Robby was accepted by four universities, but chose to attend PCCC instead. “It just made financial sense,” he explained.
May 8, 2019

Robby Rosa Chose PCCC to Save Money, and Was Enriched Beyond Expectation

When Robby Rosa graduated last June from Passaic County Technical Institute (PCTI), a vocational public high school in Wayne, the honor student was near the top of his class and recognized for academic achievement, involvement in student life, and community service.

Not surprisingly, Robby was accepted by four universities, but chose to attend PCCC instead. “It just made financial sense,” he explained. “I didn’t want to graduate from college and be trapped by debt.”
In addition, Robby graduated in the top 15 per cent of his high school class, so he qualified for the NJ Stars scholarship program, which would cover his complete tuition at PCCC. “Why would anyone not take advantage of this?” he asked.

Yet, the Paterson resident answered that question himself. “At first, I was not enthusiastic about attending a community college,” he admitted. “I knew community colleges have a stigma.”
But now, at the end of his first year at PCCC, Robby says his perspective has completely changed.

“Coming to PCCC is the best decision I could have made,” says Robby. “I don’t think I would have done so much in my first year of college at another school,” he said. “At a big university, I might have been just a number.”

When Robby enrolled at PCCC in September 2018, he was recruited from the start for the Honors Program, an initiative that offers academically talented students more challenging classes and special enrichment programs.

“Honors classes are smaller, and we have the opportunity for in-depth discussions in class, not just lectures,” explained Robby.  “We focus on a different topic nearly every day. We also get to form a closer relationship with the professor and with each other. It’s like a family.”

Last April, Robby was one of six PCCC honors students whose research papers were selected for presentation at the 9th Annual Judith K. Winn School of Honors Student Conference at Bergen Community College. Robby presented a 10-page paper, Misconceptions About Genetic Enhancement, before an audience of fellow honors students and faculty.  “I was nervous, but it was a great experience that really prepares you for the future,” he said.

Robby was also invited last January to join Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the international honor society for two-year colleges. “PTK has been really good for me for so many reasons,” he said. “I appreciate the atmosphere at PTK, where members are all committed to achieving their best, and also appreciate that Professor (Jennifer) Gasparino (the faculty advisor to PTK) offered me a work study job.”

Active in student life when he was in high school, Robby served as vice president of his class for two years. He also initiated a successful fundraiser selling t-shirts to raise money for victims of Hurricanes Maria and Irma. “We raised over $2100,” he said. “It was hard work and sometimes stressful, but at the end of the day, I was proud of what we had done and of spearheading an idea like that.”

Bringing that knack for involvement to college life, Robby was recently elected Vice President of the PCCC Student Government Association (SGA), and is excited about the prospects ahead.  “I look forward to more collaboration between the SGA and the student clubs,” he said, eager to help continue the food pantry project at the college and to increase communications among the Paterson, Wanaque, and Passaic campuses.

At PCTI, Robby specialized in health studies and decided to become a nurse. “I wanted to have contact with patients and really make a difference for them,” he explained. “That’s what nurses, do.”
He also joined the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), an international organization for high school and college students pursuing a healthcare profession. As a HOSA member, Robby was a Bronze Level recipient of the 2016 Barbara James Community Service Award and attended HOSA’s International Conference in Orlando, Florida to receive his certificate and commemorative pin.

Now a nursing major at PCCC, Robby is looking forward to his future nursing career, but his ultimate goal is to earn a doctoral degree in order to become a hospital administrator. “I would like to make the big decisions that can really affect patient care,” he explained.

Looking back on an earlier big decision – to attend PCCC instead of a four-year university – Robby is now confident that he made the right choice.  “PCCC has been amazing for me,” he said. 

Looking beyond himself, with the vision of a future administrator, Robby now sees the bigger picture about community college. “PCCC offers a second chance,” he said.  “I have seen people make a 180 degree turn in their lives here. They learned from the past and are now progressing forward.”  He added, “I would recommend PCCC to anyone.”

Written / photographed by Linda Telesco