Honors Alumni Spotlight

Alumni Portrait
Amanda Ackerman
Douglass College '08
Major(s): Spanish
Minor(s): Psychology

Activities: Phi Sigma Pi; Summer study abroad in Spain; Resident/Apartment Assistant; Douglass Student Recruitment Network; Summer Orientation Leader; intramural volleyball & flag football

What attracted you to Rutgers University and the Honors/Scholars Program?
I grew up five minutes from the New Brunswick campus and didn’t even apply to any other schools -- my heart was set on Rutgers since I was a kid.  Coming from a very small town, the sprawling campus excited me, and I couldn’t wait to meet new people from all walks of life. The Douglass Scholars Program really enticed me with its smaller community feel within the larger Rutgers community, and access to staff and faculty that would give me the right amount of challenge & support to be my best self.

Why did you choose your major and minor?
Originally I planned to be a teacher and was accepted to the 5-Year Teacher Education Program, so I chose a subject I was passionate about to major in and one day teach: Spanish.  As a non-native speaker, I was pretty hesitant to pursue it as my major, but my honors dean helped me find the self-confidence I needed to go for it. 

Tell us a little bit about what you're doing now. What was your first job after Rutgers? Where you do you live?
After I graduated, I enrolled in the College Student Affairs Program here at Rutgers and earned my Ed.M, during which I held a two-year assistantship in New Student Orientation. After that, I worked as an Academic Advisor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology for six years.  Now, my life has come full circle as I have the privilege of being an Assistant Dean right here in the Rutgers SAS Honors Program, advising current RU honors students the same way my amazing Scholars Program dean advised me!  I live close to campus with my husband and two kids.

What has been your greatest professional and/or personal accomplishment since you graduated Rutgers?
My two kids, Hannah and Noah.
Earning my Ed.M, which was an especially big deal in my family since I was a 1st-generation college student. 
And getting my dream job here at Rutgers!

Was there a class and/or experience at Rutgers that led you to pursuing your current career?
After I graduated with my B.A. and was about to start my student teaching, I realized that my passion was leaning less toward K-12 and more toward higher ed.  I had such a positive experience as an undergraduate student with all the staff members I worked with, and I suddenly realized I could be that staff member!

What three words describe your experience at Rutgers and the Honors/Scholars Program? 
Enlightening. Liberating. Exhilarating!

How has your Rutgers and Honors education benefited you in your post-Rutgers life?
I always say, if I could stand up in front of a class of my peers and give a half-hour presentation in a language I was still learning (Spanish), I can speak English in front of anyone.  My major made me a very confident public speaker, which has been an asset in every job I’ve had since graduation.

But I have to say that it was mostly the out-of-classroom experiences I had, like leadership positions on campus, studying abroad, and interactions with people who were different from me, that opened my mind and had the biggest impact on my life that I still carry with me today.

What advice do you have for our current SAS Honors Program students?
Major in something that you love, but know that your major does not have to define your career path.  Take advantage of all that Rutgers has to offer -- the things that you learn outside the classroom are just as important! And when in doubt, go talk to your honors dean :)

 

Are you a Rutgers Honors alum? Be featured in an upcoming Honors Alumni Spotlight by completing our online submission form.

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