Leadership Scholars Certificate Program

leadership scholar program
About the Program

The Leadership Scholars Program is a two-year selective, interdisciplinary certificate program of the Institute for Women’s Leadership (IWL) that prepares Rutgers undergraduates to be informed, innovative, and socially responsible leaders.

IWL Leadership Scholars explore women's leadership and contributions to social change in contexts that range from politics and government, law and advocacy, business and communications, media and the arts. IWL Leadership Scholars examine how different institutions inform our understanding and practice of leadership and how they encourage — or inhibit — civic innovation.

Leadership Scholars Benefit From:

  • Career-building internships & seminars with key Rutgers faculty
  • One-on-one mentoring and advising
  • Building community with other young women leaders and alumnae
  • Funding for self-designed social action projects
Meet Our Current Leadership Scholars

*Asterisk denotes Second-Year Scholar

Tatyana Aguilar*, School of Arts and Sciences ‘22, is a Public Health major with a minor in Africana Studies and a Certificate in Academic Spanish. She works as a program assistant for the Office of Transfers and Non-Traditional Students, an assistant training coordinator for the Center for Social Justice Education and LGBTQ+ Communities, and is a sexual health advocate for Health Outreach, Promotion and Education (HOPE). She also has multiple leadership roles as president of the First-Generation Student Union, an ambassador for the Paul Robeson Leadership Institute and a peer mentor for Student Support Services. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Tatyana interned at the Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities. Tatyana is passionate about sexual/reproductive and women’s health issues.

Amna Ahmed*, School of Arts and Sciences/Douglass Residential College ‘22, is a Political Science and Human Resource Management double major. She is the Douglass representative for the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA), where she passionately advocates for student voices. Amna is also involved on campus as a member of the Muslim Public Relations Council and volunteers with the non-profit organization Helping Hand for Relief and Development. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Anna interned at Rutgers AAUP-AFT. Amna is an intersectional feminist, activist, and videographer and aspires to make a difference in her community and the future generations of leaders.

Sahar Ali-Jenkins, School of Arts and Science ‘23, is a Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies major and Political Science minor. She enjoys her involvement in tutoring programs at local libraries in her hometown as well as her volunteer work in the South Bronx gardens. Sahar is a member of the Rutgers Dance Team, which she dances with at all Rutgers football and basketball games. In the future, she plans to continue her education through law school and become an advocate for those that cannot speak for themselves.

Sheaa Amin, School of Arts and Sciences/Honors College/Douglass Residential College ‘24, is a Political Science and Mathematics double major. She is actively involved in the Douglass Honors College Coalition and her sorority, Alpha Chi Omega. Off-campus, Sheaa is involved in voter initiatives, through organizations such as Young Asian Americans for Biden, to increase voting access to Asian Americans nationally as well as youth voter turnout. She is an advocate for mental health and intersectionality. Through her dedication to these social issues, Sheaa aspires to make a difference in her community.

Chantel Amissah, School of Arts and Sciences ‘23, is a Political Science major with a double minor in Theater and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her passion lies within advocacy for global women’s rights and has interned at the IWL Center for Women’s Global Leadership, a Rutgers-affiliated organization that aids and brings awareness to women's issues globally through hands-on activism and diplomacy. She is an active member of the Douglass Residential College and an Educational Opportunity Fund scholar. Chantel enjoys expressing her passion for global women’s rights through different mediums, including performing and visual art.

Murphy Boccher*, School of Arts and Sciences/School of Communication and Information ‘22 is a Political Science and Journalism major with a minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Murphy feels strongly about LGBTQ+ education and having an open discussion on sex relations. They use their platform as a writer on Affinity Magazine, Bronzed Magazine, and The Daily Targum to inform their readers on the current affairs, and integrates their opinion and factual information on political and social pieces. For their Leadership Scholars Program Internship, Murphy interned at Free State Justice. Murphy believes that using voice, words, and these platforms, will help connect others will unify people on social issues.

Adrianna Bugliarello-Wondrich*, School of Arts and Sciences/Honors College ‘23, is an English, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Art History major. She has always found her main passion in writing and is heavily interested in studying all the ways that words can make an impact and incite change. Specifically, she loves to write and work with poetry to convey the unique experiences of womanhood. Currently, she is a member of the Rutgers Women’s Rugby Team. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Adrianna interned at the Center for Women in the Arts & Humanities. In the future, Adrianna plans to engage in opportunities to lead change through the power of words and go on to graduate school to further study the intersectional existence and presence of women in society.

Janet Cazares*, School of Arts and Sciences/Douglass Residential College ‘22, is a Geography major and Planning and Public Policy minor. Janet is a Paul Robeson Leadership Scholar and a work-study employee at the Center for Latino Arts & Culture. She is also currently training to become a DJ at 90.3 FM The Core. Through Douglass Residential College, Janet externed at The Brotherhood-Sister Sol where she explored environmental sustainability and the development of urban green spaces. She also attended a Woman in Public Policy seminar in which she learned about different private and public sector careers. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Janet interned at Libertas Center for Human Rights. Janet seeks to gain more experiences with organizations that address policy issues through community outreach.

Saidy Cedano*, School of Arts and Sciences/Douglass Residential College ‘22, is a Public Policy major and a Psychology minor with a specialization in community and youth development. This summer, with the assistance of the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Program, she will be researching the sociological and psychological implications of gentrification of youth character development alongside distinguished Rutgers professors. She is an e-board member for the Verbal Mayhem Poetry Collective, a community organization at Rutgers University that provides spaces of artistic expressions for underrepresented students. She is also proud to have worked with the Rutgers Collaborative Center for Community-Based Research and Service as a mentor and tutor for youth in the New Brunswick community. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Saidy interned at New Brunswick Tomorrow. Saidy has aspirations to direct community-wide programs and become a policy-maker.

Amanda Chen*, School of Arts and Sciences/Honors Program/Douglass Residential College ‘23, is a Political Science and Sociology double major with a Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies minor. She is passionate about civic engagement and politics. As an intern with the Morris County Democratic Committee, she worked on the 2018 midterm elections, where the Democrats were able to flip a historically red district. She recently traveled to Brazil to examine the effects of agribusiness on indigenous cultures. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Amanda interned at the Center on Violence Against Women & Children. Amanda hopes one day to teach and inspire her future students to become informed and more active citizens.

Emily Chow, School of Arts and Sciences ‘23, is an Economics and English double major and an intended minor in Statistics. She is an Aresty research assistant focusing on issues related to American food consumption. She is an ambassador intern for Asian Student Council, the marketing director for The Rutgers Review, a peer tutor, a participant in the Advancing Community Development program, and a member of the Rutgers University Debate Union. Emily plans to pursue a law degree and work in either the finance or nonprofit sectors. Through this endeavor, she hopes to continue to develop her interests in political, social justice, and financial reform.

Destiny Colmenares, School of Arts and Sciences ‘24, is a Political Science and Sociology double major. She is currently a plaintiff attorney for the Rutgers University Mock Trial Association (RUMTA). Through RUMTA, Destiny competes in mock trial competitions against other undergraduate students, developing her trial advocacy skills through case presentations to judges and attorneys. She is passionate about spreading awareness about a variety of social issues, such as racial and gender economic inequality. In her free time, Destiny enjoys writing, discovering new music, and watching documentaries. Upon graduating from Rutgers, she plans on attending law school.

Emily Foltiny*, School of Arts and Sciences ‘22, is an Economics major. She is a member of the Alpha Chi Omega Sorority, and participates in club lacrosse. She enjoys writing, going to the gym to reach her fitness goals, and sharing music with friends. In the future, Emily would like to address the epidemic of economic inequality that continues to grow in the United States. She believes that economic status is rooted in the level of education one receives, and that every child should have equal access to quality education. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Emily interned at I.D.E.A. Program Emily hopes to one day influence education policy in order to rectify the educational and economic disparities present in the United States.

Jasmin Hedvat*, Rutgers Business School/Honors College/Douglass Residential College ‘22, is majoring in Marketing and minoring in Economics and Comparative Literature. As a Youth Empowerment Club tutor and Honors College Media Team videographer, Jasmin practices her passion for education and creativity on campus. Additionally, she loves traveling, learning about new cultures, and seeing the world through a mosaic of different lenses. She studied abroad in Poland and Brazil through two interdisciplinary honors seminars which helped her understand the universality of being human. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Jasmin interned at the Institute for Women’s Leadership. Through her awareness of the importance of storytelling, she hopes to spark conversation on, and eventually change, injustices in society.

Caitlyn Horton*, School of Arts and Sciences/Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy ‘22, is majoring in Public Health with a minor in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She demonstrates her love for service as a crisis counselor and as an Alternative Breaks site leader. Caitlyn adds to her service-leadership by organizing Narcan trainings for the Rutgers community. As a Douglass woman, she has worked as a Barbara Voorhees Mentor and joined the Global Village’s Human Rights LLC in order to gain a broader view of women's issues. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Caitlyn interned at RWJ Women’s Health Institute. Caitlyn’s involvement on and off-campus provides her with a community-oriented mindset, which she intends to use when she attends medical school to provide healthcare to underserved regions.

Mackenzie Lawson*, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences/Honors College/Douglass Residential College ‘23, is majoring in Public Health and Biological Sciences. On campus, she is involved in STEM Ambassadors, the American Medical School Association, and Honors College Ally Mentors. Mackenzie is also in the Douglass Honors College Coalition and enjoys cooking, thrifting, and knitting. Her primary interests are in women's health and medicine, and the disparities women face in reproductive and sexual healthcare. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Mackenzie interned at Rutgers Global Health Institute. In the future, Mackenzie hopes to become an obstetrician/gynecologist to help women in low-income communities.

Kathryn Lee, School of Arts and Sciences/Honors College/Douglass Residential College ‘23, is a Political Science and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies double major with a minor in Law and History. On campus, she is employed as a learning assistant for Honors College Forum and is involved with Rutgers Mock Trial, RU Progressive, Dean’s Student Diversity Board, and the Douglass Innovator-In-Residence Program. Kathryn is particularly passionate about reproductive justice, end of life care, food politics, and mental health. She hopes to use her voice to question, uplift, and reimagine.

Miranda Madrazo*, School of Arts and Sciences/Honors College/Douglass Residential College ‘22, is a Geography major with a minor in Spanish. She loves being a member of the RU Compost Club, Voorhees Choir, the Livingston Theatre Company, and the Companion Animal Club. She also enjoys working on the Honors College Media Team, writing and developing social media content to share student stories and promote events. In the spring of 2019, Miranda studied abroad in Poland for a course in Jewish studies and Polish history. She is very interested in the environment, food justice, immigration policy, the arts, and education. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Miranda interned at the Institute for Women’s Leadership. One day, Miranda hopes to make an impact in community development and climate resilience on a local scale.

Miracle Matthews, School of Arts and Sciences ‘23, is a Criminal Justice major as well as an African Studies and Psychology double minor. She is passionate about the need for Black representation within law enforcement and the awareness of police brutality. Miracle is also involved in the Bonners Leadership program, an undergraduate service program that develops students’ leadership and advocacy skills in order to support the communities in which they live. She hopes to achieve a career in law enforcement to continue to amplify her voice for the importance of black equality.

Sanjana Narayanan, Rutgers Business School ‘24, is a Finance major with a concentration in Entrepreneurship. She is an active member of Rutgers Undergraduate Women in Business and president of the Strong Women Strong Girls (SWSG) Rutgers branch, which is currently in the process of becoming an official organization. SWSG organization seeks to mentor and goal orient elementary-aged girls to adapt into resilient leaders and defy societal norms. Sanjana is also a board director for the Rutgers Institute for Corporate Social Innovation, where they discuss campus-wide issues and brainstorm solutions to create a better campus. Sanjana hopes to combine her passion for business, public speaking, law, and social movements to be a lighthouse for others.

Hannah Oliveira*, School of Arts and Sciences/Honors College ‘22 is a Cell Biology and Neuroscience major with a minor in Italian. She is involved on campus as a member of the Panhellenic sorority, Sigma Delta Tau, ODASIS, the women's club soccer team, the honors college ambassador team. She also has a part-time job at the College Avenue Student Center. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Hannah interned at RWJ Women’s Health Institute. In the future, Hannah plans to go on to medical school to pursue her medical degree.

Faustina Owoh*, School of Arts and Sciences/Douglass Residential College ‘22 is a Political Science and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies major with a minor in International and Global Studies. She is very passionate about global issues involving women’s and children’s rights. She is the vice president intern for the BlueFoot Print Project, which is a human rights organization that works to bring awareness to underrepresented groups through advocacy facilitated by The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Faustina interned at the New Brunswick Area NAACP. Faustina hopes to work with the United Nations to help protect women and children who are greatly affected by the results of war and hate crimes.

June Park*, Rutgers Business School ‘22, is double majoring in Accounting and Communications. She hopes to combine her two majors and focus on Financial Corporate Communications or Business Reporting. She gained interest in women's rights and gender equality-related issues through her job at the Rutgers Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, June interned at the Division of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement. June wants to bring forth her positive attitude, love for graphic design, and eagerness to make the most of her college experience and learn more and spread information regarding gender equality.

Ameena Qobrtay*, School of Arts and Sciences ‘22 is a Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Journalism and Media Studies double major with a minor in Political Science. Ameena is an active member of Demarest Hall government, hosting weekly feminist discussion groups on topics that pertain to a femme identity. She is also the features editor at the Daily Targum, where she aims to incorporate as many voices and stories from as many different individuals as possible. Ameena actively worked with the American Association of University Professors/American Federation of Teachers on campus to aid striking efforts for adjunct professors and teaching assistants. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Ameena interned at the Institute for Research on Women. Ameena hopes to combine her passion for writing and social movements to promote sustainable social change.

Sanaa Rangwala, School of Arts and Sciences ‘23, is a Psychology major and an intended Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies minor. She is a transfer student who works at the Digital Writing Center and provides tutoring services to those in Expository Writing and other English Courses. Sanaa interned at the University of Michigan for the 1cademy database, a collaborative online platform for researchers and academics to share their work. She is passionate about mental health awareness and advocating for women's rights.

Siddhi Shah, School of Arts and Sciences/Honors Program/Douglass Residential College ‘23, is a Cell Biology and Neuroscience major. She is a managing editor for Rutgers’ pre-health journal, the Examiner, and part of the Community Outreach Committee for Rutgers GlobeMed. Siddhi is also a research intern at the Adamson Brain Stimulation Lab at Stanford University. Passionate about education, she published a children’s book about the brain and has led an initiative to teach elementary school students about neuroscience for the past few years. In the future, Siddhi hopes to combine her interests in research, medicine, and education to positively impact individuals with neurological disorders.

Wen Shao*, School of Arts and Sciences/Douglass Residential College ‘22, is an Exercise Science major, with a minor in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She is a Bold Empower scholar and a research advisory board mentor where she gives guidance to aspiring women undergraduates pursuing research. Currently, Wen conducts research with the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Robert Wood Johnson, fabricating medical devices to better serve the patient population. In addition to her research and scholarly roles on campus, Wen is an ambassador and peer leadership mentor in the Leadership and Experiential Learning Department and a fellow with America Needs You, a program designed to provide economic mobility for first generation students. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Wen interned at Trinity Rehab. Wen plans to achieve a DPT/PhD and give back to the underserved communities that have nurtured her growth.

Kirstin Slattery, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences/ Douglass Residential College '23, is an Environmental Policy, Institutions, and Behavior major with minors in Sustainability and Nonprofit Leadership. She is passionate about her studies and is currently working as a research assistant to the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics through the Douglass Residential College. Outside of the classroom, she is involved with many campus organizations such as Alpha Zeta, a professional society for students studying agricultural and natural resources, the Society of Animal Science, and the Rutgers University Companion Animal Club. Kirstin desires to further her education through graduate or law school to advocate for both environmental protection and human rights.

Ashita Suyal, School of Arts and Sciences/Douglass Residential College ‘23, is pursuing a double major in Psychology and Women's and Gender Studies. Ashita firmly advocates for human rights for all and affordable higher education. She is a research assistant in the Close Relationships, Identity, and Stigma (CRIS) lab, a social psychology lab. Ashita also has multiple leadership roles on campus. She is a peer mentor for the College Support Program, an organization that provides support to students on the autism spectrum, and is the Vice President for Ultraviolet, an LGBTQIA+ club. Ashita is passionate about learning and strives to continue to become a more politically-aware citizen.

Raheen Syed, School of Arts and Sciences ‘23, is a Public Policy major with a minor in Political Science. She is a former member of the Rutgers One Coalition where she passionately worked with other student organizations to advocate for social justice issues including women's rights. Raheen is also involved with the Palestine Children Relief Fund of Rutgers, working to aid children affected by the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East. She has substantial leadership experience through local Black Lives Matter protests and organizing demonstrations fighting for racial equality. Raheen has also worked with underprivileged children and volunteered with the Red Cross. She believes that by encouraging youth participation and using the resources around us, we can spark meaningful social change on the path to equality.

Gabrielle Thurm, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy ‘23 is an Urban Planning and Design major. Gabrielle is an active member of both the Chabad and Hillel communities on campus, acting as the Social Co-Chair of Hillel’s Orthodox community. Currently, she is a research assistant working with the Center for Urban Policy Research, which focuses on the historic preservation of Route 66. Gabrielle enjoys art, playing sports, and listening to music. In the future, she hopes to adaptively reuse historic properties to create a more sustainable urban environment.

Cassandra Vega, School of Arts and Sciences/Douglass Residential College ‘24, is a Political Science major. She is the Director of Cultural Outreach in the newly formed Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (RUSA). Cassandra is also involved on campus as a member of the Rutgers Alumni Association (RAA) and the Rutgers Democrats. She is an activist, writer, intersectional feminist. Cassandra aspires to create policy that benefits low-income communities, people of color and LGBTQ+ youth.

Johanne Vidola, School of Arts and Sciences/Honors College/Douglass Residential College ‘23, is an Information Technology (ITI) and Cognitive Science double major with a minor in Digital Communication, Information and Media. She is involved on-campus as Secretary for Reach Out and Read (ROAR), an organization to promote children's literacy in the New Brunswick Community. Johanne is also a Douglass Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Ambassador as well as the Social Science chair for the Douglass Honors College Coalition. She is passionate about social change and strives to gain a better understanding of the way in which technology and media play in addressing issues in our world.

Peristera Vikatos, School of Environmental & Biological Sciences/Honors College/Douglass Residential College '23, is an Environmental Policy, Institutions, & Behavior major. She currently serves as a Douglass Changemaking community facilitator at the Honors College and a Rutgers writing tutor. As a Protect Democracy intern at Public Citizen last fall, she worked on combating electoral misinformation and decreasing voter suppression during the 2020 presidential election. Peristera enjoys learning different languages, including Greek, Spanish, Korean, and Arabic. Peristera hopes to utilize her passions for environmental protection and communication to help educate and increase civic engagement in underrepresented communities.

Sierra Winder*, School of Arts and Sciences/Douglass Residential College ‘22, is a Social Work major. Sierra is a part of the Bonner Leaders Program at Rutgers University. She believes that people do not limit themselves based on their own choices, but based on the ideas, limits and stereotypes society has presented to them. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Sierra interned at the Center on Violence Against Women & Children. In the future, Sierra would like to be involved in policy and change systems from within.

Maria Zhang, School of Arts and Sciences ‘23, is an English major with a minor in Creative Writing. Maria has been passionate about education her entire life and has become interested in issues concerning social and climate justice since high school. Maria has participated in many teaching volunteering programs, including one in Taiwan, where she taught English in rural elementary schools. At Rutgers, she is a member of the Douglass Residential College (DRC) and participated in the STEAM program with other members of the DRC, learning about climate resilience and innovations that combine art and science in New York City. Maria hopes to use her love for art and writing to creatively educate others about important issues and promote positive change.

Leadership Scholars Program Alumni


The Institute for Women’s Leadership stays connected to alumni as they continue their role as leaders. This mission is supported through providing opportunities to supervise internships, mentor current Leadership Scholars, and support IWL’s educational and social change endeavors.

Alumni initiatives are advised by an alumni board comprised of staff and faculty from the IWL.  In addition, alumni have contributed to Leading the Way, a collection of personal essays on leadership and activism, and to research that resulted in Moving Millenials to Leadership, a report on alumni in health careers.

Alumni in Focus!

Here are some reflections from alumni on their post-graduation experiences.

Emily Hashimoto

hashimotoIn 2006, armed with my Bachelor’s in Women’s and Gender Studies and the wealth of my IWL experience, I set out to make a difference by working for female politicians. Right away, I was exhausted by politics, especially the way it sucked up all personal time; there was no work-life balance and that wasn’t what I learned sitting around the table in the library at the IWL. And yet, I was also taught to work hard, to make a difference, and to strive for women and others.

I then found a new home in nonprofits. I was beyond thrilled to begin working for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), by supporting their media awards work that raised millions for the organization. As a queer person, I was personally invested in the work of visibility, but more than that, it was my first and only experience of working in a queer-normative space; to not worry about who to come out to, and how and when, was a relief.

Lillian Forero

forero“I can think of several specific instances in my professional career where I have felt well equipped to handle a situation because of my participation in the IWL Leadership Scholars Program. Being a part of the IWL community taught me to be resourceful, think outside the box and build coalitions. Those lessons, particularly knowing the importance of building coalitions, have helped me navigate the “BigLaw” world, which is still very heavily male dominated and not very diverse. I have also been tremendously fortunate to keep in touch with several of my fellow IWL alumni, all who inspire me to continue setting and meeting my short-term and long-term goals. My IWL experience also reinforced my desire to seek out spaces where women can share their experiences and empower each other throughout different stages of their professional and personal lives.”

In her time practicing law, Lillian has also been recognized by the District of Columbia Courts for her pro-bono work; twice being named to the DC Pro-Bono Honor Roll for attorneys who contributed more than 100 hours of pro-bono work to the DC community.

Ingrid Hu Dahl

dahl"IWL gave me the mentors and role models I so desperately needed, a community of empowered women leaders, a context and language to contribute to and adapt transformative leadership, to explore real world working environments through several internships, and to gain the confidence in my ability to be creative, to make social change, to spur and bring people together, and to knit themes of my skill set -- to identify opportunities and orchestrate solutions. IWL gave me the space to come into my own power, to cultivate a sense of self and way of being at such an important time in my development. I know I'm an agent of change and I am open to future challenges/opportunities ahead.”

Ingrid has a varied background - she was a consultant for the Bonner Foundation, a national and international speaker, a touring musician in four different bands (two of which were all-female), and a TEDx speaker.

Janine Gianfredi

Gianfredi"The IWL fostered my desire to mentor young women as they begin their careers in the workforce. It is not enough to simply build a network by collecting business cards and email addresses throughout your travels. To truly flourish in your career, it is essential to genuinely engage peers, teachers, and the next generation of young leaders. I love sitting down with young women to learn about their ambitions and help them find a path to success. The IWL gave me the skills to mentor other women, but also the courage to ask for guidance. I am a lifelong student of leadership, always using my scholarly eye to dissect the people who lead corporations, countries, and even bake sales. Leadership is an essential part of affecting change, big or small, and conscious attention must be paid to how it is enacted. Studying women leaders and feminist activists helped me to internalize many of the qualities possessed by great leaders. I credit the IWL not only with giving me the tools to lead, but also for inspiring my passion for leadership."

Janine has created innovative programs designed to engage the advertising community through technological immersion, and has been responsible for scaling these initiatives to Europe, Asia, and Latin America. In 2009, she was awarded the prestigious Americas Achievement Award, given to 1% of Google's sales and marketing organization for her dedication to the company's values.

Christie Irizarry

irazarry“My IWL experience was at the center of my undergraduate years at Douglass. From the credit-bearing components – courses and internship – to the less tangible “soft” skills – leadership, critical thinking and public speaking – my IWL professors and peers gave me a safe place to learn, visualize and practice leadership. The lessons and experiences from my time at the IWL have paid huge dividends in helping me launch my career and to pursue my MBA. Their high expectations and support continue to propel me forward. I often recall my professors’ words of wisdom such as, ‘Leaders ask questions.’ I’m motivated to ask a meaningful question and as a result create an opportunity to learn something new or make a connection with someone. When I think back on it, joining the IWL is one of those huge life milestones that provided me with so many opportunities and ultimately led me down the right path.”

As a Management Consultant at Accenture, helping businesses and governments adapt to system and process changes.

Courtney Turner

turner"Honestly, I don't know what part of IWL hasn't impacted my career. Specifically, the field experience and training in social action are what have contributed to my development the most. The field experience grounded my understanding of public health, funding resources, pooling and working together as a team. Everything I do is part of a broader social action that impacts society directly or indirectly. Working in Tanzania, I've been challenged in many ways, however the goal is the same. Every Funding Opportunity Announcement I have written prevents someone from contracting HIV or provides them access to ground breaking treatment and care.”

Courtney Turner professional experiences include the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as an International Experience and Technical Assistance Fellow, providing a broad range of public health services and infrastructure for all of Tanzania.

Lindsey C. Seltzer

seltzer"I think back often to my time with the Institute for Women's Leadership and I feel like the work that I did, the women who mentored me, and the friends I learned from, continue to influence and inform everything I do. So much of what I learned through my IWL seminars, projects and internships has been crucial in making the transition from college to working life. I'm thrilled to be working on important election campaigns and attribute much of my success to my IWL experiences."

Lindsey continues to be passionate about "direct action" work, broadcast production, and political consulting in Washington, D.C.

Abigail Hamilton

hamilton"My experience in IWL was formational. It provided a space in which to learn professionalism, poise, and public speaking which were invaluable for interviews and presenting at conferences. As much as I credit IWL for helping me in my professional life, I cannot discount its impact on decisions I have made in my personal life. Much of the discussions during my time in IWL focused on women taking on multiple roles and working "the third shift." The insights I gained through those discussions molded the choices I made in my career and family path. I believe I have a manageable work/family/life balance because I was cognizant of the factors at play and was very intentional in the decisions I made. In short, my educational, professional, and personal choices were influenced and enhanced by my time in IWL."

Abigail has a Masters and Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Loyola College. She’s devoted the majority of her training and clinical experience to working with late adolescents and early adults. Abigail opened her own private practice in Princeton, NJ.

Leadership Scholars take 19 credits of coursework over two years. Certificates are awarded in May of your second year in the program, and noted on your official transcript.

Progression Schedule and Course List

Semester One (Fall)

apply-to-iwlIWl Leadership Scholars Program Context Course (3 Credit)
This course will introduce key concepts in Women's and Gender Studies that are relevant and important to the study of women's leadership.
Possible Course Offerings

988:344 Women and Leadership (3 credits)
This interdisciplinary seminar provides a foundation in leadership theory, including women's ways of leading and women's roles as leaders and agents of change. A new IWL Young Women Leaders Interview Research Project is linked to this course.

Semester Two (Spring)

988:426 Internship Seminar: Women, Work and Community (6 Credits)
With IWL staff members, select an internship placement which relates to your academic, career, and leadership interests. Scholars intern 10–12 hours per week and meet in a weekly seminar to connect theory and practice, by bringing together academic readings on women and work with a work experience in an internship site.

Semester Three (Fall)

988:430 Social Action Project Seminar (3 Credits)
This seminar explores leadership and social change through guiding funded independent action projects that address particular problems or issues.
Scholars' Social Action Projects

Semester Four (Spring)

IWL Leadership Scholars Capstone Course (3 Credits) & Cluster Series (1 Credit)

The 3 Credit capstone course is an advanced course that builds on the scholar’s policy area of interest, which has been developed through the internship and social action project. These policy areas include: arts and literature, media and communications, public health and medicine, law and advocacy, politics and government, science, engineering, technology and math, human rights, work, education, grassroots activism and organizing, and immigration and globalization.

The 1 Credit capstone cluster series, “Current Issues in Women’s Lives and Leadership, " is designed to give graduating Scholars an opportunity to reflect on the two-year experience of the Leadership Scholars Certificate program and to anticipate the transition from college to workplace and/or graduate and professional school. The series aims to engage graduating students in a dialogue about current events in policy areas affecting women’s lives and in ongoing leadership debates. The assigned contemporary readings enhance and inform the group discussion. The group meets six times per semester over dinner.

Possible Capstone Courses

Policy Tracks

The policy areas in the program are designed to inform the intellectual and activist work that scholars complete in the program. For example, the policy area will relate to the focus of your internship, social action project, and capstone seminar. Although your major may point you in one direction or another, it may not necessarily influence the work you do in the Leadership Scholars Certificate Program. Also, there are intersections across all the areas so you may want to select a primary area of interest and a supplementary one. In addition, recognizing that your interests may change as you proceed through the program, you may change your policy area.

Policy Area(s) of Interest:

  • Arts and Literature
  • Media and Communications
  • Public Health and Medicine
  • Law and Advocacy
  • Politics and Government
  • Science, Engineering, Technology and Math
  • Human Rights (global issues, poverty)
  • Work (business, nonprofit organizations, philanthropy, globalization)
  • Education
  • Grassroots Activism and Organizing
  • Immigration and Globalization


All IWL Leadership Scholars are eligible to receive funding to offset costs of internship travel in the first year of the program, and a $500 seed grant to fund a social action project in the second year of the program.

What are the goals of the Program?
iwl-leadershipThere are several program goals that we strive to achieve. These include:

  1. To offer students an opportunity to deepen their understanding of diverse models of leadership and women’s contributions to social change.
  2. To enhance students’ personal growth and leadership abilities through a concentrated academic sequence and co-curricular offerings.
  3. To provide an interdisciplinary opportunity for students to address issues specific to their chosen policy areas through an internship and the implementation of a social action project.
  4. To build relationships between students, program alumnae and the community by connecting students with women leaders through collaborative projects.
  5. To consider and critique current leadership research and practice, while drawing on the rich literature in feminist theory and women’s and gender studies to engage with ideas of intersectionality.
  6. To use feminist and gender analysis as a tool for academic research, creative production, collaborative work, and practices of social change.

I am planning to study abroad in the fall or spring. Can I still apply to be in the program?
Yes. A number of past Scholars have studied abroad and successfully completed the program. You would adhere to a slightly different course schedule for the program depending on which semester you are away.

Is it possible to juggle an honors program and the Leadership Scholars Program?

Yes. We make every effort to support students enrolled in other programs by allowing for double counting of classes where relevant and applicable. With effective time management, a number of current and graduated Scholars concurrently enrolled in the Rutgers or Douglass Honors Program, a departmental honors program, and/or another certificate program.

I work and may not be able to attend some of the skills development workshops. Can I still apply?

Yes. Workshops are held at various times and days of the week, and you have two years to meet the workshop requirement. Most workshops are embedded into the seminar structure and will be easy to fulfill requirements.

I am a part-time student at Rutgers. Can I still apply to be in the program?

Yes, as long as you are able to complete the requirements in four consecutive semesters.

I'm a transfer student. Do you need a transcript from my previous college?
Yes. An (un)official transcript should be sent directly to the Program Director.

I don't see a policy area that I would be interested in pursuing. Can I still apply?
Yes. There is flexibility in the policy areas of interest, and we welcome students who are either undecided on their policy area of interest or interested in a policy area other than those listed on our website. We also offer a general leadership area for students who wish to explore several areas in their coursework and practicum.

I have to register for classes but don't know if I'll be accepted into the Leadership Scholars Program. What should I do?
The Women & Leadership course is held Tuesdays 2nd and 3rd period every fall. You should leave this slot open in your schedule if possible. If you have not already taken Women, Culture & Society or one of the other pre-requisite courses, you should plan to take that as soon as possible. The April 1 notification date will give you time to finalize your schedule before the end of the semester.

Is it possible to use a letter from my soccer coach from high school for my recommendation?
Yes. The IWL requires you to have a recommendation from at least one professor. The second recommendation can be from someone who knows you in a different capacity like an employer, coach or volunteer supervisor. But at the same time, you should be aware that the strongest recommendation letters are often from faculty members who know your academic work.

I've already taken a context course listed on your website. Do I still have to take another context course during my two years in the program?
No. The course satisfies the context course requirement even if you took it before being accepted into the program.

What if I took a course not listed on your website that introduced me to the issues and problems facing women's position in society. Do I still have to take another context course?

You have the option of petitioning to have a relevant course not already listed be accepted as your context course.

Still have questions?
Email Program Director and Research Coordinator Sasha Taner at sdwood@rutgers.edu.


iwl-program1. Rutgers undergraduates with a strong interest in women's leadership social change. The Leadership Scholars Program is open to students of all genders and we encourage applications from LGBT & GNC students, students of color, disabled students, non-traditional students and veterans.

2. Minimum 3.0 GPA or higher.

3. Pre-requisite Course. Choose one of the following courses as a prerequisite for the program. If the course is not taken before the start of the program, it should be completed during Semester One.

  • 988 101 Introduction to Gender, Race, and Sexuality
  • 988 130 Knowledge and Power: Issues in Women's Leadership
  • 988 201 Feminist Practices
  • 988 202 Gender, Culture and Representation
  • 988 235 Dynamics of Class, Race, and Sex

Application Components:

  • Completed application form submitted through the link below
  • Resume
  • Current (unofficial) transcript
  • Two letters of recommendation (one recommendation must be from a professor)

Application deadline is March 1st, with interview priority given to early bird applicants, by February 1st.

submit application


Institute for Women’s Leadership
162 Ryders Lane
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8555
P: 848.932.1463

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