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Amy Piwowarski ’24

An adult student finishes what she started with dramatic flair.

Posted in: Alumni News and Events, Alumni Profiles

Amy Piwowarski

Following a 20-year hiatus since her initial enrollment at Bloomfield College, it took just one email with an encouraging response for Amy Piwowarski ’24 to return to campus to complete her degree and reset the course of her life.

“I was just one class shy of graduation back in 2003. Circumstances didn’t allow me to finish, but I always wanted to complete my degree,” says Piwowarski, who grew up in North Arlington, New Jersey. “Twenty years later, I was in a place in my life where my desire to fulfill this goal rose to the surface again, so I wrote an email to inquire about what I needed to do to earn my degree.”

The timing of Piwowarski’s email was serendipitous. The College had recently developed a degree completion program intended for former students to return to campus to finish their degrees. The enrollment process included individualized advising sessions for each student, who were then provided with an outline of remaining courses by semester that would lead to graduation.

In Piwowarski’s case, her degree completion plan called for one capstone course as part of a custom interdisciplinary contract major that would earn her a Bachelor of Arts in Performing Arts and Persuasive Communication upon completion. Through her advising session, arrangements were made for Piwowarski to register for Shakespeare ENG 364 taught by Professor Fiona Harris-Ramsby.

“This course was perfect for me. Theater has always been my passion, and I have been a writer since I was a kid. We read four plays during the course of the class and had to analyze them against contemporary issues of today. Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure stood out to me, and I chose it for my capstone project,” she says.

Imparted through a PowerPoint, Piwowarski says her capstone highlighted the relationships between language, power and sexual coercion by fusing the storyline of the play with the modern-day language of men in power such as Harvey Weinstein, Bill Clinton, Larry Nassar, Donald Trump and Louis C.K. in the form of sound bites, visuals and music.

“I presented my capstone in the Kaplan Art Gallery in the College Library on December 6th surrounded by my family, fellow students, and faculty and staff from the Humanities department. It has been a surreal experience. A number of my classmates volunteered to serve as actors, and helped me to recreate scenes from the Shakespearean play cast against a contemporary backdrop. Raymon Sarza played Angelo, Felix Kalu played Claudio, Kaitlin Dooley played Isabella, and I played the Duke. These scenes served as the framework for my capstone,” she says.

In her single and final academic semester as an adult student, Piwowarski developed enduring relationships on campus. Of note is her continuing association with Professor Harris-Ramsby who is working closely with Piwowarski to publish her capstone project.

“It has been an amazing experience – and it all started from that one email,” she says. “None of it would have been possible without the guidance and support I received from very caring Bloomfield College administrators and faculty, and I have made wonderful new friends.”

In an email to the Bloomfield College educators who helped her return to college, Piwowarski said: “I am extremely grateful for what each of you have done for this moment to finally be a reality. It may have been 20 years in the making, but to finally accomplish my degree after all this time, has been the most rewarding experience. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending than this, especially with all of you by my side.”

What’s more, Piwowarski says that Professor Harris-Rambsy guided her to consider furthering her studies at a professional acting and directing school. “I applied to the Barrow Group in Manhattan and just learned that I’ve been accepted. Their year-long program for professional actors and directors culminates in putting on a performance Off Broadway. I am living the dream I always wanted and never thought I was capable of until now. I can’t believe this has all happened. It’s been wonderful.”

Piwowarski, now 20 years after first attending Bloomfield College under a full soccer scholarship, will walk in the Bloomfield College of Montclair State University commencement in May 2024.