Rutgers-Newark Student Takes Stage at First New Jersey Governor's Debate

Rutgers-Newark Student Takes Stage at First New Jersey Governor's Debate

Chinedu Onyemaobi will be the only student on the panel of journalists posing questions to gubernatorial candidates Oct. 10

Chinedu Onyemaobi, a senior, plans to pursue a career in broadcasting and digital journalism.
Photo: Anthony Alvarez

"I met with the panel and brainstormed questions and discussed ideas about how to approach a candidate. It was a learning experience. I think I do a pretty good job with my work, and I’m confident I will represent Rutgers in the best way at the debate. "
 
– Chinedu Onyemaobi

Watch a video interview with Chinedu Onyemaobi.

 

Media Contact
Ferlanda Fox Nixon
973-353-5262

On Oct. 10, Chinedu Onyemaobi, a Rutgers University-Newark student, will be the only student on the panel of journalists that will be posing questions to gubernatorial candidates Phil Murphy and Kim Guadagno at their first debate at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark.

The journalism and media studies major and son of Nigerian immigrants said being selected for the panel is an honor.

“It felt like a lot of hard work paid off,” he said, after learning he’d been chosen to represent his peers. “Early in high school I was kind of lost. I didn’t take school seriously. I wanted to make my parents proud, but the direction I was going, that wasn’t going to happen.”

Onyemaobi, 21, awakened to his love of history and journalism at Union High School, where as a junior, he turned around his failing grades. Now a senior at Rutgers-Newark, he is a member of the Honors Living-Learning Community and focused on launching a media career that not only makes his parents proud but inspires others. 

Tuesday won’t be Onyemaobi’s first time in front of a microphone. He spent this past summer as a Media Fellow at WBGO/Newark Public Radio, the global leader in jazz radio and National Public Radio affiliate, where he honed his journalism and on-air skills, said WBGO news director Doug Doyle.

"I'm very excited that Chinedu has been selected by Rutgers University to participate in the televised New Jersey gubernatorial debate,” Doyle said. “From learning how to conduct strong insightful interviews to writing and producing in-depth, sound-rich news features, Chinedu can now use those skills he's learned as WBGO Media Fellow to pursue a career in broadcasting and digital journalism."

Onyemaobi also is a radio host for WRNU’s The Campus Beat, for which he produces two programs: Chin Up Sports, a sports commentary show; and Pepper Soup: Sounds from the Motherland, a West-African arts, music, and entertainment program. Onyemaobi also is the social media coordinator for Rutgers Organization of African Students.

Growing up, the former football player remembers soaking up color commentary from sportscaster Brent Musberger during games and contemplating a similar career path. “As a kid, I loved talking,” he said. “So, I thought, ‘Why not pursue something where you get paid for talking.’ ”

Though Onyemaobi is working toward a career that focuses on sports or entertainment coverage, he is excited the debate will give him the opportunity to experience another facet of journalism.

“In journalism, you don’t want to restrict yourself. You should be experienced in music, politics and the arts,” he said. “I’m gaining more knowledge on how to cover politics, which will help me as a journalist and a student.”

Onyemaobi is not yet sure what question he will ask at the debate, which is co-sponsored by Rutgers. He is working with the editors of Scarlet Magazine and The Observer newspaper, both student-run publications, and says he’ll likely form a question that addresses the prospects of career opportunities in New Jersey for recent college graduates or available state protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

“I met with the panel and brainstormed questions and discussed ideas about how to approach a candidate. What to ask. What not to ask. It was a learning experience,” he said. “I think I do a pretty good job with my work, and I’m confident I will represent Rutgers in the best way at the debate.” 


More about the debate:

Along with NJPAC, Rutgers’ debate co-sponsors include: WABC-TV, WADO-AM radio, and Univision, all in New York; Twitter; NJ Advance Media; NJBIZ Magazine; NJ Spotlight; PSEG; WBGO-FM radio, in Newark; El Diario; Univision65, WHYY-FM radio, and WPVI-TV, all in Philadelphia; Lead NJ; League of Women Voters of New Jersey; National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund.

WABC-TV, WPVI-TV, Univision, WBGO, and WHYY will broadcast the debate live. Twitter will broadcast the debate as a live feed from its website to enable its users to follow and engage in real time.

The RU-N Student Governing Association will host a gubernatorial debate watch party for the Rutgers-Newark and surrounding communities in the Essex Room of the Paul Robeson Campus Center (350 Martin Luther King Blvd., Newark, NJ 07102).

All are invited to follow Onyemaobi’s debate experience by following #NJGovDebate.

Media Contact
Ferlanda Fox Nixon
973-353-5262