Putting the Pieces Together
Renee Waskovich White ’04 pursued her OCC degree while working as an attorney and emergency room technician — and while raising three young children.
I know I took the scenic route to get here, but OCC gave that to me. It’s part of who I am, and I own it.
— Renee Waskovich White
Around age 16, Renee Waskovich White ’04 A.S. Nursing got her first taste of working multiple jobs, a pattern she has continued throughout her life. She was a lifeguard at Lacey Lakes and scooped ice cream at Honey Bubbles on Long Beach Island, and those summer jobs were good preparation for the ambitious teen’s multitasking future. Today, she holds several degrees and is skilled in at least two professions.
Born and reared in Lacey Township, White, 44, lives in Manahawkin with her husband, Brian, a defense attorney, and their four children. Thomas, 19, currently studies criminal justice at OCC; Reagan, 18, is a liberal arts student at OCC; Sean, 17, plans to enroll at OCC to study criminal justice (while still in high school); and Steven, 10, who, according to his mom, “will probably go to OCC.”
As a full-time prosecutor in the Special Offender’s Unit in Toms River, which includes a diversion program for individuals with mental illness who have been charged with a crime, and a unit she helped establish, White’s natural compassion shines through.
“We’re here to do justice, as well as prosecute,” she says of her defendants who have PTSD, Alzheimer’s, autism or other neurocognitive disorders. “Prosecution is prosecuting people appropriately, and sometimes that’s in the form of a dismissal. Sometimes it’s treatment, not jail.”
On the weekends, White is a family nurse-practitioner at CityMD, an urgent care facility with locations in Toms River, Lacey and Manahawkin.
She also teaches in the nursing program at Stockton University on Wednesday nights and as an adjunct at OCC. The behavioral health practice in Little Egg Harbor that she owns and operates as a certified psychiatric nurse practitioner, Micrennic Health, was named using the first three letters of her name and those of her two sisters, Michelle and Nicole.
When asked how she manages to do it all, she replies, “My life is like a well-oiled puzzle,” with a laugh.
Following her winding path
White enrolled at Rutgers, New Brunswick (New Jersey), after high school and earned a double major in History and Administration of Justice. After graduating in 1998, she earned a law degree from Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, Delaware, in 2001, with plans to go to medical school next. (She had been working at A.I. DuPont Children’s Hospital while attending Widener.)
As they say about best-laid plans … “I had gotten married and had my first child while at Widener,” White says. “I delivered right before graduation and still walked [in the graduation ceremony],” pride in her accomplishment evident in her voice. “It wasn’t easy, but I did it. And then I re-evaluated my life plan.”
White had taken biology classes at OCC in preparation for med school and fell in love with the College.
“The school is close to home, is beautiful and part of my local community. After Rutgers and Widener, which are very good schools, taking bio at OCC felt like just as good of an education, if not better,” she says.
After graduating from Widener and with an infant at home, White found herself working for a law office during the day and as a unit secretary at Community Medical Center in Toms River at night — just because she loved healthcare. The veteran nurses with whom she worked wondered aloud why their colleague didn’t enroll at OCC and become a nurse.
“And I thought, ‘why not?’” White says.
While a nursing student, White had not one additional child, but two. Reagan was born early in her first year at OCC, and Sean, at the end of her second. She graduated in 2004 and, in typical fashion, made the puzzle fit together by working weekend nights as a registered nurse in the emergency room at Community. She continued to practice law during the week. In 2006, White decided she wanted to practice criminal law and left the firm of Gluck & Allen to work in the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.
“At the time, assistant prosecutors were prohibited from working a second job, which was devastating,” says White. “It’s an arduous process, getting a law passed, but I knew joining the Assistant Prosecutors Association of New Jersey and having their advocacy would help me change that law.”
And she did. But she missed nursing so much that she volunteered her time at Community for the year it took for the change to be instituted. She says she has always been blessed with “advocates,” those who would work with her and support her — those who embrace her choices and offer to help, beginning with her parents and extending over the years to friends, her husband, and their children. In this case, her friends and other prosecutors lobbied along with her. She simply could not envision her life without either of the two professions to which she has been drawn.
“Nursing is in my blood, and it always has been,” says White. She explains that her cousin, Ryan, with whom she always has been close (they are only four days apart in age) had leukemia when they were young. Later, while in high school, her friend and next-door neighbor, Amy, also developed the disease. She watched both of them struggle.
“I remember thinking I wanted to help them — I wanted to help sick people. And as long as I can remember wanting to be something, it was wanting to help those who are sick. I know I took the scenic route to get here, but OCC gave that to me. It’s part of who I am, and I own it,” she says.
OCC’s welcoming environment made the challenging nursing program easier. “The tremendous professors at OCC were a big part of my life. I never felt weird or different for being an attorney. It was just as challenging as Rutgers and Widener, and [choosing OCC] was the best thing I ever did.”
White earned a post-master’s certificate toward her psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and is double-board certified as a family and psychiatric nurse practitioner. She is working toward her Doctorate of Nursing Practice at Yale and expects to defend her dissertation in 2023. She looks forward to the day she can nurse full-time.
In 2020, White worked in field hospitals with COVID-19 patients and served as president of the Ocean County Bar Association as its president.
White also is involved with the 100 Women Campaign at Ocean County College, something she calls “the best thing ever,” and a perfect way to bring in funding while allowing professional women to network and advocate for students.
“The advocacy of so many others got me to where I am today, and if I can give that back … it’s what it’s all about,” says White. “It’s a fantastic way to be involved as an alum. OCC gave me nursing and my ability to be a nurse. I felt an acceptance there and was inspired to give back. OCC was there for me, and I’ll always be there for them.”
100 Women Campaign
Dynamic Women. Empowering Students and Inspiring Each Other.
The mission of the 100 Women Campaign, an initiative of the Ocean County College Foundation, is to bring dynamic, innovative and accomplished women together to support each other while encouraging education at OCC. These women also act as mentors to OCC’s students, helping them develop the skills they need to succeed and offering them a wealth of knowledge and experience.
Members pledge to donate $100 per year for five years.
The program also offers two scholarships to current students who are Ocean County residents. The 100 Women STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Scholarship is open to students enrolled in one of OCC’s STEM-related degree programs, and the 100 Women Campaign Health & Social Sciences Scholarship is open to students enrolled in any one of OCC’s health and social sciences-related degree programs.
“The 100 Women Campaign has been an innovative movement at Ocean County College,” says Ken Malagiere, executive director of the Ocean County College Foundation. “The members support one another in personal and professional endeavors and foster an environment in which our students can flourish through mentorships and much-needed scholarship support. The Foundation is so pleased to champion these efforts and be the beneficiary of the members’ incredible generosity.”