Jerryl H Sharif ’06, Alumnus and Staff

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Jerryl H Sharif ’06, Alumnus and Staff


What do hip-hop dance moves and the saxophone have to do with engaging students in leadership activities? Just ask Jerryl H. Sharif ’06, who earned a Bachelor of Arts in Digital Video (today called Expanded Media) at Bloomfield College.

“I started playing the saxophone in the third grade, and had a strong interest in hip-hop music,” said Sharif who currently serves as Director of Bloomfield College’s Center for Student Leadership and Engagement (CSLE). “My interests quickly extended to dancing. So, while I deeply enjoy my full-time work at Bloomfield engaging students in activities outside the classroom, I have continued to moonlight as a DJ and choreographer/dancer.”

One of Sharif’s little-known legacies at the College from the time he was a student back in 2001, is that he created the well-celebrated Bloomfield Shuffle that is still a significant part of the campus culture today. “Some 20 years later, the Bloomfield Shuffle is still danced at so many campus events, even President Evans is well experienced with it. I love engaging with our students through the arts, like music and dance, and it is really fulfilling to see our president also engage with students in this way.”

In his role as Director of CSLE, Sharif oversees students’ experiential and service learning on- and off-campus with a focus on leadership training, personal and professional development, and diversity education and awareness. In this student personnel leadership role, Sharif works closely with the Bloomfield College Student Government (BCSG), Greek Council (BCGC), student organizations, campus departments and a number of external constituents. In doing so, he oversees first-year student initiatives and activities, as well as provides weekly social and educational programming for the general student population.

“Because most students are into music, and many also love dancing, I find it’s a great segue into getting to know the students on a personal level,” said Sharif, who was born and raised in Newark. “I use music and dance as a way to connect with our students. Then I check in with them about how they’re feeling, and move on to asking about their grades and what they hope to do after graduation. It feels good to play an influential role in their lives to help them become better than they were yesterday.”

Sharif says he has found the arts to be a great way to “ignite students,” teach them confidence and direct them to the resources they may need. “I get a lot of questions about jobs on campus. I direct them to the Handshake portal, and to the Center for Student Success. Sometimes I sit outside and might say ‘Nice shoes’ or ‘Where did you get your hat?’ and the conversations begin. I get to know them and they trust me with their confidential information and talk with me about everything. It is really rewarding when I see them graduate and be successful,” he said.

As a student, Sharif was fully engaged on campus and reached a somewhat celebrity status with his well-known dance group ”Envy” that traveled internationally. “I will always remember the year we were recording live on the BET show “Wild Out Wednesday” dance competition, and the campus crashed the server for 20 minutes with so many of our students running to the library to vote against the competing dancers,” he said. “That’s when I knew we had something special. We were performing in clubs and doing weddings, bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs, and all the DJs in town knew us. It was a very exciting time for me as a student, and as an arts professional who loves music and dance.”

Additional student involvements for Sharif included co-founding a student community service initiative called Team Infinite. “We had over 70 members just on the Bloomfield campus. It was so popular, we didn’t have space for everyone who attended our meetings to fit at the same time. So, we had to hold two meetings on the same information to have everyone be able to attend,” he said.

“I have come full circle,” says Sharif when speaking about the present day work he does at Bloomfield. “I served as a Resident Advisor and Resident Director at the College as a student. Working in residence life helped me understand how to talk with students, and how to run programs including how to work with a budget and how to be creative in designing quality programs versus focusing on quantity. I am doing this work everyday now at Bloomfield, and I love it,” he said.

“I enjoy helping people, especially the youth, and don't expect anything in return,” said Sharif. “I strive to be a great example for others to follow, and I tell them they can be anything they want to be with hard work, consistency, a good attitude, and fun. While I am involved in so many gratifying community service events, my favorite thing to do is trying to turn frowns into smiles on my daughters, Janicé (11 years old) and Cachét (5 years old).”

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