The Institute for Leadership and Action Student Leaders Cohort is an intimate, practice-based community of some of the most active and engaged student leaders on our campus. Coming from a diversity of social and academic backgrounds, Cohort members are given access to high-impact leadership experiences, a network of supportive relationships, and other opportunities that will position them for success on our campus and beyond. Students are eligible to apply to join the Student Leaders Cohort program after the completion of one full academic year of study on the Rutgers-Camden campus. The application process is competitive based on previous participation in Leadership Development workshops and Leadership in Action events, recommendations from members of Rutgers-Camden staff or faculty, and articulation of both one’s current leadership activities and how they hope to grow as leaders through their participation in the program.

         Students who are accepted into the ILA Student Leaders Cohort will receive:
      • Personalized mentoring from students, faculty, staff, and Institute for Leadership & Action alumni;
      • Connection to exclusive, high-impact experiential learning, undergraduate research, and scholarship/fellowship opportunities relevant to their professional and vocational goals, many of which provide compensation for student participants;
      • Access to an intentional community of practice committed to investing in their whole-person thriving;
      • An e-portfolio that articulates the leadership experiences in which they participated at Rutgers-Camden.

        In return, students in the Student Leaders Cohort are expected to:
        • Meet at least once per semester with staff from the Institute for Leadership & Action;
        • Regularly participate in meetings and other activities offered by the Institute for Leadership & Action;
        • Take part in the facilitation and ongoing improvement of Leadership Development workshops and Leadership in Action events;
        • Actively serve as a leader in at least one on-or off-campus community outside of the Institute for Leadership and action (this does not require a formal position or title);
        • Serve as a mentor to other, junior members of the Leadership Fellows; and
        • Develop and implement a “Leadership Capstone” project that demonstrates their growing leadership abilities.

Student Leader Cohorts

2021 Cohort
2020 Cohort
Victoria Adeyeri

My name is Adeola Victoria Adeyeri, I am a Nursing major, child psychology minor, I am apart of the Learning Center as a tutor in General Organic Biochemistry, Math, and Microbiology. I am also a student ambassador for the Success Coach office where I help speak to upcoming freshmen about opportunities on campus and how to get more involved. And lastly, a member of the Student Nurse Association (SNA).

Tricia Colon-Santiago
Tricia is an undergraduate social work student at Rutgers University-Camden. She is a result oriented and bilingual individual with over 21 years of professional experience in the Child Welfare System. She has exceptional communication and customer service skills; she has been able to support administrative planning to improve the lives of children and families in the State of New Jersey. Tricia is pursuing her undergraduate degree at the School of Social Work, Rutgers-Camden with the aim of helping to improve the outcomes in the field of child protection and permanency. Her passion was awakened for knowledge and academic advancement when she attained her associate degree at Camden County College. Outside of work and school, Tricia loves spending time with family; traveling; enjoys making cuisine and encouraging others.

Katherine Conway

Katherine is a nursing major at Rutgers University-Camden. Last fall, she also began taking some writing courses, as I am hoping to graduate with an English minor. I am also very involved on campus. The Raptor Ambassador Program has been an organization I’ve been a part of since the fall of 2018. I volunteered with the Raptor Ambassadors throughout my first year by helping out at on-campus events as well as giving campus tours. Since the spring of 2019, I have been an Ambassador Leader. Along with the Ambassador Program, I am currently involved in the Institute for Leadership and Action, as well as with the Learning Center to be a tutor on campus.

Melani Cruz-Stokes

Melani Cruz Stokes is a third-year senior, studying criminal justice and pre-law. She is committed to activism and public service beyond her academics. As President of the Define American chapter, she organizes campaigns that advocate for more resources for undocumented students on campus. Her volunteer work with the Camden County Juvenile Conference Committee is also rewarding. She gives minority Camden youth, who commit first-time minor offenses, a second chance instead of going in front of a judge and becoming another statistic in the criminal justice system. Through these experiences, she understands the importance of allies to advocate for both criminal justice reform and immigrant rights. She aspires to improve social justice for all underrepresented communities through the field of law. Upon graduation next May, she will attend law school and create more opportunities for others as an aspiring immigration/criminal attorney.

Rob DeMarco

Robert DeMarco is a Social Work major at Rutgers University, Camden. He is the author of five books and is hoping to earn his BASW and apply his efforts in the Reform/ReEntry lobby. Mr. DeMarco is currently a halfway house resident and has experienced life inside the NJ prison system first hand, particularly the challenges presented by COVID-19, and is interested in learning with the Institute for Leadership and Action to gain experience in bringing his voice and that of other disenfranchised individuals to light.

Natalie Disandro

My name is Natalie DiSandro, and I am currently entering my senior year of undergraduate education at Rutgers University. As a social work major, I’ve had the opportunity to work with different groups and learn many new perspectives. My professional experience in the field includes serving as a Corps Member for Jumpstart, a volunteer at New Visions Homeless Shelter, and a Community Support Counselor for JEVS Human Services. Each position has taught me not only about that specific population but also about myself. I am excited to continue learning new things and to share some of what I have learned thus far.

Josefina Ewins

Josefina Ewins is passionate about bettering the world through data research on the impact of educational and political implements on students. As a Political Science and Philosophy double major at Rutgers University – Camden who graduates in May 2022, Josefina works in the Office of Civic Engagement as well as the Hill family Center for College Access, where she works in communication and data analyzing. After she pursues her Bachelor’s Degree, she hopes to continue her education of Political Science in graduate school.

Manny Fernandez
Hi my name is Manny. I’m a junior nursing student at Rutgers. Long term when it comes to my interest/career endeavors I’m devoted to healthcare. Within the leadership institute, my passions revolve integrating success plans for students once they graduate with their undergraduate degree.

Sabrina Gonzalez
Hello! My name is Sabrina Gonzalez. I am a graduating senior with a double major in history and political science. My time here has been filled with an abundant amount of educational exploration. I have worked alongside the Naval History and Heritage Command, the National Park Service, the American Conservation Experience, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities, and the National Museum of American Jewish History. I am currently a historian intern with Homestead National Monument of America. The project for my internship is researching the vast connections between the Homestead Act of 1862 and the 19th Amendment in honor of its centennial.

Alex Iffland

Alex is an undergraduate social work student at Rutgers-Camden with an interest in management and policy. He is a Student Leader at the Institute for Leadership & Action, works in the Office of Diversity & Inclusion as a Student Education, Training, and Outreach Coordinator, and is a member of the Campus Policies & Procedures Committee. He helps to coordinate the annual LGBTQIA+ High School Empowerment Summit, as well as weekly programming and various other events and workshops. Alex is also a facilitator for SafeZone trainings on campus, and worked to complete the first Campus Pride Index assessment of Rutgers-Camden, which is the premier LGBTQ national benchmarking tool for universities. Outside of work and advocacy, Alex is passionate about animals, video games, and photography.

Savannah Hayes

I am Savannah Hayes. I am an out-of-state student from Arizona that sees Rutgers Camden as a home away from home. Currently, I’m a Political Science major working towards a place in the Rutgers Law School through the 3+3 program. I hope to become a lawyer that works with cases including issues on Human Rights to create a world that is more just and open minded. I believe communication about important issues forms a better society and one of the biggest ways to speak about important events is through social media. Using social media as a tool of communication can open doors between different communities and come to an agreement about what they believe will make a brighter future. Social platforms gives a voice to all, especially the ones that are silenced. I follow by the idea that if go into any situation with an open mind, you will only learn more, achieve more and understand more.

Kate Isdiro

I am Kate Isidro, a 20-year-old rising junior. I am a first generation student and am majoring in political science and minoring in criminal justice. I am passionate about advocacy, activism, and change. As long as I have the privilege of teaching others and raising awareness, I will do so. Knowledge and awareness would help all of society by changing policy and implementing beneficial change. I feel very strongly about being a leader and starting a legacy. This past year I became a member of both the National Leadership Honor Society (ODK) and Chi Alpha Epsilon’s (XAE) National Honor Society as well. I am the president of the Criminal Justice Organization (CJO), and the secretary chair of New Jersey Public Interest Research Group (NJPIRG) here, at Rutgers Camden. I plan to enroll in our university’s “3+3 Dual Law Degree” program and attend Rutgers School of Law in Camden with a major focus on criminal and immigration law. Now, I work as an assistant at the Rutgers Camden School of Law in the Rutgers Camden Clinical programs translating, interpreting, and attending to clerical work for clients in the subjects of domestic violence, immigration, and more. I will continue to work to become a great attorney, student, advocate, and activist.

Shaniyla Johnson
My name is Shaniyla Johnson. I am a second semester junior majoring in urban studies with an economics minor. I am passionate about urban education, wellness, and urban studies. In my free time I manage an organization I created called Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, a cohort of young leaders from Camden, NJ.

Aliyah Jones

Aliyah Jones is a third-year student at Rutgers University-Camden, majoring in psychology and social work. As she is deeply passionate about serving youth, her ambitions are focused on working with and advocating on behalf of children of underserved and vulnerable populations to ensure and promote successful living experiences.

Amanda Ketterer

Amanda is a senior receiving a double degree in Political Science and Urban Sustainability and Agriculture. Her main focus of study and passion is addressing food insecurity in cities and under served communities. Amanda helped to start and run a community garden behind the Office of Civic Engagement and hopes it will allow students and residents to enjoy a peaceful space while learning how plants grow.

Omar Khasawneh
As a dual biology and global studies major, I plan to enter the field of public health where I can help address global health disparities.

Michael Mancini
I am currently a rising senior in the School of Business at Rutgers University Camden. My major is Business Management and have a strong interest business operations, and am currently looking for internships to gain experience in leadership, team work, and management. Besides academics, I am involved on and off campus. I am a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon, a social fraternity at Rutgers Camden. During the 2018-2019 academic year we raised $4,315.00 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and $1,309.00 for our second non-profit partner, Autism Speaks. Off campus, I am member of Haddonfield United Methodist Church. I actively serve on a staffing committee and participate on mission teams. I strive to be successful in my career and in giving back to the community that helped me become who I am.

Tania Martinez

Tania Martinez is an Honors College student majoring in political science/philosophy major with a minor in Spanish. She is set to graduate in the Spring of 2022 and hopes to go to law school to pursue a career in immigration law and advocacy. Tania is currently the President of the Rutgers-Camden College Democrats where she organizes to support the Democratic Party in a national and local level. She also is a part of Define American, an advocacy organization set to be more inclusive of what being an American means through storytelling in media and policy. Finally, she started a podcast called “Voices of Immigration” to uplift voices from the campus community and connect them to the current immigration policies and how they affect them.

Amber Mayfield

Amber Mayfield is a Junior BSN student at the RU-C’s School of Nursing. She is the Treasurer of the Student Nurses’ Association, as well as a Student Wellness Advocate on campus. Amber is very passionate about sustainability and culturally competent health care and looks forward to applying those principles in her future career as a nurse. In her free time she enjoys the simple subtleties of going to grocery shopping, as well as laying around watching youtube, if she isn’t trying to relearn how to crochet for the 1000th time. Amber is fully aware she is an 80 year old and a 20 year old rolled into one person.

Alexa Nieves
Alexa Nieves is a rising junior at Rutgers University – Camden majoring in Filmmaking and minoring in English-Communications and Political Science. Alexa was born and raised in New Jersey and a large part of her identity is that she is Puerto Rican. Alexa is passionate about her education and enjoys getting involved on campus. She is a member of different clubs at Rutgers, holding more than one leadership role. Alexa is a member of the Rutgers College Democrats. She holds the Secretary position of Define American and is the New Voters Project Campaign Coordinator for NJPIRG. Within NJPIRG, Alexa focuses on efforts to incorporate voting tools on multiple campus resources and raise awareness around voter education. Alexa also participated in the 5-week Student PIRGs (Virtual) Summer Internship Program of 2020 to increase youth voter participation. A key task she helped on was building the voters coalition for the Fall 2020 Semester to strengthen the organizations efforts in institutionalizing voting at Rutgers-Camden.

Nitan Shanas

Nitan Shanas is a rising senior at Rutgers University – Camden majoring in Psychology, Urban Studies, and Economics and minoring in Ethics. A native of Israel, Nitan immigrated to the states in 2009 and has been living in Cherry Hill, NJ since. Nitan is deeply passionate about helping underserved and vulnerable populations; particularly persons experiencing homelessness. As a Civic Scholar, he has worked at a local homeless shelter and advocated on behalf of Camden’s homeless population through various initiatives and awareness campaigns. This includes Rutgers Camden’s annual Hunger and Homelessness Week as well as his most recent campaign – the Rutgers Sleepout for Homelessness Awareness – which garnered increased attention about the topic and raised over $6000 for a local homeless shelter. Seeking to grow his advocacy skills, Nitan joined the Rutgers Advocacy Corps program and The Borgen Project internship where he met with congressional leaders and their staff to lobby for financial aid and global poverty reduction respectively. Nitan is also the Vice President of the Rutgers-Camden chapter of College Democrats, an undergraduate associate at the Eagleton Institute of Politics, a Newman Civic Fellow alumnus, a participating student at the Pepperdine DC Policy scholars program (2020), and a recipient of Phi Beta Kappa’s Key into Public Service scholarship.