Julissa Palmero

To, Through & Beyond 

Many Uncommon alumni have not only met the challenge of making it to and through college, but have gone on to access an advanced degree beyond their bachelor’s. For three Uncommon alumni pursuing an advanced degree directly after graduating with their undergraduate degree, it is not only an accomplishment for themselves and their families, but an investment in the communities they wish to serve. While a college degree has historically been out of reach for many young people in this country, one could imagine how inaccessible an advanced degree might be, especially for those who identify as BIPOC women. At Uncommon Schools Julissa Palmero, UCHS ’16, Annabella Adragna, UCHS ’18, and Yarleny Andeliz, UCHS ’19, found a north star in their college counselor Beverly Santos who played a key role in their journeys to and through college and beyond. Here are their reflections on their decisions to persist through college and pursue master’s degrees in their respective fields. 

Julissa Palmero UCHS 16 will graduate this spring with a master’s degree in Social Work from one of the top 25 social work programs in the country at CUNY Hunter College. She graduated in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from CUNY Hunter College as well. 

What role did your college counselor or college advisor play in your journey toward a bachelor’s and/or master’s degree?

Without Ms. Santos (Beverly Santos, UCC Director of College Completion) I don’t think I would have ever figured out my passion or had the courage to even pursue social work and apply to graduate school. She gave me the confidence and motivation to do whatever my heart desired and to believe that I’m capable.She believes in me and that pushed me to go for what I wanted/want.

Why did you decide to pursue a master’s degree? How do you hope to utilize your degree?

I pursued a master’s degree because it is a requirement to work in my field. I knew I wanted to be a social worker, and this was the next step in the journey to become a social worker. With my degree, I hope to do preventative and intervention work with adolescents and truly advocate for their mental health and help them through navigating life.

What was the greatest obstacle within your college/graduate school journey that you needed to overcome to get to where you are today?

My greatest obstacle has been believing that I can attain my degree and get over my imposter syndrome. I still struggle with it, but I’ve learned to deal with it and believe in myself and my capabilities more. I also needed to manage procrastination, because the workload and readings can get pretty heavy. I needed to learn to get out of my own way. 

What was the greatest obstacle within your college/graduate school journey that you needed to overcome to get to where you are today?

My advice would be to go at your own pace and trust that things will work out even if you can’t stick to the original timeline. Not everyone takes the same path. It’s not about when or how you get there. It’s simply about getting there and believing in your own timing.