Kaila Crozier in her graduation regalia
Kaila Crozier in her graduation regalia

Spend any amount of time on the Rutgers University in Camden campus, and you’re liable to bump into Kaila Crozier CCAS’22. Depending on the day (or the hour), she may be in front of a classroom as a student teacher, working an athletic contest, or helping to organize a TEDx event.

In fact, students, employees, and visitors to campus may have already rubbed elbows—or scarlet-colored Raptor wings—with Crozier and not even known it. Crozier frequently performs as the Scarlet Raptor mascot at games and events. She says this role provides the ideal forum to exude “Scarlet spirit.”

“It brings me joy to be able to connect with people at different events and help showcase different clubs and organizations at Rutgers­–Camden,” said Crozier, who is from nearby Cherry Hill and is pursuing a master of arts in teaching after graduating Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor’s degree in English. “Honestly, it’s a lot of fun to just walk around in the Raptor suit and be goofy. Since no one knows who you are, you can have a different identity and act like somebody else.

“Getting to see kids smile is great. At every event, there’s always at least one moment where I say, ‘That was cute.’ That’s why I do what I do.”

Crozier joins other local mascots during the 2023 Ballot Bowl
Crozier joins other local mascots during the 2023 Ballot Bowl

As Crozier can attest, the Scarlet Raptor has even had the opportunity to flock with some fellow feathered friends. One of Crozier’s favorite experiences as the mascot came at an off-campus event that featured penguins from Camden’s Adventure Aquarium. “The penguins looked like they were caught off guard by this person in a bird suit,” Crozier said with a smile. “It was really funny and a lot of fun.”

Crozier gained acceptance to Rutgers–Camden during an “Instant Decision Day” event during her senior year at Cherry Hill High School East. Crozier met with representatives from the Office of Admissions and received a same-day acceptance. “It relieved a lot of stress for me,” Crozier said.

After spending her first year making the 15-minute commute from home to campus, Crozier ramped up her participation in campus activities as a sophomore—and her involvement hasn’t stopped since. “Being part of the Photography Club helped me connect with others on campus, and I really started to see the value of getting involved,” she said; she would eventually join the staff of the Gleaner student newspaper and assist the athletic department with promotions and game management. When she wasn’t donning the Raptor costume, Crozier became a different kind of fixture at Raptor athletic events: the public address announcer for several sports, including soccer, baseball, softball, and volleyball.

Kaila Crozier works as an announcer during a Scarlet Raptors atheltic event
Crozier working with athletics staff member Peter Bader during a Scarlet Raptors volleyball match

“Working as an announcer at games helped me gain self-confidence and has also helped with leadership skills,” Crozier said. “Getting involved helped me see that our campus and this community have true heart and soul. It’s something you truly have to experience for yourself to understand. That’s why I tell people to be as involved as they can as students here; it will really determine their outlook and perspective.”

As she nears the completion of her graduate degree in spring 2024, Crozier is still evaluating potential career paths but knows she wants to land in a field where she can make a positive impact on the world.

“Whether it’s through teaching, counseling, or some sort of administration, I’ve come to realize how important it is to have people in your life who are careful and considerate,” Crozier said. “I’ve been lucky to have great opportunities here.”