Providing an Affordable Pathway to Earn a Bachelor’s Degree – Posted 12/21/15

Marianna Goncalves Severgnini, of Madison, counts herself fortunate to be the second County College of Morris (CCM) student to receive a full-tuition scholarship from Drew University to earn her bachelor’s degree through the dual admissions program the college holds with the university.

As an international student, who does not qualify for financial aid, the scholarship means she can continue to keep her higher education affordable and within her reach.

“I’m so excited,” says Goncalves, who will start at Drew in the Spring Semester. “Drew has so many off-campus opportunities, plus it’s small enough to form strong relationships. Like CCM, it’s a good fit for me. It’s a place where I can meet people and also stand out.”

Raised in a small town in Brazil under an educational system that did not assign grade point averages (GPA), Goncalves did not have many higher education options open to her when she and her family moved to the U.S. As an open access institution, however, CCM provided her with the opportunity to start college and earn a 3.9 GPA.

“At CCM, I have been able to demonstrate my full potential and gain a GPA that qualified me for this scholarship,” she says. “I also am so grateful for the teachers and staff here. I have had the best teachers in my life here. They have such a passion for teaching and relating what you are learning to real-world experiences.”

Had it not been for the college’s transfer services coordinator, Goncalves adds, she also would not have been aware of the dual admissions program with Drew and the two annual full-tuition scholarships the university provides for CCM students.

The Drew scholarships are part of a dual admissions partnership the university and CCM established in 2014. As part of that partnership, Drew agreed to award up to two full-tuition scholarships each year to qualified students who enroll through the dual admissions program. The first scholarship was awarded earlier this year.

At CCM, Goncalves focused on completing her associate degree in less than two years, which she accomplished in one-and-a-half years by taking six courses over the summer session and carrying a full course load during her other semesters. She explains that starting college at age 24, her goal has been to complete her bachelor’s degree before she turns 30. She did make time, however, to get involved in a number of student clubs, including the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, which allowed her to establish a larger network of friends and develop her leadership skills. She also served as a member of the Ambassadors Club, which assists in recruitment, retention and community relations.

A highly motivated individual, Goncalves has a long list of accomplishments to her credit. She lived in China for seven years after her father, a shoe technician, was transferred there. In China, she learned both Chinese and English and was awarded the Best Speaker Award in her ESL class. In high school, she received an award for being within the top three in her class. Possessing a passion for travel, she also studied for a semester in Denmark and has traveled throughout Europe. After high school, she returned to Brazil where she taught English for several years.

At Drew, she plans to take full advantage of the experiential learning opportunities the university offers. Chief among those is Drew’s Wall Street Semester Program, which brings students into the financial district to connect with financial professionals and institutions that play a critical role in the U.S. economy.

A business administration major at CCM, Goncalves will be studying economics at Drew. When she graduates, she hopes to obtain a job with a financial firm and eventually would like to help small businesses grow their operations.

To learn more about the CCM and Drew dual admissions program, visit

Photo Credit: John Hester