Rutgers-Newark Students Deliver Impactful Presentations at Engage-NJ Student Conference 2020

Five Rutgers-Newark students – Elijah W. Brown, Jennifer Dios, Carol Disla-Roa, Carmelo Ortiz, and Stacy Tyndall –presented at the inaugural Engage-NJ Student Conference 2020 hosted by Campus Compact New Jersey in late February at Middlesex County College. The conference afforded approximately 250 likeminded college students from across New Jersey the opportunity to learn how to leverage their education, scholarship, and volunteerism to combat all forms of inequality and injustice in their communities, find meaningful employment, and unearth education opportunities. The daylong event included presentations, panel discussions, workshops, and tabletop displays.

Brown, a senior political science major from East Orange, New Jersey, gave a 45-minute presentation on how community engagement helps to develop workplace skills. Drawing on his undergraduate experiences, Brown demonstrated how students can use internships, experiential learning, and other college opportunities to hone their communication, analytical, interpersonal, and problem-solving skills and ultimately enhance their résumés and bolster their short- and long-term career goals.

“The Campus Compact Student Conference impacted me in a very special way because it taught me that I can share my college experience with my peers and show them how they can be successful,” Brown said.

Brown and the other four presenters are Honors Living-Learning Community (HLLC) scholars at Rutgers-Newark. Created in 2015 as one of the high strategic priorities of Rutgers-Newark, HLLC challenges and redefines the notion of “merit” or “honors.” A groundbreaking initiative that is revolutionizing honors, cultivating talent, and engaging communities, HLLC provides students with the resources and opportunities to be thought leaders within their fields, positive collaborators within their communities, and change agents in the world.

Anecdotally using their service as volunteer mentors in the Peer Mentoring Program implemented by HLLC, a four-person panel of Newark natives discussed how engagement helps communities to prosper. Specifically, the panelists shared how HLLC’s Peer Mentoring Program promotes student success by fostering an inclusive environment and providing new HLLC students the information, support, and encouragement they need for a seamless transition to Rutgers-Newark. Tyndall, a senior criminal justice major concurrently working toward a master of public administration degree, assembled the panel. Joining Tyndall were Dios, a senior computer science major; Disla-Roa, a senior public and nonprofit administration major; and Ortiz, a senior criminal justice major.

“The Engage-NJ Student Conference was a beautiful event that showcased student and professional excellence,” Tyndall said. “It showed me not only the importance of civic engagement but the ability of everyone, regardless of age, sex, professional and academic standing, to engage communities on local and global levels.”

“Campus Connect was definitely an event that is true to its name,” Disla-Roa said. “The experience fostered genuine conversation on important topics regarding the growth and productivity of each school represented. Personally, being there truly empowered me to share my story and own my path as I pave it.”

Ivette Ortiz-Beaumont, assistant director of the Office of University-Community Partnerships at Rutgers-Newark, coordinated all aspects of Rutgers-Newark’s participation in the conference in collaboration with other Rutgers-Newark departments. She echoed the students’ sentiments. “The Engage-NJ Student Conference was an invaluable experience that introduced our student presenters to statewide peers. Equally as important, the integration of community and academic work served as a gateway to employment opportunities, particularly those that address social justice or are dedicated to uplifting our communities.”

“I really enjoyed my time at Campus Connect,” said Ortiz. “I met some wonderful people and I got to share my mentoring experience from a mentee and mentor perspective. I would gladly do it again.”