For Anthony Brown, a Rutgers Business School senior soon to graduate from Rutgers–Newark, his biggest inspiration is his father.
After posting a drawing of himself and his father with the caption, “Pops took a job as a janitor that allowed me to receive free tuition at Rutgers University. He passed and I told myself his sacrifice would not be in vain. Here it is! Give the janitor the same respect you give the CEO.” on Twitter, Brown garnered more than 50,000 likes and 10,000 retweets in the span of four days.
When he first entered college, Brown intended to major in finance because he wanted to understand how money worked. Four years later, he will still be graduating with a degree in finance, but now hopes to inspire and teach underprivileged students, since Brown grew up around poverty while going to school in Newark.
“It’s not about how much you make, it’s what you do with it,” he said.
At first, it was difficult for Brown to adjust to college because of its diversity and sheer size compared to high school and middle school. It was not until the second half of sophomore year when he finally adjusted to college life.
During his junior year, though, when he was working as a resident advisor, his father died, which came as a shock to Brown. Especially since his father worked as a janitor at the school he attended, Brown said college was not the same for him after that.
His father was not only funny and a sports fanatic, but also a teacher of life, Brown said.
“One thing that my father always said to me was, ‘I’ll give out before I give up,’” he said. “Another lesson he always told me was, 'Sometimes when you feel lost … even if you don’t go to church all the time, pick up the Bible and read it.'”
Employees who work on a full-time basis for Rutgers or the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) are eligible for tuition remission for their children, according to the Rutgers website. Since Brown’s father originally worked for UMDNJ, Brown was able to attend Rutgers for free, a fact he was always grateful for.
“It takes a real humble man to do what he did,” he said. “A lot of people feel they are above cleaning up for other people. The fact that he did that and I was able to benefit from it, made it all the better.”
As for the future, Brown said he has already received an offer to be a financial analyst trainee with the City of Newark, and hopes to one day continue his education by going to law school.
His last piece of advice for students: “Work hard, and don’t be afraid to share your story,” he said.