Alumni Corner – Keith Bellamy, Ph.D.

Keith Bellamy, Ph.D.

Keith Bellamy, Ph.D., had graduated three years earlier from East Orange High School and was working at a day care center when he enrolled at Essex County College (ECC) in 2005. “I wanted to be a juvenile court attorney and eventually a juvenile court judge,” the current Newark resident recalled.  

Exploring his ECC course options, Keith had a conversion with Paralegal Studies (PLS) Program Coordinator Dr. Linda McDonald Carter. She steered him toward that major, which would fit into his legal career path. “That was probably the best decision of my life. I loved it,” he said.

Two things about PLS that Keith really enjoyed were the public speaking and the necessary, in-depth research required. “As I worked toward my degree (he graduated from ECC in 2008), law was still very much on my mind.”

He followed his Associate degree up by earning a Bachelor’s degree in PLS from Montclair State University. But something was missing. He missed teaching. “I care about the law, but I believe as a teacher I can help more young people accomplish their goals.”

Keith has worked in both the Jersey City and East Orange school districts. He is now a special education teacher for third to fifth graders at East Orange’s Benjamin Banneker Academy. 

Even while educating young people, Keith wanted to continue his education. He recently earned a Doctorate in Education from Grand Canyon University, Phoenix, Arizona.  

“It’s so surreal. I was 20 when I started at Essex County College and 17 years later I have my Doctorate,” he said. “ECC started me on the way to building up my confidence and to believe in myself.” 

Dr. Carter, now a retired ECC professor, agrees. “He is a model of a person, who was fortunate enough to recognize and be encouraged to identify his creativity, tap into and add to his existing resilience and resourcefulness to make positive things happen in his life. This against all the odds; in addition to being a Black man in America,” she said.