PCCC Success Story: Rocet Rodriguez
She Boarded a Train and Met Her Destiny
One day, over 20 years ago, Rocet Rodriguez boarded a train bound for Paterson, where she was taking an ESL class at PCCC. On the train, Rocet encountered her ESL professor, Laurie Moody, who introduced her to two other passengers, brothers Michael Raff and Stephen Raff. By the time the train reached its
destination, Rocet had met her destiny.
The brothers were attorneys at Raff & Raff, their family-owned law firm in Paterson, and were looking for someone to help out at their office. “Professor Moody suggested they hire me, and they did, even though I didn’t speak much English yet,” says Rocet, who appreciated how Professor Moody advocated for her, even outside the classroom.
What began as a part-time clerical job has blossomed into a 22-year career. Rocet is now a paralegal and office manager at Raff & Raff and loves the nurturing work environment. “The staff is treated like family here and the clients are like friends. I was able to work flexible schedules that enabled me to grow and develop professionally while continuing my education and having time for my family, especially my (10-year-old) daughter.”
As a college student in the Dominican Republic, Rocet had studied to become a lawyer, but she was
unable to complete her degree when her family moved in 1999 to America. Living in Clifton, she
enrolled at PCCC to learn English. As her language skills improved, she moved on to college-level
”PCCC gives you all the tools you need and allows you to grow,” says Rocet, a good student who thrived
in PCCC’s supportive environment. “The advisors were always there for students and were encouraging
and kind. The professors know you by name and are very invested in your success.”
When Rocet transferred to a bachelor’s degree program at Rutgers, she admits the large university
seemed intimidating. “I struggled at first, but then I applied the tools I learned at PCCC and started to
receive all As and Bs.”
Eager to enter a career, Rocet worried that becoming a lawyer in the U.S. would take many years, so she
majored in business, which seemed practical, but did not satisfy her. “I’ve always been argumentative
and enjoy politics,” says Rocet. So, she changed her major to Political Science and Spanish with a minor
in Latin American Studies.
Graduating cum laude with a BA degree, Rocet continued on at Rutgers to earn a master’s degree in
social work, but she did not envision a career as a social worker who visited clients. “I wanted to design
and implement the programs that could help communities.”
Raff & Raff has given Rocet the opportunity to fulfill that desire through the firm’s extensive
philanthropy throughout the community, including their donation this year to support scholarships at
PCCC. As part of that outreach, Rocet collaborated with Steve Raff to create a foundation, Gifts of Love,
that collects and distributes gifts for children during the Christmas holiday season.
“Without PCCC, there is no way I could have had the opportunities I’ve received,” says Rocet. “PCCC
changes lives. “I strongly recommend it.”