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Khalid Branch – An ECC Graduation Inspirational Success Story: He is Flying High to Reach His Goal

Khalid Branch with mom, Kyisha

When the name and photo of Khalid Branch was displayed during Essex County College’s 2021 Virtual Commencement on June 4, it brought a flood of joyful tears from his mother, Kyisha. “Khalid worked so hard for this. It’s such an inspirational moment,” she said.

To get to this point in his young life, Khalid has had to overcome a series of obstacles as a special needs student. At Montclair High School, where he played football, Khalid was part of the district’s Community Based Instruction for special need students.

A Montclair resident, Khalid earned his Associate degree in Physical Education and is headed to Montclair State University. “My goal Is to become an elementary school gym teacher,” said the soft-spoken Khalid.

“Khalid worked very hard to achieve his goal, which was to attend college,” said Leslie Wallace, Transition Teacher in the Montclair School District. She said he was able to intern at a local elementary school to help achieve his goal of becoming a gym teacher. “He was very focused on his goals,” Ms. Wallace added.  

Khalid is the only student from the Montclair district’s Community Based Instruction program to earn an Associate degree.

He is currently employed at the YMCA of Montclair.

“This is such an outstanding achievement. Khalid’s success is in no small part due to the excellent support he has received from Essex County College,” said Dr. Mamie Bridgeforth, Chair of the College’s Humanities, Bilingual Students and Social Sciences Division. The Physical Education major is under Social Sciences.

 “Khalid has been a wonderful student, overcoming so much to get this far,” said ECC Disabilities Services Coordinator Maria Mercado. She said Khalid had an aide to help with some of the College writing assignments. “He has made me so proud,” she added.

“Congratulations to Khalid for such an outstanding achievement. Essex County College is proud of him, said ECC Interim President Dr. Augustine A. Boakye. 

While justifiably proud of her son, Kyisha Branch said she wants his story to encourage other students “to push through any and all adversity.”  

To celebrate Khalid’s graduation in Physical Education from ECC, the family headed to iFly World, in Paramus, for indoor skydiving. “Keep flying high and reaching for the stars, there are no limits to what you do. You have definitely beat the odds,” Kyisha Branch said of her son.