From Adversity to Purpose: The Resilient Journey of Richie Suarez

Richie Suarez presenting to a group of people in a conference room.

A Rowan University biological sciences major finds his purpose and launches a career as a medical doctor Meet Richie Suarez, the current Chief Resident at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia who will soon start his fellowship in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at Cincinnati Children’s this summer. Richie graduated from Rowan University with a bachelor’s degree […]

Meet Our Researchers: Andra Garner Studies How Climate Change Impacts Natural Hazards [VIDEO]

Three globes.

How One Rowan University Climate Scientist is Shaping the Future of Coastal Cities Meet Andra Garner, a leading climate scientist and assistant professor in Rowan University’s School of Earth & Environment who focuses on investigating the effects of climate change on hurricane patterns and sea-level rise. Have you ever wondered how understanding and mitigating the […]

From Florida to NJ: One Student Athlete Shares Tips for Adjusting to College

Emily stands close to a friend outside on the soccer field.

Emily Casale, a senior advertising major from Tampa, Florida shares some tips to help fellow out-of-state student athletes prepare for college.

A portrait of Emily outdoors, wearing an oversized sweater sticking her hands into her jean pockets.

1. Prepare for emotional and physical discomfort:

  • At some point during your college experience you will feel homesick and that is totally normal. The best piece of advice I can give is to get involved and reach out to people if you need help. It’s important to understand that nobody knows you’re struggling unless you tell them. With being on a team you have a big group of people you can lean on for support and it’s almost like automatic friends. However, I do recommend being open minded to meeting new people outside athletics as well. Saying yes to new things can be exciting and you never know what you might discover by doing so.
  • Being in a new environment can also be scary because you don’t know where anything is. Feel free to explore and ask people! The reason I came to Rowan was not only to play soccer but to be close to family. I am extremely fortunate that I have them here if I need anything at all. But that’s just my situation. You might be going to a school just for athletics and might not know anyone at all and that’s okay. Know that in college, everyone is going through the same thing. 
  • Culture shock is also a real thing. But don’t get discouraged; embrace that people grew up different from you and learn to adapt to the area around you.
  • Injuries may happen but you must trust the process. Use your resources like athletic training and rehabilitation.
Emily looks off to the side, arms crossed across her chest, while wearing a soccer uniform on the soccer field.

2. Prepare for new weather:

  • Being from Florida, the weather was a big change when I decided to go to school up north. Winters are grueling and you should invest in some warm gear if you plan on going to school somewhere with the four seasons.
  • Get adjusted to playing your sport in new weather.
Emily captured in mid-kick of a soccer ball on the soccer field.

3. Prepare for balancing school and sport:

  • Balancing your school assignments and practices can be a lot. Staying ahead of your workload is the most important thing.
  • You will be traveling a lot for games. Working on schoolwork during the trip is a good idea to get assignments done and study for upcoming exams.
  • Make sure you are scheduling your classes around practice time and what works best for you. Giving yourself enough time to get from class to practice is also a good idea that way you aren’t feeling rushed or stressed out.
Emily stands casually while resting a soccer ball on her hip, next to an oversized logo of the Rowan mascot, The Prof Whoo RU.

4. Prepare for out of state cost:

  • Know that when you are going out-of-state you need to consider out-of-state costs, such as traveling home to visit or storage costs for your personal belongings over the summer. 

  • Out of state students also tend to pay higher tuition than in-state students, but there are ways to close the gap through scholarships through your university or your local community. 
  • Always be on the lookout for new scholarships and awards you can earn.
  • If you plan on playing Division I or Division II you have the opportunity to get money for playing your sport. However, if you are playing Division III they do not have any athletic scholarships. The only way you can gain them is through academic scholarship. That is why excelling in the classroom is so important.
  • Take into account the cost of living, groceries, and textbooks.
Emily looks downward as she methodically taps a soccer ball in the air with her foot.

5. Prepare for opportunities:

  • When you go to college out of state you are embarking on such an incredible journey. You learn so much about yourself and you learn to appreciate where you are from. There are many opportunities and experiences that you can make.
  • Specifically going to school in New Jersey, there is so much surrounding Rowan. Philly is 30 minutes away and you are also an hour away from the beach and Atlantic City! New York is also not too far away.
  • Studying abroad is also another opportunity that most schools offer.

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Written by: Emily Casale, senior advertising major

Story edited by: Valentina Giannattasio, junior dance and marketing double major

My Home Away from Home, The United Latino Association

Student clubs and organizations fair.

Julianna Wells, a junior political science major from Oak Ridge, NJ (Passaic/Morris Counties), shares this first-person perspective on how joining the The United Latino Association at Rowan University helped her rewrite her experience and find a home away from home. In addition to her major, Julianna will earn certificates of undergraduate study (known as CUGS) in Spanish, public policy and public relations and the news. 

Julianna poses for a beautiful portrait in front of the owl statue on campus, with her hair curled, wearing a white shirt and blank pants.

For the entirety of my life prior to attending Rowan University, I lived in a predominantly white town. As a Latina, this experience came with its own challenges. I never saw anyone who shared my own culture, my own language, or even looked like me. Needless to say, it was a very sheltering experience. At times, I even experienced harassment due to my own ethnicity. I would receive anonymous messages telling me I would end up selling drugs and mowing lawns in my future. I was even told to go back over the border. Yet, besides the harassment, all I ever wanted was to feel less alone. So many people value having at least some friendships and connections that share the same culture and backgrounds. With that being the thing I craved all those years, I was looking forward to starting my life on a college campus and meeting a whole new world of people. 

United Latino Association board members with Minority Association for Pre-Medical Students board members & Pre-Law Society board members.
Julianna (back row, third from left) with United Latino Association board members and Minority Association for Pre-Medical Students board members & Pre-Law Society board members.

Once I finally left my hometown and came to the Rowan University campus, I was determined to rewrite my experience. It was at the student organization fair where I met my home. The United Latino Association caught my eye as it was the only Latine organization I saw as I combed through the rows of tables. I wrote my name and email on their sign-up sheet immediately. From there, I attended a handful of events and made the decision to run for their electoral board.

Julianna and a friend look at each other candidly in the Student Center with lights behind them.

As a result, I was the new treasurer for the last academic year and couldn’t have been more grateful for that opportunity. Throughout the year, the friends I made in this organization were no longer just friends, but family. From meeting those who share the same cultural background, to learning how to dance to Latin music better, to even bettering my own second language, my life on campus and in general had been forever changed. Due to how sheltered I felt in high school, I didn’t have too many friends but this was no longer the case at ULA. For every event I attended, I felt l a bit closer to home. 

Julianna stands with a friend in front of the iconic owl statue on campus, with yellow balloons by her side and a classic "first day of school" blackboard with chalkboard for the date September 5, 2023.

What’s more is that with being on the board, I was able to help this organization grow and prosper, myself included. I saw our family go from just 30 members to around 160 members. I think my favorite memory with all of the members was when we all came together for a dance night to learn salsa, bachata, cumbia, and other dances that people wanted to share. I have loved my time being a part of this organization and board so much that I decided to run for president for the upcoming academic year, and I won! The shy, alone Latina I once was prior to university was now a figment of my imagination. It has been practically mind-boggling to reflect on the difference between my experience from high school to my experience at Rowan University all because I was able to join just one organization. Needless to say, ULA has become my home away from home. 

ULA Valentine’s Day Speed Friending Event.
ULA at last Valentine’s Day speed friending event.

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Written by: Julianna Wells, junior political science major

Story edited by: Valentina Giannattasio, junior dance and marketing double major

Community College to a 4 Year University

Three students walking around Rowan College of South Jersey campus.

Kaleigh Bonitatibus, a senior communication studies major from Washington Township (Gloucester County) shares this first-person perspective on their experience transitioning from Rowan College of South Jersey to Rowan University.

Graduating in 2020 at the peak of the pandemic not only ruined the best part of my senior year but also affected my college decision. I dreamed of going away for all four years to live the “college experience.” However, due to the persistent stay-at-home mandate, I knew it was pointless to leave the state for school if my first year was bound to be all on Zoom anyway. I put away my fantasy of going to a university and decide to begin my higher education at the community college RCSJ. It was more affordable and realistic during the pandemic. However, I always knew that I wanted to transfer to a four-year university to pursue my bachelor’s degree. Rowan University was affordable, close to home, and the easiest to transfer credits to because RCSJ is affiliated with Rowan.

Two students sitting outside the Rowan College of South Jersey entrance.

Transitioning from a community college to a university can be challenging. I was nervous about entering a larger campus, navigating my way to different classes, and meeting new people. Nonetheless, my time at Rowan University has been very successful.

One of the things that helped me with my transition was attending Rowan’s Transfer Student Orientation. It provided me with all the information I needed to know about the university. This especially eased my anxiety about getting around campus and the location of all the different academic buildings.

Another thing that helped me adjust to university was my proximity to campus. Rowan is only a 15 minute drive from my home, so I commute to campus. However, being so close to home means a lot of my high school friends attend Rowan. My friend Spencer, who I went to all of grade school and high school with, also attends Rowan and lives in an off-campus home. Spencer has been a big part of me meeting new people at school because he invited me to several social events where I was able to meet so many more people and even gain some valuable friendships. Joining clubs has also eased my adjustment to Rowan. Currently, I am on the Commission of Community Standards. Being a part of this commission allows me to solve issues that clubs are having and help them grow.

Two students talking in front of a Rowan College of South Jersey flag.

Academically, the transition was challenging but manageable. The courses at Rowan are more rigorous than those at RCSJ, but as I have always prioritized my education I found that I was able to keep up with the workload. Most of my courses at RCSJ were online, and adjusting to in-person classes was slightly taxing since I had to further manage and adjust my work schedule so it could fit in with classes.

Overall, my experience transitioning from RCSJ to Rowan University a was positive one. If you’re considering transferring to a four-year university, my advice would be to attend transfer orientation, get involved on campus, and utilize the resources available to you. It can be anxiety-filling at first, but eventually, it will be worth it and you’ll enjoy your experience at Rowan.

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Written by Kaleigh Bonitatibus, a communication studies major

Story edited by Valentina Giannattasio, a rising junior dance and marketing double major

Finding My Home Away from Home at Rowan University Through the Student Organization Fair

Students walking around the Rowan clubs fair event featuring different clubs and organizations on campus.

Nicholas Wright, a junior health science communication and communication studies double major, from Gloucester County, NJ shares this first-person perspective on how he found a home away from home on Rowan campus.

As a freshman at Rowan University, I was nervous about the transition from high school to college. I had heard stories from friends and family members about how difficult it can be to adjust to a new environment, but I was determined to make the most of my college experience.

One of my biggest concerns was finding my place on campus. I wanted to get involved in activities and clubs, but I didn’t know where to start. Luckily, during my first week at Rowan, I stumbled upon the student activities fair.

The student activities fair is an event where all the clubs and organizations on campus set up tables to showcase their group and recruit new members. I was amazed at the variety of groups available, from academic clubs to sports teams to service organizations. As I walked around the fair, I was struck by the passion and enthusiasm of the students involved in each group.

A Rowan student walking around the Student Activities fair event featuring different clubs and organizations.

After talking to a few club representatives, I decided to join the International Student Association. As an international student myself, I was excited to meet other students who shared my background and interests. Joining the club was one of the best decisions I made during my freshman year. I was able to make friends, learn about different cultures, and participate in fun events and activities throughout the year.

In addition to the International Student Association, I also joined the Rowan Ambassadors program. The Rowan Ambassadors serve as official hosts and representatives of the university at events such as open houses and campus tours. Through the program, I was able to develop my leadership skills, meet other students who were passionate about representing Rowan, and gain valuable experience in event planning and public speaking.

Aside from the clubs and activities, I also found a sense of community through my professors and academic advisors. Whenever I needed guidance or support, they were always there to offer their expertise and advice. They helped me navigate the transition to college and provided me with the resources and support I needed to succeed in my classes.

Looking back on my freshman year, I am grateful for the opportunities and experiences that Rowan University has provided me with. From joining clubs to building relationships with professors, I have found a home away from home on this campus. If you’re a future college student or parent, I encourage you to explore all that Rowan has to offer. It may seem daunting at first, but with an open mind and a willingness to try new things, you can find your place on this campus too.

Read this story for another perspective of the student organization fair from upperclassmen involved on campus. 

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Written by: Nicholas Wright, junior health science communication and communication studies double major

Story edited by: Valentina Giannattasio, junior dance and marketing double major

My First Day At Rowan University, Move In

Magnolia Hall during the fall with blooming trees.

Lucy Marks, a sophomore public relations major from Voorhees, NJ (Camden County) shares this first-person perspective on their move-in day as a first-year student last year. Welcome back, Profs, we hope you’re kicking off the year great!

Before I got myself settled at Rowan, I had been nothing but excited for months. From the moment I got my acceptance letter to the second I made the commitment deposit, I only had enthusiasm for the future. It was not until the night before my move in day where I found myself afraid of the unknown. The realization hit that I would be closing off an amazing year and taking a step toward unfamiliar things and more responsibilities. The fear that I would be starting the path to being on my own terrified me.

The morning of, there was no worry on my mind since I was too focused on instructing my brother and dad of where I wanted each of my duffle bags. I had six heavily packed bags that included all of my clothing and necessities. Everything was organized and labeled because I did not want to add another thing on the list of things that were stressing me out. Once everything was packed, My parents and brother made our way to campus in separate cars.

Rowan students moving their stuff during the move in day.

Parking was simple; we were instructed to empty the car while I went ahead and received the key. Getting settled was the difficult part because everything had to be dragged up three flights of stairs in ninety degree weather and I had to decide where everything should go. At that moment I had not been feeling anything besides, hot, sweaty, and out of breath. Once everything finally made its way in the dorm room that seemed so far away and unfamiliar, my parents helped me organize. Fortunately one of my good friends was also going to Rowan so she came and helped as well. It made me feel less alone and stable. All of the decoration and organization was fun in the way where it was the time of personalization and brought some comfort. However, the feeling that had been eating at me was the suspense of when my parents would leave.

Residential hall dorm with  blue decorations and 2 beds.

It was not until they stood in front of me as I sat on my bed looking at them inch closer to the door when everything I was holding in came to the surface. The knowledge that they were going to leave me alone in a new place felt surreal. I had never imagined I would have to face the feelings of being left behind.
Basically, it came out of nowhere and so did my tears. I felt so strange when they were gone. I did not know what to do with myself and kept asking myself what was supposed to happen. The day was excruciatingly long and ended with my floormates and I talking about the weird feeling we had while sitting in that hot lounge alone; just us. The most common description of this feeling was that it was like being dropped off at summer camp, except your parents were not coming back and there were no adults
telling you what to do. I never thought that feeling would go away. September felt like it was three months long and the rest flew by. I just finished my first year at Rowan University and this once unfamiliar place now feels like my home.

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Studying Abroad in Colombia as a First-Generation and Transfer Student

A street sign with many different countries on it.

Bonnie Williams, a senior international studies major from Downe Township, NJ (Cumberland County) shares her personal experience with us about the study abroad program she is participating in.

As a first-generation, transfer student, Bonnie is proud that she is about to be the first Williams (of her direct family) to receive her bachelor’s degree, and possibly continue her education to aim for a graduate degree. She shares that her family has seen how hard she works for school and they’ve never underestimated her efforts. Although she occasionally has feelings of guilt because she recognizes that her parents didn’t have the opportunity to earn a college degree, she knows that they work hard to support her and that they are beyond proud of her. 

Bonnie standing in front of a brick wall (James Hall).

This semester, Bonnie is studying abroad in Colombia, with the goal of gaining volunteering and service experience. She’s looking forward to learning more about the culture and environment of Barranquilla, Colombia, specifically its people, music, food, everyday life, and the university- “Universidad del Norte”. After spending a few weeks there she is already in love with Colombia’s culture. Bonnie stated that “being there feels like living a different life than [she] could ever have imagined for [herself], and that it has made [her] feel an array of emotions, from excitement, scared, homesick, but most of all it has felt like a nonstop adventure that [she] is thoroughly enjoying.”

Bonnie’s long-term professional dream goal is to become a professor in Spain and/or Latin America. She has always admired other countries, their cultures, and their people. Bonnie mentioned that her main inspiration for pursuing an international studies degree was because of a cultural geography course she took at Camden County College, where she analyzed various countries, cultures, traditions, religions, etc. Bonnie said that this course “opened [her] eyes to the varieties of the world’s different cultures and sparked [her] passion for learning about the world and its many different people”. Bonnie believes that earning her degree at Rowan will allow her to broaden her knowledge of the world’s people by studying different countries, cultures, etc. She supports the idea that her degree “will open the door to expanding [her] degree or starting [her] professional journey right after graduation.”

Bonnie holding two flags in her hands (Dominican Republic and Colombia).

Bonnie is proud of her courage and the experience she has gained so far. If Bonnie has one piece of advice for transfer students, it’s “if you’re interested in studying abroad, do it! Apply for scholarships, grants, and believe in yourself! All of your hard work will pay off, and you will find answers to yourself that you never even knew you had when you put yourself out there and challenge yourself to live in another part of the world.” 

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Written by: Valentina Giannattasio, junior dance and marketing double major

Meet #Rowan2027 First Year Students

A student riding a skateboard outside Holly Point.

With Rowan celebrating its centennial year, we hear from several incoming first year students who share their stories, interests, and goals for their upcoming years at Rowan University.

Students are eager to step foot on Rowan’s campus and are looking forward to meeting new friends, all while making memories that will last a lifetime. They can’t wait to be more independent and start a new path toward their future goals, and gain new experiences throughout their college years. Most freshmen anxiously await networking in college and being introduced to people in their field of study that may provide them with new opportunities down the road. For most of them, college means a change in scenery that provides a better environment to help them succeed academically. One of the most exciting things about college is that students can dedicate their time to learning about something they are truly passionate about, while also having the opportunity to get involved in clubs, sports, and other events that Rowan offers.

Four friends with purple and pink paint on their bodies hugging eachother.

Committing to college is not an easy task, and a big decision for most. Some incoming freshmen stated that they choose Rowan because it has a beautiful and colorful campus that provides a welcoming atmosphere. As one student mentioned, “Everyone I met seems to genuinely care about your future success as a person.” Rowan also offers a diverse and friendly environment for all of its students and faculty. Students have also pointed out that even though Rowan is a large school with lots of options, it’s very personal, with small class sizes and committed faculty and staff. Not only that but Rowan’s broad offerings of activities, clubs, sports, events, etc were also aspects that encouraged incoming freshmen to commit to Rowan.

Three friends woth a laptop looking at each other and smiling.

Getting involved around campus is a huge part of the college experience many students look for. Many freshman students are excited to join different sports such as swimming, softball, volleyball, weight lifting, track, football, and basketball, among many other teams. Others are looking forward to joining a wide range of clubs, like the marching band, gaming, art, business clubs, etc. 

A group of friends playing soccer.

Some advice that Fall 2023 incoming students would give to high school seniors:

  • “Choose wisely and follow your heart.” (Fran Lacap)
  • “Do not give up yet. We didn’t come all this way from kindergarten to senior just to drop out, we are almost there. Have patience.” (Adjoa)
  • “Make sure to decide on a college that you can see yourself at and has potential for your career.” (Emily Andryca)
  • “Do research before deciding where you want to go, your top schools may change.” (Aidyn C)
  • “Go where you feel most comfortable, and even if you think you make the wrong choice, you still have the time to fix it.” (Jordan Violante)
  • “Follow your heart, not the trend, not figures.” (Chimnecherem Obiadazie)
  • “Write out a pros and cons list. This really helped me ultimately decide what is the best choice for me!” (Hailey Sacco)

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Written by: Valentina Giannattasio, junior dance and marketing double major

Discovering My Passion: Taking A New Class Changed My College Experience

Two students playing the piano.

Alaina Lieze, a junior music and advertising double major from Swedesboro, NJ (Gloucester County) shares this first-person perspective on how joining Rowan Choir helped her rediscover her passion for music, improve her academic performance and feel a sense of belonging on campus.

As a freshman transfer student at Rowan University, I was initially unsure about how to get involved on campus. With so many clubs and activities available, I felt overwhelmed and didn’t know where to start. However, I decided to take a chance and join the music program. Rowan Concert Choir is open to all majors and is a one-credit course that helps to satisfy the Rowan Core educational requirements for artistic literacy. Many students choose to take Concert Choir three times, so that they earn three credits to finish the Rowan Core requirement – and without any textbooks or tests!

Although I was nervous about auditioning for the choir, I was quickly put at ease by the welcoming and supportive members. Through my participation in the Rowan Choirs, I rediscovered my love for making music. I had enjoyed singing in various choirs in the past, but this experience was different. The choir explored various genres of music and performed pieces with social justice themes, such as songs related to The Black Lives Matter Movement and African American spirituals. Singing with this group allowed me to see the world in a new way, and I was grateful to have found a community of people who shared my passion.

The Rowan University Concert Choir and University Chorus rehearsing in Pfleeger Concert Hall.

Joining the choir also helped me feel a sense of belonging on campus. As a commuter student, it was easy to feel disconnected from the university community. It was also difficult to join a college community a semester late as a transfer student. However, being a part of the Concert Choir gave me a reason to come to campus on weekends and meet new people.

But, the benefits of joining a new ensemble didn’t stop there. As I became more involved in the choir, I noticed improvements in my academic performance. I was more motivated to attend class and complete assignments because I had something to look forward to outside of my coursework.

Pictured: The Rowan University Concert Choir Singing in their final performance of the spring 2023 semester.

Looking back on my college experience so far, joining the Rowan Concert Choir was one of the best decisions I ever made. It allowed me to discover my passion, make meaningful connections, and develop important skills that will serve me well in my future career.

If you’re a current or future college student, I encourage you to take a chance and join a club or activity that interests you. It could be photography, dance, politics, or anything in between. College is the perfect time to explore your interests and find your passion, and joining a club is a great way to start.

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Written by: Alaina Lieze, junior music and advertising double major

Story edited by: Valentina Giannattasio, junior dance and marketing double major

Compassion Outside the Classroom

Dramatic sunrise at Rowan University.

Starr Barker, a rising advertising major from Vineland, NJ (Cumberland County) shares this deeply personal first-person perspective on how a Rowan professor went above and beyond to help her face a challenging time in her life. Due to the subject matter, the editors have chosen to include campus photos instead of people photos in this story. 

A glimpse of Bunce's tower through flowers in bloom.

I transferred to Rowan University last spring. Transferring comes with many challenges, like making new friends, figuring out the campus layout, and connecting with professors. People face many challenges when coming to a new university, and I have had my share of them. Facing these challenges can become overwhelming, and suffocating, and can make you feel isolated. I was lucky enough to have a professor with who I connected with who helped me through the most challenging time of my life.

This semester for me was already challenging enough between six courses, commuting to campus, and changing my major. During the middle of the semester my life took a turn for the worse.

My stepmother was diagnosed with kidney cancer and everything changed.

I had to take on a new role in my household, helping my stepmother and father in any way that I could. This meant going to hospital visits, running errands, taking care of the home, and taking care of the pets. While all this was happening around me, I still had the responsibility of attending my classes and getting all of my work done. During this time I connected with one of my professors. She understood how hard things were becoming at home and in school. My professor understood the seriousness of my situation and understood that some things are more important than attending a lecture. I was able to communicate with her and not feel so isolated in my situation.

Purple flowers in bloom on campus.

Toward the end of March, only weeks after my stepmom’s diagnosis, my stepmother passed away from her cancer. I took a week off from school to try to come to terms with my new life without her. When I came back to classes, that same professor knew by looking at me that I was not okay. Because of the bond we had created during this hard time, I was able to talk to her about my personal life even more. I was able to open up to her and even literally cry in her arms, and she shed tears too. We shared our experiences with situations like these with each other and I found not only one of my favorite professors, but a new friend. Because of her, I didn’t feel so alone. I didn’t feel like the world around me was closing in so much. I was able to talk about my experience and feelings with ease. I am lucky to have a professor like her, one who cares about her students and shows it. 

Through this experience I learned so much about myself, the people around me, what it
means to listen, and how you can be there for someone in any way possible. I learned that
some professors are here for more than just giving us lectures and homework; some actually
care and are here to help us outside of the classroom. I was lucky enough to be placed in her
class and find a professor that goes above and beyond for her students. My professor didn’t
have to reach out, but I’m thankful she did.

Editor note: Our hearts go out to the Barker family. Please know that the Wellness Center is available for Rowan students in need of counseling, which includes grief counseling. Rest in peace, Mrs. Barker. 

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Written by: Starr Barker, rising senior advertising major
Story edited by: Valentina Giannattasio, rising junior dance and marketing double major

The Life of a Full-Time Student Army National Guard Service Member

Three military students walking and talking outside the Business Hall.

Nicholas Wright, a rising junior advertising major from Mercer County, NJ shares this first-person perspective on his life as a full-time student who is in the Army National Guard.

My name is Nicholas Wright and I am a full time student here at Rowan University. While being a full time student I am also In the Army National Guard. While balancing both can be hard at times you quickly learn to balance your workload and make time for yourself as well. I have been in the National Guard for three years now and as soon as I got done training I enrolled into Rowan.

This transition was easy and probably the best thing I have ever done. I have saved so much money with the Tuition Aid Grant, which is a grant all National Guard service members get here at Rowan for 100% free tuition. This has saved me so much money and the Military Services office here makes everything so much easier. Although I do have to leave from time to time to do my National Guard duties, my professors are very understanding and support my work.

Two military students sitting outside the Business hall talking to each other.

My typical drill week while being a full time student consists of 4 days of class and typically 3-4 drill days. During class days they are both online and in person. In between classes I like to go to the gym, hang out with my friends, and get on top of my studies.

Drill weeks are usually once a month and one of my busier weeks because I like to try and get ahead of my work and finish before I leave for drill. If I can’t get my work done during these weeks my professors are always understanding and give me time to make up assignments when I come back. A drill weekend starts on a Thursday or Friday depending on the month. The day before is prep day. Prep day consists of gear layout, packing, looking at the timeline for the weekend and re-checking my packing. The day of drill is a 3 am wake up, breakfast, a Wawa stop, and about an hour drive to our armory for first formation. From there we will get our gear and weapons and get transported over to Fort Dix. There we do anything from team, squad, or company training. This training can be learning new weapon systems, battle drills and tactics, or going to the range for target practice. I have been a 240 gunner on our plattoons weapon squad for all three years and I love it. I am in the infantry and I have had the opportunity to work with medics, combat engineers, and other MOS’s in our military.

Two military students walking outside with their black backpacks.

Being in the military wasn’t my first choice but it is by far my best. I couldn’t imagine where I would be if I hadn’t gone this route. Not only am I getting my degree for free, going to school close to home, and learning new traits, I have also made so many connections to help set up my future for my dream occupation. I honestly recommend this route for anyone who either doesn’t know what they want to do after college or wants to get a head start on their future.

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Written by: Nicholas Wright, a rising junior advertising major
Story edited by: Valentina Giannattasio, junior dance and marketing double major

Student Athlete Shares Advice on Balance and Planning

Stock image of close up of a runner's feet and hands on the track ready to run.

Marquise Young, a rising senior advertising major from Camden, NJ (Camden County) shares some tips about being a student athlete.

For about 90% of my life I’ve been in school in some kind of way and playing some kind of sports whether it’s for my school or for a club team. I’ve also been told since I was young that “you are a student-athlete” basically meaning that school comes first and my sports secondary, which makes sense because sports don’t last forever and there is a higher chance that a person will get a job for what they are studying in college compared to the low percentage of people that make it to the pro level. But in reality being a student athlete isn’t easy, especially in college! Being a student athlete in college is a big task. You have no choice but to make sure you maintain school and the sport that you are playing … It’s what you signed up for.

To use myself as an example I’ve played a lot of sports growing up from basketball, football, wrestling and track and field. But the sport that I decided to pursue at the college level is track and field. A lot of people may look at track and field and think or assume that it’s not hard or not a lot to have on your plate but in reality as a full time student it can be a lot to handle at times, but me being an experienced student athlete I’m going to give some tips on how I balance being a student athlete and student.

Image of Marquise Young running the 110 hurdles.
Marquise finishes his jump (pink sneakers).

As a student athlete, balancing my academic responsibilities with my athletic commitments can be a difficult task to juggle. However with the right mindset, dedication and approach I’ve been able to manage both for about 5 years now.

First and foremost, time management is key. I’ve learned so many different ways to manage my time throughout different experiences. What I do is try to do my homework weeks ahead of time, which gives me a lot of breathing space for me to either relax or prepare for track practice or even take care of my body by going to the trainers. I also try to visualize my schedule and the amount of time I have to do things which allows me to prepare for the week.

Communication is another important aspect of balancing my roles as a student athlete. I communicate regularly with my coaches and professors to ensure that I am meeting all of my obligations and not falling behind in either area. If I know that I will be missing a class or need to turn in an assignment late due to a track meet or practice, I make sure to let my professor know ahead of time and make arrangements to catch up on any missed work, and to let them know I’m going to be away for a track meet.

Group of students running.

In addition to managing my time and communicating effectively, I prioritize self-care. Being a student athlete can be physically and mentally demanding, so it’s important to take care of myself both on and off the track. This means getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and taking breaks when needed. I also try to find a support system, whether it’s friends, family, or my coach to help manage the stress that comes with being a student athlete.

Lastly, I try to maintain a positive attitude and stay focused on my goals. It’s easy to get overwhelmed or discouraged when trying to balance so many responsibilities, but I remind myself why I am doing what I am doing. I also tell myself that I know my dad would want me to stick with my sports and education.

In conclusion, being a student athlete requires a lot of dedication and hard work, but with proper time management, communication, self-care, and a positive attitude, it is possible to balance both roles successfully. It takes discipline and perseverance, but the rewards are well worth it.

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Feature image courtesy of StockSnap on Pixabay

Next Stop: Becoming a People Person in a Post-COVID World

An Admissions Ambassador gives an outdoor tour of Rowan Campus to prospective students and their families.

Connor Bicknell, a rising senior communication studies major from Piscataway, NJ (Middlesex County) shares this first-person perspective on how being an admissions ambassador helped him step out of his comfort zone after COVID-19.

Connor Bicknell, in a Rowan sweatshirt, sitting and smiling at the camera.

In March 2020, and for the seemingly blurry amount of time after, the world was in a constant state of suspense, fear, and anxiety. The result of lockdowns on our social cognition was apparent, and it was clear that returning to the level of social activity that we once achieved as young students would take some time to regain. Especially for me.

Being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at birth, my people skills were at a significant disadvantage from the get-go, fluctuating greatly over time. That didn’t help when COVID kept me home for months, especially at a significant time like my high school graduation, where I took my diploma from a latex-gloved hand into the passenger seat of my mom’s car. From there, I was now supposed to go to college? Go from living at home for months on end to living on my own in a welcoming but yet still unfamiliar environment? This would be a challenge. However, during the unique experience that was my freshman year, I would see campus tours throughout the day, and after enough times of seeing this, the idea sparked. I was going to take charge of my social anxiety and push it further than it has ever gone. I was going to be an admissions ambassador. I was going to lead campus tours for interested students.

An Admissions Ambassador prospective students and their families outside Rowan University Welcome Center.

By the end of that year, I had successfully interviewed and been hired for the job beginning the next semester. After learning the route, the stops, the information, and of course, incorporating my signature corny jokes, I was ready to be a student leader on campus. Being responsible for relaying information as it relates to academic programs, recreational activities, student life, and more was a pretty daunting task at first, but now, nearly two years later, I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. I find it almost freeing, in a sense. While I was nervous for the first tour or two, every one after that just got better and better as the information flowed out more naturally. I have enjoyed so much of my time interacting with students and families, who come from all over New Jersey and even the country. And even better, I find that my social anxiety has dwindled.

I am no longer afraid of speaking in public, or showing my more humorous personality to people I am unfamiliar with. I have made many incredible friends and connections working in this program as well, who have all made my Rowan experience infinitely better. The job also brings a lot of unique opportunities, like having the opportunity to work directly with the Office of Admissions and other departments on campus and helping facilitate large events like Open Houses and Accepted Students Day.

Even recently, at our annual Accepted Students Day admissions event, two families approached me and told me that they remembered me giving their tour. That was when it hit me. I have put forth such an impactful and positive effort that I stood out to these families who are in the midst of making one of the biggest decisions of their lives. 

To me, this isn’t just a job on campus. This is a way for me to not only connect with others, but with myself in my own way. It’s like being a friend, business partner, life counselor, and stand-up comedian all at the same time, and it feels just as rewarding as each of those combined. Being an admissions ambassador at Rowan has helped me step out of my comfort zone, and so I hope to reflect that as much as possible in the tours I give, to inspire prospective students to step out of their comfort zones, and inspire them to call Rowan their home. 

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Written by: Connor Bicknell, rising senior communication studies major

Story edited by: Valentina Giannattasio, rising junior dance and marketing double major