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Biology Major Explores Artistic Side for Senior Year

At the Paul Robeson Art Gallery, Maureen Maximos sat for hours, facing an empty chair across from her. She silently invited anyone within sight to occupy the other chair. Men and women of various ages, races, and backgrounds accepted her invitation, and they sat and stared, searching for a connection through each other’s eyes. This was Maximos’ capstone project, a recreation of performance artist Marina Abramovic’s exhibit, The Artist is Present.

Her goal was to immerse herself in the diversity of Rutgers University-Newark, and see if it was possible to learn about people and form a genuine connection without words.

For Maximos, this was not just a capstone project, but the capstone of her experience with diversity throughout her four-year journey at RU-N.

“I’ve always had a tendency to shy towards people who are similar to me ethnically, and having been exposed to so many different people, I now realize it’s nice to be exposed to other cultures,” she admitted.

Hailing from the small town of Bayonne, N.J., and an even smaller, fairly homogeneous, Catholic girls’ high school, Maximos had never been particularly inclined to seek out new experiences. This mentality is what led her to not only explore cultural diversity, but educational diversity, when the biology major took a moment to step away from the beakers and follow an artistic path for her senior year.

As a student at the Newark College of Arts and Sciences and the Honors College, she knew that she already had a strong science background and wanted to experience a more comprehensive education, which led to Maximos’ project, Present at Rutgers-Newark.

After overcoming the fear and hesitation of branching out, Maximos now has her sights set on new challenges after graduation. She is currently deciding between attending Boston University or Virginia Commonwealth University, driven by her desire to become a dentist and eventually start her own practice.