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We R Thankful

Rutgers Today

After months of coping with unprecedented challenges, there is a lot to be thankful for heading into the holiday season. The Rutgers community is back together on campus. The availability of vaccines has made it possible to end the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic and we can gather around the table again with friends and family. With all we have overcome, we have asked our faculty, staff and students to share their own stories of what they are thankful for this year. 

Amirah Ali

Class of 2022 
Women’s soccer midfielder 
School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers-New Brunswick  

 
Following the pandemic and going through a season with no fans, it was amazing to finally have family, friends and all of Rutgers Nation back supporting us. With that being said, I am thankful for being able to see my family at both home and away games this year. Another thing that I am thankful for is the ability to be back on campus with my teammates and friends. Being blessed with such a great facility as the Gary and Barbara Rodkin Academic Success Center gives us the ability to study, train and spend time together all in one area. 
 

Amirah Ali

Mary Nucci

Assistant dean, community engagement 
Assistant professor, Department of Human Ecology 
School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers-New Brunswick

The pandemic has reminded me of – and I am grateful for – the value of human interaction in my life. It does not need to be long discussions or heartfelt chats. I am grateful for the small interactions with people – the "how are you?," "have a nice day," "thank you for holding the door" – that remind me of how connected we are to people whose names we don't know and may never know. I am grateful to be reminded of humanity and how being with people is a gift even when we disagree. Nowhere do I sense this more than when I have been on campus during the pandemic. Though a beautiful place to be, it has been sad to be there without people. As students, staff and faculty have returned, and I can once again see and interact with our community, the simple joy of smiling at someone passing, of hearing chatter and laughter (and yes, sometimes disagreement), has awakened me to how lucky we are to be together again. So, strangely enough, I am thankful to the pandemic for reminding me to treasure the people who, maybe only for a moment, share my life with me. 

Mary Nucci

Valerie A. Fitzhugh

Associate professor and interim chair
Department of Pathology
Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

As the leaves change color, there are so many things to be thankful for: family, friends, community. While I am thankful for all of these, this year I am thankful for something else – vaccination. I am thankful that there is finally a COVID-19 vaccine available for my 7- and 5-year-olds. I am thankful that in just a couple of weeks, my babies will have immunity to COVID-19. This is a moment I have been waiting for for nearly a year. My gratitude to science knows no bounds. Wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving.

Valerie Fitzhugh

Christina Strasburger 

Department administrator 
Department of History and Department of African American and African Studies
Rutgers-Newark 

I’ve always been mindful of privilege, but this year, especially, I am grateful for every met need; every moment of good health and peace; every feeling of joy and love; every expression of kindness and grace; and every experience of kinship and understanding.  

I am thankful for my family, biological and chosen, and for getting to work with a community of extraordinary people. I am appreciative of my students, encouraged by their brilliance and resilience in the face of incredible challenges and glad to be able to witness and cheer their successes. 

As we emerge from the pandemic and physically engage with one another, I appreciate even more the herculean efforts of the health professionals and cleaning crews who worked and continue to work tirelessly to ensure we could safely have moments together. I’ll never again take for granted the gift of being able to hug a loved one, whether in shared sorrow or celebration, witness a milestone event, enjoy a meal with friends and colleagues or see a performance in person.

Christina Strasburger

Ashley Prior 

Class of 2022
School of Communication and Information, Rutgers-New Brunswick
Student marketing intern, Institutional Planning and Operations 

Being back on the Rutgers campus for my last year has been surreal. I missed the atmosphere of sporting events and the vibrant social life when walking to class. I cannot be more thankful to have the opportunity to be back to in-person classes, as I had taken for granted collaborating with my classmates and professors before. I recall sophomore year when I headed home at the beginning of the pandemic, not knowing how long we would be away, and how different my college experience would be. We could not have been prepared for the trudges we would face in all sectors of our lives during that time, but it is a complete relief to be back as I can fall back into the expected routine of graduating.  

Ashley Prior

Jonathan Holloway
President and University Professor

Jonathan Holloway

I am thankful for the support and encouragement of family and friends who have done so much to help me manage through the challenges of leading this university during such a challenging moment in our society. I am also grateful that I landed in a community where so many people – strangers at first, now becoming colleagues, perhaps soon to be friends – are committed to working on behalf of others and are determined to do what is needed to secure a just society. In these ways Rutgers is something to behold, and every day I am thankful that I get to learn from such great teachers, whether they be faculty, students or staff.

Jade Gilliard-Boyle

Assistant manager, Rutgers Cinema 

I am thankful for my wonderful support system. My family and friends have made getting through the pandemic much easier. They have poured constant encouragement and comfort into me. I cannot wait to sit around the table for the holidays and create moments that will stay with me for a lifetime. I love being back on campus and seeing our community thriving. The energy that the students bring to Rutgers Cinema is like no other. 

Jade Gilliard-Boyle

Sangeeta Rao

Assistant dean of mentoring 
Rutgers Business School-Newark and New Brunswick
Cofounder, Rutgers Center for Women in Business 

Creating connection and community is at the heart of what I do for Rutgers, and the pandemic led me to more deeply appreciate the value of this work. I am thankful for our alumni/mentors who stepped up like never before to support students during a period of social isolation and personal struggle. Our students have emerged on the other side reassured and on stronger footing as a result. I am grateful for renewed priorities that center the whole person, and not just our professional selves. Seeing companies and institutions move toward policies and practices that foster work-life balance for all, something that women have been advocating for throughout, makes me hopeful.  Finally, I am thankful for scientists the world over, who have made it possible for my extended, fully vaccinated family to gather over the Thanksgiving table again. Never have I ever looked forward to these times of togetherness more. 

Sangeeta Rao

Mary Beth Daisey 

Vice chancellor for student affairs 
Rutgers University-Camden 

 

This fall, after being on campus with mostly staff members for the past year, and only seeing students via Zoom and Webex, I am so thankful  to see students in person on campus – students who are excited to be back, students who are active and engaged, students who are cautious and need assistance and students who entered campus for the first time in person as both new and continuing students. Students are the reason that we are here and give me power, energy and stamina with their smiles, presence, perspective and persistence.  I am so proud of all that they have accomplished and have yet to accomplish and am honored that I can be a part of their Rutgers-Camden family and help them on their journey into their future. I thank them every day for choosing to be a part of our Rutgers-Camden family and for growing and improving our campus with their feedback, actions, advocacy and care. I cannot wait to hear about their successes and impact on our world and to welcome the incoming students every semester. 

Mary Beth Daisey

Mark Beal

Assistant professor of professional practice
School of Communication and Information, Rutgers-New Brunswick

As we conclude the semester, I am thankful for the more than 40 guest speakers ranging from CEOs to entry-level executives who took time out of their busy schedules this fall to join my courses at Rutgers to connect and collaborate with our amazing students. For my public relations course, this was the first semester I arranged each week for one of my former Rutgers students to join us to share their career experiences, lessons learned and advice with today’s students. I am not only thankful for my past students paying it forward to the next generation of Rutgers students, but I was inspired and energized each week learning about the journey each one of them has taken from Rutgers to careers in marketing. In return, the alums expressed their gratitude for the education, experiences, support and foundation the Rutgers community has provided them in making the successful transition to their careers. I will never forget and always be thankful for those priceless moments this semester when I witnessed my past students teaching and inspiring today's students.

Mark Beal

Laura Troiano

Director, Honors College 
Assistant professor of professional practice 
Federated Department of History 
Rutgers-Newark 

Virtual learning takes away the time right before and after class where you get to have casual conversations with students. We can talk about what they are eating for breakfast, how their other classes are going, what they saw on TikTok. They ask me about my pregnancy or what I have been watching on TV. There is no replacement for the space to create those personal connections. I am thankful to have those back. 

Laura Troiano

Lisa Jensen 

Head professional and manager
Rutgers Golf Course

I am thankful for so much in my life, but at this moment I am particularly thankful for the support of family, friends and colleagues who are strong leaders and gentle listeners.   

Lisa Jensen

Randall Isaac

Store manager, kite+key, Rutgers Tech Store
Rutgers-Newark

I am thankful for the love of my family and friends and the tireless efforts of my kite+key Newark team that provides exceptional service to Rutgers-Newark and the community.

Randall Issac

Charles Brown

Assistant dean for inclusion, diversity, equity and access
Rutgers Business School-Newark and New Brunswick

As we emerge from the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is so much to reflect upon and so much to be thankful for. After experiencing the many devastations this pandemic has caused, we see now more than ever that life is fragile and can be fast fleeting. I’m particularly thankful for the collective successes of faculty, staff and students in the face of unprecedented challenges caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

COVID ravaged our nation and the world, claiming the lives of over 5 million people. COVID-19 became a threat to humanity, but I am grateful because our humanity is exactly what we’re using to fight back. It's our humanity and genuine care and concern for our fellow neighbors near and far that has sparked innovation in science, caused us to care enough about each other to get vaccinated and remain masked. And in our university community we’ve exhibited remarkable compassion, professionalism and resilience.

We all have so much to be thankful for. Let us continue to embrace family and friends, cherish the small moments, and cease putting off dreams, goals and ambitions until tomorrow.

Charles Brown

Steve Pikiell

Scarlet Knights men’s basketball head coach

I am thankful for many things, especially for the return of our campus community. Being able to play in front of our fans again at Jersey Mike’s Arena has been incredible. It not only impacts our team’s performance, but it amplifies that special connection we all share as Scarlet Knights. We really missed that energy playing without fans last season, and now that it's returned, we appreciate it even more. I’m incredibly thankful for that support. It’s something we will never take for granted.

Steve Pikiell