Northeast State graduate headed to Princeton U.

Published 12:10 pm Thursday, June 29, 2023

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A Northeast State Community College graduate will soon walk the halls of an Ivy League university in pursuit of his bachelor’s degree. Northeast State announces that Ridge Jaco, a 2022 graduate of the College, will begin attending Princeton University in the upcoming fall semester. The Sullivan East alumnus worked as an aviation electrician in the U.S. Marine Corps for five years before applying to Northeast State, where he discovered his passion for sociology and human behavior. Jaco earned a certificate as well as two associate degrees during his studies at the College. “Northeast State appealed to me because of the variety of trade programs here; I wanted to further my trade,” Jaco said. “I was thinking I’d be in and out in two semesters, and now here I am three years later about to start at Princeton.
His journey to Princeton University came as a surprise opportunity, according to Jaco, who said he received an email – initially believed to be spam – from one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the world. “At first, I thought it was some sort of spam email, but I followed the link and thought, ‘Oh, this is actually real,'” Jaco said. “I tend to stumble into these situations that are good for me. I just stumble through life, and it seems to work.”
The veteran said that his nontraditional path in higher education gave him time to dabble in studies that piqued his interest at Northeast State, where he found a community of educators and mentors who prioritized his growth in and outside the classroom. “There are several instructors at Northeast State who helped me build the confidence to apply to Princeton,” Jaco said. “Dr. Davison really inspired me to change my major to something I’m passionate about. If I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t be going to Princeton.
“Dr. Poole and Professor Slaughter also helped along the way. I always felt like the faculty truly cares here. They gave me the confidence I needed to go for it.” Jaco also thanked Northeast State’s CCAMPIS (Child Care Access Means Parents in School) Program, which assisted his family with childcare costs as he returned to school. “Without the program, I know my grades would have suffered,” Jaco said. “I would’ve had to take online classes and would’ve missed a lot of key networking opportunities. CCAMPIS was an added bonus because we weren’t sure how we were going to do daycare.”
His family will make the move to Princeton, N.J., in August as Jaco embarks on one of his biggest adventures yet. “I think a lot of people in our area can go to Princeton,” Jaco said. “They just need to run into the opportunities. I’ve been very privileged having my education paid for by the military and the childcare paid for by the state. Those are some of the factors that have led me to be successful enough to go to Princeton.”
Jaco encourages fellow students to chase their dreams no matter how intimidating they may seem. He also shared a piece of advice that he believes played a major role in his own accomplishments. “Get to know your professors,” Jaco said. “They’re people, and they’ve dedicated their lives to teaching and want to hear your thoughts.”
Northeast State wishes Ridge the very best as he tackles his coursework at Princeton University and the opportunities that will follow.

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