From finding HOPE to giving hope to others
Agron Family Annual Scholarship
Class of 2020: Major(s) and Minor: Public Health major, Psychology minor
How did you decide on your major?
When I first transferred to Rutgers University, I was a psychology major. After taking the Sexual Health Advocacy course with Dr. Maresca, she acknowledged my passion for the subject and how my skills could be useful in public health. She inspired me to pursue a career in sexual health, and I never looked back.
What is it about your chosen field (and the department) that appeals to you?
Public health interests me because of its dedication to people and community. I am someone who loves to serve, and public health focuses on the well-being of the people in our communities. I particularly love sexual health because it is considered a taboo in our culture, while still being a major component of our overall health. I am gifted with the ability to make difficult conversations feel less uncomfortable and more relatable, which has led me to want to work in sexual health.
What are your plans following graduation?
I am excited to continue pursuing my MPH after graduation. I hope to find a position working in higher education or for a non-profit organization creating and delivering programs focusing on sexual health. I hope to become an adjunct professor as well once I finish my MPH.
What are your dreams and aspirations?
I aspire to change the way we communicate and think about our sexual health. I ultimately would like to be a Health Education Specialist in higher education, or the Director of a sexuality education non-profit organization. I want to provide our youth with the tools they need to care for themselves, and encourage them to be prepared to have these conversations. My dream is to reduce the shame and stigma surrounding sexual health, and to teach young people how to have healthy relationships.
What challenges or barriers did you feel were between you and your goals?
I feel there have been countless barriers and obstacles between me and my goals. I have had all the odds stacked against me financially, believing I would never go to college in the first place. I have had to work full-time while enrolled full-time in community college, and when I transferred to Rutgers University I had to take up jobs with late hours and weekend shifts just to support myself and pay my bills. I worked tirelessly at these jobs until I was hired at Health, Outreach, Promotion, and Education (HOPE), which allowed me to use my talents and be a part of something bigger than myself. Not only were there financial barriers, there were emotional ones as well. I lost my biggest supporter, my father, unexpectedly during the beginning of my college career. While this devastated my family financially and emotionally, it left me feeling completely alone and isolated. Somehow, I have found the strength to keep pushing myself to finish my degree.
How did this scholarship transform your educational experience?
This scholarship is allowing me to finish my BA and dedicate more time to my current internship, which is unpaid. I am learning how to develop, plan, and evaluate programs at this internship, which will be invaluable to my future career. This scholarship has enabled me to work less at my other jobs, which in turn has allowed me to spend more time enjoying my senior year at Rutgers by actively being on campus and offering my support where it is needed. I am able to focus on my coursework like never before, and I feel I am learning more this semester because I have more time to truly invest in my education.
What did this scholarship make possible?
This scholarship has made my BA in Public Health possible. Furthermore, it has made my dream of pursuing my MPH possible. I am the first in my family to pursue a Master’s degree, and I still can’t believe that because of this scholarship, I am able to continue on that journey.
What was it like the moment you found out you had the scholarship?
I cried, intensely. I am notoriously the type of person that has a difficult time asking for help when needed, especially financially. I was at work when I found out I was awarded the Agron Family Annual Scholarship, and I completely melted. My supervisors all gathered around me, reminding me that I deserved this and reiterating how proud they are of me. I felt this HUGE weight lifted off of my shoulders. I felt heard, I felt seen, and I felt truly cared about in a capacity that I have never felt before.
What did that mean to you?
Finding out I received this scholarship means the world to me. I have always been a dedicated student at Rutgers University, and through all of my hardship I have pushed myself to maintain a 3.9 cumulative GPA. I made the choice to do my best every semester while at Rutgers, and I have exceeded all of my own expectations. I am a diligent student because I want to learn, and I want to demonstrate that with dedication and hard work, you can overcome any challenges set before you. When I found out that I received this scholarship, I felt as though my years of commitment to my education had been recognized.
What does that allow you to do that you wouldn’t have been able to do?
This scholarship allows me to enjoy my time at Rutgers even more than I already am by lessening my financial burden. I have had to forego a lot of events, trainings, and extracurriculars at Rutgers that I would have loved to attend or be a part of because of my very full work schedule. I will be able to spend more time getting involved on campus. This scholarship has enabled me to attend more trainings to excel in my career. I will be able to spend more time with family, attend Rutgers football games, facilitate more workshops, spend more time providing HIV testing on campus, and so much more. I feel as though because of this scholarship, I can reclaim my time left here at Rutgers.
What would you like to say to the donor?
There are no words to describe how eternally grateful I am to the Agron Family. Thank you so unbelievably much for believing in me and seeing the value in my dedication to my education. With your help, I am able to spend more time being an active member of the Rutgers community, which allows me to make a difference in our community. Thank you for recognizing my hard work and supporting me. I cannot thank you enough for seeing the value in my work, and I can assure you that I will work every day to make you proud beyond measure.
What has Rutgers made possible for you?
Rutgers has made my future possible. Before I came to Rutgers University, my career path was unclear and undefined. Through the education I have been offered, the incredible people I have met, and the amount of support I have received from the staff and faculty here, I now know that I can create a lasting impact on the Rutgers community. I am excited for my future career, because I feel Rutgers has prepared me adequately. Rutgers has given me multiple opportunities to work in the field of sexual health, that I may not have had otherwise.
What is your favorite thing about Rutgers?
My favorite thing about Rutgers is the office of Health, Outreach, Promotion, and Education (HOPE). When I transferred to Rutgers, I didn’t know how to get involved or where to start at such a large university. After taking a class at HOPE, I learned I would be hired to work as a peer educator. My entire life changed course after that moment. I was able to work a job that I loved on campus, and found my calling in sex education. Furthermore, the staff and faculty at HOPE have become a family to me. They welcomed me with open arms, and have encouraged and supported me every step of the way. My supervisors are all incredible individuals, and they are truly dedicated to our success. When I am in need of help, they are the first ones to provide me with every resource that I could possibly utilize. In fact, I found out about this scholarship because I expressed my financial concerns to one of my supervisors, who then walked me through all of my options, and eventually proofread my essay. The HOPE house became my home away from home on campus, and it has been the catalyst in my success here at Rutgers.