Peirce as a Systems Support Technician 3.

Sophie originally found Peirce College as an eager student when she moved to the United States. “I was born and raised in Haiti. When I first came to the United States, I wanted to finish my education, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go,” said Sophonie. “I started looking into a college where I could balance my work-life and school-life since I was already into my adult years. I discovered Peirce online and found their flexibility, accelerated classes, night classes, etc. were exactly what I was looking for.” Sophonie graduated from Peirce with her Associate in Science in Business Administration in 2006 and immediately went on to finish her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 2009.

Kelly took a different path to find his place at Peirce. He is originally from Philadelphia and was familiar with Peirce’s historic flexibility and took a few classes in 2003. After deciding to jump into his career instead, he took a break from his education. In 2008, though, he found his way back to Peirce, but this time as an employee. Once Kelly rejoined the Peirce community, he realized it was now time to also go back to school. Kelly said, “As an employee, I realized now is the time to go back to school and finally earn my degree. It felt silly to work at a college and not pursue my degree.” Kelly earned his Associate in Science in Information Technology from Peirce College in 2012.

As Kelly and Sophonie grew as employees and students, their friendship continued to develop. After graduation and moving to new employers, they remained in contact and eventually began to date. Before they knew it, they were engaged and planning a wedding. When deciding where to hold the wedding, an idea popped into their minds.

Sophonie said, “We considered many options for our wedding, and then I thought of Peirce College. It is extremely important to each of us because we met there, we were both educated there, and we were both employed there. Peirce is the place and reason for our connection.”

When they definitely decided on the location, they came to visit Peirce and immediately were reminded of the memories. “A few weeks prior to our wedding, Kelly and I looked at the Peirce courtyard and it was a walk down memory lane. Being at Peirce reminded me of how our relationship started. The hallways, the courtyard, it reminded me of our friendship that started there and grew tremendously. It felt like we were at home again,” Sophonie explained. “Our history at Peirce made it the perfect place for us to get married. We started our story there and we continued our story in the same place.”

The day of the wedding was nothing short of perfect, as they expected. Kelly described it by saying, “As soon as we were back, it really rang true that we were back home. Peirce College hosted not only a beautiful wedding for us, they made the day a welcome home party, as well.”

After a beautiful day and evening full of celebration, Kelly and Sophonie reflected back and are so thankful for the Peirce family who gave so much to make the day as wonderful as it was. “We just want to thank the entire Peirce community for the support and help to make this all happen. Vito Chimenti and his team put in so much work to make it magical and memorable,” exclaimed Sophonie. “I was so glad to see everyone and I am so grateful for all the effort everyone put into it to give us the most beautiful day. It was more than we could have ever asked for.”

Congratulations to Kelly and Sophonie Marianno!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

From 1988 to 2019, Michael Pratt Finally Finished His Degree

Michael Pratt’s journey with Peirce College originally started in 1988, but similar to many Peirce students, life got in the way and he needed to put a hold on his education. Now, over 30 years later, Michael is a proud Peirce graduate with his Bachelor of Science in Accounting.

Michael initially stopped his educational journey because he had just become a new dad and, unfortunately, his mother had fallen ill. Taking on life’s other responsibilities, school got pushed aside and Michael entered the workforce. He found himself immersed in his job and starting to take on more overtime hours. Michael thought he would never return to school.

Then, one day, Michael came to the realization that his daughter was getting older with more independence and his continuous overtime was quickly becoming less and less. Michael was watching television one day and saw a commercial for Peirce. This made him stop and think about what was next for his future.

“My daughter was older and my hours were becoming slim. I realized there was no longer a place for me to go with my organization without a degree,” explained Michael. “Then I saw a Peirce commercial and knew about the College from my previous time, so I decided to give it a shot.”

Michael decided to take just a few classes to see if he could handle it and it turned out he really enjoyed being back in school. He decided to map out his plan to see the timeline and was more than pleasantly surprised. “I connected with my Academic Advisor, Theresa Davis, on how long it would take for me to finish my bachelor’s degree. Turns out it would only take two and a half years! Theresa found all my credits I previously earned at Peirce and applied them all. This made my degree completion even faster,” said Michael.

Michael said his second experience with Peirce was more than he could have ever hoped for. The small evening classes and supportive faculty and staff were exactly what he needed to finish his goal. He said, “Peirce’s flexibility allowed me to continue working while going to school. I never had to worry about not being able to take a class because they were always offered after work. Also, Peirce’s professors were always able and willing to help no matter when or where. I always felt that my questions were important and were answered promptly.”

After working hard, Michael proudly graduated with his Bachelor of Science in Accounting in June 2019. That is not all he earned that day, though. Due to his hard work and dedication to bettering himself professionally, Michael was awarded the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs Student Leadership Award.

After all of his accomplishments, Michael is eager to share his story and advice with others. He said, “If you are considering going back to finish your degree, take a couple classes like I did and see if you enjoy it. It will take work and time, but you can do it. Once you make school a priority, you’ll be done in no time.”

Congratulations to Michael on all of his accomplishments! Peirce College wishes him nothing but the best as he continues to chase his dreams.

Continue to check the blog to see which graduate we will feature next!