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Bloomfield College's 145th Commencement
Capping off a year of 150th anniversary celebrations, on Friday, May 18, 2018, Bloomfield College embraced 320 new alumni at the College’s 145th Commencement Ceremonies.
Bloomfield College's 145th Commencement is This Friday
The 145th Commencement will include remarks from New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy; Christian McBride, Grammy-winning jazz bassist; and Prof. Deog-Seong Oh, President of Chungnam National University.
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Bloomfield College Commemorates the Life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Bloomfield College commemorated the life and labor of MLK on campus on Wednesday, April 4, 2018, on the 50th anniversary of his assassination.
Fran McLaughlin to be Honored at Bloomfield College's Upcoming Nursing Reception
The Nursing Recognition Program, Nursing Leaders Panel Discussion, and Reception will be on Thursday, April 19 at 3:00 p.m. in Franklin Street Residence Hall Multi-Purpose Room.

Valedictorian Continuing Her Inspirational Story in Bloomfield College’s Graduate Program

Portia Chimbirai, Bloomfield College

By Alicia Cook

When Portia Chimbirai got on a plane headed for the United States in 2011 to pursue her college education, it was the beginning of an extraordinary journey that gave her a better understanding of the United States, her homeland, and herself.

Portia was born in Zimbabwe, Africa, in 1992, the youngest of four siblings. Both of her parents owned a butcher shop in their local community. Sadly, in 1999, her father passed away; Portia believes his kidneys failed.  Her mother, who suddenly found herself a single parent, continued running the business while raising her family.

Portia recalls a good childhood. She had a lot of freedom to learn and play in her tight-knit community where even her extended family, including her father’s twin brother, lived and worked. Portia spent a lot of time in the library reading books and by the time she reached the fifth grade, she discovered a passion for theatre and began participating in school plays.

The economic crisis that hit her country forced the closing of many family-run businesses, including her mother’s butcher shop. To make ends meet, her mother began working as a street vendor and would sell vegetables and fruit to the community.

It was at this time Portia’s cousin, Patricia, began sending money to pay for Portia and her siblings’ schooling.

Portia’s high school experience was similar to a boarding school, where tuition was paid and she lived on campus. It was very close to her home though. High school is six years in Zimbabwe and Portia was highly involved throughout her entire schooling. She joined Christian clubs that helped the local orphanages, and she played tennis and soccer. She was involved in environmental awareness clubs and served as a Resident Advisor and Vice Head Girl for the dormitories at her school. In the final years of high school, known in Zimbabwe as “Advanced Level,” Portia declared her major: accounting.

“My parents managed their own business for years. Which is one of the reasons I was interested,” said Portia.

When the time came to explore higher education, Portia originally planned to attend college in Canada. However, because of her country’s restrictive student visa policies, she turned her sights to the United States, where her cousin, Patricia, was already living.

Patricia was living in Bergen County and had agreed to sponsor Portia’s education. So, naturally, Portia began investigating colleges near Bergen County.

“Having to acclimate to a new country, I felt like community college was a good place to start,” explained Portia.

In 2012, Portia enrolled at Bergen Community College and began working towards an Associate degree in Business Administration. She was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Society, the world's largest and most prestigious honor society for two-year college students, and became a member of the Christian Student Association as well as the International Student Association. The poem she would go on and share as Valedictorian at Bloomfield College a few years later, was published in Bergen County Community College’s literary magazine. Portia worked as a peer tutor and helped many classmates with their school work. Portia’s life seemed wonderful.

Sadly, in 2013 tragedy struck. Portia’s her mother passed away, just one day before she was supposed to undergo surgery for her ailment. Portia, a strong, young woman, managed to stay focused through her grief and went on to earn an Associate degree in Business Administration.

Portia had applied to five, four-year institutions in both New Jersey and New York to continue her education. One of these colleges was Bloomfield College. When narrowing her search, she focused on location, tuition, accounting programs, and availability of transfer scholarships.

Ultimately, Portia enrolled in Bloomfield College and double majored in accounting and finance.

“I liked that Bloomfield was a small college,” described Portia. “I also liked the people I spoke with in the Office of Admission, like Jamilah Moudiab. She was very welcoming and took her time explaining everything to me.”

“I was awarded a transfer scholarship as well as an outside scholarship,” said Portia, when discussing the funding of her education. “A lot of the tuition was covered, almost 85%!”

Portia excelled at Bloomfield College, graduated at the top of her class, and earned degrees in both finance and accounting. Since graduating, her valedictorian speech was featured in the Huffington Post and she has been interviewing at accounting firms and banks in New Jersey.

“I feel like I have had a very positive experience at Bloomfield College,” said Portia. “I have met people who pushed me academically and morally. I had great advising. Jamilah still helps!”

Portia is currently prepping for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Level 1 EXAM as well as the first two levels of the Certified Public Accounting (CPA) exam.

This summer, Portia found herself back on Bloomfield College’s campus, this time as a graduate student. Portia has chosen to continue her education at Bloomfield College and has enrolled in the Master’s in Accounting program the College offers.

“I love my professors at Bloomfield College,” stated Portia. “They are all very attentive, engaging, and always available to help me out. I already have this great relationship with them.”

“The College also offers a discount to alumni!”

Portia hopes to one day become a CPA.

Portia is involved in a lot of philanthropic work. She completed an Aids Awareness walk in New York, donates to the Million Bone Project, and volunteers for the Wounded Warrior Project. She dreams of starting her own nonprofit focused on helping children in Africa with their own education by establishing a scholarship fund once she is older and gainfully employed.

It is hard to believe Portia is just 24-years-old. A self-proclaimed “workaholic”, she does still find time to have fun with her friends; they go into the City and shop at the mall. Portia regularly visits the library and spends a lot of her time with her nephews.

Portia’s siblings still live in her community in Zimbabwe. However, she plans on staying in America.

“I will visit again once I am employed,” said Portia, with a smile. “Priority is to find a great job, while preparing for two exams and graduate school at Bloomfield College. Bloomfield College has helped me begin my future.”