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Humans of Rutgers

"We started working for The Daily Targum in 1989, and it's just always been a family. It might not be Greek Life but it's definitely its own little sorority-fraternity on campus. And through the years, we've seen all of these students just grow and progress, and some of our very own have gone on to do pretty amazing things. Becky Quick, who was Editor-in-Chief, she went on to moderate a recent presidential debate. Our own Bumper DeJesus is now the multimedia editor for The Star Ledger, winning several Emmy's along the way. Among others, these people were Targumites. And these were the ones who would come in very quietly, kind of hesitant. But it didn't take long until they really seemed to mature and grow into their own. And I think that's part of the beauty of Targum. It allows the students to grow in a very caring atmosphere. And we get to see new people come in and learn and go through this process all the time. Things have changed over the years, from the multimedia we use to the students who work here, but the Targum is really part of our being at this point. And it's an essential part of Rutgers University. It's the student voice, and that's a voice that deserves to be heard."

"I've known I wanted to get into journalism since I was 4 years old. I would always open up the newspaper even before I could read. And growing up, I knew I was good at writing and I knew I loved sports, so I knew early on that I should try and put the two together. In my first month here at Rutgers, following my mother's advice of course, I went to go work for The Daily Targum. My first beat was covering Women's Winter Track and Field, and I was excited to get involved. But when I was starting out, I had this mindset that I should've immediately been on the football beat, or that I should've been covering basketball. I was a little in over my head, but like anything else in life, you can get humbled really quick. I had to work for it. So after a year of experience working as a writer and as a paid correspondent, I ended up training for Sports Editor. I wanted it more than anything. It was a lot to juggle, and there were a lot of sleepless nights with how busy the football team was this past year, but at the same time it was all worth it. I look back on it now, and I realize that if I didn't have this place to start out, not only would my writing not be in the spot where it's at, but without getting the hands on experience, or dealing with media relations, I really don't know where I would be. I know now that as a journalist, I'm not going to be a sports editor coming right out of college. I'm not going to be a lead writer on a big beat. And that's fine. The first entry level job that I get might be doing a lot of the grunt work. But working for the Targum, and seeing those operations run, it all reassured me that this this is what I want to do, and that this is what I'm passionate about."

"My mom has always driven me to work as hard as I do. She's a very special person. She's worked so hard, even now, just so all my siblings and I could get a good education and finish college. She works 15 hours a day sometimes, and that's hard. That's what drives me. I'm always running back and forth from classes and activities, from my work here at Targum, to my internship and my position as a research assistant too; all while trying to get good grades. But it never amounts to what she's done in a day. I work hard and stay focused because I don't want all of the hard work that my parents have gone through to be for nothing. Unfortunately for my mom, working was more of a means to make sure that we had a secure life. She grew up in poverty so she didn't want us to go through the same thing. But for me, I work hard to make my parents proud, and I do it because I enjoy it. The Targum is fun. The things that I'm doing here are because I want to learn, and because I want to better myself. So in some ways, I'd say I'm a workaholic. And it's tough sometimes. But I'm honestly really glad that I'm diligent in what I do."

"I first came to Targum when we were at the old Mine Street office in the very beginning of my first semester, freshman year. My first few stories were awful, and I was probably a huge pain in the ass. But one day, my associate news editor at the time, she sent me this stern message asking if I could come in and talk to her. I was so scared, such a na•ve freshman and thought I'd be getting fired for sure. But they actually saw something in me, and wanted to make me an editor. And since then, I've learned a lot. I definitely used to have some self-doubt, but representing the study body and re-presenting information has been a growing experience. The friends I've made here and the nights I've spent here have all helped me to become Editor-in-Chief. There are days when it's stressful, but at the end of the day, I love working in news. And even after working in news for a while, and after going through every story every night, there's still this weird, exciting feeling that you get, seeing your name on the front page of the newspaper."

"You want me to talk politics? No whey. There was a time when election season was taken seriously. When states like Arizona and Florida faced problems at the voting booths, it was just an honest misteak. But now... things are all over the place, and this country needs a reality check. It's udderly ridiculous. These politicians, they know the steaks are high. But they're just milking it for all it's worth. So you really want to ask me about politics? Next question. Moooving on."

"I was born here, and I lived here for about 5 years. But because my mom's from Barbados, I ended up moving there with her family. Growing up in Barbados was such a great foundation for me. It's a very small island, and I was surrounded by family my entire life. But that's also a big reason why I wanted to come back here. I often felt enclosed in a little box. I just wanted to break free sometimes, and that was especially true when it came to having my own style. When I was in Barbados, my parents actually got me into modeling at a really young age. And I had some body image issues at the time, so afterwards, when I was around 16, I said to myself, 'Okay. I can't do this anymore, I'm going to do my own thing,' and that's when I really started playing around with my hair and my style. And after coming here and breaking free, the biggest thing I've learned about myself and about the fashion world, is to always be fearlessly authentic. It's important to stay true to yourself, but to experiment and grow as well. And I think coming here has allowed me to grow into my own and just let go."

"I like listening to heavy metal, but every now and then... I like to crochet."

"I was born in Ethiopia and I grew up there until I was about 14. Originally, my dad had gotten a scholarship to come study here in America and get his master's degree in Theology. So we moved to Boston, and once he was done with his studies, he opened up a church right around here in New York City. When we got to America though, it was a complete culture shock. There's a whole different language to deal with and the way school's conducted is completely different. I can't even begin to list all the differences. I'll always be Ethiopian, but adapting has been very interesting. The way I think, when I'm about to work on something or think through a problem, is in my native tongue. I work out the problems in my head, all in Amharic, but then when I speak and communicate, I always have to convert these thoughts back into English. It's tough sometimes. And it's tough being away from home. I haven't been back since I first left, but I'll always be Ethiopian."

"I'm from Singapore, and before coming here to America, I was in the military for two years. I enlisted when I was 18 through a conscription of sorts. Every guy, when they reach a certain age, they are expected to serve. But I got injured during that time. It was during my vocational training, during a road march. Everyone had their packs on, full gear, and we were supposed to march 16 kilometers in the middle of the night. I fell that night and got caught in a crack with all of my gear. I just wasn't able to continue and that's all it took. It wasn't really a nice experience, so coming here to America and to Rutgers is a fresh start for me, and a new change to the way things are going."

"William's a comedian. He likes to get people's attention. He's always got a smile on and he's the type of dog that feels how you feel. I always say that if he doesn't make it as a Seeing Eye dog, he's definitely going to be a therapy dog because he's such a people person. I always call him the mayor too. Always going around saying 'Hi' to everyone. Hello!"

"We always say on our website that MARK is about empowerment, inspiring action and debunking the myth that you have to wait until college ends to make your mark. To me, it's about doing, and acting and being an agent of change, realizing that you are a warrior, that you can make something of your life, and that you have the power to change other people's lives too. I think it's really about knowing what your passion is, and fighting for it. Because too often we have so many dreams and we just don't go for it. We're scared or the world tells us not to. But it's about time that we start doing it. And I think MARK can hit big. It's really getting some traction now, and it's really becoming a brand that people can benefit from. We want to keep it intimate and family-like, but this thing is something everyone needs to experience. College drains you. It's absolutely draining, but when people leave here, they are so inspired and so rejuvenated and ignited to do something with their lives. We need to have more moments like this, more of this kind of solidarity. We need more of this action as one, of being together and supporting each other so that we can all leave our mark on the world."

"I teach composition here at Rutgers."
"And what's something your mom has taught you?"
"Better math."

(2/3) "My dream was always to go to the NFL, retire and become a sports broadcaster. And I was going to do whatever I needed to do to get there. I was a year and a half away before my injury happened. It was October 16th, 2010, right in the middle of the season and right when my junior year was starting. I had fractured my C3 and C4 vertebrae and was completely out of it. They told me I was paralyzed from the neck down, that I'll never walk again, I'll never breathe on my own, that I'll be on a ventilator for the rest of my life, and that I'll never eat solid foods again. My mom was really distraught from it all. And I kind of remember this, and I kind of don't, but right before the surgery I said, 'I'll be back.' And after I said that to her, everyone had a positive mindset and I received just so much support. I then realized I wouldn't be playing football anymore, and that I still had two more years of college left. So through physical therapy and taking classes via Skype only a couple months after my injury, I knew I had to finish up and get that degree."

(3/3) "In the beginning of 2011 I got moved to Kessler Institute in West Orange where I stayed for inpatient rehab. I had to get myself healthy and I had to continue working on my studies. By the next semester, I was right back in it, and I had been making progress the whole time. Five weeks after my injury, and I still have the scar, I was able to breathe on my own. That Thanksgiving after my surgery, I was able to eat solid food. They told me I'd be paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of my life, but during my Superbowl party just a couple months later, I was able to lift my elbows, move them around a bit, shimmy, shake and things like that. Things have come back for me slowly but surely, and it makes me realize that anything is possible. You just gotta fight, and have faith, and work your butt off for something that you really want, because you never know what you can do with hard work. Great things have happened for me over the past 5 and a half years through hard work and therapy. And I can't wait to see what the next 5 years bring, with technology and determination. I truly believe that in my lifetime I will be able to walk again.
To all of you out there at Rutgers University, I want to say thank you for supporting me. Keep on supporting me, and keep on working toward your goals and aspirations too. Rutgers is a special place, so take it all in. There's a lot to learn from your experiences there, so enjoy it, have fun, believe in me and believe in yourself."

To read (Part 4) and to learn more about the great 52, Eric Legrand, and how he's left his MARK on Rutgers University, visit:

(1/3) "It all started when I was 4 years old. I was living right here on this lot, and I had my neighbor behind me, a friend across the street and one down the block. Two were my age and the other one was 5 years older than us. We played kill the man with the ball on the side of my house and the older kid, he used to throw us around. There were a few times when I was able to juke him out and get past him, and since I was 5 years younger, I remember getting that adrenaline rush at the age of 4 when scoring that touchdown. That was when my friend Doug's mom said she was gonna sign him up to play for the Port Reading Saints. She said I should talk to my mom about it too. And my family has that background anyways, everyone played sports. So she really wanted to get me into it, and I really wanted it too. From then on, in that September of '95, I started playing football."

"One of the most important lessons I'm learning right now is that my friends are well, they're my friends. When you're going through a rough time and all you want to do is talk about it over and over again, you may think you're being a burden and that your friends are over you and your problems. But they're not. You may also think that they probably think less of you, that you're crazy or overemotional. Well, they don't. I've been having trouble accepting that because I feel like I've just been annoying, talking about the same thing in each conversation. But don't be afraid to rely on people when you need it. And don't be afraid of change in your life. Something big happened in my life recently and I was holding desperately onto the slim-to-none chance that things would go back to the way they were. Now, I'm finding solace in the fact that there's a million different ways to move forward and it's up to me to choose the direction I want to go in."

(1/2) "Last summer, my uncle passed away from cancer and because of him, I really wanted to make a difference in someone else's life. After searching the internet and finding St. Baldrick's, I knew I had found the perfect way to make a difference; shave my head and donate money to support those with childhood cancer, to raise awareness, and to do it all in remembrance of my uncle Steve. I set my goal at $2,000 and didn't even think I'd reach it. After a month, I was almost there, so I decided to keep raising my goal until I finally reached a total of $4,678 by the day of my shave. I had also found another group to support; the Angel Hair Foundation, which takes healthy hair and uses it to make wigs for children with cancer. It feels really good supporting two separate organizations. It may be for the same cause, but I feel as though I helped two different people instead of one, which is a super cool feeling. And showing love for Uncle Steve has been really special to me too."

(2/2) "The day of my shave was last week on Valentine's Day, the day of love. I really didn't have any nerves going into it. I was so ready to do it, and I was surrounded by family and friends. It was a very positive, loving atmosphere, and it's been that way ever since. I feel like I've always been a confident person, but after the shave I absolutely realize my self-worth and just how awesome and beautiful people can be without hair. It's always been positive vibes. What I've learned though is that I'm pretty determined and that I'm gonna rock this look so that people who stare or who don't quite understand can see that bald is beautiful, and that making a difference and spreading awareness can hopefully move people to do the same."

To read (Part 3) and to learn more about Katie's story and how she plans on leaving her MARK through making a change, visit:

"I've been skating since I was two. My dad used to hold me in his arms and ride around on a skateboard. At some point, he said 'Alright, you're getting too big for this shit, you gotta learn to ride on your own,' and that's how it all started. He skated here and there when he was younger, too. But it hasn't ever been about him pushing me to skate like him, it was more of me pushing myself and him seeing potential. He's always said he's seen potential in me. At this point skating's like second nature, and I feel more comfortable skateboarding than I do walking down the street. There's just something about it."

In response to the visit from journalist Milo Yiannopoulos last week, junior Monica Torres, among others, has spoken out about the event, the protest, and about her story of being an activist here on campus.

(1/2) "As a Dominican, Puerto Rican and Chinese student, I've found it important to explore the cultural centers here at Rutgers and to look at these different parts of my identity. It's important to do your research, to be active on campus and to look at how people are represented because believe it or not, people are valued differently, and it shouldn't be like that when we're all human beings. The purpose of organizing the protest last week was to address the speaker and his really hateful ideology. That negativity can manifest into very physical, very hateful and violent things. And on February 8th, the day before the protest, a Black Lives Matter activist and leader committed suicide. His death must be viewed in the context of injustice and our current racial climate. I don't think people really understand just how real this is. And while for some people, the speaker was fun and entertaining, these are people's livelihoods, and that's a very serious matter. This protest wasn't just a Black Lives Matter movement. It was students getting together and saying 'We're not going to stand for this hateful ideology.' And it's difficult. Do you just do nothing and let it slide? Or do you address it and make a statement as a state school, as a diverse community, and as someone who believes many cultures and people here are left underappreciated and falsely represented? Are we going to stand for this? And the answer is no, we're not going to stand for hateful ideology and BLM being compared to the KKK. Or hearing that rape culture doesn't actually exist when we know for a fact that it does. You can't even argue with ideology like that. How do you engage? The seven of us that covered our faces in paint that night, we did it as a peaceful protest, as a very visual performance, channeling that pain and having a very visceral reaction, so that we could keep working to create change."