Degree: B.S. in Criminal Justice
Hometown: Dominican Republic; Queens, New York
Mentor: Xenia Machado
Program: ACE (Accelerate Complete Engage)
Internship: Constituent Services Liaison for New York City Councilwoman Carlina Rivera
Current Job: Director of Community Outreach for New York City Councilwoman Carlina Rivera
“My ACE Advisor Xenia Machado was my greatest support. She walked me through the job application process, supported me through the internship application process, helped me polish my resume, and even conducted mock interviews to boost my confidence. Xenia was there for me when I had doubts—and I had a lot of them because I was a first-gen student and an immigrant. She always reassured me that I was doing well and would end up in a good place.”
What was life like before John Jay?
I moved around a lot because my parents are Dominican and I was born in Spain. No one in my family—not cousins, aunts, or uncles—ever went to college. In high school, I felt really lost because I couldn’t find a mentor to guide me. I attended Queensborough Community College and joined ASAP (Accelerated Study in Associate Programs). Through that CUNY program, I met my first mentor who helped me come up with a plan to join ACE, obtain my bachelor’s degree from John Jay, and get a good job. That’s what is so amazing about the ASAP and ACE programs, sometimes you just need that one person to listen to you and be there for you. When you get that kind of support it’s much easier to believe in yourself and thrive.
Why John Jay?
I wanted to join law enforcement, and getting my degree in criminal justice seemed like the perfect fit. I knew that John Jay was renowned for that field and earning my degree at John Jay would give me more opportunities post-graduation in the criminal justice world.
What classes or experiences helped further your career aspirations?
My ACE Advisor, Xenia, helped me get an internship with City Councilwoman Carlina Rivera. My job as an intern was to help community members with any housing issues they faced. There were a lot of NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority) residents who needed repairs and services. If I learned that a resident had mental health issues, I would direct them to a nonprofit that could assist them. I really loved what I was doing. The internship changed my career path in the best way possible. Before the internship, I planned on joining the NYPD (New York City Police Department), but after getting the internship, I realized that I could have a more significant impact at the City Council office.
How did ACE uplift you specifically as a Latina student?
ACE sees the gap in need for Latino students. Many of us don’t have families with deep knowledge about higher education opportunities. The ACE staff understands this and reaches out to Latino students, giving us the knowledge and resources we need to succeed. ACE also ensured we saw Latino representation in our advisors, workshop speakers, and internship mentors. ACE was intentional in the Latino role models they presented to us, ensuring that we could envision ourselves following in their footsteps—my advisor was Latina, my mentor at City Council was Latina, and the City Councilwoman I worked with was Latina. I knew if they could succeed, so could I.
How did you turn your internship into a full-time job?
During the internship, I showed genuine interest in the community I was supporting. I found out that the office is very social-work oriented. A lot of the people needed someone to assist them and that touched my heart. In my life, I had people—like my ASAP and ACE advisors—who went out of their way to help me, so I wanted to be that same type of support for the constituents I served. After my internship was over, they hired me as a paid intern for the summer. Then, because they liked how dedicated I was, they hired me as a full-time Community and Policy Aide. I did really well in that role, so they promoted me to Director of Community Outreach.
What do you love about your current job?
I really enjoy organizing community events and holding informational sessions on local issues—like housing, health, or food insecurity challenges. One of my favorite parts of the job is interacting with seniors. A lot of our seniors are worried because they don’t know how to use technology to get the services they need—even something as simple as a MetroCard machine can upset them. So, I contacted MTA representatives to come and speak with our seniors about the whole process. Now, if they have any questions, they have someone they can go to for help. Our seniors just need somebody to talk to and guide them. You’d be amazed at how simply connecting them to a helpful program uplifts their spirits.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I’d like to earn my M.S.W. (Master of Social Work). My work right now is so social-work-oriented that I’d like to learn more about the field in an academic environment. I hope the degree will help me further the work in a deeper capacity.