“I realized I could probably get the same education at PCCC that I would get in my first two years at a four-year college, and I would not have to pay the tuition."
June 20, 2019

NJ Star Sheila C. Perez Montilla is Proud to Graduate from PCCC

Spotlight on the Class of 2019

Sheila Perez Montilla has big dreams.  “I always had an inclination toward advertising and would like to open my own marketing agency,” she said, just a few days after earning her associate’s degree in Business Administration / Marketing in the 47th Commencement. 

Sheila, who already freelances as a graphic designer, also has the business sense to lay the foundation that will support her dream.

When the Paterson resident graduated from Manchester Regional High School in 2017, she had been accepted by all the four-year colleges to which she applied for admission. “I was happy to be accepted, but I didn’t think I could afford them, and I did not want to take out a loan,” said Sheila.

She had another option.  Because Sheila graduated in the top 15 per cent of her high school class, she qualified for the NJ Stars scholarship, which would pay for her entire tuition at a New Jersey community college.

“I was interested in going to a four-year colleges, but then I started to think logically,” said Sheila.  “I realized I could probably get the same education at PCCC that I would get in my first two years at a four-year college, and I would not have to pay the tuition.

Sheila made up her mind. “I knew this was my chance, and I took advantage of the opportunity.”

Now she’s glad she did. “This was the best decision I could have made,” said Sheila. “The scholarship took a weight off my shoulders, and I don’t think I would have received such a broad background if I had gone to another college.”

Sheila found the classes at PCCC much more challenging than she had expected. “The business courses were detailed and informative,” she said. “Professor (Tom) Cox was very engaging and passionate about the subject of marketing.”

Up for challenge, Sheila enrolled in Honors-level classes. “Honors classes really push you to go deeper into the topic you are studying,” she said.

Though Sheila was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, she was unable to participate in most of their projects due to her job outside school. “I just wanted to focus on my grades,” she explained.

Since high school, Sheila has maintained a freelance graphic design service, working primarily for friends and family who have their own businesses. “I do brochures, flyers, business cards, whatever they need,” she said.  “Business has been steady and mostly through word-of-mouth.“

For now, Sheila is planning her transfer to a bachelor’s degree program at Rutgers-Newark this Fall. “I’ve already visited there,” she said. “It seems very friendly, and I like the environment. The students I met were focused on their studies and have goals to succeed.”

Of her PCCC experience, Sheila said, “Many people don’t have high expectations of a community college, but they do not have the right impression. I received an excellent education here. I don’t think I would have received such an in-depth background if I had gone to a four-year university first. I’m proud I came to PCCC.”

Written and photographed by Linda Telesco