Rutgers student raises funds for Dance Marathon using portraits


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Courtesy of Justin Lucero | Justin Lucero, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, raised money for Dance Marathon by drawing portraits of donors.


Justin Lucero has combined his passion for art and helping people by drawing portraits of students at Rutgers to raise money for the Embrace Kids Foundation.

Lucero, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, decided to participate in the Rutgers University Dance Marathon this year, rose $350 in about one week with no experience in fundraising.

He decided last week to create incentives to entice people to donate, as suggested in the fundraising guidelines, he said.

Dance Marathon was something all his friends have participated in, so in his senior year he felt inclined to join, he said. He raised money by painting portraits for people who donated $30 and baking for those who gave $10. 

“The goal was also to generate excitement for my fundraising page and the mission of Dance Marathon itself, which it did on social media,” Lucero said. “Additionally I wanted to make this fundraising experience fun for me and for donors." 

Lucero said raising the money was a humbling experience. 

“It was truly a humbling experience seeing people come together to donate for a good cause and in supporting me in this campaign,” he said. “In all honesty, I'd consider myself an amateur in terms of the arts, as I have been out of practice for some time." 

He became more serious with drawing during his senior year of high school, when he took an art class. He does not draw that often anymore due to other commitments, he said. 

But when he draws he focuses on portraits, Lucero said. He wanted to use this campaign as an opportunity to engage in drawing again. 

“I enjoy seeing a drawing come to life right before your eyes,” he said. “I enjoy seeing how lines and different shading comes together and creates something taken rooted in our reality and translating it onto a page."

Participating in Dance Marathon forced him to step outside of his comfort zone because he actually had to ask people for money, Lucero said.

“My favorite part about this campaign is being able to generate excitement for the fundraising experience and thus, generating awareness for Dance Marathon and what it stands for,” he said.

Dance Marathon is a great opportunity to engage Rutgers students in service, Lucero said. Hopefully this will help students become more socially aware and inspire them to continue to serve populations in need, he said.

On campus, Lucero has been involved in various organizations over the past couple years including New Student Orientation, the Rutgers University Student Assembly, Alternative Breaks and as a Peer Educator with the Health, Outreach, Promotion and Education Office, he said.

“I would describe myself as open-minded, willing to see different perspectives and as someone who, because of their blessings, wants to give back to others through empowerment and service,” Lucero said.

Lucero's most memorable experience at University has been serving the student community as an orientation team leader and sharing his excitement about the University toward incoming students, he said. 

After graduation, he plans to take some time off before applying to graduate schools, he said. Lucero is hoping to pursue a Master of Public Health in the future and desires to work in the mental health and addictions field.

“My experience at this University has been empowering, and Rutgers has given me so many opportunities to immerse myself in amazing experiences such as Dance Marathon and other service-based activities which challenge me to grow as a person,” Lucero said.

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Jessica Herring is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in journalism and media studies and minoring in English. She can be found on Twitter @Jesslindsey93.


Jessica Herring

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