As a student, Lopez-Rosa exemplified a commitment to diversity and inclusion through campus involvement and service participation. She served as the president of Rider Latinas Unidas, chief of staff at the Center for Diversity and Inclusion and a member of the Multicultural Student Leadership Institute (MSLI).
Lopez-Rosa was a fellow with Rider’s Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics, which allows students to network, study and gain practical experience in New Jersey politics. She also served as the president of the Political Science Club.
Through various internship opportunities and programs, Lopez-Rosa gained strong real-world experience while pursuing her passion for advocacy for underrepresented, under-resourced and marginalized communities. While at Rider, she worked as a legal intern with the Latin American Legal Defense & Education Fund, a congressional intern in the Office of Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (her current employer) and participated in a fellowship with the New Jersey Governor’s Hispanic Fellows Program.
As the daughter of immigrants, Karla Lopez-Rosa is a passionate advocate for immigrant rights and policy. While at Rider University, Lopez-Rosa seized opportunities to connect her passion with her purpose through her work with Rider’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion, the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics and other experiential learning experiences. Through each opportunity, she gained the resources and training to lead with confidence while reinforcing her ability to serve as an advocate.
Today, the alumna is working with the office of Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman as a constituent service representative and intern coordinator and has an ultimate goal of attending law school to become an immigration attorney. Drawing on her own experiences, she hopes to help individuals and families who need assistance navigating the challenging immigration system.
Read the Q&A below to learn more about Lopez-Rosa’s Rider story:
What are you doing now?
I am a constituent service representative and District Office internship coordinator in the Office of Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman. In my capacity as a constituent service representative, I work with constituents from the 12th congressional district on any issues that they have with federal agencies. We communicate with constituents in less-than-ideal situations and assist them with communicating with federal agencies.
As an internship coordinator, I manage and train interns in everyday tasks and, most importantly, make sure that they are equipped to talk to our constituents and gather information on the concerns of the constituents.
My experience with Rider’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion and the opportunity to be part of the Multicultural Student Leadership Institute (MSLI) provided me with the skills and tools to develop as a leader."
What experiences did you have at Rider to help you prepare for where you are today?
My experience with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion and the opportunity to be part of the Multicultural Student Leadership Institute (MSLI) provided me with the skills and tools to develop as a leader. As well as my mentor, Dr. Pamela Pruitt (former executive director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at Rider), who was an instrumental part of my personal and professional development because she provided me a space to be myself and grow to be the best version of myself while advocating for change and opportunities for the underrepresented, under-resourced, and marginalized communities.
Internships also played a key role in my time at Rider as they provided me with a broader perspective of what I wanted to pursue after obtaining my degree. Now, as an internship coordinator, I know how important it is to have a rewarding and knowledgeable internship stay. And I seek to implement, and improve, ways of learning that accommodate different types of learners to have that rewarding experience.
Last summer, my first cohort of interns concluded their program, and seeing the growth from the very first day to the last day of their internship was extremely rewarding. It showed me how much I love what I do in the Office of Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman
Internships played a key role in my time at Rider as they provided me with a broader perspective of what I wanted to pursue after obtaining my degree.”
How did Rider resources positively impact your success as a student?
The experience and mentorship I had the opportunity to be part of with my Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) family positively impacted my success as a student and helped me prepare for where I am today. I started with CDI as a first-year student under the leadership of Dr. Pruitt, who provided me with the resources and confidence to lead a group of student workers. Today, I use, and continue to improve upon, those leadership skills that I acquired in my role as an internship coordinator.
While at Rider, I was also connected with another person I consider a mentor, Aileen Merino-Lazo ‘20, who worked as the very first student worker in the CDI with Dr. Pruitt and continued her journey at the Office of Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, where I interned under her leadership. I would not be in this position if it weren’t for Aileen Merino-Lazo, who is also a Rider alumna. She showed me that the goal of opening doors is not just to pass through them, but also to bring others with you and advocate for each other.
Additionally, the Rebovich Institute opened opportunities for me and the guidance of professor Micah Rasmussen was key to going after opportunities that did not always seem feasible or possible in my eyes. He always encouraged me to apply and go after different opportunities to broaden my experience through internships in the professional world.
What is the key takeaway from your Rider experience?
To take advantage of opportunities. Every opportunity has a learning experience, so look at the positives and use the negatives as a way to learn what you want or do not want to pursue in the future. Also, always embrace your identity and not be afraid to take risks; never leave yourself with “what ifs”.
Center for Diversity and Inclusion
Rider’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion educates and expands awareness across the entire Rider community on issues of equity and inclusion. The Center provides a safe space for students from diverse cultures and identities to gather and is a prominent hub for Rider’s 25+ identity-based student organizations.