Associate Dean of the Honors Living-Learning Community
Assistant Professor of Professional Practice
Marta Elena Esquilin is the Associate Dean of the Honors Living-Learning Community and Assistant Professor of Professional Practice in the American Studies Program within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers-Newark. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Vermont in 1999, and her Master’s Degree in 2003 from Teachers College, Columbia University in Higher Education Administration. In 2005, under the leadership of Dr. Derald Wing Sue within the Counseling & Psychology department at Teachers College, she was a co-author of the seminal article, “Racial microaggressions in everyday life: Implications for clinical practice”. American Psychologist, 62(4), 271-286. From 2005 to 2015, Marta served as the Director of Social Justice and Intercultural Programs within the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Columbia University. Prior to her role at Columbia, she worked at The Posse Foundation and in a variety of community based organizations focused on youth development, college access & equity, and community building. She is currently the Board chair of CLAGS (Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies), the oldest LGBTQ research center in the country, and she is the first Latina to serve in this role. She works as a diversity expert and consultant within educational settings including secondary schools, community-based organizations, and higher education institutions around the United States.
Marta’s passion and current work focuses on creating educational environments that encourage the positive development and success of all students. She is particularly interested in raising awareness about how microaggressions manifest to create hostile environments for marginalized social identities within work and school settings. Most recently, she has been developing trainings and assessment tools aimed at increasing cultural competence, addressing the impacts of microaggressions, and creating sustainable infrastructures to support student success within educational settings. Her work aims to equip administrators, faculty, staff and students with the skills necessary for creating environments that are affirming to all identities and experiences.
Assistant Dean of Advisement
Engelbert Santana is the Assistant Dean of Advisement for the Honors Living-Learning Community at Rutgers University-Newark. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Latino Studies with a Minor in Psychology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, in 2005, and a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from the Rutgers University Graduate School of Education in 2008. Prior to joining the HLLC, Engelbert served in various roles at Rutgers University-Newark. First, as an Assessment Counselor with the Student Support Services Program (2005-2009) where he provided students opportunities for academic development, assisted with basic college requirements, and motivate students to successfully complete their postsecondary education. He then transitioned to the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) Program (2009-2016) as a Senior Counselor where he advised ambitious first-generation, low-income college students in successfully navigating their collegiate experiences and post-graduation goals. Before joining Rutgers, he worked at Aspira, Inc. of New Jersey as a Program Coordinator reintegrating juveniles back into a school setting.
Professionally and personally, Engelbert is a passionate advocate and staunch supporter of programs and initiatives that provide access and opportunities for talented students who are often marginalized in higher education. He constantly advocates for opportunities for undocumented students and has given numerous workshops focusing on access to higher education, best practices, and development initiatives for underrepresented students. He also has presented on the psychological stressors of higher education and ethnic identity development. Engelbert serves on the Rutgers University Senate and is a Board of Trustees member for Lambda Theta Phi, Latin Fraternity, Inc., the oldest Latino fraternity in the United States.
Assistant Director of HLLC Admissions
Serafina Smith is the Assistant Director of Admissions for the Honors Living-Learning Community at Rutgers University-Newark (RU-N). She earned her bachelor's degree in Business Management from Rutgers Business School-Newark in 2012, and went on to complete her master's degree in Labor and Employment Relations from Rutgers University-New Brunswick in 2015. Serafina began her full-time role in the Office of Undergraduate and Graduate Admissions in 2013 as an Admissions Coordinator. In this role, she managed front office operations, provided training, leadership and direction to the Scarlet Ambassadors, conducted on and off campus recruitment information sessions, and served as the first point of contact in the Admissions Office. After two years and a lot of hard work, Serafina was promoted to be an Admissions Officer. She dedicated herself to expanding recruitment efforts, implementing strategic yield, communication, and marketing efforts to meet the university's rapidly growing enrollment goals. Serafina has the unique expertise of working with special populations of prospective students, particularly from the Newark and Greater Newark area, the Honors Living-Learning Community, Educational Opportunity Fund, student athletes, and students interested in Arts, Culture and Media.
Serafina is deeply committed and passionate about helping students gain access to college. She is a Newark resident and proud graduate of University High School, a Newark Public School. The daughter of immigrant parents, she is the first person in her family to obtain degrees in higher education. Serafina balanced the demands of being a full-time student while working full-time to help support herself and her family. She is a former member of RU-N's Educational Opportunity Fund program and Scarlet Ambassador. She is now focused on building relationships within the community and departments at the university to aid in educating parents, students, and school administrators on policies, financial literary, and the admissions process. Serafina is excited to be able to pay it forward and mentor new students through the admissions process.