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Game On! NJIT Community Provides Warm Welcome on Super Bowl Sunday

MBA student Cruz Gracia, who served as Team Captain for the NJIT Super Bowl volunteer contingent, in front of the New Yorker Hotel.

Members of the NJIT community joined the ranks of the more than 15,000 volunteers who provided a warm welcome to the thousands of visitors descending upon the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area when Super Bowl XLVIII kicked off on February 2, 2014.  Following a series of volunteer recruitment efforts on the NJIT campus, 163 students, alumni and staff were cleared to volunteer for the big game and become a part of Super Bowl history.

Jo-Ann Raines, Director of Student and Alumni Career Development, and Vivian Lanzot, Assistant Director of Career Development Services and Civic Engagement were among those who served as Media Day volunteers on January 28 at the Prudential Center. They also served as Transit Greeters who assisted visitors as they navigated their way around the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area’s mass transit system throughout the week.

“The essence of our role was to serve as hospitality guides for visitors at events,” Lanzot explained. “As volunteers, we were trained, provided with a uniform and a volunteer playbook to assist visitors with information about the Super Bowl and related activities.” 

Leading the NJIT volunteer corps was MBA student Cruz Gracia, a PeopleSoft Administrator for New Jersey City University who received a B.Sc in Information Technology from Western Governors University in 2012 prior to enrolling at NJIT in Spring 2012 through the university’s Division of Continuing Professional Education. Gracia received a Graduate Certificate in Management of Technology at the end of Fall 2012 before he matriculated into the Online MBA program with an MIS specialization beginning in Fall 2013. He currently has a 3.917 GPA and expects to complete his degree in 2015.

Gracia counts reading, chess, traveling, and networking with like-minded professionals among his interests, the latter being the reason why he chose to volunteer with the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee. In his role as Team Captain, he coordinated volunteer breaks and provided relief for their greeting duties.

“I initially thought that I would be doing just hospitality but because the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee cancelled many shifts, I ended up working a shift for Hotel Greeting, Hospitality and Transit, the latter being in Secaucus Junction, where we were a huge part of helping NJ Transit shuttling people to the actual game at MetLife Stadium,” Gracia said.  “We assisted NJ Transit to handle the swarm of Super Bowl fans heading toward the game and we had to make sure that they had both their train ticket and Super Bowl ticket before they were allowed to board.” 

From there, Gracia had a two-hour break during which he was able to walk down Super Bowl Boulevard on his way to the Lamb’s Club in New York City's Theater District, where volunteers handed out “goody” items for a Host Committee private party.

Gracia counts his Super Bowl volunteer stint as a once-in-a-lifetime experience that has allowed him to apply the skills he has learned at NJIT, particularly his coursework in Organizational Behavior and Project Management.

“I was able to draw upon life experience, my professionalism, and the education I received at NJIT,” said Gracia.