How did you choose Saint Michael’s College?
When I was in high school I went to a program called Upward Bound at Pace University and a counselor there named Mr. Callaway literally said to me, “You know what? I think you should go to a private Catholic school!” And he organized a trip to Saint Michael’s for me and some other students to visit to see how we liked it, and from that visit I really, really loved the atmosphere and community of Saint Michael’s. Carlos Vega, the admissions counselor -- not only made the whole opportunity for me to visit here possible, but it was overall a great experience and I said, ‘I guess Mr. Callaway was right after all!’ I didn’t even go to a Catholic high school but it was good to have a good direction on where to go. It’s one of those major decisions I will never regret.”
What does it mean for you to be a first generation student?
To me, being a first-generation student means that this is a sort of a climax. I didn’t wake up one day and decided I will be a first generation student. There were so many steps, so many experiences and challenges that I believe my mother and my siblings went through and contributed on my behalf, all climaxing to make this opportunity possible for me. I have three siblings -- two sisters and one brother -- and I’m the youngest. To be a first generation student is not only a great accomplishment in itself, but it’s something that I believe that my family made possible because, through their hard work, I was able to follow this path. It’s one more step that maybe they didn’t take, but I am able to take because of them. Additionally, I am absolutely grateful to God for all of the mentors, programs, and individuals that have contributed and still contribute to my success and future.
How have your accomplishments at Saint Michael’s surprised you?
Christopher Robin once told Pooh Bear, “You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” Overall my accomplishments at St. Mike’s didn’t surprise me, they made me a better person – they pushed me farther. During my time here at Saint Michael’s College, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in many programs and leadership roles that has shaped me into the person that I am today. Outside of classes, I was able to work and engage in the community, whether it was as an RA or through a volunteer effort or through my role as a leader for SMC1st – a first generation student council created by CMAS office.”
What do you think your perspective and experiences as a first-generation student bring to the St. Mike’s community?
As a first generation student, I believe that I bring a different perspective than my college counterparts, as a result of my experiences. I think that my story is one filled with unwavering perseverance and commitment, that many other first generation students endure and have to face ontop of going to college. Whether it’s contributing through dialogue or through discussion in class, my approach to interacting with other students is to be open-minded and respectful. Coming to Saint Michael’s College has been a culture shock and eye opening experience. My father passed away when I was five years old, so I grew up in a single parent home. I began my college career with my mom as my main motivator. If you were apart of the admissions committee at Saint Michael’s College and you read my college essay, you would’ve found that there was one message in my story. Basically, I came to college to work hard so that when I graduate, my mom would be proud and together, we would be one step closer to living a better life. It was supposed to be a life in which my mom didn’t have to work hard anymore because I would have things under control. My first semester of college went really great. I enjoyed my classes and met some amazing professors. My sweet transition into college came to a halt when my mom became sick during winter break and passed away on February 1, 2015. I can’t tell you how to move on from something like this. And I can’t tell you how I was able to come back to school immediately after and function like a student. It’s almost like I was in autopilot mode. It’s three years later, and I’m still trying to manage the gears of this solo flight. But our dreams still remain in my heart, and they are my motivation.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
In the future I hope to be a dentist, and I dream to be successful in that, because I will be the first of my family to pursue a professional degree in graduate school. I know that I’ve spoken of “paths” a lot of times, but I feel I am turning a new path as an example for my nieces. I want them to be able to say, ‘oh, my aunt is a dentist, I can be a dentist also, or a doctor,’ to show them that they have opportunities also.
I was interested in dentistry, just as a kid, and what fascinated me was this -- when I was younger, maybe 5 years old or so with a really bad toothache, I went to the dentist and he took it out, but months later my own baby teeth fell out, and I found that really fascinating, wondering ‘how can someone do what nature does?! So I’ve just been fascinated since then – how can they do such an art? And that’s what has brought me here to be interested in dentistry.
With that career goal, I have taken a lot of science along with social science in my liberal arts studies as an economics major. The only reason I chose economics is that, even though it’s not accounting, my family always wanted me to be an accountant or go into business because I was always naturally good at things like house bills and things like that, so they wanted me to go in that direction, but I just always had the desire to be a dentist. You have to run a business to be a dentist, so it’s a win-win studying both the science and business!
Regarding my research with the skulls -- Professor McCabe started this work and I came on this summer to do the remaining things his publishers wanted him to do to show the effectiveness of a digital archive, as he’s using with studying these skulls. You can measure the skulls online, comparing it to actual physical measurements to see how accurate the digital measurements are and prove you can use digital archives in this kind of research. My job was to measure the skulls and run all the statistical tests along with it. We’re not only measuring the skulls but comparing skulls from different regions, for example, to show that you can use the digital archives accurately and effectively in this kind of research. (And of course, the skulls have teeth …. though it’s not the main focus, unfortunately for a person like me who wants to be a dentist!)