RCSJ PROGRAM PAVES WAY FOR FORMER STUDENT TO BECOME RESTAURANT OWNER
When Jaydon Ippolito dropped out of high school at 17 years old, his father gave him two choices — he either had to try to find another high school to attend or he had to get his GED. If he opted to get a high school equivalency diploma, then he would also have to find a job. Ippolito chose the second option, (he had been working at a Chick-fil-A since the age of 14), and after receiving his diploma through Rowan College of South Jersey's (RCSJ) Adult Basic Education (ABE) program, the Millville resident is on the pathway to one day owning and operating his own store.
ABE classes, which fall under the umbrella of the College's Career & Technical Education program, are designed to prepare students to earn their high school equivalency diploma, improve their English literacy skills, and get them into college or on their career paths.
“It genuinely helped me so much," Ippolito said about his experiences in ABE. “I was 17 years old and I decided I'm going to get my GED. I didn't know what to expect, but I ended up going to the classes. I would be there five days a week and we would go over math, science and other subjects."
“You basically study up and prepare for the GED test," he continued. “I passed my test with flying colors! I was able to graduate and get to my work."
Ippolito, who as a youngster came to the conclusion that the traditional school-to-work pathway wasn't necessarily for him, found his fit with RCSJ Cumberland's ABE program in 2019 — the same year he began working full time at Chick-fil-A. Since then, the 19-year-old has swiftly climbed the fast-food chain's corporate ladder.
“I was available to do so many different things at the store that other kids weren't able to do because they had to go to school," Ippolito explained. “After getting my GED at RCSJ Cumberland, I was able to grind and make money and do my thing."
Ippolito, who also serves at his family-owned Calvary Chapel Church, in Vineland, said he has gotten some “crazy opportunities" in his current role as a trainer at the restaurant. “In February 2020, I went to a grand opening in Michigan," he recalled. “I served for two weeks and got to meet a bunch of awesome people. When I go to a grand opening like that, I am considered a corporate employee. I'm pretty much an ambassador and representative of the company."
As an ambassador, Ippolito gets the prime opportunity to apply to travel and represent the Vineland restaurant at numerous Chick-fil-A eateries across the country.
During his time at Chick-fil-A, Ippolito, an avid gym buff, has proven his worth to the company. When asked why they have so much trust in him at such a young age, “consistency," was his response.
“Not only am I good at what I do, because of the experience I have, being there for five years, I was able to show them how hard I work," Ippolito continued. “Also, I like to keep a positive attitude because that's how I am as a person."
Besides being a hard worker who likes to brighten up people's days, Ippolito knows speaking his truth to the higher ups in the organization is an important skill that will help him reach his destination.
“The ultimate goal — I'm going to be an operator and operators are the owners of the store. I am currently getting my name out there. I was able to prove to them that I wanted to be promoted, but that also involves communication," Ippolito said.
“I never stopped telling them I wanted to be promoted, and that was my main thing. I just work hard and continue to let the big guys know that I want to be a big guy one day."
Ippolito praised the ABE program and noted the professional skills he acquired have been beneficial to his success at the restaurant.
“I had to work with emails and certain things I have to do on my computer at work," he said. “In those classes, I was able to learn how to properly write emails and other important business items. We went over how to run things on Word, like writing invoices — things that I actually use at work. The ABE program has helped me out so much."
For more information about RCSJ's Adult Basic Education program, visit RCSJ.edu/AdultEducation.