By Liem Ho, Managing Editor
Humberto Baquerizo, also known as “Humby,” is NJIT’s current Associate Director of the Center for Student Involvement. Recently, student suspicions have been confirmed—his contract will be ending on July 1. Because his contract has not been renewed, he will no longer be working at NJIT. No formal reason has been given for the termination of his contract.
While Humby will miss working at NJIT, he is grateful for the opportunities and experiences the university has given him thus far. “NJIT has given me a sense of belonging and the academic credentials to help me get to where I am today,” said Baquerizo.
Baquerizo’s journey at NJIT began when he graduated as a first generation college student in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Science. He was heavily involved on campus and was active in organizations including Student Senate, Student Activities Council (SAC), The Vector, and The Nucleus Yearbook. Along with being an active member of NJIT’s X-Clubs, he also was a brother of Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity, and Alpha Phi Omega fraternity. While balancing classes and various leadership positions, he worked in the Campus Center. “I really enjoyed being involved with so many different organizations because my experiences in some clubs taught me how to deal with certain situations in others,” said Humby.
After graduation, Baquerizo worked at NJIT’s Office for Special Events with the Office of Strategic Communications. He then began working at Univision, the American Spanish language broadcast television network for ten years and lived in various parts of the country, including Boston and Washington DC. When looking to comfortably settle in one location, he made the decision to come back to NJIT when Robert Moran and, Freshman Dean of Students at the time Judy Valyo informed Humby of a vacant position working as the Assistant Director of the Campus Center. Since 2005, along with his work in the Campus Center, Humby has worked at NJIT as a Residence Coordinator of Oak Hall as well as Assistant Director of the Campus Center’s Conference Services. Only this past February was Humby assigned to the position of Associate Director of the Center for Student Involvement.
On the forefront, Humby can be seen helping and supporting the clubs and their events, as well as coordinating the major events of the Center for Student Involvement. He coordinates various community service and engagement events such as NJIT’s signature Alternative Spring Break—this year, with Humby’s efforts to coordinate and promote volunteer opportunities and projects, NJIT students have logged over 45,000 hours of community service. He also runs the Center for Student Involvement’s social media outlets, constantly promoting the events and news of 150 student clubs and organizations. If an organization needs help or advice with planning or running an event, Humby steps in and helps. “He puts in so much effort to get students involved in things on campus and he does his best to help students with any event that they come to him with so long as they’re willing to put in the full effort to make it happen” says Natalia Poltorak, a junior who studies biology and works with Humby as a Commuter Assistant.
However, various other aspects of Humby’s work go unseen—on top of all of the outreach, marketing, and event planning for the Center for Student Involvement, he is responsible for reviewing and ensuring that all campus center policies are in compliance with all laws and policies, and he also coordinates the work of 60 campus center employees.
“My favorite thing about working with Humby is that he made our office feel like a little family,” said Poltorak.
“Coming to Newark, I didn’t know anything. He’d bring the staff and other info desk workers to the best places to eat Spanish food. Without him, I don’t think I would have been as adventurous,” added sophomore information systems major Aiden McGourty.
McGourty started working in the campus center after randomly meeting Humby during the second week of his first semester at NJIT. Not only does Humby build a feeling of inclusion among his staff, he also fosters the professional and personal development of the students he works with. “He doesn’t have to help me, but he forwards me emails about internship opportunities near Newark, and also checks in with me to see how I’m doing. He even gave me a little NJIT pin to wear on my suit when I go in for interviews!” said McGourty, one of the info desk workers at the campus center.
According to Dean of Students and Associate Vice President for Student Engagement Dr. Laura Valente, “No replacements have been made about exactly how the Office of Campus Life will be organized next year and who will fill any vacant positions.”
While administration has not yet filled the position, Humby has definitely set the bar for any future hires. “I think that Humby puts more of an effort in getting to know the students that he works with on a more personal level than many of the new administrative faculty have. I think new administrators could learn a thing or two about that because they need to be seen as people that can be reached out to in any situation. If there are certain students that they work with on a regular basis, it wouldn’t hurt to make that extra effort to make that connection, especially since it will make working together much easier in the future,” says Natalia Poltorak.
After NJIT, Humby is on track to receive his Doctorate of Educational Leadership in Higher Education from Caldwell College in May of 2017. Humby enjoys working and being in student affairs, as he says his biggest takeaway is sharing his experiences, but also learning from others. “We’re all learning together—what I did may be different from what the guys next to me have done. Everybody has their own experiences, and as you learn from them, you grow in ways you may not have even imagined,” says Humby.