Rutgers Law School pays tribute to students who are veterans, including two scholars from the Newark campus, Dashay Carter, a native Newarker and former Army Reservist, and Zach Fini, a Navy veteran who served 10 years in active duty, including deployment in the Middle East.
Carter, a first-year student, spent seven years as an Army Reserve aviation operations specialist, acting as a communications liaison between aircraft and base and later as a human resources specialist.
“I learned mental toughness in the Army—everything is a mental game, even carrying an 80-pound bag up a hike during the rain,” she says. “Once you get the mindset that you can do something, you can do it.”
Carter, who earned a masters of Public Administration at RU-N, has an extensive career in Newark that began in 2012 when she worked as South Ward Coordinator for Ras Baraka’s mayoral campaign. Today, she is Chief of Human Resources at the Newark Housing Authority.
Once she begins her law career, she wants to continue giving back to the city. ” I want to be an example for kids growing up like I did,” she says. “It’s important for kids in Newark to see successful attorneys who look like them, are from an urban area like Newark, and maybe weren’t raised in the best home environment. It says to them, if I can do it, you can do it.”
Fini, who grew up in Skillman, New Jersey, had childhood dreams of flying a plane. After graduating from Northern Michigan University, he was commissioned as an officer in the Navy and was soon flying in the backseat of an EA-18G Growler aircraft, managing the weapons systems, and working to disrupt or suppress enemy radars and communications. “Basically, what I tell people is that I was Goose in Top Gun,” he quips.
He applied to Rutgers-Law near the end of his active-duty career, where he served on the USS Dwight Eisenhower in 2016. He’s considering corporate and sports law but is keeping an open mind and trying to learn as much as he can without the fear of failure that can keep students from success. “Going from college to flight school, I was terrified of failing,” he says. “I learned over the years that the only way to improve at something is to fail over and over again—otherwise, you don’t learn. This has really changed my mindset and made me realize that it’s really not the end of the world if something doesn’t go your way.”
To learn more about their stories, go here.