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CCRI graduate is student, entrepreneur
Student Success Story, May 23, 2011
Linda Nastari Rossi attended the Community College of Rhode Island while raising two daughters on her own, working full time and co-managing her own business.
“Between my girls, my job, school and my business, it’s been a lot,” she said. “Sometimes I burn out, but I find when I’m at home, on those rare occasions when I don’t have anything to do, I’m bored.”
With a work ethic like this, Rossi always had the drive to attend school, but never the opportunity.
“Way back when I was 18, college really wasn’t a big deal for girls,” she said. “A lot of people got married out of high school or went to vocational school. I didn’t go to college and I’ve always regretted it and, once my girls got a little older, I decided to go back.”
Rossi, 43, of North Providence, enrolled at CCRI in 2006, taking courses in the evenings.
“I thought as an older student I would feel out of place, but I never did,” she said. “Once I started I loved it, I wish I could have gone full time.”
Rossi didn’t know exactly what she wanted to study when she enrolled, but this uncertainty was relieved right away.
“When I first started at CCRI my first class was general psychology with Dr. [Ronald] Schertz,” Rossi said. “It was really interesting to me so I kept going in it.”
This initial interest led to many more psychology classes and eventually will become a new career. In December, Rossi finished her Liberal Arts associate degree classes at CCRI with a 3.25 GPA and transferred through the Joint Admissions Agreement program to the University of Rhode Island, where she is studying psychology.
“I loved CCRI, so I was kind of nervous about the change,” Rossi said, “but now my first semester is already behind me. I can’t believe it.”
Rossi hopes to use her psychology degree to work as a school counselor, but for now she is simply enjoying her classes.
“I just like the way that things are all connected in psychology,” she said. “You just find out what makes people tick.”
Rossi has worked at RE/MAX Preferred throughout her time in school, and this year marks her 11th with the company.
As if the demands of motherhood, coursework and a full-time job were not enough, Rossi added a second job in 2009 when she opened a business with her boyfriend, Joe Clemente.
Nettie’s Kettle Corn, a sweet snack similar to caramel corn, can be found in 42 stores in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
The business grew from Rossi’s love of the simple snack, which she first saw while visiting her parents in Florida. She spotted it again in Rhode Island while visiting the Wickford Art Festival with Clemente, and she insisted that the couple buy a bag.
With his culinary background, Clemente thought that kettle corn would be easy to duplicate. The couple made a few home batches and the business was born. Now they travel to local festivals to sell fresh kettle corn and make giant home batches to distribute to supermarkets. The enterprise will be two years old this September.
Rossi said CCRI was a great option for a college to accommodate her busy schedule. “CCRI is definitely a community,” she said. “I think it’s an excellent place to start off.”