If anyone has their doubts about the positive effects of playing video games or spending time in front of a computer, they need not look any further than Branden Bortner’s success. Branden arrived at Rutgers–Camden having already taken college level courses as a high school student. He even took an AP course in computer science before he became a Rutgers–Camden computer science major. As a person who has always been dedicated to his education, he also wanted to attend a school where he could experience new things as well, including living away from his childhood home. Rutgers–Camden was the perfect environment for him. As a student living, working, and studying here, he has discovered much he can enjoy from the Rutgers and Camden communities beyond his initial interest in their affordability. As a first-year student, he has already cracked the code to finding his academic focus, enjoying the general education classes required of Arts and Sciences students, and making his experience at Rutgers–Camden a fulfilling one.

Being an underclassman has not stopped him from using what he has learned so far to compete with his more experienced peers, in competitions sponsored by groups such as the Technology Student Association. He and his friend Cirey Francis planned a video game in generic RPG, or Role-Playing Game, wherein the system would easily adapt to the storyline and rules they provided. Branden had never programmed a game before, but challenged himself with the task along with creating “sprite” art, which makes a few pixels into recognizable characters. His simple sprites resembled those of vintage video games. Cirey and he realized as they played the game that it had some flaws, but they shared a valuable experience in understanding video game programming as creators.

Branden’s first year at Rutgers–Camden is already filled with good memories from classes, teachers, and campus activities. He has always appreciated teachers who make an effort to connect to their students. Philosophy professor Dr. James Genone was the instructor for Appearance and Reality, a class Branden took to satisfy a general education requirement. Having no prior interest in philosophy, he was still successful in the course and attributes part of that success to Dr. Genone taking an active interest in his own material, persuading Branden to participate often, and turning his lecture into an open discussion for his students. Branden’s experience in this class was so positive it led him to take another philosophy course this semester, called Nature of the Mind. Outside of the classroom, Branden participated in the campus-wide Humans vs. Zombies game of tag that riotously confused the wider campus community as bandana-clad students sprinted across the quad to catch their victims. He will always remember being “killed” on his way to work at the OIT desk.

With the intention of broadening his familiarity with computers, he took a job at the OIT help desk in the library. Fixing hardware was not directly related to his studies in computer science, but it did give him a new understanding of the programs beyond their algorithmic composition. “I enjoy working at the help desk and when I’m not helping someone, I can work on my computer science assignments,” Branden said. Sometimes people come to him believing their computer problems are outlandish and strange, but he promises that he has seen all there is to see. Branden’s experience working on campus is not only a useful exercise for his education, but his help is another resource made available to other Rutgers–Camden students as well.

At Rutgers–Camden, the college experience is diverse among all of its students. Branden strongly recommends the experience of resident life for the independence it has given him, in addition to the pleasant quiet of Camden and the city’s closeness to Philadelphia. For prospective students curious about living at Rutgers–Camden, he encourages them to try it, as the challenge of leaving one’s comfort zone has been considerably valuable to him.

Branden, like much of the Rutgers student-body, is a goal-oriented individual. His sights are set on graduating, but in the meantime he plans to work as an intern, to continue experimenting with video game programming, and to enter the workforce doing something he is passionate about. After realizing the value that attending Rutgers–Camden has been for him, he recommended the school to his sister when she was applying to colleges. As a student who can visualize his goals as clearly as he can read a computer algorithm, Branden is a valuable asset to his school.

About Branden Bortner

Hometown: Somers Point, NJ
Camden College of Arts and Sciences Major: Computer Science
Expected Camden College of Arts and Sciences Graduation Date: 2017


 Written By Darragh Nolan