As a practitioner in the financial services, Justin Melendez knows a lot about determining value and evaluating return on investment. The 2014 Brookdale graduate calls his time at Brookdale an “astounding return on investment” and credits the experience as helping to carve out his career path. After Brookdale, Melendez attended Rutgers New Brunswick and earned his bachelor’s in accounting in 2017.

“The classes and professors at Brookdale were great and because of the low tuition, I was able to save a lot of money for my future education,” said Melendez, who graduated from Howell High School and now lives in Newark. “I gained a lot of self-confidence during my time at Brookdale and was able to form relationships with my fellow students and professors who were available in and outside the class room to guide and to encourage.” He cited Professors Laura Neitzel, Debbie Meyer, Phyllis Shafer, Barbara Boyington, Daniel Leyes, Roseanne Alvarez and John Costigan as playing major roles in his development as a student and person.

Lisa Savage, Justin Melendez, and Peggy Austin.
(Left to right) Lisa Savage, Justin Melendez, and Peggy Austin.

Melendez started a new position in 2018 as a fund accountant before being promoted to senior fund accountant in 2019 in Citco Fund Services’ Real Assets division in Jersey City, NJ. He performs accounting services and related work for investment funds specializing in real estate and infrastructure. As for career goals, he aims to become a fund controller. Eventually, he would like to retire early and focus on philanthropic activities aimed at helping others improve their standard of living.

While at Brookdale, Melendez supplemented his academic experience with extracurricular activities. He was involved in numerous service projects and activities with his fellow honors program colleagues and served on the student life board. He said these experiences stimulated his leadership skills and ability to communicate with a broad range of people.

He was part of the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) program at Brookdale and returned in the spring semester to speak to some of the recent graduates at the Graduate Recognition Ceremony. He urged the new graduates to “be advocates for yourselves and others.” Melendez spoke about the support provided by the EOF staff in partnering with students to succeed. He encouraged the recent graduates to “think critically and persevere in attaining your goals.”