I never wanted to go here

I did not want to come to The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). It was not my top choice nor was it my dream school. It was the school right down the street that my cousins attended and they convinced me to apply. Even though it was not my first choice, I can honestly say that it was the best choice for my growth and that I would not be who I am today if it were not for TCNJ. My experience at this institution has allowed me to grow holistically as an individual and as a member of the campus community. To be a TCNJ student means to be a mentor; it means to be someone who helps others to progress and evolve. To be a TCNJ student means to be resilient; it means to go through battles without losing hope. TCNJ students are agents of change; they dream big and have the courage to execute.

As a member of the Educational Opportunity Fund, I was given an adviser at the beginning of my freshman year. This adviser was one of the first individuals to believe and support me. This Adviser was the first of many individuals to make such an investment in me as other administrators, students and faculty members would go on to serve in the capacity of a mentor/supporter throughout my time at TCNJ. I eventually came to realize that this level of support was an integral part of the TCNJ experience and that it could be found in all facets of campus life. As the first one in my immediate family to go to college, this culture of support gave me the foundation to excel in my academics and try new experiences. If it were not for this culture of support, then I would not have had the sense of belonging that allowed me to focus on my work or the confidence to run for Student Government. Mentorship is an integral aspect of being a TCNJ student because it allows the community to be in a constant state of evolution and each class has the responsibility to pay it forward.

Another integral aspect of being a TCNJ student is resilience. I have seen this community preserve through stress, depression, racist incidents, bigotry protests and the deaths of fellow community members throughout my years at this institution. I have seen this community thrive and recover despite everything that has happen. To be a student at TCNJ means that you preserve through difficulties and make it better so that others do not have to endure what you had to. It means that you come together as community through forums or other meetings to find a solution, remedy or to heal. I have seen and/or been a part of this process various times and can speak on the strength of our campus community in difficult times. The strength of our community lies within the strong bonds that keep us together and allow us to empathize with each other. To be a TCNJ student means that you rely on your community for support, encouragement and strength during difficult times. It means that you acknowledge that your trial or tribulation might be painful, difficult and sometimes heartbreaking but that it does not define you and that you can rise above it. My experiences at TCNJ has taught me that life might not always go as planned but that I can always preserve and overcome. Resilience has been one of the biggest lessons that me and my peers have learned over the last couple years which is why I believe that it is synonymous with being a TCNJ student.

Being an agent of change is another essential aspect of being a TCNJ student. TCNJ has taught me to dream big, plan diligently and execute confidently. This institution is filled with committed individuals who fight for what they believe in and have embodied what it means to be change agents. These agents are responsible for campus wide changes such as mental health initiatives, Loser Hall being renamed Trenton Hall, The TCNJ Clinic remaining open and the Social Justice Taskforce being formed. These agents of change have inspired me and other students to follow our passions and fight for what you believe in. As someone who is passionate about mentoring because of the impact that it has on my life, I always wanted to pay it forward. It was my dream of being able to help to mentor other historically marginalized men that led me to lead the effort to create an organization known as Men of Excellence that is dedicated to supporting and encouraging this specific group of men. TCNJ has given me and other students the tools necessary to attain our dreams. The College of New Jersey trains students to be agents of change by focusing on leadership and self – awareness which is why to be a TCNJ student is synonymous with being a change agent.

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