Lina Maria Alfonso of Parsippany plans to be a doctor someday. Winning academic scholarships has been the first step in making that dream possible. Having graduated in the top 6 percent of her high school class, she was awarded a full academic scholarship to County College of Morris (CCM) through the NJ STARS scholarship program. But that didn’t pay for lab fees, insurance, books and other incidental expenses. Fortunately, three additional scholarships at CCM – the Dr. Stephen Gurba Scholarship for the Sciences, the George Snow Honors Scholarship and the Oliver Sheffield Scholarship – have helped cover those costs.
“I was originally accepted at Rutgers, but my father and I reviewed the expenses and decided that for all the education required for medical school, it would be better to start out at CCM, which has a great academic reputation. It has been the best decision that I have made,” says Alfonso.
With all of her college expenses covered, she didn’t have to work while going to school, and that allowed the chemistry major to become more involved with campus activities. As president of the Volunteer Club, she and its 30 members helped build five homes in Morris County for Habitat for Humanity, donated time to other local charities and collected and distributed food and clothing for Superstorm Sandy victims.
A Student Government Association senator and member of its Diversity Committee, she also ran a campus voter registration table where she promoted the $750-million Building Our Future Bond Act. “The New Jersey Council of Community Colleges assigned a representative from every college and I was assigned to represent CCM,” she says. “This money will be used strictly for academics and research. I’m so glad it passed.” Through the bond act, CCM is scheduled to receive $10 million to expand its performing arts academic center and upgrade its mechanical and electrical engineering labs.
Following her graduation in May 2014, Alfonso transferred to Rutgers, New Brunswick to study biology in its pre-med program. “My goal is to go to Harvard Medical School,” she says. “Helping others is a perfect way to give back and that’s what I want to do as a doctor.”