Recent Graduate Earns German Academic Exchange Service Scholarship

By Tom McLaughlin

Sarah Filippi-Field, a graduating urban studies and community development major at Rutgers University–Camden, 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.

In doing so, she becomes one of only 120 awardees nationwide to receive the award.

Filippi-Field is one of only 120 students nationwide to earn the German Academic Exchange Service scholarship.

The Vineland resident, who has served as  a program assistant for the Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs at Rutgers–Camden for the past four years, hopes that the academic experience will provide a “new lens for understanding” some of the issues currently affecting communities in the South Jersey region.

“I hope to come back to South Jersey and implement the best practices that I’ve learned,” says Filippi-Field, who graduated summa cum laude with a perfect 4.0 GPA on May 22. “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, lauds Filippi-Field’s accomplishment, noting the prestige and competitive nature of the international scholarship, which will fully fund her graduate education.

“The process to apply for the award was rigorous and within Rutgers University,” explains Collins, assistant dean of the Rutgers–Camden Honors College. “Sarah competed against her peers from across all Rutgers campuses and at all levels of study to earn the endorsement of our university. She then competed against a national pool of applicants to earn her award. It’s an incredible achievement.”

At the Rand Institute, Filippi-Field became adept in her role collaborating with stakeholders to research, plan, and implement solutions to problems in their community, in addition to providing technical assistance in the form of data analysis, surveys, and quarterly reports to assess outcomes.

Among the many highlights of her tenure, she 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 side, she notes that she was instrumental in helping to pass an ordinance in Millville prohibiting tobacco use on certain city properties.

The recent Rutgers–Camden graduate hopes to help practitioners in South Jersey “bridge the disconnect between theory and practice.”

“There are people throughout South Jersey working in their own silos, so it has been amazing to help foster these collaborations,” says Filippi-Field, who is also a longtime volunteer for the American Vegan Society in Malaga, currently serving as the organization’s assistant vice president.

Ultimately, says the Vineland native, the confluence of her studies, work, and civic engagement experience has given her “the force to make an impact in South Jersey.”

She now looks forward to earning her master’s degree on a German Exchange Service Scholarship in the hopes of helping practitioners and academics in South Jersey “bridge the disconnect between theory and practice.”

Collins adds that she hopes other Rutgers–Camden students will take note of Filippi-Field’s accomplishment 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,” says Collins. “Sarah 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.

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