With all April Fools’ jokes aside, the second to last installment of the Leadership Lunch series occurred Thursday, April 1st. This event featured a panel discussion with Stockton alumni regarding the impact of their student leadership at Stockton on their professional futures. Throughout the discussion, these alumni revealed how the lessons they learned during their undergraduate experiences at Stockton allowed for future success.
Ellis Bonds graduated from Stockton in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and a focus in social sciences. During his time at Stockton University, he participated in the Alliance of Educational Opportunity Fund Students of NJ (A.E.S.N.J.), gospel choir, fraternity Lambda Sigma Upsilon, and many other student opportunities on campus. He currently serves as Associate Director of Intercultural Affairs at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. Bonds claims that the strength of the Stockton community is what really helped uplift him in his endeavors, stating that no one was “too big or too small” for their dreams and would find support nonetheless.
Manar Hussein, a 2015 literature graduate and current Montclair Ph.D. candidate, serves as an educator at various institutions in the tri-state area. She found her passion for social justice early on and explored it through climbing the ranks of Stockton’s Unified Black Student Society until reaching presidency, whilst also founding the African Student Organization and participating in other groups. As a result of her accomplishments, Hussein earned the titles of Student of the Year and Program of the Year as a freshman. She attributes her success to communal involvement and support, claiming that she is the product of what can happen when people “support ideas from people that might be more likely overlooked.”
2015 graduate Irvin Monero-Rodriguez stated that he used his criminal justice degree and experiences at Stockton to become Co-Executive Director of El Pueblo Unido and Advocacy Chair of the Hispanic Association of Atlantic County (HAAC). With his minor in holocaust and genocide studies, Monero-Rodriguez was able to develop student organizations centered around holocaust and genocide awareness. He went on to become the program assistant of the Sara and Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource Center at Stockton University, where he remains to the present day. When reflecting on his time at Stockton, Monero-Rodriguez claimed that a student-led boardwalk protest he participated in was a wholesome, memorable experience that helped him establish connections with members of the community.
Paige Richards, a recent graduate from the Class of 2020, Paige Richards, also returned to Stockton post-graduation. As a Stockton student, she studied STEM and joined multiple research projects and honors societies on campus. Having found a passion for service learning in the Bonner leader program, she continually applies that passion in Stockton’s Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning and the university’s CSI camp as an alumna. According to Richards, her involvement with Service learning as a freshman led to much of her success today.
Vinh Dang is a biology graduate from 2018 who served in the East Coast Asian American Student Union (E.C.A.A.S.U.), the Asian Student Alliance (A.S.A.), and the Israeli Student Alliance. As president of the A.S.A., Dang helped put Stockton on the radar and grow the organization by bringing the largest group to an E.C.A.A.S.U. conference. He is remembered for developing a sense of community and highlighting the unique challenges faced by those of inter-sectional identities through his undergraduate involvement.
The alumni panelists agreed that the positive influences of the Stockton community shaped them for success. In every individual’s journey, a consistent factor of success was a solid foundation built by support networks. Almost all of them took part in creating groups and organizations on campus, imbuing them with leadership and foundry skills. They advise up-and-coming student leaders to do the same, as well as discover new ways to shape their success and claim their stake in the professional world. For the final Leadership Lunch Series, check out the student calendar or view the event on OspreyHub. Unable to attend? The sessions are available on Stockton Student Development’s YouTube channel, here.