The college experience is sometimes glamorized as one big party, consisting of excessive alcohol consumption and great sex. That illustration does not always give college students the best reputation. However, there are students that pursue their dreams and are determined to make a difference. By doing astonishing things these students work towards breaking the college kid stereotype. One of our own editors at The Gleaner is an admirable woman who does just that.
Kristina Martorano is a senior at Rutgers University-Camden; she spends her spare time acting in theatrical productions, singing in choirs, reading and baking. Martorano has a special love for animals and grew up surrounded by pets. Three years ago, she rescued her cat Pepper and saw her moment of opportunity. “I realized that I wanted to do whatever I could to help other animals in need,” says Martorano. She did some research to discover that there are several no-kill animal shelters scattered throughout South Jersey. Martorano knew that she would need the help of others to be successful because as a student, her finances were limited. She decided the best way to make a difference would be to collect donations for the shelters for the holidays. “Often donations are focused on children for the holidays, and rightfully so of course, but no one really thinks about the animals,” says Martorano. That year she was able to collect over 350 items to disperse to three different shelters in Lindenwold, Blackwood, and Voorhees with the help of social networks, flyers and friends.
Martorano recently teamed up with the TwoBoringPeople Foundation that collects donations for local families around the holidays. The TwoBoringPeople Foundation was just acknowledged in the Inquirer and some of Martorano’s donations will go towards families who cannot afford food for their beloved pets.
This will mark Martorano’s third year collecting donations for no-kill animal shelters. She already has 50 donations and has high expectations. Donations can be anything from old towels and t-shirts to toilet paper and toys. No-kill animal shelters operate on donations only. “These no-kill animal shelters aren’t state funded so they run only on donations, and I can’t explain the joy that it brings them when I come in with bags of useful items for them. Just seeing their happy and grateful faces and visiting the animals and giving them toys is enough to make anyone’s holiday,” says Martorano.
Martorano would like to double her numbers this year to donate to the P.A.W.S shelter in Philadelphia as well. She hopes to create an Instagram account dedicated to photos of donations to get people excited about donating. In the future, when Martorano has more availability and funds, she aspires to make a fundraiser event dedicated to no-kill animal shelters. She says, “I can’t begin to explain how thankful I am to all of the people who have helped me over these past three years and all of those who have donated. I can’t wait to expand and continue to help animals and shelter owners have a wonderful holiday each year.” Donations are currently being accepted in The Gleaner office which is located on the lower level of the Campus Center. Donations can be anything; Martorano says, “Every little bit counts.”
What are you studying?
My major is Political Science and my minor is Theater. I am actually graduating a semester early this December, so I’m super hyped to have the spring semester free before I start my graduate studies.
What are your aspirations? How will school help you achieve your goals?
My ultimate goal is to help others in some way. I’d like to achieve that by becoming a lawyer and doing pro bono work. I met a wonderful woman once who was a successful lawyer and did pro bono work helping underprivileged women who had been raped and couldn’t afford an attorney, and ever since then I’ve wanted to become just like her. Rutgers has been extremely valuable in helping me prepare for my goals. They’ve helped me score some great internships and even helped me get a job in a law office from the RaptorLink service.
What have you always wanted to do but never done?
This question is easy. I want to travel and see the world. I have been very fortunate to take many wonderful family vacations, but they have all been within the United States, so to get the chance to travel overseas and experience different cultures in person is a dream of mine.
What is your favorite food?
This is the hardest question to answer for me because I like pretty much everything. I’m a typical foodie and will go crazy over unique flavor combinations, but if I had to pick a favorite it would probably be homemade baked ziti. As the Italian that I am pasta is not hard to come by in my house. In fact we have it every Sunday night, but baked ziti is rare, and when I get a big plate of it, it’s an awesome meal.
What is the most embarrassing thing you have ever done?
So at my high school when we would have musical auditions we would all sit in the auditorium and when your name was called you would go on stage and sing your audition piece. So my sophomore year I was auditioning for Beauty and the Beast and they called my name, so I got up to run onstage all cheerfully and totally tripped up the stairs. I landed flat on my face and everyone laughed.
Do you think that you will miss Rutgers? Why? What is the most important thing you will take away from your college experience?
As I mentioned before I’m graduating in a few weeks and I think it hasn’t really hit me that my four years are over. I don’t think I will miss Rutgers, I know I will miss it. College has been a fantastic time of my life. I’ve learned so much academically and about myself that I would never trade these four years for anything. I think the most important thing I learned in college is that when an opportunity strikes you have to take it. No one else can mold your future for you but yourself, so you have to work hard and try to be successful, because in the end it will all pay off.