Study Abroad: Utilizing Leadership Overseas

By: Christina Colon 

Okay, I have a confession to make.

unnamed (1)I had always been a “people person” and avid writer, but never took the steps to implement the two in terms of leadership. Sure, I wanted to donate my skills to a cause, or project of some sort. But putting my words (and self!) to use was dampened by a terrible truth at hand: I was scared. I had never even considered myself in the same league as those that tried, and accomplished. What if I tried, and failed? This went for any opportunity that I encountered, and talked myself out of.  I used my apprehension practically as an excuse to not get involved.

Obviously, I realized that an attitude like that would never lead me anywhere. Besides, no one magically wakes up and claims a position, or is born with the capacity to inspire. It takes hard work, dedication, and the right mindset to do so. This is also in addition to one other key ingredient: Courage. In order to take action, you’ve got to take risks. Which is exactly why I decided to study abroad this summer.

unnamed (2)Since it was my first time flying solo, let alone to an unknown country, I was initially terrified. What if I had difficulty making friends, or experienced trouble with the course? Despite these fears, I still made it all the way to Lewes, United Kingdom. And since returning, I can honestly say that I am so happy I got on that flight! I spent the greatest 2 ½ weeks of my life, learning how to be a better writer, while enjoying the other benefits of the program. Our group went on daily hikes (92 miles in total by the end of our stay!), and visited places like the London Tower and Globe Theatre. We all grew very close, and I’m fortunate to have shared the trip with such amazing people.

I never expected that so many rewards would come just from going outside of my comfort zone. Not only did I gain insight on the English culture, ample material for the portfolio I’m expected to submit, and new unnamed (3)friends—I came back to the states with confidence. Looking at the photos I took and thinking of the memories I made, I feel a different kind of scared. Imagine if I had never worked up the nerve to embark on such an adventure! I would’ve really missed out.

In anyone’s pursuit of success, service, and activism, there will always be some level of fear. It’s natural! It also indicates that we’re doing something that matters. But we should never be held back from initiating our desires. After all, being a leader takes bravery. Now, more than ever, I’m motivated to pursue my passions, and implement them within the Leadership Office and Rutgers community.

Actually, I’ll probably travel beyond that. This experience taught me that there’s no limit to fueling possibilities.

I’m taking chances to become the leader I know I can be…what RU waiting for?


unnamedChristina Colon is a School of Communication and Information senior, studying Communication and English. She is currently the Secretary for Speak Out: Exploring Womanhood, a student blogger for the Rutgers Admissions website, and will be the Ignite Captain for the upcoming Mark Conference. The aspiring author hopes to travel the world, become more involved with community and outreach programs, and obtain an active position within the National Eating Disorders Association. She just began working for the organization as a Communications Intern. Her addictions include coffee, Marvel superhero movies, and writing.


Summer 2014: I’ve begun making my mark, what R U waiting for?

By: Teodora Odzakovic

iamge oneIn high school, I always felt disheartened by the competition surrounding leadership positions. These positions were used as “hooks” on ones resume for college applications. Rather than join an organization for this seemingly superficial reason, I got involved in community service. Community service was something I did because I loved it – not for my resume. But by the time college rolled around, I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to find my niche at Rutgers. I was intimidated by the size of Rutgers: hundreds of organizations, hundreds of possibilities, thousands of leadership seeking students. How could I possibly know which organization would be right for me? What would happen if I didn’t find my passion as a first-year? For the entirety of my first semester, I was on a quest to find an incredible opportunity which I would want to devote my time towards. So I dabbled in a few clubs and tried to get involved in activities I wasn’t really passionate about. Let’s just say that by the end of first semester, I was upset that it seemed like everyone around me had already found an activity which they loved.

Over winter break, I began to question myself: Why did I want to be a leader at Rutgers so badly? How could “leadership” help me reach a goal? What even was my goal? I know that I’ve always had a desire to help people. What I love most is offering advice to make people reach their highest potential. So I decided my goal was going to be to advise other students on campus (although at the time I didn’t know what I could advise them on). But I still needed the how. I found my answer and inspiration at the Mark Conference on March 1, 2014.

Timage twohe Mark Conference is an innovative leadership conference meant to show students how they can “make their mark” on the world. The objective is to ignite the leader within all of us. Laverne Cox, Post Secret founder Frank Warren, and many other renowned speakers shared their experiences and how they used leadership skills to achieve their goals. I was moved by many of the speakers and how much devotion they had towards their cause. The conferences’ initiative was something I was passionate about, I finally found my niche. After the conference, I knew I had to get involved with the Office of Leadership & Training. This was my new found purpose: help people (and myself in the process) become the leader they were born to be. Getting involved in the conference was the how: after an application process I was selected to be the Speaker Captain. I help select and interact with the speakers who we bring to Rutgers for the Mark Conference. This is what I am passionate about. I know I am helping plan something which will promote hundreds of students like myself to branch out and become leaders themselves.

I’ve begun making my mark, what R U waiting for?


bio pictureTeodora Odzakovic is an Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in cell biology and neuroscience. She co-founded a non-profit organization, Select to Give, which campaigns for children’s autism awareness in the Middle East. The organization seeks to inform families on indicators of autism, and the importance of early treatment. This summer she will be traveling to the Holy Land to oversee her campaign efforts. Once she returns, Teodora will be working at her part-time retail job at Polo Ralph Lauren.

Summer 2014: Lead, Balance, Sleep…Repeat?

By: James Duffy

Summer is a time for the beach, relaxing, and lots of ice cream.  For me – it’s a little different (but I do love my ice cream).

James and Sierra Boggess (Little Mermaid & Phantom)

James and Sierra Boggess (Little Mermaid & Phantom)

I stay busy and try to get the most out of my time.  Through Rutgers I am currently working every day at a hospital pharmacy where I am learning so much about the pharmacy industry and myself every single day.  After that, I will be working five weeks in Manhattan at an acting studio, an internship I got through a fellow Rutgers student leader.  Both jobs are very different but have one thing in common – being a leader.  At the hospital, I am representing Rutgers with everything I do there and I help with many important health care decisions.  Keeping calm and having a clear mind is always important.  I always keep a notebook with me to write down any questions the pharmacists ask or any information they give.  At the acting studio, my title is Camp Leader so I am left in charge of 30 kids (ages 7-13) and their daily schedule which includes classes with Broadway stars, rehearsals for an off-Broadway performance, and seeing a Broadway show (Oh and the numerous bathroom breaks).  So I make sure that the kids have fun, but what is most important is that I show the kids an example of what a leader is and what type of person they can one day become.

James and his cousins

James and his cousins

Did I mention yet that I also work at a community pharmacy and a liquor store every weekend? I need some spending money for that ice cream.  Balancing becomes difficult with all the different things I end up doing and that’s why staying organized is so important and you should always have a plan.  Whether it’s planning your future post-graduation or planning your weekend trip to Point Pleasant, always go into experiences with a goal and write it down.

Rutgers Open House

Rutgers Open House

I have a crazy schedule on my computer that breaks down when I am going to wake-up, shower, eat breakfast, watch Wendy Williams, go to work, and see my family.  I am huge family person so I always make sure I spend time with my family because your family is the longest and strongest bond you will ever have in life.  Remember that for when you enter a new phase in life, whether it’s going to university or starting a new job, always make time for your family and show them love because they will always show you love back.

I am writing this blog after going church and before my shift at the liquor store – one of the rare moments I have to myself.  But I try to take these moments and just reflect and see how my week was and how I hope my next week will be.  It’s important to think about your life and try to be a better you than the day before.  No matter where I go I try to make a difference and you should too! I work hard and stay busy, what R U waiting for?

Bio HeadShotJames Duffy is a fifth year student in the Ernest Mario Pharmacy School. He is originally from Bayonne, NJ and (fun fact) is an identical twin! At Rutgers, he is a Scarlet Ambassador tour guide and a member of the Livingston Theater Company. He loves reality television and musical theater.