First Year Seminars Group

Mike Esmail was raised in Jersey City by a single mother and, in some sense, an entire community. Because his mother never had much money, she often relied on the kindness of those around her, all the while stressing the importance of giving back.

Mike Esmail and fellow graduates

Cook College/School of Environmental and Biological Sciences graduates Jacqueline H. Deitz, Mike Esmail, and Daniel Kosinski (left to right) smiled as they gathered for the commencement procession.

And so Mike came to care deeply for all beings, whether the farm animals to which he has tended in the animal science program at Rutgers, the many undergraduates he has affected through leadership roles in residence life, or the local children for whom he volunteers.

With a long-held dream of becoming a veterinarian, Mike—the first in his family to attend college—was able to afford Rutgers only with scholarship assistance. The weight of this gift was not lost on him, and he strove to support his new community in ways that were equally profound. He became deeply involved in both the campus and surrounding neighborhood as a resident assistant for first-year students, participant in a major restructuring of the residence life program, and head of a university club that provides mentoring and tutoring to New Brunswick children.

While Mike worked on campus during his first few years at Rutgers, scholarships gave him the freedom to study full-time as his academic schedule became more challenging. The extra efforts paid off; he has been accepted to three veterinary schools and plans to attend the prestigious University of Pennsylvania next fall. And because he will leave Rutgers free of debt, he won't have to worry about repayments while in graduate school.

Mike is profoundly appreciative of his time at Rutgers, and in the spirit of giving back, he wants to share that with others. "My floor is my community, and what matters most is that my residents are happy," says Mike. "I want them to have the best college experience possible—like I did."