Barbara Horl, Vice Chairperson on the Board of Trustees of Brookdale Community College, is a dedicated advocate for education. She was raised to believe that education was the key to opportunity and the way to achieve a life that would be better than her parents and grandparents. She knew it would open doors, meet a wide range of people, and lead to experiences they never had.
Having only completed some college credits after high school, Barbara returned to pursuing her degree 15 years later, after marriage and the birth of two daughters, Kelly and Meghan. No one in her family had attained any higher education, and she promised her grandfather that she would be the first in the family to graduate from college. “The thought of going back and competing with younger students was terrifying,” she recalls. But she enrolled in Brookdale, took a writing course, and gained enough confidence to enroll in the Mary I. Bunting Program, a “returning women’s” program at Douglass College, attending classes during the day while her girls were in elementary school. She loved Douglass, the courses she took, the other women she met there, and the professors and deans who supported all the women’s efforts. She was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BA in American Studies and a certificate in Women’s Studies. Law school was the next step, but due to illness in the family, she had to leave after only one semester.
Although a very busy mom, attending college and raising the girls with her husband, John, Barbara still managed to find time to volunteer for school activities and serve as President and member of the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional Board of Education and, later, the Red Bank Borough Board of Education. Barbara loved serving her community and helping children while doing so.
Always interested in government and especially in education, Barbara enjoyed a long and varied career in New Jersey government. Highlights of her career were serving as Director of Legislative Affairs at the NJ Department of Education, Legislative Liaison for the NJ Department of State, and an aide to Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno. Barbara hopes she made a “small impact for the betterment of others” in these many roles.
For Barbara, serving on the Brookdale Community College Board has been a joy. She is the Chairman’s appointee to the New Jersey Council of Community Colleges, serving on the State Public Policy and Legislative Committee and the Federal Legislative and Public Policy Committee of the Association of Community College Trustees. She values the perspectives and opinions of her board colleagues, Brookdale staff, and students she meets. She enjoys the many events she attends at the college. But she says, “Graduation day is the best! – it is a privilege to witness the pride of accomplishment of our graduates and hear the cheers of parents and friends. That day makes everything worthwhile for me. I know how hard it can be to get that degree, and I admire all the work and sacrifice it takes.” Her advice is, “Don’t be afraid to take risks. If a chosen path doesn’t get you where you want to go, turn around and take another one. And don’t miss a single opportunity that comes your way.”