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TESU Director of Graduate Education Retires to Pursue Education

Vanessa Meredith

Meredith to return to TESU as an Accelerated BSN Program student

Vanessa Meredith has spent her career in higher education. First as a student services coordinator for New Jersey Institute of Technology, then as program coordinator for UMDNJ (University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey) School of Public Health and, finally, as director of graduate enrollment for Thomas Edison State University in Trenton.

Now, after 25 years in education, she is retiring. To do what? Get some more education of her own, of course.

Meredith, who lives in Mt. Holly, N.J., already has an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master’s degree in human services. But this summer, she will begin her pursuit of an RN and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, so that she can become a hospice nurse. Her last day at Thomas Edison will be March 31.

As Meredith explains it, several factors have contributed to this late career change. Part of the decision is based on her experience helping adult students at Thomas Edison attain graduate degrees to set themselves on the path to new careers. Witnessing the excitement and pride students have, from the moment of acceptance to the moment of graduation, has been inspiring. And much of it has been the experiences she’s had providing care for terminally ill members of her own family. And, finally, there’s her new living arrangement in the cemetery at the historic St. Andrews Graveyard in Mt. Holly.

Meredith and her husband, Joe, also retired, agreed last year to begin occupying the formerly empty caretaker house on the cemetery property. They have the privilege of caring for the cemetery grounds and its headstones, and the couple lives on the church-owned property, which was built in 1894.

She and her husband get help from her adult son, Ryan, who lives nearby. “But it’s really my job, because this was a dream come true for me,” she says.

Meredith will take some prerequisite nursing classes at Rowan College at Burlington County during the summer session and then apply for admission to Thomas Edison’s W. Cary Edwards School of Nursing Accelerated BSN Program. Her goal is to be able to work in a hospice facility or to provide home care for terminally ill patients.

“I’ve always felt like I can help people. Having gone through the hospice experience several times with family members, I have found there’s grace and beauty in this last stage of life,” she explains.

And the cemetery upkeep?

“I’ll juggle that too. I’ve always worked full time and either gone to college or worked part time. I believe, if you love what you do, you find a way to make it work.”

Toni M. Terry, BA

"I am 67 years old, soon to be 68, and to be able to say I did this at this day in my life is just gratification for my own self."

Watch Toni »