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

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.  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.

Elizabeth Alt*, School of Arts and Sciences/Honors Program ’19, is an English major, with a minor in Women & Gender Studies and History, as well as a certificate in Performance Theory.  Elizabeth enjoys helping students find their place at Rutgers through her involvement as a Scarlet Ambassador, Honors Program Scholars Day Ambassador and Honors Program peer mentor and board member.  She volunteered at Camp Jabberwocky, a camp for people of all ages with a variety of disabilities, and participated in an Alternative Break focused on ending human trafficking.   She is the artistic director for the Livingston Theatre Company and is passionate about fighting for human rights through art.  For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Elizabeth interned at Rutgers-New Brunswick Admissions.

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 interests 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. 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. She 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 work with the UN to implement policies that protect women against gender-based violence.

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 and women’s rights, and hopes to manage her own nonprofit organization in the future.

William (Billy) Baumle*, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences '19, is an Environmental Policy, Institutions & Behavior (EPIB), and Women's & Gender Studies double major.  He is a resident assistant on College Avenue as well and an active member of Speak Out, a cross-media arts and discussion collective and platform.  In summer of 2017, Billy lived in Australia, interning with the Sydney City Council and conducted qualitative research regarding an environmental performance program.  Billy’s academic interests include armed conflict, environmental change and demography.  In the future, he hopes to attend graduate school and work in the human rights field. For his Leadership Scholars Program internship, Billy interned at Center on Violence against Women and Children.

Anastasia Bellisari*, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS)/Douglass Residential College '19, is majoring in  an Environmental Policy, Institutions, and Behavior (EPIB) and Public Health minor, and serves as the EPIB Representative for the SEBS Governing Council.  Outside of academics, she is a community service officer for the Rutgers Police Department Cook/Douglass Mounted Patrol, RU Equestrian Team, and a member of the honors fraternity Alpha Zeta.  Anastasia hopes to attend law school and focusing on environmental protections and act as an advocate for women in politics.  For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Anastasia interned at New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection-Office of Local Government Assistance.

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.  Leshya aspires to aid underprivileged individuals in accessing affordable healthcare and hopes to eventually serve in the military as a physician.

Angelica Calderon, Mason Gross School of the Arts, ’20, is a Visual Arts major with a concentration in Photography.  Angelica is a Peer Academic Leader at Douglass Residential College and a work-study student for the Center of Latino Arts and Culture.  She is also actively involved in student organizations such as the United Black Council and the Afro-Latino Student Organization.  Angelica has interned at the Studio Museum in Harlem, working with the Education Department, assisting high school students in a photography program.  As a self-proclaimed Afro-Latina, she is interested in using her interdisciplinary work of photo, video, and installation as a form of political resistance and cultural and mental evaluation.  Angelica is interested in activism within education and creative institutions inside her hometown and outside communities.  She aims to create visual long-term projects such as a published photo book and a short film that depicts the theme of Afro-Latino identity.    

Amarachi Chukwuma, School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) / 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 to her NJ Public Interest Research Group (NJPIRG) internship.

Farah Elattar*, School of Arts and Sciences ’19, is a Philosophy and Cinema Studies double major, with a minor in French.  She has been on the Dean’s list since her first year of college and she is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. She is the program director for 90.3 The Core FM, which broadcasts from Livingston Campus. Farah was also a peer mentor for the 2017-2018 academic year, which enables her to help incoming students find their way at Rutgers.  She plans to attend law school and aims to fight for women's rights, with a particular focus on improving the status of women in the Middle East. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Farah interned at FF2 Media in Brooklyn, New York.

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 (HOPE) as an Alcohol and Drug 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.  With her education, Christina intends to attend law school and become an advocate for victims of drug abuse and sexual violence.

Mikaila John*, School of Arts and Sciences 19', is a Political Science major with a minor in Public Policy and has been on the Dean's List every semester.  She is currently a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and this past semester she was also accepted into the Lloyd C. Gardner Fellowship Program in Leadership and Social Policy.  Outside of school, Mikaila spends her free time teaching dance to children of all ages at a local dance studio. Mikaila's areas of interest include diplomacy and international relations, immigration, and human rights.  In the future, she plans to pursue a career in political analysis, working to reform social policy and foreign affairs.  For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Mikaila interned at American Friends Service Committee.

Mayeesha Kamal, Rutgers Business School/Douglass Residential College '20, is majoring in Business Analytics and Information Technology.  She transferred to Rutgers in Fall '17 and began an internship with a tech startup based in NYC called 2020Shift.  She believes that working at 2020Shift has inspired her to promote diversity in the tech industry.  She hopes to advocate for women’s leadership in the field.  Mayeesha first came to the US at the age of 16 from Bangladesh as a foreign exchange student and then decided to pursue her bachelor's degree at Rutgers, during which she hopes to make a difference.

Claudia Lee*, School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program '20, is a Comparative Literature major and French minor. On campus Claudia is an associate copy editor for The Daily Targum, a writing tutor for the Plangere Writing Center, and a research assistant for the Italian Literature department.  Her passions include writing, yoga, and connecting with people.  She hopes to one day use her writing abilities to change lives, whether it is in the form of teaching, crafting novels, or writing speeches. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Claudia interned at PEN America, NYC.

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 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.

Geidy Mendez*, School or Arts and Sciences/Douglass Residential College ’19, is a double major in Political Science and Latino & Caribbean Studies.  She is a 2017 intern and work-study student for Center for American Women and Politics and is actively involved in various student organizations around campus such as the Latin American Women Organization, G.O.Y.A. (Galvanizing and Organizing Youth Activism), and First Generation Student Union.  In addition, she is the Class of 2019 Representative for the Douglass Governing Council.  She has interned at El Centro Hispano Americano where she worked on domestic abuse cases for undocumented individuals ensuring that they are heard no matter their immigration status.  She hopes to earn her JD in Immigration Law and continue advocating for immigration rights.  For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Geidy interned at Law Firm of Asma Warsi in New Brunswick.  Geidy is the second Leadership Scholar that has been nominated to receive the IWL Jessica Roberts’ Leadership Prize.

Brenda Montecinos, 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.

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 those areas.

Prosie Palad*, School or Arts and Sciences/Douglass Residential College ’19, is majoring in Political Science with a minor in Spanish. On campus, Prosie has participated in the Global Village Human Rights House and the Arabic Learning Club.  She also served on the board of RU Speak Out and currently serves as the Social Media chair of both organizations.  She has an interest in learning Spanish, Portuguese, Tagalog, and Arabic and studied abroad during summer 2017 in Peru. Prosie is passionate about civic engagement and the recognition of Southeast Asian Americans in the United States.  She enjoys creating and editing videos and photography and hopes to pursue a career in law and human rights. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Prosie interned at New Labor focusing on worker’s rights.

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.  She is a passionate about women's health and hopes to an advocate as a physician.

Sarah Pomeranz*, Rutgers Business School and Honors College/Douglass Residential College '20, is a Management major in the Business School with a concentration in Entrepreneurship and a minor in Social Justice.  On campus, she is a Scarlet Ambassador and an Aresty Research Fellow, currently researching the market for ethnic processed foods. Sarah the founder and president of the Rutgers chapter of TAMID, a national experiential business education club and will also be leading a service trip abroad as an Alternative Breaks site leader.  Sarah is passionate about activism, and wants to pursue a career in being an advocate for social change using business as a platform.  For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Sarah interned at Savvy Ladies, a non-profit organization that provides personal finance education and resources for women to inspire them to plan for the future.

Natalie Settimo*, School or Arts and Sciences/Douglass Residential College ’19, is majoring in Women’s & Gender Studies and Public Health.  She is a member of the STEM sorority Alpha Omega Epsilon and is involved with the Rutgers University Student Assembly, leading the Sexual Assault Prevention Committee. She also has experience researching brain and spinal trauma at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.  Natalie aspires to implement public health initiatives that benefit underprivileged women, specifically in inner-city areas with frequent and free distribution of menstrual hygiene and reproductive health products. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Natalie interned at Rutgers Health Outreach Promotion and Education (HOPE) as an Alcohol and Drug peer educator.

Mansi Shah*, School of Arts and Sciences, Honors College/Douglass Residential College ’20, is a Cell Biology and Neuroscience major.  After tutoring incarcerated women through the Petey Greene Program during her first year at Rutgers, she discovered a passion for both pedagogy and healthcare advocacy in the correctional setting.  On campus, she is a campaigns coordinator for GlobeMed, a student-run nonprofit organization that promotes education and healthcare equity in under-resourced parts of the world, and a clinical research intern at the Eric B. Chandler Health Center in New Brunswick.  Mansi strongly supports mentorship initiatives as a Douglass big member and Honors College as an ally mentor for first-year students. In the future, Mansi plans to continue serving marginalized individuals as a physician and community advocate.  For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, interned at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women.

Falak Shahid*, School of Arts and Sciences/Douglass Residential College ’19, is a Political Science major with a minor in African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures. She is a student of the Honors program and is currently learning her fourth language.  Falak serves as a peer leadership mentor to freshmen students through the department of Leadership and Experiential Learning and a member of GenUN and the Muslim Student Association.  She hopes to attend law school and serve as an ambassador at the United Nations. For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Falak interned at the Center for American Women and Politics.

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.

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. Hasin aspires to leave a lasting impact on her community, and will attend law school post-graduation.

Kristin Terez*, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences/Douglass Residential College ’19, is an Environmental Science major with a minor in Environmental Policy, Institutions and Behavior. Kristin is a feminist, a vegetarian, and an environmentalist. Currently, Kristin is working with Professor Ethan Schoolman to research Farmer’s Markets in Northern and Central New Jersey with a focus on sustainability.  The research analyzes whether local farming truly is more sustainable than traditional and large-scale practices.  Kristin wants to make a real difference for women’s rights and to protect our environment for future generations.  For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Kristin interned at Food and Water Watch in downtown New Brunswick.

June Titus*, School of Arts and Sciences/Douglass Residential College ’19, is a History, and Women’s and Gender Studies double major minoring in Art History.  She is interested in the intersectionality of gender, sexuality, art, and history and a transfer student from American University.   June is a volunteer with CoLab Arts and the Pride Center of NJ for the TrueSelves Oral History Project, archiving of the oral histories of the transgender and non-binary community.  On campus, June is involved in the Institute for Research on Women, the Rutgers Art History Student Association, and Douglass Friends of UNFPA. June leads tours of Rutgers through her public history internship for the Scarlet and Black Project, presenting the history and experiences of disenfranchised populations at Rutgers.  She is passionate about incorporating advocacy and activism within academia, and scholarship.  June plans to attend graduate school and hopes to become a Women’s History professor.  For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, June interned at Center for Women’s History- New York Historical Society.  

Jessica Webber, School of Arts and Sciences Program’ 20, is a Psychology major and 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.

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".  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. 

Gali Zaborowski*, School of Arts and Sciences/Honors College/Douglass Residential College '20, is a Psychology, and Women's & Gender Studies double major.  She is passionate about leadership and student engagement, and holds several student leader positions in the Department of Leadership and Experiential Learning as well as in the Honors College.  Gali is an advocate as a SCREAM Theater performer for the Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance and plans to become a Scarlet Listener. She is also active in the Jewish community at Rutgers and spent her summer as an intern in Israel.  Coming from a multicultural, immigrant background, Gali loves engaging in discussions about intersectionality and the importance of understanding perspective and privilege.  She hopes to pursue a doctorate degree in Psychology and a career in clinical or counseling services.  For her Leadership Scholars Program internship, Gali interned at the Office of Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance.

*Asterisk denotes continuing Leadership Scholars

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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