As part of the Division of Student Affairs’ initiative for Diversity and Inclusion, we at I Am Rutgers have started the #RUIDProject to highlight the many diverse identities, experiences, and reflections of the Rutgers student body. Students featured in this project share how they choose to identify themselves and how Rutgers either helps them express their identity or has helped shape their identity. If you would like to be featured in this project, share a picture of yourself and how you choose to identify using the hashtag #RUIDProject on Instagram or contact us via email.
Photography by Pat Nadolski
People are often confused when I say I’m a Finance major but also a dancer, or that I’m passionate about marketing but also want to manage a coffee shop one day. Wait, my current job is all about data analytics, but I also run the Twitter account for a startup? There’s no concise way to describe all of my interests or involvements — but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Coming to Rutgers, I thought I would spend these four years studying and being on a dance team – which is what I had done my whole life. But then I was selected to be an Assistant Director on RUPA (the Rutgers University Programming Association), where I learned to love social media marketing and creating experiences for students. My experience on RUPA led me to jobs in event-planning and data analytics, where I learned to love corporate communications. At this point, I decided to double major in Communication and Finance. The more involved with Rutgers I got, the more I appreciated coffee. I then started creating a plan to one day manage the business operations of a coffee shop. Then suddenly, I was chosen to be the Creative Director of a dance company. I was confused. Why me? Because you lead with compassion, I was told by the other dancers in the company.
During the first few weeks of my senior year, I took a step back to think about how all of this happened. How did my interests diversify so much, and how was it possible to achieve all of these things? It definitely wasn’t easy – I worked my hardest day in and day out. And I still have a lot more to accomplish. But where did all of this come from?
It came from the unique culture at Rutgers. This university welcomes differences, embracing the variety of experiences that students wish to have here. Rutgers allows us to have two completely different majors, take on jobs that may or may not have to do with what we are studying, get involved on campus, create experiences, value the importance of leaving someone with a smile, and lead our lives with passion.
Getting involved on campus led to all of my accomplishments thus far. I’ve learned to keep my head in the clouds but my feet on the ground. Ever since I was accepted into RUPA at the end of my first year at Rutgers, I’ve lived my life by the words of Tracee Ellis Ross: “I am learning every day to let the space between where I am and where I want to be to inspire me and not terrify me.” Rutgers and all of the wonderful people I have met here have allowed me to feel inspired by my own journey towards success.