Abington alumna reflects on impact of scholarship earned as an adult student

October 01, 2021

ABINGTON, Pa. — When Jessica Passarella made the decision to return to school in 2015, she may not have known exactly what she wanted to do with her life, but she knew who she wanted to be.

“I was working jobs that I knew weren’t serving me,” she said. “I wanted to go back to school to be able to better myself, to find a career where I could make more money and have more stability.”

Soon after, she enrolled at Bucks County Community College before transferring to Penn State Abington to pursue her bachelor’s degree. As an adult student, Passarella, who returned to college in her 30s, was eligible to apply for the Charlotte W. Newcombe Scholarship, an award specifically for mature students who need financial assistance to complete their degrees.

Not only did the Newcombe scholarship alleviate a financial burden for Passarella but also, as a nontraditional student, she felt truly seen among her peers, she said.

“I saw this as a great opportunity to help me finish my degree, and for once, I wasn’t competing with all of my classmates — there was a niche just for me,” she said.

“This scholarship is proof that it’s possible to complete your degree later in life. There are resources available to you, and most importantly, there are people to support you.”

— Jessica Passarella, class of 2019

Looking back, Passarella, who graduated from Abington in 2019, was able to fully realize the opportunities that her degree made possible thanks in large part to her Newcombe scholarship.

“I was always interested in business, but now, I have a much greater understanding of the different areas like marketing and human resources,” she said. “I also discovered really valuable skills like time management that have transferred into my career. I would have missed that had I not gone back to school.” 

Today, she works in human resources at Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co., a full-circle moment, she said, as it’s the same place she interned while she was a student at Abington. 

“This scholarship is proof that it’s possible to complete your degree later in life,” she said. “There are resources available to you, and most importantly, there are people to support you.”

About Penn State Abington

Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education resulting in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With about 3,700 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 23 majors, undergraduate research, the Schreyer honors program, NCAA Division III athletics and more.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated October 01, 2021