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 Leadership Scholars

Haya Abdel-Jabbar*, School of Arts and Sciences/School of Communication and Information ‘21, is a Political Science and Journalism & Media Studies major, with a minor in International and Global studies. Haya enjoys using her voice to advocate for disadvantaged populations that are misrepresented or missing from modern American media.  She recently began working with the Charmil Y. Davis Foundation to spread awareness about Lynch Syndrome and the experiences of cancer patients suffering from homelessness. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Haya interned at Human Rights Watch. Haya believes that visual depictions, persuasive public speaking, and writing about the struggles of underprivileged populations present perspectives that change the hearts and minds of societies.

Melanie Arroyave*, School of Arts & Sciences ‘20, is a Public Health major with a minor in Law and the Workplace, and has been on Dean’s list since transferring from American University to Rutgers. In Washington DC, Melanie interned for US Congressman Albio Sires (NJ-8), and over the 2017-2018 winter break, she externed at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Law. Melanie’s primary interest is in health policy, with a focus on the disparities among Medicare beneficiaries. At Rutgers, she is a member of Tau Sigma National Honor Society, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and Douglass Residential College. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Melanie interned at Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Melanie was accepted to Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program and the US Coast Guard upon graduation.

Sarah Arshad,* School of Arts & Sciences ‘20, is studying Political Science and Economics. She is a student assistant at the Eagleton Institute of Politics, a former volunteer for the Petey Greene Program, which supplements education in correctional facilities, a participated in the young media summit, and a former intern for the New York State Division of Human Rights. On campus, Sarah is involved in the Muslim Student Association, the Thaakat Foundation, and the Aresty Research Program where she is researching methods of organizations dedicated to youth empowerment. Sarah’s dedication lends her belief that empowering the most marginalized, from the urban youth to ethnic minorities, is important in creating a more inclusive world. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Sarah interned at American Civil Liberties Union. In the future, Sarah aims to become a human rights lawyer and galvanize the global community to tackle the ongoing refugee crisis.

Mannal Babar*, School of Arts and Sciences/School of Communication & Information ‘20, is History-Political Science and Journalism major. Mannal is currently interning as a social media content creator for the US Embassy.  Her work experience includes canvassing for the Human Rights Campaign and delving into grassroots’ activism and to help create a safe environment for the LGBTQ community.  She is passionate about social justice and stays active on campus. She believes in the power of raising awareness through various mediums of publication. In the future, she aims to become more involved in international law and ultimately working with the UN to implement policies that protect women against gender-based violence. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Mannal interned at Manavi, a South Asian Women’s Rights Organization.

Nashia Basit*, School of Arts and Sciences/ Douglass Residential College ‘20, is double majoring in Political Science and Communication with a specialization in organizational leadership. In the future, she is interested in pursuing a law degree or master’s degree in Public Policy, ultimately to practice in the human rights field.  As a proud Scarlet Knight, she has been involved with several organizations on campus. Currently, she is working on a local progressive campaign dedicated to working for change and also serves on the executive boards of RU Progressive, UMR, and Beehive Docs.  She is passionate about politics, women’s rights, and hopes to manage her own nonprofit organization in the near future. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Nashia interned at Center for American Women and Politics.

Evelyn Besom, School of Arts and Sciences ‘21, is an Evolutionary Anthropology major with a minor in Women and Gender Studies. Evelyn is a transfer student who is an active member in the Rutgers Archaeological Society and the Rutgers Undergraduate Anthropology Club. This summer, she will be spending three weeks in Poland, and will be studying bioarcheology and osteology at the Slavia Field School. In addition to doing a senior thesis, she has aspirations of going to graduate school and combining her passions for forensic anthropology and women's rights by studying the intersection of the two.

Leshya Bokka*, School of Arts and Sciences and Honors College/Douglass Residential College ‘20, is majoring in Cell Biology and Neuroscience. As a volunteer EMT in Piscataway, she discovered a passion for emergency medicine and aspires to become a physician.  Leshya participated in a community health and service-learning based study abroad trip to Mexico. On campus, she is a STEM Ambassador, a Douglass Centennial Ambassador, a member of the Livingston Theater Company, and an Honors College Ally Mentor. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, she interned at Coming Home. Leshya aspires to aid underprivileged individuals in accessing affordable healthcare and hopes to eventually serve in the military as a physician.

Amarachi Chukwuma*, School of Arts and Sciences/School of Communication and Information ‘20, is an international student from Nigeria majoring in Journalism and Media Studies with a double minor in Political Science and Spanish. She is interested in combining her major and minors into a career in writing for multimedia digital platforms as an investigative reporter or political commentator. Amarachi is interested in the journalist’s role as the agent for social change and is practicing her skills in this area as a blogger for the SAS Honors Program. She aims to bring her skills and experiences that she has gained from her internships at NJ Public Interest Research Group (NJPIRG) internship and the Center for American Women and Politics.

Carson Cummins, School Arts and Sciences/Honors Program ‘21, is a History and Spanish double major. Carson is a transfer student who spends much of her extracurricular time involved with Cabaret Theatre on Douglass Campus. She is currently a box office assistant on the theatre’s general board and has stage managed two productions. At her previous university, she undertook a research project to create the curriculum for a course on alternative schooling, which was offered to students in Spring 2018.  Passionate about social justice and human rights, Carson hopes to use her background in history to help guide humanity to a more equitable future through education and writing.

Cara Del Gaudio, School of Arts and Sciences/Honors Program/Douglass Residential College ‘21, is a History major with minors in Art History and Women’s & Gender Studies, and a certificate in Public History. She enjoys being involved with the SAS Honors Program as an Ambassador, Peer Mentor, and Advisory Board member. She participates in the Marching Scarlet Knights Color Guard and has been a volunteer at the Morris Plains Museum since 2014. She is looking forward to furthering her knowledge through involvement at Rutgers and studying abroad in Italy in the summer of 2020.

Sarah Ekenezar, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences/Douglass Residential College ‘22, is an Environmental Policy, Institutions, and Behavior major and a Sustainability minor. Sarah is a graphic designer and writer for The Trail Newsletter and a member of the Students of Color for Environmental Justice club. She discovered her passion for the environment and politics when she realized the impact that policymakers have on decisions that can be detrimental or beneficial to nature as a whole. She has been able to explore these issues by working as an extern for the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. In the future, Sarah plans to attend law school and pursue a career in environmental lobbying so she can work with local politicians to help pass more environmentally friendly policies.

Michelle Fan, School of Arts and Sciences/Honors Program ‘21, is a Cultural Anthropology major and Gender and Media Studies minor. She is the Class of 2021 representative of the Douglass Governing Council, a member of the Institute for Domestic and International Affairs, and a campus coordinator of Invisible Issues, a non-profit organization. Her passion lies in social justice and the preservation of cultural heritage. In 2017, Michelle was awarded the Frank Pallone Congressman Award for bringing meaningful changes to her high school and community. Over the summer, Michelle works as a resident team advisor for an academic program on the UPenn campus. She is eager to continue her work in researching culture, lobbying for policy changes, and advocating for the advancement of human rights.

Alisa Farley, School of Arts and Science ‘21, is a Public Policy and Political Science major. Alisa is an administrative staff and tutor at Roosevelt Elementary school located in New Brunswick and is currently a part of the Rutgers Bonner Leadership Program. On campus, she is actively involved in the Residence Hall Association (RHA) as president of Jameson Hall and RHA Governing Council, in addition to being a part of an the on-campus Twese Dance Troupe. Alisa has a passion for debating and learning about politics, policies, international issues, and humanitarian efforts and plans to pursue a graduate degree in Public Policy and Political Science. In the future, Alisa would like to work with the United Nations system to formulate international policies that protect human rights, and ultimately hopes to one day become a congresswoman.

Marina Ford, School of Arts and Sciences ‘21, is a Women’s and Gender Studies major, with a minor in Creative Writing. Marina is involved with Rutgers SCREAM Theater, NO MORE, Demarest Hall’s Sex, Sexuality, and Gender sections, and is employed by Rutgers Career Services. She is passionate about advocating for survivors of sexual assault and gender-based violence, and through her involvement at Rutgers, was able to meet Joe Biden as part of his It’s On Us rally, and the creator of the #MeToo movement, Tarana Burke. Marina is also the co-creator of a Facebook page called “Contemporary Feminism Project,” that mobilizes discussion about current women’s issues and movements such as the #MeToo movement and the Women’s March.

Christina Froelich*, School of Arts and Sciences ‘20, is a Public Policy major with a focus on Public Health with a minor in Gender and Digital Media.  She is a part of Health Outreach Promotion and Education as an Alcohol and Drug (HOPE) peer educator, a member of Rutgers Women's Rugby team, and a staff member of the YMCA Model United Nations program.  Model UN inspired her to have a career in policy, while HOPE has encouraged her to focus on health-related policies dealing with drug policies and sexual assault issues. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Christina interned at Women’s Sports Foundation. With her education and experience, Christina intends to attend law school and become an advocate for victims of drug abuse and sexual violence.

Judalisse Garcia, School of Arts & Sciences ‘21, is majoring in Communication and completing a minor in International and Global Studies. She is a Paul Robeson Leadership Scholar and a peer mentor where she advises students to motivate a positive perspective on academics, leadership, and community. As part of her undergraduate experience, Judalisse studied abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico and participated in the Community Leadership Action & Service Program (CLASP) at the Institute for Women’s Leadership, where she interned at Dina’s Dwellings, a local domestic violence organization. Her passion is working with youth in low-income communities to further understand intersectional issues that can affect one's growth and mental health.

Naomi Gray, School of Arts and Sciences/Honors Program/Douglass Residential College (DRC) ‘21, is a Psychology major double minoring in Cognitive Science and Women’s and Gender Studies. Naomi is the treasurer for The Beehive: DOCS, a club for commuter and off-campus students who are part of DRC. She also works as an English tutor at the Douglass Student Center and enjoys being active in the Douglass community. Naomi is interested in conducting psychological research and currently working in Dr. Deborah Aks’ Cognitive Science lab as part of Project SUPER. Naomi plans to attend graduate school and focus on clinical psychology with a special emphasis on supporting LGBTQ youth.

Alexandra Gupta, School of Arts and Sciences and Honors College/Douglass Residential College ‘21, is majoring in Comparative Literature and French. Outside of academics, she is involved with the New Brunswick Community Garden and is an active member of the Rutgers University Outdoors Club. Alexandra also is a radio DJ at 90.3 FM The Core which broadcasts from Livingston Campus in Piscataway. Alexandra hopes to attend graduate school, either to pursue her interests in law and policy or to further explore her interests in the arts and literature. She is passionate about women’s representation in both academia and the arts and believes in the power of the arts to act as a forum for social justice conversations.

Favour Imhomoh, School of Arts and Sciences ‘21, is a Political Science Major, with a Minor in Women and Gender Studies. Favour has been working at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical Hospital (RWJ) in the general medicine department since her freshmen year. Favour’s job at RWJ has helped her improve her interpersonal and communication skills by working closely with patients and staff. She is a feminist, which is a driving force in her advocacy interests to end gender-based violence against women, especially during times of war. She is furthering her research interests through the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, to bring awareness to the issues that she is so passionate about. Favour is inspired by and seeks to live by Gandhi's famous words, "You must be the change that you wish to see in the world."

Andreana Loukidis, Mason Gross School of the Arts ‘22, is a Film major. She is a proud resident at Demarest Hall and partakes in Cinema Studies Section as a part of its special interest living community. Andreana is also the Associate Video Editor at The Daily Targum, the official student newspaper of Rutgers University, which fosters the growth of multimedia content in Rutgers news. Outside of the University, Andreana is the co-founder and management mentor of East Brunswick FIRST Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing high-school student interest in STEM fields through robotics competitions. She hopes to use her platform as a filmmaker to increase the representation of people with different backgrounds in the industry to make more of what we see on-screen like reality.

Jacqueline Mehr, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Honors College/Douglass Residential College ‘22, is a Biotechnology major with a minor in Creative Writing. She has a keen interest in neuroscience and assists in research conducted at the Brain Health Institute on mood disorders and cognition. Jacqueline is also an avid writer, serving as a journalist for the Examiner, Rutgers’ Pre-Health Journal, and a writer for the Honors College Media Team. In the future, Jacqueline aspires to use science as an avenue through which to produce research and bring attention and visibility to issues of interpersonal violence.

Hallie Meisler*, School of Arts and Sciences ‘20, is a Women and Gender Studies major with a double minor in Critical and Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies and Leadership Skills.  Hallie is a transfer student who has joined several campus organizations upon coming to Rutgers, including Rutgers Democrats, the Yoga and Reiki club, and the Outdoors club to name a few.  In the fall 2017, Hallie taught robotics and coding classes to children ages 3 to 14, and served as the head facilitator for her local Girls Who Code club. During the summers, Hallie organizes SHINE (Strength Helps Instill Never-ending Empowerment) programming at an all-girls sleep way camp so they can recognize their self-worth and develop a stronger voice. Hallie hopes to one-day work for UN Women to foster worldwide gender equality.

Brenda Montecinos Villa*, School of Arts and Science/Douglass Residential College ‘20, is a Cultural Anthropology major with a double minor in International and Global Relations and Spanish.  Brenda is also a transfer student who is taking steps to get involve at Rutgers. She is a member of the Scarlet Council and is the public relations chair for the Douglass Organization for Commuter Students. In addition, she is very eager to learning more about politics, international relations and, human rights. Brenda seeks to gain experience with organizations that address policy through community outreach programs. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Brenda interned at Center for American Women and Politics.

Jamila Osborne*, School of Arts and Sciences and Douglass Residential College ‘21, is an Education and Africana Studies double major. Outside of academics, Jamila is the community service chair for the Douglass Black Students Congress and the community service chair for the Residence Hall Association. She is passionate about literacy and youth empowerment, and strives to develop her leadership in these areas. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Jamila interned at Associate Alumnae of Douglass College.

Anisha Patel*, School of Arts and Sciences, Honors College ‘20 is majoring in Genetics and minoring in Nutrition.  She is a resident assistant at the Honors College, a peer mentor for American Medical Students Association and is part of the events committee for the Rutgers chapter of Kier's Kidz, which provides emotional support and resources for children, adolescents, and young adults with cancer. Anisha is skilled henna artist for Rutgers Recreation and a volunteer EMT for her community. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Anisha interned at Endometriosis Foundation of America. She is a passionate about women's health and hopes to an advocate as a physician.

Neha Saju, School of Arts and Sciences/Honors Program/Douglass Residential (DRC) College ‘22, is a Political Science and History major. Neha is a regular Columnist for the Daily Targum Newspaper, and her column Pride Not Prejudice focuses on addressing social issues, namely racism and sexism. Through DRC, she completed an externship with the Center for American Women and Politics and participated as a volunteer for the 63rd United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Neha hopes to attend law school and is currently on the pre-law track.

Barbara Shi*, School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program/Douglass Residential College ‘21, is a History and Women’s & Gender Studies double major with a minor in Public Health. Barbara is a DJ for 90.3 The Core FM, a volunteer with the Women’s Center Coalition, and a member of Douglass Residential College and the School of Arts and Science Honors Scholars Summer Reading Committees. She is also an avid reporter for New Brunswick Today, a hyperlocal and bilingual newspaper, while also working at her family nail salon on the weekends. She enjoys going to flea markets, used bookstores, and botanical gardens.  She hopes to empower women of all ages by ensuring their voices are heard and that they have ample resources to help them prosper. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Barbara interned at Institute for Research on Women.

Wamia Siddiqui, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences/Honors College/Douglass Residential College ‘21, is a Biotechnology major with minors in Public Policy and Biochemistry.  Wamia is passionate about human rights and is currently involved in developing and implementing a healthcare-related campaign Amnesty International’s national branch. She also is an intern with BioBus, an organization that strives to teach underprivileged children in New York City about science, where she leads biology classes for middle schoolers and conducts neuroscience research at Columbia University’s Zuckerman Institute. On campus, Wamia is a Rutgers STEM Ambassador, helping run an annual conference for Women in STEM, and is a first-year mentor for the Douglass Big Little mentoring program. In the future, Wamia aspires to combine her passions as a medical professional working to shape healthcare advocacy and policy.

Kayleen Silva, Mason Gross School of Arts ‘21, is a Digital Filmmaking Student. As an aspiring filmmaker and sophomore Film major, she is most interested in screenwriting, directing, and editing. When it comes to film; storytelling and spreading truth is an important tool for social change.  She is a self-taught cinematographer and editor and is constantly pushing herself to leave her comfort zone and level up. Being smart and fearless, she is ready to push her boundaries just as much as she is ready to push the boundaries of digital storytelling as a field.

Pooja Sindha, School of Arts and Sciences/Douglass Residential College ‘21, is majoring in Women and Gender Studies with minors in Global and International Studies and Political Science. Outside of class, Pooja is involved in the Douglass Governing Council, serving as the Class of 2021 Representative. Her global experiences include traveling to Nicaragua as a member of Global Brigades where she worked with local engineers to install a water pipeline in the local community, and more recently, traveling to Puerto Rico as a resident of the Global Village, a living and learning community at DRC where she studied human rights and the impact of Hurricane Maria on the displacement of women and children. As a first-generation college student with immigrants as parents, Pooja hopes to advocate for asylum seekers and implement change in current immigration policies, reforms, and practices.

Angela Son, School of Arts and Sciences/Douglass Residential College ‘21, is a Women and Genders Studies major with a minor in Labor Studies. Angela believes in direct-action organizing and has experience fighting for a $15 minimum wage with United Students Against Sweatshops Local 109, as well as working with the End Assault campaign at Rutgers. In the future, Angela aims to become a labor rights organizer in order to protect the rights of workers.

Hasin Tasneem*, Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy/Douglass Residential College ‘20, is majoring in Public Policy with a concentration in Business Economics and minoring in Political Science. She is passionate about civic engagement, advocacy, and experiential education. Through the Eagleton Institute of Politics, she conducted research, studying the relationship between experience and electability. She also advocates for her peers through the undergraduate student government, and University Senate. She teaches global citizenship to students through Model UN conferences, competes on the Rutgers Mock Trial Team and serves as a peer mentor for first year students. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Hasin interned at United Nations Population Fund. Hasin aspires to leave a lasting impact on her community, and will attend law school post-graduation.  

Jessica Webber*, School of Arts and Sciences Program ‘20, is a Psychology major with a minor in Women's and Gender studies. She completed an internship at the Plangere Writing Center and is enjoying her third semester as a tutor for multilingual writers at the center. She is also a proud member of the National Society for Collegiate Scholars. Jessica participated in an internship through the Collaborative Center for Community-Research and Service that partnered with her Infant and Child Developmental Psychology class to give her an innovative learning experience centered on the application of psychological theories to learning and development in a classroom setting.  Jessica hopes to continue combining community service and her desire to help others with her pursuit of a doctorate in Child Psychology. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Jessica interned at Displaced Homemakers Network.

Madelyn Winkler*, School of Arts and Sciences/Honors Program ‘20, is a majoring in English and Political Science.  She serves as policy director for the Rutgers University chapter of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy organization, and is a member of RU Choice and Rutgers "No More". For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Madelyn interned at the Center for American Women and Politics. Additionally, Madelyn also works actively as a marketing leader for University Career Services, and during the summer she serves as an ambassador for the Rutgers Future Scholars Program.  In the future, Madelyn plans to attend law school, and secure a position in government to become an advocate for women's rights. 

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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