Meet the 2020-2021 SPAA Ambassadors
The inaugural cohort of SPAA Ambassadors consists of 11 students currently enrolled in undergraduate and graduate degrees across traditional and online programs in SPAA who are earning their BA, Master of Public Administration (MPA), and Executive MPA (EMPA).
Sakinah Ahmad (EMPA Student)
Meet Sakinah Ahmad
A Newark native, Ahmad has been serving the Newark community as a school operations administrator for the past eight years. She led the youth program for Ronald Rice’s councilman campaign, and was selected as a Bank of America Student Leader before becoming an undergraduate student at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, where she studied economics along with political science and planning and public policy, and serviced as student leader in the Douglass Black Students' Congress.
Monica Bastos (BA/MPA Student)
Meet Monica Bastos
Bastos is a fellow at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University–New Brunswick and holds a BA from Rutgers SPAA. As an undergrad, she interned for the Office of U.S. Senator Cory Booker, was selected to be part of the International Leadership Exchange Student Program in Puerto Rico, and was a youth mentor at West Side High School in Newark, NJ. In her native country of Portugal, she assisted local food banks fundraised for poverty alleviation initiatives.
Danielle Bouza (MPA Student)
Meet Danielle Bouza
Bouza currently works at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY) in New York City running academic success programs for sophomore students. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies with a minor in business administration at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. Throughout her undergraduate years, she was involved in peer mentoring and student programming which led her to discovering education as her vehicle for social justice. In the future, she hopes to work at the state level to implement higher education policy.
Evaewero French (MPA Student)
Meet Evaewero French
In her home country of Nigeria, French co-founded a nonprofit organization called the Renaissance for Excellence Initiative (RExI), which focuses on youth and national development. With the MPA program, Evaewero is looking to lead RExI in making maximum impact in the lives of young people across Africa. She earned her bachelor’s degree in international relations and diplomacy from Afe Babalola University in Nigeria, and plans on getting a PhD in public policy/administration with a research focus in national development.
Preeti Gratz (MPA Student)
Meet Preeti Gratz
Gratz works as an economic development and tax incentives coordinator at the Alabama Department of Revenue, where she has worked since July 2011 in different roles from a corporate income tax auditor to legislative research analyst. She is also a board member of the local community center, Jubilee Community Center, that provides space and opportunity for diverse and creative community members to thrive. Her interests lie in politics, state tax policies, data analysis, and economic development.
Diana J. Jones (MPA Student)
Meet Diana Jones
Jones is pursuing a certificate in Appreciative Inquiry for Strength-Based Leadership and Innovation at SPAA's Center for Applied Appreciative Inquiry (CAAI) working on strength-based collaboration and group process facilitation for public organizations. She also holds several leadership roles in New Jersey, including board secretary for New Destiny Family Success Centers, fundraising chairperson for Trinity Christian School, and treasurer of Montclair's Frog Hollow Neighborhood Association. Prior to returning to full-time studies, Jones worked at for-profit organizations in event planning and marketing.
Rosslin Mensah-Boateng (MPA Student)
Meet Rosslin Mensah-Boateng
Mensah-Boateng is a first-generation Ghanaian American and received a BA in political science with a minor in Africana studies from Rutgers University–New Brunswick. After completing the MPA program, she plans to pursue a PhD where she will further her study of public administration and public policy implementation for underserved communities and fragmented local governments. She aspires to have a leadership position in either local government or a university to implement policies and procedures to empower students and their communities.
Samantha Minchello (EMPA Student)
Meet Samantha Minchello
Currently, Minchello handles business development and communications at Direct Development, a public relations firm that manages communications for public and private entities. She started her career in the news industry working for CNN New York's morning program "American Morning," and was an aide to the Governor of the State of New Jersey handling intergovernmental affairs. She has served as a commissioner on the Brick Township Housing Authority and on the executive board of the Monmouth County Young Democrats.
Ana Olivera (BA/MPA Student)
Meet Ana Olivera
Olivera is the mentorship coordinator for the West Side High School Mentor Program through Jersey Cares and partners MCJ Foundation and the Newark Mentor Movement. She served as president of the Diverse American Volunteer Association and was an upstander volunteer for the Office of Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance. She hopes to one day build a nonprofit of her own in the Newark community that tackles sexual assault cases within the LGBTQ+ community. As an America Needs You Fellow alumna, she continues to uplift first-generation college students like herself.
Ifeoma Onwuka (MPA Student)
Meet Ifeoma Onwuka
Currently, she works as an academic coordinator for a nonprofit organization serving middle and high school students. While earning her undergraduate degree at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, she served as an Odasis Avid Mentor for New Brunswick High School and was an intern for the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center. Following her undergraduate education, she was accepted into the 2017 Teach for America New Jersey cohort where she began her post baccalaureate career as a middle school science teacher in the Greater Newark area.
Usvah Rizvi (BA Student)
Meet Usvah Rizvi
Rizvi's interests are in public administration, healthcare management, and human resource management. She currently serves as the president of Braven-Nation, a student organization on campus. Rizvi enjoys being active on campus and serving in leadership positions.