Back to School Connections

The beginning of the school year is a time of change, a bit of chaos and sometimes a bit of fear in adjusting to a whole new world for our freshman and transfer students. It can also be a sort of homecoming for our returning students with the opportunity to reconnect with classmates they haven’t seen over the summer and to reengage with their professors and mentors.

For our students fresh to campus and seasoned Highlanders alike we recommend taking the time to talk with students who aren’t in your major and learn more about their goals and ambitions and some of the challenges they face. One of the best ways to avoid stumbling while following your path is to listen and learn from what others have done while walking their own.

Fariha Tasneem is double majoring in Information Technology and Communications Media at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). From being Photo Editor on the yearbook to being a First Year Connections Peer Leader, Fariha dedicates her time to exploring various opportunities around school. She also created the Humans of NJIT Facebook page to share the faces and stories she was hearing on campus.

“When I started here I didn’t really know anyone. I became very close with a lot of quiet people here. Most of the students are independent and keep their problems to themselves. I wanted to show other people that the students at NJIT have a story to tell if you look for it.”

When asked what advice she could give to prospective NJIT students, Fariha replied, “Get to know people. Freshman year matters so much that I cannot put enough emphasis on it. NJIT is not like other colleges. You get thrown into real hard work that makes you grow up very fast.”

Liliana Torres transferred to the Albert Dorman Honors College program after spending two years studying architecture in the Dominican Republic. Liliana was the 2014 recipient of the Travisano Scholarship in Design. The scholarship is awarded to an undergraduate NJIT student whose studio work demonstrates excellence in the art of architecture. Liliana pleasantly surprised people in the Architecture department as they thought the project was created by a 4th or 5th year student.

“My first year here was amazing! I was surrounded by supportive students and professors in the Honors College.”

When asked what advice she could give to prospective NJIT students, Liliana replied, “When you are deciding on a major, analyze your abilities and passions. When you’re passionate about something, the grades will naturally come.”

Majoring in Computing and Business, Jinisha Patel transferred to NJIT after attending Union County College for a year. Fully independent and working hard to support her own education by working two jobs, she strives to help others become confident in pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

Jinisha has established a reputation for herself as a campus leader for women’s rights in STEM. As a Student Outreach Director for NJIT’s College of Computing Sciences, Jinisha spends her time speaking to girls at different high schools on the importance of STEM education.

When asked what advice she could give to prospective NJIT students, she replied:

“Get involved. NJIT is really what you make of it. The great thing about NJIT is that every person who I’ve ever met has been humble. There’s always someone who can relate to you. Greek life here is also very accepting and we are always supportive of each other’s ideas.”

Monica Khattak is an Albert Dorman Honors Scholar majoring in biology with a minor in business. During her time at NJIT, Monica has served as president of her residence hall and as a member of the Pre-Health Society, Biology Society, Engineers Without Borders and the Emergency Medical Services Society.

“Growing up, I wasn’t sure what to do. I bounced around with different ideas then applied to The Middlesex Academy during high school. Eventually I found biology interesting and science just made sense to me.”

Monica has come a long way from being unsure about her future plans to doing active research as an undergraduate, shadowing a vascular surgeon for two years, and journeying to Ecuador to work with NJIT Biology Professor Eric Fortune but it all started with that first year.

“My first year was completely different from where I am now. It was my first time living alone so I kept myself busy and signed up for as many clubs possible. That was how I obtained leadership experience.”

These are just a few of the amazing journeys your NJIT classmates are on. Be sure to seek out any advice or assistance that you may need on yours. Be sure to create your own success story by participating and engaging often and early in your college experience. To get an idea of some of things you might be interested in check out NJIT’s Center for Student Involvement at

We would love for you to share your journey with us. Contact us at