4 Rowan Scholarship Awardees Share Their Stories

four scholarship winners sit
Rowan scholarship awardees Steph Berman, Ronslaire Joseph, Elyse Baroncini and Peter Hodson.

Back in November I had a pleasure to meet with Steven C. Farney, Ed.D., senior director of administration from the Division of Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM), who shared information every Rowan student needs to know when applying for scholarships. If you had a chance to read that post, then you should be an expert in scholarships and can easily help your fellow classmates. If not, then let me brief you on the best available resource students have.

In 2015, Strategic Enrollment Management decided to ease the scholarship process for current students and implemented a software called AwardSpring: a one-stop-shop when researching and applying for scholarships. All it takes for a student is to write one essay, answer the questionnaire and include three recommendation letters. And you can come back anytime (before the deadline of course) to add or change something.

Nevertheless, AwardSpring is not the only way to receive an award. Sometimes, your professors or co-workers can recommend you for it, or spread the word about your accomplishments to the right person. Are you convinced yet that you might be a next scholarship winner? Or maybe you just don’t know what to spend free money on (yeah, right?). Well, while you think about it, meet four students who received awards and learn how Rowan scholarships made their education more accessible and affordable. 

Elyse BaronciniElyse Baroncinni posing next to the Christmas Tree in Barnes and Noble
Pursuing a graduate degree in chemical engineering within the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering
William Maxwell Scholarship –  $1,000

After I received my undergraduate degree in physics from a college in Pennsylvania I worked for a couple of years with chemical engineers and thought it was fascinating. I am in my second year of my graduate degree in chemical engineering from Rowan. I’m getting paid to do research. Even though I earn a competitive rate for the average in the country, it still doesn’t cover all of the expenses. I’m 26 now, so I have health care insurance to pay for and student loans, that are in deferment now since I’m back to school.

So one day, I was called into the Dean’s Office, wondering what was going on. I came in and they hand me an award certificate for a $1,000 scholarship. I was really surprised to receive it, because I had no idea that I was even nominated. As it turned out, my professor recommended  me for William Maxwell Scholarship. The first thing I did was to put a couple of hundred toward my student loans, so the interest won’t blow up, and the rest covered some of the university fees, insurance and food. Feeling really grateful, I went to a reception dinner to meet the benefactor, William Maxwell, who is a chemical engineer who worked for Exxon Mobil. I got a chance to know more about his job and how chemical engineering has influenced his life. It definitely opened more doors for me.

Ronslaire Joseph received 2 scholarshipsRonslaire Joseph
Pursuing undergraduate degrees in entrepreneurship and marketing within the Rohrer College of Business
Dersch/Luessen Family Scholarship – $500
Gerald B. Shreiber Scholarship – $2,500

When in 2015 I received an email about Melissa Dersch scholarship, at first I thought it was a mistake because I didn’t apply for an award. I’m on the e-board for Veteran Student Organization, and my supervisor nominated me for this scholarship. So I met with the donor for breakfast, where I found out that Melissa Dersch works in University Advancement at Rowan, and she personally gives scholarships out to veterans. I spent it on books.

And this year I received Gerald B. Shreiber scholarship for academic achievement in the Rohrer College of Business. The scholarship was $2,500 that went straight to my tuition. Since I’m a senior I had all of my course requirements outlined and the scholarship made it so much easier for me to stay on track. Currently, I’m also competing in the business competition that will be finalized next semester. I’m developing an idea of creating a real estate business and hope to win to begin developing my startup. Now I recognize that people are always watching you in school, even if you don’t really know it. As long as you are doing what you are supposed to do, go above and beyond. Good things will come to you.

Peter Hodson Peter Hodson in the Student Center
Pursuing an undergraduate degree in biology within the College of Science & Mathematics
Dante and Diana Germano Glassboro High School Scholarship – $2,500 a year

Two days before my freshman year at Rowan, I was checking my email and saw a message about $2,500 scholarship. I thought it was a joke and decided to look it up. When I went on to Bursar website, I saw that it was applied to my account. Dante, the person who awarded me with the scholarship went to Glassboro High School, and that’s where I went. When Dante asked, “Who would be good for this?,” school officials recommended me. And that’s how I got it! It’s $2,500 per year, and I can renew it every year, so it is $10,000 after four years.

I’m a quadruplet, and two of my brothers study at RCGC, and my sister is in the United States Marine Corps. So my family has to pay for our tuition, books and transportation. So I was really surprised and happy for the well-needed scholarship. Now, I’m using it for my tuition.I’m still so confused why I got the scholarship out of all people I went to Glassboro High School with. I was in top ten of my class, but I was never number one. But even if you are not the smartest in your class or not the quarterback on a team, there is always something out there for you. When you think about it, people do notice students that are involved and do a lot (like I was). So, keep your head above the water. You never know. Even two days before school, you never know.

Steph Berman poses next to Rowan Profs signSteph Berman
Pursuing an undergraduate degree in biology with Spanish minor and an Honors Concentration
Josefina & Enrique Pujals Scholarship – $1,000

I probably will never forget how I was walking down the hallway in the Whitney Center Apartments back to my door, scanning through my email. And I saw “Pujals Scholarship – Congratulations” as the subject line, and I lost it. I started screaming right in the hallway. People came out to see if I was OK. When I went to my apartment, I was jumping all over the place and telling my roommates that I was finally being able to go and study abroad. Josefina & Enrique Pujals Scholarship is awarded to a Spanish senior, in my case, with the minimum 3.0 GPA in the Department of Foreign Languages & Literatures.

I applied for this scholarship not even sure that I would be eligible for it as a Spanish minor and someone who was planning to go abroad for only nine days, and not a whole semester. A lot of my professors have said that I’m doing really good in classes, but needed to study abroad to get to the next level. I’ve tried three different times (Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Peru) over the course of my undergrad, and it was my last ditch-effort to have an opportunity to be immersed in Spanish.

I’m really excited to be going abroad on the 2017 spring break in March. I’m going to Peru for nine days. The scholarship covers the entire registration of the trip and helps to offset some extraneous costs for me, like renewing my passport, travel insurance and other things. The scholarship is the reason why I am able to go. I’m happy for whatever aid I can receive, because there are so many costs associated with the travel, that is why I’m working with the Honors Department to receive reimbursement for some of my flight costs. And I’m also continually scanning to see if there are other awards I may be eligible for.

Have you received any scholarships? Please share this post and leave your comments below.  

Story organized by: Natalia Panfilova, senior public relations major

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