When you hear the words “school spirit” what does it conjure up: Love of Rutgers? Inspiring others? Passion for one’s major? How about ‘all of the above?” Erica Weber (SEBS ‘2020) is all of those things and the embodiment of the Scarlet Knight.
Erica entered Rutgers as a biochemistry major with plans to work in drug research and development. After an eye-opening research experience during her sophomore year, she learned that a life in a lab setting was not for her. The following summer Erica interned at Rutgers Gardens, responsible for maintenance of the Gardens and tasks ranging from planting, watering, mowing, string-trimming, pruning, weeding, and mulching.
This experience—working with Rutgers Gardens staff and the skills she learned—convinced her that environmental science was where she belonged. The following fall she began taking courses in this area and knew she’d made the right decision. She also continued to work at the Gardens where she learned how to operate a chainsaw, boom lift, and tractor while maintaining the Gardens during the off-season.
“The fascinating thing about Environmental Science is the ubiquitous importance of its understanding and application and the wide array of topics that it encompasses,” said Erica. “With climate change being such a pressing issue, I find this field to be of utmost relevance. I also love the fact that environmental science encompasses many areas. I’ve taken courses about soils, water, air, hazardous and solid waste, and even toxicology. I love the variety of the Environmental Science major and find it purposeful in the present day world.”
During her interview with Newsroom staff, Erica said how much happier she was being an Environmental Science major here at SEBS. And if you’ve ever met Erica and seen that smile you would agree that she exudes happiness. She describes it as her ‘motivating force.’
“Following my heart takes courage and confidence but has led to such a rewarding college experience. Finding joy in the little things allows me to have an optimistic outlook and positive attitude in life, which breeds an infectious energy that I love to spread to my friends and family.”
This happiness and positive attitude infuses everything Erica does. It directs her life towards others and towards service. Not only is she fully invested in her major, but she has involved herself in programs, groups and causes that give back to her community.
Erica is a part of the SEBS Governing Council as the Class of 2020 representative communicating with students and the school regarding student life and life after school. She has been selected to receive the G H Cook Leadership Award and was awarded with a Senior Pillar Award by the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs. Erica has also been part of the SEBS Ambassador Program, and a member of Alpha Zeta.
She explained that she wanted to become part of the Ambassador program as a way to get involved on campus and with the school. Her favorite part about being an Ambassador was being able to interact with so many new people while sharing her experiences as a SEBS student and offering helpful insight, “She is one of our best and top ambassadors/tour guides!” said Serafina Smith-Matos, assistant dean of Recruitment and Advising. (Watch Erica giving a tour in our virtual Welcome to Rutgers video for new students which was made in March – https://youtu.be/BN3eUlBYePQ.)
Erica’s involvement with Alpha Zeta began in the fall of 2017. Since she has served as chair of two committees and as chancellor during the 2019 calendar year. She participated in both the Dance Marathon and Relay for Life with Alpha Zeta for 3 years including her senior year—with COVID-19 requiring modified virtual versions of these events!
Service is one of the core ideals of Alpha Zeta, which aligns with Erica’s personal interest in giving back to the community. “Providing support to those in need simply because you are able to do so is fulfilling and rewarding in itself,” she said. “And being able to have done this with my fellow brothers in Alpha Zeta for these past few years has been an honor!”
After graduation Erica intends to pursue a career in environmental health and safety. She is currently working for Paul D. Sakson Associates Inc., an Environmental Services company. Fortunately, despite current social distancing, Erica has been able to continue working, although with some limitations. Once the tassel has been moved to the left side of the mortar board, Erica will continue to gain valuable experience in the environmental science field, pursuing the field she’s grown to love.
Erica isn’t finished serving SEBS though. Despite finals coming up, she is serving on a convocation committee with deans, faculty and staff helping to plan the virtual convocation celebration for her fellow seniors, because she is motivated by happiness even in these challenging times and is “especially grateful for all the friends (she’s) made along the way.”