Rouba wears her crown with pride and vision
A simple but profound statement by
Kelly Rouba ’02 embodies her character
and defines her success. She explained that her wheelchair is just a tool that she uses to get around. That is the only difference that separates her from the rest … how she gets from point A to point B.
Kelly Rouba '02
That type of outlook is what allows a woman with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis to achieve more by age 27 than most hope to accomplish in a lifetime. Her sheer determination and will were recognized by the Ms. Wheelchair Board of Directors, which selected Kelly as Ms. Wheelchair New Jersey 2007. The mission of the Ms. Wheelchair America Program Inc. is to provide an opportunity for women of achievement who utilize wheelchairs to successfully educate and advocate for individuals with disabilities.
“The competition was pretty extensive, but the experience itself was a lot of fun, ” Kelly said. “I met 26 of the best women around. I thought I was in a good place before I went to the pageant, but listening to a group of remarkable women and sharing our experiences, I made some great friends for life.”
Throughout this past year, Kelly has visited area schools and centers to promote positive change in terms of how individuals with disabilities are viewed in society. Her primary focus is on creating awareness among children. That is where, as she explains, the stereotypes begin. Educating young students can pave the way for a more inclusive society for those with disabilities.
“My best experience was when I visited a juvenile detention center,” Kelly recalled. “I shared my story of facing obstacles and looking for ways to overcome them rather than feeling sorry for myself. Many of those kids had situations that were different from mine, but we all have obstacles. To overcome them requires the right attitude. It was something they could relate to, and many of them came up and hugged me. They told me that I had inspired them. That was the best feeling in the world. ”
Her crowning was yet another decoration in a long list of achievements. An accomplished writer, Kelly contributes to eight local and national magazines. She also writes for www.mobilewomen.org, www.thisabled.com, and has contributed to Able newspaper. In addition to her volunteer work with several community organizations, Kelly is authoring a book for Scarecrow Press on juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. She was recently honored by the State of New Jersey Department of Labor for her outstanding work ethic and success in the workplace as a local journalist and disabled woman.
“My parents taught me to be involved in group activities and participate in the community, ” said Kelly, who has been offered a newly created position as a special needs specialist with the Department of Homeland Security/FEMA Region II. “In doing so, I’ve been presented with so many opportunities. It’s been very exciting.”
Ernie Scott '74, '76
Ernie Scott ’74, ’76 finally has the grand piano in his living room he always dreamed of. Next to it, there is a light that he switches on each morning before sitting down to fill his home with vibrant sounds of the ivories.
“Music is what’s kept my life whole,” said Ernie, a pianist/ vocalist/actor/musical director/ composer. “I first sat down at a piano when I was six years old, and I haven’t stopped since. I am able to create my own style through the piano.”
To say Ernie’s career as a musician and performer is impressive would fall far short of encapsulating the depth of his greatness. His performances have been described as reminiscent of Ray Charles, with the flare of Liberace. He was the last pianist to perform at Windows on the World on the 107th floor of the North Tower before the 9/11 attacks. He continues to play the role of Paul Robeson ’s longtime pianist Lawrence Brown in the Broadway and off-Broadway play Paul Robeson. His musical performances are requested at political events, luxury cruises, and cocktail lounges, and his appearances include Bill Clinton ’s second inaugural event, Nightline with Ted Koppel, and 60 Minutes.
“I’ve been blessed to perform at so many memorable events and meet a lot of wonderful people, ” said Ernie, who once enjoyed an exclusive social dinner with Rosa Parks following a performance of Robeson in New Brunswick, NJ. “I still perform, but I don’t travel quite as much because I get homesick and miss my wife Donna (also a composer). ”
Ernie earned his Bachelor of Arts in Music Education and Master of Education from the College. He has consulted several New Jersey school districts on their music curriculum development, researched and written music history for elementary education textbooks, and served as director of numerous choirs, including the Vocal Dynamics, which performed a month-long tour in Japan in conjunction with the Sister Cities Program. Ernie still gives private voice lessons today.
“Gordon Myers was my voice teacher at Trenton State, and I loved him,” said Ernie, who performs regularly at Michael’s Lounge at the Buttonwood Manor in Matawan. “I have great connections to TCNJ and some terrific friendships.”
Holly’s gone Hollywood
You might remember best-selling author Holly Black ’94 from the spring 2005 issue of TCNJ Magazine. At the time, her five-volume set of children’s books, The Spiderwick Chronicles, had just been optioned for filming. Production on the movie wrapped earlier this year, and the film is set for nationwide release in February 2008.
Holly Black '94
The Spiderwick Chronicles is the story of twin brothers Jared and Simon Grace; their sister, Mallory; and their mother. After the Graces move into the Spiderwick Estate, they find themselves pulled into an alternate world full of faeries and other creatures. The books were both critical and financial success stories, thrilling readers of all ages and, in the process, selling millions of copies. The movie version of Spiderwick condenses all five of Holly’s books into one film. A Spiderwick video game is also in the works and due out next year.
“I’m giddy and thrilled and a little freaked out,” Holly said about having her beloved series of adventures turned into a movie. The film’s cast features some well-known Hollywood names, including Mary-Louise Parker, David Strathairn, Nick Nolte, Joan Plowright, and Martin Short. “I was on the set and got to meet some of them and see some of the scenes being filmed, ” Holly said. “It was wonderful to see the characters come to life, walk around, and do things. The funniest scenes to watch were where Freddie Highmore had to play first one and then the other twin in the same scene. ”
Holly and the books’ illustrator, Tony DiTerlizzi, served as co-executive producers for the film. “We consulted on the script and Tony consulted on various things related to the visual aspects of the film. But, mostly, we knew that we had to put our trust in [Director] Mark Water ’s vision for the film, and we felt very comfortable doing that.”
The Nixie’s Song, Holly’s latest novel, was released in September and debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times’ Children’s “Chapter Book” list. The book, which will be the first of a three-part series, is the story of 11-year-old Nicholas Vargas, who, after moving to Florida, discovers “a little nixie with a giant problem—the huge, lumbering, fire-breathing variety.” It’s up to Nicholas, his family, “and a familiar face from the original Spiderwick Chronicles…to figure out the best way to stop a host of rampaging giants before all of Florida goes up in smoke, ” Holly said.
The Nixie’s Song followed fast on the heels of last spring’s release of Holly’s book Ironside, which spent five weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. That book was a sequel to Holly’s first novel, Tithe, and also included characters from her other novel, Valiant. Holly said that both Ironside and Valiant have been optioned for filming, so it’s possible she’ll be back on a movie set very soon.
Tony Marchetti ’96, ’02
TCNJ loses oldest alumna
The College was saddened to learn of the passing of Anna Burr ’20 this past July. At the time of her death, Ms. Burr was 107 years old and believed to be the oldest living alumna of TCNJ.
Anna Burr '20
© The Seal
Ms. Burr, who had been residing in Medford Lakes, NJ, graduated from the New Jersey State Normal School at Trenton. She taught in Bordentown schools for 10 years, then served as an administrator for another 24 years.
The 1920 Seal yearbook (from which the photo on the left was taken) indicates that Ms. Burr was a member of the Philomathean Society, the Athletic Association, and the Camera Club. It also includes the following entry about her: “Interested in athletics? Oh, to be sure; But interested in Oratory, very much more. ”