Skip to Content

Student Spotlight

VAWC Student Spotlight 

Welcome to the Student Spotlight page! Here we highight students enrolled in the Violence Agaisnt Women Certificate Program. Learn about their current field placement, their interest and a bit about their take on the issue of violence against women and children. 


Krystal Aguayo
Graduating May 2020 - 2ndyear student, placed at the Jewish Family and Children Services of Greater Mercer County

Interested in: Immigrants and Refugees, Hispanic/Latinx Community, Teenagers and Young Adults

What are you hoping to learn from being in the Certificate program that will aid your future career goals?

Learn about the different types of violence that exist against women and children and the systemic oppression that normalizes it. Understand how current laws and social norms make women and children more vulnerable to violent acts nationally and internationally. Learning and understanding these important factors will guide me in the implementation of appropriate techniques to empower myself and my community.

What would be your ideal job after graduating with your MSW degree?

My ideal job is more a long-term goal, having my own NGO that focuses on assisting the Hispanic/Latinx community. I want to give back to my community all the knowledge I have acquired by studying at Rutgers. There is a big need of bilingual professionals that are culturally appropriate to understand and be able to help with the micro and macro social problems that exist within our community.


Tiffany Zhu
Graduating May 2020 - 2ndyear student, placed at the Center for Great Expectations – Adolescent Program

Interested in: Human trafficking, child abuse, domestic violence, trauma and grief work, foster care, adoption, immigration, and creating more supports and resources in these areas that are inclusive of the LGBTQIA+ community

Why do you feel eliminating violence against women and children is important, and how do you feel others can or should be involved?

Societal perceptions and expectations have been consistently placed upon women, defining their identities and their bodies. Violence is just one of the ways in which women receive those kinds of messages. It perpetuates silence and destroys language connected to freedom. It is dangerous how today still, women have to constantly think about how to advocate for themselves in ways that should have been addressed in the past. In the case of children, they lack the ability to advocate and do not receive the advocacy that they need. The cyclic perpetuation of trauma creates hurting adults that raise hurting children. I think that this is a multi-faceted issue that transcends culture, geography, language, and religion. There are many avenues to be involved but the foundation I believe is education and awareness. We must know that there is a problem and then we must learn what has been done in action through policies, organizations, and movements. We must learn what could be next. We can collaborate, trouble shoot, and seek to fill in the gaps and to speak up. Our voices can be the most important strengths in eliminating violence against women and children.

What are some of the things you're currently working on (scholarly, volunteer, and/or professional) within the VAWC field that you are proud of?

I am currently doing research under a faculty member at the Center on Violence Against Women and Children. The project I am on is focused on data collected from a campus climate survey on sexual violence. It has been a very rewarding experience, especially to have the firsthand exposure to the practicality and applicability of research on communities. Additionally, I still support the work of International Justice Mission, an anti-human trafficking organization. I donate monthly and have attended many of their conferences as well. I also check in with Love True, a local NJ organization raising awareness and providing education. Besides that, I stay updated on news and policies, may start working on another spoken word piece, and am researching the potential of a type of creative expressive therapy with a friend.

What are you hoping to learn from being in the Certificate program that will aid your future career goals?

I am hoping to gain expertise in clinical modalities, as well as advocacy skills in terms of policy changes and connection of services. Someday, I hope that the system will change to better serve the communities in need, so that eventually no one would be stuck in need.

What would be your ideal job after graduating with your MSW degree?

My ideal job would be advocating for policy changes as well as working on restoration and empowerment of survivors while being inclusive of LGBTQIA+ community members.


Shanda Brown
1styear student, placed at the Shani Baraka Women’s Resource Center

Interested in: Child Trauma and Domestic Violence

Why do you feel eliminating violence against women and children is important, and how do you feel others can or should be involved?

As a survivor, I know and fully understand the importance of eliminating violence.  Others should be more aware of the intricacies that are involved with DV.

What are some of the things you're currently working on (scholarly, volunteer, and/or professional) within the VAWC field that you are proud of?

I am recently the self-published author of a book that highlights some of the traumatic experiences that I once endured.

What are you hoping to learn from being in the Certificate program that will aid your future career goals?

I am hoping to learn how to get better at creating programs to assist survivors.

What would be your ideal job after graduating with your MSW degree?

My ideal job would be to run a full service safe haven for women and children. My desired goal is to facilitate a fully functional transition home and shelter that assists women and their families with the starting over process.  The services provided would include counseling, immigration assistance, domestic violence and sexual violence education classes, and basic life skills programs.

Back to top