Diana Won SAS'11
Major: Planning & Public Policy
Minor: Spanish, Women's & Gender Studies
Activities: SASHP Honors Ambassador, SASHP Peer Mentor
What attracted you to Rutgers University and the Honors/Scholars Program?
Coming to SASHP Scholars Day, I realized how much support was available through the Honors Program and the wealth of opportunities available at Rutgers University. The SASHP provided a small community within a large research university.
Why did you choose your major and minor?
I didn’t know that Urban Planning was a discipline prior to coming to Rutgers, but I had always been interested in urban change and issues of inequality so it was a natural fit. While at Rutgers I was also part of the IWL Scholars Program which furthered my interests in women’s & gender studies. My continual Spanish education and study abroad experience in Argentina influenced my love of Spanish literature and language.
Tell us a little bit about what you're doing now. What was your first job after Rutgers? Where you do you live?
I am now working at the Merry Year Social Company, a social impact consulting agency in Seoul, South Korea as a Senior Visiting Researcher through the Luce Scholars Program. The Luce Scholars Program choses 18 Americans each year to live and work in Asia. Since my interests lie in the intersection of business and policy, I am excited to be learning everyday in an innovative environment that promotes constant learning.
My first job after Rutgers was as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Bucaramanga, Colombia. In addition to teaching English and development curricula, I wrote for Paréntesis and worked at the Colombian Campaign Against Landmines. Afterwards I lived and worked in New York at Sheldon Lobel, P.C., a boutique Zoning and Land Use firm prior to getting my Masters of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.
What has been your greatest professional and/or personal accomplishment since you graduated Rutgers?
As a research associate for the William Davidson Institute at UM, I conducted interviews with employees across USAID and Walmart in Washington, DC and Costa Rica, ultimately culminating in “Walmart and USAID: The Evolution of a Global Cross-Sector Partnership.” This case study explores the evolution of the cross-sector relationship among Wal-mart Stores, Inc., Walmart Foundation, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) from 2000 to 2015. The case study is being used across the country to teach business students about social impact and how the partnership has enabled innovation and flexibility, while maintaining efficiency, sustainability, and scalability.
Was there a class and/or experience at Rutgers that led you to pursuing your current career?
I am working in social entrepreneurship and in market-approaches to development. Several classes at Rutgers help me to develop skills and language to approach various roles I’ve held including Poverty of Developing Nations, Slum Development, and Feminist Theory. For my interest in cities and urban development, my first year seminar in Gentrification particularly peaked my interest. While my focus has changed since then to tackle other issues of poverty, the lessons that I learned in many of my classes and experiences translate across sectors and geographies.
What three words describe your experience at Rutgers and the Honors/Scholars Program?
Eye-opening, inspiring, busy
How has your Rutgers and Honors/Scholars education benefited you in your post-Rutgers life?
I have run into many Rutgers alumni and my best friends are from the SASHP. Additionally, I gained skills working in internships while at Rutgers that helped me make professional connections. Additionally I was able to connect with the Office of Distinguished Fellowships early which gave me access to the many scholarships and fellowships that Rutgers students are eligible for.
What advice do you have for our current SAS Honors Program students?
Work hard and don't forget to have fun! College goes by so quickly and there’s so much to take advantage of at Rutgers. At the same time, it’s important to stay grounded and engaged in your community – these are connections and friends who will last over a lifetime.
Are you a graduate of the Rutgers Honors Program and want to share your story?
Check out past featured Spotlights of Honors Alumni.