PCCC Alumnus Fulfills Ivy League Dream

PCCC park at the Main Campus

Spotlight on our Graduates


Matt Dulak

Matt Dulak
Associate in Arts Degree in Liberal Arts/Psychology

  • Phi Theta Kappa
  • Math Team


PCCC Alumnus Fulfills His Ivy League Dream

When Matt Dulak graduated from Bloomfield High School in 2004 he was number 473 in a class of 479. 

Last December, the Garfield resident completed his associate’s degree at PCCC with honors and just ended his first semester at Columbia University with a nearly perfect 3.9 GPA.  “I got one A minus,” he said. “It really killed me.”

Matt credits PCCC with his academic transformation. “This was an absolutely vital preparation for me to go on to an Ivy League university,” he said. “Without PCCC, I would have had no chance.”

As a high school student, Matt was “a troublemaking kid who didn’t care about school.”

Later, while working as a technician for an alarm company, he had a realization that he was in a dead end.  “Something was missing from my life,” he explained.

That something was the need to satisfy the innate curiosity and natural gifts for learning he had displayed as a child in his native Poland. “I wasn’t a good student there either,” admits Matt, whose mother was a geography professor.  “But I always wanted to know about things.”

Ironically, he also had a childhood dream to one day attend an Ivy League school, like the television characters he admired on the American sitcom, Prince of Bel Air.

In 2012, Matt enrolled at PCCC, choosing the College because some of his friends were attending, but he found his spark here.

“I fell in love…with philosophy, psychology…any course I took,” said the young scholar who eventually enrolled in the honors program, joined the math team, and was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) honor society.

Yet he hesitated when professors urged him to aim for top colleges to continue his education toward a bachelor’s degree.

“I didn’t think I could do it,” said Matt, but they believed in me and made me believe in myself.”

Now majoring in financial economics, Matt plans to pursue a career as an international financial consultant. His minor, astrophysics, is his personal passion. “An astronomy course at PCCC drew me in to the pleasures of observing the stars,”  he explained.  

Though the self-described extrovert found his initial Columbia experience “ego deflating,” and described the atmosphere as “very intense with non-stop rigor,” he is undaunted, and energized by the challenge.
“It’s good for me to be surrounded by such gifted students and prestigious professors,”
he said.  “There are people at Columbia who can change your life overnight with the contacts and opportunities they can provide.”

Some people at PCCC can do that, too. Matt considers his favorite PCCC professors, particularly Hisam Dada (math) and Martha Brozyna (history) equal to the renowned Columbia faculty and felt that while the Ivy League instructors have the “prestige” the  PCCC profs have the “passion.”

“It was at PCCC I was told I could do anything I wanted,” said Matt. “If any students read this, I wish they understood, there’s nothing they can’t do, and that it could all start right here. All the resources and possibilities are provided to them, so if want something bad enough anything is possible.”