It Takes a Village

When A.M. transferred from Salem County Community College to Rutgers University–New Brunswick in the Fall of 2014, he was one step closer to fulfilling a lifelong goal of earning a college degree.

A.M.’s dream of being college educated was sparked by his high school chemistry teacher who stressed the importance of maximizing his full potential and not believing in a glass ceiling.

“Education is the key; it is an essential tool if you want to change your life,” his high school chemistry teacher would say. This ignited a purpose in A.M. that would become bigger than his 6-foot 9-inch frame. Like his teacher, he aspired to set a positive example for his younger family members and the youth growing up in his hometown.

“I want to show the youth that they don’t have to be a product of their environment or be put into a box that someone else has for them,” says A.M. “They can use their brain and accomplish anything.”

He quickly realized, however, that being admitted to Rutgers was the easiest part of his college journey. After his first year, A.M. found himself in a terrible financial situation that stemmed from his lack of financial aid.

“My goal is to give back as much as I can. I believe it is our moral responsibility.”

Determined not to let his dream of being the first person in his family to graduate college slip away, he began sleeping in abandoned buildings and his car. A.M. was determined to continue his education no matter the circumstances.

“I’ve never been a person that complained about a situation,” says A.M. “I grew up watching the women in my family and saw how strong they were and never complained.” Sleeping in his car however, eventually landed him in trouble with the police, as it is against the law in the State of New Jersey.

This encounter with the Rutgers University Police Department led A.M. to the Office of the Dean of Students to speak with Jeff Broggi, who after hearing his story was drawn to his magnetic personality and resiliency.

“A.M. stressed to me the importance of obtaining his degree from Rutgers University and how that would help him be successful in the future,” says Broggi.

Through several phone calls with financial aid and residence life, Broggi was able to secure A.M. a living arrangement on campus, a meal plan, as well as a work study opportunity with the Rutgers University’s student food pantry where he is helping others in the community deal with food insecurity. A.M.’s service with the Rutgers student food pantry provides him with work experience as well as a way to give back to the community, which is very important to him.

A.M. is scheduled to graduate in the Spring of 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and attributes his success to the many offices and people within Student Affairs that have checked in and connected him to needed resources. After graduation, A.M. hopes to work for one of the top chemical companies in the country and later pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry. He also plans to give back to his community by creating a fund where he can help finance children’s ventures in education, arts, science, or anything they desire. A.M. believes that to those who much is given, much is required.

“My goal is to give back as much as I can,” A.M. says. “I believe it is our moral responsibility.”

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