Deondre Smalls is a fourth year student at Rutgers University, from Camden. He is majoring in Journalism and Media Studies, and minoring in Entrepreneurship.
He was the president of the National Association of Black Journalists on campus last year and is currently the president of his fraternity, Iota Phi Theta. He likes to dabble into various things for R Vision network, the sports media outlet on campus.
At R Vision, Deondre gets to work with various cameras, direct game segments, run cables, and highlight various players by either recording segments or being in them.
For the past two summers Deondre has participated in the department of New Student Orientation at Rutgers University. In his second year he worked as an orientation team leader where he oversaw about 10 orientation leaders. His responsibility was to evaluate the current OLs to help them enhance not only themselves but also how they are on the job. Deondre was also given the opportunity to design a new segment of the orientation program called, “Financial Lit-ivity.” It helped new students learn about credit, budgeting, and credit card expenses. It took students through a trivia game show while learning the basics of healthy financial living.
“My biggest challenge has definitely been taking on a supervising role so early as an orientation team leader. Although it was one of my most fulfilling accomplishments, I really felt like it was a job in which I really had to work on and I had to really know myself and understand myself before I could understand and help others.”
Deondre learned how to constructively evaluate fellow orientation leaders by understanding himself and his actions first. He analyzes his own mistakes and determines if he is in the right place to evaluate someone. Giving constructive feedback is one of the elements Deondre prioritizes in his job. He wants to be a good leader within his fellow OLs to ensure that first year students have a great experience while preparing for college.
“If you have passion you can put that energy into a lot of things. Let’s say there’s something I’m not really good at, but I want to be good at it. I feel that the fact that I have a passion for it, it’ll allow me to do well at it because I am determined to excel.”
Deondre is passionate about people who are less fortunate and considers himself to be one of them. Coming from a community that lacks resources and ability to grow, gives Deondre appreciation for what he has learned and experienced at Rutgers.
“Arriving at Rutgers opened my eyes to the possibilities not only to my city but other cities and communities that are struggling. Looking at the community that Rutgers has, New Brunswick, and Piscataway. There’s a lot of continuity in this community. Something I would like to bring to Camden.”
Deondre is inspired by actions, especially the ones that go unnoticed.
“I’m inspired by the people who give to the homeless when no one is watching. My father is that kind of person. Whenever we go out with other family members or even his friends, he’s always offering to lend a helping hand. I try to be that person that gives with no reward in mind.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer is the pivotal place that impacted Deondre’s future. Only 40 selected students in the surrounding areas were given the opportunity to intern in this big newspaper company. Out of all of the interns, Deondre was not only the minority male but also the only one from a city such as Camden. Deondre put a lot of passion into this opportunity and ended up being one of the top three interns in the company and was awarded a $500 scholarship.
“That kind of opened my eyes to really working hard and being dedicated and going the extra mile in everything you do. It’s not the job that makes the person, it’s the person that makes the job. Continue to put the passion and the work.”
Because of Deondre’s experience, he’s had the opportunity to intern with CNN for Fall 2016. This is by far his greatest achievement. He gets to work in primary production for the New Day Show. He’s never commuted before but is excited about the challenge and recognizes that this opportunity is worth the commute.
Deondre decided to go to Rutgers because of his older brother that attended before he did. He had a couple of schools to choose from that had great journalism programs, but decided to choose Rutgers. His older brother had the opportunity to do a semester abroad on a cruise from August to December. He learned that his and many more opportunities were offered at Rutgers and made his permanent decision. He knew that wherever he went, he would put his all into his academic career.
Deondre’s favorite memory at Rutgers was Rutgers Day 2015 on Cook/Douglass campus. Every year while his brother was an undergraduate student, he hosted his family on Rutgers Day. After his brother graduated, Deondre was able to host his family. They spent the day walking around the field and sat down while Deondre got food for them. They were together as a family and it was a time when he could say it was his college.
There are more things on Deondre’s Rucket List. He plans to dance longer at dance marathon, participate in the color run, go to as many football games possible, and more.
“I know that real life is coming. It’s like I’m running and I’m looking back and I see a big wave. I’m preparing for the wave to hit. I got my boogie board ready and ready to jump up and ride that wave.”
After graduation, Deondre hopes to work in ESPN on the production side. He would like to produce a sports show one day. In about five years, he sees himself settling down in his career and his family, especially getting a big
a yard for his dog, Mason. He definitely plans to own a business in ten years.