SPOTSWOOD, NJ - It was less than 10 days ago that Spotswood High School Principal Amy Jablonski received a letter from Ramapo College, thanking the high school for sending the school freshmen Angelina Perez, Christopher Deluca and Cailey Ievolella. All three Chargers alumni made the Dean's List for their first semester at the Mahwah college and were applauded for becoming contributing members of the Roadrunners community. Now life as a college freshmen has radically changed as students across New Jersey and the nation are back at home because of the coronavirus crisis.
"Ramapo is officially closed until March 23 for a deep cleaning," Perez explained. "We were notified that a staff member tested positive for COVID-19 this past Saturday, which led to many students moving out completely. This week is thankfully our spring break, but we are starting online classes. I feel like the college and the professors are handling the situation very well with the transfer to online courses."
The Helmetta native is hopeful she will be back at school in early April. Before the coronavirus outbreak, Perez was just starting her college career at Ramapo, excited and nervous about the new beginning.
"Overall, I absolutely love it," Perez said of Ramapo. "At first it was a rocky start coming here with none of my close friends and having to start all over socially and academically, but then as second semester rolled around I started joining new things I never thought I would be in."
Perez rushed the Theta Phi Alpha sorority and joined the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, qualifying because of her grade point average. She also decided to put in an application to become a peer facilitator.
"The difference between the two semesters are crazy," Perez continued. "It started as me figuring out who I was, to I finally know who I am."
Perez is a Communication Arts major and is planning on concentrating on journalism during her time at Ramapo. She highly recommends the school to any fellow Chargers in the midst of the college search.
"Coming from Spotswood, the little town it is, Ramapo was a great fit," Perez said.
She loves being known by her professors and not just being a number in a large lecture hall. Perez also appreciates the fact that students can walk to class without the need of any additional transportation. Ramapo's diverse and caring atmosphere is another big plus for the freshman.
"This campus takes mental health very seriously and has taken lots of precautions for when you are feeling stressed or down," Perez explained. "There are so many different clubs, centers, hotlines. The Office of Specialized Services makes accommodations for you whether it's extra time on tests, special accommodations in the classroom and emotional support animals to stay in your dorm with you."
Despite the welcoming climate, Perez like most freshmen did have a some difficulty moving from high school to college life.
"At first, it was really hard transitioning from senior year, which was relaxed and fun, to the first semester of college," Perez said.
Initially, she found her self "drowning in homework and studying at all hours of the night." Eventually though, the teen found her groove.
"High School definitely did not prepare me for these huge exams, but I found my way around it," Perez continued. "Overall, it has been stressful, but now I finally have the hang of being on my own and keeping up with my school work."
Perez described her first semester as a rollercoaster ride with a lot of ups and downs. The current coronavirus crisis is taking the student on another turn, but she's ready for it. According to information on Ramapo's website, the college will have students working remotely until New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy gives schools the okay for students to return.
"In the end, motivation is the only thing that keeps you going as a student," Perez added. "Chasing my degree at the end of the four years and making my parents proud motivates me each and every day. Since I put that mindset in my head, I have been doing everything I can to make my dreams a reality in 2023."