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Humans of Rutgers

“In September of 2014, Isabel (we call her Izzy Warrior Princess) was diagnosed with a spinal chord tumor. She finished chemo in January of 2016, so she’s been a year chemo free and her tumor is still stable. Originally, she had to get a biopsy. They had to take a little piece of the tumor out and that left her in really bad shape. A year ago, when we were at Dance Marathon, she was in her walker and couldn’t walk on her own. But I said last year that this Dance Marathon, she’ll be dancing and she’ll be up there on the stage on her own, and sure enough, she did it. For her to be dancing today, it means more than anybody would ever know if you haven't seen this whole journey. I don’t know what the future brings for Isabel, I don’t know what her disability is going to be like, I don’t know how people will treat her. But she has our support always. And beyond that, she has this tremendous community. If ever she feels alone, all she has to do is remember how many people have been there with her through the very very worst, and who are cheering her on at every milestone. And that’s what this is about. It’s about hope. Once you lose hope, you lose your fight. And we refuse to give up hope.”

"Last year was our first Dance Marathon. Kiana was battling Wilms Tumor, a form of kidney cancer, and was about 2 to 3 months into treatment and not one person treated her differently because of how she looked. She had the time of her life. She was not 100 percent, but she danced and played with 110 percent of her heart. She amazed us that day and showed us what true inner strength was. We are very happy to report that at this year's Dance Marathon, she is in remission."

“I have synesthesia so I think in colors. Everything has a color, including music and numbers. For me, it’s very numerical. Growing up, I was really bad at math because each number has its own color and its own personality too. Numbers don’t really get along in my head. But it’s also how I connect things. That colorful, visual representation in my head manifests itself into everything, and I think that’s why I really like painting. It’s easy for me to recognize what color goes where. It kinda just clicks.”

“My father works at the biggest bank in China. So I came to America and he tells me to study mathematics. Usually you would think I would learn accounting or finance, but I don’t know which part I like. So mathematics is a tool for my graduate school. That way I can choose finance, I can choose accounting, economics, or even physics if I like. But it’s difficult with the culture here. I don’t know how to make friends with American people. My father tells me that the easy way to make friends is at dinner, but I don't like the food.”

Happy International Women's Day to the Women of RU!!

“I went to a performance arts high school in North Bergen. It was the little school that could. It was in an old factory and it wasn’t the prettiest thing, but I was always surrounded by musicians and the music community, and it’s followed me into college too. I go to lot of shows here in New Brunswick and you really do feel like you belong in these communities. They’re just so welcoming and unique and necessary to facilitate creativity. And its not like the university made it. The schools don’t make it, the people make it. And I feel very rooted in that supportive, DIY type of community.”

“My mother grew up in the inner city, and she didn’t have much. She has always emphasized the importance of getting a degree so that we wouldn’t struggle like her growing up. She’s taught me not to stop until you get it, until you make it. She works so hard trying to pay term bills, taking care of my sisters, my brother and my niece. And she’s always been the type of person to work extra hours so that she can get us what we need. On my behalf, I want to work just as hard, I want to get that degree, and I want to become a physician assistant to help others. But my mother has always inspired me, so I want to do it for her too, and make her proud.”

(2/2) "My favorite card is the Wheel of Fortune card. It’s the card that signifies that everything's changing, and that everything comes full-circle in life. I think it was the first card I ever pulled too, so it's very special. For me, it symbolizes that no matter what problem I'm going through; and I've gone through dark times; the light will always come out, and I'll always be ok. But each card can represent something different for each person that pulls it. Tarot cards are very versatile. And that’s why I choose this method over anything else. People can read tea leaves, palms. But I find that cards always changing because people are always changing.”

(1/2) “When I was a child, my grandfather passed away and I’ve had many people in my life pass away ever since. Each time, all of these strange things started happening to me where I was getting visitations. It’s when you know that someone who has passed away has come back to visit you. It was comforting for me. And after doing research, I found that tarot cards are a way to reach that other side. It takes years and years of practice and experience to ever get there, but my plan is to develop my practice and strengthen my intuition so deeply that I can help people one day by becoming a medium. For now, I like to help people with more basic tarot card readings. Sometimes people have a mental block and they just need that push.”

“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.

This is my home. I’m a Jersey girl. I will always love Jersey diners and Jersey bagels in the morning, but I’ll also be fasting during Ramadan. And that’s what being a Muslim American is really all about; you take traditions from both places and you own it. So for me, I get to have both sides, and I wear it on my sleeve every single day. And I will never stop being proud of being a Muslim American.”

(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.

Now is the time to define what it means to be a Muslim American, and to own that label instead of letting it be such a negative. It’s something that we can definitely revolutionize and make positive, and I’ve seen that in the last week with the amazing amount of support around the country. I think it has made people more aware of who Muslim Americans are. It has put people in contact with Muslim Americans when they may not have been in contact with them before. And it’s created an allyship that I don't think existed before, which is really, really important.”

“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.”