A pair of County College of Morris (CCM) students have put themselves in rare company and will now receive free housing and meal plan while continuing their education following their CCM graduation in May.
Claudia Saavedra, of Hopatcong, and Justin Stone, of Mount Olive, are two of only 20 students selected from an international group of applicants to receive the Honors Living-Learning Community (HLLC) Scholarship at Rutgers-Newark. They were chosen from group of 120 students who were initially selected to come to campus for a first round of interviews.
“This is a great opportunity for us to continue to get a great education while receiving financial help,” Saavedra said.
Saavedra and Stone will be part of just the second group of students to be selected for the scholarship program. Unlike last year, when only first-year college students were eligible, this year’s group of winners came from a pool of applicants which also included transfer students. Both Saavedra and Stone said CCM did an excellent job of preparing them to be in a position to receive such a selective honor.
“The professors are constantly training you on not just how to succeed in the classroom, but how to get into your field of study,” Stone said. “They train you on how to handle an interview, how to meet people, how to write a resume; they are preparing you for finding a job.”
HLLC is a unique program that selects a small group of students based on their ability to interact with and give to a community. The 20 students will be asked to make a difference in the community through projects.
Both CCM students have a great background to bring to such a program. During her senior year of high school, Saavedra, a public administration major at CCM, created a series of workshops for first-generation and underprivileged high school students in which she helps guide them through the college admission process. It’s something she’s continued and wants to build upon. She’d like to go to law school, next earn her Ph.D., and then continue to make a difference down the road. She is the chair of CCM’s Judiciary Board and a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society.
Stone, a business administration major at CCM, is an Eagle Scout who helped beautify a 52-by-10 foot section of landscape at Mount Olive Town Hall by replanting low maintenance plants and bushes. He is currently the president of Venture Crew 156 in Flanders and is a member of CCM’s Alpha Betta Gamma business honor society.
The two students are friends and it was actually Saavedra who told Stone about the application after she discovered it at a transfer fair held on campus by CCM Transfer Services. To apply, each student needed to submit two letters of recommendation and write an essay. From there, 120 students were selected to attend an interview in which they were broken up into small groups to show how they contributed to the group as a whole. Finalists were then asked to come back for a second interview, this time individually with two Rutgers-Newark administrators.
Saavedra and Stone each had one of their letters of recommendation written by a CCM faculty member – Professor Candace Halo for Saavedra and Professor Susan Miller for Stone. Both students cited the support they received inside and outside of the classroom from these professors in helping to make their educational experience successful. Saavedra also pointed to Professor Jack Bernardo as another influential figure on her experience, which has helped lead to this new opportunity.
“The professors here really do whatever they can to help students, both academically and outside of the classroom,” Saavedra said.