Name: Orges Rrapaj ’21
Class of 2021, Health Science
Hometown: Berat, Albania
How did you find Caldwell University?
After graduating from high school I researched multiple universities around the New York City area that offered quality education in Natural Sciences. I found Caldwell University and got in touch with a few other current Albanian students studying in Caldwell. I recall taking virtual tours through Google maps around campus and learning about programs and student life.
What has been most beneficial for you in being a student at Caldwell University?
Being a student at Caldwell University has been a remarkable experience. I have grown personally and academically. In May 2021, I will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science, but throughout my journey at Caldwell, I have been able to explore other interests of mine. It has been beneficial for me to study on a small campus where I get to interact with students, faculty, and staff members. I have embraced the core values of Caldwell University (respect, community, integrity, excellence) and will continue to proudly exercise them as I move towards the next chapter of my education.
What do you tell others about Caldwell University?
Caldwell University is my home away from home. If I was given the possibility to go back in time and apply to higher education colleges in the U.S., I would choose Caldwell University again. As an international student, it is important to feel connected to the campus and accepted by its community. The opportunities are unlimited and everyone is friendly and compassionate. Caldwell University is a place where diversity is recognized and celebrated unequivocally. The Catholic Dominican tradition is part of this institution’s legacy. It is the right place to acknowledge your own potential and interests.
Main activities you have been involved in at Caldwell
At first, I was introduced to the diverse number of student clubs and organizations on campus. I was mainly interested in student government and international student organizations. I participated in their activities and gradually became part of decision-making. I have volunteered during Caldwell Day where students do community service for a full day. I have great experiences with the Campus Ministry in their Midnight Runs to New York City to help the homeless with clothing and food, as well as their retreat programs that provide an environment to engage more with other students and grow more spiritually. During my sophomore year, I became part of the Executive Board of Student Government Association holding positions as Chief of Staff and Vice President for Event Planning. I was then elected president the next school year and my focus was to bring the Student Government closer to students and turning it into a small institution where students’ voices are heard and represented efficiently. I attended conferences, workshops, clubs, and career fairs throughout these three years.
What life lessons have you learned or are you learning through the pandemic?
This pandemic has expanded my knowledge of public health, politics, and most importantly education. I consider myself to be an in-person learner but this pandemic was a challenge for students alike around the world. Given the circumstances, I adapted to a new norm with online/remote learning. On a broader scale, I learned that we can overcome this pandemic only if we get together and respect the pandemic advisors when needed. It is a lot of information to be processed so we need to master our reasoning to make the best decisions for ourselves, our loved ones, and our community.
Plans after graduation?
Thanks to my wonderful advisor Dr. Berki and Caldwell University as a liberal arts institution, I gained awareness of public health and the sociology aspect of medicine. Therefore, I plan to further my education in graduate school for Epidemiology and Public Health.
Factoid or fun fact about your life
For two years, I commuted every day for four hours from New York City to Caldwell University while being a full-time student. It was fun and rewarding!