Major: political science
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
Awards and honors during your college career: Faculty Honors; Truman Scholarship nominee; Schwarzman Scholars semifinalist; U.S. Student Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship for Taiwan alternate
Extracurricular activities: first-year representative, Men of Color Alliance; P.R.I.D.E. leader; student representative, Trinity College Presidential Search Committee; mentor, J-Z AMP; vice president, president, Student Government Association; intern, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; Workforce and Development intern, Clinton Foundation; legislative intern, Bloomberg LP
How would you describe yourself as a first-year student? I first arrived at Trinity with the Posse Foundation, a leadership program that sends groups of students together to college to support each other. While I was passionate to advance my own studies, I also wanted to take a leadership role in service to Trinity College. As a first-year student, I participated in J-Z AMP and mentored two students at Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy. Sometimes, we took students off campus on the weekends. We wanted to provide them with support both in and outside of the classroom. In my time here, I was inspired by other student leaders who were leaving and had graduated (Ambar Paulino ’15 and Adolfo Abreu ’15). I joined the Men of Color Alliance, where a number of fellow classmates supported me through my first year. It was more than an organization for me – we became brothers. I very much enjoyed helping plan the organization’s talent show and women’s appreciation dinner.
How would you describe yourself now? I feel like I am prepared to take on the real world. Trinity allowed me to explore my interest in law and public policy. As president of the SGA, I met with Hartford City Council President [and Trinity College trustee] Shawn Wooden ’91 to talk about ways that the organization could collaborate with the city. I don’t believe that I could have received these invaluable opportunities at any other school. I was able to let my voice take shape in my classroom work and activities. In my empirical studies course with Professor Laws, students were able to present infographics to a senior representative from the governor’s office. These experiences have given me a realistic feel for how policy actually works. I feel not only energized to continue tackling these issues, but I also have the confidence to do so.
Which course has been your favorite? Why? As a sophomore, I applied to Trinity’s Legislative Internship Program. The program is a four-credit initiative that allows students to study at the Connecticut Capitol in Hartford during the semester. I worked for one semester with Representative Andy Fleischmann, chair of the Education Committee. I sat in on hearings for innovation in higher education and had the opportunity to see practical challenges of policy implementation firsthand. This course allowed me to take my collective experiences and write about them in a 10-page policy proposal report. I also developed close professional relationships with other legislators. Jason Rojas, chief of staff to President Berger-Sweeney, served as a de facto mentor for me partially through this program. The internship program gave me everything that I looked for – practical experience and a chance to see government in action.
Which professor has influenced you the most? Why? I loved working with Professor Stefanie Chambers during my time here. Professor Chambers helped me raise my level of consciousness about urban connections at Trinity. She helped me challenge myself by being a part of Trinity’s Community Learning Initiative fellowship program. I created a project with Julia Herr ’16 and Jake Jordan ’16 that explored dimensions of English Language Learner strategies at Burns Latino Studies Academy, a public school nearby. I was also a teaching assistant for Professor Chambers.
What is the most important thing you have learned at Trinity? I learned that it’s always important to advocate for collective values. My sophomore year, I was accepted to the Trinity College Presidential Search Committee as one of just two student representatives. At the time, I remember that the committee collectively said that Trinity was in need of someone to bring the campus together, build relationships with the city, and break down the walls of communication between several college constituencies. So many people expressed this sentiment, and we tried to find a leader who embodied what we needed. Only two years later, what we called for has taken shape in the Bantam Network, Trinity’s first-year program to support students; the Campaign for Community; and a new scholarship for HMTCA students. With time, I think several of these initiatives will only get better. The SGA vice president from last year sometimes joked that this was a “Trinity Renaissance.” As I graduate and reflect on my own experience, I think he is absolutely right.
What has been most important to you outside of class? The most important thing for me outside of class was to create a safe space for students like myself. As president of SGA last year, I wanted the organization to become comfortable with experimenting with structural changes. We had students from all walks of campus sign up for the “It’s on Us” sexual assault prevention campaign. The SGA also collaborated with ConnPIRG to hold a forum on college affordability, which legislators including Congressman John Larson attended.
What is your favorite Trinity memory … so far? My favorite memory at Trinity was from a retreat hosted by Posse this past year. Student leaders gathered off campus to discuss political correctness on college campuses. At the end of the leadership retreat, students gathered in a circle to show appreciation to each other for conversations that took place over three days. I was moved and encouraged to see the younger students speak up and take leadership roles. I saw students who were once timid take the lead of conversations. We all thanked Dean of Multicultural Affairs Karla Spurlock-Evans for always having her door open to support all of us. This experience gave me the confidence that the values of the initiatives I led would continue through other people.
Where do you hope to be in 10 years? I hope to be a manager of my own company. In 2012, I was accepted to the Clinton Global Initiative University with my Posse “brother” for a budding website that connected educators. We fundraised to hire coders who helped us build a website. We networked with hundreds of other students and young leaders who also had ideas to spark social change. I would have never been able to secure the resources and opportunities to do something like this without Trinity or the Posse Foundation. I am eternally grateful to both organizations for supporting me and hope to make the most of what I gained to help other people.