Free Food and Smiles Welcome Students Back to Campus

Vasilios Halkias, Quinn Cook and Matthew Jeffers were three of hundreds of students who enjoyed the pancake breakfast (photo by Amarelis Bracero).

On the first day of school, NJIT welcomed students back to campus with what is universally accepted as a beautiful thing: free food.

The annual pancake breakfast, served outside on the campus green, gave deans and administrators and especially President Joel Bloom a chance to warmly welcome students back to school for the fall semester.

The first day of classes is often equal parts anxiety and excitement for students, as it was for Rosa Balboa, a freshman who despite waking up early and skipping breakfast arrived 10 minutes late -- traffic derailed her good intentions -- for her first class: Math 108. After class, she was hungry and came for pancakes and waffles.

“I’m sure a lot of students missed breakfast today because like me they were running to get to their first class,” said Balboa, who graduated from Elizabeth High School and intends to major in computer science. “So it’s really nice of NJIT to serve us breakfast.”

President Bloom, replete with apron and a smile, was there early to serve students like Balboa. And as he did he asked them about their academic majors and their hometowns and how they enjoyed their summers. He said the campus, with 11,000 students, was more vibrant than ever, filled with well-prepared students who are poised to excel in college.

The incoming freshman class, with more than 1,162 students, is the largest ever at NJIT and by one important measure -- SATs -- also the smartest.  The class has an average SAT score of 1211 in math and reading -- 19 points above last year’s freshman class.  Statistically, that's the highest SAT score of any freshman class.

The most popular majors chosen by the freshman class are mechanical engineering, computer science and  biomedical engineering. They are followed by civil engineering, computer engineering, architecture and biology, while business majors were also on the rise. Most of the students are from New Jersey, but some come from Hawaii, California, Texas, Washington, Indiana and Illinois. 

The freshmen enter NJIT at a time when the university is stronger than ever. The Brookings Institute recently reported that NJIT was one of the nation’s top 10 schools that “…provided the greatest value-added boost to their alumni in the occupational earnings power category.”

BestColleges.Com also identified NJIT as one of the top 25 public colleges for students having the lowest loan default rate, while Diverse Issues in Higher Education reported that NJIT was among the top one-third of the nation’s universities producing minority engineers and computer scientists.

Quinn Cook, a freshman majoring in computer science, said he chose NJIT because it’s a top university that is affordable and not far from East Amwell, his hometown. He also likes that the campus buildings are clustered together in one quad, which makes it easy to get from his dorm room to his classes.

“NJIT is a top tech school and I can board here and still be close enough to home so that mom and dad don’t have to worry about me,” said Cook. “It was the perfect school for me.”

Cook came for pancakes with two of his suite-mates, Matthew Jeffers and Vasilios Halkias, both of whom major in chemical engineering.  A reporter asked Halkias how he planned to balance having a good time in college with the rigors of study.

 “I’ll study during the day and relax," Halkias replied wryly, "at night."

By Robert Florida

This story is tagged: chemical engineering, computer science, class of 2019 . Or read more Feature Stories.