Lizet Portillo

Transfer student maximizes opportunities at RBS-Newark

Junior Lizet Portillo's resourcefulness and resiliency kicked in when instead of heading to campus, she found herself attending college remotely.

Marketing major Lizet Portillo set her sights on Rutgers Business School-Newark while attending community college and running a digital marketing firm she cofounded. Outgoing and driven, Portillo envisioned putting in plenty of face time on campus, an immersive networking endeavor.

The COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in that plan; Portillo hasn’t stepped foot on campus since enrolling in September, taking all courses virtually from her West New York apartment. Instead, she found a workaround: “I opened every email from Rutgers, looked at participating in every panel, and figured out all these opportunities,” the 21-year-old said.

Through the Honors Living-Learning Community at RBS-Newark, Portillo is working on a concentration in social justice. She’s in the school’s BOLD Women’s Leadership Network, a scholarship program that promotes personal growth and social change. She also was accepted into the select organization, Women BUILD (Business Undergraduates in Leadership Development). “Women BUILD puts forth mentors and role models you need as a woman,” Portillo said.

Portillo’s interest in marketing ignited during 11th grade, when a former classmate, Cristopher Calle (now an RBS-Newark senior), asked for her help creating an e-commerce platform for his clothing line. They spent hours figuring out how to set up a website, develop social media platforms and sell merchandise online. The result was, which evolved into their digital marketing firm.

“I fell in love with marketing,” Portillo said. “It’s become my point of gravity.” She especially enjoys creating narratives: “Storytelling can change the course of our lives!” she said. Portillo noted she recognizes the psychological power of marketing, and wields it responsibly to inspire and motivate.

Lizet Portillo, a stand-out RBS-Newark studentTo help restaurants struggling during the pandemic, Portillo spent last summer reaching out to owners to offer marketing services. She and Calle also created a website and video for an interactive virtual reality project that debuted last fall at the 2020 Newark Arts Festival.

The junior appreciates that her RBS professors are experts in their fields. “I dived in, and I’m applying everything we’re learning in the classroom in real time,” she said. That includes building her ‘social wealth’ by expanding her network on LinkedIn.

Portillo’s mother has been a powerful force in her life. Born in El Salvador, her mother had to leave school in the ninth grade to help care for her siblings, Portillo said. At age 19, her mother and Portillo’s grandfather came to the U.S. to earn enough money to bring her mother’s nine siblings.

Portillo’s mother has built her own housecleaning business and is the family breadwinner, Portillo said. “My mom’s a bad-ass. She’s broken a lot of barriers.”

Portillo aspires to work for innovative companies committed to being stewards of the environment. Another goal? “To make the Forbes 30 under 30 list,” she said. Her experiences at RBS “have really empowered me to think beyond my circumstances,” Portillo said. “I try to use my passion for marketing to inspire people to dream big.”

- Margaret McHugh






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