August 30, 2023

Scholar Voices: How I aligned my career path with my passion for human rights and social injustice

I started my journey at Lafayette College intending to study economics and faced many challenges trying to decide what I wanted to pursue after college. My classes were packed with STEM courses, and I felt ill-prepared for the journey I was about to embark upon.   

Three weeks into the semester, I was struggling in almost every class I was taking. I was forced to withdraw from my chemistry class and barely got by with my math and economics classes. When I received mid-term grades, I knew I needed to adjust. After several discussions with my advisor, the class dean and a mentor, I realized that I wasn’t interested in pursuing economics as someone who cared about the economy; I did it because of the potential I had to make a decent living for myself after college. I wasn’t willing to compromise my happiness and well-being to do something I knew I wasn’t going to dedicate 100 percent of my passion to. 

After taking “Introduction to Sociology and Poverty in America,” I was determined to learn more about the societal and structural inequalities that negatively affected my community and how I could do meaningful work to positively impact the generations after me. 

TGR Foundation was extremely helpful in my struggles throughout the years. As an Earl Woods Scholar, I was paired with an amazing mentor, Tim Walsh, who opened up his networks and family to me and was very active throughout each year. I appreciate Tim and his wife, Carol, for everything they’ve done for me. They took the time to get to know who I was and were very helpful in my journey. With the support from Tim and Carol, I was able to secure my first internship at a local nonprofit organization, where I was able to experience social work at a macro level.  

I’ve realized that I’m committed to becoming a clinical social worker, not only because I’d like to fix the issues of corruption and stigma that flood the social welfare system but also because I want to be an ally to the young people and families who are experiencing the same situations I encountered in my childhood.  

Alma Gutierrez, TGR Foundation’s Director of Programs, also played a key supporting role in my success throughout college. She provided me with much-needed reassurance when I wasn’t feeling the best about my academic situation and took the time to help me map out what my definition of success looked like moving forward. The endless support from everyone allowed me to be receptive to the changes I was going through and provided me with the necessary tools to become successful moving forward. 

At this point in my life, I’m incredibly proud of everything I’ve been able to accomplish. I’ve made it through every obstacle I have faced thus far. I became the first in my family to graduate from a college or university. I was accepted into Boston University, my top choice of schools to pursue my Master of Social Work, and I continuously strive toward becoming a positive role model for my family. The future holds a lot of uncertainty, but I’m determined to continue working toward becoming someone who can positively impact the lives of others.