Alumni Panel Sheds Light on Business, Health, Law Careers

Lawrence Lerner

As the U.S. economy shows signs of life and the jobless rate continues to fall, NCAS, the Honors College, and the Office of Academic Services are teaming up on a series of alumni panels to help Rutgers University–Newark students plan their careers and gain a foothold in the burgeoning job market.

The first panel, which took place on February 2, was moderated by NCAS Development Director Marcel Vaughn-Handy and focused on business, health and law. It featured Jim Buro (NCAS ’78), Randall Brett (NLAW ’07) and Saul Bautista (NCAS ’13). Each panelist had a unique story to tell about their career journey, and together they offered a diversity of experiences for an appreciative student audience.

Buro, who graduated Rutgers with a dual-degree in economics and accounting, worked in a variety of capacities in the financial-services industry, ranging from financial advisor to training manager to sales-and-marketing director for companies such as Merrill Lynch, the Hartford Insurance Group and Planco. In 2002, he hung his own shingle and started Wall Street Speaking, where he provides professional speaking, consulting, training and coaching services to the financial-advisory community.

Buro took students through his career and talked about the importance of believing in yourself. “Be persistent, finish what you start, and honor your commitments,” he advised students.

He also mentioned the pleasure he’s felt giving back to his alma mater, citing his work Rutgers-Newark’s Fed Challenge Team. He finished by sharing one of his favorite quotes, from George Elliot: “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

That sentiment resonated with Brett, who returned to school in his 50s for a law degree. He currently practices in Princeton, N.J., where his firm focuses on a number of areas, including employment law, discrimination claims, business and commercial law, corporate governance, and civil and criminal litigation.

Brett said he was the first in his family to finish both high school and college, and wanted to be a part of the positive change that addressed social inequality after witnessing firsthand the civil turmoil of the 1960s.

“If there was any profession that would allow me to make a difference, it would be law,” Brett said.

He, too, stressed the importance of paying it forward: In his spare time, Brett provides financial assistance for older law students via the Newark Fund for the Older, Wiser Law Students.

Bautista, a recent graduate of NCAS, also took a circuitous route to his BA in biology and recent entrance to medical school. An army reservist, he considered becoming a doctor after high school and was on the path to college when he received orders to ship out to Iraq. While serving in a medical unit there, Bautista witnessed events that further inspired him to pursue his dream. He began at Rutgers-Newark in 2010 and hasn’t looked back: He is now completing a dual–masters degree in biomedical science and public health in the Rutgers Biomedical Health Sciences program. He'll start at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in August.

Bautista said that having served in the military and seeing the real world made him more focused when he returned to his studies. He, too, acknowledged his indirect path and said that some had tried to dissuade him from pursuing medicine. Ultimately, he told the students, “You have to be on your own team. You have to believe in yourself first.”

After presenting, the panelists did a 20-minute Q&A with students and met individually with interested audience members at a reception before finally calling it a day.

The next alumni career panel is scheduled for Wednesday, March 4, 2015, and will focus on Womens’ History Month. It will run from 2:30-4pm in Ackerson Hall, Room 101, with a reception immediately following.


Additional reporting by Vanessa McDonald-Hobbs