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.
Yarleny Andeliz UCHS ’19 will graduate this spring with a bachelor of science degree in engineering sciences from the University of Rochester. She will be attending the 4th ranked best graduate program for education in the country, at NYU this upcoming fall.
What role did your college counselor or college advisor play in your journey toward a bachelor’s and/or master’s degree?
I have so much appreciation for my college advisors! They were a huge part of my graduate school application process, and they are the reason I believe I was able to get into a lot of the schools I got into. My college advisors supported me, guided me, and offered a lot of assistance in the long and stressful process. They never stopped believing in me even when I wanted to give up. They never limited their time to help me with anything either. I can say with confidence that If I never had their help I would not be in the position I am today, graduating as a fourth year student with a degree in Engineering Science from the University of Rochester and recently committed to attend New York University in the Fall for a Master’s Program in Education!
Why did you decide to pursue a master’s degree? How do you hope to utilize your degree?
I decided to pursue a master’s degree to get me one step closer to my ultimate goal, which is to obtain my PhD in education!I hope to utilize my master’s degree and in the future my PhD to give me the guidance and knowledge of what I can do to impact and better education for future students in the STEM field. I hope to gain experience in many different aspects of teaching so that I can be a well rounded educator. I feel that students of color need more representation at the college level! I want to teach at the college level to innovate the academic college experience for students of color. For me, it’s extremely important because I’ve had a lot of times where my white professors have had a harder time understanding me and my struggles because of my background. I’ve also had lots of experience dealing with microaggressions, which can make it a lot harder for a student of color to feel like they can succeed in a college classroom. It can make them feel unsafe, misunderstood, and discriminated against. Students need representation so that they can be heard and supported academically throughout their higher education journey.
What was the greatest obstacle within your college/graduate school journey that you needed to overcome to get where you are today?
I think that for my graduate school journey I had a lot of self doubt because of the career change/shift from an undergraduate degree in engineering to pursuing a master’s in science. I also thought I wouldn’t get into the vast majority of the schools on my list. In addition, it was hard for me to get past people questioning my decision to pursue further education when I would be graduating with an engineering degree. Ultimately, I really had to block that negative energy, manifest, and believe in myself as a student, and as a person who is sure about her next steps.
What advice would you give alumni interested in pursuing an advanced degree?
My advice would be to never limit yourself to anything. If you have the opportunity to pursue graduate school, go for it! Don’t ever let anything or anyone’s opinion prevent you from doing the things you want to do. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Make sure you are utilizing all of the resources you have access to on your campus to the fullest!