CAMDEN, NJ — Many college students dream about studying abroad, or the chance to pursue further degree work upon graduation.
A recent undergraduate degree recipient from Rutgers University–Camden will see both happen at once, with the help of a prestigious award.
Sarah Filippi-Field, who was part of commencement in May as an urban studies and community development major, has earned a German Academic Exchange Service scholarship to pursue a master of public policy degree at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy at the University of Erfurt.
She becomes one of only 120 awardees nationwide to receive the scholarship, which will fully fund her graduate education.
The Vineland resident has served as a program assistant for the Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs at Rutgers–Camden for the past four years. Filippi-Field hopes the experience provides a “new lens for understanding” some of the issues currently affecting communities in South Jersey.
“I hope to come back to South Jersey and implement the best practices that I’ve learned,” Filippi-Field told Rutgers News. “I think that many of the challenges that we face here can be mitigated through innovative techniques. Some solutions have been tried over and over with no improvements; gaining a new perspective can be invaluable.”
Laura Collins, director of the Office of Scholar Development and Fellowship Advising, praised Filippi-Field’s accomplishment in earning the competitive international scholarship after a "rigorous" process within the university system.
“(Filippi-Field) competed against her peers from across all Rutgers campuses and at all levels of study to earn the endorsement of our university," said Collins, assistant dean of the Rutgers–Camden Honors College. "She then competed against a national pool of applicants to earn her award. It’s an incredible achievement.”
During her time at the Rand Institute, Filippi-Field collaborated with stakeholders to research, plan, and implement solutions to problems in the community. Additionally, she helped to provide technical assistance in the form of data analysis, surveys, and quarterly reports to assess outcomes.
Filippi-Field recently presented a data analysis on drug and alcohol use to the Vineland-based Southwest Council Project to help the group determine the greatest needs and focuses of their programs. On the policy end, she noted that she was instrumental in helping to pass an ordinance in Millville prohibiting tobacco use in certain areas of the city.
“There are people throughout South Jersey working in their own silos, so it has been amazing to help foster these collaborations,” said Filippi-Field, a longtime volunteer for the American Vegan Society in Malaga and currently serving as the organization’s assistant vice president.
She said that her experiences through studies, work, and civic engagement have given her “the force to make an impact in South Jersey.”
She now looks forward to earning her master’s degree in the hopes of helping South Jersey practitioners and academics “bridge the disconnect between theory and practice.”
Collins hopes other Rutgers–Camden students will take note of Filippi-Field's example and be aware that her office is available to support them in applying for undergraduate and graduate-level scholarships and fellowships.
“Rutgers–Camden students are remarkable, they possess talents equal to those of top students from around the nation, but often lack awareness of the opportunities available to them,” Collins said. “(Filippi-Field) is a shining example of someone who took advantage of the resources our campus has to offer.”
For more information on available scholarships and fellowship opportunities for Rutgers–Camden students, visit camden.rutgers.edu/OSDFA.