Excelsior Service Fellow
Office of Victim Services
Helping people just seems to come naturally to Ismelda Rosario. The Woodhaven resident and recent MPA graduate has years of counseling and public administration experience through the Safe Horizon Domestic Violence Agency, Seamen’s Society for Children and Families, and the Children’s Aid Society.
It’s no wonder then that she was selected by Governor Cuomo to become an Excelsior Service Fellow. The inaugural program allows 80 talented graduates from colleges, universities, law and professional schools to be placed into one of 41 state government agencies and authorities, where they will work on policy and operations for at least the next two years.
“I was completely surprised [to have been selected,] but I felt honored that they thought I was qualified for it,” says Ismelda. “I am very appreciative and grateful and hopefully over the next two years I’ll come up with some brilliant ideas!”
Appointed to the Office of Victim Services, Ismelda says she will be rotating through the departments, starting with administration, where she processes applications for services.
" I find it most rewarding when people say that the work we’re doing is beneficial and that it’s helping them in some way at a time when they need it the most. "
Eventually, she says, she will move into the investigation side of things, and assist with services that the victim or victim’s family needs, such as paying medical or funeral bills and future counseling services. “A lot of it has to do with compensation; it’s more geared to speaking with social workers, detectives - really the spectrum of what the families, court, and law enforcement has to deal with,” she explains.
Graduating from John Jay College of Criminal Justice with a BA in Forensic Psychology, it was Ismelda’s first job as a case planner in the child welfare system that really allowed her to focus on public service and decide on her career. While she provided counseling to families with children at risk of foster care placement and referred clients to services, she realized she wanted to work more on research and the public administration side of things.
She enrolled at Baruch College and earned a Master’s in Public Administration. While obtaining her degree, she also participated in an internship with the Children’s Aid Society, monitored academic progress of students through the College Now Program, and conducted research and focus groups as a graduate assistant in the School of Public Affairs.
Overall, Ismelda says the MPA at Baruch prepared her well for her fellowship. “The stats classes and the communication classes gave me a general sense of what administration is all about.” She offers three pieces of advice for current SPA students: “One: pay attention to all the e-mails from Career Services. On a daily basis – students will hear about internships, volunteer and fellowship opportunities. I think Baruch has a really good system in place for that. Two: always take risks, no matter how difficult it may seem at the time. And three: stay humble.”
In the future, Ismelda is hoping to stay in the Office of Victim Services or transfer to another state agency that handles similar issues.
Written by Celene McDermott