There’s a tradition among students who perform as the University’s mascot, Rocky the Red Hawk: their identity is kept secret until they cross the graduation stage wearing bright yellow talons to make the “big reveal.” But for one member of Team Rocky, that unveiling happened on multiple streaming platforms as he unmasked on the television series The College Tour.
“This is the coolest kind of reveal for Rocky that you could do,” says Sean Risch ’22, who graduated in January with a degree in Theatre Studies. Risch represents Montclair along with 18 other students and alumni in the University’s hour-long episode, which began running this spring on Amazon Prime Video and other channels. “Being Rocky was a personal thing and sharing that with America is just … awesome.”
A crew from The College Tour taped 20 different segments that cover all things Montclair from students who love it here. In an essay she wrote for the student newspaper The Montclarion, “Why You’ll See Me in The College Tour,” Samantha Wilk, now a rising junior who began her college experience remotely due to COVID-19, confesses: “If someone said to me a year ago I’d be promoting Montclair on a show, I wouldn’t believe them. Falling in love with your university in a global pandemic is as hard as it sounds.”
Produced by Emmy-nominated and award-winning TV producers, The College Tour helps prospective students around the world travel virtually for an inside look at colleges and universities. Montclair’s episode is part of Season 4 on Amazon’s streaming service, IMDb TV, on The College Tour’s app (Android, iOS) and website, Roku, Apple TV, LG Smart TV, Samsung Smart TV, Sony, Philips Smart TV, Amazon FireTV, Android TV and Montclair’s YouTube.
Their stories are inspiring. Gian Paul Gonzalez ’07, a star athlete during his time at Montclair and now a history teacher and motivational speaker, describes his concept of being “All In”… committing to your personal dreams no matter the obstacles you face. It was at Montclair, Gonzalez says, where he “developed a love and a passion for how I could help my community, not by studying something that happened in the past, but by being inspired to want to change the present.”
Ciara Chanel Allen ’22 expresses gratitude for the scholarship support that enabled her to pursue a BFA in Acting. “Montclair State University has molded me into the person that I wanted to be. Confident, independent, outspoken and unapologetically myself.”
Filmed last fall, Nikki-James Soto recalls, “The crew let me be my complete, authentic self. I like to try new things and meet new people, but I didn’t know what I was walking into.”
Soto earned degrees in Psychology and Elementary Education and, as part of Montclair’s 4+1 program, will earn her Master of Arts in Teaching next year. “I want to be a teacher. I want to work with kids. I never thought that I’d get a chance to do any sort of production,” Soto says.
“But I had such a fun time and was able to have friends be a part of it too,” she says. “This is something we’re going to have a memory of forever.”
– Marilyn Joyce Lehren