Students, faculty voice excitement about the Honors Living-Learning Community


“We are the first HLLC students, and we have a responsibility as the social justice learning community to exemplify what that means and what social justice is,” said Stephanie Avila (Paterson, N.J.), a first-year student in the Newark College of Arts and Sciences (NCAS).

Before attending Rutgers University-Newark (RU-N), Avila helped establish her high school’s first “Justice Day,” an event designed to educate her peers on topics of discrimination and inequity.  As an HLLC student, Avila noted that her discussions are now richer as she engages with peers who may have differing opinions, but similar passions and goals.

“I want to emphasize how impressed I was with the HLLC students, and their ability to grasp complex material,” said Lindsey McDougle, assistant professor at the School of Public Affairs and Administration.

McDougle’s “Introduction to Social Justice” course addressed topics ranging from rape culture in the United States to racial disparities in the excessive use of force by police officers. “Even though the topics were heavy, they were ready to dive in and say ‘What can we do to address these issues?’” McDougle said.

Although HLLC students contend with a rigorous curriculum, they are provided with a multilayered support system to help them succeed. 

“We have mentors that we’re assigned to, we also have a financial aid advisor, and we have the HLLC directors, Dr. [Sherri-Ann] Butterfield and Dr. [Bil] Leipold, whom we can contact at any time,” said Mariah Matthews (Atlantic City, N.J.), an NCAS first-year student.

Matthews also identified her cohort as an important source of academic and emotional support. “We’re all responsible for each other,” Matthews noted.

Daniel Hernandez (Hawthorne, N.J.), a first-year student in the School of Criminal Justice, credits the HLLC with exposing him to a positive community in which he feels empowered to make a difference.

Hernandez said, “What we’re doing here is special. It’s unique, it’s not something that you see every day, and it’s definitely something that you want to be a part of.”

Return to Honors Living-Learning Community Increases Higher-Ed Access, Redefines 'Honors'