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Rutgers Leadership Academy

Rutgers track & field athletes Nwamaka Okobi (Freeport, N.Y.) and Stephen Werner (Newtown Sq., Pa.) have been named Rutgers Student-Athletes of the Month for January, the University announced. Rutgers Athletics sat down with each for an interview after the New Year.

Nwamaka Okobi

Rutgers Athletics: You recently broke the school triple jump record with a leap of 41’ 1”. What are your thoughts on this accomplishment?

Nwamaka Okobi: I feel as though I still have more in me and I really want to keep going farther and hit 42’. I’m really proud of myself for getting this far, but I know in the grand scheme of things that I still have a lot of work to do to correct my form and be the best I can be.

RA: You are currently enrolled in the School of Pharmacy and post a 3.16 GPA. How have you been able to achieve success both in the classroom and on the track?

NO: My parents’ high standards really motivated me to persevere and do my best. My father came to America as an international student with no financial advantages. He struggled to put himself, and eventually my mother, through school. Growing up, he always pushed us to strive to be at our best in every endeavor, particularly academics. Coming to Rutgers my family still checks up with me, giving me encouragement along the way in both academics and athletics. My track team is like a second family to me, even though I would say I do not have a best friend on the team. The relationships I have made from running track at Rutgers have helped shape me as a person. Knowing that I am a part of a team means that people are counting on me to perform and that actually helps me perform to the best of my ability. I cannot forget how the coaching staff has helped me throughout my time at Rutgers. From day one, Coach James has had faith in my ability to compete hard. Even on my bad days, he is always positive. He has always been patient, accommodating and understanding. He has really helped me achieve my goals on the track and also encouraged me in the classroom.

RA: When you’re not studying for a pharmacy exam or competing on the track, what are some hobbies you like to do?

NO: I’m pretty normal. I like to cook, relax with friends, or talk on the phone with friends or family. I occasionally read books for entertainment, but I enjoy dancing more than other regular hobbies.

RA: What is your favorite sport to watch and play besides Track & Field?

NO: Gymnastics because it looks like a perfect mixture of strength and grace.

RA: What are your career aspirations after you graduate from Rutgers?

I hope to graduate with a pharm. D and work as a pharmacist at Walgreens.


Stephen Werner

RA: In the past few meets you have finished first in the 200 meter dash, to add to an impressive first-place finish in the 400 meter dash at the Rutgers Indoor Invitational. What are your thoughts on these accomplishments and the success your team has had this indoor season?

Stephen Werner: I think a lot of my success this season is a result of the workouts we have been doing as a team and the fact that I am a senior and have a lot of experience in these events so I have been able to really refine my race.

RA: You post an impressive 3.8 GPA with a major in Economics. What have you done in the past and currently do to maintain excellence in the classroom?

SW: The key for me in academics has been time management, especially when we are in season and start traveling more.

RA: When you’re not studying for an economics exam or competing on the track, what are some things you like to do?

SW: My roommates and I have a dart board in our apartment, and we usually play a few times a week.

RA: What is your favorite sport to watch and play besides Track & Field?

SW: My favorite sport other than track is football. I played it my whole life and I definitely miss playing it now.

RA: What are your career aspirations after you graduate from Rutgers?

SW: I am interested in finance and the markets, so sales and trading is something that has interested me a lot.