By Eden Aroshas
CCC Journalism Program
VOORHEES – Michael Mastrosimone, a 19-year-old college freshman, knows the true meaning of “broke college student.” Working full-time while attending six classes, Mastrosimone is faced with obstacles that most 19-year-olds do not face – the true responsibilities of an adult.
The upcoming summer session classes have added even more financial strain on Mastrosimone, who, despite all of his obstacles, always seems to find a way.
Working full-time at a local restaurant, Mastrosimone relies heavily on tips. “I make about $3.25 an hour. Obviously, that’s not enough to pay the bills. Tips is where the money’s at … but sometimes the tips just don’t cut it.” Mastrosimone went on to explain that working as a waiter and relying on tips is extremely difficult.
“Some nights it’s busy, other nights it’s not. I’ve come home with $7 dollars before. You can’t imagine how hard that is.”
However, Mastrosimone’s hardships don’t stop there. Rubbing his eyes he explains, “I’m in school pretty much all day. Then I go home, change, and I’m off to work an overnight shift. Sleep isn’t an option sometimes.”
Responsible for his cell phone, car, health insurance, car insurance and school bills, Mastrosimone is pinched for pennies. “Life is pricey,” he says, “and although going to Camden County College is much easier for me financially, it isn’t easy enough. Not to mention, going to school full-time and working full-time makes it very difficult to get homework done. But I always find a way.”
Mastrosimone is studying to become a pharmacist, requiring many challenging science classes and labs. These demanding classes give him even more to worry about, for homework and exams are such crucial parts of his grade. “I find myself studying at work sometimes, in between orders.”
The most recent struggle for him was the payments for his summer session classes. “I can’t tell you how I did it. I ran on no sleep. My life was work, school, homework, work, school …” He smiled, deep in memory of his hard few weeks. “It seemed impossible. There was no way I could have made enough money on time to pay for my classes. But I did it.
“If there is a will, there is absolutely a way.”