When Michelle Cupo marches with the Warren County Community College graduating class at commencement on May 21, she’ll be marching to her own tune.
A 2015 graduate of Warren Hills Regional High School, Cupo spent her high school years taking enough dual enrollment and on-campus courses at WCCC to have 26 credits under her belt upon graduation. As a result, she is now completing her sophomore year at WCCC a year ahead of many of her friends her age.
“I am saving lots of time and money,” said Cupo, who will graduate with an Associates in Criminal Justice and Science. “I’m basically skipping a year of my (educational) life.”
Cupo, who finished in the top 15 percent of her high school class, could have gone to any number of major universities. She thought about going to Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., or John Jay College in New York, after high school. But then she did the math.
“Georgetown would be $60,000 a year and John Jay is also very expensive,” she said.
Another benefit to going to WCCC was that Cupo was eligible for NJ Stars. As a result, she “did not pay a penny” for her education at WCCC. She added that other scholarships paid for her books and other fees this year.
In the fall, she will go to Stockton State University as a Criminal Justice major with a concentration in Forensics Psychology and a minor in Behavior Neurological Science. Due to her status as a NJ Stars student, and if she continues to maintain a 3.0 average or more at Stockton, her education there will be also be paid for.
While she admits that she wasn’t 100 percent sure that WCCC was the right choice, at first, Cupo is now sure she made the right decision.
“A few of my friends made some remarks like ‘Why are you going to WCCC?’,” said Cupo. “But I really established some great relationships with professors. It’s really been a great experience for me at WCCC.”
One of her professors, Frank Iannone, has been extremely impressed with Cupo’s work ethic and hard work.
“Michelle is an outstanding student who approaches her studies with great thought and passion,” he said. “She has been a leader in the classroom asking insightful questions and providing quality and constructive feedback to the course discussions. Michelle continues to rise to the top of the class, distinguishing herself as a bright, inquisitive and energetic young scholar. The overall quality of her work, both written and verbal, has been exemplary, and I am certain she will maintain or even exceed this level.”
Iannone noted that he has had the “privilege of working with Michelle as she serves as the secretary of the Justice Studies Club, and have had the opportunity to witness Michelle speak on behalf of the Law Enforcement Awareness Program (L.E.A.P.). I consider her one of the most conscientious, dedicated and well-rounded students with whom I have ever worked. Michelle’s attention to detail is remarkable. Michelle distinguishes herself as a true leader of character, a mentor and visionary with a high degree of self-discipline and integrity. Michelle is a well-rounded critical thinker with an uncanny ability to dissect and comprehend complex issues.”
In short, he said, he considers his pupil to be a model of what every student should be.
So while Cupo’s tune may be a little more fast-paced than her peers, her time at Warren County Community College is just the first movement of her symphony.