“YPIE has been everything -- a pathway to success. I cannot thank YPIE enough. I would not be in the place I am today, the college that I am going to without YPIE. It’s just an amazing program.”
YPIE Fellow, Riverside Highschool Graduate, June 2020
College freshman, Trinity College
Major: Neuroscience with intent to attend Medical School
When did you first come to Yonkers?
Andres was born in Honduras and immigrated to the United States with his mother when he was 11 years old. His mother chose Yonkers so they could live with his Grandmother and Aunt who previously chose Yonkers as their home.
“When I first got here, we moved into a 1 bedroom apartment with 6 people. My mom had two jobs to manage and struggled with English. It was not easy... to his day, it isn’t. My mom would have been fine in Honduras, but she moved us here for my education and my future.”
Tell us about your high school experience in Yonkers.
Andres was initially interested in Art and Design, and chose Riverside High School because he knew they had a program in computer design. In 9th grade, he was selected to be part of P-TECH, an academic and career program that enables students to take college-level courses during high school. “I started with introduction to electrical and mechanical engineering classes and continued with higher-level classes in my Junior and Senior years.”
How did you get involved in YPIE?
Andres first heard about YPIE when he was in 9th grade, but became involved once he started the college process. “Once I realized that I would be applying to college soon, I realized I was clueless. I knew I needed help and reached out to the YPIE College Advisor to join.”
Initially, Andres’ college advisor helped him with his college essay, which depicted the process of his moving from Honduras to the United States. She also helped Andres create his college list and with financial aid.
“I had ideas of the colleges I would apply to, but as you enter the college process, you are not sure where you stand as compared to the statistics of colleges. My advisor paved the way and really helped me diversify my list -- safeties, best-fit, reach schools. There were schools I never knew about -- including the school I am going to, Trinity College.”
“Through YPIE, I learned about colleges that I fit into -- and those that could also help me. Those that are very beneficial to my circumstances, low income, minority, first-generation school.”
In what other ways was YPIE helpful in the college process?
Through YPIE, Andres visited several colleges, including Trinity College and SUNY Binghamton.
“YPIE also helped tremendously with financial aid and was instrumental in all the support I am getting. I attended FAFSA night with my mom. I couldn’t have done it without the help of YPIE. My college advisor really helped to explain this to my mom.”
“As a low-income student, it always comes to money. Money is the deciding factor for someone like me.”
Andres is most grateful for all the emotional support he received through this process. “I applied to 26 colleges. While I was applying, I was also volunteering at Mount Sinai and the Children's Center in Yonkers. I was very busy and overwhelmed. I am so grateful for my YPIE advisor. She was a friend, a second mom, a nurturing person. I feel like that goes for every advisor at YPIE. She was amazing.”
Andres was initially put on the waitlist at Trinity College. As he knew this was his first choice, he continued to share information with his admissions counselor at Trinity. When he received the call that he was accepted from the waitlist, he called his YPIE Advisor right away. “It was the happiest moment when I called my advisor. She started crying.”
What do you intend to study at college?
During Andres’ winter break in 2018, he went back to Honduras to volunteer at an orphanage near his hometown. “When I returned, I did a lot of research on the impact settings like this can have on young people. They are a vulnerable population and there can be issues with abandonment, foster care, and how they develop. This led to my interest in studying neuroscience with my long term goal of going to Medical School.”
Andres has also had several internships to prepare him for this field of study. He studied organic chemistry as part of a Pre-College Enrichment Program at Columbia University and was also a summer Intern at St. John’s Riverside Hospital, where he shadowed professionals in emergency medicine, general surgery, neurosurgery, and other clinical and administrative roles.
What will you always remember about YPIE?
“YPIE targets a community in Yonkers that is so underrepresented in college overall. I’ll never forget how instrumental they were in helping me to go to the college I am and their making me a competitive college applicant.”
YPIE also inspired Andres to want to help others going through the process. “I felt the need to give back. When other students were stressed about their essay and college applications, I tried to connect and help other kids.”
How has your college plans impacted your family?
Andres’ plans to study medicine are especially meaningful for his mother. “Back in Honduras, my mom had the same dream as me." Since her mother (Andres’ grandmother) moved to the US when she was very young, his mom was an expense to other family members.
“My mom is envisioning her dream through me. She has always put an emphasis on education and keeping me on track. My mom couldn’t be happier. ”
What will you bring to college from YPIE?
“Resilience, motivation, and the idea that I am not lower than anyone else.”
Andres will also bring all that he learned from his YPIE College Advisor. “She helped me to get up and told me ‘just by being the student that you are, you will be successful at any campus you end at.’ Her words will always resonate with me. She emphasized the value of education to her personally. She made me motivated to reach for the stars, the way she did.”
Posted October 2020