A Look Back at 2021

Every day, Rutgers alumni show the world what excellence looks like. They create art, serve their country and communities, lift up others, cheer on Rutgers’ student-athletes, and make a difference in countless ways.

As we close out 2021, here’s a sampling of some remarkable alumni that we featured throughout the year. And if you’re inspired to share a story of your own or about another graduate, let us know!

Recognizing extraordinary alumni

In October, the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni recognized five graduates who embody the Scarlet Forever ideal in ways that change the world and strengthen their alma mater—now and for future generations. Learn more about the honorees and enjoy the video from the gala induction.

Giving sanctuary to strays

For the past decade, a team of Rutgers animal lovers have been rescuing stray cats and dogs roaming the New Brunswick campuses. “We hope to work with the university to secure space and a facility for temporary housing and establish a campus sanctuary to place ferals,” says Mary Ann Cancio RC’76, GSE’80, president of Scarlet Paws, in Pet Project.

Healing through humor

Live comedy can be healing, says comedian Judy Gold RC’84, especially in the time of COVID-19. “Laughter doesn’t disparage the gravity of an event, it acknowledges it—it’s how we cope,” she says in Comedy Gold. “If you are going to talk about a touchy subject, the jokes better be funny.”

Turning boys into leaders

Rafiah Hickson CCAS’11, SSW’14 is cofounder of B.O.S.S. Mentoring, which connects boys with male role models. “Ultimately, we want to be a pillar for the community,” she says, “serving the whole family.” Learn more in Role Models.

Giving back better

A course helps students understand that they don’t have to be wealthy to make change. Adwoah Adomako SPAA’21, who took the course taught by Lindsey McDougle, learned that “I am a philanthropist and although my work does not come in the shape of financial support, being an advocate and informed plays a huge role in creating upward mobility.” Read the rest of the story in Redefining Philanthropy.

Fighting for freedom

In 1944, navigator Eugene Polinsky ED’41 flew a secret and dangerous mission for the U.S. Air Force to support resistance fighters in Europe. The experience was “thrilling,” Polinsky says in Hope and Glory. “I felt that I was doing more than being an individual solder. I was fighting Hitler.”

Sparking a tradition

Rick Stier AG’74 recalls how, 50 years ago, he and his father ignited an effort to make a cannon a part of Rutgers football games. “Whenever I hear that cannon roar,” Stier says in The Shot Heard ’Round New Brunswick, “I smile to myself, knowing that I played a small role in bringing [it] to Rutgers.”

Trumpeting a mentor’s impact

Terell Stafford MGSA’94 credits his mentor at Rutgers for helping him become a virtuoso jazz trumpeter after giving up on the instrument. In Young Man with a Horn, Stafford says, “He taught me how to breathe again, how to articulate again, how to play musically again.”

Breaking barriers

Saima Shafiq Mohsin RC’90, CLAW’94 is the first Muslim U.S. attorney, and she now serves as the top federal law enforcement official for the Eastern District of Michigan. “For folks who feel like there are barriers and that it’s difficult to succeed, I think this sends a message that you can do it,” she says in Breaking Through.

Saving a life (or two)

A book by Tara Condon SCILS’04 about her husband Jim RC’91, CLAW’97’s liver transplant aims to help others facing similar life-changing surgery. “We never want a discussion about the gift of life to occur on the worst day of your family’s life. It boils down to making an uncomfortable topic more comfortable,” Condon says in A Transplant Tale.

Playing his heart out

Recording an album with Billy Joel’s back-up musicians “was a scary prospect,” says singer-songwriter Evan Toth GSN’12. But it was also “a dream come true.” Learn about the experience and his love of lyrics and language—he’s also an English instructor—in Words and Music.

Searching for sunshine

Trying to keep up with meteorologist Joe Martucci SEBS’13 is a little like tracking a weather system that is constantly in motion. “The most rewarding part of my job is when people tell me that they listen to me and trust me,” Martucci says in The Human Whirlwind. “It shows that my work is meaningful.”

Spreading the news

Washington correspondent Mike Emanuel RC’90 honed his skills at WRSU, Rutgers’ radio station, while he was a student. “Good solid journalism that I learned as a student is more important than ever,” Emanuel says in Inside the Beltway.

Taking a stand

When Wayne R. Ferren Jr. CCAS’70, GSNB’78 was about to graduate from Rutgers, he faced the possibility of being inducted into the military. Recounting his choice to resist the draft, Ferren (who wrote a book about his journey) says, “I’ve always felt proud that I was honest and able to stand up and say this is who I am.” Learn more in A Conscientious Objector’s Story.

Building bridges

The Black Organization of Students Alumni Association is working to increase the number of Black students graduating from the university. The group “ultimately wants to impact the larger society beyond Rutgers,” says the group’s president, Ed Nkosi NCAS’93 in Building a Legacy. “If we can do that in some way, if we can say that we had an effect…of making life a little bit better for whomever—that’s really the success.”

Posting his playlist

At Rutgers, Javier Mercado RC’75, SSW’77 discovered a love for Latin music and for hosting radio programs. After retiring from social work, he returned to sharing music with others, this time through the internet. “I love radio,” Mercado says. “I always loved it and will do it until I can do it no longer.” Check out his playlist in Back to His Roots.

Preserving history

Rosemary Maravetz NCAS’99 isn’t a golfer—yet—but her love of history guides her work at the USGA Golf Museum and Library. “People may start the tour saying they’re not interested in golf and this museum isn’t for them,” she says in Swing Time. “But by the end of the tour, they’ve found something they connected to.”