Saskia Leo Cipriani was born in 1980 in Santurce, Puerto Rico. Her parents were born in the Dominican Republic. In 1981, her family moved to Passaic, New Jersey, where she grew up in a neighborhood that was, at the time, largely Dominican and Puerto Rican. She attended Catholic schools and then Clifton High School.
After going to Passaic County Community College for one semester, she transferred to Rutgers University, first to University College and then to Livingston College, where she graduated in 2004. During her undergraduate years, she was involved in Lambda Theta Alpha sorority, Casa Boricua, the Latin American Student Organization (LASO), and the Latin American Womxn’s Association (LAWO). Additionally, her work-study job was at the Center for Latino Arts and Culture (CLAC).
Over the course of her career, she has worked in the private sector and in higher education. In 2010, she earned a Master’s in Public Affairs and Administration at Rutgers-Newark. At the time of the interview, she was working on her dissertation in the Ed.D. program in Educational Leadership at Rowan University. In 2009, she co-founded the Latino Alumni Association at Rutgers University (LAARU). Since 2012, Ms. Cipriani has served as the Assistant Director of CLAC.
This oral history interview was conducted as a part of the Latino New Jersey History Project, directed by Dr. Lilia Fernandez.