Rahfael Gordon ’09 is an international award-winning motivational speaker. His career path has taken him to places such as Madison Square Garden, the Los Angeles Convention Center, and in front of a sold-out New Jersey Performing Arts Center. But before he was speaking in front of thousands, he was a student trying to find his way at Montclair State University.
“I came in as undecided, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” says Gordon. “I dabbled in a few different majors, but I landed in Professional Recreation and Leisure.”
Gordon is CEO of two major companies, RahGor Publishing and RahGor Motivations. He is a published author and has won many distinguished awards including the Global Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2008 by the National Foundation for Teaching and the Ernest & Young Crystal Award.
A student in the Educational Opportunity Fund, Gordon relied heavily on the mentorship and guidance that the program provided. “They offered a great support system, and their door was always open,” he notes. Faculty and staff also served as mentors for Gordon, including Dr. Sue Weston, Dr. Jack Samuels, Michael Brown, and former Associate Dean for Student Life, Dr. James Harris.
Gordon became heavily involved with student activities on campus. He was a member of the SGA, a Resident Assistant (RA) and a desk assistant. During his first year on campus, he created an organization called “Team Infinite” on campus, and later added a chapter at Bloomfield College.
“I used these opportunities to connect with professors and convey to them a message of what students needed”, says Gordon.
As the end of his Montclair State experience neared, he took a break to explore an opportunity with Black Entertainment Television (BET). After an injury prevented him from pursuing the opportunity, he found himself out of school and feeling, “totally bummed out.” This resulted in friend urging him to tell his story, which lead to him writing his first book – and that is how his journey began.
While his career was flourishing and he found himself in the spotlight, he came back to Montclair State to finish. “It was important to me to finish,” he says. “My grandmother was an educator her whole life and she reminded me that a lot of people sacrificed so much for me. My professors were supportive and flexible with my schedule.” He finished his last year of college in 2009, the same year he was nominated for the NAACP Image Award.
Now managing his company in New York, the former bi-coastal alumnus comes back to campus often to visit and speak. Future plans include a 2014 speaking tour in Europe next Fall. His advice to current students and alumni in need of some motivation is to keep pushing. “If you are wondering when the right time is to go after your dreams, it’s always going to be now!” he says. “When things are not going well, remember, it’s only for a moment”.