For more information and to purchase tickets for Rob's Rumble, please click here. Come rock with us on Friday, April 13!
What could Robert Sunga RC/SC&I ’05 MCIS ‘07 not do? It might be easier to begin there.
While at Rutgers, he earned a bachelor’s degree in communication (while minoring in music), and then a Masters in Communication and Information Studies (MCIS, now called MCM), both from SC&I. He was chosen as class speaker for his master’s commencement ceremony.
Also, according to his brother, Michael Sunga RC ’02 and Rutgers Graduate School of Education ’03, Rob was an extremely talented musician -- he could play several instruments in a variety of musical styles. He was also a magician. (He worked at children's birthday parties -- his specialties were card tricks and slight-of-hand tricks -- his inspiration was David Blaine.) He was also a tap dancer who dabbled in ballroom dance. He had a passion for indie rock. He was also a news anchor/reporter for WRSU.
During his time on the banks, Rob also received the following awards (to name a few), Sunga said. “Rob received the Todd Hunt Public Service Award, induction into the Golden Key International Honor Society, the Irving S. Upson Award for Best Orator, the PRSSA Presidential Service Award, and the Kelly-Schimpf Communication Award for exceptional professional contributions and demonstrating exceptional professional promise. In addition, Rob generously gave of his time and talent as the president of the Rutgers chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America PRSSA). He served as the Rutgers delegate at several PRSA national conventions.”
Prior to Rutgers, Rob attended St. Peter’s Prep, in Jersey City, where he was Student Council President for two years and also gave magic lessons to a Jesuit brother.
While Rob was an MCIS student, he was also a Johnson & Johnson (J&J) fellow, where he impressed J&J so much, the company hired him after he graduated. He then had a very successful career in corporate communications at J&J.
“He loved his time at Rutgers and the experiences/opportunities that profoundly shaped his character as a professional and as a person,” Sunga said.
He had everything going for him, and the brightest future possible ahead of him. Then suddenly everything changed when Rob was diagnosed with stage 4 Burkitt’s lymphoma during the summer of 2007.
Sunga said, “Rob spent six months receiving intensive in-patient chemotherapy at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. Although Rob was cancer-free for the next ten years, the side-effects from the chemotherapy he received caused neurological deterioration that ultimately took his life on December 23, 2016 at the age of 33. Although he suffered greatly, he continued to carry himself with faith, integrity, passion, and resilience.”
To celebrate Rob’s life and love for indie rock, Rob’s family is hosting Rob's Rumble, on Friday, April 13, 2018, from 6:30 p.m. – 11 p.m., at Saint Peter’s Prep in Jersey City. It will be a very special opportunity to honor Rob’s memory and support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the Saint Peter’s Prep Music Program, all while listening to four local bands, and Grammy-nominated artist Ari Hest. Sunga is expecting 250 music enthusiasts and Rob’s friends.
This event is not the first time Rob’s family and friends joined together in support of Rob. In November, 2007, Rob’s family and friends, also known as “Team Rob,” raised over $8,000 in his honor to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and, in loving solidarity, participated in the LLS Light the Night Walk, Sunga explained.
Rob’s Rumble is the perfect tribute to Rob, Sunga said, because of Rob’s love for music, particularly indie rock. “Rob had an eclectic taste in music, but his favorite type to listen to and perform was indie rock. He was a big fan of Ari Hest, Jon McLaughlin, and John Mayer - all of whom he met. Rob played the violin, piano, guitar, and percussion. He also sang. As a music minor, Rob savored the opportunity to continue exploring his artistic passion, as he took courses in Western classical theory, history, and performance. Rob and I both minored in music, and our favorite professor at Mason Gross School of the Arts was Dr. Nanette de Jong, an ethnomusicologist (with a focus on Caribbean music). Rob and I were both members of the Rutgers University Salsa Band, which Dr. de Jong directed. Rob played percussion, and I played the piano. Salsa Band was the only class/ensemble that we took together, which made our shared experience in the Music Program very special.”
One of Rob’s closest friends at Rutgers was Julie Abrahamsen Cornell, ’04 (Cornell is a Douglass/Rutgers/SC&I graduate, with a BA in Communication and French). Cornell is now Manager for Worldwide Corporate Communications at J&J. While Cornell did not work with Rob, she is now working with some of the people Rob worked with. It was also Cornell who first introduced Rob to Ari Hest’s music, and they attended many of his concerts together. Hest’s grammy-nominated band will be paying at Rob’s Rumble. Cornell is also serving on the advisory council for the event, contributing various project management and PR skills.
Of their friendship, Cornell said, “Rob and I met in the fall of 2003 when we signed up to be newscasters with WRSU when Rob was a junior and I was a senior. For the next two semesters, we co-anchored the Tuesday night news at 10, and Rob often provided a dramatic, enthusiastic intro to my ‘concert calendar’ segment. We also attended several classes together at SC&I and both served on the PRSSA student group. What really made us friends though were two things. In November of 2003, a very dear friend of mine passed away suddenly and Rob was really there for me during a very difficult time. We didn't know each other that well at the time, but Rob was so generous with his support and just his positive attitude and spirit. He really lifted me up. The second thing was finding that we both loved the same kind of music and the same artists. We loved the big artists like John Mayer, and the lesser known ones like Jon McLaughlin and Ari Hest. We made each other mixes, and burned bootleg CDs of concerts. Once we graduated and had a bit of spending money, Rob would visit me in Jersey City (his old stomping grounds), and we'd go to dinner and go see a local band. When you love music, there's nothing better than sharing that enjoyment with someone who loves it just as much as you do. When Rob got sick, I sent him CDs and books about our favorite musicians in the hopes it would bring him some comfort and enjoyment.
“Overall, Rob was an awesome, steadfast, supportive friend and I miss him so much. We are both ‘talkers’ and when we got together I don't think there was ever a moment of silence! We always had so much to talk about from music, to pop culture, to what was happening in our industry. I miss his booming voice, his smile, and his incredible zest for life.”
“It has been a difficult year,” Sunga said, “but it gives us comfort knowing that Rob's legacy will continue to inspire students and alumni in a field that fed his soul.”
Click here to purchase tickets or for more information about Rob's Rumble.