Alumni Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT ON Bianca Day- Class of 2010

Bianca DayMy name is Bianca and I graduated from Collier High School in 2010.  My journey as a responsible adult after graduating has been quite an experience.  I didn't attend college immediately after graduation but I did give myself time to think about what I wanted to do with my future.  I eventually made a great decision when I decided to attend the Sanford Brown Institute in North Brunswick, NJ and became a Medical Assistant in  2015.

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My journey has a lot of twists and turns in it and I didn’t see myself invested in a sports management degree until recently. In fact at the beginning, college didn’t even seem attainable to me.  After graduating high school, I didn’t really have any aspiration to go on to college immediately.  I was tired of school to say the least after my turbulent time in high school.  I had to try to keep busy somehow cause no one in my family would stand for me for not doing anything for more than a few months.  So despite my dismay, I went through with Middlesex County College and sure enough I dropped out of all my classes in my first semester.  Not the story book journey that most people take but as far as I was concerned, I would instead spend my time figuring out where I fit in the world professionally.  During this time, I picked up some job experience working in kitchens in senior living facilities until a friend suggested looking into things I love and look up careers in them.  That suggestion as well as doing a career test to see where my interest might lie brought me to sports medicine, mainly physical therapy.  Being a big sports fan, I fit right in to this profession. This is where I had my first true sense of direction since leaving high school and the feeling was unreal. That coupled with my time off to clear my head molded me into a capable human without me knowing.

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Bryan CarrollBryan's journey after graduation began at Raritan Valley Community College in Bridgewater, NJ.  He attended part-time for two years while involving himself in various community music projects.  In 2015, Brian formed his first band called Pixelface.  Since that time, he has been regularly playing in four different bands (Knightly, Ventress, Young Bucks and Super Thrash Brothers) alternating as a drummer and lead singer.  "I practice every day and play mostly on the weekends," noted Bryan.

Bryan has also created his own booking and production agency called Beardly Booking.  They feature new bands at the All Star Music Empire Music School in Flemington, NJ, which doubles as a venue for the bands on weekends.   While playing in bands and booking events for the new ones, Bryan has also been employed full-time at the Home Depot as a receiving supervisor since 2016.

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EGIt’s hard to imagine that it’s been 19 years since I graduated. It’s funny, because I came to Collier as a troubled kid who had a major problem with authority and relationships. I was very lucky to grow up in a good home, but I was constantly battling everything. My parents loved me, but I fought them hard. Now they are some of my best friends.  I also remember giving Mr. Breen, Mr. Buchanan, Mr. Talty and Mr. Donahue headaches.  I visited  Mr. Bock and Mrs. Colmore numerous times. I really didn't get involved while in school, but I knew the teachers cared about me. I was that kid that others may be shocked to read about. The teachers really took time out of their days for me. Maybe that’s why I fought back and always caused trouble. The teachers at Collier cared, even for a goofball like me. It's funny because I look back now and my advice would be to try the best you can and you won't regret it.  You can fight city hall, but you won't win. And I didn’t, I just delayed things.  READ MORE

Jack Lang - Class of 2015
Jack Lang

After graduating in CHS in 2015, Jack began employment repairing cars with Avis Rental, where he remained for the next two years.  He still has a passion for cars to this day. However, in February 2018, Jack found employment at Integrated Services Incorporated in Monroe, where he currently resides.  Jack completes the process of specking out a machine that is requested by a company. He is a systems specialist who also does repairing, labeling and coding of the machines.  His employment necessitates that he travel to various states for their customers. "I work with people from around the world. "My CHS English classes taught me how to write a proper business letter," noted Jack.  He went on to say, "There's so much that I learned at Collier that influences my work every day. Every teacher had an impact on me in a different way."  


His parting words to alumni were, "Don't give up or be afraid to reach out of your comfort zone."  Jack has been quite pleased that he took a chance with this position and now he is hoping to buy his own home.

JOHN BARBATO  Class of 1988
John Barbato

John visited CHS briefly in May 2019 and caught up in the cafeteria with Mr. Gillespie (L) and Mr. Lapp, standing behind him. 

After graduation John enlisted in U. S. Marines and served two tours of duty in Iraq.  He currently resides in Beachwood, NJ.

Thank you for your service to our country, John.

Ryan Schwendel (L) will be attending the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York.  Ashley Morin (R) will be attending the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.

Class of 2019

Maggie Bruno, RN -- Class of 2007
Maggie BrunoAfter attending Collier High School for four years, Maggie attended Ocean County College with an interest in nursing.  She first received her Certified Nursing Assistant certificate and was employed in Home Health Care while taking classes to become a Registered Nurse.  In 2013, Maggie became a licensed Registered Nurse and began her career in the medical/surgical unit of Monmouth Medical Center.  Since 2015, she has been a full time intensive care unit nurse.  Maggie is currently taking classes at Kean University to receive her Bachelor's in Nursing.  Her future goal is to acquire her Master's in Nursing and then become a Nurse Practitioner. 

In her spare time, Maggie is involved and a member of the N.J. Nurses Union, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU.   She noted that, "I've learned how to be a voice for others and to refocus it for a good cause.  I am grateful to Collier High School for where I am in my life now.  I see how giving back honors what I received from others.  Like my counselor Patty Hart, who was always there for me.   CHS gave me the confidence I needed to believe in myself and my abilities."  

Maggie currently lives in Brick, NJ with her six year old daughter, Emelia.  As this was going to press, Maggie and her fiance were expecting a son in October 2017.

David Patrusevich -- Class of 2003
David Patresevich, former Collier Youth Services student

David entered Delaware Valley University in Pennsylvania in September 2003 and received his Bachelor's degree in Biology in the Zoology track in 2013.  While he was studying for his degree, David was employed full-time in retail but he was also involved in various research projects in ornathology in Arizona.  In 2008, he completed a field job in Lake Havasu doing bird surveys. That same year he conducted surveys for Northern Arizona University with the Yellow Billed Cuckoos, an endangered species of birds.  In his spare time he volunteered at the Tuscon Audubon Society where he monitored bluebird nest boxes.  The following is a list of the many places that David determined the diversity and density of the bird population and was able to identify their species and songs:  In Texas, David was at the Big Bend National Park, Amistad National Recreation Area, Guadalupe Mountains and the Fort Davis National Monument.  In New Mexico he was at the White Sands National Monument and the Carlsbad Caverns.

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Thomas Lovas -- Class of 2004

Alumni of Collier High School -- a NJ alternative High school

Tom was admitted to Collier High School in 2001 after attending three other high schools. Though as he puts it, “I was a fight risk,” Collier took a chance on what was a rocky sophomore year.  However, each year got progressively better because Tom began connecting with staff that made a difference to him.  Mr. Bickart, Ms. DiStefano, Ms. White and Mr. Bock recognized his interests and cultivated it in the classroom.  Tom recalled Mr. Bock encouraging him to join the wrestling team to help diffuse some of his anger.  In 2003, Tom took first place in his weight class on the wrestling team.  Tom noted, I will always appreciate the support that was given to me at Collier. “I learned more because I could be myself.”

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Matthew Gavaghen -- Class of 2011


Alumni of Collier High School -- a NJ alternative High school

I was a student at Collier High School from 2007 until I graduated in 2011. One thing that stands out most to me regarding my academic career at Collier is the feeling of being part of a team.  A team that is working together to help each other reach our full potential through the freedom of complete self-expression, supportiveness, and comfort. My first day at Collier was one of the happiest days of my life and I still remember it very well, even after 8 years.

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David Dietz – Class of 1992

I graduated from Collier High School in 1992. By itself, this was an accomplishment many never saw coming. As far as I was concerned, school and I were done! I had no use for school, and it was actually quite obvious that most schools had no use for me—so it was a mutual breakup.As part of an “agreement,” I visited several alternative schools in the area. Collier High School was different. What makes Collier different? Collier was, and is, a community that treats its students as individuals and tries to understand what makes them tick.

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Ryan Birmingham – Collier High School 1999-2001

Alumni of Collier High School -- a NJ alternative High school

“Everyone is so accepting, and everyone makes you feel comfortable,” said Ryan Birmingham. “Whatever you were into ‘worked’ at Collier.” Ryan attended Collier during his sophomore and junior years before returning to his home district for senior year and graduation. A self-described “preppy jock,” Ryan said that he had stayed within his own clique in public school and did not give others a chance. “I was very judgmental [when I came], but that all changed at Collier…It changed me because it was the norm for everyone to interact there.”  

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Alumni of Collier High School -- a NJ alternative High school

Alyssa Alvarez – Class of 2009

“Collier prepped me for the ‘real world,’” recalls Alyssa Alvarez.“When I [graduated], I fell flat on my face and realized I needed to change. So I looked back on what I learned at Collier, and figured out what I needed to do.” Although Alyssa’s self-assessment may be overly critical, like so many young people, she simply needed to try a few different paths before finding the one that was right for her.

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Michelle Vitacco - Class of 1988

Alumni of Collier High School -- a NJ alternative High school

Michelle began her cosmetology career as a manicurist at the House of Nails in Old Bridge, immediately after graduation. The 200 hours she acquired in Ms. Bev's cosmetology class allowed her to take the licensing exam. She eventually opened her own private manicuring space in 1990 in conjunction with En Vogue Salon in Sayreville until 1993.  

Michelle was married in 1995 and moved to Long Island where she had her daughter Katelyn in 1996. She then decided in 1998 to change course and venture into nursing and became a certified nursing assistant through the American Red Cross.  Michele worked in private duty and a nursing home for the next ten years.  

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Todd Ruggerio - Class of 2008Alumni of Collier High School -- a NJ alternative High school
by Todd Ruggerio

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.  

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Mark Jeacoma - Class of 2004

Alumni of Collier High School -- a NJ alternative High school

"If I didn’t have [Collier] as a constant at that time, I would’ve been a disaster!”  That’s how Mark Jeacoma summed up his experience at Collier High School, which he attended for his sophomore through senior years before graduating in June of 2004.  A self-described “hard kid,” Mark was kicked out of his district school for fighting, placed in rehab, and then referred to Collier.  During this time, his parents were also having difficulty that eventually resulted in a bitter divorce but,according to Mark, “They didn’t agree about anything, but they both loved this place!”

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Quentin Davis - Class of 2006

Yes it's true....Quentin Davis, Class of 2006 had the opportunity to sing at the famous Apollo Theater in New York City on June 30, 2010.  Long before there was an America's Got Talent or an American Idol, the Apollo Theater gave young vocalists the opportunity to showcase their talent.  

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Alumni of Collier High School -- a NJ alternative High school