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“When I was younger I wanted to be an immigration lawyer, and it was because my mom is an immigrant and all of my family members are immigrants too. They really struggled so much to get here. My mom is the reason I’m in college, to be honest. I’m the only one in my family that has been to college so far and my mom didn't have that opportunity back in the Dominican Republic. It makes me feel proud to say that I can do this for my mom. But not everyone gets this opportunity and I feel like it’s really easy to overlook that fact. There are some people who don’t get the chance to go to college; maybe because they don't have the funds or don’t have the legal status; but I know it’s important to be appreciative. I want to help people get here and I want to make a difference.”
“Her name is Avery. She’s an eight month old Rhodesian Ridgeback. I knew exactly what type of dog Avery was when I saw her at the Fall Involvement Fair, and I had never seen them in person, so I ran right over. I didn't know this type of dog was used for service. She was originally being trained for mobility, but now she’s gonna do cancer detection as well. Apparently because they're hounds, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are that much better at sensing cancer, seizures, PTSD, diabetes detection and other medical alerts like that. She’s still a puppy, and it’s gonna hurt when she leaves... but I know she’s gonna be a super great service dog. She’s really gonna help somebody and improve their life by like 100 times.”
(2/2) “For me, being a Muslim American is being someone who is able to have the best of both worlds. Someone who is able to express her faith and believe in it, follow the Tenets of Islam, and live my life according to Islam; but also to be someone who is American, who has the opportunities that I have, who cares about democracy, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion. It means that I am someone who has seen the government do amazing things and awful things. But at least I have a say in that government and that participation. I am someone who has seen a country made up of dreamers, and those who are able to execute their dreams because our country has opened their arms to immigrants and people from all over the world. We are a country full of diversity that you don’t really see anywhere else.
(1/2) “I grew up on the constitution. I grew up believing and fighting for the American Dream. But this presidency and this national rhetoric has constantly made me question whether I’m American enough. And I don’t think that anyone should ever have to ask themselves that question. What else can I do to prove to other people that I’m American? Just being here and believing in civil liberties and the best for people; that’s what being American is about. Coming out to protest, expressing my freedom of speech and my freedom of religion; that’s what America is all about.
“I think I’m pretty ordinary. I do work in a morgue though. I work with dead people all the time and I’m also really good at biology, working with living things too. I’ve always excelled in sciences classes, but it’s so hard for me to find something that connects my interest in biology with my interest in the philosophy of life and death. It’s such an enigma. People have their ideas and religions have their concepts, but we’re never really gonna know for sure what happens when someone dies. Looking into microbiology, I may be able to do research and find something there, but I wonder all the time. The world’s a confusing place. I try not to get too deep into it, but….”
“I was born in Thailand but I’ve spent most of my life living in a lot of different countries. This place though, Rutgers, and being in America; it’s a whole different experience. My parents are living in Singapore now, and I’m the only one here, I’m an only child. It’s taken some time getting used to being alone. I’ve realized how much we actually need our parents, and that we really rely on them for the first 18 years of our lives. And it’s nice to have friends that you can trust and connect with, but ultimately, I’ve really learned to rely on myself.”
“I am a first generation, Muslim-American, born and raised here. My parents are both immigrants, my dad from Egypt and my mom from Syria, coming to the U.S. to seek a better life for me and my siblings. Despite what we tend to hear about in the news, I think with my identity as a Muslim and an American, beliefs are one in the same; standing for justice, freedom, and hard work. Those are all things that my religion preaches. My religion stands side by side with American values, preaching respect to my neighbors, regardless of their faith, and that’s why I think it’s easy to be a Muslim in America. Because of the rhetoric we hear today, it makes it more difficult to outwardly represent that, because you are often immediately stereotyped as a Muslim. But I think we can only go up from here. Minorities are now understanding more and more that we need to stand together. And in my opinion, an overall sense of togetherness is a great foundation that will help us be unstoppable in the future.”
“We’re all from India... and it does snow there, but only in the North. Where we come from, it’s a very hot and humid place, so this is one of the first times we’re ever experiencing snow. That’s why we’re so fascinated, and that’s why were jumping around out here while everyone else is back inside!”
"We met at Rutgers and graduated in 2003. Since then we've moved to San Francisco, but our families still live in the area so we're back here for the New Year. This little guy's New Year's resolution is to be a big brother in 2017."
(3/3) “This semester went incredibly well. Our first night, we were sitting outside the Yard and I was staring at my phone waiting for the first call to come in. I had a lot of people coming through congratulating me, but we didn't have any calls yet. I wondered if I did all this for nothing. Around 1AM on that first night, we got our first call. And it was like out of a movie. I had tears in my eyes and it was one of the most emotional moments for me. We sent out the two Halos, Joe and Audrey, they got her back home, and when they came back to the Yard, it was like I was greeting them back from war. I gave them a big hug and I’ll just never forget the moment of that first call. That one girl got home safe, and that was enough for me. I had said one call would make it all worth it, but every week we got more and more calls. And now SafeHalo is spreading to schools around the country.”
(2/3) “This past summer, I was interning at Viacom right in Times Square, I was taking summer classes here and I was working on this new idea of mine in my limited free time. My idea was SafeHalo. And every week, I was working on ideas, and I realized I needed volunteers. In order to promote safety on campus, I needed ‘Halos’ to help walk people home. And we didn’t just get Halos from one area, so it says a lot about the culture of this school. One of them shot Fashion Week at age 19, one of them is a b-boy, one of them has been to all 7 continents, one of them is a business student, one of them was a gymnast. So we have an amazing group of people who just decided enough is enough, we’re gonna do this. Our goal and our tagline is ‘For each other’ and that aim is to be as inclusive as possible. For us, it’s about being there.”
(1/3) “I come from a family of math and science. My sister is the first Dr. Reji in our family and so that has set a really high bar for me. I was never a good student, terrible at math and science. I’d rather write or direct movies, so I was the creative weirdo that didn’t really fit in. But around junior year, I really picked it up. I took a class in the Spring of 2015 where I wrote a research paper about sexual assault on campus. And we had to try and propose how we could solve the problem. So in my research, what seemed to be continuous across all campuses was that the buddy system was still the best system. And I decided I would try my best to tackle the problem of sexual assault on campus by building a judgement-free, stigma-free buddy system on campus.”
“I grew up in a fairly nice household. But when we moved from Brooklyn to New Jersey when I was younger, it was hard fitting in as a kid. I turned to drugs and it took me down a very dark path. I kept doing drugs throughout high school, but I made it through. I got into college, I got a scholarship and it was all good. But everyone always told me, ‘Do well your first semester of college, it’s gonna start off your whole life,’ and I ended up getting kicked out and arrested. I was selling a lot of drugs. I got too deep into it and I kept doing it. I didn’t listen to what anybody told me. And of course I regret the decisions that I’ve made in my life, three colleges in three years, but I don’t regret the life I have now. Eventually drugs led to rehab. I never really thought I’d see myself there. But through meetings and relating to a lot of different people, I finally realized that I could end the misery now and start fresh. There’s still plenty of time.”
“Christmas was my grandfather’s favorite holiday. He would have all of his grandkids around him every year. Earlier this year, we lost him to cancer and it was such a devastating loss for me and my family. This will be the first Christmas without him and it’s going to bring a flood of emotions for my family, which I’m not sure we’re entirely prepared for. Life is precious. And because my grandfather left a lasting impression on me, I wanted to go ahead and leave an impression on others too. That's why, for Christmas this year, I bought 200 cards and I’m having all different people fill them out for hospitalized children around the country.”
“I’m very big on my faith. I’m very into my spirituality. So I definitely believe in servicing and just helping others in general. I have my own hair and beauty business called #touchedbytianaa where I service my clients in my dorm. I do wigs, natural hair, or if they need their makeup done for an event or a night out, I do that too. Having them sit there for 3 hours, that’s a ministry in a sense. So part of the reason why I do this is because I believe it’s a service on my end. And I feel like when God gives you talents or gifts, it’s not just for yourself. I think that He gave me this talent and this gift to touch lives in a larger aspect. And I’m definitely looking forward to how He’s actually going to manifest that through this business.”
“My dad’s a painter, my grandma’s a painter and so was my great-grandma. But at Mason Gross, you concentrate at the end of your sophomore year, so I decided to do photography. I draw a lot too, and photography is my way of expressing myself through my work, but painting seems to be a skill that runs in my family. I’ve seen the work they’ve done. When I was in middle school, my grandma always said, ‘Do what you love,’ and I really loved art. And now I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I love art, and now that I’m taking painting classes, I feel like I see my family’s work in my own. I think I have the same style as my dad.”
“About one month ago, my girlfriend came to see me from China to New York City and I made my proposal on the Empire State Building. And she agreed. We’ll get married after I graduate from Rutgers Business School in Newark. Her American name is Mary, so when she came to see me I said, ‘Mary, marry me.’ I’m so happy.”
“I just got out of a meeting with my academic advisor. She was telling me that out of the freshman who come in with my major of pre-veterinary science, only 20% graduate with, or continue that major. And it’s not easy, but just because others can’t do it doesn’t mean I can’t do it. It wasn't easy to get to the point where I am now. Living where I was, or at least with my family’s financial situation, there has always been ups and downs. But our drive to get better led us to where we are now, and it allows me to be in a place like this university to further finish my own goals. And now that my family situation is okay, I need to focus on myself. I’ve had an interest in this field for so long, since middle school. And now I’m halfway through college and I feel like it’s something I need to finish. Not to impress others, but to really prove to myself that I can do this.”
“I want to be a teacher, and I like being a student too. I like the unique relationship that forms with your favorite teacher, it’s really something special. One of my high school teachers, Ms. Powers, she taught me philosophy during my senior year and I loved her because she was super understanding. I feel like the beginning of senior year is a weird, tough time for high schoolers because you don’t know what you’re doing with your life. And I remember that she had a poster up and it said, 'Try, and if you can’t try, be kind.' And that’s my thing. I try my hardest to do the best I can, and I try to do the whole 'kindness to everyone no matter what' thing too. And I think that’s especially important for a student-teacher relationship.”
“Way before I could drive, I was looking at cars. Always trying to figure out what I wanted to get. My dad has been into cars his whole life, and I always had toy cars ever since I was real young, so it really kind of started with that. Now I’m in the Rutgers Car Club, and we get together for meets maybe once a month or so. We’ve had some movie nights, an autocross event, and coming up pretty soon we’ll be going to the Simeone Museum in Philadelphia. We’ve got this drive we’re doing tomorrow too, driving about 250 miles through New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Should be real pretty. I might bail early though, there’s a guy with a set of wheels I’m trying to buy.”