Dr. Valerie Travis-Reese’s path from high school to earning her doctorate and launching her own counselling practice literally began with a walk in the woods.
Travis-Reese was a student at Oakcrest High School in Mays Landing, Atlantic County. She’d been raised by her paternal grandmother in their family home in Egg Harbor City, one of the sending districts to Oakcrest. Her grandmother passed away when she was a freshman in high school, and while she still earned good grades, she didn’t want to attend high school anymore after discovering another student was able to leave high school early to attend college.
“I didn’t know what college was, but if it meant I could get out of high school, then I was interested,” she recalls. “I asked everyone about college, and one person said, ‘if you want to go to college, there’s one right through the path in the woods.’”
The college was Atlantic Cape Community College. She walked the path to the school, liked what she saw of the campus, and found her way to the admissions office where the staff talked her through the process. After completing the necessary high school courses and college paperwork, she began her college career in January 1979.
Juggling life and her coursework was challenging, but she ultimately earned her associate’s degree in 1982. From there, it was on to Rutgers University – Camden. “Rutgers accepted all my credits from Atlantic Cape,” Dr. Travis-Reese said. “It was a smooth transition and I didn’t have to repeat anything.” She earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 1992.
By this time, Travis-Reese was raising a family and working in the field of psychology in various positions, but she knew she needed her license, so she continued her academic career. By December of 1993, only three semesters after earning her bachelor’s degree, she completed her master’s degree requirements in Student Personnel Services/Counseling at Rowan University in Glassboro. This led her to become a Licensed Professional Counselor.
Dr. Travis-Reese said that she was “just being greedy” when she pursued her doctorate from Argosy University, which she earned in 2011. Her doctorate is in Educational Leadership. “It was worth every ounce of research,” she said.
Today, Dr. Travis-Reese is the CEO of Miracles of the Mind LLC, a mental health private practice and consulting firm located in Cherry Hill.
“Atlantic Cape Community College opened my eyes to college,” Dr. Travis-Reese said. “It was a challenge to balance all my responsibilities and continue my education, but for all the people who wanted to go to college but couldn’t, I figured I had to go all the way! That’s the advice I would give to anyone: get started and keep going.”
Dr. Travis-Reese is one of Atlantic Cape Community College’s favorite alumni. In 2013, the college conferred the fourth President’s Distinguished Alumni Award to her.
“I believe in what community colleges can do for people, and I often encourage others to seriously consider taking classes,” Dr. Travis-Reese said. “Whether you’re working towards a degree, interested in changing careers, or just looking for some enrichment opportunities, community colleges have so much to offer.”
She has been acknowledged by her community for her dedication to providing quality service to others, and has not forgotten where she came from nor how she has been “blessed every step of the way” as she says it, to get to where she is now and while looking forward to the future. “Atlantic Cape Community College has a special place in my heart.”
Learn more about New Jersey’s outstanding community colleges.