Going Clubbing: Student Groups at NJIT

Written by: Julie Jacobs,
Alpha Kappa Psi members gather at the fraternity's induction ceremony.

More than 30 years ago, the Study Group on the Conditions of Excellence in American Higher Education cited “involvement” as an important factor in undergraduate education. In a series of studies since then, participation in student groups has been shown to be beneficial in a variety of ways — from helping students develop leadership skills and improve their academic ability, to providing outlets for exploring new interests, to enhancing overall college satisfaction and career achievement. 

“Students at NJIT have an array of clubs and organizations from which to choose, to either pursue existing interests or explore new activities,” said Dean of Students Marybeth Boger. “We encourage all students to get involved beyond the classroom for a more well-rounded experience that can prove advantageous when it comes time to launch their career. If a student is interested in joining or starting a club, they should visit the Student Life Office located on the fourth floor of the Campus Center.” 

NJIT has some 80 organizations, many established and run directly by students. Here are three of the newest groups to join the NJIT community.

Alpha Kappa Psi

Established: September 2016.

Mission: To get NJIT students more involved on a bigger scale. This includes collaborating with neighboring businesses on networking events and workshops, participating in competitions and conferences, and supporting the development of leadership and business-related skills. Alpha Kappa Psi is the world’s largest and oldest business fraternity, with chapters at most universities and colleges. The NJIT chapter, which is sponsored by Martin Tuchman School of Management (MTSM) and counts NJIT President Joel Bloom and MTSM Dean Reggie Caudill as honorary members, meets every Wednesday at 9:15 p.m. in the Central King Building, Room 303.

Open to: All full-time NJIT students, following their first semester of freshman year, are welcome to pledge the fraternity, which accepts a new class of pledges every semester. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.5. 

Leadership: Awais Qazi ’17 (finance) founded Alpha Kappa Psi and served as its first president. Mansha Kohli, a sophomore studying business administration and specializing in finance, is the fraternity’s current president.

Background: Qazi led the fraternity through its colonization, or probationary period. This past April, within a semester’s time, Alpha Kappa Psi became an official chapter. Qazi’s goal in establishing the fraternity at NJIT was to better engage students in national competitions and other activities. Since his founding of Alpha Kappa Psi, two members were named finalists in the Capital One Entrepreneurship Challenge and are now working to commercialize their products.

Activities to Date: The fraternity has held a simulated business cocktail party to encourage networking, a panel discussion on internships and co-ops, a speech competition and a tour of financial services company Societe Generale’s New York offices. It is now setting up a visit to Bloomberg, developing a case competition with Verizon, and planning to team up with other companies with which it has close ties, including Prudential and Panasonic.

“One of the fundamental concepts that we truly believe in is that students are going to learn much better from other students and from immersive experiences,” Qazi said. “We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback since launching. Our events have been highly attended and well executed… We hope to continue to work with different parts of the campus community and we hope to always earn a positive reaction.” 

For More Information: To apply, visit http://njitakpsi.org/apply.html.

NJIT President Joel Bloom (left) and MTSM Dean Reggie Caudill (right), Alpha Kappa Psi honorary members, pose with Awais Qazi, founder and former president, and Mansha Kohli, current president (center).

FowndersX

Established: Fall 2016.

Mission: To provide students with resources to “ideate and innovate through the principles of entrepreneurship.” FowndersX sponsors free tech-oriented events and speaker presentations, typically three to four each semester at the Enterprise Development Center, for networking and professional development.

Open to: All students.

Leadership: Nick Fuentes, co-founder, president and director of operations, and a junior majoring in mechanical engineering and minoring in business; Luis Perez, co-founder and director of human resources, and a senior studying civil engineering; and Danny Szklarzewski, director of marketing and a senior majoring in construction management technology.

Background: Fuentes and Perez joined Fownders, a startup accelerator in Newark, before launching FowndersX, the first college chapter of the organization.

Activities to Date: The events-based entrepreneurial club has welcomed CEOs as guest speakers on startups and business development. FowndersX has hosted Scott Gerber, CEO, Young Entrepreneur Council; Kim Kaupe, co-founder, ZinePak; and Alex Iskold, managing director, Techstars.

“What is unique about this chapter is that with our location being in the New York/New Jersey area, we are able to contact big names in the startup world,” said Fuentes, adding, “The best feedback we have received from the students is that we propagate a sense of innovation… The students find interest in seeing peers like myself develop, campaign and execute events for them to attend and obtain this same feeling.”

For More Information: Facebook and Instagram using the handle @FowndersX.

ZinePak Co-founder Kim Kaupe (right), here with FowndersX Co-founder and President Nick Fuentes, was a guest speaker for the entrepreneurial club.

NJIT Toastmasters

Established: Fall 2016.

Mission: To improve the public speaking, communication and leadership skills of its members in a supportive environment. A chapter of Toastmasters International, NJIT Toastmasters achieved distinguished club status for outstanding performance in its first year as an officially chartered club. It holds weekly meetings, usually in the Campus Center or Central King Building, as well as speech competitions and workshops in collaboration with other organizations throughout the semester.

Open to: Students and staff at NJIT and neighboring universities (Rutgers-Newark and Essex County College), along with members of the Newark community.

Leadership: David Liptsyn, founding president and a junior majoring in biology (pre-med) and minoring in business.

Background: Remembering how a mentor of his had emphasized the importance of developing soft skills, Liptsyn relaunched the NJIT chapter of Toastmasters International. With no membership base or resources, but armed with a strong vision, he visited local Toastmasters clubs to learn more about the group’s rules, regulations and meeting procedures. He then assembled a leadership team, which participated in Toastmasters International officer training and doggedly promoted the NJIT chapter. Nearly 40 people attended the first meeting.

Activities to Date: During the 2016-2017 academic year, NJIT Toastmasters held three major events: the panel presentation “Acing Your Medical School Interview,” co-hosted with the Pre-Health Society; the 1st Annual End-of-Semester Speech Contest, co-hosted with WJTB Radio, the NJIT Student Senate and the AKPsi business fraternity; and an Arts and Poetry Night, co-hosted with the NJIT Student Senate and the Writing Center.

“There is no other club on-campus, to our knowledge, that provides such an experiential learning environment for members to strengthen their public speaking and leadership skills,” noted Liptsyn of NJIT Toastmasters. “Witnessing members’ personal growth and transformation in the club has been tremendously rewarding. Many were shy and nervous when speaking at their first meetings. After several attempts and encouragement, their confidence, self-esteem and public-speaking abilities have dramatically improved.”

For More Information: Email toastmastersnjit@gmail.com and ask to be added to the mailing list for upcoming meeting times and events. Also visit the group online