Students who wish to have more scholarship opportunities can consider applying to NASPA, or Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, a higher education student affairs organization at Ramapo. NASPA has been serving the Ramapo student community for decades. The undergraduate fellows program serves as an initiative to mentor students from underrepresented and typically marginalized communities. Students that are accepted into the program are known as Fellows and have access to scholarships, on-campus mentorship and professional development events at the College.
NASPA started the program in 1989 to provide more opportunities for ethnic-minority students. However, in 2003, the program’s focus expanded to include underrepresented ethnic minorities, LGBTQ and disabled professionals, to reflect changes in society.
“This program diversifies and broadens the pipeline of the higher education student affairs profession. Students and mentors apply to the program as a pair, and program acceptance decisions are made by the leadership of the NASPA program,” Joe Connell, the director of student success at Ramapo and one of the mentors involved in the program, said.
The mission of NASPA is geared toward creating possibilities and to change the landscape of student affairs and higher education. NASPA seeks to increase the number of historically marginalized professionals in student affairs or higher education.
To qualify, students must be undergraduates with an interest in a career in higher education. They must identify as a member of a "traditionally underrepresented or historically disenfranchised student population." This includes, but is not limited to: black/African-American, Asian, Hispanic/Latino(a), indigenous, multiethnic, LGBTQ or having a disability. Academic standing is also taken into consideration for admittance into this program. Students must have at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA at the time of application, and students who have a 2.7 cumulative GPA will receive preference in the review process. A NASPA member must also serve as the student's mentor – it cannot just be any professor. However, if a student wishes to have a certain professor be their mentor, that professor may become one, as long as they are a full-time professional. Lastly, students who are interested in the program must have at least one more semester of undergraduate education left at Ramapo when they apply for the program.
In the fall of 2014, Uma Joshi was urged to apply for the NASPA program by Connell, and since then has become the College’s first Fellow, followed by Frank Albergo and Alaina Seyler.
“If any students are interested in the program, I encourage them to have a conversation with any of the Fellows, mentors or me,” Connell said in an email.
Jamie Prizer, a junior, expressed her enthusiasm for the NASPA program, but pointed out a major flaw in the program.
“NASPA seems like a really great opportunity. The only downfall, I think, is that I have never heard of it before, and I am not sure that many other Ramapo College students have, either. I think it would be extremely beneficial to the community if more people were to know about this program,” Prizer commented.
Jess Pearson, a sophomore, agreed with Prizer.
“The NASPA program seems like a wonderful opportunity for students of various backgrounds to get involved and receive financial assistance,” Pearson said. “Many students on our campus would probably be interested in this, since we all come from a range of backgrounds and need financial assistance to pay for college.”