William Paterson University student Morenia Acosta ’23, MBA ‘24 is Will.Power. through and through.
Acosta grew up in the Dominican Republic and immigrated to the United States six years ago with her husband, leaving behind the parents and siblings she adores in search of a better life.
As a child, she told her father she wanted to work on Wall Street, and as an adult, she still wants the same. “America is too great for small dreams,” Acosta says, quoting former President Ronald Reagan. It’s her favorite quote. “This country is for opportunities,” she continues.
A double major in economics and finance at William Paterson’s Cotsakos College of Business, Acosta maintains a 3.95 grade point average. She is enrolled in the University’s accelerated Master of Business Administration degree program, which has her taking master’s level coursework as an undergraduate.
The fulltime student is also a fulltime mother of two boys, ages 5 and 1, and a parttime school bus driver in her hometown of Paterson, New Jersey.
Moreover, her bachelor’s degree from William Paterson will be her second. Acosta earned a bachelor’s in business administration in the Dominican Republic, graduating summa cum laude right before she left for the US. However, once in America, she found the process to validate her international degree was both difficult and costly. Starting all over again, and receiving a college education in English, she decided, was best.
Acosta works the morning school bus route, takes classes in the late morning or early afternoon, works the afternoon school bus route, and sometimes returns to campus in the evening for another class.
“My 5-year-old son will ask, ‘Mami, do you have to go back to school tonight?’, and if I say that, no, I don’t have to go back tonight, he’s so happy and excited, and he’ll clap his hands,” Acosta explains. “The most difficult part of being a student is being a mom. I try to manage my time wisely. I do everything on a schedule; I sleep 5 or 6 hours a day.
“But it’s worth it; honestly, it is worth it,” adds Acosta, who came to William Paterson by way of Passaic County Community College, where she took English as a second language classes and graduated with an associate’s degree. “Every time I get an A, my husband is so joyful. He says he’s so proud of me. That makes me feel inspired. You have to make the sacrifices.
“My parents, my sisters, my family in the Dominican Republic, they are so proud, too,” Acosta continues. They refer to her as a role model for other immigrants in the United States.
Acosta’s husband, who is considering law school and a career in law someday, works nights to accommodate her class and work schedule, handles their children’s school and daycare drop-offs, and always jumps in to take care of the boys so that she has time to study.
“My husband is going to graduate with me, too, but he’s going to graduate as the best husband,” Acosta says. There were points where she wanted to give up, but he would remind her: “You are shaping a better future for us.”
And their sons are watching. Their eldest “loves homework” and was recently named Student of the Month—a title his beaming mom believes he will earn repeatedly.
Similarly, Acosta says she “loves going to class.” She has forged a particularly strong connection with Professor of Economics and Global Business Priya Nagaraj, with whom she has taken several courses.
“The classes that Morenia took with me are all very challenging courses and she excelled in all of them,” Nagaraj says. “What stood out for me about Morenia was her work ethic. It showed in the quality of her assignments, her regular attendance, and her class participation. I also noticed that she often helped other students in class, sharing notes when someone missed a class and helping others with an in-class assignment.
“I am sure she will shine wherever she goes,” the professor concludes.
Acosta, who is currently seeking a job in finance, had this advice to share with her fellow students: “If they want something, they can have it, but they have to work hard for it because the way to success is not easy. People cannot stay sitting down waiting for opportunities to come. No. They have to work hard.”
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