Published November 2, 2020

A Message from Margaret Marsh

Interim Chancellor, Rutgers University–Camden

During these challenging times, I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and well. The public health threat posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has required Rutgers University–Camden to deliver the great majority of our courses online. Our academic year looks different, but Rutgers–Camden is as strong as ever, and we are optimistic about the future.

I am proud of how our students, faculty, and staff are demonstrating their resilience and generosity of spirit, and we are so grateful to our donors and alumni for their unwavering support during this difficult time. You are a crucial part of the Rutgers–Camden community. We will do everything we can to ensure our students receive the educational and cocurricular experiences that will enable them to succeed.

Rutgers–Camden is responding to the challenges of our world with spirit, determination, and innovation. Our faculty continue with their vital research, teaching, and service commitments. They are exploring ways to identify and treat COVID-19 and other illnesses. They are providing our leaders with critically needed expert perspectives on policy matters arising from this crisis. They are on the front lines of health care delivery in our communities and our hospitals. And they are making meaningful contributions to the boundaries of knowledge in all of their disciplines. They can do so because of your support, and I thank you for your confidence in our university’s future.

The following report provides a glimpse of how you and other donors have a positive impact on the Rutgers–Camden community and the world. Although it features only a few of the funds that our donors support, I hope you take pride in knowing you help make a difference at Rutgers. Your continued support makes success stories like these possible.

These are challenging times, but I am sustained by one very simple precept: I believe in the future of Rutgers–Camden. I know we will continue to grow as a center for innovation and excellence. We will find new ways to serve as an anchor institution for Camden and as an engine for growth here in South Jersey. And we will reaffirm our role as a full partner within Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

Together, we will forge ahead with determination and courage to widen the opportunities that Rutgers–Camden can offer.

Help in Crossing the Finish Line

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, emergency funding has provided a lifeline to students hit hard by the crisis. This funding is a crucial resource for assisting students who have been harmed by illness, loss of jobs, housing and food insecurity, and other unexpected hardships.

The Faculty of Art and Sciences Dean’s Emergency Fund at Rutgers–Camden helps students fill in the gaps when they suddenly have trouble paying tuition or fees, or can’t afford meals, housing, or books. One of those students was Rosemarie Peña, who received her doctorate in May 2020. For Peña, assistance from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Emergency Fund meant she could continue her studies after she had exhausted her student loans.

“I am more than grateful for the Dean’s Emergency Fund, which allowed me to cross the finish line, relieved of this financial burden as I prepared for my dissertation defense under the added economic stress of the rising global pandemic,” says Peña.

Peña earned her first bachelor’s degree from Rutgers–Camden in 1982 and returned in 2008 as a nontraditional student. “My heartfelt thanks to all who make the Dean’s Emergency Fund available to struggling students,” she adds. “I will forever be appreciative of the support I received in 2020 that helped me, at long last, to actualize my dream to become Dr. Rosemarie Peña.”

A Vital Resource for Students in Need

The Chancellor’s Emergency Fund at Rutgers–Camden provides financial assistance to students facing unforeseen emergencies, such as accidents, illness, death of a primary caregiver, homelessness, and other life-changing events.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, emergency funding has become even more critical. It is a crucial resource for students who have been impacted by this crisis. More than ever, donor support for emergency funding has provided a lifeline to students hit hard by the pandemic.

Support for the Chancellor’s Emergency Fund has enabled Rutgers–Camden to provide

  • funds for books, so that students can keep up with their classes while dealing with other stresses and financial burdens
  • emergency supplies for students
  • meal cards for students who cannot afford to eat three times a day, helping them focus on school and not worry about their next meal
  • food to students via the food pantry, which remained open throughout the summer when dining halls were closed
  • loaner laptops, webcams, and internet boosters to ensure students can access their classes and coursework during remote instruction

Donors Fuel Law Scholarships

Rutgers Law School students in Camden and Newark benefit from more than $10 million in scholarship awards that are funded through the generosity of alumni and allocations from the law school. All admitted students are automatically considered for merit-based scholarships. Scholarship funding provides opportunities for hard-working students like Chris Velez-Vargas, a third-year law student.

Velez-Vargas is proud to be a Rutgers Law student. “I wanted to be at an institution that placed great value on the quality of my education,” he says. Aside from his coursework, he is an active member of the Minority Student Program, the Black Law Students Association, and the Latin American Law Student Alliance. He is editor in chief of the Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion and is a teaching assistant.

A law degree from Rutgers will help fuel his aspiration of becoming involved with criminal justice reform. He would like eventually to work with Congress to help introduce general educational development and cognitive therapy programs for incarcerated individuals, end all for-profit prisons, and reduce rates of recidivism by providing job and vocational training to New Jersey residents and others.

Velez-Vargas is grateful for the support that donors provide each year for Rutgers Law. “Thank you all for your generosity to our Rutgers community,” he says. “We all are incredibly grateful, and we appreciate the time, value, and effort you put in by contributing back to our school.”

Learn more about how your support makes a difference for Rutgers Law students in this video.

Preparing Tomorrow’s Nurse Educators

Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden students make a compassionate difference in countless lives. The General Nursing Scholarship ensures that these students become excellent nurses prepared to lead change and advance health wherever they work, regardless of financial circumstances.

The United States continues to need new registered nurses, especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the demand for registered nurses increases, so does the need for nurse educators. The School of Nursing has leveraged the General Nursing Scholarship Fund to help prepare and train qualified nursing students to become nurse educators.

Assistant professor Sangita Pudasainee-Kapri is a 2020 graduate of the School of Nursing’s Doctor of Nursing Practice Program. As a student, she received funding assistance from the school. She is grateful for the support she received. “Without financial support from the university, I would not have continued my full-time study and graduated within two years,” she adds. Now a faculty member, she is in a position to address the national nurse shortage and train the next generation of nurses. “I have always wanted to join in academia and contribute to university teaching and research. It is my pleasure to serve as a full-time faculty member at the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden.”

Dr. Pudasainee-Kapri recognizes the challenge in overcoming the demand for both RNs and advanced practice nurses to meet the changing health care needs of our nation. “Despite many efforts and strategies from multiple organizations, nursing faculty shortages are projected to increase. Most importantly, there are not enough master and doctoral prepared graduates to meet the demands of nursing education. While organizations continue to search for solutions for this situation, I believe it is important for nursing colleges and universities to fill faculty positions so that they can enhance student enrollment capacity across undergraduate and graduate programs and fulfill the faculty need in classrooms, clinical sites, and research and skill labs.”

Thanks to donor support of the General Nursing Scholarship Fund, the School of Nursing–Camden can assist students like Dr. Pudasainee-Kapri to become nurse educators and help address the national demand for nurses.

Driven to Achieve His Dreams

Students at the Rutgers School of Business–Camden learn from internationally renowned faculty and participate in a curriculum that prepares them to make a name for themselves in the business world. Donor support for the school ensures that all students, regardless of their background, can benefit from a business education.

Emanuel Rodriguez, a sophomore, is a first-generation student double majoring in accounting and finance at the School of Business. He is also an Honors College student who has received a Distinguished Achievement Merit Scholarship and the Accounting and Impact Scholarship. Rodriguez is grateful for the financial support he receives and is motivated by donor generosity. “Having people believing in and supporting my education has been one of the most motivating things to my academic success,” he says. “Reducing my financial stress allows me to invest more time in studying, being involved, and reaching my dreams.”

Rodriguez takes full advantage of extracurricular offerings at Rutgers–Camden, serving as a mentor in the Rutgers University Student Executive program and as a Rutgers ambassador, and being a member of Beta Alpha Psi and the Scarlet Council. “I have never let an obstacle, disadvantage, or failure stop me from imagining my dream,” he says, “a dream that someday I will become an expert in accounting and finance. By assisting me, you will help me reach my dream of becoming an accounting professor by allowing me to spend more time learning from others, studying for classes, interning to develop skills, helping others, and spending less time stressing.”

Donor support for scholarships at the School of Business ensures that students like Rodriguez can attend Rutgers and pursue their dreams without the burden of financial worries.

Clearing a Path to College for ‘Strivers’

The Hill Family Center for College Access seeks to create a more robust college-going culture in the city of Camden and the region by providing the support and guidance high school students and their families need to assure students’ success in college. Trained undergraduate and graduate students serve as ambassadors, assisting the college “strivers” and their families in understanding higher education options, exploring career and academic interests, and securing financial aid.

The center was founded through the generosity of twin brothers Washington CCAS’61 and George CCAS’61 Hill, who grew up in Camden. Both brothers are members of the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni, the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a Rutgers graduate.

Iesha Cook, a senior at the Camden College of Arts and Sciences, says the Hill Center prepared her for Rutgers. “I was introduced to the Hill Center as a high school student,” she says. “I participated in workshops and loved my mentors, who helped push and prepare me for higher education.” Those workshops help high school juniors and seniors complete personal statements for college applications, create résumés, secure recommendations, manage deadlines, and prepare for standardized tests.

After starting at Rutgers–Camden, Cook became an ambassador at the center so she could help other strivers. “Knowing that I have made an impact on the lives of students that come from my city, Camden, by mentoring and being a role model has truly been an honor,” she says. “Because I have worked though the program, I can attest to the importance of the work we do at the Hill Center. I have grown immensely throughout this program, personally and professionally.”

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