What’s in Your Car?

Along for the Ride with Two Commuter Students

By Kenna Caprio

A young woman wearing a fuzzy pink coat sits in the driver's seat of a car, smiling.

Ashley Torres (Photo: Bill Cardoni)

Ashley Torres
Junior, Film Major (Florham)

Two Star Wars figurines sit on a car dashboard. A rosary and seashells hang from the rearview mirror.

A rosary, seashells and Funko! Pop figures. (Photo: Bill Cardoni)

Ashley Torres jokes that she’s the Uber driver of her family, chauffeuring her siblings to school and her mom to work before heading to the Florham Campus herself for a full day. As president of the Commuter Student Association, the junior film major coordinates club events — like coffee and cookies meet-and-greets or movie nights — and addresses any concerns or questions stemming from fellow commuter students. If she’s on campus and not in class, most times she’s hanging out at Leafs and Grains, in the cafeteria or in the Frank Santoloci Student Center.

Rosary and Seashells

“My great-grandmother gave me the rosary for my 20th birthday. It’s on the rearview mirror to remind me that God is by my side, and that no matter what happens, everything happens for a reason. The seashells are Hawaiian and are a souvenir from my aunt and uncle, who went to the islands for their honeymoon. Shells can be a symbol of good communication, positive and healthy relationships and prosperity.”

Funko! Pop Figures

Grogu and the Mandalorian, figurines of characters from the popular Disney+ series “The Mandalorian,” keep Torres company in her Toyota Corolla on her 30–45 minute commute to the Florham Campus from Belleville, N.J.

An owl painting, an emergency car kit and a case of water in the trunk of a car.

A painting and an emergency road kit. (Photo: Bill Cardoni)


The owl painting in Torres’ trunk is a gift from her godmother. She hasn’t decided where to hang it just yet.

Emergency Supply Kit

Her trunk is stocked with emergency essentials, including a case of water and a road kit. The road kit contains a blanket, a battery terminal, booster cables, gloves, duct tape, a flashlight and replacement bulb, D-size batteries, pliers, screwdrivers and a reflector.


A young man sits in the driver's seat, holding the steering wheel.

‘Mayowa Akindebe (Photo: Bill Cardoni)

Oluwamayowa Akindebe
Senior, Accounting Major (Metro)

“Always on the go” — that’s life for senior accounting major ‘Mayowa Akindebe. He keeps a busy schedule, working at the Student Union Building, practicing with the Knights women’s basketball team, attending class and studying, going to church and playing music professionally! His car is the key to keeping it all organized, and is Akindebe’s touchstone throughout the day.


“I listen to all types of musical genres in the car, but probably gospel, Afro beats and R&B the most.” He has about 14 playlists in rotation. “On the way to school before an exam, I’m blasting Kirk Franklin and yelling every single word!”

A water bottle, an iPhone with headphones plugged in and a pack of breath mints.

Center console and cup holder items. (Photo: Bill Cardoni)


Akindebe’s commute to campus from Bloomfield, N.J., in his Chevy Cruze runs him 16–22 minutes, depending on the traffic. Being a commuter student, he says, “gives me the best of both worlds,” offering him extra independence and allowing him to see his family regularly.

Center Console

In the center console and cup holders, Akindebe keeps a bottle of water, his iPhone, cologne, gum, mints, emergency money, pens, a phone charger and a list of emergency contacts and their phone numbers.


“I am a clean-car kind of person, for sure. But I do collect a lot of shoes all over the place as the semester progresses and that does make me slowly lose it!”

In the trunk of a car, a Polo bag, several pairs of shoes, an accounting textbook and more.

Shoes, overnight bag and textbook. (Photo: Bill Cardoni)

Gym Bag

“I’ve been a practice player for the women’s basketball team since my sophomore year, and I work out before and after my classes, so I need my gym clothes, basic sneakers and whatever else in my gym bag.”

Overnight Bag

His Bible, tucked in his Polo bag, is the most important item in his car. “My Polo bag is my ‘go bag.’ It has all the necessities in case I get stuck anywhere. Bible, clothes, towel, wipes, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and cologne. Sometimes my schedule keeps me on campus late into the night, or the weather prevents me from driving home, so I even made extra bags and gave them to friends who live on campus so I can crash with them, if need be.”

A young man stands against his red car.

‘Mayowa Akindebe with his Chevy Cruze. (Photo: Bill Cardoni)


“I took Advanced Accounting previously, and bought the textbook because it was the cheapest option to get the material, out of purchasing an ebook, renting or buying. This semester, I have all my books on my iPad so that I can read and annotate anywhere.”