Rosse Mary Savery

Rosse Mary SaveryLeading Others Via Social Work

“My daughters kept me going,” says Rosse Mary Savery, 35. “I wanted to set an example for them.” As she graduates from Queens College in spring 2011 with a 3.93 grade point average, those are not empty words. Many would not have persevered.

Savery’s path to a bachelor’s degree in sociology began while she and her family were living in a homeless shelter in Brownsville, Brooklyn. “Both my husband and I were driven to these circumstances because I lost my job and my husband’s salary could not support us. We were living in Florida at the time and we decided to move back to New York and find jobs and finish our degrees. But when we came back to New York, we were unable to find work.”

Originally from the Dominican Republic, Savery had moved to New York City when she was 8 and graduated with honors from Washington Irving High School. She was 18 credits shy of an undergraduate degree at Eastern Michigan University 10 years ago, but was unable to complete it because her scholarship ended.

“Education was always important to me, and I knew that I needed to get this degree. But then unexpected circumstances come up and you have to somehow make your way,” she says.

And make her way she did. Making good use of the full 24 hours of each day, she is completing the spring semester while working as a part-time paraprofessional at a Queens public school, while taking care of daughters Isabella Hope, 4, and Angelina Imani, 2. Her husband, Gilroy, is finishing up his degree at SUNY New Paltz, commuting several days a week to the upstate campus. He graduates this spring as well.

Savery’s family has moved out of the shelter and is now living in an apartment in Queens. She credits assistant professor Sujatha Fernandes for helping her obtain the financial aid she needed to continue studying at Queens College and also Lisa Moy-Medina of Financial Aid Services. “They changed my life.”

And what are Savery’s post-graduation plans? “I’d like to continue my studies and become a social worker. I want to help people find the avenues that will allow them to get to the places they need to go.” There may be no one better to lead them.