From Student Life to International Travels, SPAA Student Ngima Wambugu (BA'17, MPA'18) Says Yes to Opportunity

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As a five-year-old girl, Ngima Wambugu traveled with her parents from Kenya to the United States in search of  “opportunity,” a word imbued with the promise of achievement and fulfilling one’s dreams.

It’s a word that Wambugu has never taken for granted as she pursued opportunities that led her to Rutgers University-Newark as an undergraduate in 2012. 

“[Rutgers] was the only in-state school that I applied to and the school was offering a substantial financial aid package, so all the pieces just came together.”

With a combination of loans and grants, Wambugu enrolled at the university as an on-campus student and studied nonprofit and public management at the School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA).

“I researched schools within Rutgers University-Newark and I found SPAA most similar to the person I was and the person that I wanted to be, which is someone with integrity and who answers the call for public service,” Wambugu said.

In answering her call, she became entrenched in student life. Among her experiences, she served as a senator-at-large in the Student Governing Association and helped establish a food pantry to combat hunger on campus. She also traveled to India as a participant in the International Service Learning and Leadership Exchange program where she studied nongovernmental organizations and community engagement.

Wambugu’s endeavors extended beyond the university to include the Newark and greater Newark community when she and her friends founded a local nonprofit in 2013 called Them Cloud Kids. Them Cloud Kids is an organization promoting humanity and compassion through after-school programs and community outreach. Since its founding, the nonprofit has held events designed to uplift and support the community such as book drives, lunch distribution initiatives, and open mic nights.

“Through establishing a student organization chapter and serving on the executive board, I really learned a lot in terms of leadership, nonprofit management, teamwork, and real applications of the lessons I was learning at SPAA.”

Wambugu earned her bachelor’s from SPAA in May 2017, and is on the road toward earning her master of public administration in 2018 as part of SPAA’s five-year dual degree track. 

As a graduate student and research assistant, Wambugu continues to hone her time management skills and academic discipline as she manages a demanding schedule and rigorous curriculum.

“It’s challenging, but it’s not impossible. I put a lot more time into my studying, I read everything, I look for supplemental articles, and establish relationships with my professors,” Wambugu said. “I’ve really kept a tunnel-vision on my goals and the career paths that are abundant with an MPA.”

Recently, Wambugu carved additional responsibilities into her schedule when she became a radio host for the university’s radio station, WRNU. Her Wednesday show “Share Some Mo’ ” addresses topics ranging from campus life such as fraternity and sorority activities and graduate school concerns, to international affairs including slavery in Libya.

Her ultimate goal is to achieve her childhood dream of working for the United Nations where she believes she can make the greatest impact in her pursuit of helping others.

“Keep on dreaming, don’t be discouraged…I’ve had a lot of dreams come true at Rutgers-Newark.”