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.
This past year Student Affairs introduced the Knights’ Call, which emphasized the traits that put Scarlet Knights in a position to be the leaders of the future. When I first heard the Knights’ Call, it really resonated with me and inspired me to reach for even greater heights. Thus, I’ve centered my #RUIDProject around those principles that run deep through myself and Rutgers:
I am Authentic
It seems to me that for as long as I can remember I knew that I was going to attend Rutgers University. The decision was natural because I knew that I was meant to be a Scarlet Knight. Rutgers was the first and only school that I visited as a senior in high school. I grew up in Old Bridge, NJ, a suburban town about 20 min away from New Brunswick, that helped shape the person I am today. Some of my best friends are my buddies who lived down the street – the same kids who were knocking on my door every Saturday morning to play football in the backyard and the same kids that were in kindergarten, middle school, and high school classes with me. The essence of who I am as a person can be traced back to my roots in Old Bridge. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I love to talk and am very open to other people, but I am also very grounded in my principles and beliefs. I recognize that as I learn and grow, my views may change, but no matter what happens, I will never compromise my morals or who I am.
I am Inclusive
My hometown, much like Rutgers, is a large and diverse community with people of various backgrounds and beliefs. Diversity is what makes my town, our school, and the world beautiful. I consider myself blessed to have had the opportunity to meet so many amazing, influential people throughout my life. The multitude of views and opinions that I’ve come across here at Rutgers have allowed me to expand my horizons and grow. I have learned to honor other’s opinions without shutting them down, even if I disagree. People often joked that since we live so close, the students who go to Rutgers from my town (and there are a lot of them) never actually leave home. This is may or may not be true; all I know is that the second I set foot on campus, Rutgers felt like my new home.
I am Responsible
As a senior, I look back fondly on all of the memories and experiences I’ve shared in my time here. The people I’ve met have inspired me to be the best version of myself and to reach for greatness. I came in as a nervous freshman and have transformed into a confident senior. College is supposed to be the time for us to learn about ourselves, and I am happy to say that I discovered myself during my time at Rutgers. I learned that I will always be honest and true in all my actions, but I also learned what it means to be a true leader. Through my leadership, I feel I have a responsibility to make every connection at Rutgers matter.
I am Engaged
During my sophomore year, I decided to make a significant lifestyle change and embrace a vegan diet. I felt as if it was necessary decision to make for my health, the animals, and the environment. Needless to say, making such a drastic change is never easy, especially when you are doing it alone. Thankfully, I discovered the Rutgers Veg Society, a community of vegetarians and vegans on campus. They helped me adjust to a new diet, while also adapting to my new identity: “the vegan”. Now I openly embrace this label and have no hesitation to talk about it, but there was a time when I was more reluctant. My experiences in student government have also allowed me to connect to the community. I was elected to the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) my junior year and it was the best thing that had ever happened to me. In student government, we have worked to raise the student voice and improve life on campus for everyone. I’ve also made some amazing friends along the way. My experiences in RUSA have brought me closer to the Rutgers community, but have also allowed me to develop myself. I am so grateful for my time in RUSA, SEBS Governing Council (SGC), and University Senate, and I will continue to work to improve Rutgers for everyone.
I am Resilient
College can be a difficult time for a lot of people. From classwork to extra curriculars to relationships. It certainly wasn’t easy for me to navigate the craziness of newfound adulthood. It took time to find my way. Through the good and bad times, Rutgers has made me a better person because of the connections I have made. I believe that every interaction I have – regardless of who it is with – is an opportunity to for me to learn and grow. All the amazing students, faculty, professors, and everyone involved have had an enormous impact on me that I cannot emphasize enough. The communities I have gotten involved with such as Student Assembly and the vegan community have encouraged me to get up and accomplish my goals, even when I am down.
I am so thankful for everything Rutgers has done for me. For the first time in my life I truly feel as if I have purpose and direction. I am and always will be a proud Scarlet Knight. I am Rutgers.
Dan Chulak is graduating in May 2018. He wants to continue his vegan lifestyle and make decisions that will benefit the environment. Until then, he will continue to work to improve Rutgers for everyone with RUSA, SEBS Governing Council, and University Senate.