Douglass Senior's Civics Work Changes Communities for the Better

Noor Amanullah
Noor Amanullah, a political science major and double minor in public policy and South Asian studies, is graduating this spring.
Nick Romanenko/Rutgers University

Noor Amanullahs time at Rutgers was filled with lessons in citizenship and making a difference.

She came to Rutgers with the intention of going to law school. But after spending some time exploring her options through Douglass Residential College, her trajectory pivoted.

I did an externship at a federal agency when I was a first-year student, with a Douglass alumna, and learned a lot about law school,’’ said Amanullah, a political science major and double minor in public policy and South Asian studies who is graduating this spring from the School of Arts and Sciences as an SAS Honors Program Scholar.

I found that I really enjoyed social science research. I jumped on an opportunity to do some through Aresty with the Rutgers Department of University Strategy for a semester and after that, I can see myself going to graduate school for social policy research.”

The Douglass connections dont stop there.

As a Red Pine Ambassador, Amanullah serves as a host and tour guide for prospective Douglass women and, as event coordinator for the Douglass Welcoming Ambassadors, assisted in the planning of Welcome Week events for new admits.

During her sophomore year, Amanullah, who grew up in Edison, became an intern for the Center for Youth Political Participation (CYPP) at the Eagleton Institute of Politics, working on the RU Ready program. Working under center director Elizabeth Matto afforded Amanullah not only the opportunity to explore the most effective ways to teach civics and encourage young people to get involved in politics, but to also host the National Young Leaders Conference, where leaders of RU Ready from around the country came together to find ways to promote civic engagement and political participation in their own communities.

The following semester, she was invited back to CYPP, but this time to work on the RU Voting National Microsite and RU Ready Civics Fair. Funded by a grant from the New Jersey Bar Association, Amanullah created lesson plans and project sets that could be used by teachers in classrooms to teach civics to high school students in an engaging way. After that, Amanullah was off to Washington, D.C. to intern in the office of Congressman Jimmy Gomez, who represented Californias 34th district that encompasses many of the Asian ethnic enclaves in Los Angeles.

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Not only was it a great way to apply the knowledge I got from my South Asian studies courses, but through this work I was able to submit a request to the House Appropriations Committee for school-based health centers and for a citizenship and integration grant program, which both received millions of dollars in funding. That was a really rewarding experience,” Amanullah says.

The cap to her Eagleton experience was being able to take a graduate course that afforded her the opportunity to visit the State House with Eagleton graduate fellows.

I felt a little out of place as the only undergraduate, but it was awesome to meet the people working in Trenton and doing the groundwork for state policy,” Amanullah says.

In addition to her coursework and internships, Amanullah has been involved with the Muslim Student Association, Muslim Feminists for the Arts and the Muslim Public Relations Council, which unites all of the Muslim faith-based organizations as well as cultural and advocacy organizations that represent the interests of Muslim students on campus. Her Muslim faith was always important to her growing up and her involvement in the Muslim community made her feel at home at Rutgers.

I tried to participate in a lot of the different opportunities for Muslim life on campus. There's a thriving Muslim community on campus and, to me, it was really important that I be involved in it and see if there was any way I could support the population on campus,” Amanullah says.

Supporting the community included holding a fundraiser benefitting Rutgers Food Pantry during the pandemic, bridging arts and community through different local programs and hosting conversations around intersectionality and spiritual practices.

So whats next for Amanullah?

I still want help impact change. Im interested in working in Washington, D.C. with a research center or other entity working towards better outcomes for the community. I want to pursue a doctorate in social policy, so I am currently assessing the best path forward on that.”

But no matter where she goes, Douglass will always be home.

Being part of Douglass Residential College has been a huge part of my college experience. I dont think I would be the woman I am now had I never become a Douglass woman.”