Rutgers University

First in Their Families to Attend College, RU Future Scholars Prepare to Graduate

Future Scholars Marcellus Hill, Athena Torres, Himang Patel and Harvey Mills will graduate this May from Rutgers University. Credits: Nick Romanenko/Rutgers University

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — This year marks a significant first for Rutgers University.

Fifty-five members of the inaugural class of the Rutgers Future Scholars program are set to graduate from the school this weekend, capping a journey that began when these low-income, first-generation college students were in seventh grade.

The program began in 2008 with the aim to place 215 middle-school students per year from Rutgers’ host communities on the track to higher education, according to the university. Fifty students each from New Brunswick, Piscataway, Newark and Camden enroll in the mentoring and college-prep initiative every year—and all stand a chance to get a full-tuition scholarship to Rutgers.

Sign Up for E-News

“Our Scholars, like their peers, have a lot of questions,” the program’s director, Aramis Gutierrez, told Rutgers Today. “ ‘Am I smart enough? Will I fit in? Can I afford it?’ We provide answers by exposing them to college credit courses as early as ninth grade, building a community of likeminded peers and educating them on how to pay for college and apply for scholarships.”

The Class of 2017 began with 183 students. Of them, 163 enrolled in college and other postsecondary institutions. Just short of 100 landed full scholarships to Rutgers.

Ninety percent of Future Scholars enroll in college after graduating high school, according to the university. Seventy percent get acceptance letters from Rutgers, of which half attend.

So far, roughly 1,800 children have become Future Scholars.

The university touts the program as a “life-changing opportunity” designed to boost those whose families lack money and experience in higher education.

“We focus on the ‘if only’ students—those who teachers say could excel if only they had the opportunity or financial means,” Gutierrez said. “Beyond academic aptitude, we look for students with leadership skills or who are engaged in community service.”

Once accepted, Future Scholars take college-credit, in-district classes co-taught by university professors. During summers, the students take on-campus courses taught by Rutgers educators. They also work paid internships during their junior year of high school, according to the university.

Those who attend Rutgers may take a for-credit mentoring course that enables them to teach up-and-coming Future Scholars about time and stress management and course selection.

Taken together, each stage of the program prepares graduates for the world beyond Rutgers, according to the school.

“When I entered the Future Scholars program, I saw all that was possible,” Himang Patel, a Piscataway resident who’s among the first class of graduates, said. “When I got to college, companies took note of me because my involvement in the program and reached out to me for internships. That work helped me succeed beyond my dreams.”

Indeed, Patel is slated to work for Deutsche Bank on Wall Street after graduation.

But the lengthy nature of the program and the trail-blazing tendencies of its participants also build strong bonds.

“This is more than a program,” Athena Torres, who grew up in Camden and is graduating from Rutgers’ New Brunswick campus, said. “It is a family.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - May 23, 2018

The Jaffe Briefing will not publish from Thursday through Monday. A great Memorial Day to all!


SEASIDE HEIGHTS - Sex can be an almost-religious experience, but it seems a bit excessive to copulate under a statue of the Virgin Mary in a Catholic church's outdoor prayer garden. Yet, that's where ...

The Jaffe Briefing - May 22, 2018

The Jaffe Briefing will not publish from Thursday through Monday. A great Memorial Day to all!

MANVILLE - If marijuana becomes legal in New Jersey, here's another town where you won't be able to buy it: Manville. The mayor and council unanimously voted to prohibit any sale of weed - recreational and medicinal - within Manville's borders. The ...

The Jaffe Briefing - May 21, 2018

The Jaffe Briefing will not publish from Thursday through Monday. A great Memorial Day to all!

STATEWIDE - Should public school students be allowed to attend schools in other towns? That's the big, controversial question in a lawsuit filed against the state that looks to end what some consider to be the worst school segregation in the nation. The ...

The Jaffe Briefing - May 18, 2018


IN COURT - Sounds like a cheesy thing to do, but the NJ Turnpike Authority has gone to court for years trying to stop a pizzeria chain whose logo is suspiciously similar to our beloved Garden State Parkway sign. Sure, nobody wants drivers searching for an on-ramp to end ...

The Jaffe Briefing - May 17, 2018


MOUNTAINSIDE - Oh, where to begin describing this 46-page lawsuit against two Mountainside cops? A detective sergeant placing his testicles on co-workers' food. And throwing poop-smeared toilet tissue at them. And defecating in someone's boots. And taunting with a dildo dubbed "Big Blue" he liked to wave in cops' faces, as he chased ...

The Jaffe Briefing - May 16, 2018


ATLANTIC CITY - Happy days are here again, as the state's once gasping gaming resort is expecting sports betting will rake in $150 million to $175 million a year in new, glorious profits - courtesy of your pals on the U.S. Supreme Court. Moreover, ecstatic Stockton University officials believe, this recharged gambling mecca will bring in a whole new ...

Rutgers Athletics Signs Dyehard Fan Supply to New Multi-Year Agreement

May 21, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ -  Rutgers Athletics has selected Dyehard Fan Supply, an event and retail merchandise marketing and e-commerce company, as the official merchandising partner for the Scarlet Knights in a new multi-year agreement.Dyehard will handle game day and event merchandising for Rutgers Athletics.

“We’re excited to expand gameday merchandising options and elevate ...

Newark man given 22-year sentence for kidnapping, sexual asault of Rutgers student

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A Newark man was sentenced Friday to 22 years in prison for the 2016 kidnapping and sexual assault of a Rutgers University student on the school campus in New Brunswick.

Michael Knight, 40, of Newark must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey said in a statement today.

Superior Court Judge ...

Rutgers center battles noise pollution nationwide

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ  - Eric Zwerling got a call this week from a man was living next to a fitness center, complaining he repeatedly heard the loud thud heavy free weights and medicine balls hit the floor.

The man was recovering from having a pace maker in his chest and wondering of the impact of the noise from the gym.

“I’ve received thousands of calls,” said Zwerling, ...


Here's How to Help Protect Young Athletes from Injury: Let Them Play Multiple Sports

May 1, 2018

Dear TAPInto New Brunswick:

One of the responsibilities that parents take most seriously is protecting their children from injury, whether it is buckling seat belts in a car or wearing a helmet while riding a bike. And when their kids become teenagers and want to participate in sports or other activities, parents do everything they can to keep their sons and daughters from getting ...

Department of Human Services Awards Teens for Creativity in Celebrating Their Family Tree

May 24, 2018

(TRENTON) - The New Jersey Department of Human Services on Wednesday honored 12 New Jersey high school and middle school students for their winning entries in the 2018 New Jersey Teen Media Contest, which celebrated the students’ artistic and written word portrayal of how their family tree may look.

The contest hosted by the department’s Division of Family Development focused on ...