Commencement Profiles 2017
Thousands of amazing individuals earn undergraduate and graduate degrees from Rutgers University-Newark (RU-N) each year. Their individual stories are almost as diverse as RU-N itself; here are a few of them.
Wayne Chen, Rutgers Business School (RBS)
For Wayne Chen, earning an MBA is a way to a new goal: impacting lives for the better. After earning a degree in pharmacy and working for nearly eight years in various aspects of the field, he decided he wanted to broaden his outreach. “As a pharmacist, you touch one person’s life at a time,” Chen explains. “When you work in the industry itself, you can do a lot more, for more people.”
So he entered the RBS MBA in Pharmaceutical Management Program with the goal of fine-tuning his career to have more of an impact on people’s lives. Along the way Chen has distinguished himself academically and as a student leader. He is co-president of the Pharmaceutical Management Club, vice president for education in the Rutgers Association of Marketing and Strategy, a senator in the Student Governing Association, and writes a blog, AskapharmD. The Hoboken man also works part-time in a retail pharmaceutical chain.
These accomplishments are among the reasons, along with an outstanding academic record, that led to Chen being named an RBS Industry Scholar for the pharma program, one of only a handful of students selected for this honor. As a scholar, he receives a full scholarship for tuition and fees, opportunities to attend seminars and on-site programs at pharmaceutical facilities, an internship, and career opportunities.
It was through this scholarship that Chen completed an internship at Johnson & Johnson, where he will begin working full-time, working to market products that help broad numbers of patients, making the type of greater impact he longs for.
Anna Krisak, School of Criminal Justice
For as long as she can remember, the machinations of the criminal mind have fascinated Anna Krisak. Seeing the impact of a life of crime on people she’s known motivates the Somerset County resident to aspire to be either a forensic psychologist or policymaker. In the former, she’d endeavor to assist individuals involved in the criminal justice system; in the latter, she’d try to reform the system altogether.
Driven and focused, Krisak is laying the groundwork to successfully achieve her goals. In May, she will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and psychology, which bolsters the associate’s degree she earned in criminal justice from Raritan Valley Community College in 2015. A former congressional intern for U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell Jr., she now holds down two internships -- one with the Newark Municipal Court, the other in the Criminal Division of the Superior Court in Mercer County. Krisak does all of this while actively participating in the National Society of Leadership and Success and the International Honor Society in Psychology (Psi Chi), and working a full-time job!
After she catches her breath a bit, Krisak plans to further her education by pursuing a joint master’s/juris doctor degree in forensic psychology and law.
Edumin Corrales, Rutgers Law School
Edumin Corrales doesn’t have to look far to find his heroes: they’re his parents. And they’re the people he credits for where he is and where he will be after graduation.
Born in Miami, Corrales says his parents’ strong work ethic is the main reason he wants to begin his law career in employment law, after first clerking for a Superior Court judge. They are the main reason he juggled four internships and classes, learned time management skills, and became an expert at prioritizing. “This is the fruit of their labors,” he says of his upcoming graduation.
During his years at Rutgers Corrales has served on the Rutgers Computer & Technology Law Journal as managing comments and notes editor; been co-vice president of community affairs for the Association of Black Law Students; and worked as a teaching assistant for a law professor.
During one of his internships he worked at a law firm that represented employers, but he found himself empathizing with the workers who reminded him of his hard-working parents. Additional internships allowed him to gain exposure to securites fraud litigation, and he decided it “feels good to make a difference” for people.
It’s a far cry from his undergraduate years when he initially wanted to be a meteorologist, then switched to environmental science and political science. Science research, he decided, was too slow and too solitary, but he liked the pace and interaction of political science, which led him to law, where he realized he could have an impact on public policy.
Andres Puerta, Rutgers Law School
Pay it forward. That’s Andres Puerta’s goal for his career in law. After all, he says, a lot of people believed in him and “invested a lot in him,” in terms of support, encouragement, mentoring, and teaching. Now, he says, it will be his turn to give back.
After earning an undergraduate degree in political science, Puerta worked for a few years, but his time as a paralegal steered him to Rutgers Law School in 2014. His time at Rutgers has been a mix of class time and hands-on experiences. The Wayne resident is a research fellow at the Rutgers Center for Corporate Law and Governance, senior editor of the Race and The Law Review, a member of the Moot Court Board, and a third-year representative for the Association of Latin American Law Students.
He was a first-year associate with a New Jersey law firm and after Rutgers, will clerk with an Appellate Court judge.
He initially thought of a law career as a way to give aback to the community at large, but now sees it also as a way to repay those who believed that he could be the first in his family to earn an undergraduate college degree, and then supported his law school ambitions: friends, the law school’s Minority Student Program, and especially his family. “My degree is the fulfillment of the American Dream, and it was possible because of the hard work and sacrifice of my family.” He credits both his father’s strict work ethic and his mother’s belief in the power of education as his inspirations.
Rosa Lasso, Newark College of Arts and Sciences, Honors College
Rosa Lasso has simple yet powerful advice for her fellow students: When things get tough, don’t give up; instead believe in yourself and the power of your dreams.
That advice got Lasso through Newark’s Eastside High School, where she simultaneously earned her high school diploma and her associate’s degree from Essex County College (ECC) through ECC’s Early College program.
The psychology major’s belief in her dreams is reflected in her acceptance into RU-N’s highly competitive Honors College, as well as her membership in the Golden Key International Honour Society, the world’s largest collegiate honor society.
Through the RU-N Jumpstart internship program, which recruits and trains college students to work with pre-school children at the ECC Child Development Center, the Newark resident is helping children develop their social skills. She also interns at Newark’s Broadway House for Continuing Care, working with adults through group therapy sessions.
She loves working with little ones so much that Lasso plans to make that her life’s calling after earning her master’s degree in social work; she already has been accepted into Rutgers’ MSW program for the fall.
She has enjoyed her two years at RU-N, especially the welcoming, warm sense of community on campus and the support she has received from faculty and other students.
When she walks down the aisle this May, it will be Lasso’s third commencement march since 2015, following her high school and ECC graduations. Her delighted parents, who have attended her previous ceremonies, will be at the Prudential Center to again cheer her accomplishments.
Bernadette Carter, School of Public Affairs and Administration, and Jamila Sinkler, Newark College of Arts and Sciences
They won’t be marching down the aisle side by side but nevertheless a proud mother and her daughter will both be earning degrees from RU-N during the main commencement ceremony on May 17, 2017.
Bernadette “B” Carter is a longtime RU-N employee, the unit computing manager for the Rutgers Law School. Her daughter, Jamila Sinkler, is an RU-N psychology major. Carter will be receiving her undergraduate degree this May, and is set to complete her MPA for spring 2018. Sinkler will receive her bachelor’s in psychology, with a long-term-goal of completing a master’s degree. She hopes to become a therapist working with adult patients.
It took Carter almost 24 years to return to college. The first time around, she followed her bliss and earned an associate’s degree in electronic data processing. She still is following her bliss but now her passion is helping people, and she chose an RU-N degree in public administration for that reason. She already embraces that passion by helping the homeless through the organization she founded six years ago, B About It Cares. The group provides the essentials -- meals, clothing, toiletries, and blankets -- to the homeless at Newark and New York City’s Penn Stations. She is also trying to establish a ministry for the homeless at her church in Orange.
Sinkler, on the other hand, came to RU-N directly after high school graduation. Coming to RU-N was a natural decision, since her mom works here, but her choice of psychology stems from her fascination with the field and its challenges.
Carter has loved her nearly 20 years working at the law school, but after retirement, “I’ll be spending my days helping people,” she explains.
She credits her daughter as her inspiration for returning to college. They drive to campus together from their home in Iselin. New Jersey, and support each other as they study and do classwork.
Carter’s advice to Sinkler is worth sharing: “College is a blueprint for the rest of your life, so choose your major wisely. Choose something you’re passionate about and you’ll do well and be happy in your career.”
Sinkler offers her own words of wisdom to other students, based on her heavy course load: prioritize, giving precedence to your toughest classes. Most importantly, she says, don’t let the often “crushing” demands of academics destroy your dreams and batter you down. Stay positive, she recommends, and you’ll make it through.