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Leading the Way: Two RCNJ Students Awarded NJ Governor’s Hispanic Fellowship

Ossiris Garcia stands in front of a Ramapo College EOF logo.

by Liz Mendicino ’26

These Roadrunners are true leaders! Stefanie Viera ‘25 and Ossiris Garcia ‘27 were awarded the New Jersey Governor’s Hispanic Fellowship, which is housed by the New Jersey Center for Hispanic Policy, Research, and Development (CHPRD).

“The fact that the Governor’s Hispanic Fellowship is for anyone in any discipline, making connections, getting leadership education, there’s a lot of really great benefits that come with being a fellow and associating yourself with the state government.” said Viera. The Governor’s Hispanic Fellowship is an esteemed program offered to Hispanic college students in New Jersey. It consists of an eight-week paid internship linked to the state government and features leadership training from important state figures. The program is intended to give students the opportunity to grow as leaders, refine their professional skills, and gain connections with one another and within the New Jersey state government.

Stefanie Viera ’25, recipient of the NJ Governor’s Hispanic Fellowship

Viera, who majors in history as well as humanities and global studies with a focus on human rights, was additionally selected as an alternate for the CLS Spark Program. She is a first-generation student who works for the Jane Addams Paper Project, interns for the International Rescue Committee, and is an intern lead for the Patrick’s Kids Foundation. “Advancement for me, one of the biggest things is education.” Viera said. “For a lot of Hispanics even getting a bachelor’s or master’s won’t bring you to be paid the same amount as any other person…so I talked about community connections amongst small businesses, going to high schools and encouraging entrepreneurship. It was something I’ve never done, and I’m personally not an entrepreneur, but I think that it was just really interesting and refreshing to really see it from that perspective and through my own investigation, find out ways in which to build community.”

Ossiris Garcia ’27, recipient of the NJ Governor’s Hispanic Fellowship

Garcia is a first-year biology major, who intends to become a pediatrician after her studies at Ramapo. She is an EOF and first-generation student, as well as a member of Biology Club, ALMA, Pre-med Club, and a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters. “The topic I discussed most in my application was the language barrier that prevents the proper care and aid of immigrants and their families,” said Garcia. “Being that I am the daughter of immigrants, this is something I understand very well. I spoke about the low presence of Spanish-speaking healthcare workers and the limited options in food pantries in my Hispanic-dominant community. I also mentioned ways of changing it, such as providing support to Hispanic children aspiring to be in the medical field and providing food options fit for the community they are supporting.”

The Governor’s Hispanic Fellowship is an eight-week paid internship experience for Hispanic college students. Fellows work in a government, corporate or non-profit setting, as well as participating in leadership training from the CHPRD’s staff, HISPA’s staff, government officials, business professionals and/or current or former elected officials specifically selected for their expertise in the pertinent field.

“I would highly encourage people to apply and reach out to Professor Root if they are interested or need help,” said Garcia. “It is never too early to apply and look for scholarships or fellowships. As a freshman, I did not think I would receive the honor of being a part of the 2024 Governor’s Hispanic Fellows Program this summer, but that did not stop me. With Professor Root’s help, I was able to receive this great opportunity. If you have the chance to apply, go for it, and don’t let anything stop you, because you may have an experience that will change your life.”

If you are interested in applying to a Prestigious Scholarship or Fellowship, please contact Rebecca Root