From curating Latino-centric art exhibits at the Zimmerli Art Museum to organizing political rallies for Governor Phil Murphy, this McNair Scholar aspires to teach the forgotten narratives of American History.
What was your greatest academic achievement?
I think one of my greatest academic achievements was definitely finding my passion in the Latino and Caribbean studies major. This is a major that really influenced what I’m doing now and the research I want to do in the future.
Did you complete any internships at Rutgers?
I did volunteer work with the Hispanic American Political Action Committee. With them, I organized political rallies and I helped with the gubernatorial election of [New Jersey Governor] Phil Murphy. I helped organize a political rally and concert in Elizabeth, New Jersey. I also helped found several organizations. I worked with the Mexican American Student Association here at Rutgers University. I also helped found the People of Color Alliance in my high school and now serve sort of as a mentor.
Have you done any community service work?
We [The Mexican American Student Association] teamed up with the Zimmerli Art Museum and helped organize and exhibit on Mexican art. We reached out to the urban community in New Brunswick, to the elementary schools and the high schools, and we really wanted to connect the Latino community to Rutgers because there hasn’t been a great relationship there. The fact that we can bring them here and help these students understand that they can be here and that this is a space for them – that was one of my proudest achievements at Rutgers.
What was your experience like working with faculty?
I worked with Dr. Aldo Lauria-Santiago and Dr. Yalidy Matos. They definitely helped me a lot, just with the entire process of research and understanding where to pursue questions and how to move forward. Also with writing my research and revising and editing. I initially did well with discovering certain sources, but one of my challenges was with writing the research. My mentors helped a lot with that, with understanding how to write and how to look at other scholarly articles and research journals and learn from them to mirror in my writing.
How do you feel Rutgers has changed you?
I think I definitely changed as a student. I really learned how to communicate with my professors. In high school I didn’t really talk to teachers.
When you think of your Rutgers – New Brunswick experience, what stands out most?
Endless opportunities. There are many ways that you could become involved, whether it be in student organizations or creating your own student organization. There’s always space for you to pursue your passion.
What are your career goals?
I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in American studies and would eventually like to teach narratives of American history that are often forgotten and ultimately give back to my community and serve as a mentor for other people of color that want to pursue higher education.
Mateo’s activities on campus: