November 17, 2023

“I chose to attend Rutgers University Law because of its commitment to diversity and inclusiveness,” said Diana Pasculli RLAW‘12, Executive Director at the NJ Department of Education. “At Rutgers, I benefited from incredible professional mentors and a network of civic-minded peers, and the institution emphasized the importance of paying it forward.”

This led Diana to become a Professional Mentor to Braven Fellows at both Rutgers University-Newark and Spelman College. Braven is a national nonprofit that empowers promising, underrepresented young people—first-generation college students, students from low-income backgrounds, and/or students of color—with the skills, confidence, experiences, and networks necessary to transition from college to strong first jobs, which lead to meaningful careers and lives of impact.

Braven launched its partnership with Rutgers University-Newark in 2015. To date, they’ve served 1,382 Fellows, and the programming is expanding due to its proven model and outcomes. Beginning in 2024, Rutgers-Newark will pre-enroll every sophomore and transfer junior in Braven's Leadership and Career Accelerator Course.

Highlights from the most recent of Braven RU-N graduates include:

  • 212 Braven Fellows graduated from RU-N in 2022. They are outpacing their peers nationally in strong economic opportunity attainment by 17 percentage points (64% vs 47%) within six months of graduation.
  • 94% on-time graduation rate for Braven RU-N 2022 graduates.
  • Compared with graduates nationally, Braven RU-N 2022 graduates were 19 percentage points more likely to have at least one internship or similar career-accelerating experience during college.

Through her volunteer experience with Braven, Diana shared that she was able to expand her own network that truly began in Newark and stay connected to her alma mater, and she’s not alone. 57 Rutgers University alumni have volunteered in some capacity with Braven over the past two years and in the 2022-2023 school year alone, volunteers from a range of professions logged 2,332 hours of service.

Dawne Mitchell RLAW‘93, Chief Attorney, Juvenile Rights Practice at The Legal Aid Society of NYC, is also passionate about Braven’s mission to empower the next generation of leaders. Dawne has served as a Leadership Coach to Fellows at Rutgers University–Newark.

She finds volunteering with Braven and RU-N Fellows both personally and professionally rewarding, and suggests that Rutgers Law alumni are uniquely qualified to serve as valuable members of the Braven volunteer community.

"Rutgers Law's commitment to networking and community-building was an essential part of my experience," said Dawne. "The Minority Student Program (MSP) taught me firsthand the importance of connecting with my peers, and I now feel a responsibility to 'pay it forward' by mentoring and coaching college students as they launch their careers."

Interested in joining Dawne and Diana in supporting Braven Fellows at RU-N, many of whom are considering careers in law and government? Here are some specific ways that you can volunteer:

  • Leadership Coach: The most in-demand and high-impact volunteer role. Over the course of 12 weeks, Leadership Coaches lead a cohort of 5-8 promising RU-N students. With Braven’s curriculum, support, and tools, Leadership Coaches help Braven students prepare for their first steps into the professional world. At the same time, volunteers get dynamic practice leading diverse teams. In-person or virtual options.
  • Professional Mentor: Work one-on-one with Fellows exploring their career options. Build strong personal relationships and offer up personalized professional advice. Virtual.
  • Mock Interviewer: Mock Interviewers simulate the interviewing process for Fellows preparing to apply for jobs or internships. Events take place in March and October. Virtual.

In addition to your contribution in supporting these incredible Rutgers students, Braven also offers added value to your organization, including meaningful professional development and volunteer opportunities for its employees:

  • Connect with a diverse talent pipeline. By volunteering, employees will get to know students from diverse backgrounds and learn about their experiences. This can help them to become more inclusive and understanding of different perspectives, which can be beneficial in the workplace.
  • Attract and retain top talent. Volunteering can be a great way to show potential employees that your firm is committed to community service and diversity. This can make your firm more attractive to top talent who are looking for a place to work that aligns with their values.
  • Develop leadership skills. Volunteering is an opportunity for employee growth. They will learn how to motivate and inspire others, build relationships, and solve problems.

RLS alumni who are interested in volunteering with the Braven Accelerator Program can register HERE. If you or your firm are interested in learning more about how you can partner with Braven, please reach out to Alison Minion, Director of External Affairs:

Rutgers Law Media Contact:
Shanida Carter

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