funeral service student stories

Honoring our Shared Humanity: Careers in Funeral Service Part Two, Students

Honoring our Shared Humanity: Careers in Funeral Service
Part Two, Students

In part one of this article, we met two faculty members of Goodwin University’s Funeral Service Mortuary Science program. Now we’d like to introduce several students, who share some of the reasons they are entering this profession and the experiences they’ve had along the way.

Cassandra Clark, RN
Goodwin University Funeral Service Program Graduate
When I walked into my first Funeral Service classroom, I did not know what to expect. I was not from a family of funeral directors, had no friends in the program, and at 44 was probably the oldest person in the room. Like any new chapter in life, it all starts with that first step. I sat down next to a young student, Manikqua, who would become a friend and a study partner.

Those first few classes in Embalming I were challenging and full of information. Professor Jesse Gomes presented the material with sincere enthusiasm and a wealth of knowledge. He patiently answered questions, became animated with excitement when we got answers correct, and smiled because he knew we were learning the art that he loves so much.

I have had many classes that encompass the human condition, starting when I studied nursing in 1994. I had that same spark rekindled while studying under the guidance of Professors Gomes, Brendan McKeon, and Amanda Portelance. Each instructor brought a unique view of the funeral service industry and was always approachable when I had questions about curriculum.

When I finally got to my internship, I found my professors increasingly supportive. They were always there to answer questions and to listen when I had a particularly difficult day. I never felt alone. The internship is a pinnacle part of your education, and choosing a funeral home with supportive staff is critical. You will be working in close contact with your mentor, and it is important to have a good fit.

I believe that my time and efforts at Goodwin were well spent. I successfully passed both my National Board Exams the first time and I look forward to an exciting future.

Joshua J. Adams
Goodwin University Funeral Service Graduate
Licensed Funeral Director, Firtion-Adams Funeral Service
I got into funeral service to follow the family tradition of serving as funeral directors in the Adams Family. I am the fifth generation of funeral directors in my family and have had, by far, the best training. From the first moments at Goodwin, we were met with open arms and the experience was nothing but positive. Program Director Jesse Gomes took the lead from the start, from embalming to restorative arts. His instruction was very informative and related well to the work I was doing at the funeral home.

The Funeral Service program at Goodwin is very rigorous and geared toward the National Boards Exam, for which I felt extremely well prepared. In Seminar class, we covered everything we needed to know for the exam, and I could not have gotten my Funeral Director license without it. Amanda Portelance’s Funeral Service Management and Communication class prepared me for meeting with families, working funerals, coordinating with clergy members, and effectively and respectfully communicating with members of the community. Goodwin’s training has not only prepared me for funeral service in general, it has also prepared me to work through the unprecedented times of the Covid-19.

Joseph E. Deko
Goodwin University Funeral Service Program Graduate
My experience at Goodwin University was nothing but pleasurable. The staff was very welcoming, knowledgeable, and prepared. I am a career firefighter and a political leader in my town, and the class schedule made it very easy to accomplish everything I needed to while still devoting the attention required to be successful. The program director, Jesse Gomes, and the assistant program director, Amanda Portelance, and their staff were all amazing instructors. They were exceptionally knowledgeable and experienced in the field. They were always accessible and were very attentive of our needs. The program was designed to prepare students for the field, and it did exactly that. I felt very prepared for work in the funeral industry and well prepared to take care of families in need. The showroom at the campus was identical to the showroom at the funeral home where I work in now. I was very comfortable with all of the merchandise we sell. I have gone on to buy an existing funeral home and with the knowledge and skills I gained at Goodwin University, I have grown my business up by more than 200% from the previous owner in a single year. The classes that were offered in this program were directly related to the skills required to take care of families who walk into the funeral home. I am very proud to be a graduate of Goodwin University under the leadership of Jesse Gomes, Amanda Portelance, and the rest of their staff. Furthermore, I would absolutely recommend Goodwin University to anyone who asked where they should go.

Elizabeth Kline
Goodwin University Funeral Service Program Graduate
I started the program unsure if I was making the right decision for myself, my future, and my family. Soon after I began taking classes, I knew Goodwin was where I belonged. The professors are passionate about this field, and they foster the passion you have within yourself, even if you’re lacking the certainty. I never once felt uncomfortable asking a question about something I didn’t understand, and the professors were always available to answer. The program prepares you to be a professional in the Funeral Service field, as well as to confidently sit for the National Board Exams. The program is challenging and encourages you to push yourself. I’ve always had a passion for helping people, and I truly feel that I found my niche.

Carie Burns-Smith
Goodwin University Funeral Service Graduate
As a recent graduate of the Funeral Service program at Goodwin, I can honestly say that it has been a rewarding and positive experience! The staff at Goodwin have been amazing! Their support was vital to my success, and I can’t say enough about my professors, who were always available to answer any questions I might have had along the way. They prepared me well for working in the field by providing courses with hands-on experiences, which gave me the confidence to be ready to contribute to funeral service after graduation.

My pursuit of an education in funeral service was driven not only by an interest in the field, but by a desire to serve the community as well. Funeral service remains an essential need in all communities. I believe it’s the job of the funeral professional to assist in making the process as gentle and meaningful as possible. This field encompasses a variety of topics including science, arts, psychology, and management. I had been out of school for over 20 years when I decided to go back. This is a second career for me. So, balancing work, home, and school presented a challenge. However, with support, the flexibility of online classes, and a variety of course offerings, this was achievable. I am a proud Goodwin graduate!

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Click here if you missed Honoring our Shared Humanity: Careers in Funeral Service, Part One, the Faculty.

The mission of the Goodwin University’s Funeral Service Program is to facilitate the training of students to become funeral service professionals and to instill in our students the foundation of integrity, compassion, and moral ethics needed to be successful in our ever-changing contemporary society. Click here for more information about the Goodwin’s Funeral Service program as well as career options available to you after passing the state board exam.