PA to NJ: Theatre Major Erica Gerold

Photo of a city during the day.

Today, we speak to PA native student Erica Gerold. Erica is a double major in Theatre and Public Relations with concentrations in Musical Theatre and Theatre Education from Philadelphia, PA. Erica tells us more about why she chose Rowan and her switch to the Jersey side.

What are some fun off-campus things to do within 20 minutes of Rowan on this side of the bridge?

If you enjoy theatre, there are some great companies nearby Rowan to go to! This past school year I went with friends to see amazing productions of The Wiz at Ritz Theatre Company and The Hunchback of Notre Dame at Broadway Theatre of Pitman. There are also adorable diners in New Jersey! I recommend The Pop Shop in Collingswood; the entire area is beautiful to walk around in.

Headshot of Erica.

Why did you choose to leave PA for college?

One of the reasons I chose to leave PA for college was a fresh start. I love the people I know from Philly, but there is something so fantastic about going outside of what you know! Choosing an out-of-state school put me outside of my comfort zone in the best way possible, and I am so glad I made the decision to do so.

Why did you choose Rowan?

I had actually never heard of Rowan until my high school English teacher recommended looking into it! He told me his son (Dr. Chris Roche) was the head of the musical theatre concentration, and I went from there. Upon visiting, their faculty and classmates were so evidentially encouraging of each other; they care for everyone more than I have ever seen at any other college. The department’s work is also actively made/chosen to reflect upon societal issues in the present day, which is very important to me. Beyond this, Rowan makes it possible for me to be a double major in Musical Theatre and Public Relations. Here, I am able to combine my two loves and make a profession out of it!

Erica performing in a show on stage with two other cast members.

What is one thing about South Jersey that was a happy surprise for you or different than you expected?

I have already alluded to it, but the sense of community in South Jersey is unlike what I could have ever expected. I thought I would feel a bit lost in a large university, but I am so happy to know there are always people here who have my back.

Have you adopted any “Jersey” tendencies?

Being from Northeast Philadelphia a lot of my tendencies are already similar to New Jersey’s! I already say things like pork roll, “wooder” ice, hoagie, and have been to Wawa and Dunkin Donuts plenty of times. However, I had never heard of the great Central Jersey debate until I moved here! (I think I have come to the conclusion it does not exist.)

Erica posing and sitting on a prop set with other cast members.

How has choosing to move out of your hometown area for school benefited you?

Moving out of my hometown area for school gave me a large sense of independence. Anyone moving away from home will experience this, but if you are leaving your state I believe it is much more impactful. I have also met a much more diverse group of people.

What advice do you have for Pennsylvania residents leaving PA to go to school in NJ?

There is nothing wrong with having close high school friends, but letting yourself be open to new people is incredibly important. Stepping into the unfamiliarity will make it much easier to branch out and adjust to the new environment you are in. Career, academic, student, and on-campus opportunities are also great things to look forward to! (PS: Make sure you bring an umbrella and or rain boots if you are going to school in New Jersey! It rains much more than I expected.)

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Story by:
Bianca Torres, senior music industry major

Photography provided by:
Erica Gerold

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