Class of 2014

Yvette Almonte

Yvette

Intended Major:
International Affairs

Hometown/high school:
New York, New York/ Cathedral High School

Yvette hails from New York, New York, where she was a valued member of the Summer Search Program for urban, first-generation college-bound students. With Summer Search, Yvette traveled to Vietnam and Thailand to build community centers, working to broaden cultural perspectives of her peers. She is noted for her “impressive commitment to not just bettering herself, but improving the wellbeing of the community,” and she is looking forward to bringing her commitment to the Northeastern and Torch. Born to parents who immigrated from the Dominican Republic, Yvette takes pride in understanding her culture and teaching members of her family about opportunities in the U.S., writing in her essay, “With empathy, communication, and observations, we allow ourselves to break any barrier.” Yvette intends to major in International Affairs.

Kaysha Bennett

Kaysha

Intended major:
Biology

Hometown/high school:
Rochester, New York/ Aquinas Institute

Born and raised in Rochester, New York, Kaysha is known in her community for starting her school’s first Black History Celebration as well as other diversity awareness events. In addition to running Varsity field and track, Kaysha works 16 hours a week to help pay her school expenses, and since age 14, she has participated in “Good Grades Pay” Summer Employment Program. She is a student recruiter and tour guide for her urban Parochial school and volunteers at a daycare. Kaysha’s recommenders call her “self-motivated” and “determined to achieve her goals.” Her Torch Nominator remarked that her “quiet strength and experiences give her a foundation from which to grow into a leader and mentor for Torch.” She is noted as someone who never gives up-even when she did not have the resources to study, Kaysha still put school first. In her essay, Kaysha writes how she learned from her struggles, and that with “determination, I could conquer all things.” Kaysha intends to major in Biology or Health Sciences.

Sarah Blanchette

Sarah

Intended major:
Journalism

Hometown/high school:
South Boston, Massachusetts/ Odyssey High School

Sarah hails from South Boston, Massachusetts, where she attended Boston’s Odyssey High School. In addition to holding a job throughout high school, Sarah took an active role in the community working with The Boston Globe writing program, Teens in Print (TIP). With the support of programs for young writers in Boston Public Schools, Sarah gained experience as an emerging journalist and interned for the Jamaica Plain Gazette. In the face of her community’s high drop-out rate, Sarah was able to overcome negative influences, stating that she learned self-motivation only after nearly giving up on her own education. She credits her boss and mentors at Write Boston for her “wake up call” junior year, and for pushing her to graduate high school and attend college. Her Torch Nominator writes that she “Bounced back from adversity due to strong work in the classroom and commitment to achieve.” Sarah’s grandfather worked at Northeastern, and she talks about how from a young age, she knew that NU was a school that provided opportunity and rewarded hard work. Sarah will continue her writing career at Northeastern with a major in Journalism.

Vladimir Guerrier

 

Vladimir

Intended major:
Business/ Management Information Systems

Hometown/high school:
Hyde Park, Massachusetts/Boston Latin Academy

Entering Torch from Hyde Park, Massachusetts and the Boston Latin Academy, Vladimir is well-known for his skills as a Varsity basketball and football player, and as a two-sport Varsity Captain, for being “the sort of person you would want on your team in a work environment.” When not in class, Vladimir can be found in Boston community centers and the YMCA as a camp counselor, working with younger students. He finds time to volunteer as an office assistant at the Roxbury Multi-Service Center, as well as at his church, a local daycare, and annual service days in Boston. Vladimir jokes that he “never sleeps in” due to his early morning weekend shift at Dunkin Donuts. His recommenders note his “work ethic” and “cooperative spirit,” both of which he presents in a “respectful” and “logical” way. His Torch Nominator calls on Vladimir’s leadership potential, built on his “ability to time manage and take on responsibility.” Vladimir acknowledges that he was once “losing a battle” with himself, but he cites his Coach with giving him the tools to become self-aware, confident, and to manage his priorities. He writes in his essay, “Nothing can stop me or slow me down from striving to be the best at whatever I do.” Vladimir plans to major in Business.

Shaun Hamilton

Shaun

Intended major:
Business/ Marketing

Hometown/high school:
Hyde Park, Massachusetts/ Boston Latin Academy

Shaun, a native of Hyde Park, Massachusetts, brings his sense of self-discipline and motivation to the Torch Program. Intent on his goals, Shaun began earned his black belt in Karate at the age of 11, spending hours at the local Martial Arts studio in his Boston neighborhood. Shaun now teaches Martial Arts to young students, sharing his commitment to teaching and to self-improvement. He is known in his Boston Public High School for his work as a team player for his Varsity baseball team. In addition to sports, Shaun participated in Mock Trial and the Study of Satire in American Politics Clubs. He has volunteered his time as a tutor, in addition to working over 25-hours a week at a local grocery store and as a vendor at Fenway Park. His Guidance Counselor writes, “The discipline Shaun has towards Karate has transferred to resilience in his life.” Shaun credits Karate with keeping him on track during difficult family struggles. Shaun will enter the General Studies Program in the fall as Business major.

Violeta Hernandez

Violeta

Intended major:
Biology

Hometown/high school:
Chicago/Riverside, Illinois/ Riverside-Brookfield High School

Born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in nearby North Riverside, Violeta credits her close family support system for her “180-degree” turnaround during her sophomore year of high school. Her recommenders repeatedly note how Violeta has developed “an intense desire to succeed” and to not let setbacks stand in her way. She has worked hard to promote Latina diversity in her school through her leadership with OLAS club. Volunteering with the pediatrics wing of Chicago’s Loyola Hospital has inspired her career path in health sciences. Known for her optimistic attitude, and for seeing the good in people, Violeta is not one to complain; she is encouraged by the values she learned from her grandfather, who kept working in difficult conditions even when life proved difficult. In her essay, Violeta writes, “The value of hard work has not escaped me…it will be this value of hard work and responsibility, learned through previous generations, that will enable me to continue to achieve great things in life.” She closes with, “I can’t picture myself not going to college after all the sacrifices to be where I am.” Violeta is considering between a major in Health Sciences or Human Services.

Maidul Uslam

Maidul

Intended major:
Computer Engineering

Hometown/high school:
Dorchester, Massachusetts/ Charlestown High School

Maidul hails from Dorchester, Massachusetts and attended Charlestown High School, where he was a member of the Robotics Club, Debate, Track, and Baseball teams, and Honor Society. Moving from Bangladesh in 2001, Maidul came to the U.S. with no formal schooling prior to entering Boston Public Schools. Working hard to learn English and American culture, Maidul sought opportunities to become involved in the community, such as Summer Search, and he took advantage of extra tutoring. He acknowledges that he escaped one type of violence in Bangladesh for another type of violence in an inner-city neighborhood. After losing a friend to gun violence, Maidul works to make his community a safer place for young people. He views "education as the key to attaining a solid future free from harm." His Nominator states: "Maidul’s incredible focus on creating a better future for himself and his family meant that academics needed to be the top priority above all else." Maidul strives to give back to his community to make it a safer place, and he writes in his essay, "I have made it my mission to work harder in life in the face of adversity." Maidul plans to major in Computer Engineering at Northeastern.

Arielys Morales

Arielys

Intended major:
Communications

Hometown/high school:
Boston, Massachusetts/ Boston Community Leadership Academy

Arielys, a native of Boston, Massachusetts, joins Torch from Boston Community Leadership Academy. Arielys is known for her motivation and positive attitude. Her nominator writes, “She has demonstrated more mettle in doggedly pursuing her goals than many professionals I encounter in the corporate world.” Taking a leadership role with Citizens Schools as an alum and mentor to younger urban students, Arielys was chosen as Keynote Speaker for the annual Citizens Schools fundraiser. Moving to Maine for part of her junior year gave Arielys a new perspective, and she writes in her essay, “All my life I was used to moving…however, I feared new things. I was different than everyone else; I was Hispanic with the style of a city girl…but if it wasn’t for my open-mindedness, I wouldn’t have gotten the best out of Maine.” Arielys has sought out opportunities for inner-city youth in Boston, attending the Young Women in Business Conference at Harvard and writing for Summer Fun with Literacy Circles. In addition to working part-time, she is Yearbook editor, a mentor to 8th graders, and Secretary of her class. Arielys has never given up on her education, and she writes in her essay, “When I was at my lowest, I took school seriously and always left my problems ‘outside.’ I have learned to be independent and still stay focused in school.” Arielys plans to major in Business.

Dzevad Prlja

Dzevad

Intended major:
Civil Engineering

Hometown/high school:
Chelsea, Massachusetts/ Chelsea High School

Dzevad hails from Chelsea, Massachusetts where he is an active member of his school community through National Honor Society, French and Math Clubs, and the Robotics Club. Dzevad left his native Bosnia and Herzegovina nine years ago to escape war in his farming village. As a serious student athlete, Dzevad is not only a Varsity baseball player but also a member of Harvard Model Congress. Outside of school, he is an intern with the Boston Parks Department. In his essay, Dzevad writes, “Baseball has been my place to learn outside the classroom. There are many values in life that can only be learned from experience: leadership, humility, and teamwork being a few of them…The values I learned from my early childhood, like determination, perseverance, and hard work, have come to define me over time.” For Dzevad and his family, education has been the biggest priority. His teacher writes, “If I were starting a team or building a group of people who needed to work together, the first person I would pick would be Dzevad. He is a natural leader who loves to rally a broad coalition and who relishes team success.” Dzevad intends to pursue a major in Civil Engineering or Physics.

Wen Min

Wen Min

Intended major:
International Business and Accounting

Hometown/high school:
New York, New York/ Eleanor Roosevelt High School

Wen Min joins Torch from New York, New York and is known for her “incredible drive, initiative, and big heart.” Moving to America nine years ago from China, Wen Min has maintained her cultural roots through her work as a community organizer and fundraiser for the Chinese-American Planning Council in New York City. She is an involved member of her school community through the National Honor Society and the Science Olympiad Competition. In addition to her part-time job, Wen Min has interned at JP Morgan Chase and volunteers as a math tutor for younger students. Her recommender notes how she has “gone from ‘keeping up’ to ‘setting the bar’ for other students,” and Wen Min takes pride in being a role model for younger students in her school. Showing self-awareness and determination from a young age, Wen Min writes in her essay, “Knowing what my parents sacrificed to come here to provide me with a better education and a better life, I became determined to try my best to comprehend English…through my persistence and eagerness, my hardships became my accomplishments.” Wen Min intends to major in International Business and Asian Studies.