1) How did the two of you meet?  Was it at Rutgers-Camden?

We met at the Honors College at Rutgers-Camden.  The small size of the Honors College made it easy to get to know people quickly.  We took a number of classes together, formed many common friendships, and spent a lot of time hanging out in the Honors Lounge in the Paul Robeson Library.  We also often rode the PATCO train to and from class together, so we saw a lot of each other.

2) How did you know that Rutgers-Camden was the school for you?

When we applied to Rutgers-Camden, we were both seriously considering other schools.  After applying, however, we were invited to attend an Honors Brunch at Rutgers-Camden.  Enrolling in the Honors College was appealing to us, and we independently decided to attend the lunch.  At the time, Dr. Robert Evans, who was formerly Associate Professor of Biology, was filling in for Dr. Allen Woll, Professor of History, as director of the Honors College.  Dr. Evans took interest in each prospective student, taking time to sit down with each student and parent to chat.  Mary Clare expressed a desire to study abroad, and Dr. Evans sent links to resources the next day!  Matt expressed interest in pursuing a degree in biology and Dr. Evans, one of the leaders in the biology department, expressed great enthusiasm at the prospect.  The personal touch was something that neither of us had experienced at any other university, and we knew we would be at home at Rutgers-Camden.  Upon receiving our acceptance letters, we were both offered scholarships and an offer to enroll in the Honors College.  Rutgers-Camden offered us the most opportunity for the best price around.

3) What is the most memorable experience you had while at Rutgers-Camden?

We had many memorable experiences from Rutgers-Camden: a trip to the Renaissance Faire, getting lost on a canoe trip, attending the National Collegiate Honors Conferences, planning costume balls and a battle of the bands, and surviving some unique honors seminars.  However, one of the best experiences was taking an International Studies course called Literary Ireland, taught by Dr. Timothy Martin, Associate Professor of English and current director of the Honors College.  After a semester of reading Irish literature and learning about Irish history, we traveled to Ireland as a class.  It was our first time abroad and it was amazing!  In twelve days, we toured the country from west to east.  We saw the shades of green, stayed on Inishmore, heard Gaelic, toured the ruins of abbeys, visited Yeats’ hometown, rode horses on the beach, and walked Joyce’s Dublin.  Seeing the country in person really enhanced our understanding of the history and literature we had studied in the classroom.  The experience greatly broadened our horizons.

4) What opportunities did you receive because of Rutgers-Camden?  How did the education you received here influence your future?

Mary Clare: I knew I was going to receive a good education from Rutgers-Camden, but once I got on campus, so many more doors opened for me.  I owe my bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and my first job to Rutgers-Camden.  The faculty and administrators at Rutgers-Camden challenged and supported me.  I realized that I wanted to work in higher education when I was attending Rutgers-Camden.  During my course of study, I was hired to work part-time at the Honors College, thus acquiring experience in higher education administration.  This work experience and the critical thinking and writing skills gained from studying English are the reasons why I secured my current position at Philadelphia University.

Matthew:  My educational experience at Rutgers-Camden was the launching pad for my career.  I knew that I intended to pursue doctoral-level training, most likely in the healthcare field, from the moment I enrolled at Rutgers-Camden.  Initially, though, I had some doubts whether such a small school could provide the foundational education and experience in the sciences to make me competitive with students from other schools.  Over my four years at Rutgers, its size proved to be a significant advantage.  I received individualized attention from professors and was personally directed toward research opportunities.  Ultimately, the undergraduate education I received at Rutgers-Camden not only got me admitted to an Ivy League dental school, but helped me to excel in its rigorous basic science classes alongside students from many other, far more expensive universities.

5) Why should prospective students seriously consider Rutgers-Camden as the school for them?

Rutgers-Camden is simply the best value around.  Rutgers-Camden used to have a slogan that said, “Stay close, go far.”  This wasn’t false advertising.  You don’t need to go to a large, expensive university in order to gain the education and skills to thrive in your pursuits.

About Mary Clare and Matthew Venuto

Hometowns: Mary Clare – Sicklerville, NJ; Matt – Cherry Hill, NJ

Camden College of Arts and Sciences Majors: Mary Clare – English; Matthew – Biology

Camden College of Arts and Sciences Graduation Date: 2007

Graduate School-Camden Program: Mary Clare – English

Graduate School-Camden Graduation Date: 2009