Bree Brown-Rosa ’23 Awarded Women’s Forum Scholarship

Bree Brown-Rosa ’23 Awarded Women’s Forum Scholarship

Bree Brown-Rosa ’23 Awarded Women’s Forum Scholarship

FDNY paramedic Bree Brown-Rosa ’23 understands how challenging it can be to pay for your education, especially as a non-traditional student. “A lot of the financial aid support and scholarship opportunities that are out there are reserved for traditional students,” explains Brown-Rosa, who is double majoring in cell and molecular biology and global history. “That forces many non-traditional students to pay out of pocket, or cut back on classes, slowing our progress.” Then she learned about the Women’s Forum of New York Education Fund, which is dedicated to women over 35 who are earning a BA.

“Because of the Women’s Forum of New York, I’m a step closer to earning my bachelor’s degree and getting into medical school.” —Bree Brown-Rosa ’23

“To find an organization that seeks to uplift and empower women over the age of 35 was amazing,” says Brown-Rosa, who was named an Education Fund Scholar in 2021. “The money from the Women’s Forum of New York Education Fund came at just the right time in my life. It allowed me to continue my education at John Jay full-time—paying for two semesters—while also enabling me to provide for my son, pay for childcare services, and invest in our future. Because of the Women’s Forum of New York, I’m a step closer to earning my bachelor’s degree and getting into medical school.”   

Starting College
Brown-Rosa always dreamed of working in the medical field. The first time she enrolled in college, she was excited to major in biology, but found acclimating to college life challenging. “I was 17 and away from home for the first time. I was scared, homesick, and struggling—which my academic record reflected,” says Brown-Rosa. During her junior year, an accident prompted her to leave school and return home. “My mom was hit by a car and I wanted to take care of her. So, I came back to the Bronx and found a job working at a restaurant,” she says. She discovered she enjoyed cooking and decided to go to culinary school.

Becoming an Entrepeneur
After graduating from culinary school, Brown-Rosa became a pastry chef at several of New York’s hottest restaurants and even started her own successful personal chef business, called Baking by Bree. “Owning my own business made room for flexibility, including starting a family.” While expecting her son, Christopher, Brown-Rosa was put on bed rest at a local hospital. As she saw hard-working medical teams save lives around her, Brown-Rosa’s ambitions to become a doctor were reignited. “I started to reevaluate what I wanted to do with my life. I felt I could contribute so much more to the world. That’s when I decided to go back to college and become Dr. Bree Brown-Rosa one day.”

Working in Public Service
Brown-Rosa closed her business and enrolled in an accelerated Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) program at LaGuardia Community College. “I knew it was what I needed to get my foot in the door of the medical profession,” explains Brown-Rosa. “After completing the program, an instructor suggested that I apply for a full scholarship to attend LaGuardia’s paramedic school. I graduated a year later, top of my class, a full-fledged paramedic.” Brown-Rosa then worked as a paramedic with the Fire Department of the City of New York, graduating from the Fire Department Academy and training as a hazardous materials paramedic. “As a HazTac paramedic, I’m trained to provide emergency medical care to people in a hazardous materials environment—such as nuclear events and most recently Covid-19 where I worked on the front lines.”

Coming to John Jay
“John Jay College is known for its criminal justice programs, but what many folks may not know is its strong ties to the FDNY and emergency services community. I researched the College and once I saw it had a cell and molecular biology major, I was all in. I knew John Jay would help me get into medical school.”

“I knew John Jay would help me get into medical school.” —Bree Brown-Rosa ’23

Looking to the Future
“I want to work in internal medicine and become a primary care physician. There’s a huge shortage in that area because it’s one of the least paid, but I find that it’s an area that can provide a community with the most help,” she says. “Primary care physicians are embedded in communities and have long-lasting relationships with their patients. It’s a vital role with a deep impact.”

“No matter your age or circumstance in life, know that you can accomplish your goals.” —Bree Brown-Rosa ’23

Offering Advice
Thinking of all the twist and turns it took to get to this moment, Brown-Rosa is grateful for the support she’s received along the way. “From the EMT program to the FDNY to the Women’s Forum of New York, each has played such an important role in helping me achieve this dream,” she says. “I hope other non-traditional students know it’s possible to earn their degree. No matter your age or circumstances in life, know that you can accomplish your goals. You have the power to make it happen. All you need to do is take that first step.”