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Pursuing The Path Less Taken: A Non-Traditional Journey to GCU

Jimmy Woo

When Jimmy Woo graduated from Brick Township High School, he watched his friends accept scholarships and move away to pursue their higher education, remaining confident that the traditional path wasn’t his to follow.

Throughout the four years he worked towards his high school diploma, his classwork came naturally, without much effort. While some students crave this natural scholarly inclination, Jimmy sought greater intellectual stimulation.

With the support of his parents, who both immigrated to the United States from Costa Rica before meeting and marrying, Jimmy pursued what may have seemed like whims to some–exploring the EDM music scene, exercising his creative writing abilities, and entering the realm of the extraterrestrial through astronomy.

For nearly a decade, Jimmy used his experiences to shape his worldview, become more compassionate towards people of all walks of life, and reinforce his belief in peace, love, unity, and respect.

“I was always ‘good’ at school, but I wanted to experience life a bit before going to college,” Jimmy reflected. “Ironically, I chose to start my education at Georgian Court right before the pandemic when life essentially shut down for most of the world.”

After beginning his education online, Jimmy jumped feet first into the GCU community once campus life resumed by accepting a position as a student worker in the Office of Student Success, seeking support services for first-generation college students through TRIO, and joining the Campus Activity Board to help plan popular events.

“Each of these groups has been essential in helping me acclimate to Georgian Court,” said Jimmy. “They’ve allowed me to meet friends and help others, while also providing me with financial resources to make my education possible.”

As a Marketing major, Jimmy has found joy in exploring the business side of some of his favorite forms of entertainment, including music, pop culture, anime, and hockey. He reflected fondly on professors who ‘facilitated me coming up with my own ideas and helped me be fully immersed in the classroom.’

Though unrelated to any specific coursework, Jimmy has made what may be his life’s most important discovery through his education at GCU: his greatest passion.

“I really love learning, and it feels really good when you’re able to contribute,” Jimmy continued, “I don’t want to be better than anyone or in competition with my peers. I want to contribute something meaningful to the communities I’m part of, and that starts with listening and learning from those around me.”

Jimmy’s commitment to understanding others and the world around him is fully displayed in his award-winning advocacy paper, Rated “M” For Men: Understanding The Toxic Culture Of Gaming and Streaming. Originally written for one of his classes, Shaping Lives: Women and Gender, taught by Dr. Melanie Mogavero, the paper was accepted into the New Jersey Women and Gender Studies Consortium and presented by Jimmy at a 2024 Panel held at Drew University.

Though his next steps after graduation are uncertain–perhaps a job in marketing or maybe the MBA program at Georgian Court–Jimmy is sure of his moral code. “You have to have compassion, empathy for others, and integrity–your word is your honor.”

Aerial view of GCU.

About Georgian Court University

Georgian Court University is a leading regional university that provides a transformative education, preparing students for ethical leadership and service in the Catholic Mercy tradition. Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is Central and South Jersey’s only Catholic university. The university has a strong liberal arts core and a historic special concern for women.

As a forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, GCU is known for expanding possibility for more than 1,900 students of all faiths and backgrounds in 35+ undergraduate majors and 10+ graduate programs. The GCU Lions compete in 16 NCAA Division II sports in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC). In 2020, GCU was named a Best Value College by and a Best Bang for the Buck (Northeast) by Washington Monthly. High student retention and graduation rates make GCU a Top Performer on Social Mobility on U.S. News & World Reports rankings, and in 2024, GCU was named one of the best Online Master’s Colleges in New Jersey.

The main campus is in Lakewood, New Jersey, on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, also serves students through its Center for Professional Studies, and at other locations, including GCU at Brookdale, and through multiple online degree and certificate programs.