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International Students Bring Diversity and Culture to Rowan College at Burlington County

Marie Totzke

Although a college education is free in Germany, Marie Totzke left her homeland to pursue an American education at Rowan College at Burlington County.

“It is free, but you don’t have those same kind of interactions or opportunities as you do in an American university,” said Totzke, 23, of Cologne, Germany.

Totzke always wanted to come to America and even recalls singing the U.S. National Anthem in German when she was younger. She got her chance to work and stay in the United States in 2012 when the au pair agency she worked for matched her with a family in Columbus, New Jersey. In 2014, she decided to pursue an education full-time at Rowan College at Burlington County, changed her visa to an F-1 student visa and moved in with friends she had made while working as an au pair.

She now has a 3.7 GPA and is looking forward to transferring to RCBC’s premier partner, Rowan University, on a merit-based scholarship in the fall to study business management. Totzke was also accepted into the Thomas N. Bantivoglio Honors Concentration at Rowan University for high-achieving students looking for active learning opportunities.

Totzke is one of more than 130 international students who are currently attending RCBC on their F-1 student visa. The majority of students discover RCBC by word-of-mouth and from family and friends currently living in Burlington County.

Turkey, Brazil, Burkina Faso, China and India are just some of the nearly 40 countries represented by the international student body on the campus of Rowan College at Burlington County. Most RCBC international students come from Turkey and Brazil.

“Students come to Rowan College at Burlington County from all over the globe to pursue their American education dreams for a great value,” said RCBC President Paul Drayton. “They help to create a dynamic, diverse and engaging campus experience for all students and we are proud they chose RCBC to achieve a high-quality degree.”

According to RCBC’s Coordinator of International Student Services, Lisa Borreggine, students come to RCBC for a variety of reasons to achieve their definition of success. She said that American degrees are highly-valued in other countries, and just the fact that they pursued their education here in the United States helps them reach their professional goals at home.

“Some are lawyers in their home country and come here to pursue another degree, others are here to transfer to a four-year institution – such as Rowan University, there are athletes and many others,” she explained.

Borreggine said that next fall a student from Tanzania will be coming to RCBC, because a local doctor on a missions trip decided to sponsor her room and board in America so that she can major in one of RCBC’s Health Sciences degrees and take what she learns back to her home country.

In order to study in the United States, international students have to prove they have the funds to cover tuition and living expenses.

“They contribute so much culturally and support the economy. Last year, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported that international students contributed more than $30.5 billion to the U.S. economy. They also received more than 70 percent of their funds to study here from outside the United States,” explained Borreggine.

At RCBC, Totzke has made the most of her experience. She serves as president of the college’s student International Club, Vice President of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, and is a senator with the Student Government Association, while she completes her degree in business administration and accounting. She has used the opportunity to make connections with students from across the globe.

“One of my best friends is from Madagascar, we force each other to speak English,” said Totzke. “Here in America it is about building each other up, supporting one another, participating in leadership opportunities, making friendships and connections, networking and interacting with professors.”

After finishing her bachelor’s degree, Totzke hopes to get her master’s in organizational behavior, either here in the U.S. or back home in Germany, and eventually work for the United Nations.

“I don’t think I would have had this opportunity if it were not for RCBC and the people I met here who really helped me.”

For more information on becoming an RCBC international student, please visit rcbc.edu/international.

*This story was published in the Burlington County Times on Sunday, April 24.