Hail the Class of 2013, a Remarkable Group of Freshmen

The freshman class includes standout students such as Jonathan Daudelin (left), Christy Schulz and William Barry.

The class of 2013 -- with nearly 1,000 students -- is the largest freshman class ever to enter NJIT.  But it’s not just class size that’s impressive.  What’s more impressive is the quality of the students.

Jonathan DaudelinTake, for example, Jonathan Daudelin, a freshman majoring in mechanical engineering.  He’s one of 10 children, all of whom were home-schooled.  Being home-schooled gave him the luxury to study what he loved most and one of the things he loved most was to build robots.  He spent endless hours playing with LEGOs and eventually began building LEGO robots.  It was the kind of play that paid off.

For when he was 13, Jonathan led a team that won first place awards at the First LEGO League World Festival. His team’s robot earned perfect scores in three of rounds of the competition – something achieved only once before at the Festival.  Over the years, he’s built dozens of robots, but his favorites are a robotic ATM machine and a bionic glove that straps onto his arm.

Jonathan is also a published writer.  He co-authored four books about the NXT robotics system, two of which were bestsellers in robotics on Amazon.com.   He also contributes to the NXT Step Blog, the most popular blog about the NXT robotics system. 

Jonathan wanted to attend NJIT since elementary school. During middle school, he attended NJIT’s MathCounts, a math competition for students. While on campus, he heard that the Albert Dorman Honors College offered scholarships to students who scored 1,500 on the SAT (in math and critical reading).  So in eighth grade he took the SAT, scoring a near 1,200.  He retook it in his senior year and scored 1,500 – good enough to earn him a full scholarship to the Albert Dorman Honors College, whose honors classes he’s now enjoying.

Jonathan lives on campus and dorms with his brother David, a sophomore who majors in computer science and also attends the Honors College.  He hopes his engineering and honors classes will help him learn to build ever-more sophisticated robots.  

William BarryThe freshman class also includes William Barry, an Honors College student who majors in computing and business.  Like Jonathan, he’s a logical thinker. In high school, William belonged to a problem-solving team that won first place in the Odyssey of the Mind, a national competition for problem-solving teams.   He graduated from South Brunswick High School with a weighted GPA of 4.12.

William’s logical mind extends to music.  He’s an award winning singer and trumpeter.  His high school marching band won first place in the Northeast Marching Band Competition, and his mellifluous baritone voice earned him a spot on the New Jersey All-State Choir, which performed at Carnegie Hall. 

But what’s more impressive about William is that he accomplished all this while helping his parents care for his three adopted siblings, all of whom have Down’s syndrome.

Throughout middle and high school, William woke up at 5 a.m. to help his siblings, who are by nature early risers.  One of his sisters also had serious medical problems that required several surgeries; William helped his sister, and his parents, overcome that ordeal.

And though it was hard work, caring for his siblings had its rewards.  “My brothers and sisters are so affectionate that if I left the house for 15 minutes, I’d return and they’d give me big hugs,” said William, who lives on campus but visits his family now on weekends.  “It was lot of work caring for them,” he added, “but it became part of my daily routine.”  “I like to make my siblings laugh and to have happy lives and I wanted to help my parents, who adopted my brothers and sisters out of the goodness of their hearts.”

Christie SchultzChristie Schultz, a freshman majoring in biomedical engineering, also comes to NJIT with a wealth of achievements.  When she was a junior in high school, she won the Smith College Book Award.  Each year, Smith, the elite women’s college, gives the award to a high school girl with outstanding overall academic accomplishments.

Christie excelled academically at the Academy for Mathematics, Science and Engineering, a magnet high school in Rockaway.  She loves the sciences and while still in high school she worked on three research projects: one on bacterial transformation, a second on biofuels and a third on the purification of DNA extraction. When she was a senior, she took NJIT classes that were offered at her high school.  She was the only girl in her graduating class.

She also did good work outside of school. She interned in the emergency room at the Hackettstown Regional Medical Center, helping doctors and nurses treat serious injuries. She saw a woman give birth and did EKG tests on patients.She plans to attend medical school and perhaps become a neuro-surgeon.

Christie also founded a non-profit group that helps the people of Darfur, Sudan, where genocide has killed nearly a half million civilians. The group raised thousands of dollars to help the people of Darfur. 

At NJIT Christie, an Honor College student, plans to volunteer at the Red Cross as well as at Habitat for Humanity.  She has already talked to Professor Bruno Mantilla, a professor of biomedical engineering and a neurosurgeon, about working on an NJIT research project

But perhaps no incoming freshman is as remarkably accomplished as Anup Parikh who was accepted into the Honor College’s 7-year accelerated medical program with UMDNJ, a medical school in Newark. That means he’ll start medical school after just three years of study at the Honors College.

Anup ParikhAnup, a biology major, grew up in Coal Valley, Illinois, a small town west of Chicago. Like Christie, during high school Anup worked on advanced research projects.  He did stem cell and tumor cell research at the University of Iowa, as well as clinical cardiac research at the Midwest Cardiovascular Research Foundation.  He even co-authored a paper on the use of stents for coronary artery disease that appeared in the Journal of Invasive Cardiology.

And he too founded his own non-profit group, Partners in Education. The group works to improve public health in La Montagne, a poor Haitian village. During his senior year, Anup travelled to the village and helped a local women’s group create and distribute a public health survey to the villagers.  Right now, the village lacks data on infant mortality, maternal mortality and diseases related to poor sanitation and drinking water. The women’s group has since collected the data, which Anup will use to help the villagers appeal for humanitarian aid.  He took an interest in Haiti after reading Mountains Beyond Mountains, a book that profiles Paul Farmer, a doctor who has dedicated his life to helping poor Haitians get better medical care.

Anup’s interests are many. He loves to travel, and with his family he’s visited India, Kenya, Egypt, Peru, Amsterdam and Hawaii. He is also a top table tennis player. In high school, he entered the U.S. Open for Table Tennis, where he made it to the quarterfinals. He loves sports, especially basketball and baseball and, though he grew up in Chicago, he loves the Yankees. 

Like many students at NJIT, Anup is a first-generation American.  His parents were born in India, but his father, a surgeon, did a second medical residency in America so that he could continue to work here as a doctor.  As a boy, Anup loved to visit his father at the hospital and shadow him. Ever since then, he’s wanted to be a doctor, and a surgeon, like his father. He plans to specialize in surgical cardiology and perhaps transplant surgery.

But that’s in the future. Presently he’s enjoying his honors classes and is eager to get involved in research projects at NJIT. He is also eager to start doing community service, such as working on public health projects in Newark.

“I’m extremely grateful to the Honors College for the opportunity it has given me -- a full scholarship to enter the accelerated medical program,” said Anup.  “I’ll have more time to focus on research and community service, both of which I’m excited about.  It’s an honor to be studying with fantastic professors at a great school like NJIT.

(By Robert Florida, University Web Services)