First Year Fifteen Spotlight: Embracing Opportunity

By: Henggao Cai

What makes Leadership events so appealing to me? It may be because I feel as though I am developing as a leader in these programs or because I feel strongly about being a role model at Rutgers. Most importantly, I truly enjoy all the programs offered by Rutgers Leadership & Training. These programs have helped me make new friends and new people. After attending these meetings, I feel more confident as an individual to make changes in the Rutgers community. First Year Fifteen Events are worth attending because they challenge you to learn more outside the classroom.

The first program that I attended through the Leadership Office was Camp UKnight. Camp UKnight was a three day leadership retreat over the summer of 2013. I went purely to make new friends and get more comfortable in my new environment. I found myself learning many leadership skills over this retreat in addition to making friends. Rowing ten miles down the Delaware River with someone that I just met pushed me to utilize skills that I had learned about leadership and how to work as a team.

The First Year Fifteen Leadership kick off was another memorable event because it allowed me to meet new people who are also first year students. Additionally, the WOW Talks were important because they brought different experts in leadership to inspire and instill great values within us. Stephen Shedletsky also gave an inspiring talk to a handful of First Year Fifteen students and he inspired us to get out of our iPhone centered lives and become more open. He inspired us make changes in our lives.

Born in a city on the banks of the Yangtze River in China, I was brought to the United States as a wide eyed five year old kid who saw this nation as a shining city on a hill. Raised in the large diverse community West Windsor Plainsboro, I was raised with a global perspective and a desire to learn. I was taught by my parents and schools to prioritize both academics and leadership in order to become a well-rounded lifelong learner. First Year Fifteen is a step that I am taking towards advancing my communication and leadership capabilities. I am embracing opportunity, what R U waiting for?


unnamed[1]Henggao Cai is currently a Rutgers Business School student and the current Livingston campus representative with RUSA. He is also an active member of the first year fifteen program.


First Year Fifteen Spotlight: Want to Get Involved?

By: Calina Noah

After my first semester at Rutgers, I felt I had more of a bearing on campus life, work balance, and maintaining my social life. I realized that I wanted to get more involved within the university’s community because of the confidence I had gained in my first semester. Along with my desire to get involved, I also wanted to get involved in order to expand my network due to my aspiration to one day attend law school.

Throughout high school I was always involved in student government and student association, both of which gave me the opportunity to lead and actively participate. However, when I arrived at Rutgers I felt intimidated by the size and variety of opportunities here. How could I choose what club from so many options? Would there be an opportunity to get the chance to lead as a somewhat inexperienced first year?

Thankfully after venting my frustrations to a close friend, she informed me of the First Year Fifteen program and it sounded too good to be true. A program that had leadership events and then turned into a fellowship program? Sign me up! I couldn’t wait to attend a meeting and learn more.

After going to the first general meeting, I am more eager than ever to attend my first leadership event and share my experience. If anyone is hesitant about getting involved or doesn’t know where to begin, First Year 15 may just be the opportunity you’re looking for! I got involved, so what R U waiting for?


unnamed[2]Calina Noah is an Honors School of Arts and Sciences freshman studying Psychology and Political Science. She has volunteered under the Childhood Leukemia Foundation and has worked as a volunteer for the Cory Booker for Senate campaign. Her interests lie in developing her skills as a leader as well as experiencing other cultures, such as through the Women’s Leadership Seminar she will be attending in South Korea. After graduation, Calina plans on attending law school in the hopes of becoming involved in some form of international law.

Unconventional Leadership

By: Michelle Hartmann

Leadership has always been a very daunting term to me. In school, I never thought of myself as a “leader”. I generally identified myself as: a typical student, moderately involved, focused on schoolwork, but never overly committed (limiting myself from “biting off more than I can chew”). Whereas, the “leaders”, to me, were people who were super involved, holding executive positions, committed to everything, and iconic for their outstanding work.

However, as I experienced my college years, I realized being a leader wasn’t as cut and dry as I imagined. Leaders were just ordinary students, with regular schedules. They cared about their commitments and the people they came had conversations with.  Today, I do identify myself as a leader. I am a mentor, both formally and informally to my peers, as well as a student that thrives through excitement, and getting others excited with me. I am an advocate for my field and dedicate my work to helping others understand the importance of it.  I may not be involved in a million clubs or raise thousands of dollars,  but I am most committed to what I do, and the people that help me get it done.

I have learned through the long nights of college that leadership is not a list of tasks you receive as a freshman that reads “do this and you’ll be a leader”. Leadership is the taking initiative, setting goals, taking risks, and energizing others to do the same. I like to think of Leadership as organized excitement. Leaders are people who get excited about big ideas and take the right initiative to set goals, take risks, and motivate others to jump on board and go all in.

I encourage all students to take big risks, fall in love with the things they care about and inspire others to fall in love with you.

I’ve been getting excited for four years, what RU waiting for?


headshotMichelle Hartmann is a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior studying Landscape Architecture. She currently serves as the graphic design intern in the Office of Leadership and Training, while also maintaining involvement in the New Jersey Society of Landscape Architects Student Chapter. After graduation, she hopes to work in the field, and continue her efforts in education and outreach of environmental concerns.