By Tom Luicci
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (May 15, 2014) – The irony wasn’t lost on Fabian Ruiz.
His latest academic honor, a scholarship presented by the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey on May 10, was awarded at the organization’s annual gala at MetLife Stadium.
A football venue.
For Ruiz, who came to the United States from Cuba as a youngster with his mother and brother in 1995, it has been that way most of his life. Football and education have always been intertwined for the former Rutgers tight end.
“Football has had a great influence on my life, with the doors it has opened and the opportunities it has provided for me,” said Ruiz, who lettered for the Scarlet Knights from 2008-11. “It’s not often that somebody gets as many opportunities in life as I’ve had, with so many people behind them trying to help.
“I’ve had a lot of people around me helping me along the way, and I think Rutgers, the football program and the academic program that is part of that have been a huge help for me personally and for my family as well.”
By most everyone’s definition of what an American success story is, Ruiz qualifies.
Born in Cuba, he’d never played football until his freshman year at Sunset High in Miami. He excelled enough to earn a scholarship to Rutgers, graduated with honors and with dual Bachelor of Science degrees (Communication and Spanish Literature) and recently completed his second year at Rutgers University School of Law-Newark.
This summer, Ruiz will work for the Honorable Judge Ivan Fernandez of the Florida Third District Court of Appeals.
“I don’t think I’m ready to call myself an American success story just yet,” Ruiz said. “I’m still working toward that goal. But I would like to one day call myself an American success story.”
He expects to make a decision after this summer about what area of law he intends to specialize in.
“Right now I’m looking into stuff that relates to intellectual property,” said Ruiz, whose academic law honors include the Governor’s Executive Scholarship from the Eagleton Institute of Politics. “Obviously, sports law and entertainment law are interests of mine.”
Whatever the specialty is, and wherever it takes him, Ruiz will count on his Rutgers football background to continue to help him.
“The impact football has had on me is something I see even now in law school, where things are so competitive,” he said. “It has kept me grounded and it has kept me working hard and it has kept my head in place at times when I see other people cracking.
“Football has helped me to understand that failures are going to come and successes are going to come and you just have to keep moving forward.”