Alumna Profile: Marilyn Birnbaum Friedman
Dr. Marilyn Birnbaum Friedman (GSE ‘84, ‘90) has been involved with education for more than four decades. While Friedman enjoyed being a teacher, it was her time as an administrator that allowed her to explore her interests in the field of education and be more creative.
As an English teacher in the North Plainfield school system in the early 1980s, Friedman decided to volunteer herself for the newly created supervisor/administrator position. She was tasked with developing, implementing, and supervising the district’s first adult high school.
“The best part was putting this all together,” declares Friedman. “I enjoy creating things.”
The program had a diverse group of students from all over the world, who ranged in age from 16 to 75. The North Plainfield adult high school was a rewarding accomplishment for Friedman, as it became the second largest such program in New Jersey.
Although the adult high school was a success, Friedman’s position required her to obtain a supervisor certificate. Many of her colleagues encouraged her to go a step further and earn an advanced degree.
“At that point in my life, I did not think that I needed to further my education,” explains Friedman, “but graduate school was very different from my undergraduate years.”
Despite much hesitation, Friedman enrolled at Rutgers Graduate School of Education (GSE). At first she found it difficult to balance work, life, and school. Fortunately for Friedman, the GSE had supportive faculty members who reinvigorated her along the way. One of Friedman’s most influential supporters was her advisor Dr. Harold (Hal) Beder.
Upon completion of her master’s degree, Friedman took one semester off before enrolling in a doctorate program at the GSE. The faculty allowed Friedman to explore her interests within the field of education, one of which was working with businesses.
During her doctorate years, Friedman interned with the Lockheed Corporation, where she helped to develop an adult writing program for the company’s management.
“The GSE will help your explore your interests,” says Friedman.
After completing her doctorate degree, Friedman enjoyed a successful career as an administrator in the North Plainfield school district and in the private sector.
Now retired, Friedman has come full circle, and applies the theories and practices learned from the GSE as a part time lecturer for the school and as a consultant.
“Even when you finish from Rutgers,” describes Friedman, “you still stay connected with Rutgers.”