Todd Ruggiero


by Todd Ruggiero

It was a challenging journey on my way to Collier High School but when I finally got there, everything changed for the better.  I started getting the extra attention I needed and began blossoming not only as a student but as a person.  With the teachers and volunteers at my side, I actually was "happy" for the first time in my life.  I  knew I was in a good place.  I graduated with a scholarship from Collier HS and went to Middlesex County College in the Fall of 2008.   After attending Middlesex for two years, I decided that college wasn't for me.  I sought employment and worked long and hard hours at the Qdoba Mexican Grill until I became the Assistant manager.  I was later transferred to a Florida Qdoba and enjoyed my work as well as living in a state where I really enjoyed the weather.  A year later the company decided to close their Florida Qdobas and I moved back to my family home in NJ.  It was then that I began to realize the importance of staying in college because if I had, I'd have been closer to having my degree.   I did however secure a manager's position at Chipolte Mexican Grill because of the determination that Collier HS instilled in me.  I remember the staff saying "to NOT give up and that I can do whatever I want in life as long as I try."  I guess what I'm trying to say is that while I was at Collier I may not have always agreed with everything that happened but it was a life changer. The teachers and the volunteers truly cared about me.  I was amazed at how every morning they would be monitoring the students progress because they could see their potential and truly wanted the best for them.


I just recently returned to college and am completing my associates degree at Brookdale Community College in PE Education. I'm also working part-time at a Radisson and as a car salesman for Hyundai. 


My story is far from over but I will never forget Collier High School. I will continue to push through it all and succeed, knowing my future depends on me and what I am willing to do for myself.