As Nathan Weiss Graduate College student Joseph Lentini receives his Master of Arts in exercise science degree this month, he is reflecting on his time at Kean University and the opportunity it gave him to not only study and learn, but also to lead and serve. With activism experience and dedication, Lentini’s horizon is open for life after college.
Lentini leaves Kean with a bachelor’s degree in athletic training, his soontobeawarded master’s degree in exercise science, and years of experience with Be the Change, a community service group. He joined the group in 2012 while still an undergraduate, but became very involved after becoming the graduate assistant for Professor Norma Bowe, who advises the group.
“Through his passion for helping others in need at Kean and all over the world, Joey is an excellent example of how Kean students are leaders in our society,” said Bowe.
Through Be the Change, Lentini had the opportunity to attend Clinton Global Initiatives University (CGI U) two years in a row. CGI U hosts a meeting where thought leaders come together to discuss and develop innovative solutions to pressing global challenges. In 2015, Lentini and Be the Change exhibited their “Vertical Gardens Peace Project,” a peace garden for the women and children of Kosovo affected by war. In 2016, Lentini and Be the Change returned to CGI U to expand on their vertical gardens idea, seeking support for a portable vertical garden that uses recyclable water to be shipped to Syrian refugees in Greece. The new design system will be able to grow food anywhere in the world while addressing the issues of food insecurity and social justices.
Working with Be the Change, Lentini made an impact in Newark by transforming empty lots into urban gardens. He also planted gardens at the Bonnie Brae schools in New Brunswick, Bound Brook and Bridgewater to create therapeutic recreation for boys in crisis. In his spare time, he delivered peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to the homeless at Penn Station.
“I made a great decision to come to Kean University in the first place,” said Lentini. “This school helped me grow into a leader and effect change around the world while developing great relationships with the people around me.”
Lentini is unclear on where he will end up after commencement, but hopes to be placed somewhere he is passionate about.