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Riki Jacobs Livingston Pride Award

Riki E. JacobsThe Riki Jacobs Livingston Pride Award is given annually by the Livingston Alumni Association (LAA) to the Rutgers-New Brunswick graduating senior who most embodies the spirit of Livingston College and its attributes of leadership and social action.



All Rutgers University-New Brunswick undergraduate seniors with a minimum cumulative GPA of are eligible to apply for the award.

Riki E. Jacobs (1957-2009, pictured at right) was the director of the Hyacinth Foundation, an AIDS support organization, among many roles she fulfilled to assist vulnerable populations.

Jacobs (LC’80) also was one of LAA’s first Livingston College Distinguished Alumni, honored in 2000.


Recipients of the Livingston Pride Award (renamed for Riki Jacobs in 2010)

Honorees from 1990 through 2010 graduated from Livingston College. Since 2011, honorees may be graduates of any undergraduate college at Rutgers University-New Brunswick/Piscataway.

The years in the list below link to the Livingston College yearbook page where each student is pictured. / * Photo not available.

The names link to more information about each awardee, as available.

1990: Yantra E. Zavala *
1991: Stephanie Heitman
1992: Daniel Malloie
1993: Harry R. Knabe
1994: Janel C. Patti
1995: Ayana D. Gee
1996: Caren A. Tinney
1997: Connie Liauw
1998: Ashwini Reddy
1999: Irene Shenouda
2000: Geraldine Burgos
2001: Randall Gordon Stamm
2002: Michael Lawrence Dimond
2003: Kazim A. Rizvi
2004: Gregory Ordun
2005: Lisa M. Lattanzi
2006: Keith A. Gottesman
2007: Zuleima Feliciano *
2008: Jacqui Whitfield *
2009: Rob Drucker *
2010: Victoria Rowland *
2011: Matthew Cortland
2012: Amy Tran
2013: Melanie Davila
2014: Emilie Transue
2015: Amy Albert
2016: Victor A. Mensah
2017: Maria Alba
2018: Lucy Anne Blevins

2019: Eshan Kaul
2021: Janelle L. Taliaferro
2021: Amanda Wells
2022: Tara Krishna
2022: Anthony Rivera-Rosario

Stephanie Heitman, LC’91 Daniel Malloie, LC’92 Harry R. Knabe, LC’93 Janel C. Patti, LC’94 Ayana D. Gee, LC’95
Stephanie Heitman Daniel Malloie Harry R. Knabe Janel C. Patti Ayana D. Gee
Caren A. Tinney, LC’96 Connie Liauw, LC’97 Ashwini Reddy, LC’98 Irene Shenouda, LC’99 Geraldine Burgos, LC’00
Caren A. Tinney Connie Liauw Ashwini Reddy Irene Shenouda Geraldine Burgos
Randall Gordon Stamm, LC’01 Michael Lawrence Dimond, LC’02 Kazim A. Rizvi, LC’03 Gregory Ordun, LC’04 Lisa M. Lattanzi, LC’05
Randall Gordon Stamm Michael Lawrence Dimond Kazim A. Rizvi Gregory Ordun Lisa M. Lattanzi
Keith A. Gottesman, LC’06 Matthew Cortland, SAS’11 Amy Tran, SAS’12 Melanie Davila, SAS’13 Emilie Transue, SAS’14
Keith A. Gottesman Matthew Cortland Amy Tran Melanie Davila Emilie Transue
Amy Albert, SAS’15 Victor A. Mensah, SAS’16 Maria Alba, SAS’17 Lucy Anne Blevins, SAS’18 Eshan Kaul, SEBS’19
Amy Albert Victor A. Mensah Maria Alba Lucy Anne Blevins Eshan Kaul
Janelle L. Taliaferro, RBS’21
Amanda Wells, SAS’21 Tara Krishna

Anthony Rivera-Rosario
 
Janelle L. Taliaferro Amanda Wells Tara Krishna Anthony Rivera-Rosario



Janelle L. Taliaferro Founded Black Business Association at Rutgers; Honored with 2021 Livingston Pride Award

Janelle L. TaliaferroJanelle L. Taliaferro, a 2021 graduate of Rutgers Business School, has worked to amplify Black voices at the university and to educate students on hunger awareness. The Livingston Alumni Association (LAA) of Rutgers University-New Brunswick has honored Taliaferro as one of two recipients of the Riki Jacobs Livingston Pride Award for 2021.

Taliaferro, from Lake Wylie, South Carolina, majored in supply chain management and marketing science, with a concentration in global business. As a student, she affiliated with both the Honors College and the Douglass Women’s College at Rutgers in New Brunswick.

Establishing the Black Business Association (BBA) is Taliaferro’s proudest accomplishment as a Rutgers student. “Having a platform for minority students to share their ideas, discuss their plights, and continuously learn in every academic area, is a necessity in education,” she said. “It is specifically important when preparing for a career in corporate America or entrepreneurship. … BBA is the only student organization on Rutgers’ New Brunswick campus catering to Black students interested in business careers, and the first in many years.”

In her work with the Rutgers chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Taliaferro helped to organize the first rally against racism and for Black solidarity in four years on campus, demanding equal treatment across all student demographics

Taliaferro also served as co-president of Student -Organized Rutgers Against Hunger (SO RAH), working with local farms, food banks, and soup kitchens, to feed the community and to educate students on food insecurity. In her Pride Award application, Taliaferro noted that 30 percent of college students are food insecure.

For 18 months, Taliaferro served as a career prep fellow in the Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) program, traveling to Dallas and Minneapolis in 2019, before the pandemic hit. 

“At each of our conferences we had the ability to demonstrate our analytical skills through case studies, our leadership through small and large group roundtables, and most importantly, become a family while having representatives from the top companies in the world interacting and leading our sessions,” she said. “The deeper meaning, I see, behind supporting and fueling students of color is building up an army full of diversity of thought. Throughout my time in MLT, I was the only fellow on behalf of Rutgers New Brunswick in my cohort.”

As a student, Taliaferro completed internships at GlaxoSmithKline, Corning Inc., and United Parcel Service. Some of her non-business interests include being a “world traveler (17+ countries traveled), avid concert goer, and passionate New York City foodie.”

Since August 2021 Taliaferro has worked as an associate product manager at Visa Inc. in the San Francisco area. 

“I have always been passionate about creating healthy communities throughout my life and college career, championing inclusion efforts, and giving back,” she wrote in her Pride Award essay. “I would love to bring my activism efforts into corporate America to leverage the social responsibility of large institutions.”




Amanda Wells, 2021 Pride Award Honoree: Social Change Starts With Your Community and Neighbors

Amanda WellsAmanda Wells, a 2021 graduate of Rutgers’ School of Arts and Sciences, believes that individual action is a critical form of social change. The Livingston Alumni Association (LAA) of Rutgers University-New Brunswick has honored Wells as one of two recipients of the Riki Jacobs Livingston Pride Award for 2021.

Wells, of Willoughby, Ohio, is earning her Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate so that she can more effectively mentor and communicate with English as a second language (ESL) speakers. Since graduation, she has been teaching English classes to refugees as an Americorps member with the International Rescue Committee of Atlanta. She plans to attend law school starting in fall 2022, studying immigration and child law.

“My experiences with community service, whether I have been a person in need or a person able to help, have become cornerstones of my development and have created a deep desire to enact social change within me,” she wrote in her Pride Award essay. “My career interests are a reflection of this, and I am excited to continue to repay my community and to extend social change throughout my education, career, and personal life.”

Wells’ family struggled to keep the lights on and put food on the table when she was growing up. Family, friends, and food banks were key resources to help the family get by. Neighbors provided child care to Wells and her siblings and a place to “camp out” when they lost their home heating.

Wells has enacted individual change as a volunteer with Forging Opportunities for Refugees in America (FORA). Within FORA, she tutored a recently arrived 15-year-old refugee student to improve his literacy and English communication skills, including slang that he can use with his friends. 

“My childhood community was a critical cornerstone of my identity, and it was often the way that my family managed to make it through our day,” Wells said. “Because of these experiences, I believe that social change extends past formal roles and organizations, and is critically shaped by the way that we interact with our community and neighbors on a daily basis. … Small, direct change is often overlooked, but because I have witnessed its resonant effects in my own life, I will always think of individual contact as one of the most critical forms of social change.”

“(The student) and I often bond over our younger sisters, and I have found that he is particularly good at remembering new vocabulary words that he can use to tease her. Our work together has been incredibly valuable to me, as I have been able to watch him grow directly as a student. I see him every day, and every day I notice as he grows more comfortable speaking in English, confident in communicating with his friends, and willing to share his thoughts with me.”

In March 2020, when much of society shut down, Wells joined the Cleveland (Ohio) Pandemic Response as a lead coordinating volunteer and a founding member. “As a mutual-aid organization, we worked to respond to direct economic and legal hardships in the Cleveland area by connecting community members in need with community members available to help. … I am particularly proud of our ability to respond to the educational needs of low-income families with young children, as we provided over 100 laptops to families in need. We also helped to connect these families to books, learning kits, and free childcare for essential workers unable to be at home during the day.”

Wells majored in English, Spanish, and Political Science as a Rutgers student. 

As an intern in Cusco, Peru, with the National Office of the Public Prosecutor (Ministerio Público Fiscalía de la Nación), she assisted full-time governmental workers to understand barriers to education for adolescents, visiting schools and homes to talk with students and parents.

“I believe that a person within a community will always know the best ways to aid that community, and my work in Cusco responded directly to the needs of local people,” she said. “This form of community involvement was critical, as it taught me how to support other communities as they drive their own social changes in accordance with their experiences.”

At Rutgers, Wells was a lead tutor with the Plangere Writing Center for three years. Whild students were home during the pandemic, Wells found herself helping her peers not only with writing, but in coping with isolation, adapting to online courses, and living at home. 

She also served as president of the Rutgers Veg Society, a group for vegan, vegetarian, and veg-curious students. The Veg Society has advocated for expanded food options in Rutgers dining halls as well as more accessible food labels for students with allergies and dietary needs. While students were home, the Veg Society held online parties, cooking nights, and trivia games, and encouraged students to share vegan statistics in their hometowns. The Veg Society is compiling a cookbook to benefit the Happy Animal Sanctuary in Howell, New Jersey.




Eshan Kaul, Aspiring Medical Doctor, Co-Founded Tutoring Program for Elementary School Students; Honored with 2019 Livingston Pride Award

Eshan KaulEshan Kaul (SEBS’19), an aspiring medical doctor from Green Brook, New Jersey, has been named as the 2019 recipient of the Riki Jacobs Livingston Pride Award, given by the Livingston Alumni Association (LAA) of Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

Kaul earned a Bachelor of Arts from Rutgers’ School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS) in May 2019, as an Honors College scholar, with a major in Biological Sciences and a minor in Psychology. At the same time, he completed his first year of study at Rutgers’ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS), under a seven-year Rutgers-RWJMS BA/MD program. He plans to earn a master’s degree in Public Health at Rutgers, before graduating as a medical doctor in 2022.

While Kaul has excelled in academics at Rutgers, he has also served as a role model for his fellow students and for elementary school students in New Brunswick. In 2016 he was one of the co-founders of Access to Education (A2E), a Rutgers-led tutoring program for pupils in first, second, and third grades at New Brunswick’s Roosevelt Elementary School.

In his award essay, Kaul writes that the odds were stacked against him and his colleagues founding A2E, with officials from Rutgers, the city, and the school district saying that he was too idealistic.

“To our surprise and joy A2E was a smooth success, and we received lots of positive feedback from the kids, teachers, and volunteers alike,” Kaul wrote. “Personally though, I took the most pride in connecting with one of the “troublemaker” students Joshua. He was quite the rascal, but I never did stop laughing when I was around him. By the end of the semester, Joshua would start his homework without being told, could read the descriptions on all his Pokémon cards, and even picked up other people’s trash. That is my pride: by not giving up, Joshua and I were able to become friends, and both of us are better people because of the other.”

The A2E tutoring program is a program of Rutgers’ Youth Empowerment Club (YEC), which partners with the New Brunswick-based nonprofit organization Youth Empowerment Services (YES). YES was founded in 2003 and provides after-school activities, summer camps, and mentoring programs for at-risk youth in New Brunswick. Kaul previously served as YEC’s President, and currently serves on the board of YES.

During his undergraduate career, Kaul traveled to several locations to gain a better understanding of important global issues: food insecurity and educational inequality in Tulsa, Oklahoma; health, well-being, culture and social inclusion in Thailand; and the impact of immigration on education and American society in Boston.

At home, he co-founded a Rutgers group called Knights Table, as a means to improve civil discourse, and helped draft legislation to remove health-risking philosophical and religious exemptions for vaccines in New Jersey.

His medical research includes studying the effects of medical student volunteering on nonprofit organizations, and cancer immunotherapy physiology in T cell receptor cross reactivity using antigenic peptides under Dr. Andy Zloza.

Michael Hill (left) and Eshan Kaul (right)Kaul writes that he has “a lot of Rutgers pride — perhaps a little too much — and I’m not afraid to wear it on my sleeve. For example, I can tell you important dates in Rutgers history and my email signature is ‘In Rutgers Spirit.’ ”

With this Rutgers pride comes a commitment: “When you walk down George Street, you’ll hit the beautifully designed Honors College, the immensely green quad and flower beds of Voorhees Mall, until suddenly you hit the train station, with its ever-present wet walls and crumbly staircases.

“With this in mind, it’s important to remind ourselves of the fact that Rutgers is a land grant institution, and how it is part of our mission to perform public service in support of the needs of the citizens of the state. But I would argue it’s more than that: we are members of the Rutgers community, nay the greater New Brunswick community, and it is our duty to be active citizens who want to support our neighbors as best we can.”

The Riki Jacobs Livingston Pride Award has been given annually since 1990 by the Livingston Alumni Association (LAA) to the Rutgers-New Brunswick graduating senior who most embodies the spirit of Livingston College and its attributes of leadership and social action. Livingston College is a former undergraduate college of Rutgers which was merged into the School of Arts and Sciences in 2007.

Riki E. Jacobs (1957-2009) was the director of the Hyacinth Foundation, an AIDS support organization, among many roles she fulfilled to assist vulnerable populations, and also was one of LAA’s first Livingston College Distinguished Alumni, honored in 2000.

Bottom photo: Eshan Kaul (right) talks with NJTV correspondent Michael Hill in 2017, about Kaul’s work with Youth Empowerment Services.




Pride Award Winner Lucy Blevins (SAS’18) Will Pursue a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs and Social Work, with a Focus on Prison Reform

Lucy Blevins and Jeffrey Armus
Lucy Blevins with Jeffrey Armus, Chairman of the Pride Award Committee and Vice President of the LAA. Photo by Qiumei Wang, Rutgers Business School Alumni Association.

Lucy Anne Blevins (SAS’18), an aspiring social worker from Maplewood, New Jersey, has been named as the 2018 recipient of the Riki Jacobs Livingston Pride Award, given by the Livingston Alumni Association (LAA) of Rutgers University.

Blevins will graduate from Rutgers’ School of Arts and Sciences (New Brunswick) in May 2018. Starting in summer 2018 she will pursue a dual master’s degree in Public Affairs and Social Work, with a focus on prison reform policy, at the University of Texas at Austin.

In her award application essay, Blevins noted that social work ties together several of the courses she took in other subjects at Rutgers.

“Through these classes, I realized that there was a theme to all my papers and projects: in psychology, I was interested in the effect of oppression on the soul; in art history, I focused on representations of struggle and creativity as an antidote to depression; in sociology, I was drawn to inequalities based on race and gender; and my favorite writing class explored non-western feminist authors throughout history.

“This seeming patchwork seemed something of a mess, until I took my first course in social work. Then they all fit together. I immediately saw that what I wanted was an education that would allow me to advocate for social justice, equal treatment, humane conditions, and basic human rights for all. I began to seek out opportunities that would allow me to have an impact on the community around me.”

Blevins is a member of Omega Phi Alpha, the national service sorority. During her college career she has undertaken several community service initiatives, including: serving in local soup kitchens; advocating for mental health awareness on campus and global women’s rights initiatives; and participating in the Rutgers Dance Marathon to raise funds for and to build meaningful relationships with the families of children who have cancer and blood disorders.

Lucy Blevins with family
Lucy Blevins, center, with her mother, Juliette Blevins, and her sister, Rebecca Blevins. Photo by Qiumei Wang, Rutgers Business School Alumni Association.

In her junior and senior years of college, Blevins has served along with several other Rutgers students as a tutor for inmates at New Jersey’s Mountainview Youth Correctional Facility, as part of their work with the Petey Greene Program.

Blevins has tutored the inmates in math, science, history, and writing. “More important than any educational skill that I have, I am able to help the inmates by listening to their thoughts and concerns as well as simply providing empowerment in the form of re-validation,” she wrote in her Pride Award essay. “I have faith in the students that I tutor and believe that they are capable beyond their own ability to see. While they may be physically incarcerated, their minds and spirits are free and flourish with attention and compassion. … One memory that always makes me smile is of working with a student and explaining to him how to read a Punnett square. ‘This comes up on every GED practice exam, and I never understood it. Now I get it. Thank you, Lucy.’ “

During her undergraduate career, Blevins earned several academic scholarships, and affiliated with the Douglass Residential College, a women’s college within Rutgers.

The Riki Jacobs Livingston Pride Award has been given annually since 1990 by the Livingston Alumni Association (LAA) to the Rutgers-New Brunswick graduating senior who most embodies the spirit of Livingston College and its attributes of leadership and social action. Livingston College is a former undergraduate college of Rutgers which was merged into the School of Arts and Sciences in 2007.

Riki E. Jacobs (1957-2009) was the director of the Hyacinth Foundation, an AIDS support organization, among many roles she fulfilled to assist vulnerable populations, and also was one of LAA’s first Livingston College Distinguished Alumni, honored in 2000.




Maria Alba (SAS’17), 2017 Pride Award Recipient: ‘Be a Positive, Active Bystander’

Maria AlbaMaria Alba (SAS’17), an aspiring clinical psychologist from Cranford, New Jersey, has been named as the 2017 recipient of the Riki Jacobs Livingston Pride Award, given by the Livingston Alumni Association of Rutgers University. She will begin studies toward a Doctor of Psychology degree at Rutgers’ Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology in fall 2017.

In 2013, the summer before she entered Rutgers’ School of Arts and Sciences, Alba attended an orientation program about campus sexual assault and bystander intervention. Around the same time, a friend confided that she had been the victim of sexual and domestic violence. “I wanted to fight for justice for her, and for every other individual whose voice has not been heard,” Alba wrote in her essay for the award.

“The message was clear: If you see something wrong, say or do something. Be a positive, active bystander no matter how big or small your intervention.”

These two events helped Alba realize that Rutgers’ SCREAM Theater, a violence prevention program, was her calling.

As a member of the SCREAM Theater staff, Alba traveled throughout New Jersey and across the country to educate people about sexual and domestic/dating violence through improv theater. She also created a video called “I Am Part of the Revolution,” showcasing other student leaders who spoke about why they choose to take a stand.

In her undergraduate research, Alba studied the effect of stress on health issues such as smoking and obesity, especially among minorities and women who identify as lesbian or bisexual. She also conducted research on psychotherapy and counseling as it related to the gay liberation movement at Rutgers from the 1950s to the 1980s. In fall 2016 she taught an introductory seminar on psychology to first-year students.

Alba has garnered numerous awards for her academic performance, and for her work on women’s and gender studies, women’s rights, and violence prevention and victim assistance.

“I believe a successful leader knows when to lead and when to listen,” she said. “I have carried this lesson with me throughout my life as an activist, student leader, and an aspiring clinical psychologist.”

The Riki Jacobs Livingston Pride Award has been given annually since 1990 by the Livingston Alumni Association (LAA) to the Rutgers-New Brunswick graduating senior who most embodies the spirit of Livingston College and its attributes of leadership and social action. Livingston College is a former undergraduate college of Rutgers which was merged into the School of Arts and Sciences in 2007.

Riki E. Jacobs (1957-2009) was the director of the Hyacinth Foundation, an AIDS support organization, among many roles she fulfilled to assist vulnerable populations, and also was one of LAA’s first Livingston College Distinguished Alumni, honored in 2000.




Apply or Nominate for an LAA Award

The LAA welcomes applications/nominations for three awards:

The Riki Jacobs Livingston Pride Award, which is given annually to an undergraduate senior (with a graduation date in the current calendar year, as defined in the application) on the New Brunswick/Piscataway campus. Two awards will be given in 2022. Applicants nominate themselves.

Applications are now close for calendar year 2022 graduates. Applications for calendar year 2023 graduates are expected to open in early 2023.


The following awards are given at a celebration approximately every two years.

  • Livingston College Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Livingston Legacy Award (for faculty and staff members)
Nominations for those two awards are not open at this time.



Victor Mensah Founded Peer Mentoring Program at Rutgers; Honored with 2016 Riki Jacobs Livingston Pride Award

Victor A. MensahVictor A. Mensah (pictured at right) has been honored as the recipient of the 2016 Riki Jacobs Livingston Pride Award, given by the Livingston Alumni Association (LAA) of Rutgers University.

Mensah, a first-generation college student, is a May 2016 graduate of the School of Arts and Sciences-New Brunswick at Rutgers University, where he has majored in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Urban Health. He’s continuing his studies at Rutgers in fall 2016, entering Robert Wood Johnson Medical School’s Class of 2020, seeking a Medical Doctorate degree.

During his first year at Rutgers, Mensah’s path was not so certain, as he was struggling and at risk of losing his scholarship. A friend took Mensah under his wings and helped him manage his time better and build relationships with professors and student clubs. Soon thereafter, Mensah was on the Dean’s List.

Mensah’s work with a mentor gave him the idea to create a peer-mentoring program to pair first-year, first-generation college students with upperclass students. In three years, the Student Support Services Peer Mentoring program has grown from 13 students to 120 students projected for fall of 2016.

Jeffrey Isaacs, Victor A. Mensah, Eric SchwarzMensah also has volunteered as a mentor to high school students interested in a career in medicine, as a high school track and field coach, and a math and science tutor at New Brunswick High School.

Mensah wrote in his award application essay: “As a tutor of all grades from high school freshmen to seniors, one thing is apparent, the older the students get, the less interested they become in the sciences.” He feels strongly that there is a lack of minority representation in the STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) fields. This drove Mensah to seek propose and seek grants for a summer math and science camp to show inner-city youths that science and engineering can be fun and interactive.

Mensah’s previous awards include:

  • 2015 National Conference on Race and Ethnicity scholarship award winner
  • 2015 Mozelle Henry Fordham Legacy of Love Scholarship
  • 2014 Spirit of New Brunswick Award for community involvement
  • 2012 James Dickson Carr Scholar at Rutgers

The LAA presented the Pride Award to Mensah at a Theater Night reception on Sunday, April 24, 2016.

Victor A. Mensah (fourth from left, holding award certificate) with friends and family

Since 1990, the LAA has given the Riki Jacobs Livingston Pride Award to the Rutgers-New Brunswick graduating senior who most embodies the spirit of Livingston College and its attributes of leadership and social action. The award is named after Riki Jacobs (1957-2009), a guiding light in the fight against HIV/AIDS in New Jersey for more than 25 years. At the time of her passing, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine called Jacobs “an articulate and compassionate voice who was highly respected for her efforts to ensure health care access for those living with, infected with, and affected by HIV.”

Center photo: LAA’s Vice President/Secretary Jeffrey Armus (left) and President Eric Schwarz (right) present the Pride Award to Mensah. Bottom: Mensah (holding award certificate) celebrates his achievement with family and friends. Photos taken on April 24, 2016.

 




Riki Jacobs, LC’80, Provided Support to Vulnerable Populations; Honored as a Livingston Distinguished Alumna in 2000

Riki JacobsRiki E. Jacobs, a 1980 graduate of Livingston College at Rutgers University, served as executive director of Hyacinth AIDS Foundation from 1993 until her death in 2009.

In 2000, Jacobs was named one of the first four Distinguished Alumni by the Livingston Alumni Association of Rutgers University (LAA).

In 2010, the LAA renamed its award for an outstanding graduating undergraduate senior, to the Riki Jacobs Livingston Pride Award.

Hyacinth AIDS Foundation was a “mess” and “about ready to go under” when Jacobs joined, said Jerry McCathern, Hyacinth’s senior director of development at the time of Jacobs’ death. “Riki could have been a hero or the agency could have failed,” McCathern said. “It would have failed under most people, but she took it from there to present, in that we have become the ‘premier AIDS service agency in the state.’”

Under Jacobs’ direction, Hyacinth became the only organization in New Jersey with a public policy and community organizing staff dedicated to protecting the rights and benefits of people living with HIV/AIDS in New Jersey. During her tenure at Hyacinth, Jacobs served as a fellow of Leadership New Jersey 1995.

At the time of Jacobs’ death, New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine called her “a guiding light in the fight against HIV/AIDS in New Jersey for more than 25 years. She was an articulate and compassionate voice who was highly respected for her efforts to ensure health care access for those living with, infected with, and affected by HIV. Riki’s vision and unwavering commitment will be greatly missed.”

Prior to her service with Hyacinth, Jacobs served as a staff attorney and the assistant director for New Jersey’s Commission on Sex Discrimination in the Statutes, where she advocated for laws impacting victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. From 1982 to 1992 Jacobs was the director of development at the New Jersey Association on Correction (NJAC) where, among other responsibilities, she provided AIDS education to inmates in county jails. In the late 1980s she realized the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS on the association’s clients. As a result, she developed one of the first pre-release programs in the country targeting offenders living with HIV/AIDS and also created an HIV/AIDS prevention and education program at the Mercer and Middlesex County correctional facilities.

She had been involved since 1986 with organizing local and statewide coalitions. She co-founded the New Jersey Women & AIDS Network (NJWAN), an organization devoted to address the impact of AIDS on women in New Jersey. She was also responsible for the development of NJAC’s first domestic violence shelter in Passaic County. 

Jacobs was strongly committed to the work of the non-profit community. She served on the boards of the Center for Non-Profits and the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). She also served on the advisory board of the New Jersey AIDS Partnership. Since the administration of Governor Jim Florio, Jacobs had served as a member of the Governor’s Advisory Council on HIV and other blood-borne pathogens. 

Jon Corzine and Riki JacobsJacobs received numerous awards and recognition for her work, including: honors in 1998 from NJWAN, the AIDS Benefit Committee of NJ (Humanitarian Award) and the Middlesex County Commission on the Status of Women (Women of Excellence Award for her work in the AIDS field); the Public Policy Leadership Award from the New Jersey Public Policy Research Institute in 2003; and the Humanitarian Award from the Health Care Foundation of New Jersey in 2007.

Jacobs, born on November 12, 1957, and raised in Union, New Jersey, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Livingston College in 1980, and a Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.) degree from Rutgers University School of Law (Newark) in 1989.

Jacobs, who died March 14, 2009, was survived by her husband of 22 years, Angel M. Perez; children, William, Eli and Kara; her sister, Ellen; her brother, Robert; and her parents, Harold and Betty.

Bottom photo: New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine with Riki Jacobs in 2007.




Rutgers Graduate Amy Albert Has Dispelled Myths Through Community Service; Honored with 2015 Riki Jacobs Livingston Pride Award

Amy Albert (pictured) has been selected as the recipient of the 2015 Riki Jacobs Livingston Pride Award, given by the Livingston Alumni Association (LAA) of Rutgers University.

Shortly after arriving at Rutgers as a transfer student in 2012, Albert began a journey of community service. Albert, a 2015 graduate of the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, set out to effect change, which she has accomplished in many roles including those of student leader, tutor, counselor, and legal services intern.

Among many examples of her service, Albert has worked as a counselor with a hotline for suicidal youth.

Through the Rutgers University Alternative Breaks program, Albert has volunteered an animal refuge in Florida and a no-kill animal sanctuary in Virginia. At the Virginia sanctuary, named Paris Barns, Albert led eight participants “on a life-changing trip … [where] they learned the value of service, organic eating, and that animals aren’t on this earth solely to benefit humans.”

Closer to home, Albert worked with 20 incoming first-year students throughout New Brunswick working with the community at a farmer’s market and gardens.

At Rutgers, Albert has served as a tutor for student athletes and served on the Scarlet Honor Council’s appeals committee for academic integrity cases.

In the legal services community, Albert has tutored women prisoners and also worked on programs related to documentation of domestic violence weapons and to client services.

In her award application essay, Albert wrote: “While I worked to create change here, words cannot describe how Rutgers created change in me. Because of this university, I learned so much about myself and was given opportunities others will never have.”

A theme throughout Albert’s community service has been dispelling stereotypes — about the relationship of humans to animals, about students’ relationship with their community, and about prisons and inmates.

Albert, a resident of Waldwick, New Jersey, maintained a grade-point average at Rutgers and majored in psychology and criminal justice. Among other academic honors, she was named to the dean’s list at both Rutgers and the University of New Haven in Connecticut through her four years of college. In fall 2015 she will enter the University of Virginia Law School.

Albert was honored at the Rutgers Student Life awards, called “The Scarlets,” on Tuesday, May 5, 2015.

The Riki Jacobs Livingston Pride Award is given annually to the Rutgers-New Brunswick graduating senior who most embodies the spirit of Livingston College and its attributes of leadership and social action.

The award is named after Riki Jacobs (1957-2009), a guiding light in the fight against HIV/AIDS in New Jersey for more than 25 years. At the time of her passing, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine called Jacobs “an articulate and compassionate voice who was highly respected for her efforts to ensure health care access for those living with, infected with, and affected by HIV.”

Photo: Amy Albert accepts the Riki Jacobs Livingston Pride Award from LAA Past President Marty Siederer (left) and LAA President Jason Goldstein, on May 5, 2015.




LAA Honors Emilie Transue as Winner of 2014 Riki Jacobs Livingston Pride Award

Emilie TransueEmilie Transue has been selected as the recipient of the 2014 Riki Jacobs Livingston Pride Award, given by the Livingston Alumni Association (LAA) at Rutgers University.

Throughout her college career, Transue has merged her studies with awareness and action related to understanding and helping those in the community with medical or neurological challenges, including children and their families, and her fellow students.

For almost two years Transue has worked as a peer mentor for Rutgers students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), through the College Support Program (CSP). Transue has worked extensively with two mentees, help them achieve social, academic and professional success.

Transue wrote in her application essay that her work with CSP has helped her to educate others about the struggles faced by people with ASD and disability, particularly resident and apartment assistants, who are taught to recognize students who need additional services and how to create appropriate social support systems.

For two years Transue also has been the Rutgers chapter leader of Project Sunshine, a nonprofit organization that provides free educational, recreational and social programs to children and families living with medical challenges. For example, Rutgers students visit with the children and plan parties or other activities for the children, helping the children to focus on personal development as well as medical treatment.

She has also served as a classroom aide or assistant at the New Brunswick Free Public Library and at Rutgers’ Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center.

For three years Transue has developed her honors thesis by investigating two neuronal proteins involved in dendritogenesis and neural networking, at Rutgers’ Firestein Laboratory. She also has shadowed physicians at the Child Health Institute of New Jersey and the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

Transue maintained a 3.9 grade-point average and earned multiple scholarships and dean’s list recognitions in her college career at Rutgers-New Brunswick’s School of Arts and Sciences, from which she graduated in 2014. She dual-majored in cell biology and neuroscience, and Spanish, with a minor in psychology. She began studies at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in fall 2014.

Emilie Transue with Jason Goldstein

Transue was honored at the Rutgers Student Life Scarlet Awards on Tuesday, May 6, 2014.

The Riki Jacobs Livingston Pride Award is given annually to the Rutgers-New Brunswick graduating senior who most embodies the spirit of Livingston College and its attributes of leadership and social action.

The award is named after Riki Jacobs (1957-2009), a guiding light in the fight against HIV/AIDS in New Jersey for more than 25 years. At the time of her passing, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine called Jacobs “an articulate and compassionate voice who was highly respected for her efforts to ensure health care access for those living with, infected with, and affected by HIV.”

“Emilie Transue has brought attention and has lead efforts at Rutgers to help individuals with developmental disabilities and medical challenges,” said Jason Goldstein, LAA president (pictured above with Transue), who presented the award. “Her exemplary achievements have shaped lives.

“Livingston College was focused on building communities by engaging diverse perspectives,” Goldstein noted. “We are proud to present Emilie Transue with this Pride Award for her efforts in serving those individuals who require a voice and assistance.”