Meet Carlos Sotelo!

By: Chris Loney | Friday, July 11, 2014

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Growing up, I had a front-row seat to the achievement gap show, and it was playing on a continuous basis in my community. I refused to believe that my zip code determined my destiny. Born in Mexico, but mostly raised in the US, I was a product of low-income and working class, immigrant neighborhoods, and persevered through my public school background to attend Princeton as a first-generation college student.

Realizing how my educational aspirations were contingent on navigating the complex financial aid process, I became driven to improve the higher education narrative for students coming from similar backgrounds as mine. I developed a kindling passion to help increase college access and success for the students needing the knowledge and a support system the most.

Seeing myself aligned with uAspire’s values, I naturally pictured uAspire and me to be one of the best combinations since Cookies and Cream. A completed application and two interviews later, I enthusiastically began my internship after boarding the first bus to Boston following my last final.

Once here, I dove into multiple projects where I was involved in performing market research and analysis for the development of marketing strategies, cataloging material and developing intellectual property policies, revamping resources aimed at helping undocumented students, creating a system to collect Advisor stories, collaborating on an intern project, entering data measuring the impact of our high school programming, and researching students’ college matriculation information for the delivery of important text messages aimed at reducing Summer Melt.

A highlight has been working on projects with Chris because he has placed so much trust and faith in me to see through numerous aspects of strategy and policy development.

 

uAspire First-Gen. Employee Interview:

Elsa Martinez-Pimentel

(Assistant Program Director)

Elsa

 

We’re both among the first in our families to have gone to college, and despite growing up in different parts of the country, we both witnessed the cycle of poverty in our respective neighborhoods.  Bolstered by an immigrant heritage from the Dominican Republic, Elsa also speaks of her parent’s push for her sibling and her to attend college in order to have better lives.

Elsa credits her personal experiences as the inspiring drive she has to create meaningful change. Knowing full well how paradoxical the first-gen college experience can be, Elsa had to couple the immense pride of making it past high school with the newfound struggles of navigating a largely foreign stage of life with little precedent. Through it all, she acknowledges that without her education, she wouldn’t be in the impactful position she is in today, working to eliminate the barriers to a higher education for the students uAspire serves.

Highlighting some of the particularly tough aspects of the work she does, Elsa underscores the difficulty in dealing with families moving forward with college decisions that don’t make the best financial sense in the long-run.

In addition, she brings attention to the fact that public schools aren’t doing enough to academically prepare students for college. Too often, Elsa points out, students have to begin college taking remedial courses that use up their financial aid.

What Elsa Wishes She Knew on Her First Day of College:

Know that you will have to purchase your own books! While it may not be the biggest priority you may have, purchasing costly books on your own will likely be a foreign experience, so anticipate it in advance to avoid scrambling for them at the last minute.