PATERSON, NJ - Ravyn John grew up in Paterson, graduated from JFK High School in 2018, and moved on to higher level education. And, thanks to the opportunity presented close to home, she didn’t have to go far.

On Wednesday, John, joined by fellow members of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, welcomed several hundred Paterson high school students to the Passaic County Community College campus, giving them a tour and opportunity to experience what college life is like locally.

“So many local high school students are not aware of the opportunities here,” John told TAPinto Paterson. “We want to raise awareness, to let them know that maybe this is the right place for them.”

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The second year student admitted that when she was considering colleges she was told that she “deserved more” than PCCC had to offer and that she should be looking at four-year schools. Now a second year student majoring in electronic engineering, benefiting from resources such as peer tutoring, and enjoying the opportunity to meet new people, John is convinced she made the right decision.

“Paterson is a city of opportunities,” John offered just before heading back to reengage in her duties as co-chair of the day’s event. “This is where it starts.”

Held under a theme of “begin with an end in mind,” the event was also a chance for prospective students to learn not just about studying at PCCC, including academic programs, financial aid, and more, but also to begin preparing to transfer from the two-year school to a four-year school, or to transition into a career.

Among the four-year colleges participating were Ramapo College, Montclair State University, NJIT, and Ryder University, while representatives of the New Jersey Department of Corrections and UPS were included in the potential employers that were present.

Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh helped kick off the day with a history lesson, as he has done so many times before for students in PCCC lecture halls where he has taught since 2000, while Paterson Public Schools Superintendent Eileen Shafer spent time greeting students currently under her academic care.

Saying it was a great chance for local high school students to see the college in a “user friendly and fun way,” while also providing an opportunity to learn, Shafer lauded the partnership between the District and PCCC saying that thanks to it, when it comes to embarking on a college career, “it’s all right here, close to home.”

Having made increasing post high school opportunities a priority Shafer added that, when it comes to cost, attending PCCC is “economically sound,” an important factor in any college enrollment decisions. 

Surprised by the extent of information being made available was Alia Pascual, a senior at the School of Architecture and Construction at the John F Kennedy Educational Complex.

“I thought this was going to be a tour,” Pascual said, continuing to say even that had her excited as she has always admired the buildings, but had never been inside. “To meet students, professors, the mayor, this has really been a nice experience.”

While she said she was probably going to attend PCCC anyway, Pascual said, the day reassured her that “this is the type of school (she) would like to go to.”

As for any advice that current students could impart on those considering PCCC, John suggested that they should follow their passion.

“If you put in effort and dedication,” she said showing wisdom beyond her years, “you can go anywhere.”

For many of the hundreds of students in attendance, that “anywhere,” college faculty and administrators hope, starts at PCCC.

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