How did you find out about DAUS? What drew you to transfer from community college and pursue your education with us?
I learned about DAUS through two professors at the community college I was attending at the time. One professor sent me an invitation to an event at NYU with the Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies (CLACS) with the former President of the Dominican Republic, Dr. Leonel Fernandez. After having the opportunity to sit down next to a world leader and converse, I was immediately attracted to what NYU could offer me. A few weeks later, my other professor shared that he had nominated me for a scholarship to NYU, and my interest to transfer to NYU grew. Learning about the different programs at SPS, I saw that leadership was an area of study that resonated with me.
What prompted you to get involved with Spirit Week?
Spirit Week at NYU SPS is always so much fun. This year, the Student Council, of which I am a member, started planning in July amid COVID-19. For me, Student Council provides a sense of community, where your voice matters. Also, it connects us with industry professionals as we come up with ideas for student events, such as Spirit Week.
What other school initiatives are you participating in or hope to participate in?
This year, I was able to attend a small virtual roundtable discussion with the SPS Dean Search Committee that centered on engagement. This assortment of leaders gave me courage to speak about issues I’ve studied during my time as a club leader with Rainbow Alliance (an NYU SPS club for undergraduate and graduate LGBTQIA+ students), issues that some students face every day. Additionally, as the Alternate Senator for the Undergraduate Student Council, I attend monthly Senate meetings, which have been very enlightening. NYU’s efforts to keep its faculty and students safe during COVID-19 are comforting. During these meetings, Senators vote on suggestions and concerns NYU might be facing, but the cream of the crop is to have your “Zoom square” next to President Andrew Hamilton.
How has your time at SPS and DAUS shaped you as a leader? Why have you taken up leadership roles?
Initially, I remember telling myself, “I have had my fill on leadership functions,” since I managed a team of 32 associates. So I passed on the first opportunity to get involved. Subsequently, after being asked a few times by the Student Council President, I registered for a meeting to see if this was something I could even consider having on my schedule. Eventually, I accepted. I feel honored to be a part of the community at NYU SPS and NYU at large. As a non-traditional transfer student, I feel DAUS has helped me contextualize the professional work that I do. Professors John Burnett and Shaunice Hawkins have been inspirational, but also adept at using the material discussed in class and connecting it to the real world. Additionally, leadership is about servitude, and my family has incorporated the spirit of servitude. My grandfather, Rev. Fortunato Santana, was a minister for over 30 years, so serving has come instinctively to me.
Any plans or pursuits after graduation yet?
NYU SPS has given me a sense of community and belonging. My big picture plan is to work for an organization that is sustainable with its efforts to offer services and/or a product while operating everyday business with ethics, spearheading every project in the same way. Reflecting on my experience with the Student Council, I wonder if there would be an opportunity in my future as an advisor to encourage students. I enjoy working collectively with people towards an organizational aspiration to achieve, and anywhere where I can do this is where I would like to be.