Alumna Profile: Roberta Kanarick

It was June of 1964 and Roberta Shulman was graduating from Douglass College with a degree in language education.  Excited to begin her career as a Spanish teacher Roberta was also eager to begin building her life with steady beau Robert Kanarick, RC’63, who she would soon go on to marry. She had her whole career ahead of her and, determined to make the most of it, she made Rutgers part of that journey.

Roberta Shulman Kanarick, DC’64 GSE’92, began her career as a Spanish and English-as-a-second-language teacher, but held various positions in education administration for 22 of her 30 years as a full-time K-12 educator. Those positions included New Jersey Department of Education administrator, bilingual education supervisor, high school principal, and superintendent of schools.  Since that time she has been a graduate instructor and consultant in higher education. While the day-to-day responsibilities may have changed as she accepted leadership positions, Kanarick recalls truly loving her career choice.

“I always felt I was making a difference and doing something useful,” Kanarick asserts. “You go to work every day so you want to enjoy it.”

While developing her skills in the field, Kanarick received her M.A. in Administration and Supervision from Montclair State University and, when the timing was right, she returned to Rutgers to pursue her Ed.D. in Educational Theory, Policy & Administration at the Graduate School of Education (GSE).

“The only place I wanted to apply was Rutgers GSE,” admits Kanarick.  “Rutgers was already a large part of my life and the GSE had an excellent reputation.”

In addition to the practical coursework and lessons she learned from her mentor Wayne Hoy and professor Lawrence Kaplan, Kanarick highlighted that she was able to network with others at GSE as a student, which was important both then and now.

“I forged relationships at the GSE that are still with me today,” states Kanarick. “My advice to alumni just entering the field of education would be to figure out what you think it is that you’d like to do. Think it through. Think through different ways to achieve your goals. Experienced alumni can really be a helpful resource.” 

As a two-time Rutgers alumna, Kanarick remains committed to, and involved with, her alma mater. Her commitment runs deeper than simply donning a scarlet article of clothing, though she frequently does that too.

Kanarick began volunteering as an alumna by serving as the Douglass College Class of ‘64 reunion chair, and vice president and president of her class; from there, Kanarick was elected to the board of directors of the Associate Alumnae of Douglass College.  

After meeting other GSE alumni that were involved with the GSE Alumni Association (GSEAA), Kanarick was invited to join the executive board of GSEAA. As a member of the GSEAA executive board she served as second vice president, first vice president and, from 2007-2011, president.

Broadening her interest into the university at large, Kanarick served as president of the Rutgers University Alumni Federation (the governing body for all other Rutgers alumni associations until the creation of RUAA in 2008) from 2005-2007.  Kanarick also served as a member of the Board of Overseers, the governing board of the Rutgers University Foundation, and was recently elected to serve a six-year term as a member of the university’s Board of Trustees.

“We’re a very dedicated group and are involved in all aspects of university life either in an advisory or a decision-making capacity,” Kanarick shares of the Board of Trustees. “The people are fascinating with just so many different accomplishments among them.”

Currently retired from her career in education, Kanarick has certainly found enough to engage her interests at Rutgers and she encourages others to do the same.

“I’ve always enjoyed being at Rutgers and being with Rutgers people. It’s great to take advantage of all the benefits – educational, athletics, cultural, social,” Kanarick publicizes. “Rutgers has done a lot for me, both career-wise and personally and I enjoy giving back to Rutgers for those reasons.”