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francesco gioffre standing with kelly petrosino on graduation day

A Change of Pace – Francesco Gioffre’s DragonNext Story

The decision to pursue a college degree is a serious one. Due to the significant financial, time and lifestyle commitments being a college student requires, it is only natural that those who go down this path wish to feel comfortable with and confident in their choice of institution. As such, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to higher education, and people are inevitably going to look for different things when searching for their perfect school. For many, attending a larger state college in the heart of a big, bustling city is ideal. Others prefer environments that provide smaller class sizes and more individualized attention.

Francesco Gioffre, a graduate of Tiffin University and Terra State Community College’s DragonNext Program has had the chance to experience both, and claims he much prefers the intimate and flexible settings of TU and Terra.

“Before I enrolled in the DragonNext Program, the out-of-state schools I attended were large, each having more than 25,000 enrolled undergraduates. The average class size was between 100-200 students, and this led to more in-class distractions and limited personal attention from professors. After switching, I quickly realized how important it is that I personally have access to an education where I can have that one-on-one dynamic with my mentors. I didn’t feel like just a number after I transferred – I felt like part of a community, and I didn’t know how much I needed that until after I experienced it.”

Francesco began his journey with DragonNext in 2019, taking classes at Terra State’s campus. He attributes the ease of transferring credits to Kelly Petrosino Manager of the Northwest Academic Centers. Only needing to complete eight classes to earn his associate’s degree, he quickly finished before enrolling in TU’s bachelor’s of business program in the fall of 2020.

“Kelly planned my transition perfectly,” Francesco explained. “She made sure I understood exactly which classes I would need to take and when to take them, and provided endless support if I ever hit a roadblock. She also checked in on me frequently to ensure I was adjusting well.”

Francesco knew before enrolling that no matter what this next chapter of his life held, that he wanted to continue his lifelong passion for athletic coaching and is grateful to TU and Terra not only for affording him a wonderful education in a comfortable setting, but for encouraging his love of sports and mentorship through it all.

“Thanks to Terra and Tiffin, I now have my BBA in business administration, and I’m continuing my education with TU in pursuit of my MBA in finance. I’m beyond grateful for each and every opportunity I’ve been afforded while here, but especially for receiving an education without needing to sacrifice coaching. I’m a current graduate assistant for club and recreational sports and spend a significant amount of time recruiting high school athletes to bring their talents to Tiffin.”

According to Francesco, the coursework he completed at TU and Terra proved useful to him as he entered professional circles post-graduation.

francesco gioffre standing with kelly petrosino on graduation day

“The programs overall are quite strong, as they teach one the fundamentals of responsibility and effective time management, but most importantly, in my opinion, they force students to apply what they learn in the classroom to plausible scenarios,” he said. “This was especially helpful for me, as I learned much more by pretending to have to solve problems similar to those I would ultimately encounter in the field. I would frequently have to write papers from the perspective of an industry professional, solve mock dilemmas in class, etc., and I feel that much more prepared to meet any real-world obstacle with confidence, now.”

According to Francesco, he also owes much of his success in the DragonNext Program to two people in particular.

“First of all, I can’t thank Kelly Petrosino enough for always being there for me whenever I needed something, and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, as many of my peers have said the same things about her. She truly has the best interests of her students at heart and it shows with all she does. She inspired me to become the best version of myself, academically and made me believe I was capable of anything I was willing to work hard to obtain. Thanks to her, my work ethic has improved greatly.”

“I also want to thank Professor Damon Linder, a former TU instructor of mine for his dedication and the attention he gave to each of his students. He is a standout mentor for me because he went above and beyond what was expected of him, and always made his advisees a priority. It’s clear that this more than just a job to him; this is his passion. He made class enjoyable as well as educational, and I actually looked forward to attending his classes every week. I’ll never forget how infectious his excitement over the material was.”

For more information about the DragonNext Program, visit