Scholarship Fosters Student's Desire to Give Back

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“Giving back and helping people is something that I’ve always wanted to do, from a very early age,” said Rehtul "D.J." Jordan, an undergraduate student at Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA ’17).

This desire is what led Jordan to leave his Columbia, South Carolina, home in the fall of 2013, and enroll at SPAA where he could expand his horizons and begin a career in public service.

“I remember meeting Dean Stroye and [other staff members] who have done so much for me, and I’m very appreciative of that,” Jordan said.

When Jordan became a Rutgers University–Newark (RU-N) student, he made history as the first SPAA student to have dual enrollment in the Honors College, a distinction that SPAA officials wanted to recognize and reward.

Jordan’s reward came in the form of a $20,000 scholarship, at $5,000 per year for four years. As an out-of-state student, Jordan’s scholarship was an unexpected surprise that significantly lightened his financial burden.

“It was definitely a humbling experience,” he said. “It was something that my family and I really appreciated, “ Jordan said. “Initially, that was one of the only sources that I had as far as coming here and funding my education, so that was big.”

Scholarships, such as the award that Jordan received, are not only beneficial financially, they are also primary motivators for academic excellence, and civic and social engagement. When students have smaller financial burdens, they are able to devote more time to extracurricular activities and internships, which benefits the community as well as the students – Jordan is no exception.

Currently, Jordan is in his fourth year as a member of the men’s track team, his fourth year as a scarlet ambassador, and his first year as a resident assistant, making him a prominent and popular figure throughout campus.  

Outside of his activities at Rutgers, Jordan has interned at Essex County’s Office of the Public Defender where he received insight into areas such as corporate and family law, and at Jersey Cares, a nonprofit that facilitates volunteer opportunities throughout the state.

He says that his experiences shaped and solidified his goal of becoming a lawyer in the public sector, possibly in criminal defense or in corporate law. Jordan's long-term goals include owning a nonprofit that provides minority men with not only academic and social services, but also cultural services that would expose them to new experiences outside of their communities.  

Jordan says that he hopes that higher education will one day be free for students, but until that day comes, scholarships are the next best thing.  

“Scholarships give students an opportunity to see light that they may not have seen otherwise,” Jordan said. “For some people, they may not have the financial means to pursue higher education, and giving those students the opportunity for a scholarship is giving them hope. “

To help ensure scholarships for future SPAA students, join us on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, for Rutgers Giving Day – a 24-hour fundraising event for our community! Visit to learn more!