Rutgers Student Profiles: Catherine Owusu

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Hometown: Plainfield, NJ

Major: Economics & Journalism

Year: 2015

Major Interests: Business, Entertainment, Music

Being from Woodbridge, what made you want to stay in state and go to Rutgers? What other colleges did you apply to?

I actually wanted to go out of state; I had my mind set on leaving New Jersey but my mother and financial aid convinced me to stay. Rutgers was the best choice in New Jersey (to me, apart from ivy league schools) and it helped that it was academically impressive. I applied to Drexel, Temple, NYU, amongst other schools, and was interested in Georgetown or University of Florida. My mother was intent on having me in New Jersey because she was worried about her “baby”. She is African which makes it hard to change her mind. The last thing that made me pick Rutgers was the costs of the other schools I applied to. Rutgers was financially safer due to its affordability.

How is the climate in Woodbridge different from the urban environment of New Brunswick? Which do you prefer?

Woodbridge is as diverse as New Brunswick but it is not as upbeat and fast paced. It’s easier to move around and live in New Brunswick because there are so many businesses around. You never have to actually leave the city to get anything. Apart from that, I think the setup of Woodbridge and New Brunswick is quite similar.

You are the editor-in-chief of Black Voice Carta Latina, what made you want to take over the helm of such a historical important Rutgers newsletter?

The opportunity actually presented itself in an unexpected way. I work with Prosper Goodonoo as a tutor and mentor at the Paul Robeson Cultural Center. Through conversations, he got to know me as a person, my interests in journalism and the entertainment business in general. He then showed me the Black Voice Carta Latina and talked about its history, how it came about, the people who ran it, it progression from once being a newsletter then a newspaper, and finally, the fact that it had gradually lost leadership and writers. This forced the BVCL publication to die and become nonexistent. I was truly excited when I found out about it. The publication had such potential if someone just put some effort in. The past publications were exceptionally done. The opportunity came at the right time because I was trying to find a group that would allow encompassed my interests and refine my skills. The BVCL and the position I’m in intertwine everything I like to do. It is a work in progress, it’s not where I visualize it to be but it is the reason I decided to take it on. I like challenges so I plan on making something out of it.

Through our numerous conversations, you stated that you wanted to own your magazine/publication in the future. How has being the editor-in-chief of the BVCL helped you in terms of your career aspirations?

Being the editor-in-chief of the BVCL, I’m learning a lot about what it takes to start up something from the bottom and also how to lead effectively. It’s helping me refine my skills. It gives me a glimpse into how much work I have to put it in. Being the editor-in-chief of a publication is not easy! Due to the fact that we have a small group of writers and contributors, it’s even more difficult to do things efficiently. It has not discouraged me from my career aspirations but instead, strengthened it. It sounds cliché but I love what I do even with the stress that comes along with it. I stress because I want perfection. Perfection is impossible but I feel as though to be taken seriously, you have to get as close to it as possible.  Being in this position, I believe a strong mentality and diligence is essential. Things do not always turn out how you may want it because of many obstacles. You learn from experience and you make it better the next time.

How do you plan on tying in your majors of economics and journalism into your career path?

They do not necessarily tie into each other nor do I actually plan on making them work together. I have a love for them, separately. I actually intend on going to law school after I complete my undergrad degree. I have a lot of aspirations. I enjoy economics and I decided on this major because I wanted to be slightly different from everyone else. I know many aspiring lawyers often major in Political Science. After taking a couple classes, I realized I could not do it for four years. Economics peaked my interest and forced me to think. I’m not throwing shade at Political Science majors but it just wasn’t for me. Though I picked such a demanding major I still wanted to do Journalism because I equally enjoy that subject also. Personally, I could not just rely on Journalism major so I double majored.

You came into college as a political science major, what made you want to change your major?

I came into college thinking I was going to major in a lot of things. That changed after my freshman year. I took a couple of classes as a freshman and realized Political Science bored me. I’m an individual who needs to stay interested in order to be motivated and focused. I found myself being annoyed by it and seeing it as a bother when I had to read or do anything in relation to it. I do not want to hate something I will be around for 4 years. It was not for me so I researched other majors that will keep my attention and help me focus. I ended up deciding on Economics and Journalism.

You’ve have also mentioned to me before that you are part of Twese. How has Twese shaped your college experience and what does Twese personally mean to you in terms of your heritage?

Twese Dance Troupe has shaped my experience by giving me the opportunity to meet some great females. I consider them sisters; we dance, we bicker, but we always laugh with each other. It’s great to be around girls who just genuinely get along while enjoying something equally. Twese as an organization helped me to meet many other African students. Majority of the African students that attend Rutgers are apart of the organization so it definitely helps with networking.

Rutgers New Brunswick has a very strong African heritage presence on campus, what do you think contributes to this and how do you plan on keeping the presence felt?

I think the reason why the African heritage here is so strong is because of the pride the individuals have for their countries. Without pride and constantly representing the organization, no one would truly know about Africa from our perspective. They would just know what they see on television and what is portrayed by the media.

I do not think I will individually carry the presence of our African heritage. Certain things and organizations at Rutgers ensure that it will be felt. The people here never hide their heritage so I do believe it will be continued regardless of what I do.

What has been most rewarding experience/connection that Rutgers has given you? Why?

There have been so many; I cannot really pin point any particular experience. I feel as though, Rutgers is a starting base for many of the things I want to accomplish. The people here and the alumni are so successful. It would surprise you the caliber of people that have graduated from Rutgers. I had the opportunity to meet some of them and build connects with them. It’s definitely easier when resources are abundant and available.

What words of advice would you give to Rutgers students who are trying to find or get involved in extracurricular activities?

Look it up, ask around, and go to a meeting or two. None of these organizations are that demanding and all the information is often on the get involved website. Make a list of the organizations that you like, go to a meeting, see what it is about, and if you like it become a part of it. I sound like an advertisement but that is what I did to figure out what organizations I wanted to be apart of.

What can the public expect from you in the upcoming months?

This question is actually difficult to answer. I’m not necessarily doing anything to showcase to the public. I’m working on my experience, building my professional and personal self up. I can best describe it as preparation for opportunities. By the time I receive my undergraduate degree and law degree, I want to have as many opportunities laid out as possible. I want to have options I can pick from. I do not want be tied to certain things because they are the only choices I have. Once I accomplish that, then I will worry about the public. Till everything is done, regarding myself, then I will decide what I would like to showcase.

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