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.
A Love Letter to Rutgers:
My whole life I always felt uncomfortable in my skin. However, it wasn’t just my body that was the issue, it was the place. I often considered the idea that my placement in this world was a mistake because I felt I simply did not fit in where I was put.
I grew up on Long Island, New York. I had an extremely privileged childhood, living in a well-off town with the most incredible, loving family. But something was always wrong. I had a knack for receiving unwanted, negative attention. The first time I realized this would be a detrimental problem in my life was when I was thirteen years old and assaulted by eight girls that I didn’t know. I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me or why wherever I went, trouble seemed to follow. After having food thrown at me in a cafeteria, having books knocked out of my hands, and getting beaten up again in front of my entire class, I grew to think that school was a necessary evil I’d have to face and I couldn’t wait to be done with it.
That being said, when I went on my first tour of Rutgers, I fell in love instantly. I can’t fully explain the feeling, but it just felt right. Its size didn’t intimidate me; it was one of the things I loved the most. I relished in the idea that there was a place where I could go and maybe be myself, getting lost in a sea of 40,000 other students.
I didn’t know a single person when I came to Rutgers; I was completely on my own. I immediately joined the Rutgers University Programming Association (RUPA). I was a general member my freshman year and became an assistant director my sophomore and junior years. I also became a founding sister of the Phi Mu Phi Nu chapter my freshman year. Today, I am also a videographer on the Student Affairs Media Team. Through all my work at this school, I’ve fallen in love with so many places and people. I have discovered my favorite pizza place, was taught by professors who changed my life, and legitimately met my soul-mates, the people who I know I can never live without.
I found a home here. In this city, with its seemingly dirty streets and broken houses, I find myself happier and more at peace than I have ever been in my entire life. I always joke about how when I get off the train at the New Brunswick stop, I step onto the platform, walk down the pathway to Barnes and Nobles and take a deep breath because the air just smells and tastes better. I stand there for thirty seconds and take it all in. I’m home.
I’m a senior now, and the thought of leaving this place devastates me and terrifies me, but I think it may have done all it can for me. It taught me how to be comfortable in my surroundings. It taught me how to find a moment of happiness in every single day. It taught me that I am a person that is worth something and capable of doing amazing things. It taught me who I was.
I realized that from the lowest points of your life when you are feeling most lost, you can find the most beautiful revelations. These revelations are your clarity and open your eyes to all the beauty and light you could not see in your dark times. I realized that sometimes your life might need to fall apart for it to really come together.
Rutgers, thank you for giving me the world. You are the best choice I ever made.