Adult Learner Talks Transition from Undergrad to Graduate Student at Rowan University

NyEsha poses for a portrait.

Meet NyEsha Salvatori, a master of social work graduate student who will graduate next year. NyEsha, from Camden County, NJ, returned to school as an adult learner to complete her undergraduate degree at Rowan University and then enrolled in Rowan’s newly created master of social work graduate program. 

Just being able to juggle going back to school, having an internship, and being able to maintain work, to me, unlocked a tenacity in me that I never knew I had.

NyEsha works alongside one of her MSW professors at Rowan University.

What is your experience as an adult learner, completing your bachelor’s degree and now your master’s?

“It’s really weird because I’m 41 and I made the decision to go back to school five years ago. It’s funny because about 75% of my peers were the same age as my kids. Just being able to juggle going back to school, having an internship, and being able to maintain work, to me, unlocked a tenacity in me that I never knew I had. I think that some people my age in life definitely can’t do that, but I’m like, ‘I’m getting my master’s degree, you can do this too.’ It is attainable. Rowan offered more classes through undergrad at night which just made it just an easier choice for me.

“With my peers, we formed groups that fostered us and helped us graduate. Our GroupMe name went from ‘Just trying to graduate’ to ‘Just graduated.’ Our new one is ‘Just mastering it.’ I’m excited to change our GroupMe to ‘Just mastered it.’

“This is doable, you can do this. There are so many ways to help you financially. There are so many support groups out there that can help you navigate scheduling. Even the resources they built into our classes help us navigate the library and to navigate services. I know that I can go to the Glassboro campus and go to the library there. It’s a much better resource for me and I have access right here at home for that.

“They [the library] were offering child care in the evenings, who was doing that? I have not seen that. There are so many things that are there to help you be successful even at my age or even at my time of going back. During undergrad, I didn’t think this would be the future for me, and as I continued through the courses, and found out that this is what I like to do and the potential employers are saying, ‘We want you but you need to have this,’ I knew I could do this.

“Last semester I was like, ‘The internship, graduating, and work and just life, I was like: this is it.’ When this program came out, I told my husband I was going back to school and he was supportive of it. It was very rewarding. The support really made it what is.”

NyEsha sits in a study session, looking down at her papers.

How did you discover your desire to earn a graduate degree?

“I told my professor, Professor Ivy, that I was going to stop at the bachelor’s degree level. I didn’t really have a desire in the very beginning to pursue more, so I said, “Okay, I’m good here.” When we would have one-on-one talks in class, someone said, “Hey, furthering your education will get you better opportunities.” I never saw it that way. If anything, while I was in class conversing with my peers, it was like, “There’s more, it’s better.” I didn’t think of that coming into college. It really opened up my mind to possibilities that I never thought would be available, or even attainable.”

Rowan really made it readily available and accessible to be able to continue my education.

For those struggling to figure out what they want to do after their undergraduate degree, what would you say to help them? 

“I believe in going as far as you can, if you’re able to do so. I received so many grants just from the school. Rowan really made it readily available and accessible to be able to continue my education. Their offerings of financial support have been the best that I’ve seen. I would encourage students to continue to go forward through higher education.

“Even going into the workforce, when I was finished with my bachelor’s, I was prepared for my job. I could have gotten a job easily where I did my internship because I already fostered the relationships that needed to be made to be considered. I think that anyone who graduates should continue to ride that momentum. Even though you’re fresh out of school, stay connected and push forward in whatever it is that you’re thinking, as far as continuing your education or even seeking a job. Take advantage of what you can.

Rowan has so many employment opportunities just by being a student at the university. I actually got to intern with the Rowan ROPES (Rowan University Opportunity for Postsecondary Excellence and Success) program in the education department and that was just by me being in my field of study. The email came out and I got exposed to what they do in that department. It was a beautiful experience.”

NyEsha standing on the lobby staircase inside of the Rohrer College of Business.

Can you elaborate on what the Rowan ROPES program is? 

“Rowan ROPES is a program where Rowan introduces high school students entering their junior year of high school to college, to acclimate them and facilitate a stronger opportunity for them to graduate college. It’s a dual-credit program where they earn high school credit at the same time as college credit. 

“I was a representative for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS). I spoke about the majors there, proposed a project and there was a beautiful banquet. For those who graduated, it was a beautiful thing that a lot of them were awarded scholarships to come to Rowan and a few of them did. I thought that was very good and just to be a part of that. Just being in class and receiving an email linked me to that. It was phenomenal. What Rowan did for these students was amazing. I wish I had that for growing up because it was bridging for when you’re graduating from high school so they’re not left out there like, “What should I do?” Even if they didn’t go to Rowan, they have the know-how to apply, how to successfully complete the application, and how to do the financial aid so that when they are ready. They can come here and they’re more prepared for it. That was an experience in itself.”

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Written by: Thomas Ubelhoer 

Edited by: Jordyn Dauter, junior double major in dance & elementary education

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