Alumna Rosanna Reyes (Ed.D. ‘12) Receives Rutgers Human Dignity Award

“It is a humbling experience overall, to be recognized for doing something I love. I love the work I do, it’s important and critical to the university and society as a whole,” explains Dr. Rosanna Reyes (RC’03, SSW ‘06, GSE ’12), a three time Rutgers Alumna and current employee of the university. 

Reyes currently manages various initiatives at the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs. In 2006, she introduced programs specially targeted to support women of color.

“I developed these programs as a way to bring faculty, staff, and students together to reflect on their experiences, build their confidence, and develop a support system for each other.”  These programs have transformed the lives of hundreds of individuals over the years.

Reyes does not consider her work a job. She loves connecting with the students and allowing them to get something more out of college than their education. “Because I went to school here, I understand the Rutgers culture, the issues that come up, the difficult aspects of a large institution. My time here has made me a better administrator because I understand,” explains Reyes.

Reyes was one of seven students, faculty, and staff from the New Brunswick, Camden, and Newark campuses to receive the Human Dignity Award. The award is presented to individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary achievement and commitment in promoting the value and importance of diversity at Rutgers and in society.

During her time in the Ed.D. program at the Graduate School of Education (GSE), Reyes’s dissertation focused on academically resilient first-generation Latinas in college. She found that although several obstacles exist, these young Latinas were very invested in their education. Many of the women were motivated to receive an education for themselves and their families but also to prove to society that they were not the stereotype people have of Latinas. A major theme in facilitating these women’s success were both formal and informal support structures, that they found throughout the university.

This theme was confirmed by Reyes’ own studies at the GSE. Dr. James Giarelli, Professor and Department Chair, Educational Theory, Policy, and Administration, started out as an advisor who became her dissertation chair, and eventually a friend. “He had faith in me when I didn’t have faith in myself” explains Reyes who originally started out as a non-matriculated student, but applied to the Ed.D. program at the suggestion and encouragement of Giarelli.

Receiving the Human Dignity Award has impacted Reyes “in so many ways. It’s a great feeling to know the work I do is valued. It shows that other people think it’s as important as I think it is.” Receiving this highly regarded award means, “I am going about designing and implementing programs the right way and it motivates me to expand on what I do” explains Reyes.