By Asiya Fricke '18
With the launch of the 2017-18 Students Supporting Students scholarship campaign, we wanted to highlight one of our recipients, Jennifer Pugliese. Jennifer is in her third and final year in the MSW blended program. Like many at Rutgers School of Social Work, she is a full-time student but also a mother of three and a part-time real estate agent.
Why did you choose to pursue your MSW degree?
When my kids got older, I decided I wanted to go back to work. I went into real estate, but I didn't feel I was challenging myself. By a twist of fate, I ended up working with my friend who has her MSW and is a licensed clinical social worker who does neurofeedback. She approached me because she knew I had a strong interest in the brain and holistic angle. She offered me a tech position and I got trained to do neurofeedback in the office. That experience stimulated my thinking and made me interested in continuing my education. I decided to go back to school to get my masters in social work. I still do neurofeedback and real estate part-time. This is in addition to being a full time student, and completing an internship.
What is your concentration?
My concentration is abuse and trauma. I picked it for lots of reasons. I've seen kids who struggled because of growing up with domestic violence or child abuse. If I can intervene with children, I feel like I can help to change their whole life trajectory. Also, trauma informed care is becoming so much more scientific and so are the treatments modalities. These advances mean that you can really effect change.
Where is your internship?
My internship is at Princeton House in the women's unit. It's an awesome program, and the therapists there are amazing. I'm leading group sessions with the patients, which has been a good experience and taught me so much about individual and group dynamics.
What does the Students Supporting Students scholarship mean to you?
Financially, Students Supporting Students is a huge help to me. My son is now in college at Rutgers, taking classes at the same time that I am earning my degree. Having help with my tuition gives me more peace of mine. Also, being recognized by the organization for my achievement here and academic success has been validating.
Why do you think it's important to support this fund or others like it at the Rutgers School of Social Work?
This specific fund gives people like me who might not normally be able to afford Rutgers the opportunity to take classes. The scholarship allows students to focus more on school and less on working so they can get more out of their academic experience.
Is there anything you want to say to the students, faculty, and alumni who gave to Students Supporting Students?
The scholarship really does make a difference, especially for graduate students because typically, we're all working and struggling to pay bills outside of school. Not only is it gratifying to feel recognized and supported, but it makes your day when you get that email saying you've received the award.