Frances B. Sellers Award – Reunion 2014
Janice Gabbidon lives in her childhood home in East Orange, N.J., and she works right in her hometown. But her Drew education has meant that her mind and her spirit are beyond boundaries, and through her work, she endeavors to make sure that New Jersey children have the same freedom. Frances B. Sellers would have been proud of her.
Janice was the first of her family to attend college. Friends helped her in the admissions process, ushering her to her school’s counseling office, where she met two women representing the Educational Opportunity Fund, the New Jersey program that enables disadvantaged students to enroll and thrive on the college level. She loved the Drew campus, and by the summer of 1990 she was a Drewid in the EOS program.
Drew’s professor and psychologist George-Harold Jennings helped her decide on a psychology major. Then, in her senior year, Professor Lillie Edwards arrived at Drew to teach African-American/African studies (now Pan-African studies). Janice was fascinated. She became the first Drew student to graduate with an African-American/African studies minor, in addition to her minor in sociology. She not only received honors in EOS, but also the Allen Ware Rodes Memorial Prize for the student with the greatest academic improvement during her college career.
As soon as Janice finished her course work, she began working in Drew’s EOS office as a recruiter and academic adviser. There she began to understand the importance of counseling, and realized that it attracted her more than therapy as a career, that through counseling she could encourage young people to explore and accept new opportunities. While still working at Drew, she enrolled in Montclair State University, where she earned a master’s degree in counseling with an emphasis in higher education.
In 2000, Janice became an educational program development specialist in the New Jersey Department of Education. Initially she used her education and her EOS background to provide educational ad leadership resources in public schools. With a change in the department’s direction, Janice now meets with the schools’ leadership, reviewing academic progress, program effectiveness, school climate/culture and the adequacy of staffing to achieve their goals. She provides professional support, particularly in struggling schools, as educational standards change.
Janice’s husband, El-Amin Bashir, is an entrepreneur who is currently involved in real estate and development to rehabilitate homes for urban families. Their daughter, Inayah, 15, attends the Lawrenceville School in southern New Jersey, and their son, El-Amin, 13, attends middle school in Morris Township through the New Jersey school choice program. Among her other volunteer activities, Janice has participated in alumni panels in EOS and Pan-African studies at Drew. She is a parent volunteer with the Wight Foundation, which connects private boarding schools, like Lawrenceville, with able students.