As the eighth oldest institution for higher learning in the United States, Rutgers is celebrating its 250th anniversary on November 10, 2016. To celebrate this monumental milestone, I Am Rutgers will be featuring Rutgers’ most involved and accomplished students in a new series, “250 for 250.” This year-long series will serve as a reflection of Rutgers’ diverse student body and status as a premier national research university.
Nadine Azari is one of the six students in charge of the largest student-run events Rutgers hosts annually. As a public health major, Nadine not only holds an influential part in the event, but she has also been a Resident Assistant since her sophomore year. It’s clear that she enjoys helping people and wishes to continue this trend after college.
Nadine is the Director of Family Relations for Dance Marathon. Her job is to have and maintain a relationship with the Embrace Kids Foundation, the very place where all the Marathon money goes. “My job involves going to the hospital, meeting the patient families, making really great connections with them and bringing that back to the DM family and making sure they always see that what we do is important. This is why we do DM.”
She knew she wanted to get involved at Rutgers during New Student Orientation where she first learned about Dance Marathon. She said, “It’s such a big school and for so many students to come together for such a great cause amazes me. So I became a captain my first year and I think I always knew I wanted to do stuff with Embrace Kids and family relations. I knew that was what I was best at. So I was an Assistant Director my sophomore year, and now I am on the Board of Directors.”
I Am Rutgers asked Nadine how DM has impacted her life the most and she immediately went back to talking about the Embrace Kids Foundation. What the foundation does is provide the non-medical costs for kids with cancer and sickle cell disorders. “What I find really beautiful about that is that they are so inclusive.” And on top of providing for all the non-medical things, they provide a shoulder to cry on and an emotional backbone. “I’m really honored to be a part of that. No matter what their disease is, where they are from, Embrace Kids will help anyone,” she said.
It is no surprise that Nadine’s favorite experience thus far at Rutgers has been Dance Marathon, “because it’s all student run and everyone can come together to see all of our hard work. When it’s really late in the event and the students start getting tired but everyone stays standing for the kids, it just shows dedication. It’s amazing that a large part of the student body at Rutgers comes together.”
Although Nadine credits the students with the success of the event, it would not be possible without her and the other members of the board. For them, it is a year-long event, involving canning, meetings, and for Nadine, it is all of this plus the constant interactions with all the families impacted by the Marathon.
Being an RA for a first and second year honors residence hall is not only time-consuming, but a commitment to being the main source for students in need. It takes a certain kind of person to be a Resident Assistant, and Nadine is just that. “I genuinely love getting to know people… not just their favorite color, but about their family and where they grew up. And as an RA, I can do that and make meaningful connections to be there for someone.” Since her first year at Rutgers, she knew she wanted to become an RA and knew she would excel in this position. “I enjoy helping people get to where they need to be, whether that be as a person or student. I feel like being an RA is exactly that. I like helping them to that point.”
Nadine has a packed schedule, balancing Dance Marathon and Resident Assistant meetings throughout the week, along with a full class schedule. She makes sure to manage her time well with an elaborate planner and calendar. “I plan out what I should be doing at every point of the day. Sometimes I don’t follow it, but usually I do and that keeps me on track. I’m also a ‘to-do’ list kind of girl. I love having a list of everything that has to get done and being able to cross it off when I complete it.” But on top of all those things, Nadine makes sure to schedule in time for herself. “I think ‘me time’ is really important so I make sure to add that into my schedule no matter how busy I am.”
As a senior, she is getting ready to graduate and leave her Dance Marathon and RA days behind. Nadine plans to go abroad to study public health in a different country before going to graduate school. “I’m really interested in studying HIV/AIDs and doing research on that. After I get my masters, I want to work for a nonprofit, and eventually maybe go to medical school.”
No matter what Nadine is doing post-graduation, one thing for sure is that it will be impactful. She has dedicated her time at Rutgers to helping others, and does not plan to stop as she enters the real world.
If you would like to be a part of Rutgers University Dance Marathon, register to dance at: Embrace Kids