Shanice Edwards is breaking the cycle in her family. The cycle of “work, work, work,” she says, to make ends meet. While she always looked up to her family members who took on two and even three jobs to pay the bills, she also knew that if she earned a college degree, it would open doors for herself, her siblings and others in her family. She wanted to lead by example and her parents encouraged her to pursue higher education.
Now a proud Caldwell graduate, having completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology with a minor in chemistry from Caldwell University — in just three years — her determination has paid off. As the first person in her family to graduate from college, Edwards has thrown a proverbial pebble in the pond; the ripples will continue for generations.
Growing up in Magnolia, New Jersey (Camden County), Edwards says her mother taught her the importance of faith and worship. From a young age, Edwards showed an interest in both science and mathematics. She learned practical, life-saving techniques like CPR and basic first aid when she cared for her sister and four brothers.
At Caldwell, despite the rigors of her studies and a per-semester load of 18 credits, Edwards excelled, even while holding two part-time jobs—as a nursing assistant off campus and as a library assistant at the Caldwell Public Library and being involved in activities. During the school year, she attended Bible study weekly and went to church each Sunday. Her faith, she said, “plays a big role in my life and success.”
In the summer between her freshman and sophomore years, Edwards was chosen to participate in the Premedical Urban Leaders Summer Enrichment Program, at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, where she focused on urban health, a field she intends to pursue, to become a general practitioner for underserved urban patients. Her honors project focused on concussions and mood changes.
On campus, Edwards enjoyed activities that allowed her to engage in community service. From her favorite club, “Circle K,” and its trips to the food bank, to the Campus Ministry “Midnight Runs,” that reach out to the homeless in New York City, to the Health Professions Club’s “Halloween for Hunger” food drive and the Earth Club’s beach and park cleanup days, she found fulfillment in giving to and helping others. The Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) program has been her anchor here – a “family away from family.” She plans to continue mentoring EOF students.
Edwards says she is grateful for the exposure to people from diverse backgrounds and cultures at Caldwell and the professors in the Natural Sciences Department. During her sophomore year, she went on her first international trip, through Caldwell’s short-term study-abroad program, “Studying the Foundations of the Dominican Tradition in Rome.” That experience inspired her to make travel a part of her life and to encourage her family to do the same.
“With self-discipline and time management, if you put your mind to it, you can do anything,” says Edwards. After taking a “gap year,” she plans to attend o medical school. Her immediate plans include volunteer work with the American Red Cross and possibly with Doctors without Borders.
Wherever her path leads, Edwards is grateful for her time on campus, saying, “I’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity and so many new experiences at Caldwell.”