Nicholas Cerniglia, a junior student at Stockton University, is committed to civic and community engagement. He has enabled others, both young and old, to channel their challenges into finding their own unique ideas of success. He worked with Atlantic City residents who were the targets of illegal eviction proceedings, advocating for those individuals and providing them with the information necessary to prevent those evictions from happening. This type of work has bolstered his confidence to stand up and engage with people in the most difficult of situations. Further, Nick physically transformed empty rooms into safe space locations and functioning office spaces for participants in those programs when needed. In his journey from direct service to capacity building, he has learned much about himself and the world. Through his work with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Atlantic County and Eastern Service Workers Association of Pleasantville, he has been profoundly impacted by his experiences. Upon completing his Bachelor of Psychology degree and his minor in Studio Art, his next focus is being a social and environmental activist. Nick is currently a Bonner Leader in the Stockton Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning.
Civic and community engagement has deeply fueled my interest to stand up against injustices and the skills to collectively create healthier environments. Serving has helped me develop into a social and environmental activist. I served at the Eastern Service Workers Association where I learned the transforming power of experience – it’s easy to talk about injustices, but actually seeing or interrupting injustice is different. This was apparent the first day I went out and handed someone resources used to temporarily prevent tenants from being illegally evicted from their homes. I negotiated complex systems to get very important documentation needed on behalf of people who have been impacted by fires and floods. I learned how to transform any space into a safe space and transform it into a functioning office. I learned how to organize uniquely different communities, and how to stand up and fight for healthier living standards. In my journey from direct service to capacity building, I have learned much about myself and the world. Many of my most profound experiences have happened outside of the classroom, and perspectives are connected to my first-hand experiences. It has not only shaped my education but what I value and believe in.