New Jersey Assemblyman Jamel Holley had received a great report about Union County College’s Academic Learning Centers, so he wanted to get a first-hand view.

When he was Roselle’s Mayor and as an adjunct instructor at the College, he had heard high praise about the Academic Learning Center. “Constituents and students have come up to me over the years telling me that they wouldn’t have made it to graduation were it not for the tutoring help they received at the ALC,” he says.

Now as Assemblyman for the 20th District, and recently appointed to the NJ State Assembly’s Higher Education Committee, he decided to make visiting the ALC a priority.

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Assemblyman Holley went to the ALC on May 21. Even though the College’s Spring semester had ended a week before, and Commencement held a day before, the ALC was still in business serving students looking to get a jump on summer-term classes.

What gives the ALC its edge are its “peer tutors.” These are the high-achieving Union County College students or recent graduates who earn work-study pay to provide tutoring assistance on all three Union campuses for any student asking for help.

The numbers of students served is staggering. Over the past year, the ALC’s peer tutors provided more than 50,000 instruction sessions across all disciplines, but mostly in Math. In fact, five years ago, when Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin became Union’s president, one of her first priorities was to establish Math Success Centers as part of each campus ALC.

During his tour of the ALC on Union’s Cranford Campus, Assemblyman Holley devoted much of his visit to listening to students individually discuss their own educational and career aspirations. “The stories of these students, their backgrounds and their dreams—they tug at your heartstrings. I felt a great deal of empathy for them.”

Empathy proved to be a two-way street as Assemblyman Holley told his own story, of his being raised in the County by a single mother and having overcome a number of obstacles on his own path to success.

His message to students was welcome: “Keep studying hard and making the most of the opportunity that Union County College is offering. This is a great community college and a Union County treasure.”