Published May 4, 2020

Alexandria Figueroa is a junior at Rutgers University–Camden’s Honors College, majoring in English and minoring in psychology. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in education at Rutgers after she completes her undergraduate degree next year. Her goal is to teach elementary school.

She has been part of the Civic Scholars program at Rutgers–Camden for more than a year. The program provides students with intensive learning experiences through service opportunities. As a Civic Scholar, Alexandria serves as a volunteer at Ablett Village, a low-income housing complex in Camden, assisting with events, distributing newsletters, and helping with children’s after-school activities. Being a Civic Scholar “has benefited me greatly,” Alexandria says. “Not only has it brought me connections with fellow Rutgers–Camden students and faculty, but it has helped me reach outside of Rutgers as well.”

Alexandria also volunteers at Philadelphia’s Tenth Presbyterian Church nursery program, where she supervises children age 3 and younger during church services. “I have grown up attending Tenth Presbyterian, and it is an amazing opportunity to make connections and build relationships with staff and parents. Working with children is a passion of mine, as one day I would like to work in education,” she says.

She credits such volunteer experiences with helping her become more outgoing and take on new challenges. “I am usually a shy and reserved person, but stepping out of my comfort zone to work, communicate, and help others at these sites has brought me out of my shell,” she says. “I can now confidently take on leadership roles and tasks that I could not have done before working with Civic Scholars. Working in these communities in Camden has helped me gain skills I could not have gained anywhere else.”

Blending academics and service, the Civic Scholars program offers courses that reinforce what students learn in the classroom through hands-on learning. “The ‘Civic Scholars Making Social Change’ course gave me a head start on important concepts and ideas about the nature of the world and what we can do to help,” she says. “My most memorable experience at Civic Scholars was volunteering for the RU Sleepout for Homelessness this past fall. So many people came out to hear the presentations about homelessness and what we can do as a community to help.”

Alexandria also participates in Campus Crusade for Christ and works as a barista, a caterer, and an office worker. Holding multiple jobs, maintaining good grades, and volunteering to demonstrate the deep commitment she has to completing her education and giving back to her community.

Alexandria says the Civic Scholars program provided the perfect combination of academic enrichment and civic engagement, and she is grateful to those who generously contribute to the program.

“Being a part of this program has given me clarity on what I want to do beyond my university experience,” Alexandria says. “To those who support Civic Scholars and help make Rutgers a diverse place for students, I would like to thank you for any help that you have given. If not for this program, I would not be who I am today.”