Like many of her peers in Rider’s College of Continuing Studies, Angelique Olmo ’12 arrived on the Lawrenceville campus with a deepened perspective, as well as a sharpened sense of direction. The latter applies as much to her goals as it does, literally, to her ability to navigate the globe.
“After 10 years working in programs, development and administration, for a national and international non-governmental organization (NGO), I arrived at Rider to finish my bachelor’s degree,” said Olmo, a Political Science and Global Multinational Studies dual major who will receive her diploma at the Graduate and College of Continuing Studies Commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 10.
Now a resident of Princeton, N.J., Olmo spent four years in the Balkans region of southeastern Europe with an NGO, working to ease interethnic confrontations by developing resources and capacities for offices devoted to the cause. Her experience abroad, combined with another five years spent working domestically with the Population Resource Center, provided Olmo with a wealth of practical skills to complement her education.
“I’ve always been oriented toward social justice, and I’m also very interested in organizational theory, so my studies are a good fit,” said Olmo, whose work with the Population Resource Center saw her travel the county to gather and provide demographic information related to teen pregnancy, as well as to Washington, D.C., to work on issues of representation in Congress.
Last summer saw Olmo return to Europe, this time to Great Britain to deliver a paper on the development of critical thinking in young children at the annual Creative Engagements conference at Oxford University. Her paper, Nurturing the Good: Critical Thinking in Children, which has since been published, focused on children ages 2 to 5, and discussed “how to engage them and why it’s important,” she said.
“Most important to this is the social and evaluative approach to learning,” said Olmo, a proponent of the Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky, who theorized that children learn through socialization. “This is their route to cognition and language acquisition.”
Olmo, who studied at Rider as a Charlotte W. Newcombe Scholar and also presented a paper at this year’s Film and Media Studies Symposium, carried a lofty 3.9 grade point average through the spring semester while serving as president of the Global Studies Society. Under her leadership, the Global Studies Society instituted two lecture series, the Pathways Lecture Series and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Lecture Series.
“I also worked with Dr. Roberta Fiske-Rusciano (of the Department of Global and Multinational Studies) to bring together students from Rider and Roma students from Central European University to talk about issues in civil rights,” said Olmo, who will next travel to Costa Rica later this month as part of a Rider Service Learning trip to help build pathways to a bridge in San Jose, and to work with orphaned children in a small village outside the capital.
Olmo’s service efforts are felt locally, too.
“I started my own organization in 2009, called Inspiration by Association, which holds professional development workshops to promote the incorporation of social and emotional development strategies and understanding into the general education curriculum for preschool through fifth grade,” she said. “I have also been a part of the Minding Our Business facilitation team that mentors children in Trenton in ways to develop and start a business.”
As she nears this milestone accomplishment, Olmo is thankful for where she now stands.
“I have always been rather self-reliant and persevering, and I am very blessed and grateful for all that I have managed to accomplish. “I am now in a place where I can confidently pursue a life of service and excellence as an academic.”