Public Catastrophes, Private Losses

IRW Undergraduate Learning Community Scholars Fall 2018 and Spring 2019

Fall 2018 Scholars

Shameen Abubakar

Shameen AbubakarI am a sophomore double majoring in Marketing/Journalism & Media Studies with a concentration in Business Analytics and Information Technology. This is my first time taking a seminar with the IRW Learning Community. Aside from school, I am a marketing coordinator for MIST NJ, the Muslim Interscholastic Tournament for high school students to compete in everything from art to public speaking. I am also a videographer for the Douglass Residential College Media Team. I enjoy reading, writing, video editing, photography, and theatre. I hope to build a career in marketing in the media industry, and be part of understanding and incorporating new media technology to share stories and make statements. My interest lies in how marketing has changed and is changing due to emerging technology. I hope to eventually work in marketing for films, in order to push for and emphasize better representation of minority groups in films.   

Rebecca Ambrosino

Rebecca AmbrosinoMy name is Rebecca Ambrosino and I am a Psychology major and Women’s and Gender Studies minor planning to graduate in 2018. I really enjoy taking courses related to child psychology and would love to be able to have a career that incorporates both my child psychology and women's and gender studies backgrounds. In my spare time, I enjoy doing anything related to food. I have always had a passion for cooking and baking and can often be found in the kitchen when I have free time. I am so incredibly honored and excited to be part of the IRW’s 2018 Learning Community and I am excited to apply my academic background to a real life experience.

Jensen Benko

Jensen BenkoI am currently a senior and am planning to graduate in May 2019. My major is in Women’s and Gender Studies and my minor is in Political Science. This year I am working as a writing tutor at the Plangere Writing Center. I am also working on my senior thesis about queer identity in order to graduate with Honors in Women’s and Gender Studies. My academic interests include studying queer theory, the effects of gender and identity on politics, and how language shapes the way we live.

Martyna Berlinska 

Marty Berlinska Hello! I’m Martyna Berlinska, a senior at Rutgers University pursuing a double major in Human Resource Management and Women’s & Gender Studies. I currently work as a shift supervisor at RWJ Starbucks, and am an involved member of Gamma Sigma co-educational fraternity. While I’m originally from Poland, I grew up in New Jersey and enjoy the famous beaches and hiking trails. I like spending my free time taking long walks, listening to music, or being with close friends and family.

Kriti Jain

Kriti Jain I am currently a sophomore in Packaging Engineering, but I might be switching out to pursue Journalism. I hope to minor in Animal Science and Entrepreneurship. I would like to be a wildlife photographer someday. I am part of Douglass Engineering Living Learning Community, and Douglass Orientation Committee. I work as a taekwondo instructor during breaks. In my free time, I enjoy taekwondo, going to arcades and amusement parks, and traveling.

Iman Khan

Iman KhanI am currently a freshman at Rutgers University planning to major in Political Science. My career goals are in the field of international human rights law. I care about social justice and advocacy in my daily life, so career-wise I want to be able to use whatever platform I have to give a voice to those who cannot speak up for themselves. Quite frankly, I’m not sure how I’m going to get there or what career I’ll even end up in, but what I do know is that I care about using my one existence on this earth to serve the rest of humanity. I love to sing (I was in an all-female acapella group in my high school) and write reflective pieces and poetry, and I love food. What makes me happy is being able to give of myself to others, whether something tangible outside of myself or just my words, my time, my love, or my support. I’m excited for what this semester has in store for us all!    

Celese Lindsey

Celese Lindsey photoI am a senior majoring in Communication and double minoring in Women’s and Gender Studies and Gender and Media. I am a proud Douglass Residential College woman, as well as the Chairwoman of the Douglass Student Recruitment Network. Currently, I am a Social Media Intern at the Institute for Women’s Leadership.

Emily Liu

Emily LiuHello! My name is Emily and I am currently a junior majoring in Journalism and Media Studies and minoring in International/Global Studies. I love learning about different cultures, and the stories that are told within them. I’m fascinated by how we tell stories, and hope that someday I can help tell my own stories as well as the stories of others. Around campus, I’m part of the Rutgers Ballroom Club/Team.

Alexandra Pallisco

Alexandra Pallisco photoMy name is Alex. I am a fifth year Rutgers student from Long Island, New York. I am majoring in Psychology and minoring in Criminology. After I graduate from Rutgers, I plan on eventually attending graduate school to continue my education in psychology. I have joined the IRW Learning Community to learn more about the topic we are studying and to experience doing research in a unique way.

Kat Parker

Kat Parker photoI am currently a senior studying Journalism and Media Studies at the School of Communication and Information here at Rutgers University. I am also graduating with a minor in Psychology from the School of Arts and Sciences. I am an active member of Douglass Residential College, becoming a Barbara Vorhees Mentor my sophomore year, participating in the Global Village’s Creativity house, and have worked as a social media intern for the Douglass Social Media Team. I have a passion for the arts and plan to incorporate them into my career in media in the future. My interests include writing, poetry, singing, social justice, dancing, reading, podcasting, and film production.

Samantha Posada

Samantha Posada photo Hi everyone! My name is Samantha Posada. I am a 5th year senior majoring in Public Health with a certification in Public Health Advocacy and Education and minoring in Political Science. My overall career ambition is to become a traveling Public Health Nurse Practitioner and help under-served communities worldwide in order to create a healthier and more prosperous world for future generations to be able to live in, specifically in my home countries of Cuba and El Salvador. Being the first in my family to go to college gives me immense pride to be and do the best I can, especially when it comes to learning new things and participating in things outside my comfort zone like IRW.

Baian Rasheed

Baian Rasheed photoMy name is Baian Rasheed. I am from Palestine, lived half of my life in Jordan and the other half in New Jersey, but was born in Calhoun, Georgia. I am bilingual, speaking Arabic and English. I am a non-traditional student, junior, and majoring in Public Health and minoring in Biological Sciences pre-dental. I work as a dental assistant and I am a certified pharmacy technician. I am also a Barbara Voorhees Mentor in the Douglass Residential College. In general, I am passionate about helping people. I went on two international missions two years ago; both were in Jordan working with refugees. The first was a dental/medical mission for refugees to provide them free clinical and health counseling and medical treatment. The second, Star Project mission, provided refugees who live in random camps with toys, clothes, and school supplies. I also love attending and participating in international humanitarian events and summits. Last year, I participated at the World Humanitarian Action Forum 2017 in London, United Kingdom. I also attended the 14th Annual International Human Rights Summit in the United Nations, New York.   

Arianna Rodrigues

Arianna Rodrigues photo I am currently a sophomore in the School of Engineering, transferring out for the Spring of 2019 to officially declare my major, Social Work. I am double minoring in Women’s and Gender Studies, as well as Health and Society. I am a Douglass woman, participating in the Bold Empower program, and part of the SSS program as a Paul Robeson Scholar. I plan to participate in the WOAH club (Women Organizing Against Harassment), and volunteer at Elijah’s Promise. Hopefully, I can study abroad during my Junior year because I love to travel. I also love to play the piano. I spend my time watching scary movies, hanging out with my friends, and trying new things around Rutgers.

Genesis Rodriguez

Genesis Rodriguez photo I am a junior studying Public Health in the School of Arts and Sciences. I am also a Douglass Woman, the event coordinator for the Women’s Center Coalition, and an EOF scholar. I aspire to pursue a career in medicine and, ideally, I would like to become a physician assistant post-undergrad. Aside from my extracurriculars and coursework, I love to travel whenever possible, visiting interactive museums, and re-watching The Office.  

Leah Rozario

Leah Rozario photoI am a senior at Rutgers, double majoring in Public Policy and English, aspiring to attend law school in the future. I aspire to advocate for women's sexual and reproductive health rights, as well as to advocate for equitable policies for all marginalized groups. On campus, I am the music director for Rutgers' premier co-ed acapella group, Deep Treble, where I practice my love for creative expression. I am currently interning for Senator Cory Booker in Newark, as well as working for the 18th Legislative District, where I get to apply my policy coursework hands-on. I look forward to refining my research skills at the Institute of Research for Women, and presenting this research with eloquence, creativity, and accessibility.


Aylin Uncu 

Aylin Uncu photo My name is Aylin Uncu and I’m a senior majoring in Statistics and minoring in Biology. I hope to pursue my Masters in public health biostatistics following graduation in order to utilize my analytic skills to make a difference in population health. Currently, on campus, I’m an active member of several student run non-profits and I work for the offices of Health Outreach Prevention and Education (H.O.P.E.) as well as Off Campus Living and Community Partnerships. Fun fact: Both the Rutgers University and New Brunswick communities mean a lot to me because I grew up down the street!

Mariam Zaky 

Mariam Zaky photo I am a junior at Rutgers University majoring in Exercise Science and minoring in French Studies. I am interested in the healthcare field and plan to pursue occupational therapy. My favorite extracurricular activity is ballroom and Latin dancing. I am also engaged in many leadership and service based activities with the Leadership and Experiential Learning Department.

Spring 2019 Scholars

Haya Abdel-Jabbar

Haya Abdel JabbarII am a sophomore pursuing a B.A. in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies, double minoring in Women’s & Gender Studies and International & Global Studies. I am also a first-year scholar at the Institute for Women’s Leadership and love expanding my intellectual curiosity and healing in feminist spaces. I am experienced with public speaking, including having competed in public speaking competitions in Nebraska and Minnesota,advocating against Islamophobia and apathy, as well as given a speech in front of thousands of Nebraskans at my high school commencement. This semester, I have the privilege of interning at Human Rights Watch, in the Middle East and North Africa Division. I am excited to work on advocating for Palestinian refugees and Internally Displaced Persons’ human rights, with a particular interest in the experiences of Palestinian women. I envision a career in protecting the legal rights of disadvantaged populations in the US and the Middle East/North African region. Grey’s Anatomy has been my home for 7 years now and will always be my guilty pleasure, along with Station 19, A Million Little Things, This is Us, Manifest, Good Trouble, Grown-ish, and others. My favorite fruit is mango!

Faija Ahmed

Faija AhmedI am a sophomore at Rutgers University double-majoring in Exercise Science and Psychology. In the Rutgers community, I am the marketing coordinator and tutor for the assets to education program run by Youth Empowerment Club, as well as involved with the computer literacy program and fellowship for leadership and experiential learning. I was a research assistant during the summer of 2018 for the Aresty Research Center Summer Science Program and presented in the research symposium. Aside from academics, I love to write poetry and hope to publish, travel and go on adventures, engage in politics, and live life to the fullest with my family and friends.

Catherine Benyon

Catherine BenyoI am currently a sophomore at Rutgers University in the School of Arts and Sciences. I have always wanted to work with patients in order to help others, so am majoring in Exercise Science to pursue a career in physical therapy. In school, I am involved in Rutgers Performing Dance Company, and perform in showcases on campus. I also am a biology practice group study leader. Aside from this, I enjoy ice cream and spending time with my family. 

Canita Capindica 

Canita Capindica I’m currently a junior at Rutgers Business School, as well as Douglass Residential College, majoring in Business Analytics and Information Technology. Here at Rutgers, I work for Digital Classroom Services as a support specialist helping maintain in-classroom technology on campus. As I am pursuing a field that does not include many women or POC, I hope to one day lead a company that can change this norm. In my free time I enjoy cooking, traveling, reading up (sometimes too much) on current events, and pop culture.    

Valerie Grimm

Renatta Fordyce photo I am a senior studying Comparative Literature and Political Science. I am also a member of the SAS Honors Program and am writing my Senior Honors Thesis on the image of the female victim in Italian and Punjabi literature stemming from World War Two and the Partition of India. I am also a member of Greek life, the Rutgers Panhellenic Recruitment team, and a student-run nonprofit organization, GlobeMed. While undecided about my exact future after college, I am currently working for an all-female-run literary agency in New York that is interested in diverse voices, progressive stories, and empowering romance.   

Malachi Kimzey

Malachi Kimzey I am a first-generation student from Tennessee, and am currently a freshman double-majoring in Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies with a minor in Social Justice. On campus, I am part of the Honors College and a member of Delta Lambda Phi. As a queer person from a rural area, I am interested in exploring the diverse identities of queer people from the South. I enjoy knitting, crocheting, sewing, gardening, and reading everything. In the future I hope to create a self-sustainable farming community for queer people.

Celese Lindsey

Celese Lindsey photoI am a senior majoring in Communication and double minoring in Women’s and Gender Studies and Gender and Media. I am a proud Douglass Residential College woman, as well as the Chairwoman of the Douglass Student Recruitment Network. Currently, I am a social media intern at the Institute for Women’s Leadership. As a second semester Learning Community Scholar, I hope to develop new ways to turn my activism into art!

CJ Mungcal

CJ MungcalI am a junior majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Aerospace Engineering. Aside from the IRW Learning Community, I’m also a part of the Reilly Douglass Engineering Living Learning Community. Through Douglass’ Project SUPER program, I’ve conducted research in two mechanical and aerospace engineering labs at Rutgers. Doing research helped me focus on what industry I’d like to work in after graduating. I’m passionate about airplanes and most other forms of transportation so I hope to one day design, build, and test my own planes. I’m also the events chair for the Rutgers Mechanical Engineering Student Association and a member of the Rutgers Powerlifting Team. I enjoy reading and exercising in my free time.   

Kat Parker

Kat Parker photoI am currently a senior studying Journalism and Media Studies at the School of Communication and Information here at Rutgers University. I am also graduating with a minor in Psychology from the School of Arts and Sciences. I am an active member of Douglass Residential College, becoming a Barbara Vorhees Mentor my sophomore year, participating in the Global Village’s Creativity house, and have worked as a social media intern for the Douglass Social Media Team. I have a passion for the arts and plan to incorporate them into my career in media in the future. My interests include writing, poetry, singing, social justice, dancing, reading, podcasting, and film production.

Neelam Patel

Neelam PatelI am currently in my second pre-professional year in the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy. Outside of school, I work at a pharmacy, tutor middle schoolers in my hometown, and volunteer at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. I have a passion for learning new languages. I am fluent in English, Spanish, Hindi, and Gujarati, and I hope to keep expanding the list. In my free time, I enjoy watching TV, reading, traveling, and napping. In the future, I hope to educate patients on drug addiction and drug diversion, as well as manufacturing cost-efficient and affordable medication for all.   

Anusha Patil 

Anusha PatilI’m a sophomore at the Honors College studying Cell Biology and Neuroscience with a double minor in Psychology and Health and Society. On campus, I do research through Aresty with the CLEF laboratory, serve as a managing editor of The Examiner (Rutgers’ pre-health journal), and as secretary for Colleges Against Cancer (which puts on the American Cancer Society’s signature fundraiser, Relay for Life, at Rutgers). Off campus, I work a part-time job and volunteer as an EMT. In my free time, I love to make my friends laugh. I’m hoping to go to medical school so I can become the next Patch Adams.  

Kinnary Shah

Kinnary ShahI am a sophomore in the School of Arts and Sciences, as well as a member of the Honors College and Douglass Residential College. I am pursuing a double major in Biomathematics and Public Health, and aim to ultimately obtain a doctorate in public health focused on pediatric public health. As a research assistant in the Department of Genetics, I have learned about bioinformatics processes which I hope to integrate into a career in public health. I love working with children from different types of backgrounds, and am passionate about uplifting underserved communities. Around campus, I am vice president of Kier’s Kidz, a nonprofit focused on pediatric cancer, and a STEAM ambassador.  

Zoe Sifnakis

Zoe Sifnakis photo I am a senior majoring in Biological Sciences and minoring in Nutrition and Business & Technical Writing. On campus, I am a DJ at Rutgers Radio (88.7 WRSU) and a tutor at the Plangere writing center. I’m also a news editor for The Medium, Rutgers’ satire publication. I’m very passionate about food, like reading short stories, and am hoping to make some travel plans this spring or summer. I’m currently part of a lab in the Nutritional Sciences department, and am interested in possibly continuing on to graduate school in a similar field. I think communication is one of the most important aspects of research, so in the future I’d like to work in science writing or as part of a journal editorial team.   

Kevin Tilton

Kevin TiltonI am currently an Honors College freshmen, intending to major in Genetics research and minor in Chinese. I joined the IRW because I am wildly fascinated by people and their stories. I am from Ohio, and came to New Jersey for college to expose myself to different ways of life. In the future, I hope to travel the world pursuing genetic research to help people. On campus, I am in the Queer Student Alliance, Rock Climbing Club, and the Honors College Book Club. I enjoy dancing, playing board games with friends, and being one with nature.   

Petra Tsocheva

Petra Tsocheva I am a Bulgarian immigrant and first-generation student, as well as a sophomore studying Communication and double minoring in Human Resource Management and Visual Arts. I am a proud Douglass woman and member of the Global Village community, and was lucky enough to attend the Puerto Rico service-trip this winter break! I love learning about and taking part in anything surrounding art, music, and film.  

Shaniya Wilson-Harper

Shaniya Wilson HarperMy name is Shaniya Wilson-Harper and this will be my last semester of my undergrad experience. People often describe me as someone who is thoughtful, goal-oriented, and optimistic. This upcoming May, I will be the first person in my family to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree. I currently major in Human Resources with a minor in Sociology. Throughout my four years at Rutgers, I have had the privilege of working closely with organizations both in and outside the university who believe in making a difference in the world. One organization that has shaped my life the most happens to be the Embrace Kids Foundation. I personally believe that my sole purpose within life is to help inspire and advocate for other individuals, especially those whose voices are often silenced. Other interesting facts about me are that I used to be a professional pastry chef and that I am teaching myself the piano.  

Sydney Yankowicz

Sydney YankowiczMy name is Sydney and I am currently a sophomore at Rutgers, majoring in English with a Women’s and Gender Studies minor. I am involved in the Rutgers Companion Animal Club that helps service dogs get public access before being placed with a recipient. I also just recently joined the National Society of Leadership and Success. I love finding new books to read and watching movies with my friends. My two favorite places to be are at concerts and the beach. 

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