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Rutgers for Real

Real Students. Real Stories.

Real Students. Real Stories. 

Vanessa Darkoa

Year: Sophomore
Major: English
Minor: History
Hometown: Newark, NJ

What is your favorite spot on campus and why?
My favorite spot on campus is the open field near Voorhees Chapel on the Douglass campus. I often find other students relaxing at this open spot. The scenery at this particular spot is just so captivating, especially on a summer or spring day. You can often find many different species of birds curiously exploring at this spot and if you're lucky, you may even run into some horses. I like to visit this spot when I need fresh air or when I am looking for inspiration for my writing.

What does your typical school day look like?

Prior to COVID- 19, while living on campus, I would wake up, get ready, and grab a quick breakfast at Neilson Dining Hall. I would then go to my classes for the day. After class, I would walk around campus and grab lunch or dinner with a friend. Nowadays, with most of our classes online, I have modified my schedule quite a bit. For instance, since I am no longer able to grab food with friends, I instead engage with my teachers and peers online. After class, I attend my work study job virtually and complete my assignments. If time permits, I usually stop by my professors’ office hours to gain clarifications on any challenging concepts. I also make sure to meditate a minimum of 10 minutes each day to make sure that I am doing well not only academically, but mentally.

What do you do on campus when you’re not in class?

When I'm not in class, you can find me at Mabel Smith Douglass Library exploring the cool art exhibit or near Voorhees Chapel admiring the beautiful scenery. The diversity of each environment makes it is such a unique experience whenever I step foot on a different campus. I have found that Douglass campus has become my second home during my time here at Rutgers. The beautiful scenery, coupled with the amazing people who reside here, makes it unlike any other community I have ever experienced.

What university resources do you use to help manage the stresses of college life?

Rutgers offers so many resources to students during the semester. I personally utilize the meditation room found on Douglass Campus, as that gives me a quiet space to breathe and just be. Some other resources that I use to help manage the stress as a first generation, college student are CAPS and the Office of Career Exploration and Success. CAPS is a great resource when seeking professional counseling on all things related to emotional to academic health. The Office of Career Exploration and success has also been very helpful in helping me figure out what path I want to pursue as well as how to improve my resume and cover letter.

Describe Rutgers in 3 words.

Diverse, Resourceful, Empathetic.

What advice would you give to a prospective student considering Rutgers?

Rutgers is definitely the right place, especially for first generation students from underrepresented communities like me. The support you will receive here is unparalleled and there is always someone here to guide you. Despite its size, you will find that Rutgers has so many tight knight communities and finding one that is just right for you will take no time. Programs and communities such as the Educational Opportunity Fund and Living Learning Communities makes it quite easy to find your niche on campus. Coming to Rutgers has been one of the smartest decisions I have made in my life thus far and by giving Rutgers a chance, you might find that this too is true for you.

vanessa darkoa

Anthony Sochan

Year: Junior
Major: Exercise Science
Minor: Nutritional Sciences
Hometown: Mahopac, NY

What has been the most surprising thing about being a student at Rutgers?

Although Rutgers is a large university, it has a small campus feel because the community is so welcoming and helpful. Being an out-of-state student, I did not know anyone upon entering my first year. However, Rutgers quickly began to feel like home as I made new friends, joined clubs, and fell in love with the academic environment.

What is the most interesting class you’ve taken and why?

The most interesting class I have taken is the Byrne Seminar called "Yoga: Finding Calm in Chaos." I took this as a first-year student, and it allowed me to appreciate personal wellness.

What does your typical school day look like?

My typical school day starts off with breakfast right before going to class. I eat a quick lunch or snack between my classes during the day. Then, I stop by one of the recreation centers to get a strong workout in. After that, I finish the day at dinner with my friends. Finally, I go to club baseball practice at University Park on Busch campus.

Tell us your favorite Rutgers story.

My favorite Rutgers story is going to Midknight Madness in 2018. We saw the men's and women's basketball teams work through skills events, and ended the night with a performance from A Boogie wit da Hoodie.

Describe Rutgers in 3 words.

Unique, Inclusive, Empathetic

What advice would you give to a prospective student considering Rutgers?

You will find your passions at Rutgers as long as you pursue them! There are so many ways to get involved on campus - from academic, recreational, professional, and social pursuits.

Where do you see yourself after graduation?

After graduation, I plan to attend medical school to pursue a medical degree.

Anthony Sochan

Viviane Liao

Year: Senior
Major: Molecular Biology & Biochemistry; Nutritional Sciences
Hometown: West Windsor, NJ

What attracted you most to Rutgers when selecting which higher education institution to attend?

I was really attracted to Rutgers for the plethora of opportunities that are so readily available. I knew that no matter which career path I chose to take, there would be many faculty, alumni, and peers available to support me. As a pre-health student, this meant having hundreds of research labs to choose from, easy access to clinical experience at the several nearby hospitals, and even opportunities to learn from Rutgers physicians.

What has been the most surprising thing about being a student at Rutgers?

The thing I found most surprising about being a student at Rutgers is how supportive all the faculty are of my ambitions. Any time I reach out to a professor for help in or out of the classroom, they go above and beyond to assist me in any way that I need. Whether it is setting up extra office hours, establishing connections for an internship, or writing me an excellent letter of recommendation, all of my professors have been immensely helpful and understanding.

What is your favorite spot on campus and why?

My favorite spot on campus is the steps of the Academic Building because it is generally quiet and peaceful, but also provides a great view of Voorhees Mall and everything that's going on there.

In what ways do you think Rutgers is preparing you for the future?

I think Rutgers has truly prepared me to work with a diverse group of individuals, as I will have to do in the future in my role as a physician. Every day at Rutgers, I meet individuals with all different backgrounds and experiences. This has broadened my perspective of the world and encouraged me to continue learning more about those around me in order to better connect with them and ultimately serve them in the future.

What is the most interesting class you’ve taken and why?

The most interesting class I've taken is Biology of Aging. I loved that we were not only able to explore different theories regarding why and how we age, but also evaluate the theories based off of current scientific literature.

Where do you see yourself after graduation?

After graduating, I will mostly likely be attending medical school at Vanderbilt. I hope to pursue a career as a physician where I can integrate my passions for nutrition, research, and teaching.

How do you get around campus, and what is it like?

I love walking around campus as much as possible because I find it really relaxing and a great way to get moving in between classes. If I need to switch campuses, however, I take the bus. It can be hectic at times, but it's also a great opportunity to meet new people and reconnect with old friends!

Viviane Liao

Sebastian Gomez

Year: Sophomore
Major: Sport Management
Hometown: Dover, NJ

What is your favorite spot on campus and why?

My favorite spot on campus is probably The Yard on College Avenue. This is my favorite spot because I can hang out with friends, grab something tasty to eat, and relax, maybe even catch a sports game on the screen. It is a vibrant place to be.

In what ways do you think Rutgers is preparing you for the future?

I think Rutgers is preparing me for the future in the sense that there are so many different ways to get involved, professors are willing to help their students and Rutgers has networks everywhere, which is key for for my future. Rutgers is home and I think attending this university was the best decision in my life.

What does your typical school day look like?

A typical school day is attending class, office hours, and study/homework in between classes throughout the day, then later in the day I might have to work or might have to attend meetings for the organizations I’m involved in.

What do you do on campus when you’re not in class?

When I’m not in class, I usually go eat, hang out with friends, do homework, or I try to get some exercise when I can, or take care of any extracurricular activities that may pop up.

Describe Rutgers in 3 words.

Big, Energetic, Home

Where do you see yourself after graduation?

After graduation, I see myself working for a sports team either at the collegiate level or pro level and being part of the sports industry.

How do you get around campus, and what is it like?

I usually got around campus by the bus system or walking. It could be very hectic at times, but you get used it.

Sebastian

Tiana Rahi

Year: Senior
Major: Marketing
Hometown: Highland Park, NJ

What attracted you most to Rutgers when selecting which higher education institution to attend?

Rutgers was the most affordable and reputable option for me to receive an exceptional education.

What has been the most surprising thing about being a student at Rutgers?

The most surprising thing about being a student at Rutgers, is the personal transformation I have gone through. Without realizing, I became more outgoing and receptive to trying new things. Immerse yourself in all the opportunities at RU that interest you. You will grow one way or another because of it.

What does your typical school day look like?

A typical school day consists of attending a couple classes across College Ave and Livingston, then meeting up with friends to hang out or study. In between, I am participating in my extracurricular activities.

What do you do on campus when you’re not in class?

When I'm not in class, I am involved with RUPA planning events for the student body or serving the New Brunswick community as a Rutgers Bonner!

What university resources do you use to help manage the stresses of college life?

CAPS is an amazing resource that provides free counseling services for RU students. RU Rec is also awesome in providing workout classes at all times of the day so that no matter how busy your schedule is, you can prioritize health and fitness.

What advice would you give to a prospective student considering Rutgers?

Don't be afraid to take classes outside of your major. Your first couple of years at Rutgers are the perfect time to take an intro class just because it interests you. Make decisions for your personal happiness, not to meet the expectations of others.

Where do you see yourself after graduation?

After graduation, I see myself living in a major city at a job that allows me to be creative and constantly work on different projects. If it is safe to travel I would love to take a couple years off to travel the world and road trip across the US.

Tiana Rahi
vanessa darkoa
Anthony Sochan
Viviane Liao
Sebastian
Tiana Rahi

Read More Student Stories

Anna Root

Year: Junior
Major: Biology
Hometown: Andover, MA

" 'Systems Physiology' is known for being a tough, detail-oriented course that many pre-med, life science, and exercise science students take. This semester, Dr. Nelson went above and beyond to support our learning with loads of resources. Something that I really appreciated was that she took extra time to interview friends who are medical professionals/researchers over webchats. They shared their personal journeys and relevant examples of topics that we were learning in class. These interviews connected the coursework to real life and offered helpful advice to undergrads trying to figure out career plans."

Anna Root

Calvin Kuo

Year: Senior
Major: Computer Science
Hometown: Parsippany, NJ

How was your transition to remote learning during the Spring 2020 semester?

"When my computer science professor heard our frustration, trying to implement what we learned during our online lectures into working code for our programming assignments, he decided to help by providing a skeleton code format for each of our remaining assignments. By providing a skeleton code, each assignment's requirements became clearer and students were able to complete assignments without wandering aimlessly to find solutions."

Calvin Kuo

Cassie Cuddihy

Year: Freshman
Major: Communication
Hometown: Cherry Hill, NJ

How was your transition to remote learning during the Spring 2020 semester?

"I’ve had a very positive experience transitioning from in-person to virtual courses. My professors were all organized, reliable and supportive with the transition. They also were all very understanding if some students met obstacles or needed help along the way. I had many opportunities to connect with my communities online. Many of the groups I am a part of have connected via Webex or Zoom for casual meet-ups to check in on everyone."

Cassie Cuddihy

Devan Patel

Year: Sophomore
Major: Finance
Hometown: Mt. Laurel, NJ

How was your transition to remote learning during the Spring 2020 semester?

"Rutgers University has done a great job engaging with their students, despite not being on campus. Many professors not only held live lectures but also recorded and uploaded them to accommodate us, which made access very easy and stress-free. That was also a great study tool when finals came around. All around, Rutgers made the best out of online classes that allowed me to grow as a student."

Devan Patel

Nicholas DeGennaro

Year: Freshman
Major/School: Undecided, School of Arts and Sciences
Hometown: Clifton, NJ

How was your transition to remote learning during the Spring 2020 semester?

"My professors have done such a great job in the transition to online learning in the past few weeks. Not only have they come up with new ways for us to grasp concepts, they've maximized them and utilized new tools and features to make class time as enjoyable as possible and to feel like we are all still together. Melissa Lieberman, my math professor, offered several online office hours a week and allowed for face-to-face video chats in the last days of class to maintain a good student-teacher relationship. It was much appreciated and allowed me to realize how much my professors really care about me as a student."

Nicholas DeGennaro

Priya Agarwal

Year: Sophomore
Major: Cell Biology and Neuroscience
Hometown: Piscataway, NJ

How was your transition to remote learning during the Spring 2020 semester?

"Although our trip to Japan was canceled, we were still able to meet and interact with students from Fukui University. It was amazing to get a more global perspective on world events and to talk about the course material. Professor Wakabayashi from Rutgers and Professor Hosoya from Fukui did an excellent job putting this together."

Priya Agarwal

Sabrina Jordan

Year: Senior
Major: Latino and Caribbean Studies
Hometown: Hackensack, NJ

How was your transition to remote learning during the Spring 2020 semester?

"My 'History of Mexico' class did something really cool by giving us the option to swap our final essay for a digital timeline. It was a really cool use of digital technologies and I was really happy with how it turned out."

Sabrina Jordan

Siddharth Marwaha

Year: Senior
Major: Biological Sciences
Hometown: East Brunswick, NJ

How was your transition to remote learning during the Spring 2020 semester?

"(As) both a student and helping to teach a class during the COVID-19 pandemic, this has really allowed me to understand the difficulties that come with being on either side, and I overwhelmingly found that Rutgers students and faculty were able to be flexible, understanding, and kind during this challenge. My professors had extended office hours and offered multiple ways to learn, while my students used different ways to reach out with questions and ensure that their work was the best that it could be. Scarlet Knights can be resilient when the moment calls for it, and I know that this resiliency will translate into real-world success for me and my peers down the road."

Student Siddharth Marwaha

Tiffany Yang

Year: Senior
Major: Chemical Engineering
Hometown: Annandale, NJ

How was your transition to remote learning during the Spring 2020 semester?

"For my senior design class in chemical engineering, my professor was able to modify the course so that we were able to continue working collaboratively with other students, while learning the technical skills required. By recording live lectures and hosting more office hours with the teaching assistants, there was increased flexibility for students to learn on their own time and find extra help when needed. These efforts culminated into a realistic and finished simulation of a biomass plant that is comparable to what is used in industry today!"

Tiffany Yang
Anna Root
Calvin Kuo
Cassie Cuddihy
Devan Patel
Nicholas DeGennaro
Priya Agarwal
Sabrina Jordan
Student Siddharth Marwaha
Tiffany Yang