TODD RUGGIERO CLASS of 2008
by Todd Ruggiero
It was a challenging journey on my
way to Collier High School but when I finally got there, everything
changed for the better. I started getting the extra attention I needed
and began blossoming not only as a student but as a person. With the
teachers and volunteers at my side, I actually was "happy" for the first
time in my life. I knew I was in a good place. I graduated with a
scholarship from Collier HS and went to Middlesex County College in the
Fall of 2008. After attending Middlesex for two years, I decided that
college wasn't for me. I sought employment and worked long and hard
hours at the Qdoba Mexican Grill until I became the Assistant manager.
I was later transferred to a Florida Qdoba and enjoyed my work as well
as living in a state where I really enjoyed the weather. A year later
the company decided to close their Florida Qdobas and I moved back to my
family home in NJ. It was then that I began to realize the importance
of staying in college because if I had, I'd have been closer to having
my degree. I did however secure a manager's position at Chipolte
Mexican Grill because of the determination that Collier HS instilled in
me. I remember the staff saying "to NOT give up and that I can do
whatever I want in life as long as I try." I guess what I'm trying to
say is that while I was at Collier I may not have always agreed with
everything that happened but it was a life changer. The teachers and the
volunteers truly cared about me. I was amazed at how every morning
they would be monitoring the students progress because they could see
their potential and truly wanted the best for them.
I just recently returned to college and am completing my associates
degree at Brookdale Community College in PE Education. I'm also working
part-time at a Radisson and as a car salesman for Hyundai.
My story is far from over but I will never forget Collier High
School. I will continue to push through it all and succeed, knowing my
future depends on me and what I am willing to do for myself.