Student Profile: Wilfredo Benitez
Before beginning his undergraduate career at Rutgers University, Wilfredo Benitez (Ed.M. Social Studies Education and Urban Teaching Fellow) had his eye on Political Science. However it was the previous six summers of being a camp instructor that sparked his interest in education. “It just came to me,” Benitez recalls “I love being a part of a child’s growth and development.”
During summer orientation before his freshman year, Wilfredo met with a Graduate School of Education representative and started looking into the school. After asking a few questions and receiving advice, he knew that the 5-year master’s program was something that he wanted to pursue. “From day one, every class I took, everything that I got involved with, was all part of a grand plan to get admitted into the GSE.”
With his undergraduate degree in Political Science, Wilfredo took advantage of many opportunities that brought together his interests: politics and education. One of the programs that he is involved in is the Urban Teachers Fellowship Program where students prepare to teach in an urban environment. “Having done my first senior practicum in an urban district, I knew it was something in which I was interested.” His interests grew stronger after taking an urban teaching class as part of the program and he looks forward to participating in the Youth in Action project coming up in the spring semester.
This past summer Wilfredo interned at the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) working with their Regional Achievement Centers. He worked with schools in three counties, developing ideas for better practices in order to help each school get “back on its feet” and support student growth.
Alongside his internship, Wilfredo also had the exciting opportunity to attend the 12th Annual United Nations Youth Assembly. “To get all those students into once place and talk about how we as a young generation can work toward eradicating poverty” was an opportunity that Wilfredo really could not pass up. He especially looked forward to “bringing that experience back with me to the education field and to my cohort at the GSE.” Something that stood out to him in particular about the assembly was how participants and students came from “far corners of the world for one purpose.” That purpose, he describes, is working together to “make the world a better place for generations to come.”
After his many experiences both in and outside of the classroom, Wilfredo’s word of advice to students is to pursue internships and “gain experience to see if you really want to follow and get involved with that line of work.”
Wilfredo believes that his education at Rutgers will help him go far in his career. He met Rutgers alumni while on a volunteer trip to Catalina Island through a student organization. This experience convinced him “Rutgers students don’t just stay in New Jersey. They use their education to better the world outside of their local community .”
Once he graduates in May 2014, Wilfredo plans to teach and eventually pursue a doctorate in Education Policy. He also hopes he will have the opportunity to coach youth track.
Looking back on his GSE experience thus far (and looking forward to what is to come), Wilfredo is confident that his coursework, internships, and educational experiences have trained him for success.
“The education that I am receiving at the Graduate School of Education is well-respected for a good reason. I really do feel confident that when I graduate, I will be well-prepared and have been well-taught to deal with any situation that arises.”
To learn more about the Ed.M Program click here.