Honors Alumni Spotlight

  • Alumni Portrait
  • Iris Zipkin
  • Rutgers College '97
  • Major(s): Psychology
  • Minor(s): Philosophy and Criminology

What attracted you to Rutgers University and the Honors/Scholars Program?

I grew up just a few miles away from Rutgers and knew that it was a great school with a wonderful reputation. I liked the fact that I'd get a world-class education, myriad opportunities, be close enough to go home for my dad's cooking, and not come out of college with mountains of debt. In the Honors Program, I knew that I'd be challenged in my Honors classes, interact with my Honors peers in the smaller interdisciplinary seminars, and have support to do my Honors capstone project. I loved living in Honors housing (Brett Hall!) and meeting people from all over the country and world. Rutgers was a stark contrast to my high school - my graduating class was just over 200 students - but I loved that I was in an environment where I could meet enough people to find those that shared my academic and personal interests. I made my best friends at Rutgers.

Why did you choose your major and minor?
Psychology and Philosophy allowed me to study how people think. I studied Criminology because I was really interested in forensic psychology in college.

Tell us a little bit about what you're doing now. What was your first job after Rutgers? Where you do you live? What was your first job after Rutgers? Where you do you live?
My first 'real' job after Rutgers was working for a publishing company in Manhattan - I loved all of the free books! After that, I worked in merchandising for the United States Golf Association - I got to shop for a living (but only for golf stuff). I enjoyed both jobs, but wanted a career in which I was helping others. I now work at Rutgers as an Assistant Dean and the Director of First-Year Advising in the School of Arts and Sciences. I love helping students connect their passions and interests with opportunities at Rutgers. Some of my favorite conversations are with students who are still exploring...it took me until I came home to Rutgers to truly know what I wanted to do and how I'd make my mark on the world. I truly love what I do, particularly when I help students realize their potential and that yes, they can get a job with any major! I live less than 20 minutes from campus. I have never lived outside of Middlesex County :)

What has been your greatest professional and/or personal accomplishment since you graduated from Rutgers?
My greatest personal accomplishment is becoming a mom and balancing my career and family. Plus, my daughter wants to follow in my footsteps and go to Rutgers, so I'm pretty sure I've done something right!

Was there a class and/or experience at Rutgers that led you to pursuing your current career?
I didn't realize it at the time, but working in the Rutgers College Honors Program office helped me understand how much I enjoyed working in higher education. When I returned to Rutgers in 2001, it felt like I was home again.

What three words describe your experience at Rutgers and the Honors/Scholars Program? 
Proud Honors Alum!

How has your Rutgers and Honors education benefited you in your post-Rutgers life?
I've been a Rutgers student, so that helps me keep perspective when working with current students! I know that the buses can be frustrating, that Thomas Sweet Blend-Ins are amazing, and that Rutgers offers a ton of opportunities to students.

What advice do you have for our current SAS Honors Program students?
Take interdisciplinary honors seminars - they were my favorite classes at Rutgers! Make room for classes outside of your major and minor. Don't just focus on requirements. Take classes that challenge you and allow you to use other parts of your brain - it'll be great to look back at your Rutgers experience and see a variety of courses: we offer so many opportunities and this is the time in your life to take advantage of them. Study abroad if you can. Drink your water, eat your vegetables, and tell your friends and family that you love them.

 

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

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