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Once-in-a-life Experiences Interacting with the 2021 New Jersey Business Hall of Fame Laureates - Personal Reflections from Students

Personal Reflections from Students

2021 New Jersey Business Hall of Fame Laureates

Image caption: John E. Harmon Sr., IOM, Founder, President & CEO, African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey

JA Alum Intern, Esther Lawal

Rutgers University ’21, Environmental & Business Economics Major

“A few things I learned from working with John are visionary leadership, being consistently passionate, and clearly executing ideas in a captivating way. During the span of my internship with JANJ, I’ve had the opportunity to work with John and his team to launch a pilot Village Program and attend a business leadership conference in which he hosted. Throughout the entire conference his momentum never changed, he never lost a beat, and his uplifting spirit kept the crowd engaged. I know most of us can agree that John has a radiating aura to him that invites and comforts others around him.

As for working with John, I can attest that he delivers those same positive characteristics and leadership skills when working with others. Initially, John expressed his visions for the Village Program which he was very passionate about, but he allowed me as a partner and teacher of the program to have autonomy in the planning of how I wanted the week-to-week sessions to look. He believed that I was the best candidate for this opportunity because of the feedback from my JANJ team. His trust in me inspired me to be just as passionate and willing to share opportunities to lead with others. I’m very much still a new player in this field of work but having the opportunity to network with leaders, like John, has been amazing.”

Image caption: Valerie Montecalvo, President & CEO, Bayshore Recycling

JA Alum Intern, Kayla Wong

Rutgers University Class of ’24, ITI (Information Technology and Informatics) Major

“Having the opportunity to interview Valerie Montecalvo, President, of Bayshore Recycling was truly an impactful and inspiring experience. During our conversation, I learned about her career path, and how she gained the skills that made her as successful as she is today. It was inspiring to see how she saw a problem and used her entrepreneurship skills to create a company that is not only successful but one that is positively impacting the environment and changing the world. During the interview, I saw how Valerie embodied the characteristics of a Laureate. She described her grit and tenacity toward her passion by detailing the challenges that she faced when building her company and was sure to be mission and goal-focused when planning how she wanted to use the company to make a difference in the world. Most importantly, Valerie was humble and gracious. Her passion for making a change in students’ lives was evident as she gave advice to the students watching the chat. Interviewing a prestigious figure like Valerie was an honor, and I know that Valerie will serve as an impactful role model for all students.”

Image caption: Steve Rusckowski, Chairman, CEO & President, Quest Diagnostics

High School Hero Alum, Muhammad Mir

Drew University Class of ’25, Mathematics Major

“Interviewing Steve at the Quest Diagnostics headquarters was a memorable and unique experience for me. I never traded dialogue with any professional business leader, let alone the CEO of a 47,000 employee company! I did not know how Steve would respond to the questions, so I prepared myself by practicing with my friends and encouraging them to pretend as if they were a prestigious leader like Steve. To construct an organic conversation from a list of questions was challenging but being true to myself helped me conduct a successful interview. Steve was incredibly humble and informative, offering assistance on not only how to navigate the interview, but guidance on personal and professional life. His wisdom and integrity were exceptionally highlighted to me when he discussed how he tackles life with his three H's: Honesty, Humility, and Hard work. I loved it.  Steve puts his heart into everything he does, and I could feel the benevolence in his voice.”

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