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Leadership Skills Produce Award-Winning Results

Kait Weiss
May 13, 2019

Each May, Rutgers University–New Brunswick provides students the opportunity to be recognized for their remarkable contributions to the university and community through their leadership, resourcefulness, collaborations, and passion for the greater good.

Exceptional students are nominated early on in the Spring semester by peers, faculty, and staff for consideration in 13 categories. Honorees must have a strong academic standing, a good disciplinary standing, demonstrate a balance of academic and co-curricular excellence, and currently enrolled at Rutgers University–New Brunswick.

This year’s award winners were honored at the 4th Annual Chancellor’s Student Leadership Gala on Wednesday, May 8, 2019, at the Livingston Student Center. Many members of the Rutgers community gathered to recognize these distinguished students, including Chancellor Christopher Molloy, Vice Chancellor Dr. Ben Sifuentes-Jáuregui, Vice Chancellor Dr. Salvador Mena, Executive Vice Chancellor of Administration and Planning Dr. Felicia McGinty, and many more.Gala

Out of the hundreds nominated, and the 46 honored this year, three of the students were employees of Career Exploration and Success (CES). Amanda Maher, a Senior Marketing major in the Rutgers Business School, and current Marketing Assistant for CES was one of the honorees to win the Chancellor’s Leadership Award. According to the gala website, “...this award is given to a graduating senior who exemplifies excellence and truly embodies a commitment to leadership and involvement on campus and/or in the community.” Janelle Raymundo, a Senior Social Work major in the School of Arts and Sciences and former First-year Interest Group Seminars (FIGS) peer instructor, and senior peer instructor also received this award.

In addition, Amanda Leifer, a Junior studying Landscape Architecture at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and also a FIGS peer instructor was awarded the Champion of Teaching and Learning award, which is given to students who, “have taken full advantage of their collegiate experience by engaging inside and outside of the classroom while creating learning opportunities for their peers.”

Amanda MaherAmanda Maher was acknowledged for not only her impact on Career Exploration and Success but her role as co-founder and vice president of Rutgers Cares; community service director of Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society; and marketing director of Women BUILD, she manages the social media accounts for the Rutgers Student Food Pantry for Off-Campus Living and Community Partnerships, she was awarded the Dr. Rosa Oppenheim Leadership Award, New Jersey Business & Industry Association Rising Star Award, Beta Gamma Sigma Silver Chapter Award and Scholarship, Beta Gamma Sigma The President's Volunteer Service Award, and previously was awarded the Outstanding Service Award at the 2017 Chancellor’s Student Leadership Gala, all while achieving Dean's List each semester.

“She’s a true leader—spear-heading projects and initiatives on-campus, showing her compassion for others with her commitment to service and representing Rutgers proudly with her many accolades, “ says supervisor Kait Weiss, Associate Director for Strategic Outreach.

Amanda stresses the importance of developing skills outside of the classroom, “I’ve always been a strong believer in the ideology that the most impactful learning occurs outside of the classroom. Early on in my college career, I knew that I wanted to find a marketing position on-campus to help me develop the technical skills that I would not get from classroom instruction. After securing that position and becoming more confident in myself as both a student and a leader, I decided to get outside of my comfort zone and apply for leadership organizations in the student organizations I was part of, such as Beta Gamma Sigma and the SAS Honors Peer Mentor Program. By going out and seeking these opportunities early on in my college career, I am confident that I will enter the world with the skills (both technical and non-technical) to succeed in my career”.

Janelle Raymundo was awarded for her commitment to teaching, mentoring, and encouraging the success of others through her involvement in the FIGS program as a Peer Instructor, Senior Peer Instructor, and currently an intern; serving as a Peer Instructor for the Aresty Research Center; and holding the positions of President of Programming for the Honors College Mentoring Pod Program, Lead Ambassador for the Honors College Ambassador Program, Site Leader for Rutgers Alternative Breaks, and Peer Counselor for Scarlet Listeners.  Janelle RaymundoShe has also served as an Undergraduate Intern for several programs and offices including the Center for Violence Against Women and Children, the Collaborative Center for Community-Based Research & Service, and the Rutgers University Foundation. In addition to her extraordinary leadership at Rutgers, Janelle currently serves as a NASPA Undergraduate Fellow (NUFP) and was recently one of five undergraduate students awarded a fellowship to attend the Annual Conference for the First-Year Experience.  

When an observer attended one of Janelle’s classes, they had stated “Janelle has facilitated one of the strongest classroom dynamics I have seen as both a student and instructor.  The dynamic is professional, yet casual and students readily engage with one another.”  Lyn Baier,  Associate Director for First-Year Engagement, continued that, “in her role as a Senior Peer Instructor, Janelle continued to impress me with her seamless curricular connections and ability to model exceptional teaching.”

When asked to reflect on her experience with the FIGS program, Janelle stated, “being a FIGS Peer Instructor, from writing lesson plans to teaching my own course, has been one of the best opportunities I’ve had at Rutgers. While I gained a lot of skills from it, I’m most grateful for how FIGS has developed my self-confidence. Getting in front of a classroom every week to teach a subject I’m passionate about has helped me to be comfortable with being myself and trust in my abilities. Now that I’m graduating, I know that FIGS will be one of my fondest Rutgers memories.”

Amanda LeiferAmanda Leifer was honored for her diverse, engaging, and inspiring teaching strategies through her role as a Peer Instructor for the FIGS program. She created extensive lesson connecting landscape architecture and environmental design with issues regarding diversity, challenging students to consider how people with disabilities navigate public spaces and how the students, as future designers, can create more accessible and inclusive spaces. “Her class visitors were astounded by the seriousness with which she portrayed the importance of diversity within her field, her creative teaching methods, and the rapport she had built with her students” stated Susan Bennett, Assistant Director for First-Year Engagement at Career Exploration and Success.  

Amanda stated that through the FIGS program she discovered her passion for mentoring while also developing her skill sets. “I exercised rigorous time management, improved my public speaking skills, and learned from my students.”

Career Exploration and Success is honored to have worked with these students, watch them grow and develop their skills, pursue their goals, and acknowledged for their impact. Congratulations to Amanda, Janelle, and Amanda, and all of the Chancellor’s Student Leadership Gala winners for their impressive contributions to Rutgers and beyond.


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