83% of students who currently attend Rutgers New Brunswick are New Jersey residents. The remainder of the student body, while the minority, diversify the Scarlet Knight community by contributing a wide array of backgrounds, interests, and perspectives. In this series, I Am Rutgers will highlight the out-of-state student experience by detailing the journeys of a new student every week.
For Lauren Fish, a fourth year Cell Biology and Neuroscience Major, going home for a weekend is not as simple as the quick half an hour drive down the Garden State Parkway that many students, including myself, face. Living over two hundred miles north of Rutgers in an Albany suburb known as Clifton Park, NY, Lauren’s commute can range anywhere from three and a half to five hours, depending on traffic and train schedules.
While Lauren constitutes a minority in the fact that she is not a New Jersey resident, Rutgers has become her home away from home over the past four years and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m happy to be here and I’m proud to be a part of such a diverse student body. I definitely wouldn’t have had the same opportunities anywhere else. I think that for me specifically, there have been many more research opportunities, things to do, and clubs to join than most of the other universities in this part of the country.”
Lauren has certainly taken advantage of all that Rutgers has to offer. As an SAS Honors Program Peer Mentor, she oversees two floors of first year SASHP residents in Lynton Tower North and collaborates with the SAS Honors Program deans to organize monthly events for her residents. Lauren herself lived on the honors floor of Lynton Tower North as a freshman, later deciding to return as a peer mentor for her junior and senior years.
Lauren is also a member of the Rutgers Sinfonia, a non-major orchestra, and has been playing the violin since elementary school. When she is not tutoring statistics at the Rutgers Learning Center –yes, she tutors as well– Lauren can be found working out at the Livingston Recreation Center or running around campus. Last year, after many months of training and preparation, Lauren completed her first ever half marathon, the Rutgers Unite Half Marathon.
Four years ago as a high school senior, Lauren would’ve never predicted that Rutgers would be her college of choice. Schools across the Northeast, including Boston University, the University of Vermont, and New York University, were at the forefront of Lauren’s list during the application process. It wasn’t until Lauren visited campus for the first time on Accepted Students’ Day that she realized Rutgers was the right choice for her:
I came to an Open House and I felt so welcomed by the community here. There are so many different life sciences majors to choose from and opportunities to do research that it was a no-brainer. I was looking for schools that had a strong footing in biomedical research, but also provided opportunities for undergraduates to explore the arts, and Rutgers fit the bill.”
Since coming to Rutgers, Lauren has worked diligently both inside and outside of the classroom to turn the research opportunities that initially attracted her to the university into a reality. In addition to conducting research with Rutgers faculty during her junior year, Lauren was also accepted into the Summer Undergraduate Research Program in Neuroscience at Rutgers/Robert Wood Johnson Medical School this past summer. Over the course of ten weeks, Lauren worked on a research project of her own that enabled her to explore career opportunities and network with premier researchers in the field of Neuroscience.
Despite her many accomplishments, Lauren’s college experience can’t be fully summed up by her extensive resumé, nor should it be. As Lauren explains, much of making the most of your Rutgers experience is putting yourself out there, making friends, and making memories, no matter where you are from:
You have to say “Yes” to things. Drag your friends and your roommates to King Neptune Night, the Big Chill, football games and make memories here! Take advantage of everything this place has to offer because it’s really a unique thing, having so much at your fingertips.”
To all out of state students, while you may not relate to the North-Jersey-vs-South-Jersey feud or know all of the local hotspots, branching outside of your comfort zone is one of the best ways to make Rutgers feel like your second home:
The people here are always open to making new friends and trying new things. I really appreciate that. Even though I miss my family and cherish the time I spend with them, I don’t really get homesick while at Rutgers. “
With graduate school applications underway, Lauren’s undergraduate college career is quickly coming to a close. While there is no telling what the future holds for Lauren, the memories she made throughout her time at Rutgers will last a lifetime and she will always be a part of the Scarlet Knight community.
If you are a fellow out of state student, need help in statistics this semester, enjoy running, or if you are just looking to make a friend, make sure to say hello to Lauren when you see her around campus.