Kaylor Delmonte ‘22 has a strong work ethic. He always has—working at least two jobs while going to high school and through college. Banquet hall waitering, bartending, construction work or snow shoveling, “I’ve always had a lot on my plate … I don’t complain,” says the Caldwell University senior.
The jobs provide opportunities “to help make people’s days better. I’m very good at understanding people,” says Delmonte, who is studying for his bachelor’s in psychology with a minor in communication and media studies.
In May he will be the first in his family to earn a university degree; his younger sister is also attending college. “I beat the statistics,” says Delmonte, referring to his high school where he said the teachers tended to steer students toward trade schools rather than the pursuit of university education.
While he was in high school, a series of relationships led Delmonte to a staff member at one of the Boys and Girls Clubs who took him for a visit to Caldwell University’s campus, opening the door.
He originally came to Caldwell to play baseball but realized this was not possible given all he had to do to make ends meet and the need to focus on his studies. He stayed in school when it got tough. Why? “Because I have a competitive spirit.” He needed to prove he could do it. “None of these teachers are going to allow me to fail, so I am not going to allow myself to fail.” Caldwell, with its small class size and faculty attentiveness, was the best place for him. “If I was at a bigger campus, I would not be able to focus.”
At Caldwell, Delmonte has met people from around the world with different backgrounds sharing the same goal. In this environment “you find that little piece of gold,” says Delmonte who is proud of his Dominican heritage. The University’s atmosphere teaches students “to learn how to deal with different personalities. We are brothers and sisters because we went through the same struggles together—companions through the struggle.”
A member of the Educational Opportunity Fund program, Delmonte visits the EOF offices several times a day to do homework and to talk to the staff and students. “I come here when I’m stressed; it is a comfortable space.” He helps out too, lending a hand to EOF staff members with anything they need including emceeing and setting up events. He is quite good at this since he has worked in the restaurant business. “I feel obligated. They are helping me finish strong.” He recounts how one EOF counselor in particular challenged and supported him, getting “on my case.”
Delmonte has visited high schools in his hometown of Paterson to encourage students to enroll in college. “I tell them, ‘At least give it a try. You will meet people you are going to mesh well with.’” It is important for them to see other young people who are pursuing their degrees. Growing up, “I did not see many of ‘me’ going to college,” says Delmonte.
Upon graduation, Delmonte plans to work in real estate. He took a training course over the summer and is studying for the licensing exam. His long-term goal is to own a counseling therapy center in Paterson. He knows young people need help with anger management. It was something he had to face in his own life. Counseling helped him “even it out,” and he wants that for other adolescents and teens.
For someone who has always worked hard, Delmonte knows a degree is only the beginning of another journey. “It is good to know my parents are proud. It is humbling to know my mother has someone in our family who earned a degree,” says Delmonte. “But the degree, it is just a stepping stone to the next step. I need to keep going.” ###