She Found Herself and a Foundation for Her Future
When Bianca Osma discovered that she was one of two community college students from New Jersey to be named to the 2021 All-USA Academic Team, she was stunned. “I received the news in a text message,” says Bianca, who is graduating this week. “I just stared at the phone, and my hands got cold. I was dumbfounded.”
Earlier, Bianca had learned that she and another PCCC student were among 37 New Jersey community college students named to the 2021 NJ All-State Academic Team. In addition, the Clifton resident is the recipient of the New Century Transfer Scholarship and the Guistwhite Transfer Scholarship.
Bianca, who came to PCCC because she wanted to save money on her education, will graduate with nearly $13,000 in scholarship awards gained through the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) honor society.
“I am so grateful,” says Bianca. “PTK has been the best part of my PCCC experience, and I will always be thankful for the support and encouragement I received as a member.”
Bianca receives her associate’s degree in Business Administration (Accounting/Management/Marketing Option) with highest honors. She is also the recipient of the Business Administration Graduate Achievement Award, given by PCCC each year to the outstanding graduate in that major.
Just a few years ago, the aspiring accountant could not have imagined this level of academic success. In 2018, Bianca came with her parents to the U.S. from the Philippines where she had already reached her junior year of college. “I was not a high achiever there,” she says. “I did ok, but was not motivated to excel.”
Though she learned English in the Philippines, Bianca did not feel confident about her language or other skills during her early days in the U.S. “I felt very shy and doubted myself,” she says.
At first, Bianca considered returning to the Philippines to complete the education she started there, but then decided a degree from an American institution would be preferred by U.S. employers. “PCCC was affordable, so I enrolled here,” she explains.
That was in Fall 2019, and Bianca had developed the motivation to succeed. “I wanted to become an accountant, so I tried hard to be a better student.”
By spring semester, she was invited to join PTK. “That’s when everything really started for me,” says Bianca who credits much of her success to Professor Jennifer Gasparino, the PTK faculty advisor, and co-advisor Andy Perales.
“They encouraged me to try things I never thought I could do,” says Bianca. She even ran for PTK office and served as vice president of fellowship, gaining recognition for her work with Course Navigator, a project that trains selected students to assist faculty and other students with technology needs.
PTK also served as a social outlet for Bianca and others during the pandemic. “It was a difficult time to have a social life,” she says. “PTK was my family and really enabled me and the other members to feel connected.”
Though she still considers herself shy, Bianca says she has come a long way and is looking forward to September when she transfers into a bachelor’s degree program at Rutgers-New Brunswick and also plans to live on campus.
“I’m excited about the social opportunities I’ll be able to have at Rutgers,” says Bianca. “The pandemic took that away from us for a year.”
She is also more confident about her abilities. “My dream is to become a certified public accountant and work for one of the Big Four accounting firms,” says Bianca. “PCCC gave me the foundation I need to do that.”