Gina Giardinieri '12
Her passion for helping children in poverty developed when she was part of Team Nicaragua, a group of students who traveled to Nicaragua to learn about how US policies affect developing nations and how they can positively impact those communities. She was part of the delegation during her freshman year, and the experience was life changing for her. “I saw poverty first hand and it changed my life forever.”
Gina first became acquainted with the Fresh Air Fund while she was looking for internship opportunities. She thought it sounded interesting and wanted to pursue a career working with underprivileged children. The Fresh Air Fund is a nonprofit organization that gives inner city children the opportunity to spend part of their summer vacation at either a summer camp or with a rural or suburban host family. After completing her internship, she was offered a job there.
Gina majored in Family and Child Studies with a concentration in Family Services. She also minored in Sociology. This rigorous courseload taught her more than just academics – Gina became a time management expert, balancing academics with membership in the Latin American Student Organization and a position on the Latin American and Latino Studies Advisory Board. As a student, she felt close to her fellow Family and Child Studies students. She often saw the same people in multiple classes and through the years, building strong bonds with them over their shared interest and major. One of her favorite classes was Poverty and Families. In the course, students learned about the various economic and social structures that place families at risk for destructive behaviors. Work with the community was a requirement for the class, which helped to inspire Gina to work with children in poverty.
Being able to help the children who need it has been a great experience for Gina. “I’m now working in a field I love,” she said. One of her proudest moments was graduating from Montclair State because she is the first person in her family to obtain a college degree. “I come from parents who emigrated to the US from Colombia and Argentina. Watching them work diligently to give my brother and me a better future was my biggest motivation.”