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University Welcomes Newest Students and Launches Academic Year

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Students eating lunch on the quad on opening day.

Montclair State University’s newest students gathered on campus to celebrate Red Hawk Day and officially launch the 2019-2020 academic year on September 3. Wearing color-coded T-shirts representing their chosen college or school, they mixed and mingled with each other, faculty and staff, talking eagerly and openly about what drew them to Montclair State: the quality of education and excellence of faculty, its affordability, the proximity to home and to New York City, the beauty of the campus, and the feeling of community and care.

Rocky high-fiving a student on opening day

Here’s a sampling of their voices:

Caitlin Aristizabal from Secaucus, New Jersey, is majoring in Communication and Media Arts at the School of Communication and Media. “I love the environment. I love the campus. It’s so beautiful,” she said as she walked toward the Quad for lunch. Aristizabal first became familiar with Montclair State when she attended the Hispanic Student College Institute as a rising high school senior.

“I feel you can do a lot with communications,” said Aristizabal. Although she is interested in the entertainment field – perhaps broadcasting – she said she wants to explore the wide array of communications options the University offers.

Jen Chie of Clifton, New Jersey, is majoring in Music Therapy at the John J. Cali School of Music. “Montclair State is the only university in New Jersey with that major and has one of the top three programs in the country,” said Chie, who wanted to stay in her home state and find a university that reflected the same diversity as her high school in Jersey City.

“Montclair State has one of the best programs for children’s advocacy in New Jersey,” said Alexandria Oliver, a Warren Hills (N.J.) High School graduate who is majoring in Psychology at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “Children don’t have a voice of their own. I want to give that to them.”

Sitting beside Oliver at a table on the Quad was Brian Quigley, who also graduated from Warren Hills High School. Quigley said he had considered a major in Political Science but is now excited to pursue a degree in Theatre Studies at the Department of Theatre and Dance in the College of the Arts: “I really like the campus and this is one of the best theatre programs in the country,” said Quigley, who will also pursue teacher certification.

Jackie Velasquez, from Midland Park, New Jersey, is majoring in Business Administration and Management at the Feliciano School of Business. She chose Montclair State for its location – “I get to go home every day!” – and to pursue a lifelong dream: “My dad and I have always talked about opening a family restaurant.” Although she grew up working with her dad in a pizza place, Velasquez said they would serve Latin food at the new restaurant.

Students sitting under trees on quad

Sitting in the grass beside Velasquez was Enrique Argueta, another Business Administration and Management major. He will be commuting daily from Elizabeth, New Jersey. He described Montclair State as a good business choice for him – for its location and affordability. Argueta said he plans to pursue an MBA after graduation.

Ashley Ortiz from West New York, New Jersey, is a pre-major at University College with an interest in Business Administration with a concentration in Hospitality. “I chose Montclair State because I was attracted to how they help you explore your interests.” Ortiz was introduced to Montclair State when she attended the University’s Educational Opportunity Fund.

Danielle Kane is from Delran, New Jersey, across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. She said she had never heard of Montclair State until she received a postcard in the mail, then she started noticing the name everywhere. Now she is a Presidential Scholar in the University’s School of Nursing.

“Nursing is pretty competitive. I was excited to get in,” said Kane. While she sat talking on the Quad, Nursing School Dean Janice Smolowitz came by to say hello.

Josh Imbimbo of Vernon, New Jersey, is majoring in Family Science and Human Development, with a concentration in K-6 grades. Besides the highly regarded program at the College of Education and Human Services, he was drawn to Montclair State because, he said, “My sister went here!”

Students under shade trees

Rodney Irving of Newark was sitting beside Imbimbo. He’ll be majoring in Public Health at the College of Education and Human Services. He was impressed with Montclair State from the time his aunt went here. “It was the first college I ever visited,” he said, and crystallized in his mind as the ideal university campus.

Belleville, New Jersey, native Russell Maloney was enjoying the shade on the east side of the Quad. Maloney said his three sisters attended Montclair State before him. He is majoring in Biology at the College of Science and Mathematics with plans to attend medical school and become a general surgeon. With a long road of medical training ahead of him, Maloney said Montclair State helped to make his dream affordable.

Verona, New Jersey resident Yasmin Pego, a pre-major in University College who has a very clear interest in art and photography was attracted to the University’s affordability and familiarity. Having watched her cousins attend Montclair State, she was excited to become a student herself.  “Montclair State has everything I need,” said Pego.