2020 vision: Rider through fresh eyes

By Samantha Brandbergh

As summer comes to a close and classes begin, a sea of newcomers have begun to flood campus. It’s time to meet the freshman class of 2020.

According to Jennifer Cafiero-Therien, director of enrollment planning and reporting, this year’s freshman class consists of 894 students across both campuses, which is a 3 percent increase from last year.

The female-to-male ratio has also risen, with the freshman class being 62 percent female compared to 55 percent last year.

The most popular female name is Alexis and the most popular male name is Michael, which has stayed stagnant for several years, according to Cafiero-Therien.

The freshman class is home to 27 students from outside the country, international and domestic, representing two U.S. territories, one military location and three American students who reside abroad. The international population consists of students representing 16 countries.

While 71 percent of the freshmen hail from the Garden State, the remaining 29 percent are mostly from New York, Pennsylvania, California, Connecticut, Florida and Maryland. In total, the freshman class comes from 25 states.

Among these freshmen, the most popular majors are accounting, business administration, psychology, music education, biology, musical theater, elementary education, communication, marketing and undecided liberal arts, with 60 percent of the freshmen enrolled in these majors.

For many students, their freshman year of college is the door to new opportunities, so it’s no surprise why the class of 2020 is eager to start its new chapter at Rider.

Carissa Zanfardino, a global studies major from Long Island, New York, recalls her warm welcome when she first toured the campus, despite the snow on the ground.

“Although it was freezing cold, I loved it,” she said. “I felt extremely welcome on campus and everyone I came across both on the tour and just walking around were extremely friendly — even though we were just another family touring the school.”

Zanfardino believes that with the assistance from Rider’s “down-to-earth” professors, she will be able to succeed in her major.

While many students choose a college based on the offered classes, others determine their home for the next four years by what is available outside of the classroom.

Shaylene Calderon, a digital media: film, TV and radio major from Elizabeth “fell in love” with the digital media programs Rider has to offer and plans on getting involved with the radio station.

“I was drawn to how much [Rider] promoted internships onto their students’ lives, something that really helps you with your career,” she said.

Many freshmen saw Rider as their first choice, making the decision process fairly easy. However, for Ciara Sikking, an arts administration major from Buena, it took time for Rider to make its way up her list.

“I liked the programs and activities offered on campus, but, at the time, it wasn’t the atmosphere that I had thought I wanted in a school,” she said. “As time went on, though, I visited Rider more and more for different reasons and my opinions changed.”

Ultimately, it was Rider’s unique arts administration major that sealed the deal for Sikking.

“The bottom line is that Rider is the only school that actually had something that I felt excited about studying,” she said. “Rider has degrees that were exactly what I was looking for, unlike other schools where I would have felt lost in what to study.”

As the fall semester begins and students get settled into their dorms, excitement fills the air.

“There are so many things I am looking forward to this fall semester, I don’t even know where to begin,” Zanfardino said. “I am probably most excited to leave the normalcy I have always known and go out and make a name for myself. College is about beginnings and change, and I am so ready for both.”

Calderon, a self-described “home body,” however, is starting to feel the butterflies in her stomach.

“[This is the] first time living on my own, but it’s a very liberating feeling,” she said.

Despite her nerves, Calderon, like many incoming freshmen, is excited to become a Bronc.

“I cannot wait to get to know new people, be in a new environment and finally take a step into my career and future,” she said.


Printed in the 9/07/16 issue.

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