This past summer, I interned at NERA Economic Consulting in New York. NERA is one of several companies under the Marsh & Mclennan brand, which includes Oliver Wyman, Mercer, etc. On day one, one of the VPs described economic consultants as quantitative lawyers. Most of the work I did involved using economic analyses to testify for cases in court. Other cases may include forecasting for litigation matters or labor damages.
I built an array of quantitative skills from the experience and learned a lot about different industries. I was also lucky enough to have rotated around different groups within the company, so I had exposure to securities, anti-trust, and labor cases.
Unfairness is easy to understand on paper. As an Education Studies concentrator, I’ve pored over research on the education achievement gap, perhaps the United States’ most self-evident phenomenon: low-income students consistently underperform their more affluent counterparts; low-income designation disproportionately correlates to ethnic minority status; underresourced schools yield the lowest rates of college achievement. Among other factors such as socioeconomic status, family and neighborhood characteristics, teacher quality is known to factor significantly on a student’s future success. When I first arrived in San Juan Capistrano, CA, as a Teaching Fellow for a national education nonprofit, I was buoyed by commitment to educational equity and daunted by the responsibility.
Breakthrough Collaborative is a nonprofit with a mission to put high-potential, low-income middle school students on track toward college. Each summer, Breakthrough hosts a summer learning program at each of its 26 urban sites nationwide and recruits college students to teach in a professional school environment. In total, 86 rising 7th, 8th, and 9th graders attended Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano. As I taught two class periods of 8th grade American History, I easily found myself working 12-hour workdays and devoting weekends to producing the most creative, engaging lesson plans. But the moments I cherish most are the quieter times I spent with my students, learning about Eduardo’s passion for military history or Marlene’s hopes to become a doctor. Most of these students aspire to be the first in their families to go to college.
There is a mantra that we breathe at Breakthrough: “It’s all about the kids.” Educational inequality can be represented statistically a thousand times over, but it’s essential to know the students who are living the achievement gap. No academic paper could have warned me that many of my students would not have books at home, or that I would run into a city councilwoman who expressed that there were “too many students of color” in the program. I was far from the perfect teacher. But if there’s anything I hope I imparted, it’s that my students are important enough for the Breakthrough community to care about their going to college and toward a lifetime of opportunity, and that my summer was only one leg of their far greater journey.
After a very eventful first year at Brown, I knew coming into this summer that I wanted to be able to spend some time at home, while also doing something more meaningful than just Netflix binge-watching and napping all day (which I enjoy very much). Throughout the year, I made sure to keep an open mind about opportunities that might be of interest to me and I applied to numerous organizations and programs. Although I was not sure how my summer was going to turn out, I was able to partake in a great national program, travel, and spend the time needed at home, shaping into a great freshman year summer.
I was selected to participate in SEO-U, a pipeline program for 1st and 2nd year college students interested in learning more about financial careers in banks and corporations. Through this program, I was able to get online trainings, talk to professionals, network with other students of color, and learn more about investment banking in specific. Aside from SEO-U, I was able to give back to a program I was apart of throughout my high school career, Arizona Ivy League Project, by interning with the CEO of the non-profit. I was tasked with creating informational workshops and acting as a mentor to high school students in order to teach them about the college process and what it takes to get into an Ivy League institution. As the active V.P. of Policy for the Ivy League Council, an organization that represents all of the Ivy League schools, I have worked with the other schools to put together a leadership conference that will take place first semester. I was selected to be a Hispanic Scholar for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, which was very exciting news.
Apart from work, I have also had the chance to enjoy myself by traveling throughout the West Coast, as well as exploring Mexico; I even sailed on a yacht for the first time, which was awesome! Reflecting back on my summer, I feel that it was just the right amount of work and play, which is just what I needed for my first summer of college. Although the summer flew by, it is also safe to say that I am ready to have another great year at Brown, and am excited for everything WIB has in store!