June 16, 2019 | 69° F

"America Converges Here" initiative will celebrate Rutgers' diversity with 3 months of events

Photo by Edwin Gano and Edwin Gano |

Chancellor Richard L. Edwards was inspired to create "America Converges Here" after Former President Barack Obama's commencement speech. The initiative includes events and programs designed to celebrate Rutgers' diversity.

In his 2016 commencement speech, former President Barack Obama described Rutgers University as a unique reflection of the country’s diversity and unity.

“America converges here,” Obama said. “And in so many ways, the history of Rutgers mirrors the evolution of America — the course by which we became bigger, stronger and richer and more dynamic, and a more inclusive nation."

Now, less than one year later, the Office of the Chancellor is launching an initiative entitled “America Converges Here,” based on the words of the former president. 

University Chancellor Richard L. Edwards released an email to the community on Friday, which included a video teaser and outlined the inspiration behind the new initiative and previewed the events and larger themes that it would address.

“Each month through this year’s commencement, we will present you with stories of convergence and invite you to events and programs designed to bring our project to life throughout the Rutgers—New Brunswick campus,” Edwards said in the email.

February will celebrate the “convergence of people,” while the subsequent months will focus on the convergence of “big ideas” and “place,” he said.

A full schedule of events will be announced at the start of each month, said Zach Hosseini, a spokesperson for the Office of the Chancellor. They will be available on the "America Converges Here" website and on the campus calendar.

This month’s event speakers include Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Antonio Vargas, former Press Secretary Symone Sanders, Marc Lamont Hill and Ruth Mandel, the director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics, according to the "America Converges Here" website.

“The initiative is two parts. First, we want to explore those three themes through some storytelling. Every month through the semester we will release a video that will look at stories of convergence built around our themes," Hosseini said. "Second, we are working with many of the schools and units from throughout the university to enrich and enhance their programming — all of which is geared towards our students.”

According to the Office of the Chancellor, the goal of the initiative is to highlight the aspects of Rutgers that make it a unique and historic institution.

“I think (former) President Obama's speech really resonated with us — especially the portion from where we got our inspiration,” he said.

Rutgers has released a full schedule of events on their campus calendar. They are presented by both the Office of the Chancellor and Rutgers Student Access and Equity.

“Chancellor Edwards believes that the president noticed what we all already knew — that Rutgers—New Brunswick is a special place,” he said. “So he asked us to think about what 'America Converges Here' really meant and our interpretation was that (former) President Obama noticed the uniqueness of our people, our contributions to big ideas and our place — specifically New Jersey, which has been a crossroads for diverse people and thought since our country's founding.”

Kira Herzog is the news editor of The Daily Targum. She is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in political science and journalism and media studies. Follow her on Twitter @kiraherzog1 for more.

Kira Herzog

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