Wednesday, June 28, 2017

From Community College of Philadelphia to Peirce College – Meet Efrain Aponte, Jr.

Efrain Aponte, Jr. began college as an 18-year-old traditional student. He aspired to pursue a career in Information Technology, so he took his young and eager mind to the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) to begin working toward a degree. At age 24, after many years of part-time classes, Efrain graduated with his associate’s degree in Computer Information Systems.

Information Technology Degree Recipient Efrain Aponte, Jr.But Efrain struggled with where to go next after graduation. “I found myself contemplating on whether I should either seek employment in my desired program of study, or perhaps enhance/elevate my education,” Efrain recalls. His family and friends advised him to look around and see what colleges were available to him that would be willing to accept his credits from CCP.

That’s when he discovered Peirce College. “I learned that [CCP] had recently partnered with Peirce College in terms of credit transferal, all while finding out that Peirce has a brilliant IT program,” he says. “I spoke with an advisor one week before I registered, and I was delighted to discover that over 95% of my classes/credits from CCP would be transferred.”

That wasn’t all Efrain discovered in his research of Peirce College. “In addition [to the credits transferring], I would also qualify for a scholarship—due to my associate degree—that would eventually aid me per my education.” Knowing this, Efrain felt motivated to continue his education at the age of 25 at Peirce College in the fall of 2014.

Efrain quickly transitioned into Peirce, finding support and flexibility everywhere he looked. “The administration at Peirce College [e.g. faculty, staff, professors, advisors/specialists, students] have guided, assisted, and even molded me towards success in my 2+ year tenure.

“Peirce (re)introduced me to online classes/learning, and with their recently implemented 'Peirce Fit' format, it enabled me to decide if I wanted to enjoy the pleasures of on-campus learning, or learning while embracing the comforts of my own home.”

After starting his educational journey as a traditional-aged student, Efrain could see how different going to college was as a working adult learner. “By the age of 25 and with a job [two in 2016, thanks to the work-study program at Peirce], I did notice that things were clearly different; it was a little more challenging to handle both work and school,” he says.

But Efrain didn’t let the challenge of work/school balance get in his way. Just a few weeks ago, he graduated from Peirce College with a Bachelor’s of Science in Information Technology with a concentration in Networking, Administration and Information Security, while also receiving the Margaret Obozian Excellence in Writing Award at Commencement.

Efrain found his path by continuing his education and earning his bachelor’s degree, but not without taking many days and nights to deliberate over all his options. He advises anyone who is considering going back to school to “see if they have online learning [options], rather than [just] traditional on-campus education, which could optimize your chances of managing work/children/responsibilities alongside school. This way, you can perform your respective duties throughout the day, and then prepare to partake in your collegiate duties during, say, the evening and/or on weekends.”

Congratulations to Efrain Aponte, Jr. on graduation and his award! We look forward to watching him continue to soar into the Information Technology field.

If you wish to begin your educational journey or continue on, like Efrain did, contact an Enrollment Specialist today at 215.670.9000 or Or if you’re interested in learning more about the partnership between CCP and Peirce College, contact Tom Tschop at 215.670.9203 or

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

First, newlyweds – now, Peirce College graduates

Having a support system is vital when heading back to school as an adult learner. And for Melissa and Brian Phillips, their support system was right by their side as they attended class.

In 2013, Brian Phillips was beginning to mentally prepare himself to head back to school. He knew that he would need to achieve a degree in order to advance from his current role. That’s when Brian met Melissa. Melissa had already obtained her associate degree from Harrisburg Area Community College, but she had done it 10 years prior, so, she too had been thinking of returning to school. As the sparks flew, so did the ambition. The couple decided to challenge one another to go back to school and finally earn the bachelor’s degrees they had always wanted.

Brian heard of Peirce College through fellow co-workers and service members of the PA Army National Guard, so he encouraged Melissa to become a fellow classmate and attend Peirce together. They both chose programs based on their current positions. For Melissa, that meant the Business Administration program, which complimented her current work as an Operations Manager at The Hershey Company. Brian, meanwhile, went with the Information Technology program to compliment his current work as a Network Administrator for the PA Army National Guard.

Peirce College adult learners Melissa and Brian PhillipsMelissa and Brian knew going back to school as adult learners would not be easy, but with the help of Peirce College they were able to make it work. “With working full-time jobs, we both needed a school where we could take classes online at our own pace,” said Melissa. “As we began taking classes, we quickly realized how helpful and knowledgeable the professors were and how pleasant the learning environment was. Both of these [factors] made our experience extremely enjoyable.”

In addition to the professors and the learning environment, the couple expressed their gratitude for one another during the entire process. “It’s been great having the support of someone else going through the same thing at the same time,” recalled Brian. “It is easier to focus on your tasks when the person you are spending your life with is doing the same. It allows a couple to not be a distraction to each other, but more of a support system.”

Throughout their college experience, Melissa and Brian grew to be more than just a classroom support system for one another. They officially tied the knot on March 26, 2016. Following marriage, the couple was only a little over a year away from another great milestone – college graduation. As of June 8, 2017, both Melissa and Brian became official Peirce College graduates, earning their bachelor’s degrees. As they passed that milestone, a new one came into view. Melissa and Brian are expecting their first child October 2017!

Everyone at Peirce College is excited for all that Melissa and Brian have accomplished, individually and as a couple. We wish them nothing but the best for all of their future adventures as husband and wife, college graduates, and soon-to-be parents.

If you or someone you know is ready to advance in their current career by earning a degree like Melissa and Brian did, connect with an Enrollment Specialist today at 215.670.9214 or to learn how you can take the first step to making your dream reality.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Meet the team behind the money - Student Financial Services

Scholarships, grants and filing the FAFSA can be intimidating steps of the college process, but here at Peirce College we have a knowledgeable and eager team who are ready to answer and assist with all of your financial questions and needs. Take some time to learn a little about each team member of the Student Financial Services department, so you know who to talk with to get the help you need to succeed.

Ruthann Wyatt, Director, Student Financial Services
Phone Number: 215.670.9332
Peirce College Family Member For: 17 Years
Who She Works With: The Entire Student Financial Services Team

Cherita Brown, Manager, Student Financial Services
Phone Number: 215.670.9195
Peirce College Family Member For: 23 Years
Who She Works With: Students whose last names begin with A and B

Hannah McKeever, Financial Aid Specialist
Phone Number: 215.670.9011
Peirce College Family Member For: About 2 Weeks
Who She Works With: Students whose last names begin with C through G and all Year Up

Joe Valentin, Financial Aid Specialist
Phone Number: 215.670.9354
Peirce College Family Member For: 5 Months
Who He Works With: Students whose last names begin with H-M

Charlotte Murphy, Financial Aid Specialist
Phone Number: 215.670.9172
Peirce College Family Member For: 9 Months
Who She Works With: Students whose last names begin with N-V

Ashley McLaughlin, Student Financial and Veterans Specialist 
Phone Number: 215.670.9184
Peirce College Family Member For: 5 Years
Who She Works With: Students whose last names begin with W through Z, and all Military

Desiree Hernandez, Manager, Student Billing
Phone Number: 215.670.9289
Peirce College Family Member For: Over 17 Years
Who She Works With: The Entire Student Financial Services Team

Wanda Phillips, Student Billing Processor 
Phone Number: 215.670.9227
Peirce College Family Member For: 7 Years
Who She Works With: Students whose last names begin with A-L

Cindy Major, Student Financial Services Associate 
Phone Number: 215.670.9222
Peirce College Family Member For: Over 11 Years
Who She Works With: Students whose last names begin with M-Z

Aithen Wesleyan, Financial Aid Technical Specialist
Phone Number: 215.670.9229
Peirce College Family Member For: 6 Months
Who He Works With: The Entire Student Financial Services Team

Priscilla Maxwell, Accounts Receivable Temp
Phone Number: 215.670.9148
Peirce College Family Member For: 6 Months
Who She Works With: The Entire Student Financial Services Team

For more information on Tuition and Financial Aid, visit, call 215.670.9600 or email

Friday, June 9, 2017

Commencement 2017 – Relive the moments!

“I want you to celebrate what you have done. Nobody else did this, you did it. That’s incredible!” – Dr. Monica Malpass at Peirce College’s 152nd Commencement Ceremony

Last night was filled with inspirational stories, special recognition, and a whole lot of celebration. If you were not able to join us at this year’s commencement, please take some time to view the video below of this remarkable event. This includes award presentations; speeches from President Mergiotti, Dr. Monica Malpass, and student speaker Ramona Watson; remarks from Peirce College Alumni Association President Barry James; and more! If you want to jump to a specific part to watch, check out the full list of timestamps below to find the moment you want to view:


0:00:00 – Pre-Commencement Slideshow
1:06:22 – Processional
1:16:43 – Opening, Dr. Rita Toliver-Roberts, Vice President, Academic Advancement
1:17:29 – National Anthem, sung by Peirce Voice 2017 Winner, Natasha Moore
1:19:14 – Opening Continued, Dr. Rita Toliver-Roberts, Vice President, Academic Advancement
1:26:49 – Salute, James J. Mergiotti, President & CEO
1:38:49 – Introduction of Student Speaker, Dr. Cathy Littlefield
1:40:00 – Class of 2017 Student Address, Ramona Watson ‘17
1:49:52 – Introduction of Keynote Speaker, Andre Brown ‘17
1:51:29 – Address to the Graduates, Monica Malpass, Keynote Speaker
2:05:37 – Conferring of Honorary Degree, Barbara A. Prutzman, Chair, Peirce College Board of Trustees
2:07:40 – Presentation of the 2017 Hamilton Award
2:10:55 – Presentation of Special Student Awards
2:24:15 – Roll Call of Candidates
2:25:00 – Master of Science, Organizational Leadership & Management
2:26:58 – Bachelor of Science, Accounting
2:28:57 – Bachelor of Science, Associate in Science, Business Administration
2:37:48 – Bachelor of Science, Human Resources Management
2:39:06 – Bachelor of Science, Integrated Leadership
2:41:16 – Bachelor of Science, Healthcare Administration
2:43:42 – Bachelor of Science, Health Information Administration
2:45:00 – Associate in Science, Health Information Technology
2:46:11 – Bachelor of Science, Associate in Science, Information Technology
2:49:07 – Bachelor of Science, Technology Management  
2:50:06 – Associate in Arts, General Studies
2:51:57 – Bachelor of Science, Associate in Science, Post-Bachelor Certificate of Proficiency, Paralegal Studies
2:56:52 – Bachelor of Science, Legal Studies in Business
2:57:34 – Bachelor of Science, Associate in Science, Criminal Justice Studies
3:00:52 – Recognition of 152nd Class, James J. Mergiotti, President & CEO
3:03:54 – Introduction to Alumni Association, Barry James ‘07, President, Peirce Alumni Association
3:05:16 – Congratulations & Recessional, Dr. Rita Toliver-Roberts, Vice President, Academic Advancement

Congratulations, once again, to the Class of 2017! We are so proud of everything each of you has accomplished, and we can’t wait to hear about all of your future successes. Best of luck to all of you and don’t forget to come back and visit – you’ll always have a home at Peirce.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Inspired By Her Children, Trina Went Back to School at Peirce

Everyone has their own reasons for returning to school as a working adult learner. For Trina Wallace, it was about becoming a positive role model for her children and finally pursuing her dream of opening her own nonprofit agency for youths and singles.

Trina will graduate on June 8th with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a focus in Small Business Entrepreneurship. She currently works full-time for a nonprofit agency serving homeless and other low-income families in West Philadelphia. When her job and her children inspired her to pursue her dream of taking the first steps to owning her own agency one day, Trina went back to school.

Trina says she’s “always had a love for learning. I love being well-informed about [a variety] of things to better help others, my family and myself.

Adult learner and 2017 Peirce College Graduate, Trina Wallace“At 16, I became a mother, and by 18 I was the mother of two. It has always been important to me to model the behavior I wanted my children to live by. I’ve always told them that education was the key to opening up any door they wanted to walk through. I felt hypocritical trying to encourage them to do things that I had not yet done. That was my driving force to return to school as an adult.”

Trina found Peirce College through an online search for an adult learning program, “I had found many schools that offered partial online, partial classroom programs. I gravitated to Peirce when I found out I could get my entire degree online.” Trina didn’t have to worry about the fact that she lived in Virginia and Peirce is in Philadelphia. She could enjoy the comfort of home while earning her degree.

In addition to the convenience, Trina found another benefit to learning fully online: it strengthened some of her soft skills. “My Peirce education has both strengthened and tested my commitment, dedication and self-discipline,” she says. “Those skills can take individuals anywhere they want to go in life. In my opinion, the most valuable part of earning a degree is that you prove your ability to stick with a task to completion, despite the various obstacles that may present themselves.”

Those various obstacles that Trina spoke about can come in all shapes and sizes. In Trina’s case, she was, “juggling a full-time job, managing properties independently as a second job, running a household and parenting two teens/young adults while attending school.”

She adds that “When you see an older adult return to school, immediately you can look at them and know they really want it! Something has transpired in their life to make returning to school a necessity.”

Trina knew her educational journey would not be easy, but she knew it would be worth it. “There will be some sacrifices [you] must make, but the pride [you] will feel after meeting such a challenging goal will be unmatched.

“When a person can navigate through this world we live in with that kind of pride and self-confidence, then they have already won. The world’s doors just open for people like that.”

Peirce congratulates Trina on finishing one leg of her journey and beginning the new road pursuing her dreams of owning her own nonprofit agency. We’re looking forward to one day seeing her agency providing housing and life skills services for youths and singles.

If you or someone you know is ready to pursue their dream like Trina did, connect with an Enrollment Specialist today at 215.670.9000 or to learn how you can take the first step to making your dream reality.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Get to know our 2017 Student Commencement Speaker - Ramona Watson

It’s officially one of our favorite months at Peirce College. Why do we love June so much? Because it holds our favorite event of the year: Commencement! This year, we’ll be honoring some of our 2017 graduates on the blog throughout the entire summer. To start things off, 2017 Student Commencement Speaker Ramona Watson shares her journey to graduation.

Peirce College 2017 Student Commencement SpeakerRamona will be graduating on June 8th, 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Management. Ramona came back to school after realizing that the world was changing around her. She needed to “step it up a notch” if she was going to continue to succeed and move up in the workforce. Ramona says she chose her specific program “because it was in the direct line of work that I currently do for the City of Philadelphia. I felt that it could not only make me a better manager, but make me more marketable in the workplace, as well.”

So, what inspired her to return to school at Peirce College as an adult?

“I had seen a lot of advertisements for Peirce College [while] living in the area, but had often passed [them] by,” she recalls. “I decided I wanted to be a better role model for my children, so I eventually overcame my fears enough to make the decision to go back to school; I decided to give Peirce a try.”

Ramona’s desire to be a better role model certainly paid off. Her two daughters, Renee Martin and Brenda Eldridge, both attended Peirce College at the same time as their mother! Renee had the same business passion as her mother, majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in Management. Brenda, on the other hand, had a different passion and majored in Criminal Justice. Ramona found this family connection rewarding and enjoyable through her college years.

“We were mother and daughter(s) as well as classmates. With our busy schedules, it allowed us to spend more time together and catch up regularly. We really relished in our Starbuck’s coffee breaks.”

The greatest part of attending school with her daughters was the support system they provided one another. “Whenever we saw each other or spoke on the phone, we always discussed school,” says Ramona. “We often collaborated on ideas for group projects and assignments as well as helped each other out when one of us did not understand any part of our schoolwork. Most importantly, whenever someone spoke of taking a break, the others [were] there to encourage her to continue.”

During Ramona’s Peirce experience, she had a lot of positive encounters, especially with the faculty. “What I valued the most were my professors and the amount of support, understanding, and enthusiasm they exhibited while extending their knowledge to me. I was amazed at how knowledgeable and secure they were in their craft. There were a few professors that I thought were a bit tough, but I’ve now come to realize that they challenged me on another level. I am so grateful to them for pushing me to excel and be greater than I thought I ever could be.”

Coming back to school as a working adult learner can be intimidating, but Ramona has some words of encouragement for anyone considering heading back to school: “I encourage my adult learners to step out on faith. Being an adult learner means that you have been around longer and have really already picked up on some of the skills that you will need to be a better student.

“At this stage of the game, adult learners are usually more focused on a specific career or are enhancing on the career that they already possess. Be prepared to excel and be great; a greatness that can only come from being a well-oiled machine in the form of a seasoned adult learner.”

You can hear more from Ramona Watson when she speaks at Peirce’s 152nd Commencement Ceremony. Don’t miss her crossing the stage with her two daughters as they all become official Peirce College Graduates on June 8th at 6:45pm in the Kimmel Center.