Meet Your Classmates
Jennifer Oyola ‘17
On Being a Part of the Public Policy Program
Graduating with an associate degree in Human Services from HCCC, I came to Saint Peter’s University and chose to be a part of the Public Policy Program. It was the best decision I ever made. I appreciate all the help and understanding the faculty and staff has provided me, especially during the hardest time in my life. SPU never gave up on me and helped me obtain my bachelor’s degree in Public Policy/Urban Studies.
Being a part of the Public Policy Program has helped me become more of a critical thinker while also helping me understand how to approach and analyze the many different policy issues that affect our everyday lives. Becoming a part of the Public Policy Program at Saint Peter’s University is something you will not regret. Faculty and staff care, not only about your education, but also about your personal development.
René Alexander Leal ’16
on being a veteran and student
I first attended HCCC and earned an associate’s degree in History. From there I enrolled at Saint Peter’s University to earn my bachelor’s degree in Public Policy. What I appreciate the most about the SPU Public Policy program is its amazingly caring faculty. The professors did everything they could to help each and every student succeed. I remember once we were having some trouble communicating our ideas in written format and the professors went out of their way to assist us in becoming better writers. Additionally, I learned to be a more rigorous critical thinker and analyze diverse policy issues through the lens of race, gender, and ethnicity, as well as how to conduct the research needed to solve policy issues and how to present it in a professional manner.
I am a veteran and Saint Peter’s University was very helpful in assisting me with my veteran education benefits, as well as giving me credit for my military service. Enrolling in the Public Policy program at Saint Peter’s University was a positive and rewarding experience for me.
If you are looking for a Public Policy program with a diverse student body and an outstanding faculty that sincerely cares about one’s academic and personal development, and a University that values academic excellence and ethical leadership, then the Public Policy program at Saint Peter’s University is a wise choice for you!
Margaret Figueroa ’16
on Advancing to the BS in Urban Studies
I recently graduated with an Associate Degree in Applied Science at Saint Peter’s University. I am a non-traditional student who has greatly benefited from the Public Policy Program. Since I have been a student at Saint Peter’s, I have been placed on the Dean’s List, and became a member of several Honor Societies. I was also awarded several medals, and honors for academic excellence during graduation. None of this would be possible if it had not been for the Public Policy Program.
The Public Policy Program has afforded many urban, and underserved students the opportunity to pursue their dreams of getting a college degree. Our evening, and weekend professors are excellent educators. They are dedicated, professional, and genuinely care about their students. Hence, attending Saint Peters has been a very positive, and rewarding experience.
I will always be grateful to my Public Policy Program advisor, who has guided me throughout my academic journey. I will continue to further my education until I achieve a Bachelor of Science Degree in Urban Studies with a minor in Social Justice. The Public Policy Program has made my dreams of academic success attainable.
Wilfredo Aviles ’15
on Being a Firefighter, Parent, and Student
I have been employed by the Jersey City Fire Department for the past twenty-three years. I had decided to return to Saint Peter’s University following a brief leave of absence from school to raise my family. The support and assistance from my advisor smoothed my transition to the classroom. Through the Public Policy Program, I will earn a Bachelor of Science in Urban Studies by May 2015.
I value the flexible schedule that Saint Peter’s University provides for full-time employees. The classes are stimulating and have heightened my appreciation for community involvement and local issues. Saint Peter’s University has provided many opportunities to hear guest speakers in the student center. I attended “Undocumented,” a lecture by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, where he described his experience as an undocumented person in America. I also had the opportunity to attend the prisoner re-entry program panel discussion. Both forums spoke about improving our communities through policy, which is what public policy entails. So here I am in my journey towards completing my degree and opening another door of possibilities.
Karen Fuentes ’14
on the Jesuit Education Difference
I have always liked school and learning. Having earned my Associate’s Degree before transferring to Saint Peter’s, I can say that I found my home at Saint Peter’s University in the Public Policy Program. Being a student in this program is a valuable experience. The classes are diversified and the instructors genuinely work to ensure that their students have the best educational experience.
The Public Policy Program is great because it is a gateway to see how the community works on a local, state and federal level. The courses challenge you to see society in an unbiased way, to look towards the future of policies, how current political laws need to be changed or why they do not, and how we can help administer a better future for everyone. The Saint Peter’s University Public Policy Program has taught me to think like a leader and to act like one. The most important lesson I have learned thus far is we should serve others instead of trying to edify ourselves with our own agenda. That is something valuable that a Jesuit university like Saint Peter’s can offer.
Fatimah Martin ’15
on Achieving Goals
I am a full-time employee and a mother of two. Although I was able to land a decent paying job with only my high school diploma, I believed that I would need to further my education in order to advance in my career. So, I contacted a friend who attended Saint Peter’s and she recommended I speak to the director of the Public Policy Program. Once I learned that the program was geared toward working adults, I decided to take a chance. Needless to say, that was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. Academically the courses are challenging, which is great because it keeps me interested and wanting more. I will earn my Associate’s Degree in May 2015.
My advice to those looking to further their education is to set a goal and commit to it. That degree is achievable.
Jessica Nieves ’15 ’17
on a Family Legacy
After obtaining my G.E.D. in 1999, I put my education on hold to raise my four children. My first experience with Saint Peter’s was in the summer of 2009 when I enrolled my then 10 year old son in the Four R Program, a summer program designed to help young children improve academically. We were so impressed my older son decided to apply and was accepted to Saint Peter’s in 2012. After watching my son Alex’s amazing experience here, I was inspired to enroll in the Public Policy Program. Although I hadn’t been in a classroom setting for years, my fears were put at ease on the very first day. The professors were very encouraging and supported me with all the tools I needed to succeed.
I have recently received the Robert Rigby Award for Public Policy. I am on the Dean’s List for my academic achievements, and I began building my resume by doing an internship. Even though I began my education later in life I feel that my career path has a solid foundation thanks to the support system I have in the Public Policy Program at Saint Peter’s University.
Sonia Whyte ’10 ’15
on Advancing to the MPA Program
The Public Policy Program was a wonderful journey. I learned how to examine policies and how community organizations work. I enjoyed working on projects and attending insightful seminars related to public policy issues. At the end of my first year in the program I received a certificate, which motivated me to continue pursuing my Associate’s Degree. I continued on to earn my Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Studies. Currently, I am pursuing my Master’s Degree in Public Administration.
I find the graduate classes very similar to the classes I took when I was a student in the Public Policy program, just more in depth. My journey simply began by making a commitment and I am glad I stayed the course!
Ahmed Wing ’14
on Transferring from HCCC
I am currently a full-time, undergraduate, evening student at Saint Peter’s University where I am enrolled in the Public Policy Program. I came to Saint Peter’s in 2013, by way of Hudson County Community College (HCCC), where I earned my Associate’s Degree in Psychology. When applying to Saint Peter’s University I was encouraged to take advantage of the grant Saint Peter’s offers to graduates of HCCC. After speaking with an academic counselor in the Public Policy program, I learned I would also receive prior learning credits to apply towards my degree at Saint Peter’s.
Although I am busy with my family and working full-time as a program coordinator for a workforce development program, I do take the time to enjoy the opportunities the University has to offer. Last June, I participated in the global outreach program and visited the Dominican Republic for nine days. While abroad our team of seven worked with the Catholic Church, providing labor assistance and outreach to those in need. On campus I often take advantage of the state-of-the-art athletic facilities, late library hours, and student center. I am also a workstudy student with the Public Policy program, mentoring and tutoring students in the areas of academics and employment.
I will graduate in December 2014 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Studies and a minor in Social Justice. I plan to then transition to the MPA Program at Saint Peter’s. My ultimate professional goal is to work as a higher education counselor, helping students to achieve their academic, personal, and professional goals. I believe Saint Peter’s will be instrumental in my success.