Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight: Chris Rapaglia

Vibrant, passionate, kind and outgoing, Chris Rapaglia, is a sophomore social work student who advocates for change, justice, creativity, and voice in many disenfranchised communities.

She is proudly a transgender woman and works part-time at Voyagers, a progressive school for K-12 youth in Eatontown, NJ. She also serves as Vice President of Sexuality, Pride, Education, Community, Truth, Respect, and Unity at Monmouth (S.P.E.C.T.R.U.M), the on-campus LGBTQ+ group that participates in a number of activist-driven events.

Rapaglia has been a member of the club since fall of 2016 and has been involved in countless events such as the weekly club meetings, the diversity open mic night and intersectionality week with the ally clubs. She also participates in the annual coming out day held outside of the Rebecca Stafford Student Center.

Rapaglia actively circulates ideas to the club by listening to what her peers have to say and by voicing her creative and unique perspectives on how to bridge LGBTQ+ folks and allies in a community, which promotes pluralistic ideas.

“Chris is a very generous and loving person and has made me feel welcome in S.P.E.C.T.R.U.M and other club group meetings. She always has the best interest of everyone at heart,” said Bianca Zazzarini Leon, a sophomore English student. Her compassion and genial personality has led her to be an admirable and successful role model in the LGBTQ+ community both on and off campus.

 Being a social work student, Rapaglia is able to take her activism a step further and use the valuable lessons she learns in the classroom, and apply them through a lens which promotes inclusivity both with the LGBTQ+ club and in the jobs she pursues.

“A social work education has taken me to a lot of places throughout New Jersey, but working with the Racial Justice Project at Trinity Episcopal Church of Asbury Park is a favorite of mine,” Rapaglia said. During her time volunteering there, she received the opportunity to speak at a rally over the summer where she highlighted the importance of intersectionally amongst people of color and queer individuals.

Liza Minno-Bloom, an adjunct professor of political science and sociology, commented on how she had the pleasure of working with Rapaglia in Asbury Park. With Rapaglia being an intersectional thinker herself, she is able to fit her privileges into a larger context and begin to truly sympathize and empathize with others. She realizes that the most pivotal part of activism is advocating for the individual first before spreading the passion to others.

Rapaglia also has a few interesting qualities such as her skills as showcased in American Sign Language, a slight obsession with Oprah and her small business as an intuitive tarot card reader.

She runs weekly sessions on social media called “Tarot Card Tuesday,” where she puts out a few cards and has her followers pick one in which they vibe with the most. Following that, she makes a post releasing the information, and the power the cards have. She writes encouraging, thoughtful, and heartwarming information that leaves people with not only a smile on their faces, but perhaps a prediction of their near future. Most importantly, she emphasizes that these tarot card readings are only vehicles people can use to match the events in their lives, and not always to be taken literally.

“I was a skeptic, but her readings have made me a believer,” said Olenka Mallqui, a sophomore chemistry student.

“Please realize that you have free-will and control over your life—this is just to provide some guidance and light,” she said. “Like a weather forecast, it’s always subject to change and you’re the master of your life and your choices.”

Rapaglia’s compassion doesn’t go unnoticed as she shows wonderful leadership skills in all sorts of academic, social, and activist settings. Her skills help her develop ways to not only fight for the marginalized, but to build and maintain lasting and meaningful with all sorts of people.

PHOTO COURTESY of Chris Rapaglia