Have a support system. Have a community. Find the resources the college has, reach out and someone will help you.
Long before coming to study at Bridgewater State University, Sophie Cherenfant, ’22, watched with discouragement as her high school classmates began receiving college acceptance letters.
The BSU senior lived in Florida at the time and despite a 3.4 GPA, wasn’t getting into the schools she applied to.
“I started feeling depressed, that I wasn’t good enough,” she said.
That’s when she made the decision to attend a local community college to earn her associate degree.
“I wasn’t going to sit around and not go to college,” she said. “At first I wasn’t really happy about it. I didn’t get to experience living in the dorms or campus life.”
Slowly her mindset changed, and she developed a new-found confidence and decided she would transfer to earn her bachelor’s degree.
But Bridgewater State wasn’t on the horizon just yet. Life had other plans when her family decided to move back to Haiti, where they are originally from.
Sophie put on hold her dreams of furthering her education and living on campus and worked for a non-profit organization and in banking.
However, the desire to earn her bachelor’s degree didn’t wane.
“I knew I wanted to elevate my education more,” she said.
Thinking she might want to teach, Sophie started to look online for schools that offered degrees in early education.
“Bridgewater State University came up as one of the best schools for education,” Sophie said. “At the time they were rated the number one school in education for Massachusetts.”
Inspired, she applied.
“I was so anxious – good anxious. It was exciting wondering if (BSU) would say yes.”
When she did get accepted, her family celebrated.
At 27, Sophie arrived at Bridgewater State ready to have the college experience she’d always dreamed of.
“I didn’t tell my age right away,” she said. “It’s not that I was necessarily insecure, but I didn’t want to answer questions about living on campus,” she said.
Soon, she discovered, age didn’t matter.
“I liked that there was always something to do on campus, there are many activities to get involved in,” Sophie said.
She joined the BSU fashion club and started blogging about her college experiences.
Through her blog, she found that sharing her struggles, her joys and life story resonated with others and began to think about a new career.
“I realized I didn’t want to just blog as a hobby, but something more serious, to make it a career,” Sophie said.
She changed her focus to public relations and quickly realized it was the right move for her, particularly when the pandemic hit and there was a shift in how careers in social media and working online became more prevalent.
“The Bridgewater State communication studies department is adapting to what’s going on with the world,” she said. “They make it possible for students to have thriving careers.”
Sophie is on track to graduate this spring and begin a career in public relations. She encourages other potential non-traditional students to follow her example and reach for their own dreams.
“There will be challenges, there will be hurdles, but there will also be moments that you realize everything you’re doing is worth it,” she said. “Have a support system. Have a community. Find the resources the college has, reach out and someone will help you.”
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