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Compassion Reveals Pathway To Lifelong Passion

Georgian Court University 2024 Student Spotlight Melissa Binoya

As Melissa Binoya prepares to complete the 4 + 1 program to achieve her Master’s in Integrative Health at Georgian Court University (Summer 2024), her belief that compassion can transform lives is stronger than ever.

A dedicated wife and mother of six, full-time dialysis technician, and first-generation college student, Melissa credits her support networks with enabling her to balance many responsibilities and thrive in the face of unexpected challenges.

When she was just five years old, Melissa’s mother passed away and since her father was in the Philippines, she was raised by her grandparents. She struggled to prioritize her education, and, at fifteen years old, she became pregnant and had to drop out of school to care for her new baby. Through several years of trials, Melissa began to doubt whether she’d ever have an opportunity to pursue her education and improve her life.

“With the grace of the Lord, I found love and was welcomed into a supportive, beautiful family that accepted me and my children with open arms. I finally felt that I had the opportunity to get my life back on track,” Melissa recalled.

At 26 years old, Melissa proudly achieved her High School Diploma after attending the St. Francis Community Center Adult Education Program and has been pursuing higher-education aspirations ever since. While Melissa pursued her Liberal Arts degree at Ocean County College, her niece began attending Georgian Court, inspiring Melissa to attend an Open House to learn more about the university’s offerings and opportunities. After meeting with a few advisors, Melissa decided that GCU was the perfect place to pursue her lifelong dream: a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

As fate would have it, Melissa began her coursework at Georgian Court just before the 2020 COVID pandemic, forcing her to simultaneously adjust to a new school, online learning, and working 20-hour shifts as an essential medical worker. After a few stressful semesters, Melissa fell behind in her required coursework and failed a prerequisite class by a single point. She continued to push through two more semesters, but mounting stress and a week-long hospitalization due to medical complications took their toll and she lost eligibility to continue in the nursing program.

“Nursing was my one goal for so long. I felt like I had failed and there wasn’t anything else I wanted to do. I thought that my education was over until I talked with Dr. Komagata,” said Melissa, “She was my rock, and I give her all the credit for where I am today. She was empathetic and compassionate.”

Melissa had enrolled in a few Integrative Medicine classes to fill her schedule and realized that perhaps she had discovered a secondary passion.

“Dr. Komagata worked with me to explore my interest in integrative medicine, then considered my transcripts and helped me plot a viable plan to complete the program.”

Though Melissa’s path hasn’t been straight, nor without obstacles along the way, today, it’s hard to recall a time when continuing her education seemed out of reach. Her eyes are bright as she considers the next steps toward achieving her aspirations.

“Georgian Court was my stepping-stone to my higher purpose in life. It’s all still a work in progress, just like me, but I’m currently exploring naturopathic medicine doctorate programs with the dream of opening my own integrative practice in New Jersey.”

Melissa continued, “My experiences at GCU have deepened my faith, developed my sense of meaning, and broadened my perspectives. I look forward to sharing the healing benefits of a spiritually integrative medical practice with my community.”

Aerial view of GCU.

About Georgian Court University

Georgian Court University is a leading regional university that provides a transformative education, preparing students for ethical leadership and service in the Catholic Mercy tradition. Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is Central and South Jersey’s only Catholic university. The university has a strong liberal arts core and a historic special concern for women.

As a forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, GCU is known for expanding possibility for more than 1,900 students of all faiths and backgrounds in 35+ undergraduate majors and 10+ graduate programs. The GCU Lions compete in 16 NCAA Division II sports in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC). In 2020, GCU was named a Best Value College by and a Best Bang for the Buck (Northeast) by Washington Monthly. High student retention and graduation rates make GCU a Top Performer on Social Mobility on U.S. News & World Reports rankings.

The main campus is in Lakewood, New Jersey, on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, also serves students through its Center for Professional Studies, and at other locations, including GCU at Brookdale, and through multiple online degree and certificate programs.