Originally featured in the September 2017 newsletter
Carol Cofone took a series of baby steps to get to Rutgers, but was not expecting the big step forward when she was awarded the UC, NB Alumni Association Endowed Scholarship. Candidates are required to write an essay and must affiliate as nontraditional in New Brunswick. They must also be part-time, high-achieving undergraduates with 75+ degree credits (minimally 15 credits completed at Rutgers).
Carol received her first undergraduate degree from Syracuse University in 1978 - a dual degree from the College of Arts and Sciences and Newhouse School of Public Communications. She became an advertising professional, copywriter and strategic planner, dedicating 30 years to her career. She admits, “In thirty years, things change, no matter what field you’re in. You have to find a new way to think about what you are doing, and what you want to do next.” As a first step, she took a non-credit Italian conversation class taught by Silvia Gazzo at Brookdale Community College, who encouraged her to continue.
She enrolled at Brookdale and took all of the Italian classes they offered. Her teacher, Associate Professor Deborah De Blasio, who received her MA at Rutgers, inspired her to look into Rutgers’ offerings in Italian. She began by taking a few classes on the College Avenue campus. After taking courses with Professor Laura White and Professor Andrea Baldi, Carol knew she wanted to pursue a second undergraduate degree, “I wanted to speak, read, write and think in Italian.”
When asked about challenges she experienced with work and family responsibilities, she said, “Keeping a household and a career running while attending school is difficult – everything needs attention at the same time. But my husband, Bob, made this easy for me. The encouragement of my entire family and my friends kept me going. The company where I freelance, Big Arrow Group, accommodated my ever changing schedule so I could work and go to school.”
Carol describes her experience at Rutgers as “one of the most positive of my life. Rutgers students, especially my classmates in the Italian department, helped me find my way. My adviser, Dean Elizabeth Spear, helped me understand the full value of a second undergraduate degree. Thanks to her, I discovered I could earn a certificate in historic preservation through the CHAPS (Cultural Heritage and Preservation Studies) Program in Art History along with my Italian major.”
Carol goes further to detail that the International Historic Preservation class, taught in New Brunswick and Naples, Italy simultaneously by Professor David Listokin of the EJ Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, introduced her to the professors and students of a consortium of Italian universities. Through the resources of the Aresty program, she met Professor T. Corey Brennan of the Classics Department. He invited her to participate in his research project, the creation of a digital archive of the historic documents of the Boncompagni Ludovisi family in Rome. “Rutgers attracts brilliant deans and professors. They show you how to take your interests well beyond the pursuit of a degree,” she added.
Carol’s advice to other adults at Rutgers is, “Just begin. What Rutgers can give you will become apparent as you go. You might come for a class; you may stay for a degree. Either way, it can make all the difference.” Since 2009, Carol has been taking classes in the School of Arts and Sciences-New Brunswick and completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Italian May 2017, Summa Cum Laude.