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Family influences and a lifetime friendship propelled Lisa A. Dews ’02 to be successful in both her academic and career journeys.
“I had several aunts who worked as administrative staff at New Jersey Bell. They encouraged me to become a secretary like them. After high school, I attended an eight-month program at Katharine Gibbs School and earned their secretarial certificate in May 1985. The very next month, I joined Prudential where I grew in my career until retirement,” said Dews who grew up in East Orange.
Throughout her rewarding career at Prudential, Dews attended classes part time. In 1993, she returned to Katharine Gibbs School and earned the Associate of Science in Secretarial Studies degree in 1995. “Prudential was very good about providing professional development opportunities and promoting from within. I started as a secretary level one and soon made it to senior executive secretary. At one point early on, Prudential also sent a number of us to a National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) conference. I was so impressed with the recent college grads who were receiving awards, that I thought ‘Why can’t I do this?’”
In 1999, Dews soon discussed her desire to pursue a bachelor’s degree with her best friend, who quickly made an appointment with the admissions office at Bloomfield College. “I remembered taking a mathematics course at Bloomfield to complete my Associates degree at Katharine Gibbs, so I was familiar with the campus. Meeting with an admission counselor and having the application fee waived, confirmed that we made the right decision in coming to Bloomfield College. It was not until much later that I learned that my uncle had also graduated from Bloomfield in 1966. The family connection I have with the College has been there from the start,” said Dews, whose daughter will also graduate from Bloomfield this May with a degree in media communications.
“I really liked the small campus size at Bloomfield. The students really got to know the professors on a personal level. The classes were intimate, and the professors knew us and would support us individually. Most of us were working during the day and attended night and Saturday classes. The Advisors were great at figuring out evening class schedules. We were serious about learning, we were highly engaged and everyone contributed in class,” said Dews.
Dews’ career at Prudential continued to thrive as she pursued earning her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Management. “The classes gave me skills I could use going forward, such as managing the budget for the audit department. As a result of the courses I took, and earning the degree, I became Associate Manager in the marketing administration department and had four people reporting to me. I then went to the employee relations department, where I managed the employee recreation association with about 12 locations across the country. I traveled to Illinois, Arizona, California, Georgia, Florida and Minnesota as part of my job.”
Dews steadily advanced into higher level positions with greater responsibility. She developed extensive experience with budgets, records management and business continuity processes, and in developing human resources guidelines and policies to improve her organization’s ability to compete in dynamic markets. After 36 and-a-half years at Prudential, and two children along the way, Dews retired from her final role at the company as Administration Manager in the compensation and benefits department.
“Bloomfield College put me onto an amazing path to a successful career, and I am thankful to have always made the time to come back and share what I’ve learned with students,” said Dews. “My best friend is with me in this as well. When we graduated, we were the pioneers who instituted the Alumni Association. We were grateful for our experience at Bloomfield, and felt we wanted to reach back and engage future students. For years, we were the co-chairs for the Alumni Gala, bringing important scholarship dollars to the students. There were numerous other supportive activities, including bringing non-perishables to the students who stayed on campus over the winter break.”
Dews’ post-graduate involvement with the College is just as solid today. She currently serves on the Bloomfield College Alumni Association (BCAA) Emeritus Committee, which advises the Alumni Association Executive Board by sharing past experiences and historical knowledge. The Emeritus Committee members are also an integral part of planning highly successful career panel discussions scheduled for current students to interact with alumni and learn from their life journeys. Dews has attended all but two Bloomfield College commencement ceremonies since 2003 when she earned her degree, and once served as an alumni marshal.
Dews added, “I would stress to recent grads to keep in touch and get involved with the BCAA because it’s important for the new students to know that we are here for them. It’s important to give back, and one way to do this is to return for events that will support those who follow you.”