Nicole Palmarozza misread the email. She thought it said that she had been awarded a $750 scholarship.
“My parents were really excited, and so was I,” says Palmarozza, a 21-year-old junior working on a double major in human resources and labor studies. “Then I read it again and realized it said $7,500. We were all in shock.”
That decimal point changed Palmarozza’s life in more ways than one. It meant that she didn’t have to work so many hours at the campus gym, and it relieved her parents of a huge financial burden.
Her parents’ construction company in Wayne got caught up in the recession, and with Palmarozza’s younger brother in college, too, things were tight. “But their top priority was always to provide us with an education,” she says. “They have never asked me to do anything to pay for my education, but my good grades got me the scholarship, so I was happy I was able to give something back to them.”
The Rodkin Family Scholarship covers Palmarozza’s expenses and tuition, which means that she has more time to devote to her duties as the financial vice president of her sorority, Gamma Phi Beta.
“I wanted to get involved in the school community,” she says, “because I was very involved in the Wayne community when I was in high school.” For instance, she was a volunteer committee chair for Relay for Life, which holds events to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
After the scholarship awards dinner, Palmarozza called her parents to thank them again. “They gave me my education,” she says, “and I’m grateful.”
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Thank you, New Jersey. This article was published in May 2012. Read a message from Rutgers University President Robert Barchi about the successful completion of the Our Rutgers, Our Future campaign.