For Absegami grad, road to success begins with learning

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Briana Saddler Briana Saddler

GALLOWAY – A 2011 Absegami High School graduate already knows the secret to success.

Suppose you are in high school and can’t pick a major.

“You probably have a general idea of what subjects you like – let that guide you,” said Briana Saddler, 19, a sophomore at the College of New Jersey in Trenton. “Once you get into college and take classes, you’ll have some clarity about what you want to do in the future.”

“From when I was a child, to a high school student, to now, I’ve wanted to be a veterinarian, a writer, a lawyer – and now I want to do federal law enforcement and perhaps write on the side,” she said. “Don’t sweat it. Just figure out what subjects you like, do what you love, don’t let opportunity pass you by, focus on learning and work hard.

That sure sounds like good advice.

“I was accepted into TCNJ as an undergraduate criminology major,” Saddler said. “After completing high school, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to end up doing after college. I had many interests, including cello, law, music and writing, and I was looking forward to taking classes at TCNJ to hone in on what I wanted to do.”

She took criminology classes during her first year, and her interest was solidified by her professors.

“I wasn’t exactly sure what direction I wanted to go in as far as my career – criminology is an extremely broad field,” Saddler said. “Since high school, being a lawyer always interested me, but as of now I want to pursue a career in federal law enforcement. If I am able to secure a job in federal law enforcement once I graduate in 2015, I’ll be ecstatic.” She said she also wants to attend graduate school.

“The Jeffrey Ralston Foundation Scholarship was awarded to me during the fall semester of this year and will follow me until I graduate,” Saddler said. “The foundation was started by Betsy Ross Ralston Brooks in honor of her son, Jeffrey Ralston, who was a Neptune City police patrolman who died at the age of 34 in 1997.”

Ralston’s goal was to support academically strong students interested in law enforcement who also were in need of financial aid in memory of her son.

Betsy Ross Ralston passed away at the end of 2000 after battling breast cancer, Saddler said, but the foundation was entrusted to close friends.

“I, along with three other criminology majors of the TCNJ Class of 2015 were selected for the award by the staff of the TCNJ Criminology Department,” she said.

Her advice to high school students is to stay focused.

“It’s OK to have fun in high school, but you also want to focus on your grades and be involved in your school, Saddler said. “You’ll have your pick of colleges and universities when it’s time to apply in the fall of your junior year.”

Saddler is the daughter of Yvonne and Toney Saddler of Galloway.

Her mother said she remembers about four years ago when Saddler was selected to attend the National Youth Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C., while she was also playing cello for the Atlantic Youth Orchestra.

“Currently, she is a member of the Jersey Shore Pops Orchestra,” Yvonne Saddler said.

“Just recently TCNJ awarded Briana with a scholarship which we are very excited about. I believe her accomplishments so far will be an encouragement to other local high school students.”

She said her daughter has always had a variety of interests.

“She developed a love for reading and writing short stories at a very young age,” Saddler said. “She had no interest in sports, but freshman year she decided to be on the Absegami crew team. As the coxswain for the Freshman 8, she led her team to nationals for the first time.”

Music was another talent.

“Her love for playing the cello allowed her to make first chair in the Atlantic Youth Orchestra,” Saddler said. “Once Briana takes an interest in something, she gives it her all.”

She used to enjoy watching television with her grandmother, according to her mother.

“She would record and watch every episode of Judge Judy,” Saddler said. “Her father and I thought she would study law, until she told us that she wanted to be a criminology major.”

Briana was in the top 14 percent of her graduating class, but she needed to be in the top 10 percent to get scholarship money from TCNJ.

“So we are so thankful she was one of the students selected for the Jeffrey Ralston Foundation Scholarship,” her mother said.

“Briana has worked hard and we are proud of her accomplishments,” Saddler said. “We thank God, and pray that her future will continue to be full of success and happiness and that she will use her talents to help others someday.”

She, too, has advice – for parents and students.

“My advice to parents is: Encourage your students to always do their best to get good grades and give them lots of love and support,” Yvonne Saddler said. “To students: Your journey to success begins with learning.”

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