Irvin O. Moreno-Rodriguez is spread pretty thin: He’s president of two student organizations, active in a community organization, working toward a dual-degree in Criminal Justice and has been on the dean’s list since his freshman year.
He volunteers at The Sara and Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource Center, too, and credits director Gail Rosenthal with making him choose Stockton over other schools that were interested in him.
Irvin, a junior from Ventnor who is minoring in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, said, “Gail brought me here and said, ‘The opportunities here are amazing’ – and I fell in love.”
“He’s someone we can always count on to assist us,” said Rosenthal. She said Irvin accompanied two local survivors of the Holocaust on a trip to services at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and that without his help, they could not have gone.
Irvin is also president of the Golden Key International Honour Society. He said the group knows that only high-achieving students are members, so it “tries to make sure that education is not the only thing – we do service and community projects such as the One Million Bones project.”
Stockton alumna Naomi Natale’s One Million Bones art installation, designed to empower viewers to stand up against genocide, was installed at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. this summer. Members of the anti-genocide student organization, Stockton Take Action Now: Darfur (STAND) also crafted and contributed 187 clay “bones” to the project.
Irvin is president of STAND, which focuses on fighting genocide anywhere by raising awareness and lobbying for the United Nations to take action. He said Stockton’s STAND became a core chapter recently, giving it a leadership role in New Jersey.
“Our main goal is to make students aware of genocide occurring in places like the Sudan, Darfur and now, signs are that genocide may be ready to occur in the Central African Republic,” he said.
“It’s hard to get students interested,” he acknowledged, “because the subject is so depressing. But it inspires you to see people who have stood up and saved thousands of lives.” He cited Carl Wilkens, a pastor who was the only American to stay and save lives when genocide was occurring in Rwanda in the 1990s, and who will be speaking at Stockton for the second time in February 2014.
“Even when the most evil actions are occurring, you can still find that light, that little bright hope, that things can change,” Irvin said.
He’s unsure exactly what career path he will take once he receives his master’s in Criminal Justice. But he knows what his ultimate goals are: “I’ve been with Holocaust survivors, I’ve met senators, and Gail Rosenthal has opened the door for me. I want to work toward the cause of human rights,” he said.
Irvin is also part of a Mexican-American group called Organizacion Azteca, which spreads awareness of the culture throughout South Jersey, going to schools including Stockton and performing ancient Aztec dances. The group helped organize the first multicultural parade on the Atlantic City Boardwalk in 2012, an event which continued this year.
“It inspires you to learn about other cultures,” he said.
Irvin was chosen by a coalition of Hispanic organizations as “Hispanic of the Year” in Atlantic City for 2012.
“I was the youngest person ever elected Hispanic of the year,” he said. “I didn’t even expect it – it was a great honor.”
“I definitely have Stockton to thank for the Hispanic of the Year award,” he said, explaining that the professional leadership experiences he’s had here led to the honor.
“That made me say, ‘You’re on the right track.’ I want to make a difference and I feel I can.”