Samantha Alcala ’11

Samantha Alcala ’11

DEGREES: B.S. in educational studies and psychology; M.A. in sociology and education, Teachers College, Columbia University, expected spring 2018

JOB TITLE: Senior program manager, college success at iMentor

FAVORITE TRINITY MEMORY: I had a great time in Trinidad with Professor Alison Draper’s first-year seminar on science and asthma in Hartford and Trinidad. It motivated me to study abroad and to make travel a priority in my life.

What do you do in your role at iMentor? I facilitate college readiness relationships between mentor/mentee pairs at a public bilingual (English/Spanish) high school for recent immigrants. I teach weekly classes where the pairs exchange online communication and organize monthly events for their in-person check-ins.

What drew you to the field of education? I have admired my teachers’ work for as long as I can remember, but I knew I did not want to teach traditional school subjects. I did not plan to study education even though I have enjoyed visits to my cousin’s third-grade classroom since I was in the third grade. I learned two things at Trinity that finally drew me to the field: 1) I could pursue an educational studies major that isn’t a teacher certification program but an interdisciplinary approach to understand education; and 2) I earned a merit-based scholarship, but people who share similar backgrounds and experiences as me do not always get equal access to resources and opportunities based on their merit.

How did your time at Trinity affect your career choice? Trinity provided me the space and time to reflect on my identity and to build more self-confidence. My campus leadership roles and educational studies work in Hartford helped me understand my position as a Puerto Rican and Venezuelan New Yorker removed from my comfort zone. I became more appreciative of Posse’s role in my experience as I gained a better understanding of the American education system; college access and readiness work has become one of my main interests in the field.

To what do you most look forward as the recipient of Columbia University Teachers College’s first full-tuition fellowship for Posse Foundation alumni seeking master’s degrees? Months have passed since I received my “second Posse call,” and I still question if this is real. I am grateful and excited to return to the classroom as a student rather than as an educator so I can reflect on my work these past five years. I am also excited to conduct research with leaders in the field and to collaborate with peers who have similar ambitions.

What do you hope to do after receiving your master’s? My main goal is to provide resources and opportunities to underrepresented youth in New York City. I am interested in a few schools and organizations but will keep my options open to all possibilities. It’s the only way I’ve gotten to this point in my life.

What was the most memorable course you took at Trinity? Why? The introductory educational studies course “Analyzing Schools” — it set the foundation for the rest of my time at Trinity. I still have the course reader and recently used it to plan a discussion on diversity and inclusion at my office. I also loved taking “Basic Acting” — a fun and sometimes terrifying experience that provided invaluable, transferable skills.

Was there a Trinity professor who was particularly influential? If so, who was it, and why? Several Trinity faculty and staff were influential, but I must acknowledge Professor Jack Dougherty. He helped me realize my potential to push myself further than I imagined, even throughout my grad school application process. Jack’s investment in his students’ success is as admirable as his investment in the Hartford education system. I aspire to use the lessons from his course work and his example as an educator in my own classroom.