Siblings from Brooklyn by Way of Jamaica Graduate from Berkeley College with Honors

Najeree Wallace was just one semester ahead of her brother Rajiv when she enrolled at Berkeley College to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting in August 2018. But Rajiv, who is a year and four days younger, was ambitious. After he enrolled to earn a degree in Financial Services, he spoke with his academic advisor and recognized that by adding a few more courses in Accounting, he could earn two undergraduate degrees in three years, and that is just what he did. The siblings graduated with honors, receiving their degrees at the Berkeley College Commencement ceremony on May 10, 2019, at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.

Both Najeree and Rajiv cited Berkeley College resources and the approachable faculty with real-world experience as standout Berkeley attributes, but being able to support each other throughout their undergraduate journeys also contributed to their success. The two received training for and worked as peer tutors at the Berkeley College Center for Academic Success (CAS) in New York City. The CAS provides resources and services that support all academic programs and courses for students, who have access to both peer and professional tutors, available during the day, evenings, and weekends.

“I received the most encouragement through CAS. It prepared us for everything,” Najeree said. “We were ready to be with people professionally because we had to go through training, working with students, staff and faculty. This learning enhanced our experience at Berkeley.”

“The teachers having real world experience is what sets Berkeley College apart,” Rajiv said. “They are friendly and professional. You can ask them about anything, not just schoolwork, and you get real feedback. You can talk to someone specifically about your situation.”

Najeree secured an internship with the help of the Berkeley College Office of Career Services as a junior accountant at the Brooklyn Bowl, a restaurant and entertainment establishment. She began fulltime employment as a staff accountant at the Dance Theatre of Harlem in February 2019.

“Right now I am getting really good experience. It is a great opportunity to land a job like this right out of school. I will go for my Master’s degree and CPA (certified public accountant),” Najeree said. Her ultimate goal is to become a controller, and perhaps to go into auditing.

Rajiv appreciates the field of accounting and he arrived at Berkeley with some familiarity in that field as well as in mathematics. He was looking for a more analytical approach to his career and found it in Financial Services. His sister had already started earning her degree and was excited about the field.

“I wanted to do something total different,” Rajiv said. “I wanted something with math. Finance can use that accounting information and analyze it, and make further projections.”

Rajiv is also excited about earning his college degrees in a comparatively short amount of time.

“If I had to go to another school, one degree would take me four years, but at Berkeley, there were Saturday classes, and going year-round reduced the time significantly. Instead of still being in school, I have two degrees that took me three years,” he said.

Because he continued to work part-time as a peer tutor, Rajiv conducted his internship online. He expects to secure fulltime employment this year. He also will pursue his Master’s degree and looks forward to obtaining certification as a financial planner (CFP), perhaps one day collaborating with his sister to establish their own firm.

When asked about whether sibling rivalry is a help or a hindrance, he said, “It’s healthy. We get along. It is really competitive, but friendly. She will take courses I have taken and I help her, and she does the same for me. I like competition and I take classes from professors who are challenging, whom I know I can learn the most from.”

Photo Caption: (Above, L to R) Berkeley College sibling graduates, Rajiv and Najeree Wallace of Brooklyn, NY, don their regalia at a 2019 Grad Salute, celebrating graduates who would receive diplomas on May 10, 2019, at the Berkeley College Commencement ceremony in Newark, NJ.