Casey Maliszewski FP’10: Turning Struggle into Success at the White House

Until the moment Casey Maliszewski FP’10 walked onto the campus of Raritan Valley Community College, she had never set foot inside a classroom. Homeschooled through the end of high school, Casey worked as a dancer with the Contemporary Dance Theater of El Salvador in Washington, DC, until injuries forced an end to her career.

Finding she couldn’t shoulder the cost of her state university, Casey somewhat hesitantly enrolled at Raritan. After completing her associate’s degree, she transferred to Mount Holyoke and today is pursuing a graduate degree at Columbia University.

This fall, Casey was invited to speak at the White House for a first-ever summit on community colleges. Hosted by Jill Biden, a community college professor married to Vice President Joe Biden, the summit was a chance for students to share the impact community colleges had on their lives in hopes that more money will be allotted to these schools in the future.

Casey was selected to attend thanks to her work as international president of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. Topics discussed at the summit ranged from affordability and financial aid to how community colleges use their resources to help veterans and military families.

“The point of it was to highlight community colleges and bring some visibility to the fact that they’re vital institutions for this country,” says Casey.

Though initially reluctant to attend a community college, she now credits Raritan for preparing her for MHC. “At community college, you’re given individual attention from the professors, so it really helps you to grow academically, and there are a lot of volunteer and extracurricular opportunities to help yourself grow as a leader,” she says.

Through her own personal experiences and her academic work, Casey has developed a passion for policy within higher education and plans to continue speaking out on the benefits of community colleges.

—By Laurel Rhame ’12

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