Grace Allende, College Corps Member - NYU Jumpstart Program

Grace Allende
Double Major:  Global Liberal Studies / Social & Cultural Analysis; Focus on Intersectionality
Faculty of Arts and Science UG

I currently work as a College Corps Member at NYU’s Jumpstart Program where I visit an early childcare center twice a week on the Lower East Side to assist the classroom teacher. I serve predominately children of color from the Baruch housing projects. I work with a small team of co-workers to facilitate activities and teach students age three to five how to read. The mission of the Jumpstart program is to prepare children from under-resourced communities for kindergarten in order to combat educational inequity that affects historically disadvantaged and oppressed people.

As a first-generation Latina woman growing up in a low-income household with a single mother, I strive to help people with similar identities and common struggles. I am also a Higher Education Opportunity Program student at NYU so I understand the importance of giving back to my community. I decided to work with NYU’s Jumpstart Program because of my passion for teaching, mentoring, and empowering youth. This passion has only grown stronger throughout my undergraduate career because of the experience I’ve gained working as a Welcome Week Leader, Summer Peer Leader, Liberal Studies Peer Mentor, Opportunity Program Mentor, High School Mentor at Breakthrough New York, and Childcare Assistant at a domestic violence shelter in Brooklyn, New York.

I knew that joining NYU’s Jumpstart Program was something I needed to do in order to gain more hands-on skills in the classroom and a better understanding of the public education system. This experience has inspired me to continue working in the field of education after graduation. This semester I applied for teaching fellowships at Teach for America and Fulbright. Recently I received a job offer to teach early childhood education in Prince George’s County, Maryland. After completing my teaching fellowship, I will pursue a master’s degree in education or law degree to impact education policy.

Working with the program is by far one of the best decisions I have ever made. In particular, I have learned a lot about how to interact and teach children with special needs. Every Monday and Wednesday I leave the classroom feeling content because I know I made a difference in a child’s life. I advise students to not only pursue internships and jobs because they provide impressive titles for their resumes, but I encourage them to do work that is fulfilling and rewarding at the end of the day.


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Noelle Desir, Curriculum Chair - CAS Student Council

Elle Desir

Major: Social and Cultural Analysis
Minor: Chemistry; Pre-Med track
College of Arts and Science

As the Curriculum Chair for the College of Arts and Science (CAS) Student Council, my committee and I attempt to form a better academic experience for students and make it easier for them to handle their academic affairs. To accomplish this, we hold events during the year, such as the Student Faculty Banquet and the Majors and Minors Showcase. In addition to these events, my committee is focused on policy, which includes but is not limited to: getting a sense of students’ opinions about current classes, their curriculum, and any questions and concerns students may have regarding their academic path.

Ever since high school, I wanted to be on a student council; however, I was intimidated by the process of running and campaigning for an elected position. The fall of my junior year at NYU, it dawned on me that if I don’t run now, I will never have the opportunity to do it. So I decided to run for an elected position on the CAS Student Council. In order to run for an elected position in the College of Arts and Science, I had to attend an interest meeting where I received the ballot petitioning forms and information about the Curriculum Chair position. I petitioned for two days and received enough signatures from CAS students to be placed on the ballot. I then campaigned to get votes from the CAS student body and was thankfully elected.

I hope to strengthen my organizational, delegation, and event-planning skills. These are the three main skills that I use as the Curriculum Chair. I am in charge of managing an $11,000 budget and delegating how much money should be spent on one event as opposed to another. Delegating tasks to Curriculum Committee members is another essential task; I cannot do all of the work of planning large-scale events alone: I need a team to work with me. Organizing my own schedule, as well as the schedules of my Committee members, is a vital skill I have strengthened as well.

Working with others is something that everyone must learn to do in all aspects of life. Working with and relying on other people can be a blessing as well as an obstacle. While dividing and completing tasks can be useful, leaders must also be prepared to take on more than initially planned, because those with tasks delegated to them might not complete their part. Because of this, I have learned that there should always be a Plan B, and for very important tasks, a Plan C. While campus leadership has its obstacles, there are so many more rewards. Some of these include building a community with other student leaders and making connections with professors, graduate students and administration through leadership positions. There are so many connections and meaningful friendships to be made through undergraduate leadership.

I think that it is always important to think about how what you are doing is affecting those around you. There is a certain personal gratification that one gets in seeing oneself making a positive change in one’s community. My advice is: pursue as many leadership initiatives as you can manage; it is the most fulfilling activity you will do during your college career. My leadership experiences have helped me learn essential skills such as how to manage my time more efficiently, how to prioritize assignments, and how to balance my social and academic life. These are all skills that are useful in college and will be useful for the rest of my life.

Joel Urena, Senator - Tandon Undergraduate Student Council

Joel Urena

Major: Integrated Digital Media
Tandon School of Engineering

During my time at Tandon, I’ve experienced a great deal of personal development and growth, and I’m incredibly grateful for those who have pushed me to apply and dedicate myself to various leadership roles.

When I was a first-year student, I remember always being anxious as I felt I couldn’t keep pace with the academic rigors of my university, and I was always seeking guidance from my adviser and peers as to what my “place” at Tandon was. After realizing that my initial major declaration, Computer Engineering, was not for me, I recognized that rather than feeling helpless, I had to take control. I followed my passion for government work and media and switched into my current major program; I applied for a Teaching Assistant position to one of my favorite courses, General Engineering; and I applied for the role of Lead Student Assistant at the Bern Dibner Library. After successfully obtaining both of these positions, I took note of the myriad of opportunities that I had ignored throughout my first year, and I committed to never letting another one pass me by.

Last year, under the guidance of one of my closest friends, I lead a successful campaign for the role of Tandon Undergraduate Student Council (TUSC) Senator. The senator’s role within student government is to represent a particular school or constituency within the various branches of NYU’s governance structure. As senator, I represent Tandon at the university-wide Student Senators Council, Student Government Assembly and University Senate. Additionally, senators must serve on committees that work on actionable items or resolutions to present to these government bodies. As someone who cares deeply about government policy, I was ecstatic to be given the opportunity to shape the policies of New York University as a whole but in particular the academic policies of Tandon. My goal as the senator is not only to represent students and their concerns but also to address the transitional pains students experience as they go from high school to college, which can be exacerbated when one goes to an engineering school. The last two months within this role has already made me a much better listener, a more patient person, and an even bigger policy wonk as I’ve experienced the excruciating detail analysis that the resolution committee process entails. However, I’ve also realized that I’ve had to micromanage my time as I try to fulfill my senatorial responsibilities along with my responsibilities as a student and a student-worker.

I hope that my time and experiences can help other students understand that if they feel out of place or anxious within their university, they have much more control over their future than they think. Being elected senator helped me realize that Tandon is my home and that the relationships I’ve made here both professionally and personally will be relationships that will come to define me after I graduate. Just like any in other home, some things aren’t as perfect they appear, and I figured it was up to me be the agent of change that I wanted to see. As hectic as any given semester can be, remember that the opportunities that are presented to you can show you new aspects of yourself, challenge you to be better, and show you the issues that you have the power to address.  

Divine Williams, Games Day Chair - Academic Achievement Program

Divine Williams
Media, Culture and Communications
Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development

One leadership position that I hold on campus is Games Day Chair for the Academic Achievement Program (AAP). I am responsible for planning a weekly program of games for the purpose of building community amongst students of color who are attempting to integrate into the NYU community. We organize and facilitate active games such as steal the bacon, and brain games such as riddles, with the hopes of providing a space for students to de-stress and feel comfortable on campus.

I became involved in this position during my first year. After attending the annual AAP Retreat, I decided to increase my activity on campus and joined a committee of student volunteers for Games Day. In this position, I assisted committee chairs in completing much of the administrative work such as sending emails, organizing planning meetings, and facilitating games. Additionally, I volunteered to do the weekly welcome address and made students feel comfortable in the space by making myself available to talk with them. When a job became available, I applied and received an offer because I was consistent and hardworking. Through this leadership role, I hope to strengthen my teamwork and delegation skills, which are both valuable and transferable to my dream career field of Marketing and Public Relations.

One obstacle that I generally encounter when facilitating games during the event is crowd control. We typically have a turnout of approximately 40 people, and sometimes the room can get loud and chaotic. Learning how to navigate this issue and enforce rules has equipped me with knowledge that I can use outside of this job. Moreover, my public speaking skills have improved because of this position, which is a clear reward. I give words of encouragement to students who are looking to participate in leadership initiatives, for them to participate in activities that challenge them mentally, physically, and socially. I also would remind them that their voice deserves to be heard just as much as anyone else’s voice on campus.