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MY NEW BALANCE:  A GIRL ON A JOURNEY TO A BALANCED LIFE & WRITING ABOUT IT ALONG THE WAY: MENTAL ILLNESS: MY STORY      By Holly Chok  May 20, 2017 MY NEW BALANCE: A GIRL ON A JOURNEY TO A BALANCED LIFE & WRITING ABOUT IT ALONG THE WAY: MENTAL ILLNESS: MY STORY By Holly Chok May 20, 2017(0)

MY NEW BALANCE: A GIRL ON A JOURNEY TO A BALANCED LIFE & WRITING ABOUT IT ALONG THE WAY: MENTAL ILLNESS: MY STORY          By Holly Chok     May 20, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY NEW BALANCE

A GIRL ON A JOURNEY TO A BALANCED LIFE & WRITING ABOUT IT ALONG THE WAY.     By Holly Chok 

 

Editor’s Note:  by Calvin Schwartz

I’ve expressed it often, the joys of synchronicity, networking and social media and how they can enrich the soul. Two months ago, I was a panelist at Rutgers University, “Road to Communication and Media Kickoff” as part of Career Services. It was well attended by communication students and afterwards, the five panelists continued to engage students. For me, it’s the ‘post’ panel time, which reinforces the entire event.

One of the students I met “post” event was Holly Chok. More importantly and what I’ve always encouraged when I participate in student-alumni events, is continuing dialogue, social networking contacts, and even mentoring; generations sharing and working together.

Holly and I did just that, staying in touch. A few weeks ago, she shared a link to her blog, “MENTAL ILLNESS: MY STORY” https://mynewbalance.wordpress.com/mental-illness-my-story/

I read it immediately and was mesmerized with her eloquence, bravery, honesty, writing style and willingness to give back and help others by sharing. And I thought about how a young college student was so frank and outspoken with her personal life; not easy to do in our world. It hit me after I read it again, that this should be shared with a much wider audience, so I asked her permission to share here on NJ Discover.

 

 

MY NEW BALANCE

A GIRL ON A JOURNEY TO A BALANCED LIFE & WRITING ABOUT IT ALONG THE WAY.

 

 

ABOUT HOLLY:  Hello, all! I am a college student who loves her coffee, and is devoted to promoting positive body image, healthy lifestyles, and balanced mindsets. I cannot thank you enough for joining me on my journey to wherever this blog may take me!

mynewbalanceblog@gmail.com

Instagram: @hollychok

 

 

 

 

 

MENTAL ILLNESS: MY STORY   HOLLY CHOK

 

Prior to diving into my experience with mental illness, I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to visit and read my personal story. I hope that it brings to light mental illnesses; diseases which are too often darkened and concealed from the public. However, if you find yourself struggling while reading, I advise you to stop and take a moment. At this point, I encourage you to visit the “Helpful Links” tab on this site for a list of vital resources devoted to helping you through this tough time.

Note: This posting will contain images of my experience, however, these images are not to say that mental illnesses have a certain “look.” In fact, eating disorders especially, affect people of all races, socioeconomic statuses, and physiques. A common misconception with eating disorders is extreme weight loss, however, this is NOT the case. *

If someone asked me when I began to struggle with a mental illness, I couldn’t answer; it kind of just, in lack of other words, “happened.” My family and friends can attest to this, as if you ask any of them, it felt as though the “happy” Holly was one day laying in a hospital bed, on the brink of death.

 

 

However, if I had to guess, I would say high school is when I began to transform from the typical teen to someone I couldn’t recognize. While I had always maintained honor roll, participated in sports and clubs, and had an active social life; it wasn’t always easy. While on the surface I was homecoming queen, on my class student council, and a leading member on my cross country team, I never felt as though all these accomplishments were ever enough.

I had always been a perfectionist; it was in my blood. My parents are the two hardest-working of individuals I know, and my brother is just a natural genius. Needless to say, I strived for the best, and only the best for myself. This is not to say I blame anyone for my eating disorder; so many factors go into the onset of these illnesses – factors which I’ll never truly know.

Senior year of high school, spring-time if I remember correctly, it began to really hit me. At the time I didn’t know what “it” was, but I knew something wasn’t right. For this reason, I chose to go the college closest to me, because deep-down I knew that this “it” did not want me to go far away for school; regardless of all the acceptances and scholarships I received.

 

 

 

As summer progressed, and college came closer, my stress grew larger. While Rutgers was close enough to commute, I had committed to living in the dorms. What should have been an exciting decision, was a terrifying one, as the “it” that I was talking about before, was just growing worse and worse.

That is when my habits, like “healthy” eating and exercising, grew into obsessions. If someone asked me what was most important to me at this time in my life, I would say the gym, eating “right,” and then everything else. I spent the whole summer malnourished and exercising until my lungs couldn’t take anymore; and then I’d wake up and do it all again the next day. Pounds were shedding off my body, but for my troubled mind, this was not enough validation that perhaps I was doing “too much.”

Prior to the school-year starting, I knew that something was wrong, yet I didn’t know “it” was an eating disorder just yet. However, my obsession with food and the gym was too strong for me to move into the dorms. For this reason, I opted-out, and decided to live at home. I don’t know what would’ve happened to me if I decided to move away, but one thing about living at home was keeping my same, dangerous obsession with food and the gym – an obsession my eating disorder loved.

This obsession carried with me the whole first semester of college. I did one of three things: attend class, work out, or sleep. My social life came to a halt; I can’t say I went out with friends more than once a month – if that. Every day was just filled with thoughts of working out and eating ‘right.’ However, this routine was just making me more malnourished, weak, and slowly, but surely, killing me.

As I walked out of my last final of the semester, my physical body was alive, but inside, I was already dead. I felt weak, dizzy, and barely even mobile. I felt so bad that later that night, I paid my (first) visit to the ER.

I don’t remember this visit much, in fact, I just remember being completely “out-of-it.” Nothing significant was discovered (or so I thought). I thought it was just further justification that my obsessions and habits were normal; that being well-below a healthy weight was normal. Little did I know what would the next week of my life would entail.

While at the time I was disappointed this happened “behind my back,” I am glad doctors noticed that I wasn’t “normal.” It turns out that they gave my mother a phone number for an eating disorder program at the hospital, which she was told to call and set up an appointment. I was scared, shocked, but when approached by her about it I agreed; I should follow through with that appointment.

A week later, I showed up at the ED center, confident as ever I would be sent home once again, just like that first ER visit. After all, in my disordered mind, everything I was doing was “normal.” However, when examined by the doctors, my vitals told a different story. My pulse came back at a whopping 28 beats/minute. I was literally on the verge of dying from a heart attack.

 

From that moment, I was rushed back to the ER and admitted later that night. I will never forget it, as it was the last day of 2015. Yep, I watched the ball drop in Times Square on my little emergency room TV. Happy New Year? It was pathetic, but boy, it was necessary.

From that point on, I spent a month in inpatient treatment, and further months in an outpatient setting. I gained much needed weight, but also tools to help me cope with the underlying emptiness causing my disorder. I had to take the semester off from college, which the perfectionist in me hated, but that was necessary too.

I write this story a year later; happy, healthy, and in what I consider-to-be full recovery. I still see doctors, but I am doing well for myself. My health is in order, and I have that peace of mind that I lost some-time-ago. I still have my struggles on a daily basis, but I am dealing with it, one day at a time.

I have found my new balance, which is why I named this blog as such. Now that I have reached this healthy point in my life, I am ready to share my struggles, offer advice, and hopefully inspire those reading that there is light on the other side. Mental illness, as I know from experience, is so real. However, I hope by sharing this, I can help break the negative stigma which unfortunately encompasses it.

Thank you for reading, as always.                              Lots of love, Holly ❤

 

BLOG: “MENTAL ILLNESS: MY STORY” https://mynewbalance.wordpress.com/mental-illness-my-story/

NJ Discover LIVE TV Show: An Evening with PAT HOBBS, Rutgers University Athletic Director. An Inside Look into College Athletics   Monday April 24th  8 PM  TUNE IN   with hosts Tara-Jean McDonald Vitale and Calvin Schwartz NJ Discover LIVE TV Show: An Evening with PAT HOBBS, Rutgers University Athletic Director. An Inside Look into College Athletics Monday April 24th 8 PM TUNE IN with hosts Tara-Jean McDonald Vitale and Calvin Schwartz(0)


NJ Discover LIVE TV Show: An Evening with PAT HOBBS, Rutgers University Athletic Director. An Inside Look into College Athletics   Monday April 24th  8 PM  TUNE IN   with hosts Tara-Jean McDonald Vitale and Calvin Schwartz 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TUNE IN MONDAY APRIL 24TH   8 pm at    njdiscover.com        ALSO SEEN on YOU TUBE TV, LONG BRANCH COMMUNITY ACCESS TV CHANNEL 20, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY TV, MONMOUTH COUNTY CABLEVISION CHANNEL 77, MONMOUTH COUNTY FIOS CHANNEL 44

 

 

 

 

Most folks who know me these past five journalistic years, are well aware of the 24/7 nature of my wearing a Rutgers cap. It’s a terrifically long story which began 21 years ago when I “re-discovered” my alma mater with my son Neil at our first Rutgers football game. Not to be trite, but the rest is history. I’ve come to realize the importance of education in our world and how a university helps one through the real formative years of college education. I’m also aware of the evolution/ contemporary marriage of athletics and academia.

The exigencies of life bring me to Rutgers campus some 70 times a year. Two weeks ago, I sat on a panel for Communication and Media students.  Just the other day, I was at a lecture and book signing with American freedom icon, Civil Rights Activist Congressman John Lewis. I pinched myself being on campus and absorbing Lewis’ words. But it’s really any college campus which excites and stimulates me as a citizen first and journalist.

 

 

 

 

 

I love the purity of college sports and have become that tailgating, multi-sport alum. After that first football game, my son asked me, “Dad, can we come to more games next year?”  I do suffer from some obsessive-compulsive tendencies so the following year I got season tickets for Football, Basketball which later morphed into Women’s Basketball, Wrestling, Women ‘s Soccer, Lacrosse and an almost appearance at a Quidditch match (The Harry Potter stuff).

The point of these few paragraphs is to dramatize my involvement with Rutgers athletics so when Pat Hobbs came aboard in 2015, I was thrilled beyond with the opportunity for growth, Big Ten navigation and the infusion of his special spirit and energy. It was all self-evident in Pat’s first few hours on the banks of the Raritan. We knew that Pat was going to guide this ship purposefully through the waters of Big Ten competition. And that’s exactly what’s he’s doing with finesse, energy, dedication and a 24/7 commitment. I marvel at Pat Hobb’s omnipresence and persona.  You’ll see below some demonstrative pictures of the confirmation of this statement.

 

 

 

So here it is January 28th 2017 at Madison Square Garden for the Rutgers -Wisconsin basketball game, carrying with it national implications. I was with my Weequahic High School buddy Dr. Michael Kerner at a pre-game event on 36th Street which Pat Hobbs attended.  Thinking to myself, I’ve got nothing to lose, I went over to Pat and invited him to be a special guest on NJ Discover LIVE TV Show.  There was an immediate, “Yes.”  I’ve been working these past months with Ryan Pisarri, Chief of Staff, Division of Intercollegiate Athletics. At NJ Discover, our mantra is uniqueness in elevating the people and places of New Jersey. And this is the show you’ll see on Monday.   And so it goes.

Calvin Schwartz   April 17th 2017

 

 

 

 

TUNE IN MONDAY APRIL 24TH   8 pm at    njdiscover.com        ALSO SEEN on YOU TUBE TV, LONG BRANCH COMMUNITY ACCESS TV CHANNEL 20, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY TV, MONMOUTH COUNTY CABLEVISION CHANNEL 77, MONMOUTH COUNTY FIOS CHANNEL 44

 

PAT HOBBS BIOGRAPHY  (Courtesy of Scarlet Knights Athletics News )

 

A New Jersey native with over 20 years of leadership experience in higher education and public service, Patrick Hobbs serves as the Director of Athletics at Rutgers University.

Hobbs joined the Scarlet Knights on Nov. 29, 2015, moving south down the New Jersey Turnpike after notable achievements at Seton Hall University. He served as Dean at the Seton Hall School of Law from 1999 to 2015 and oversaw the Department of Athletics for the Pirates from 2009 to 2011.

“There is no question about the opportunity at Rutgers,” Hobbs said at his introductory press conference. “New Jersey is a special place. This is New Jersey’s university.”

Patrick Hobbs

Hobbs stated that his first priority was to hire a football coach to lead young men and to serve as an ambassador for Rutgers University. Just eight days after his hire, he announced Chris Ash as the 30th head coach in the 146-year history of the program. Ash arrived with nearly two decades of collegiate coaching experience, including five years in the Big Ten Conference (four as a defensive coordinator) with four B1G Championships.

“Chris is absolutely the right coach at the right time for Rutgers football,” Hobbs said. “He brings with him a national reputation for his coaching and recruiting abilities and, more importantly, for his character and leadership.”

 

 

The positive momentum established during the fall semester continued to bloom in the spring. Hobbs restructured Athletics leadership to enhance communication, improve resource allocation and to enrich customer service and the game day experience. This new leadership is charged with developing a comprehensive strategic plan that will communicate a defined vision for Rutgers Athletics.

On March 22, Steve Pikiell, the 2016 America East Conference Coach of the Year who led Stony Brook to six post-season appearances over the past seven years, was introduced by Hobbs as the 19th head coach in the history of Rutgers men’s basketball. A two-time team captain under Jim Calhoun at Connecticut, he arrived with 25 years of coaching experience, including the past 11 seasons as head coach of the Seawolves.

“Everywhere Steve has been, he’s won,” said Hobbs. “But most impressive, is that everywhere he’s been, they started at the bottom and rose to the top. He will bring that same dedication and energy to build a successful program at Rutgers.”

A media conference on May 10 further reinforced the positive trajectory of Rutgers Athletics under Hobbs. “R B1G Build,” a comprehensive campaign launched to raise $100 million for new or upgraded facilities, had surpassed the $50 million milestone in just 15 weeks. The initiative was boosted 10 donations of more than $1 million during that span, including the three largest gifts in Rutgers Athletics history, which combined to exceed $11 million.

“This generous support will help meet critical needs for our student-athletes to successfully compete in the nation’s premier academic and athletic conference,” said Hobbs. “Having supporters who not only understand what it takes to compete on an elite level, but provide the resources to help lead us there, is integral to our success.”

 

When the 2015-16 season came to a close, the achievements, both on the field and in the classroom, were unmistakable. Rutgers was one of just two universities to have its men’s and women’s soccer, wrestling and men’s lacrosse programs all nationally-ranked. RU student-athletes combined to win 16 Big Ten Players of the Year honors and individual championships. In addition, Scarlet Knights earned 17 All-America and 46 All-Big Ten honors. These accomplishments were available for the world to see, as 279 competitions were televised or streamed, including 90 televised on national linear networks.

Rutgers had 228 student-athletes recognized as Academic All-Big Ten, an increase from 196 in 2014-15. RU also boasted 72 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars with cumulative grade point averages of 3.7 or better, an increase from 54 the prior year. In between their athletic and academic achievements, Rutgers student-athletes performed more than 3,500 hours of community service in 2015-16.

Prior to joining Rutgers, Hobbs also worked for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. In April 2014, he was appointed Ombudsman to the Office of the Governor, serving as a resource for whistleblowers within the Office. He also oversaw ethics training and guidance to the 140 employees in the Office of the Governor.

As the Interim Director of Athletics at Seton Hall, Hobbs assumed supervision of the department and led searches for men’s and women’s basketball head coaches. He also conducted the search for and hiring of a permanent athletic director and added the sport of women’s golf, which earned two Big East titles in the last five years. Another major accomplishment was negotiating a contract with the Prudential Center as a home site for men’s basketball games.

 

Hobbs joined the Seton Hall Law faculty in 1990 with a specialty in tax law; he became Associate Dean for Finance in 1995 and was named Dean in 1999. In his years as Dean, Hobbs shepherded the Law School through a series of groundbreaking initiatives that raised Seton Hall Law to unprecedented prominence. The school was the fastest-rising law school in the U.S. News & World Report ranking over the past decade. One of the highlights includes the Health Law program, which is consistently ranked among the top 10 nationally. Seton Hall Law boasts a faculty that is world-renowned in such diverse areas as intellectual property, social justice, corporate bankruptcy, national security policy and employment law.

Hobbs was influential in fundraising at Seton Hall Law by spearheading the $25 million plus campaign, Seton Hall Law Rising, the school’s largest fundraising initiative. Part of the success stemmed from revitalizing alumni support with over 70 percent contributing during the campaign.

During his tenure, Hobbs established several centers of excellence: The Center for Health & Pharmaceutical Law & Policy; the Center for Policy and Research; and the Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology. Under his leadership, Seton Hall Law achieved worldwide prominence through a series of groundbreaking initiatives emanating from the school’s social justice mission.

Hobbs advocated for the growth of the Seton Hall Law Center for Social Justice, offering clinical programs with students and professors taking on cases addressing predatory lending, domestic violence, international human rights, and education and housing policy reform.

In 2006, Seton Hall became the education partner of the New Jersey Law and Education Empowerment Project (NJ LEEP). The mission of the Project is to introduce economically disadvantaged students from 8th to 12th grade to the legal profession and to strengthen their academic skills. Since the graduation of the first NJ LEEP cohort in 2011, the program has achieved a 100 percent college acceptance rate among its participants, with several admitted to the nation’s top-tier universities.

 

The Garden State product has been dedicated to fostering greater diversity in the legal profession. In 2008, he formed the Dean’s Diversity Council, comprising faculty, students, alumni and administration working in concert to enhance the Law School’s inclusive environment. In 2012, Professor Hobbs was honored by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund with its Excellence Award for his work on behalf of diversity within the legal profession and for “exemplifying Justice Thurgood Marshall’s commitment to justice, civil rights and education.”

Hobbs is a former member of the Standards Review Committee of the American Bar Association, Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar and has twice chaired the Law School Development Committee. He also serves as a member of the boards of the Newark Alliance and Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. Additionally, he served as a member of the Advisory Board of Lexis-Nexis, the New Jersey Commission of Professionalism and the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education. In 2004, he served as Chair of the Newark, New Jersey Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on the Downtown Core Redevelopment, a key initiative driving Newark’s resurgence and which led the way for the construction of the Prudential Center entertainment arena.

A member of the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation from 2004-14, Hobbs chaired the Commission for the last four years of his tenure. The independent, bipartisan law enforcement body originally conceived in 1968 as a fact-finding agency whose mission is to expose organized crime, public corruption, and waste and to recommend reforms in the service of the citizens of New Jersey.

Prior to joining Seton Hall Law, Hobbs was a tax attorney with the law firm of Shanley & Fisher in Roseland, N.J. He received his B.A. in accounting, magna cum laude, from Seton Hall University, his J.D. from the University of North Carolina and his LL.M. (in taxation) from New York University.

Hobbs, 56, is the proud father of three children and resides in Basking Ridge, N.J

 

TUNE IN MONDAY APRIL 24TH   8 pm at    njdiscover.com        ALSO SEEN on YOU TUBE TV, LONG BRANCH COMMUNITY ACCESS TV CHANNEL 20, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY TV, MONMOUTH COUNTY CABLEVISION CHANNEL 77, MONMOUTH COUNTY FIOS CHANNEL 44

NJ DISCOVER EXCLUSIVE: PeduL:  A New Company Changing the Way College Is Funded. A Brave New Young World.  By  Calvin Schwartz   August 8, 2016 NJ DISCOVER EXCLUSIVE: PeduL: A New Company Changing the Way College Is Funded. A Brave New Young World. By Calvin Schwartz August 8, 2016(0)

NJ DISCOVER EXCLUSIVE: PeduL:  A New Company Changing the Way College Is Funded. A Brave New Young World.  By  Calvin Schwartz   August 8, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sitting in my office, early August, my thoughts racing to a Big Ten (Rutgers) college football field with its concurrent September dreams, I just ceremoniously slapped myself to “snap out of it” (Cher did that to Nicholas Cage in the movie ‘Moonstruck’). It worked. I’m concentrating now on PeduL, the incredible young minds that conceived this college funding game changer; the giant telecommunications company, IDT, which is nurturing them in Newark, New Jersey, my birthplace.

I’ve envisioned a series of articles, interviews and other media events to bring PeduL to journalistic light. They’ll need all of us come launch time. And funny thing, all of us, past, present and future have college kids in our lives. So don’t go away. One more point at the outset. Here is the PeduL link.  Check it out.   http://www.pedul.com

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ve checked it out and saw their TEAM, then you saw Chisa Egbelu, as their Business Operator. Chisa was my illuminating connection to the company. Chisa and I have an interesting history which now becomes relevant. Cut to three years ago, the Garden State Film Festival in Atlantic City. Chisa interned on a film that I needed to see. After the Q and A, he saw my Rutgers cap, magnetically approached, mentioned he was a sophomore at Rutgers, asked my connection and the rest is a precious history of alma mater and commonality.

As we discussed PeduL, their vision, energy and dedication, I knew my course of involvement. For decades, I’ve been watching ‘the news.’ So much of our extant world, the condition thereof, is a function of education. It’s so simple but not. What always blows me away, is the fact that a considerable number of eye-blinks ago, I went to Rutgers. My tuition was $500 per year and I managed to get a partial scholarship (They must’ve been plentiful as I resided in the middle of my class). End result, I personally (not my parents. I had two younger sisters to worry about) paid for my entire Rutgers education. No lifelong loans to pay back. No chains on hands or feet. I was debt-free when I left Rutgers with two degrees. I even managed to save my summer jobs money.

 

When I visited PeduL last week with my wife, a former three-decade educator, and Yolande Edme, a recent Rutgers graduate, Big Ten and NJ Discover broadcast intern, my first words of exclamation were how much the country and world needed what PeduL was doing. Then I asked Chisa what happened over the years that witnessed tuition going from $500 a year to $15,000. Chisa’s response was rapid fire, “The government doesn’t do what they used to anymore.”

Next I brought up how relevant and timely PeduL is. Their mission is front page global headlines. Bernie Sanders campaign in part focused on paying for all public colleges. LeBron James, a few weeks ago, gave $41 million so that 1100 kids could go to college. PeduL is right at the epicenter. Chisa totally agreed and was well aware.

 

 

 

I’d spend nearly three hours talking with Chisa and Murtala Aliyu, Developer and math genius in the vibrant atmosphere of IDT. Kayla Jackson, Project Manager and source of vast amounts of energy was out of the office that day. As journalistically sharing the thrill and vision of PeduL’s development will be an ongoing project; it’s that important for all of us; my purpose in this first installment is to summarize the inception and birth of PeduL and to begin to enlist readers and believers.

Chisa spoke about IDT, a global telecommunications company and their visionary executive. “He seemed like a one on one individual. A cool person to talk to. Like your friend’s grandfather.” IDT provides PeduL with space, legal team and great support, advice and consent in development. “They are international phone calling, entertainment companies, animation for ‘The Simpsons,’ and even look for oil. What I really respect about IDT is that they don’t stay in their own lane. Howard Jonas is Chairman, his son Samuel, CEO. His son has been great to me, really kind. The thing I respect most about Howard; he figures out what he wants to do and just does it.” I smiled remembering I worked for the same type of man, Leonardo Del Vecchio, for 25 years at Luxottica Group who operated the same way. IDT has branched out. It’s also why they have this venture aspect to the company which is PeduL.

 

 

I like to be a balanced interviewer; some heavy, some light approaches. “Chisa, where are you living?” I sensed he was all over the place just like he was at Rutgers; from playing Quidditch (Harry Potter), Rutgers radio and TV, excelling academically and being tapped for Rutgers’ highest honor, Cap and Skull, Senior Honor Society. “It depends. Tonight I’m in New Brunswick. Murtala and I have a meeting tomorrow in NYC. Sometimes I’m in Harlem or Morris Plains.”

I asked about a general overview how this all came about commenting, “It’s unusual for an undergrad to become a CEO?”  “It is unusual but more commonplace than you think.” He spoke about his roommate and best friend, Jarrett, a computer science genius (top 2% of class) but more passionate about music so he left Rutgers and enrolled at Berklee College of Music, his dream come true. The following summer, Jarrett came to visit and asked to move back. He couldn’t afford to stay at Berklee. “At this point, we were deep into Reddit culture, Kickstarter and cool things on the internet. Then the statement, “I wish there was Kickstarter for school.” But why isn’t there? From there, the roots started taking shape.”

 

 

Murtala had just walked in to our cubicle meeting. Chisa continued, “So before we got here, we had a great Business to Consumer aspect, and now Business to Business. That is our biggest leverage point on top of competitors.”  I interjected, “What about Jarrett?” “He moved in back then; our double became a triple. It was quite the year. He works at Lockheed-Martin now. He’s so good at computer science and realized music was a pipe dream if he can’t afford it.”

It was difficult to develop PeduL and find the right team. “It’s a lot especially doing it between classes, activities, internships, part-time jobs, events, parties. It was a lot of work. It’s also the reason no one has done this before. It’s overwhelming. There are so many different aspects, so much red tape to cut dealing with the bureaucratic system, education at one end matching with tech culture. Two different worlds. But that’s our culture now, embracing difficulty.” I love that phrase.

Chisa next dealt with media and how the business side leads the way. “When I was interning at NBC, the business side led the way. If they said it won’t work, that was it. I thought of trying to recruit the smartest kids in business school. I said we have this idea, are you interested. It seems a lot of them thought we could just throw it up and people would use it. My naiveté. But it moved me to go forward. We were 4, 5, 6 maybe 7 business partners at the beginning. They dropped it; too much work.”  Moving forward, Chisa took off a whole semester, interning and focused on looking for a team. “That’s how I found Murtala. Commitment and loyalty trumps everything else. We needed individuals passionate about the project which led us to Kayla in business school.  She is a superstar.”

 

“What’s the practical side of how this works?”  Chisa looked skyward for a moment; a sign of serious intention. “We are for profit. We made that decision. It was a difficult trade-off, weighing pros and cons. We were looking to creating a non-profit aspect within the company. Why we went profit? We decided to rely on what our features can bring. We are dealing with angel investors, putting in money, taking a certain percentage. It gets complicated with government involvement and transparency.  We’ll move faster and smoother because non-profit is cumbersome and full of regulations.”

I thought it was all about giving back and caring about the future of America and helping kids to get educated and not worrying about tax deductions which is really nickel dime stuff. Chisa liked my thinking.  “We are not cutting out attempts to get big donors and doors are open for millions of people to give something. Grassroots marketing is where we’re going. It’s who we are as a company.”  He explained what is best for them is a million people giving a few dollars.

There are two aspects to donations. One is to donate to an individual campaign. Secondly, you can donate to an institution page, a university, youth organization or high school.  I like to think of myself as a student of human nature so I asked, “What have you learned so far?” “The number one thing we learned is that in business there are no true favors. It’s all business.

They go to New York three to four times a week for meetings. They have learned how to dictate and move faster. They know there are no such things as favors. They are giving their supporters an opportunity because they are growing. IDT funds their lawyers.  Hugely important is how much money out of $1000 gets to the students. “We only take 4.9% off and are fans of transparency.”

“Can students come to you. Who decides?” “We’re starting off with students in need and academically deserving. They can make a campaign when coming to our website. We will also have University pages. Individuals can donate to that page (school) and allocate that to students. Money is sent off as a scholarship to those students.”  They are actually building a calculator now to find who is in need. Then you’re in and start soliciting money. They have the help on the business side and now need help on the education side. My mind was firing away on all the people I know in education. I was thrilled my wife became part of the discussion.

 

I also realized that their education journey required learning how to get to the decision maker; something I learned for 25 years at Luxottica. The other positive outcome, is the more they create awareness, the more it spreads around; the social media aspect as well.

Next we talked about the infinite amount of small businesses so perfectly suited to be involved. PeduL gives every small business owner, every company in existence an opportunity to give back to their communities. On local levels, they’ll involve Chamber of Commerce. “Ideally, we’d love every kid on our platform to be sponsored by a company. For example, the bakery down the street sponsors a student. The student is given tasks to do; for instance, getting people to like the bakery on Facebook, sharing bakery posts, watching their video, doing social media marketing for them. Out of the business marketing budget, they would pay $4 to 5 each time it takes place.” I realized it’s really not charity for the business; they are getting marketing. Regional companies have capital and need exposure. PeduL is a perfect win-win situation.

 

 

I told Chisa, Murtala and Yolande that my head was spinning and that is a good thing. It doesn’t spin often these days. I marvel at PeduL. There is such a need for their product, for educating our youth and insuring America’s future. I marvel at these kids from Rutgers and IDT. I believe I just enlisted and maybe got to some of you out there. Best to say now, to be continued. This article has not been personal but strictly business.

My  Day at Rutgers 250th Commencement- May 15th; President Obama Keynote Speaker.  bY Calvin Schwartz  May 26, 2016 My Day at Rutgers 250th Commencement- May 15th; President Obama Keynote Speaker. bY Calvin Schwartz May 26, 2016(0)

My  Day at Rutgers 250th Commencement- May 15th; President Obama Keynote Speaker.  bY Calvin Schwartz  May 26, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s always a story in the naked Garden State (a play on words, naked city). My commencement adventure began in early April when Rutgers University credentialed me (as a reporter for NJ Discover) to cover Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor’s lecture at the Rutgers Athletic Center on April 11th. That day for me was historic, wondrous and far from expectations. The Justice got off the podium and walked up into the steep stands to the top, engaging people, eloquently speaking, answering questions and shaking hands and surprising her security detail. In the press box, I sat next to the editor of Rutgers newspaper, The Targum, Dan Corey, on one side. Fox News on the row below. Coincidentally, Dan Corey would go on to contact the President and obtained a phone interview with him before the commencement, securing his place in New Jersey pop culture history and then meeting the President after he arrived via one of five helicopters flying over the stadium.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A month before commencement, Rutgers had not heard from the President regarding his speaking at the 250th Commencement. As we all learned in President Obama’s address itself, Rutgers had been campaigning for three years for him to attend the event. Early in his speech, “I came because you asked.” Even the student body president, Matthew Panconi, got involved in the campaign. The President mentioned Panconi’s participation including Matthew’s grandmother, Diane Lampf Totten, who hand wrote three requests to the President. “His grandmother’s three letters sealed the deal.” I love synchronicity in the universe. I went to Weequahic High School in Newark with the grandmother. The President hugged Panconi as he was leaving.

 

 

Once the news of the President’s acceptance surfaced to speak at Commencement a few weeks before the event, the scene around Rutgers was frenetic beyond imagination. Tickets, usually unlimited for graduates’ family and friends, were now limited to three; parking also limited. Demand to see a sitting President for the first time speak at a Rutgers commencement was also beyond. Being at NJ Discover and covering Central Jersey for the past five years with relevant upbeat stories, I knew there was a place for me in the White House Press Pool. I also thought it “fitting and proper” that I should be there. I graduated Rutgers, mentioned Rutgers 92 times in my first novel, ‘Vichy Water,’ which is in the Rutgers library system, include Rutgers guests and stories in my NJ Discover LIVE TV Show programming and for many reasons, I find myself on campus 70 times a year. The White House concurred. With the help of Greg Trevor and Steve Manas at Rutgers Media, I had my little euphoric space designated on the camera riser literally a few feet away from the commencement podium. My state of mind knowing I’d be there for history and an extended playing (because of the sheer numbers of faculty and students) of ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ was concomitantly exciting.

 

A few things I knew about writing this article. I’m not national or regional press/TV coverage or even Jersey’s Star Ledger all of whom would inundate media channels about the commencement. “I got to be me” (like the lyrics) and talk about the emotionality of being there. Besides, the Commencement is on video for posterity. I did blast all my social media connections with the news of my attending Commencement as part of the White House Press Pool. I find it sociologically fascinating about some of the responses. As soon as I mentioned ‘Obama,’ some folks did their political rants which I gently and warmly addressed. I reminded ‘them’ that I am completely apolitical and all I care about is that a sitting President, the 44th of the United States of America, is coming to Rutgers 250th Commencement. That is history and the 12,000 graduates, (all sitting on white folding chairs on the field), 40,000 guests and faculty are thrilled and honored by that history and will cherish the memory for their lifetimes. Sometimes I inject into my comments, as the President did, that Rutgers is the eighth oldest college in America and ranks as one of the most diverse institutions in the country. (46.7% of students are minority and 7,000 foreign students attend Rutgers.)

 

 

The night before I went to bed at 11PM. That’s usually when I wake-up from a nap readying for the next several hours of late night writing or viewing. I tossed and turned waiting for the alarm. I wanted to be at Rutgers by 7 AM to begin absorption of the energy and spirit of the day. The alarm never made it. I was out of the house by 6:20 AM, dressed warmly as if there was a football kick-off a few hours away. It was really early as I pulled into the second row of parked cars in the grassy lot near the stadium. Seconds later, with no one around, I bumped into old friends and their graduating daughter; I liked that synchronicity.

 

 

 

 

Cumulus and stratus clouds and strong chilly winds; the weather for the day. Right away, you could feel that certain something in the air. The President was coming later. The energy and awe of the office was everywhere. There was a gripping power. The power of the office of President. Two days before, I came to campus to get my press parking pass and wandered into the stadium as they were setting up. A few workmen were around and a bike with a hard hat on the handlebar. Heading for home, I drove down River Road. There were several Piscataway municipal gardening crews pruning and sprucing. I thought the power of the office of President dispatched the crews and most likely the President would never notice the gardening detail work.

 

 

The stadium was closed until 8 AM. Barricades and fences everywhere. Security check points and metal detectors already manned at all the entrances. Event staff personnel huddled in a group. The press gate was at the west side. The press gathered in small groups after going through security. I talked with several Fox News cameramen. At one point, I thought I had cut ahead of them in the credentialing line. I invoked Curb Your Enthusiasm’s “conversation cut” and apologized. We laughed. They were stationed just to the left of me on the camera riser those few feet from the podium.

 

 

 

 

 

The stadium at 8:20 AM was virtually empty; A few students and professors properly gowned. I walked up and down the field aisles bordering a sea of white folding chairs. Again, the unspoken word. The power of the Presidency pervasive. You could really feel it. The intense security everywhere. Canines also doing their thing. I started taking pictures; wanted to capture faces; again the power of the guest speaker transposed to facial emotion.  There were bouquets of red flowers in the Porto-sans. The production people thought of every detail; the prestige of the guest speaker who was also getting an honorary degree.

 

 

 

Somewhere around 10 AM the press was informed that we were in lock-down. No more leaving the field for pretzels. You could sense the piercing eyes of security but couldn’t see them. The stadium was now mostly filled with a building air of excitement. Palpable is a good word.  I saw Professor Tim Smith, Rutgers Director of Athletic Bands, Mason Gross School of the Arts. We’re good friends; we hugged amidst the anticipation. Of course I made sure they’d be playing ‘Pomp and Circumstance’. Moments later, a graduate approached and asked if I was “Hildy’s brother.” Staggering odds for that to happen; we never met. He’s 50 and finished his Master’s Degree.

 

 

 

It was processional music time. First chords carpeted me back 47 years to my graduation in this stadium. Back then it looked way different; sometimes I don’t grasp the march of time. Dignitaries, trustees, faculty marched.  The cold wind was wild with their caps and gowns. For a brief moment, I yearned to be part of academia. If only, to be able to teach and inspire young minds. While in the processional, a professor threw kisses to the seated students. The Rutgers Wind Ensemble with Professor Kraig Williams conducting performed. I photo’d, from my spot as a rotating cameraman, an array of creative artful messaged individualized caps like, “Adventure is everywhere, so wish upon a star and go the distance.”

 

 

 

Chairman of the Board of Governors, Greg Brown spoke, setting the stage for the President.  “…. Our distinguished guest has made a conscious decision to lead with diplomacy and restraint in regards to many of our international engagements. And that too was a choice. But today he chose you.” Then it was ‘Hail to the Chief’ as President Obama and Rutgers President Barchi walked in stride.

The President was given an honorary degree along with S. Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Doctor of Science and Bill Moyers, Doctor of Laws. Speech time. I’m going to get out my college yellow highlighter.

 

 

 

 

 

To bond and embrace the New Jersey Rutgers audience there was Pork Roll versus Taylor Ham, Grease Trucks with mozzarella sticks and winners of the first college football game. “America converges here.” “Progress is bumpy but is this nation’s hallmark.” He was quite the engaging embracing speaker. To the students, he told them they have everything it takes to lead this nation to a brighter future and acknowledged his generation were better spellers. There were five suggestions to go out into the world.

One. He cautioned “someone longing for good old days, take with a grain of salt.” Don’t fear the future.

Two. The world is more interconnected. Building walls won’t change that.

 

Three. Facts. Evidence. Reason. Logic and Understanding of science are good things. Listening to today’s political debate one might wonder where the strain of anti-intellectualism came from. “In politics and in life, ignorance is not a virtue…. It’s not cool to not know what you’re talking about.”

Four. “Have faith in Democracy…. it’s not always pretty…. I know.” I loved when the President told the graduates if you want to change things start participating. 2014 had the lowest voter turnout since WWII. Fewer than 1 in 5 young people showed up to vote. “Apathy has consequences.”

Five. “Gear yourself for the long haul…. Be persistent.”

 

 

And then he was gone. The graduates were formally graduated. The stadium exits grid-locked. You could hear the droning sound of helicopter engines. Once again that sound helped me feel the enormous power of the President. While waiting to ascend the steps of the stadium, I engaged a few graduates. They must’ve thought unorthodox things about me.  I wished them congratulations and said that I just have one word for them, “Plastics.” They stared quizzically. I lamented and told them it’s from a movie from the sixties, relevant when I graduated. Cordial smiles were strained then they disappeared into their future.

 

 

 

 

For the first time in 20 years leaving Rutgers Stadium, all for football, I didn’t mind the endless wait to get out of the parking lot. I just sat in my car, smiled and pinched my left arm. I whispered to my mother, “Mah, I was at the 250th Rutgers Commencement.” She came to my graduation 47 years ago. Afterwards, I ceremoniously handed her my diploma; she earned it more than me. And so it goes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NJ DISCOVER Credentialed to cover RUTGERS 250th Commencement on Sunday May 15th. President Obama is Commencement Speaker   bY   Calvin Schwartz  May 14th 2016 NJ DISCOVER Credentialed to cover RUTGERS 250th Commencement on Sunday May 15th. President Obama is Commencement Speaker bY Calvin Schwartz May 14th 2016(0)

NJ DISCOVER Credentialed to cover RUTGERS 250th Commencement on Sunday May 15th. President Obama is Commencement Speaker   bY   Calvin Schwartz  May 14th 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two days ago, I received an email from the White House Media Affairs that I was credentialed (for NJ Discover) to cover Rutgers 250th Commencement featuring President Barack Obama (44th President) as Commencement Speaker. I was thrilled beyond.

Citing a phrase from the Gettysburg Address, “It is altogether fitting and proper,” that this historic opportunity was given to me. Back in 1969, I graduated from Rutgers and subsequently am on campus some 70 times a year for a variety of reasons; art, history, music, lectures, athletics, film and ‘sociology’. NJ Discover LIVE TV show (which I co-host with Tara-Jean Vitale) often features Rutgers ‘guests’ and programming topics. My first published novel, ‘Vichy Water’ uses Rutgers as a geographical backdrop.

 

 

 

 

I’ve been known to listen to Elgar’s ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ often and for long periods of time; there I’ve said it; I’m a huge sentimentalist.  Commencement is one of the most emotional events in the life; a beginning(commencing) of life as we know it. Yes, I am thrilled beyond. I hope to absorb, photographically capture and report back here on my wondrous journey to emotionalism and history tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the meantime, here is the Rutgers link to information and video streaming to watch ceremony tomorrow.  http://commencement.rutgers.edu/

NJ INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: A Review of “IN THE GAME” An Unconventional Soccer Documentary  By John D’Amico  February 26, 2016 NJ INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: A Review of “IN THE GAME” An Unconventional Soccer Documentary By John D’Amico February 26, 2016(0)

NJ INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: A Review of “IN THE GAME” An Unconventional Soccer Documentary By John D’Amico February 26, 2016

Editor’s Note: It was perfectly synchronistic that John reviewed a soccer film at the NJ International Film Festival. For the second straight year, NJ Discover provides the live TV broadcasts for Sky Blue FC, New Jersey’s professional Women’s Soccer team competing in the National Women’s Soccer League and playing their home games at Rutgers’ Yurcak Field.  http://www.skybluefc.com/ Calvin Schwartz

 

 

John D’Amico is a currently a Rutgers senior majoring in Journalism and Media Studies with a minor in Political Science. He briefly wrote for Brookdale Community College’s student newspaper “The Stall.” While at Rutgers, John has written for The Targum, and currently writes for the student arts and culture magazine “The Rutgers Review,” as well as for the Rutgers edition of TheTab.com. John’s interests include politics, film, television, and hopes to become a professional film or television critic. Contact John:  jjdamico123@gmail.com.

 

‘Into the Game’ – An Interesting Soccer Documentary from NJ Film Festival at Rutgers

By John D’Amico

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect with ‘Into the Game’. Honestly, before I watched it, I knew nothing about it other than that it was a documentary feature. As it turns out, I found it to be a pleasant surprise.

‘Into the Game’ is a sports documentary that recently played at the Spring 2016 NJ Film Festival here at Rutgers(actually held during Winter 2016) It tells the story of several recent members of Chicago’s Kelly High School’s girls’ soccer team. The part of Chicago these girls live in, is a relatively poor area, and also made up of mostly Hispanics. The movie takes place over four years. And it actually focuses more on the girls and their coach than it does on the sport itself.

The film follows multiple members of the team over four years. And writer/director Maria Finitzo really gives the film a very cinematic feel. It felt kind of like watching a typical narrative/fiction movie. And I mean that as a good thing. It felt like I was watching a very well-made and entertaining story. And at the same time, the fact that I knew that these were real people gave it even more weight. When the girls talk about their frequent financial struggles, you really feel sympathetic for them. When they talk about what they’re going through with their education, you definitely relate to their struggles. When the film examines the racial and gender-based issues that the girls experience, you can really understand what they’re going through. Yes, the film takes a look at some of those social issues. But the focus here was more on the people themselves.

In fact, in addition to the young athletes, the movie also follows the team’s longtime coach. He seems like a pretty interesting person as well. You get the sense that he really has a lot of passion for the team. But the thing is, he’s not so much concerned about how many games they win. He’s more concerned about his team feeling like a family. He even says as much. He’s a very likable person that way.

If I had one criticism to make of this film, it would be that the pacing could have been a little bit better at times. Even with its relatively short runtime of 76 minutes, there were moments when I found myself getting bored. But overall, I still recommend checking this documentary out if you get the chance. I give it 7.5 out of 10. It’s very good.

 

 

 

In The Game – Maria Finitzo (Chicago, Illinois)   TRAILER:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uk231Azot6k

In the Game is not a conventional documentary about a scrappy, inner-city girls soccer team that wins a championship through hard work and persistence. Rather, it’s a documentary about race, class, and gender as seen through the lives of inner-city girls. But this is not just a film about a soccer team dealing with loss and economic hardship. It’s an exhilarating portrait of girls who are learning to win in life. 2015; 76 min. Co-sponsored by the Rutgers University Centers for Global Advancement and International Affairs (GAIA Centers)!

 

INFORMATION   New Jersey International Film Festival

Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center
Rutgers University Program in Cinema Studies
72 Lipman Drive   (#018 Loree Building – Douglass Campus)
New Brunswick, New Jersey, 08901-8525 U.S.A.
(848) 932-8482 phone (732) 932-1935 fax;
NJMAC@aol.com, NJMAC12@gmail.com  e-mail;
Web Site: www.njfilmfest.com


SPOTLIGHT: A Magical Night at Skye Blue FC, WOMEN’S Professional Soccer vs Portland; Day after Ticker Tape Parade.  July 17th 2015   bY Calvin Schwartz SPOTLIGHT: A Magical Night at Skye Blue FC, WOMEN’S Professional Soccer vs Portland; Day after Ticker Tape Parade. July 17th 2015 bY Calvin Schwartz(0)

SPOTLIGHT: A Magical Night at Skye Blue FC, WOMEN’S Professional Soccer vs Portland; Day after Ticker Tape Parade.  July 17th 2015     bY Calvin Schwartz

 

 

 

I’ve been a sports fan for a long time. Early recollections go back to the Brooklyn Dodgers winning the World Series in 1955 when I ran home from grammar school to watch the last few innings on black and white television. And yes, the Boston Celtics with Bill Russell and Bob Cousy kept me shooting a basketball in my backyard in the middle of winter, late at night, with the help of a 40 watt lamp I made in wood-shop.

When my son was ten, I took him to our first Rutgers University football game. The following few years, I got season tickets for Rutgers football, men’s and women’s basketball. My son’s high school girls’ basketball team was ranked 11th in the country at one point. Suddenly, I had discovered the thrill of women’s sports and went to almost every one of their high school games over a three year period.

 

 

 

 

Along the way, I wrote a novel, ‘Vichy Water,’ and one of my main character’s role model/heroes was Althea Gibson, the great tennis player. Then I discovered Rutgers Women’s soccer. A full circle of commonality and synchronicity brought me to my first professional Women’s soccer match a few months ago as NJ Discover partnered with Skye Blue to produce its 2015 online game (match) broadcasts. I watched in awe as New Jersey’s team, Skye Blue FC took on Houston Dash with Carli Lloyd,Morgan Brian and Meghan Klingenberg from the USA World Cup Team.  Both teams were replete with USA World Cup Soccer Team members; of course it was exciting to see world class soccer, intense competition, thousands of Jersey fans cheering at Rutgers Yurcak field; the match ended in a 1-1 draw.

 

 

 

 

Next up was the World Cup Women’s Soccer tournament. Like many millions of fans here in the United States, I was totally mesmerized and captivated through the entire tournament. And yes, after each US goal scored, I jumped up, flailed my hands, and yelled encouragement and support; I was alone in the den but wished I was there. The final match against Japan was the perfect scripted ending until last Saturday night when Skye Blue FC played Portland at Rutgers.

 

 

 

As I arrived at the soccer complex before 7 PM, a few cumulous clouds in the most perfect blue sky, after all it was a Skye Blue match; you could sense a special excitement in the air, the day after the ticker-tape parade for the World Cup Champions in New York City. The parking lots were filled; as were the stands.

While I watched intently, jumping up for almost goals, I thought about what a special night out it was. To be part of the excitement of professional women’s soccer, turning around to see exuberant faces, the euphoric soccer kids and being able to grab a beer and a snack at half-time; all part of the magic of the night. Often, I’ve urged readers to get off their sedentary sofa and get out into the world and partake. Skye Blue is a sublime sofa evacuator and New Brunswick, with a multitude of eateries, is three minutes away.

The best part of the night; after the match, the Skye Blue players signed autographs for the legions of fans for an hour at the railing. Christie Rampone, from the World Cup Championship team, kept reaching for fan’s cell phones for ‘selfies.’ Present and signing autographs also were Kelley O’Hara (Skye Blue) Alex Morgan, and Tobin Heath (Portland) all from the World Cup championship team; a most perfect quintessential fan friendly experience. Skye Blue won 1-0.

Next home game: Saturday July 25th   7 PM

For more Skye Blue FC info: http://www.skybluefc.com/

SPECIAL SPOTLIGHT: TIM WRIGHT, RUTGERS, NFL AND GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY; WRIGHT WAY ACADEMY, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS CAMP    bY Calvin Schwartz  July 6th 2015 SPECIAL SPOTLIGHT: TIM WRIGHT, RUTGERS, NFL AND GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY; WRIGHT WAY ACADEMY, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS CAMP bY Calvin Schwartz July 6th 2015(0)

SPECIAL SPOTLIGHT: TIM WRIGHT, RUTGERS, NFL AND GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY; WRIGHT WAY ACADEMY, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS CAMP
bY Calvin Schwartz July 6th 2015

 

 

 

As they say in the journalism profession, there are assignments and ASSIGNMENTS. For me, being a loyal Rutgers alumnus and ardent Rutgers sports fan, when the information about Tim Wright, whom I personally watched make 50 catches during his Rutgers career, arrived at my email, I was thrilled to have the opportunity. Moments later, I called Tonya Payton, public relations specialist from S & S Associates and I was on my way to a memorable day with Tim Wright and other NFL players.  I was fascinated with the story of such a young NFL player, Tim Wright, giving back so much, so soon, to the community which helped mold him.

 

 

 

When Tim was seven, he started playing organized football in his hometown of Neptune and played for their high school for two years before transferring to Wall Township where he made the list of Top Ten New Jersey High School Football players. In September 2008, he attended Rutgers University on full scholarship. After a red-shirt year and an ACL injury, Tim’s passion, dedication and drive brought him a team captainship for his last two years at Rutgers as well as graduating with high honors and Big East academic awards. Despite the disappointment of not being picked in the NFL draft after graduating in 2013, and after prayer and many discussions with key people in his life, Tim tried out for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he excelled as a tight end, finishing Number One among Rookie Tight Ends in catches, yards and touchdowns. He was traded to the New England Patriots in 2014 when they won the Super Bowl.

Along with the help of his wife Jodi-Ann, Tim has pledged and dedicated his life to uplifting his community and thusly the formation of the Wright Way Academy and their first endeavor, Friday Night Lights Football Camp on June 26th 2015. The first part of the day began at Doolan’s Shore Club in Spring Lake, New Jersey at a Media and Sponsor’s Brunch.  Before the brunch and speeches, it was a bit of a wonderland for me, getting a chance to talk to NFL players and stars like Mohammed Sanu (Bengals), Ka’lial Glaud (Buccaneers) and Andrew Opoku (Baltimore Ravens). An impromptu infusion of humor ensued when Sanu, Glaud and I posed for a Rutgers alumni photo-op not before inviting rival UCONN star, Opoku to join us.

 

 

 

There was time for me to chat with some of the sponsors of the event; for me a particularly moving experience as I saw their commitment to Tim’s vision and how they assisted in his development as a special young man growing up in their community.  As Tim was making his opening remarks at the brunch, I was again moved by his sincerity, caring and eloquence in expressing his vision and strong desire to give back to the kids in the NJ Shore communities close to him. I thought he was a 20 year NFL veteran instead of beginning his third playing year.  After brunch, Tim suggested we sit and talk in a formal interview. I produced my recorder, flicked it on and he smiled.

 

 

 

 

I asked him to formally introduce himself. “My name is Tim Wright, originally from Neptune, where I went through the school system playing every sport all the way through my sophomore year then I transferred to Wall Township.” He talked about his Rutgers and NFL career and then segued to today. “This brings me to the platform where I was able to establish the Wright Way Academy Foundation-something which I launched in May. The premise behind that is to foster underprivileged children in bridging the gap between playing athletics, academics and quality of life for all kids.”

 

 

 

 

“What do you want to accomplish?” “What I want to do is give them the means, resources, and decent opportunities to become successful adults and that way they can serves as examples to kids that follow them which is what I am a product of as well. “How was it growing up,” I asked. Tim answered, “I was raised in my community with a lot of family members that supported me. A lot of people that came across my path- strength coaches, doctors, attorneys; different influences of people”  I told Tim, “It is easy for me to see you’re all about giving back especially to the community that helped you and I am such a great believer in taking care of youth. It’s youth who will lead us.” Then Tim smiled, “This is something which weighed heavily on my heart when I was younger. It just didn’t spring up when I got to the NFL. For me, my heart and passion is there. I am very fortunate to have support and blessings go to God.  And I am serving him and it allows me to carry out what I’m trying to do for my community.”

 

 

 

 

Next I told Tim that he is the perfect balance between athletics, academics, spirituality and quality of life and such an amazing example to the kids showing them how everything goes together. Tim thanked me for being there and said in closing, “We share a great relationship with our Alma Mater and when people are brought together, it’s all for a good reason.” I mentioned that it was a special synchronicity in the universe. “I’ll see you at the camp on the field. But I’m just a spectator with a camera” We laughed and shook hands.

 

 

 

 

An hour later, I was at the American Youth Football Complex in Wall. The kids were starting to arrive and register. There was a real air of anticipation and excitement. A few of the NFL players were tossing a football around. I saw one NFL wide receiver almost casually throw a pass some 70 yards down field. It was time for warm-ups and then an introduction to the camp by Tim Wright as the kids sat in the stands. One of the purposes for the camp, with ages ranging from 7 to 18, is to calculate their efforts and create individual benchmarks, so that each year, they will be able to strive for better results. This one day camp becomes a launching pad to measure growth each year. Later that afternoon, there were offensive and defensive development skills, an academic presentation, more warm-ups, combine testing, and one on one competition. A reception followed that night.

For me this day became a precious glittering example of a very special gifted athlete, Tim Wright, showing all the right stuff (athletics, academics, life) to the kids on the way up; an amazing role model. I absorbed his energy all day. And on the way home, although it was late June, being around football all day, I realized that NFL and college football kickoff is a couple of months away.  I couldn’t be happier with this assignment today.

For MORE information on the Wright Way Academy visit: www.thewrightwayacademy.org

 

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