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RU-N’s Chinedu Onyemaobi joins journalist team guiding NJ gubernatorial debate

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On Tuesday, Oct. 10, 7:00-9:00 p.m., the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark, New Jersey, will co-host one of just two televised public debates between the Republican and Democratic candidates competing to be the state’s next governor. Seated on the panel of journalists asking questions of the candidates will be Rutgers University–Newark (RU-N) journalism and media studies major, Chinedu Onyemaobi, eagerly awaiting the opportunity to pose a thought-provoking question to former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy (D) and New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R).

But this won’t be Onyemaobi’s first turn in front of a microphone. He spent summer 2017 as a Media Fellow at WBGO/Newark Public Radio, the global leader in jazz radio and National Public Radio affiliate, where he honed his journalism and on-air skills. "I'm very excited that Chinedu has been selected by Rutgers University to participate in the televised New Jersey gubernatorial debate. From learning how to conduct strong insightful interviews to writing and producing in-depth, sound-rich news features, Chinedu can now use those skills he's learned as WBGO Media Fellow to pursue a career in broadcasting and digital journalism," said WBGO News Director Doug Doyle.

Not intimidated by the spotlight, Onyemaobi is a radio host for WRNU’s The Campus Beat, for which he produces two programs: Chin Up Sports, a sports commentary show; and Pepper Soup: Sounds from the Motherland, a West-African arts, music, and entertainment program. Onyemaobi also is the social media coordinator for Rutgers Organization of African Students.

Chinedu Onyemaobi;
photo by Anthony Alvarez

Honored to have been selected to represent the entire Rutgers University system, Onyemaobi is not yet sure what question he will ask. “In collaboration with the editors of Scarlet Magazine and The Observer newspaper, two of RU-N’s student-run publications, I’ll likely frame a question that addresses the prospects of career opportunities in New Jersey for recent college graduates, or available state protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” he suggested. New Jersey residents are encouraged to submit recommended questions via Twitter using #NJGovDebate. Questions will be accepted through Tuesday, Oct. 3.

Born in Brooklyn, New York; raised in Union, New Jersey; and currently residing in Irvington, New Jersey, Onyemaobi transferred to RU-N from Essex County College and now is a student in RU-N’s Honors Living-Learning Community (HLLC). The HLLC is grounded in an innovative approach to identifying and cultivating talent that revolutionizes the concept of “honors,” starting with an intensified admissions process featuring group and individual interviews and a curriculum built around the theme of “Local Citizenship in a Global World.” Approximately half of all HLLC students are from Newark—two-thirds including Greater Newark. A residential scholarship program allows students to live and study together, which all will happen in a state-of-the-art facility to open in 2019. 

“Our leadership team is continually struck by the rich perspective and insight that HLLC Scholars bring to their learning experience,” commented HLLC Dean Timothy K. Eatman. “We work with them to cultivate critical thinking, resilience, and community engagement at increasingly sophisticated levels. We are proud of Chinedu and confident that he will represent RU-N well.”

Along with NJPAC, Rutgers’ debate co-sponsors include: WABC-TV, WADO-AM radio, and Univision, all in New York; Twitter; NJ Advance Media; NJBIZ Magazine; NJ Spotlight; PSEG; WBGO-FM radio, in Newark; El Diario; Univision65, WHYY-FM radio, and WPVI-TV, all in Philadelphia; Lead NJ; League of Women Voters of New Jersey; and National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund. Sade Baderinwa and Jim Gardner of ABC’s New York and Philadelphia stations, respectively, will serve as debate moderators.

WABC-TV, WPVI-TV, Univision, WBGO, and WHYY will broadcast the debate live. Twitter will broadcast the debate as a live feed from its website to enable its users to follow and engage in real time.

The RU-N Student Governing Association will host a gubernatorial debate watch party for the Rutgers-Newark and surrounding communities in the Essex Room of the Paul Robeson Campus Center (350 Martin Luther King Blvd., Newark, NJ 07102).

All are invited to follow Onyemaobi’s debate experience by following #NJGovDebate.