Editors Note: This is the last in a series of four All-Pennsylvania Academic Team student profiles.
by Neree Aron-Sando
John Roddenberry’s father once told him, “It’s not how hard you hit; it’s how hard you get hit and still keep moving forward.”
Roddenberry, who has lived in Pottstown for his entire 21 years, got hit pretty hard.
“When my parents went through a divorce, it really affected me,” he said. “School was really stressful for me anyway; but my home life became stressful also. I felt there was no way I could have peace.”
He thought he could cope by walking through the front door of his high school, signing in, and walking out the back.
“I would go to a local park just to have peace. Eventually after doing that for almost a month, I was caught by the school,” Roddenberry said. He was taken before the district magistrate, who looked at his report card, saw that he had been an A student, and cut him a break.
But things still didn’t work out. Circumstances resulted in some delays in his high school career, and because he would have been 20 years old at the time of his graduation from high school, the school disenrolled him, he said.
“They told me that because of my age, they didn’t want me in with the rest of the kids.”
Roddenberry went to work at Manatawny Manor, a nursing home, in the dietary department, where, three years later, he is still employed.
In the meantime, there were the divorce proceedings.
“I watched how the lawyers in my parents’ divorce did their work. That kind of interested me,” he said. What really inspired me is that my father’s lawyer really made a mistake. I thought that was ridiculous. Maybe I’m arrogant, but I thought I could do better.”
His coworkers at Manatawny Manor were also moving on.
“I’m watching everyone graduate around me, and I thought to myself, what am I doing? I thought I was better than this. I need to make something of myself,” he said.
Roddenberry enrolled in the accelerated GED program at Montgomery County Community College, and after earning his diploma, became a criminal justice major.
But that wasn’t quite enough.
“In order to better myself, I knew I had to get involved,” Roddenberry said. “I got involved in student government. I also noticed that people formed clubs in certain areas of study. I wanted to form a criminal justice club with a focus ¾ not on police ¾ but on law. Also, my grades are really high; I had a high enough GPA to get into the honor society, with hard work and dedication.”
Roddenberry served as the senate chairperson of the West Campus Student Government Association (SGA), the founding president of the Pre-Law Club, and a member of Phi Theta Kappa International Honors Society.
His hard work earned him a spot on the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges’ All-Pennsylvania Academic Team. He also received the James Carroll Criminal Justice Scholarship through the College’s Foundation, and was named SGA Senator of the Year in 2011.
Roddenberry will graduate from MCCC in late June with an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice, and he hopes to transfer to Temple University.
“Temple has one of the best criminal justice programs in the country and a law program with the best trial advocacy programs in the country,” he said, explaining that trial advocacy includes courses on how to conduct oneself at a trial.
He is also pursuing an internship in the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office and, once he’s enrolled at Temple, he plans to seek an internship in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office. His ultimate goal, in terms of career preparation, is to score a U.S. Supreme Court internship in his senior year.
“Ultimately I wish to be a prosecutor and perhaps someday a trial judge,” he said.