Rhonda Montemore and her daughter Isla take a selfie by the beach.

By Sarah M. Bond
CCC Journalism Program

BLACKWOOD – Rhonda Montemore returned to school to rediscover herself. She is a student, stay-at-home mom and volunteer.

Montemore, 44, began at Camden County College in the fall semester of 2018. She is enrolled in the paralegal associate’s degree program. “I chose this program because of the aspects of law and opportunity to work gainfully after two years,” she said. She is enrolled in two classes this semester, Real Estate Law and Civil Litigation Law.

Unsure of which area of law she wants to go into, Montemore is looking forward to her summer courses in business law and family law. “I’m not sure what area of law I’d like to work in yet. I have to give a shout-out to the head of the paralegal program, Sondi Lee. She is an amazing professor and attorney. She is so positive and supportive,” Montemore said.

Lee gave Montemore a shout-out as well. “My motto is learning should be fun. Rhonda has taught me that teaching should be fun as well. She is bright, energetic and humorous. She brings an inquisitive infectious spirit to class that beckons her peers to participate and she elevates the learning environment to another level,” Lee said.

Montemore is married to her husband and together they share a 7-year-old autistic son, Xavier, and a 4-year-old daughter, Isla. Montemore’s adult son, Tyson, 24, is also part of the family. Life at home can be hectic for her as she balances her roles as wife, mother and student. Because of autism, Xavier needs a lot of stimulation and she lovingly describes her daughter as “a 4-year-old with sass.”

Montemore’s husband normally works outside of the home as a social worker. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he is working from home. “My husband took over my laptop for his now at-home work,” Montemore said.

This isn’t the only recent change in the household. Montemore said the pandemic has affected her roles at home. “I found joy in returning to school until the coronavirus flung me into the role of a 24/7 special needs teacher and preschool teacher,” she said.

She plans to transfer to a four-year school to complete a bachelor’s degree in paralegal.

Her hobbies are sewing and crafts that she picked up in her teens but eventually stopped. Then in her 30s she decided to pick them up again with the help of a quilt shop owner in Collingswood, New Jersey. “There the owner helped me make several projects,” Montemore said.

It wasn’t until she completed a pair of pajama pants, a purse and a nap mat that she purchased a sewing machine. “I don’t get to use it as much as I’d like now,” Montemore said. “I usually make things like curtains or bedding. Now I’ll be making face masks.” The face masks will be for her household. “I’m really excited about making kid sized, in case I have to take my kids into any stores,” she said.

During the fall semester of 2019, to get herself out of the house and get more interaction with other adults, Montemore started working at the Marketplace on the Blackwood and Camden campuses. “I’m honestly doing the pantry to kind of get out of the house and just do something,” she said. “I like helping people.”

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