Rutgers Class of 2025 Welcomes Its 'Future Scholars'
Story by: Rob Kinch
Photos by: Joseph Mudrak
This year, Rahway High School proudly counts among its graduating seniors, 12 students who have earned the recognition of being members of the ‘Rutgers Future Scholars’ program through their 7th grade, 8th grade, and high school academic careers in the district. Members of the program include: Andres Barco, Christian Davenport, Janiyah Flagg, Darien Hernandez, Ka-Miyah Huff, Deviani Leon, Connor Mackay, Juliette Rhinow, Abisha Sherestha, Naya Shipley, Tyler Walker, and Troy White.
Since 2008, the Rutgers Future Scholars program has offered 1000’s of Scholars the promise and opportunity of a college education in the Rutgers home communities of Newark, New Brunswick, Piscataway, and Camden. RFS Program Coordinator Ms. Ashley Douglas notes, “In 2016, the city of Rahway offered us all we needed to launch our first expansion site within New Jersey; superb school district leadership, a promising and enthusiastic community of learners, and generous benefactors, Dr. Roy and Diana Vagelos, to ensure the sustainability of the program.” She continues, “The extraordinary success of the inaugural Rahway class reaffirms our Future Scholar mantra works everywhere. ‘Once a Scholar, Always a Scholar’; this is our promise to our Scholars and families that we will be there through both the hardships and triumphs, providing academic and personal support, and always believing in their genius.”
The RFS program selection process for Rahway’s students involved filling out an application, writing essays, and meeting financial limitations. Once selected, no student was ever removed from the program. For Rahway’s RFS program students planning to continue their academic careers at Rutgers University, Dr. Vagelos will pay their tuition balances after the Pell and HESA contributions are subtracted. “This cohort is composed of the young change agents of Rahway,” affirms Ms. Douglas. “Throughout their time in the Rutgers Future Scholars program, I have had the honor, pleasure and more importantly, the permission of the scholars to work with them to meet the best versions of themselves. I am so honored to bear witness to the end of something amazing and the beginning of something truly magical – a future full of bright stars.”
Rutgers Future Scholar Tyler Walker, who will be pursuing a career in the study of Film on Rutgers Camden campus, cites the positive impact that membership in the program had on him. “I feel like it has made me a lot more focused knowing that it is pushing me forward to my career goals which made me so much more passionate, and for that reason my academics have benefited greatly.” With her sights set on a Chemistry major at Rutgers New Brunswick, Abisha Shrestha believes that the RFS program “helped me be more confident in myself and branch out into other things to see what they were like.” “I am just absolutely thankful to be picked and will keep striving to do different things and be successful.” Planning a major in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at Rutgers New Brunswick, senior Andres Barco-Cardona values the opportunities afforded him as a Rutgers Future Scholar. “I was able to experience many incredible events, such a college visit to Boston U. and the office life in accounting firms such as Ernst & Young. With RFS helping me learn and grow, it gave me motivation to better my studies and to attempt to excel past my comfort zone in RHS. It helped me set expectations for myself that I wanted to meet and exceed in high school, to be met with a brighter future.”
Rahway High School Principal Dr. Cary Fields lauds the dedication and diligence of her Scholars. “Our students have worked hard throughout their high school careers to take advantage of this amazing opportunity and I’m sure they will work just as hard when they begin their education at Rutgers University. I know they will achieve their goals! I wish them all the best.” Additionally, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Patricia Camp acknowledges the benefactors who made the RFS program a reality in Rahway. “Through the generosity of Dr. P Roy and Diana Vagelos we have been able to bring RFS to Rahway. Our first RFS class to graduate from Rahway High School this year exemplifies the program and the Vagelos’ intent with their support. I have been blessed to see these young people grow from awkward 7th graders to the self-assured, confident, community-involved adults they are now. I am so very proud of their individual and collective accomplishments.”
Rutgers Future Scholars Director Aramis Gutierrez shares a personal note on the RHS scholars. “I am proud of each Scholar and for their family. What they have accomplished over the past five years with Rahway and RFS, especially this past year, is nothing short of extraordinary. Whether they are entering the world of work, college, or selective service, they set a goal for themselves and remained steadfast in achieving it. They are ready! I commend Dr. Patricia Camp, the Rahway faculty, and staff for preparing the Scholars for success and Ms. Ashley Douglas and Ms. Shayla Carroll for creating a culture of support and family which makes RFS so special.”
To Rutgers University, to Dr. and Ms. Vagelos, and to Rahway District, RFS Tyler Walker best sums up the collective feeling of all those fortunate to have been members of the program. “I would just like to say thank you for caring and for putting so much into every aspect of our lives and ensuring that we are comfortable, happy, and continuously driven to do our very best. It brings me much joy knowing that I have people in my corner who genuinely care for my well being.”