Author Archives: Andrew Dauphinee

About Andrew Dauphinee

Education and learning are passions of mine. Lifelong learning is a core part of who I am and I strive to pass that desire for information on to everyone I meet. As the Instruction and Outreach Librarian, it is my goal to provide quality, informative, and relevant programming to meet the diverse needs of our patrons. Please contact me regarding programming at

Cancer in Families: A Look at Genetic Risks Program Recap

Thank you to Dorothy Lewis, Licensed and Certified Genetic Counsel from Capital Health, for explaining how genetics can impact a person’s decisions when coming to grips with a cancer diagnosis.  While a majority of cancer is considered sporadic, there is a sizable portion that can be linked to inherited genetic mutations.  Testing for these mutated genes, of which a single gene can have thousands of documented mutations, can provide more knowledge about potential cancer, impact screening recommendations, potential familial risks, and treatment options.

There are many different genetic cancer syndromes, but the 2 most common are BRCA-1 & 2 (Hereditary Breast/Ovarian Cancer) and HNPCC or Lynch (Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colon Cancer).  The genetic mutations associated with these syndromes can potentially indicate other types of cancer risks, such as prostate or pancreatic cancer for BRCA-1 & 2 or uterine, stomach, or small intestine for Lynch.

Not everyone should undergo genetic cancer screenings; however, the following are triggers that may indicate genetic testing is appropriate:

  • Early onset of cancer: under 45 for breast, 50 for colon
  • More than 1 primary cancer in the same patient
  • Cancer in multiple generations on same side of family
  • Constellations of cancer: breast/ovarian cancer, colon/endometrial cancer, pancreatic and melanoma
  • Unusual cancers: male breast cancer, ocular melanoma
  • Uncommon histology: medullary thyroid cancer
  • Geographic/ethnic considerations: Ashkenazi-Jewish heritage

The entire genetic counseling and testing process can take anywhere from 2-4 months and generally involves:

  • Family history and risk review
  • Patient education
  • Selecting the best testing option
  • Drawing blood and testing
  • Final disclosure

If you have any questions regarding genetic testing, please contact the Cancer Genetics Program at Capital Health at 609-537-7043.  If you would like a copy of the presentation, please visit

The History of Timbuctoo, NJ: First African American Enclave Program Recap

In honor of Juneteenth, Guy Weston gave us an insightful look into one of New Jersey’s greatest historical treasures: Timbuctoo.  Guy demonstrated how this community emerged in New Jersey in the 1820’s from the lasting influence of the Quaker’s as well as it’s continued existence throughout the years.  A brief summary of the history of slavery in NJ and Timbuctoo follows, but if you wish to view the entire presentation, you can access the PowerPoint at

New Jersey was the last Northern state to pass a gradual manumission law regarding slavery in 1804, thanks in large part to the Quaker community in the southern counties of the state.  At that time, roughly 82% of African Americans in the southern counties were considered free, while only 15% held that designation in the northern counties.  While some of this can be attributed to the need for skilled indentured laborer in the counties surrounding New York City and the coast, the largest contributing factor was the vast influence of the Quakers in the southern counties, who as a group outlawed slavery in 1776.

It is with the help of the Quakers that Timbuctoo was settled by former slaves and free African Americans in 1826.  Timbuctoo was one of several antebellum free black settlements in New Jersey, which were concentrated in the southern half of the state.  The first mention of Timbuctoo as a settlement was on a deed from 1830 and it continues to exist as an unincorporated community in Westampton Township.

Timbuctoo residents appeared in the Census beginning in 1830 and details such as the names of other household members and places of birth began to appear in 1850 when the census form was revised to include additional details.  In 1886,  roughly 600 individuals were living in Timbuctoo.

While there was support for the town and the status of its people, the people of Timbuctoo were not immune from the societal tensions in the mid-19th century.  The Battle of Pine Swamp, as reported by the newspaper The New Jersey Mirror, occurred in 1860 where a well-known slave catcher, George Alberti, sought to capture an escaped slave named Perry Simmons who was residing in Timbuctoo.  The story demonstrates how George Alberti and his posse of several others were run out of town by an uprising of the residents, determined to protect their own and the freedom for all blacks that their town represented.

There is also a cemetery at Timbuctoo where residents are buried.  The oldest is Eliza Parker, wife of church Trustee and one of the original purchasers of the land, David Parker; she died in 1847.  Additionally, there are also 8 members of the U.S. Colored Troops from the Civil War buried in that cemetery as well.

Timbuctoo is a unique piece of NJ history and an example of African American strength and accomplishment during a tumultuous time in our nation’s history.  If you would like to learn more about Timbuctoo, feel free to visit in person, go to their website, or check out the Timbuctoo Fact Sheet.  If you would like to learn more about slavery and New Jersey, please read Guy Weston’s piece from the Journal of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society entitled New Jersey: A State Divided on Freedom.

Home Buying Program Recap

Thank you to James Goodman, Home Finance Consultant for the Credit Union of New Jersey, for breaking down the complex process of buying a home.  James highlighted the entire home buying process step by step, including securing a mortgage and what to expect at closing, especially the different fees that will be factored in.  He also went through the entire mortgage process, explaining how to calculate how much you can afford, the documents needed when applying for a mortgage, as well as the timeline for the entire process.  When choosing a mortgage loan, and by extension buying a house, it is important to consider how much money you can afford as a down payment, what are your financial goals and how a home figures into them, and how the closing costs can affect the overall price of the home and how much money is required up front at closing.  Please visit the following links for more information:

Copy of the presentation

CUN’s Mortgage Center

NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency Home Buyer Resources

You can contact James Goodman at (908)-860-7120 or with any questions or for further information on any part of the home buying process.

Active Listening and Active Inquiry: Effective Supervisory Tools for Managers Program Recap

Thanks to Aaron Chavis, Strategic Advisor from The EmPathic Institute for a powerful and interactive presentation on active listening and active inquiry.

There are common misconceptions about active listening and its role as an effective tool for managers.  First, there is very little validity in the use of active listening; its much easier and just as effective as telling someone what to do and leave it at that.  Second, active listening is not tangible and therefore cannot be demonstrated.  However, as you delve into the reasons behind the use of active listening and inquiry, as well as the practical applications for it, it is easy to see how and why these are myths.

So what is active listening?  According to, “active listening involves listening with all senses.  As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening – otherwise the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.  Interest can be conveyed to the speaker by using both verbal and non-verbal messages such as maintaining eye contact, nodding your head and smiling, agreeing by saying ‘Yes’ or simply ‘Mmm hmm’ to encourage them to continue. By providing this ‘feedback’ the person speaking will usually feel more at ease and therefore communicate more easily, openly and honestly.”

Active listening and inquiry is used across many fields, including counseling, training, and conflict resolution.  The use of active listening and inquiry can have a significant impact on yourself and others, including:

  • Earning the trust and respect of your peers
  • Understanding issues and formulating better solutions
  • Diffusing conflict
  • Developing better relationships with subordinates and supervisors at all levels
  • Enforcing a mission driven work approach
  • Managing change effectively

Active listening requires practice and a commitment to working with another party to solve problems, which can include job duties, job performance, work environment, or personal issues.  Active listening also requires us to leave behind our preconceptions or biases and work with the other party to find out what are the real issues, as well as potential solutions.  An easy way to demonstrate active listening is to periodically paraphrase or summarize what the other party is saying to ensure that everyone is on the same page and clearly define and understand the issue/issues at stake.  On the flip side, active inquiry requires the manager/supervisor to engage with the other party in terms of asking questions to solicit clear understanding of all topics being discussed and pave a pathway for improving relations, solving problems, or future follow-up.

Active listening is appropriate in the workplace when:

  • Opportunity to bring clarity to an issue
  • Relationships need improvement up, down, or across the organization
  • Teamwork or productivity needs improvement
  • Parties are open to learn from anyone and anything
  • An agreement of intent in the session

Active listening should not be used in the workplace when:

  • You are distracted or unable to pay attention, such as completing another task
  • You have already passed judgement on a person or situation
  • There is a simple answer to a question or something that needs a simple fix
  • You are stacking questions (more than 1) without giving the other party time to process and respond to each one
  • Checklisting – prior set of questions

Active listening and active inquiry is designed to be an open dialogue where both parties have equal footing to discuss ideas openly.   When it comes to active inquiry, there are 6 important questions to ask in order to keep the conversation productive and moving towards some form of closure:

  • What would be the most valuable outcome you can achieve in our session?
  • What are your ideas to find solutions?
  • What are your insights so far?
  • What would you like to discuss now?
  • What are the next steps?
  • What was most valuable for you today?

By taking the time and effort to become invested in the other party’s issues, concerns, or thoughts, and working through those together, positive outcomes or change will be achieved.  For more information on active listening, please download a copy of the presentation at  Also, please review the Supervisor’s Meeting Prep Checklist for Success to ensure you have productive meetings and discussions by preparing your questions and your mindset ahead of time.  For questions, please contact Aaron Chavis at

Career Connections Presents – Master the Art of Networking Program Recap

As the job market becomes more competitive, the old adage of “It’s not what you know, but who you know” is more relevant now than ever.  Networking is a major factor when it comes to job searching, as well as securing that crucial interview.  Master the Art of Networking, presented by Career Connections, highlighted several tips for building your network and maximizing the impact of those in your network, including:

  • Network can include anyone you come in contact with on a regular basis, including friends, co-workers, social/community groups, service providers (hair stylist, doctor, accountant)
  • Use informal interviews with people in the field or profession you are interested in to gain a better understanding of what is expected from people who work in that field
  • 4 types of network contacts: sources, recommenders, decision makers, and linkers
  • Ensure that your social media profiles are professional and clear of anything that could have a negative impact on your image, such as photos, opinions, and use of language
  • Create an Elevator Pitch that is short and sums up your major goals and competencies in case you have an opportunity to meet new contact for your network or potential hiring managers

For more information on networking, please visit the Master the Art of Networking webpage from Career Connections, available at

Civil Service Exam Test Books

The New Jersey State Library provides library service for all New Jersey state government employees. While we provide reference services and materials to help state employees perform their day-to-day duties, we also provide assistance for state employees and the general public who are interested in civil service jobs. We have a Test Book collection that focuses primarily on civil service exams, but we also have information on other tests, such as the Postal Exam, SAT/GRE, and the Police Officer Exam.

It is important to point out that the NJ Civil Service Commission, who is responsible for posting civil service jobs and administering any tests, only provides a small selection of Orientation Guides, primarily for Public Safety titles, and does not make old copies of tests available.  As a result, we use a national publishing company, the National Learning Corporation, to provide test preparation materials for civil service exams.  The NLC test books are used across the country, so there is not always an exact match to the positions within the state government of NJ.  However, we do our best to provide the closest match.

Currently, we have over 1,000 books within our Test Book Collection, located on Level 4.  We have a wide variety of test books including popular titles such as Investigator, Administrative Assistant, or Social Worker.  We also have books specifically for the Supervisory Test Battery and Management Test Battery.   Additionally, a limited number of Test Books are available electronically for free for registered authorized users, including state employees and Thomas Edison State University (TESU) students, staff, and mentors.  You can access our eBook collection via eLibraryNJ.  Authorized users needing a State Library access card should complete the appropriate online registration form.

As always, please contact the Reference Desk with help finding the right test book for you at or 609-278-2640 ext. 103.

The Financial Side of College Graduation Program Recap

Thank you to Samantha Benson from the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority for her presentation on what life looks like after graduation in terms of student loans and the costs of graduation school.  The most important thing regarding you or your children’s finances after graduation is to make sure you understand all the details of any loans.  Some loans have a grace period (such as 6 months for Federal Stafford Loans) before any money needs to be paid back.  Consolidation is an option many people take to reduce their monthly payments and interest rate, but it may extend the life of the loan to 30 years and prevent you from over-paying on the loan.  Repayment options (federal loans) include:

  • Standard
    • 10 years
    • Highest payment, but lowest total amount
    • will be auto enrolled after school if no other choice is selected during Exit Interview
  • Graduated
    • 10 years
    • Payments start off low, but increase roughly every 2 years
  • Extended
    • About 25 years
    • Payments are lower, but life of the loan is greatly extended, requiring more to be paid back
    • Must have at least $30,000 in student loan debt
  • Income-Based
    • 20-25 years of qualified payments, then rest is forgiven
    • 10-15% of discretionary income
  • Income Contingent
    • 25 years, then loan is forgiven
    • 20% of discretionary income OR amount if loan was for 12 years, whichever is lesser
    • Payment is calculated each year based your AGI (and spouse’s if married), family size, and amount of loans
  • Pay as you Earn
    • 20 years, then loan is forgiven
    • capped at 10% of discretionary income
  • Revised Pay as you Earn
    • 25 years, then loan is forgiven
    • Payment is calculated each year based your AGI (and spouse’s if married)
    • Payments may be higher than Standard repayment

If a loan is forgiven, the remaining balance MUST BE declared as income on your federal taxes for that year!

There are also federal and state loan forgiveness programs that will forgive your student loan debt if you meet certain requirements, such as work in qualified public service job for 10 years.  For more information

For more information on repaying Federal Direct/Stafford loans, please visit  For more information on managing your loans after school and preparing for the job market, please visit  For a wide variety of information on repaying student loans, please visit

You can also view a sample Repayment Plan Summary at

Retirement Planning for PERS and TPAF Members Webinar Summary

There are many aspects of the retirement process, which could affect when you receive your pension, how much you receive, and whether you are eligible for any other benefits.  A summary of the Retirement Planning for PERS and TPAF Members webinar is below.  You can also download a copy of the Retirement Planning Guidebook for more information.

To see a full description of all topics, available seminar/webinar dates and/or locations, or to register, please visit their registration page at:‐training.shtml.

If you have any questions regarding retirement or the information from the webinar, please contact the Division of Pensions and Benefits at (please allow 10-14 business days for a response) or 609-292-7524.  You can also view their Guidebook series at

  • Retirement basics
    • Your pension tier will determine your eligibility based on both years of service and your age
    • You can find a breakdown of the pension tiers at
    • You must apply for retirement through MBOS
    • Your Retirement Date will always be the FIRST of the month
    • Your Termination Date MUST be before your Retirement Date
    • Recommended to file 4-6 moths before Retirement Date
  • Types and Eligibility
    • Service Retirement
      • Based on your age according to your tier
        • Tier 1 or 2 – 60 years
        • Tier 3 or 4 – 62 years
        • Tier 5 – 65 years
      • You do not need to meet any minimum years of service
      • For payment calculation, see the Retirement Estimate Calculator
    • Early Retirement
      • Based on years of service according to your Tier
      • A reduction will be applied based on your age and pension Tier
        • Tier 1 – 3% per year under age 55
        • Tier 2 – 3% per year under age 55 AND 1% per year under age 60
        • Tiers 3/4 – 3% per year under age 55 AND 1% per year under age 62
        • Tier 5 – 3% per year under age 65
      • Reductions will be calculated down to to the month
    • Deferred Retirement
      • You must be vested (minimum 10 years of service), but less than amount for early retirement according to your Tier
      • You must be younger than retirement age based on your Tier
      • No reduction based on age
      • Must file before you reach your Retirement Age according to your Tier
    • Veteran Retirement
      • Must have 25 years of service and be age 55 OR 20 years of service and age 60
      • If under 35 years of service, formula is 54.5% of the highest 12 consecutive months of base salary
        • must have contributed to pension in all 12 months
      • If 35 years of service or more, formula is Years of Service/55 X Highest 12 Consecutive Months of Salary
    • Disability Retirement
      • Only available for Tiers 1-3
      • Ordinary
        • 10 years of NJ service
        • totally and permanently disabled
        • Unable to carry out duties of your job
        • 43.6% X Final Average Salary
      • Accidental
        • Active member of the pension
        • Totally and permanently disabled
        • Must be as a result of performing job duties
        • Apply within 5 years of the accident
        • 72.7% X Base Salary at Time of Accident
  • Pension Options
    • General Information
      • Must select 1 Option when you submit Retirement Application
      • All options provide lifetime payment to member – 1 payment per month
      • Some options are irrevocable once pension is Due and Payable (30 days after Retirement Day or Pension Board approves retirement, whichever is longer)
      • Pension payment is 1 month behind
    • Maximum Option
      • Highest payable benefit only to member
        • Benefits payable upon death (Last Check Benefit)
          • your last month’s payment OR balance of unrecovered contributions
            • Takes 2-3 years to recover all of your contributions
          • Beneficiary can include individuals, charities, estate, or trust
          • Spouse/partner will be notified of no survivor benefit when you retire
          • Beneficiary WILL NOT receive any further payments
    • A, B, C, D Options
      • These options allow for some level of survivor benefits, but your monthly benefit is reduced
      • Reduction is based on the age difference between you and your beneficiary and the Option you select
        • A = 100% of your benefit, B = 75%, C = 5-%, D = 25%
      • Beneficiary cannot be changed after retirement date
      • If your beneficiary dies before you, your allowance will increase to your maximum amount
    • Option 1
      • A reserve amount is set aside for your beneficiary
      • Member receives a reduced payment amount for life, which is matched by beneficiary for duration of the reserve
      • Once reserve runs out (generally 8-11 years), beneficiary stops receiving any payment
      • If you die before reserve is depleted, beneficiary gets the balance
      • You can designate multiple beneficiaries and change them after you retire
    • Options 2 and 3
      • Choose 1 beneficiary for lifetime benefits
      • Option 2 = 100%, Option 3 = 5-%
      • Member receives a reduced payment that does not change if beneficiary dies
      • Reduction is based on age difference between member and beneficiary as well as Option choice
    • Option 4
      • Beneficiary receives a specified amount upon member’s death you designate on Retirement Application
      • Benefit cannot exceed member’s monthly benefit
      • Reduction is based on a calculation using member age and beneficiary(ies) age
  • Purchasing Service Credit
    • Members can purchase service credit in 2 categories
    • Shared credit, where member only pays for their half of the payment
      • Temporary/substitute service, former membership, leave of absence, uncredited service, out-of-state service
    • Full credit, where member pays their half and employers half of payment
      • Military service, U.S. Government including Postal Service, local retirement system
    • Payment is based on age and member’s highest salary
  • Life Insurance in Retirement
    • Must be qualified and covered by Group Life Insurance while active employee
    • Must have 10 years of service or less if disabled
    • No-cost benefit is paid to named beneficiary upon death
    • Restricted to Tier 1-3 only
      • For a chart of payments, see page 15 of Handout
    • Group Life Insurance Conversion
      • Can convert Group Life Insurance coverage of active employee when member retires, but member is responsible for paying all costs that were once covered by employer
    • You can have multiple beneficiaries as both a Primary and Contingent
      • Does not have to be an individual
      • If you want to list a minor:
        • nominate a Formal Trustee for the minor OR
        • payment will be withheld until minor is 18 or there is a court-ordered Guardian of Property assigned to the minor
  • Taxes and Deductions
    • Your pension is subject to Federal Income Tax for the duration of payments
    • Your pension is subject to NJ State Income Tax once the amount of employee contributions has been recovered
      • This only applies if you live in NJ after retirement
    • The NJ Division of Pensions and Benefits does not withhold state income state for other states; you are responsible for any tax payments
  • Possible Deductions on Pension
    • Federal Income Tax
    • NJ State Income Tax
    • Health Benefits
    • Dental
    • Pension Loan
      • You can take an existing Pension Loan into retirement, but you cannot borrow any more money against your pension
    • Tax Liens
    • Court-ordered Deductions
  • Health Benefits
    • You will receive a letter in the mail before your retirement, outlining your possible costs
    • If you wish to enroll, you must prove your age by sending acceptable original documents via the Postal Service
    • Eligible Dependents
      • Spouse/partner
      • Children until age 26
      • Overage dependents if they are disabled
    • 2 carriers – Aetna or Horizon
    • Prescription plan through Optum Rx
    • 6 Dental Plans
    • Costs depend on your employer (local government, state, or local education unit)
    • Medicare Parts A and B
      • If you are already on the state sponsored health plan in retirement, you must take Medicare once you are able – 65 years of age or receive Social Security Disability for 24 continuous months
      • Must provide a copy of your Medicare Card and call to enroll
      • Once Medicare enrollment has been proved, you will automatically be enrolled in Part D (prescription)
    • You can change your plan anytime as long as you have been with the same plan for 12 months
    • If you terminate your state sponsored health insurance in retirement at any time, you will not be re-instated.
    • If you decide to waive coverage at time of retirement, you can re-enroll within 60 days of losing your current coverage
  • Dental Benefits
    • Must be enrolled in the State Health Benefits Plan
    • One time enrollment
    • Does not cover orthodontics

Exploring Languages with Pronunciator Program Recap

Pronunciator is a robust, web-based language learning program that is available through the New Jersey State Library for authorized users (New Jersey state employees and students/staff of Thomas Edison State University).  It offers courses in 87 languages, which can be learned in any of 50 native languages.

It offers different learning modes, from structured Learning Guides designed to take you through the beginner, intermediate, and advanced courses to an unstructured and customizable format, allowing the user to explore the language through Postcards, film, poetry, and more.  You can also customize your learning course based on a specific topic (food, politics, finance) or your occupation (childcare, secretary, or teacher).

Interactive pronunciation drills and voice comparison analysis allow the user to perfect their speech and study the language in a deeper context.  Grammar guides are available as well.  Additionally, some languages offer an 8-week travel prep course that will teach you essential words and phrases for traveling abroad.

You can access Pronunciator from our Database List; you will need to enter your library barcode number first and then create a free account using any email address you wish.  For a copy of the powerpoint, please visit

Understanding Your Pension Benefits for State Employees Webinar Summary

Below is a summary of the Division of Pensions and Benefits webinar “Understanding Your Pension Benefits for State Employees”.  The presentation was not recorded and the slides have not be released for viewing.  If you have any specific questions about your account, or need further clarification on the information covered in the webinar, please contact the Division of Pension and Benefits at (please allow 10-14 business days for a response) or 609-292-7524.

  • Pension Basics
    • Defined Benefit Plan (401a), which provides lifetime benefit
    • Combination of contributions and service credit based on time served in public sector
    •  Contributions
      • Member contributes 7.5% of base salary
      • Employer contributes unspecified amount into general pension fund, not your specific account
      • Investment returns
    • Pay periods equal the amount of service time
      • Bi-weekly paid employees – 261 pay periods = 10 years/651 pay periods = 25 years/782 pay periods = 30 years
      • Monthly paid employees – 120 pay periods = 10 years/300 pay periods = 25 years/360 pay periods = 30 years
    • Once you accrue 10 years of service, you are considered Vesting, which means you cannot collect your pension until you reach your minimum age – only if you leave/are terminated before your eligibility based on your tiers
    • If you decide to collect before your eligible, you will receive a reduced amount over your lifetime
  • Pension Tiers
    • Tier 1
      • Employment start before July 1, 2007
      • Must be age 60 or have 25 years of service to collect
    • Tier 2
      • Employment start July 1, 2007 – November 1, 2008
      • Must be age 60 or have 25 years of service to collect
    • Tier 3
      • Employment start November 2, 2008 – May 20, 2010
      • Must be age 62 or have 25 years of service to collect
    • Tier 4
      • Employment start May 21, 2010 – June 27, 2011
      • Must be age 62 and have 25 years of service to collect
    • Tier 5
      • Employment start June 28, 2011 or later
      • Must be age 65 and have 30 years of service to collect
  • Pension Calculation
    • Tier 1-3
      • Years of service/55 X (Last 3 years salary average OR Highest 3 years salary average) = Gross average payment
    • Tier 4-5
      • Years of service/60 X (Last 5 years salary average OR Highest 5 years salary average) = Gross average payment
  • Life Insurance
    • There are 2 different types of life insurance
    • Non-contributory
      • Paid by employer
      • Pays out 1.5x your base salary
    • Contributory
      • Paid by employee at 0.5% of your base salary
      • Pays out 1.5x your base salary
    • Designate beneficiaries through MBOS
      • Primary and Contingent beneficiaries
      • Contingent beneficiary only gets payout if all Primary are dead
      • Cannot pay out to minor unless:
        • Formal Trustee
        • Hold in escrow account until minor turns 18
  • Purchasing Service Credit
    • If you would like to purchase service credit, process takes 3-4 months
    • Shared Cost Time
      • You must pay for a portion of the costs
      • Includes temporary time off, leave of absence, and uncredited service
    • Full Cost Time
      • Member must pay for all of the costs
      • Includes military service, federal time
      • Will not count towards health benefits, but will for salary
    • Cost of Purchase
      • Highest salary X age factor = cost of one year
    • Payment Options
      • Lump sum
      • Payroll deductions
      • Rollover from another retirement plan
      • Combination
      • Must be paid in full by retirement date
  • Pension Loans
    • Must have 3 years of posted service
    • Borrow 2 times per calendar year
    • Borrow up to half of contribution, not to exceed $50,000
    • Interest rate is 7.75 % and there is a $15.00 administrative fee
    • Repayment
      • minimum payment is never less than your pension contribution
      • Cannot exceed 5 years
      • Payment through payroll deductions
      • Cannot exceed 25% of base salary – usually matters if multiple loans are out

Diving Deeper into Genetic Genealogy Program Recap

A big thanks to professional genealogist Melissa Johnson for unraveling some of the mysteries surrounding genetic genealogy.  Using genetics as a tool for genealogical research is an ever-expanding field and Melissa did a wonderful job of explaining the many facets of the field for amateur and professional genealogists alike.  One of the most common questions is determining which DNA test will yield the best information and as with many answers, the simple answer is “it depends”.  Let’s cover the 3 types of DNA testing:

  • Y-Chromosome Testing
    • Tests the Y-chromosome that is only passed down through the male line
    • Mutations can occur which can help identify how closely related 2 Y-chromosome DNA matches are likely to be
    • Only shows that there is a male relation, but will not pinpoint which male it is (ex. brothers)
    • SNP Test (single nucleotide polymorphism)
      • designed to help identify deep ancestry and haplogroup
    • STR Test (short tandem repeat)
      • examines a specific number of markers (11, 37, 67, or 111)
      • Testing 37 or more markers is best for genealogical research
      • Family Tree DNA’s test shows non-matching STR markers, known as the “genetic distance”
        • Genetic distance of 2 or more may indicate common ancestor for 2 people is much farther back, outside of a genealogical time frame
    • Designed to answer a specific question, such as “Are Person A and Person B brothers”, rather than “fishing” for potential DNA matches
  • Mitochondrial Testing
    • We all have DNA from the mother’s side and this test looks at that DNA; however, this DNA can only be passed on by female children
    • As with the Y-chromosome testing, results will only show a female relation, but will not pinpoint which female it is (ex. sisters)
    • mt Full Sequence test is best for genealogy, while mtDNA Plus only tests 2 regions and is best for determining a haplogroup
    • Designed to answer a specific questions, such as “Are Person A and Person B sisters”, rather than “fishing” for potential DNA matches
  • Autosomal Testing
    • Most common type of test that looks at 22 of 23 chromosome pairs (excluding gender)
    • Shows patterns in our DNA that we have inherited from our ancestors, usually within the past 6 generations
      • A 50/50 split of DNA from mother and father rarely occurs
    • The test measures the amount of centimorgans that we have in common with other people, which will roughly determine their potential relation to us
    • This type of test is best if we are just trying to “fish” to see who we might be related to

With many DNA tests come a breakdown of our ethnicity.  These breakdowns will vary for each testing company, based on the sample DNA from populations determined to be native to different areas of the world.  These tests have little impact on actual genealogy and should not be used to focus your genealogical research or serve as the main answer to any genealogical question.

Genetic testing, even for genealogy purposes, poses some ethical questions to consider.  Some tests will also look for potential health-related risks that may make some people uneasy.  Additionally, testing other’s DNA may lead to hidden truths about their parents or ancestry that might pose a challenge, such as learning a parent had an affair.  Determining what people are willing to test for and what they want to know is important to consider when venturing into genetic testing.  Additionally, if you are going to be uploading results or posting information based off of someone else’s DNA results, please get their consent to do so.

If you have questions about DNA tests, genetic genealogy, or general genealogy, please contact Melissa Johnson at  You can download a copy of the handout at Diving Deeper into Genetic Genealogy Handout.  Also, please visit our Genealogy Research Guide for many helpful tips and resources!

Career Connections Presents – Top Notch Resumes 2 Program Recap

Thank you to all of the participants who joined us for Career Connections Presents – Top Notch Resumes 2.  Your resume is your opportunity to make a statement and lasting impression on the person or committee hiring for a specific position.  Here are some tips to help ensure your resume highlights your qualifications and skills:

  1.  While a chronological resume is the most widely recognized format since it emphasizes work history, a functional resume is great for recent graduates or career changes since it focuses on your skills and overall achievements rather than work history.
  2. Read through the job description and take note of all of the keywords.  Include as many of these keywords in your resume to show that meet or exceed the requirements of the job.  Also, many job applications are online and therefore first screened by a computer; including keywords from the job description will help ensure that computer does not dismiss your application.
  3. Make sure that a majority of our skills, relevant work experience, and keywords are within the first three-quarters of the first page of your resume.  You want to grab the attention of the person reading the resume right away since hiring managers tend to spend very little scanning each resume at the beginning of the process.

Top Notch Resumes 2 also touched on cover letters and references, which can be equally as important as your resume.  Follow this tips to maximize your impact on the person reading your credentials:

  1. Make sure your heading on all of your application materials is consistent.  If you papers get lost or mixed with others’ applications, it will be easily identifiable.  Also, this demonstrates your attention to detail and that you are organized.
  2. Your cover letter should not be a copy of your resume.  Refer to the job title in your cover letter and express interest in the position.  Demonstrate your ability to do the job in a few sentences, focusing on achievements and skills while also including those keywords from the job description.
  3. A cover letter should never be more than 1 page.
  4. Always provide professional references when asked, unless specifically instructed to provide personal references.

For more information on resume building as well as interview skills, finding the right career, and more, visit New Jersey Career Connections powered by the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development.