Valeria Cruz is a senior studying psychology pre-occupational therapy with a minor in health sciences.
Taylor Shubsda, human resources manager believes that Cruz is an asset to their office and provides valuable support to the other staff.
"She is motivated and always willing to assist with any task. Valeria’s friendly demeanor and upbeat personality allow her to interact effectively with everyone who enters our office. Valeria is not only a dedicated hard worker, but is also an exceptional student. Valeria is very involved in her sorority as president and is extremely generous when it comes to giving back to the sorority’s philanthropy," Shubsda said.
Cruz remembers that she has always been involved in student life ever since her freshman year and that has led her the opportunity to stay involved and join different activities. Cruz is a sister of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority Incorporated (LTA) where they host multiple programs for the Kean community such as Women’s Awareness Week, Aspire High Youth Development Program with children, along with multiple political, social and community service programs.
"I was the president for the year of 2016 entering 2017. I am currently the vice president and secretary as well as the Recruitment and Retention chair. My organization helped me become the person I am today and be as involved and active on the campus community," said Cruz.
Cruz is very passionate about giving back to the community with multiple hours of community service participating in the cancer walk, Alzheimer's walk, food bank, and many other activities. She believes it is important for students to take advantage of their jobs because they provide endless opportunities, connections and knowledge.
"I am an active participant of the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) here at Kean. I am also a Greek Senate e-board member where I am currently the secretary. I am in charge of doing paperwork where I make sure things are organized and ideas are brought to the table for the Greek community on campus. I am also a student worker, working at Human Resources for two and a half years now. I recently joined KDM Committee where I will be in charge of planning KDM along with CLS, Alex Louis, Ashley Buchanan, Vanessa Lupo and the Greek senate eboard. KDM is a very important part of the spring semester and we will be making sure that we give it our best! For the kids!"
Cruz understands that life is about change, and she wanted to be involved so that she could better herself as a person.
"The moment I joined Lambda Theta Alpha, my life completely changed. I wanted to be a part of something that I knew would better the person I was. I made connections, friendships, relationships and a sisterhood that I wouldn’t find anywhere else. Once you’re involved in something bigger than yourself, you want to keep growing," Cruz replied. "For all of these activities there is something different required from you because not every organization, club, or job requires the same thing from everyone. I feel that you have to experience your own growth in order to experience it."
As a sister of Lambda Theta Alpha, Cruz is currently vice president, secretary and Recruitment and Retention chair. She handles paperwork, maintains deadlines up to date, brings ideas to the table, recruits and continues to uphold the organization's values with unity, love and respect. For the SOTA Club, she is an active member where she goes to the meetings, receives information and learns about her major.
"All of my accomplishments have come right after I became a sister of LTA. LTA has changed my life by giving me opportunities to meet new people, spread my wings, be active on campus, have a voice, have self confidence when it comes to myself and what I believe in and the things I know I can accomplish. LTA has made me who I am, and I learned who I wanted to be. LTA helped me understand what my purpose was on this campus and through that, I learned to be an active leader," Cruz explained.
"Setting goals gives me a long-term and short-term motivation. It also gives me the confidence I need to achieve higher and more complicated goals. I am the type of person that needs to keep growing because I can never be stuck doing just one thing. By setting goals and constantly reminding myself of them, I feel as though I work harder to achieve them. I have set many goals for myself, for example graduating with 3.5 and higher GPA! That is happening in less than 6 months! Graduating and finding a job is my main concern right now. Education is another important aspect to succeeding in life. Without some kind of education, it is hard to achieve the skills needed in the world."
Cruz feels that everything she does will prepare her for the future. Some of these things include standing up for what she believes in, learning how to be confident with her values and respected beliefs and understanding that she has the power to control her future.
"After being so involved on campus I know I have a presence when I host an event, when I present in class and when I speak about what I have accomplished. Now I am working on or what I want for my future and I am confident in speaking about it because I am sure of who I am and what I want. I owe that to the people who believed in me, pushed me to be involved and find my voice."
Cruz' philosophy is in order to accomplish goals, one has to continue the journey to reach them.
"Time management helps me make sure everything that needs to be done is done and I am still able to have an open day to relax and take care of myself. Planning ahead for the days to come, weeks, and even months is how I manage. I want to make sure I am prepared for every possible outcome of everything I do. I think that managing is a better word to use when describing balancing my busy, hectic life."
When balancing all of the duties from her various organizations Cruz finds a way to fit them together so that they work well and are able to be finished.
"Sometimes everything works together and other times it doesn't. At the end of the day, I am doing these things to better myself and that's the end goal and the main similarity of the activities I am a part of," Cruz continued. "I want to make sure I give my all. As the years pass by, it gets harder, but I know my purpose here and why it needs to be accomplished."
Cruz believes that Kean University is a great school full of diversity and a friendly environment. As a first-generation student she was able to learn at Kean with dedicated staff members who inspired her to have love and appreciation for her career.
"Adapting to a new living environment and new language was not easy when I came from Puerto Rico at the age of 12 but I was able to overcome. When it was my turn to move on to higher education, I did my research for months! Kean University is the second best school for Occupational Therapy majors. Which is why I am here pursuing my dreams to be the best occupational therapist I could be. One day."
Cruz' words of advice to underclassmen would be to get involved, make connections, friendships and expand and follow endless opportunities.
"BE A LEADER! A good leader is one who doesn’t know everything. Step up and learn because it is okay to not know everything. To be a good leader, one also needs to be open to change," Cruz mentioned. "Kean is a great school, and I am forever thankful for the great friends, sisters, and connections I have made in the last four years. I will be graduating in May and I couldn’t be any happier with the person that Kean University has molded me to be! Get involved, do your research, have fun and enjoy college!"