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Scholarships Spark Travel Bug for SPAA Student Arisleidy Nunez (BA'17, MPA'18)

Arisleidy Nunez
Arisleidy Nunez (BA'17, MPA'18)

Prior to attending Rutgers University-Newark, Arisleidy Nunez's (BA'17, MPA'18) international travels were limited to trips to the Dominican Republic to visit her family. 

During her freshman year, she took a trip to Tanzania as part of a service-learning program in which students transcended language barriers by engaging a Swahili-speaking village in a photography project that emphasized beauty and self-reflection, and in many cases showed Tanzanian children their pictures for the first time. 

"Going to Tanzania was a transformative experience and one of the things that pushed me to do that was my Gala Anniversary Scholarship," Nunez said. “When you receive a scholarship, it reaffirms that there are people out there who believe in you and that the support is there.”

The Gala Scholarship is one of several scholarships available at the School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) and provides financial assistance to undergraduates. Nunez said that the $1,500 scholarship emboldened her and set her on a path of opportunities that she would have previously shied away from, but now embraces in an effort to effect change for others on an international stage. After returning from Tanzania, Nunez became a collegiate jetsetter, enrolling in programs and courses that took her to Mexico, Italy, India, and London.

Refusing to be deterred by cost, Nunez amassed support from various awards during her college career that helped alleviate the financial burden of travel as she immersed herself in global conversations ranging from Brexit and women’s economic empowerment to sex trafficking and children’s education advocacy.

"One of the things I advocate for is for more students to go abroad because those were the most pivotal moments in my life," Nunez said. "The world is much more connected now and programs like these provide a deeper global understanding.” 

In addition to her travels, Nunez is a graduate instructor for the Honors Living-Learning Community as well as a mentor for the Newark City of Learning Collaborative. Nunez uses her platforms to offer guidance and share her experiences to help students at the high school and college level identify and seize similar opportunities.

Upon graduation, Nunez intends to enroll in law school with the goal of becoming an advocate in either the nonprofit or government sector.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the support system at Rutgers-Newark and SPAA, specifically. It really has made a difference for me, especially as a first-generation college student. Thinking back, I can’t imagine this being possible anywhere else.”