TAMIU Alum First Hispanic Woman in Rutgers University Ph.D. Program

TAMIU Alum Selected as First Hispanic Woman in Rutgers University’s Ph.D. Program

Karina Saldívar, 24, has kept in mind a resonating comment her professor made on her first day of her undergraduate communications class at Texas A&M International University.

Peter Haruna and Karina Saldivar
Dr. Peter Haruna and Karina Saldívar

“She said, ‘Education is a label of self love,’” said Saldívar, “And what she mentioned has stayed with me.”

Saldívar, a native of Monterrey, México, who grew up speaking only Spanish at home, eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in communications in 2005 and a master’s in public administration in 2008 at TAMIU.

She is now one of eight students nationwide chosen to begin study this September at one of America’s top public administration Ph.D. programs at Rutgers University in Newark, NJ.

She is also the first Hispanic woman in history to be enrolled in the Rutgers’ public administration Ph.D. program.

“It feels surreal, I really don’t believe it’s happening,” said Saldívar, who has received a full scholarship to cover her educational and living expenses.

While attending TAMIU, Saldívar has also worked full-time for the past four years as a financial aid counselor at the Office of Financial Aid and as academic coordinator for the College Assistant Migrant Program (CAMP).

Beginning this Fall, Saldívar’s life will change in major ways. For one, she will have to leave her current job and move to Newark. Also, her husband, Christopher Saldívar, High School Equivalency (HEP) outreach and retention specialist whom she met while working at TAMIU, will move with her once he completes his bachelor’s degree in business administration from TAMIU in May. He is currently searching for jobs in the Newark area and also plans to continue his education with an MBA.

“Now that I have had time to process all the information, it is a bit intimidating because I have always lived in a predominantly Hispanic community,” Saldívar said, “ I’m nervous about leaving my comfort zone, but the good thing is that Rutgers’ campus is diverse in student population so I hope to adjust well.”

Saldívar said that at first, she did not feel confident about applying to Rutgers because of the competitiveness of its Ph.D. program. However, she said Dr. Peter Haruna, TAMIU associate professor of public administration and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, encouraged her to apply.

“He told me ‘Apply because you are qualified to be one of those eight,’ ” Saldívar said.

Saldívar said TAMIU has opened doors for her to pursue her dream of becoming enrolled in a Ph.D. program.

“TAMIU is an excellent University and just like Dr. Haruna told me, students here are prepared and qualified to pursue great things,” she said.

Saldívar said she is proud to represent the Hispanic community and TAMIU at Rutgers.

“It really is an immense honor and responsibility to represent Hispanics at Rutgers and TAMIU’s MPA program,” she said, “This program prepared and opened doors for me.”

Saldívar said that once she graduates, she would like to work as a faculty member at a university.

“A Ph.D. is a research degree and I love to write,” Saldívar said, “You bring your findings into the classroom. You benefit from the students’ participation and they learn from you. I am very excited to get started.”

Saldívar said higher education remains the best investment one can make for oneself.

“Yes, it’s a sacrifice because it is an investment of your money and your time, but the rewards outweigh the cost,” she said.

For more information, please call the TAMIU Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Infromation Services at 326.2180, e-mail prmis@tamiu.edu, visit offices in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library, room 268 or click on tamiu.edu

University office hours are 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at prmis@tamiu.edu