As a first generation university student of Latino descent, Ive dedicated myself to improve the quality of life of underrepresented populations in the United States. Being a product of the Providence school system, within one of the most violent and poorest neighborhoods in Rhode Island, I was still able to rise above my surrounding and expectations placed upon me. I have witnessed how a lack of opportunity can negatively impact a communities most valuable natural resource, its youth. I have had to aggressively pursue opportunity while bearing chains of poverty and overcome the barriers and challenges that consume so many.
Thurgood Marshall said it best, “None of us has gotten where we are solely by pulling ourselves up from our own bootstraps. We got here because somebody bent down and helped us. ” Without the assistance, support and dedication from a few key figures of my past, I too would have never made it to the steps of a university. Therefore, I firmly believe that it is important for those who circumvent society’s expectation of underperformance or failure to return to their decaying communities to aid others in securing economic stability, illuminating obscure paths to higher education and an enhanced quality of life.
The most salient challenges facing New York Citys youth are similar to those facing inner city youth from across the nation: a lack of consistent parental supervision in their lives coupled with the negative influences of the wider community. I have worked with youth since I was a youth. Many come from homes which are headed by single parents who work so often that they are not able to consistently monitor and guide their children. As a result many young people become victims of the influences around them and engage in self destructive behavior. I hold this statement to be true because I was one those adolescences.
I was involved with drugs and violence and allowed myself to be defined by what society expected of me. Left to my own devices, I would have ended up just like my older brother, without a high school diploma, an active member of the Latin Kings and constantly looking over my shoulder. The only difference between us was that I met someone that took the time to care about who I was and not where I came from. I was blessed to stumble across my mentor, boss, and surrogate mother Tina Shepard. She led a non-profit called Project Ujima which focused on HIV/AIDS prevention education, and empowered youth to make healthy long lasting life decisions.
When I looked in a mirror I only saw a punk kid from the streets but when I looked at myself through her eyes I saw a youth that was more powerful beyond measure. With her guidance I found my voice and was surprised by how loud and clear it was. My interest in urban communities, equal opportunity education, and community development has been inspired by my history of overcoming social and economic adversity, my experiences in serving various communities, and in traveling to underserved areas within the United States.
A Masters in Nonprofit Management with a specialization in Public Administration and Educational Policy will enable me to become an effective activist, advocating for social, educational, and economic justice. My ultimate goal is to create a community center that will be a safe haven for creativity, expression of self and help our young people to find self worth. I will contribute to the advancement of underprivileged communities by mobilizing people and promoting social and economic justice within local setting at first, and then expanding to utilize resources nationally and perhaps globally.
A Masters in Non Profit Management will allow me to reach my goal by developing managerial skills, developing resources, and organizing communities. I will be able to research and contribute to the body of knowledge regarding social-economic development and community development through advocacy and nonprofit organizations. During and after receiving my graduate education, I intend not only to contribute to the body of knowledge regarding economic, social, cultural, and political development, but I also hope to put theory into practice by promoting the advancement of typically underserved communities for generations to come.