Today we feature Justin Roldan, a graduating biochemistry major from Galloway, NJ (Atlantic County), who is a first generation college student. Justin lived on campus, as a resident assistant at Rowan Boulevard Apartments.
Could you share with one happy moment you had with friends, professors or other members of the Rowan community that made you realize Rowan felt like “home”? Alpha Phi Omega is one organization that helped me turn Rowan into a house from a home. As a co-ed service fraternity, I joined for the service, but I stayed for the people. I became a brother in Spring ’17, and I can truly say every experience through the organization has been transformative. Every brother I met became a friendly face that I had the pleasure of getting to know, and these same brothers I met inspired me to hold two Vice President positions, and eventually become President. Completing service projects and being selfless for others releases all those feel-good hormones in your body, but completing them with people you care about truly spikes your serotonin levels.
Could you share a moment you’ve experienced in which you have felt that Rowan is a welcoming environment for you? As transformative as APO has been for me, it was RUPAC that first showed me how welcoming the Rowan community can be. Just like any freshman looking to get involved, I reflected on interests and hobbies I hold close to my identity. Luckily, I came across a flyer in Science Hall advertising RUPAC’s first general body meeting; as a Filipino-American that hasn’t ventured too deep into his Filipino identity, this was a perfect opportunity to do just that.
When I arrived at the meeting, I was met with a room full of people that looked just like me, exuding bundles of energy and warm welcomings. They had just met me, but they showed genuine interest in getting to know me almost instantly. Thanks to them, I found a pamilya (family) that I can rely on for just about anything.
What is your favorite thing to do on a typical Thursday? Before the pandemic ensued, my absolute favorite thing to do on my typical Thursday was volunteering through Rowan’s Get FIT program. As a pre-Occupational Therapy student, this program helped get my feet wet for the profession. This program brings in young adults with cognitive and physical disabilities seeking to enhance their physical well-being through exercise. The young adults can even work out with their family members as well. During my short time in the program, I had the pleasure of being paired with a nonverbal client that brought joy to my face whenever we met. Seeing him smile from exercises I taught him brought me happiness, and helped reassure me that I was making the right career choice for future.
What is one thing about Rowan that was a happy surprise for you? Coming to Rowan, one happy surprise was realizing how close the campus is to Philly. It was an even better surprise when I learned that Rowan has a free shuttle to Philly every Friday. This allowed me to venture into the city just about every other weekend, learning about different neighborhoods and people of the city. Through different networking opportunities offered by RUPAC, I met incredible people from the Filipino clubs of Philly schools. Ultimately, it was these networking opportunities that helped me decide on attending University of the Sciences in Philadelphia to earn my master’s in Occupational Therapy this upcoming May.
Describe for us an experience you’ve shared with a professor or staff member in which you felt like they truly cared about your wellbeing. In my third and final year on staff with ResLife, my Resident Director, Bri Vogel, made me feel as though someone truly cared about my wellbeing. As RAs, we have biweekly one-on-one meetings with our Resident Director. These meetings turned into free therapy sessions between Bri and I; she fostered an environment in which we were comfortable sharing personal details about our lives both in and outside of ResLife. Bri was an integral part of my journey in coming to terms with my suffering mental health, and I can’t thank her enough for encouraging me to start counseling through the Wellness Center. When people say that some of the biggest lessons you learn from college come from outside of the classroom, I feel like this small snippet of my four years at Rowan is a true testament to that.
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Alyssa Bauer, senior public relations major