Nathalia Allenza and Thomas Emens were still reeling from the news of their acceptance to Princeton University when asked about their post-graduate plans.
“I started crying and screaming because I never thought this was possible. I am a nontraditional college student – I’m 29, married and have a child,” Allenza exclaimed.
Emens was no less exuberant. He was appropriately at Princeton University’s Nassau Hall when he shared his reaction.
“I still haven’t fully processed it. My life literally changed within the course of two hours,” said Emens, who had just received news of the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship when he learned of his Princeton admission.
Emens is one of 100 recipients of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s prestigious Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. The highly competitive national scholarship will provide Emens with up to $55,000 a year to complete a bachelor’s degree.
“When I was accepted to Princeton, I felt a tremendous financial weight lifted off my shoulders because of the Cooke scholarship award,” Emens shared. The Jamesburg resident will study politics at Princeton.
The financial cost of a Princeton University will not be a factor for Allenza as well. She received a full scholarship from the university, as well as housing for her and her family. Currently residing in Plainsboro, Allenza and her family will make the short move to the neighboring town of Princeton while Allenza pursues her bachelor’s in public policy.
“The university provides housing for nontraditional students and their families. So, they will give us an apartment to live in. It’s such a blessing. It was more than what I thought I was going to get.”
As they look forward to college life at Princeton, Allenza and Emens credit Middlesex College for paving the way for their success.
“When I applied to Middlesex College, I was worried about getting in because my GPA was from another country. But Middlesex allowed me to come and learn and to grow. That really changed my life. Middlesex is always going to be in my heart because it changed my life,” Allenza said.
Similarly, Emens shared that Middlesex would always be part of his success story.
“The professors, the advisors, the counselors – they equipped me with the means to get me where I am today. And they instilled not just the skills that I needed to get to this day, but the belief that I could do it, to persevere when things get tough, to believe in how far you can go, that the world is your oyster. They taught me to believe in myself, believe in others and believe in possibilities,” said Emens.