When Nick Cirillo, 29, was in high school, he hated class work and didn’t do very well. He spent the next 11 years of his life bartending, but eventually felt he wanted something more.
A resident of Boonton, he doesn’t think college would have worked out for him when he was younger because he was such a poor student. But he points out that as you get older you become more focused.
After graduating high school, he moved to Florida and ended up bartending at clubs in Ft. Lauderdale, South Beach and Orlando.
“I suddenly went from being a good little boy growing up in Hunterdon County, to this guy who would go three days without sleep because I was partying all night and working two jobs during the day,” he recalls. “I knew this had to change fast, so very early one morning, as I was sobering up, I called my mom. By that time, I had been evicted from two apartments and lost both of my jobs, and told her I had to come home. I felt defeated and angry at myself for allowing this to happen.”
It was at that point that he also realized that to live the life he wanted he needed a college degree. When he enrolled at County College of Morris (CCM) at the age of 26, he says, the biggest challenge was getting back into the swing of doing school work. Even people in his family expressed doubts when he signed up for courses. But when he completed his first semester at CCM with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, he flaunted his report card to the doubters. In recognition of his performance, he also was awarded a $2,000 scholarship from CCM.
“It’s good here because the professors know you by name. You’re not a number. They know your strengths and weaknesses, and they’re here to help you,” he says.
A communication major, he served as president of the Student Activities Programming Board and senator in the Student Government Association, as well as working as an orientation leader during the summers. He’s been in Who’s Who in American Junior Colleges several times.
Prior to his graduation this May, he was accepted into each of the seven colleges he had applied to, with many of them offering him scholarships. After he earns a bachelor’s degree in public relations, he plans to pursue a career in entertainment, preferably as a celebrity publicist.
“Returning to school showed me that I have potential and that I can do anything I want to,” he says. “While going to CCM, I fell in love with going to school and realized my profession was within reach from here.”