Celebrating Diversity Among RCBC
Friday, Oct 06, 2023

RCBC graduate Pietra Mariela Araujo de Oliveira and RCBC Sophomore Student  Isabela Moreira Ferreira

Enrolling in a new college and adapting to a new culture can take time for international students. Despite this, two Brazilian students overcame challenges and began their journey to success at Rowan College at Burlington County (RCBC).

RCBC graduate Pietra Mariela Araujo de Oliveira and RCBC Sophomore Student  Isabela Moreira Ferreira were born in Brazil and immersed in its vibrant Hispanic culture. Oliveira and Ferreira had never met before arriving in the United States. Oliveira resided in Brazil for 24 years, while Ferreira split her time between Brazil and Nicaragua. While in their respective countries, a civil war broke out and created a hazardous atmosphere. Some of their friends fought to defend their beliefs, but unfortunately, they ultimately did not achieve victory.

Oliveira was initially attracted to RCBC due to its exceptional engineering program. However, after arriving at the college, she discovered a new passion for Computer Science and Information Technology and decided to adjust her career path accordingly. Despite excelling in engineering in her home country, she felt drawn to a career in computers and became increasingly interested in this field.

Ferreira sought to leave the turmoil in her country and searched for the ideal places to relocate to America. Initially, she applied to a ballet company situated in Princeton. While the opportunity to receive professional training was incredible, the performing arts industry can be chaotic and inadequate regarding mental health resources for artists.

When asked about their reason for choosing Rowan College at Burlington County, Oliveira and Ferreira exchanged a laugh. Oliveira shared that they had heard positive feedback about the college, while Ferriera revealed they had found RCBC by searching for good colleges in New Jersey on Google. They both wanted to be near Philadelphia but not attend school there.

Attending RCBC posed several common challenges for the students:

  1. Due to the currency difference, the Brazilian economy made it difficult to afford schooling, housing and food.

  2. They struggled with homesickness and feeling isolated in a foreign country.

  3. Their experiences revealed the American population to be more individualistic versus community-based.

During an on-campus cultural meeting, Oliveria and Ferriera quickly became best friends and roommates due to their shared Brazilian background. Oliveira graduated in the winter of 2022 and works for RCBC’s Information Technology Department. Next spring, Ferreira will transfer to Columbia University in New York City to pursue a degree in psychology and mental health in the arts industry.

Oliveira states, “Really do your research before coming here; it’s important to understand what to expect before taking such a major leap.” 

Ferreira adds, “It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve done...and opportunities happen, and there are good people here, so you know it’s worth it.”