Curiosity, Knowledge, and Purpose in Action

By Claire Donahue, HC Media Team Lead Features Developer

Ask any Honors College upperclassman if they know Sarah Pomeranz, and you are bound to be greeted in return by a knowing smile and nod. Deeply committed to the HC tenets of curiosity, knowledge, and purpose, Sarah served as a Mentor in Residence and Innovation Lab Fellow. But her impact at Rutgers extends well beyond the Honors College community.

A member of Douglass Residential College, the distinguished IWL Leadership Scholars Program, and Women BUILD, Sarah is graduating with a major in leadership and management, a minor in social justice, and a concentration in entrepreneurship. For someone who has always aimed to be an “expert generalist,” this combination of studies allowed her room to pursue as many opportunities as possible.

Her first year of college, fresh on the heels of an inspirational gap year experience in Israel, Sarah founded the Rutgers chapter of TAMID Group, an international organization that uses the Israeli economy as a model to educate students through real world experience in consulting for Israeli startups, investing, and interning in Tel Aviv. Other students had attempted to found a chapter of TAMID for the three years prior, but it was Sarah’s leadership and dedication that enabled the chapter to materialize and gain national recognition.

During Sarah’s sophomore year of college, she and three other Rutgers students founded Sulis, a concept born in the Honors College Forum and launched in the HC Innovation Lab. Sulis is a social innovation venture whose mission is to provide affordable and sustainable solar-powered water sanitation solutions to communities without access to clean water. The team developed a patented personal water sterilization device that harnesses sunlight in order to kill bacteria and pathogens in water. Sulis placed first at the Rutgers Innovation and Entrepreneurship Expo and took off from there, rising to the top 10 in a field of 25,000 teams globally at the Hult Prize in London, and successfully kickstarting a pilot program in India.

One of the common threads that links Sarah’s experiences at Rutgers is international exposure. At the age of 18, she set the goal of traveling to 30 countries before the age of 30. Studying abroad in Italy in her junior year at Florence University of the Arts solidified in Sarah’s mind the importance of a global education and marked her visit to country #30, crossing the ambitious travel goal off her bucket list. Her semester in Florence even spurred her to serve as a Study Abroad Peer Advisor with the goal of making study abroad accessible to a wider and more diverse range of students.

Through the Rutgers Alternative Break (RUAB) program, Sarah participated as a first-year student in an international service-learning trip to Guatemala focused on understanding and supporting local coffee-farmers. The experience was so meaningful that she decided to become a site leader and led her own respective service-learning trip to Northern Ireland a year later titled “Breaking Down Walls: The Trouble Stops Here,” which focused on peacebuilding, gang violence, and religious conflict. In addition to working with RUAB, Sarah participated in a Hillel Alternative Break to Puerto Rico, aimed at restoring the mangroves after the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

Sarah’s service work did not stop there. As a member of the Institute for Women’s Leadership Scholars Program, Sarah focused on not only learning about social justice issues but finding innovative ways to address them. Through the IWL, Sarah interned at Savvy Ladies in NYC, a non-profit focused on providing women with free financial literacy training and resources to help them achieve financial independence. For her IWL Social Action Project, the capstone experience, Sarah explored conversations about gun violence and gun control. In her project entitled, “Give Gun Control a Shot: The Stories of Women Affected by Gun Violence,” she urges us all to keep gun control and gun safety on the forefront of the national agenda while also highlighting the ways in which the issue disproportionately affects women.

From her emphasis on exploring new places and ideas to her introduction of a new student organization and innovative start-up, Sarah has truly demonstrated what making change can look like through her four years at Rutgers. Most recently, all this change-making culminated in her illuminating TEDxRutgers talk at the 2020 Conference on the intention-impact gap. When asked about what she will miss most upon graduating she says it’s the grittiness and spirit, how hardworking Rutgers students are when they want something, and the beautiful diversity of culture of Rutgers that is hard to replicate. As for her Honors College experience, Sarah says,

“I have loved so many elements of my Honors College experience from the unique professional and academic opportunities made available to us, to coffeebar chats with the deans and being surrounded by friends with a variety of passions. Ultimately I am most grateful to the Honors College students, administration, and faculty for creating an environment where I deeply feel the community is invested in my success and that encourages me to be invested in the success of others. Everyone deserves to have that in their collegiate experience."

Upon graduation, Sarah will begin her year as a John Lewis Fellow through the prestigious Humanity in Action Fellowship, exploring modern-day human rights in the context of the Civil Rights Movement and applying those lessons to create a social action project serving her local community. In the fall, Sarah will begin working full-time as a Strategy Consultant for Accenture in Washington, D.C. She has in typical fashion found a way to incorporate both business and social justice into her future plans.

"Though it might seem as if I have always had a clear career path in mind, the reality is that I came into college, like so many students, carrying with me a bag of loosely associated interests, a vague understanding of my own strengths, and a desire to explore my options…Rutgers was the place that provided me with the spectrum of opportunities I needed to eventually figure out what I wanted to pursue and the confidence to execute on my ideas."

Sarah has led by example, inspiring, mentoring, and galvanizing many other student leaders into action. A firm believer in people and in our power to shape our own world, Sarah’s contributions to the Honors College and the larger Rutgers community shine bright, but what shines even brighter is her genuine desire to give back to the community and the individuals around her.