2016-2017 Mentors


Meet the Amherst College Telementors! Listed below are the photos and bios of the dynamic Amherst students who provide advice, guidance and assistance to the high school participants in the Telementoring program. Scroll down to learn more about each of them and to read about their experiences as Amherst students and their own paths to college.

Princess Adedoyin '19

Name: Princess Adedoyin ‘19
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
High School: Bard High School Early College
Major (or potential major): Chemistry, Mathematics
Activities on Campus: Amherst After Dark, African and Caribbean Student Union (ACSU), ACSU Dance
Hobbies:  Dancing, braiding and styling hair, listening to music, exercising, eating

In the beginning, the college process was very confusing and mysterious to me because there were so many different components, and I didn’t know about many colleges. However, I was fortunate to participate in The Opportunity Network, a program for high achieving, underserved high school kids in New York City that helps with the college process. Through this program I visited many colleges that I wouldn't have been able to see on my own. It was on these trips that I was exposed to a range of small and large institutions, liberal arts colleges, research institutions, HBCU’s and more. This made it much easier to narrow down the type of college I could see myself at. These trips made me realize that I really liked the idea of going to a liberal art college because of the small class sizes, low teacher to student ratios, individualized attention from professors and small communities they provide.

I became interested in Amherst after visiting Williams, and then I decided to apply to Amherst’s Diversity Open House (DIVOH) program for a chance to visit the school and get a feel for its environment. At DIVOH, I appreciated and enjoyed the people, activities, classes, and professors who I encountered. I felt very comfortable on campus, and even though it was very different from New York City, I knew I would enjoy Amherst and what it had to offer. Amherst became the school I wanted to attend and I decided to apply. Fortunately, I went to a small high school with fewer than 600 students which placed a strong emphasis on college, so I had access to college advisors who helped me. I received advice on college essays and sending out my best college application. Thankfully everything worked out and I was accepted into Amherst. The generous financial aid package I received made it even easier for me to accept the offer!

After a year at Amherst, I’m confident that I have made the right choice. I’ve been able to spend time with my professors outside of the classroom, be academically challenged and participate in amazing events on campus. I’m excited for what the remaining years of my time at Amherst will bring.

Araceli Alvarez '18

Name: Araceli Alvarez '18
Chicago, Illinois
High School:
Whitney M. Young Magnet High School
Major (or potential major):
Activities on campus:
La Causa, Arco Iris, Reader to Reader, Best Buddies
Volunteering, reading, catching up on Netflix shows

Although my parents had always stressed the importance of education, they have not been able to provide me with guidance. Chicago Scholars and Questbridge were the two programs that provided me with the resources and mentors necessary to navigate the complicated college application process. Interviews, essays, and the Common Application were not the only roadblocks preventing me from going to college – I went into the college process with my family’s financial burden in mind. I was going to go to whichever school offered me the best financial aid package and that meant that I couldn’t become emotionally invested in any one particular school.  I would like to say that I fell in love with Amherst College and that it was my dream school, but that wasn’t the case. It wasn’t until I was accepted and saw their generous financial aid package that I allowed myself to truly become excited about having the opportunity to attend such a prestigious and diverse college.

With a year under my belt, I can honestly say that I cannot picture myself anywhere else. The connections I have made with not only my freshmen class, but also with graduating seniors have allowed me to have an amazing support system that is always there for me. Professors are also part of that network that pushes me to thrive in my new environment: they are not just concerned with my academic work, but also my emotional well-being. Aside from having a tight-knit community, Amherst College challenges us and provides many opportunities for fun. The Powerhouse and various campus activities like the Fall Festival and Spring Carnival allow for the campus to come together in a stress-free way. I am beyond excited for the next three years.

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Name: Lauren Benjamin '17
Brooklyn, NY
High school: Miss Porter's School, CT
Major (or potential major): Russian; Sociology/English
Activities on campus: Gospel Choir, Amherst Christian Fellowship, Badminton, Black Student's Union,  Reader to Reader, Center for Community Engagement
Hobbies: Working out, volunteering, nail art, reading, creative writing, squash, badminton, foreign languages, singing, eating

The college process for me, as it is for thousands of high schoolers each year, was a long journey of confusion, doubt, stress, and sometimes disappointment. Amidst all of those sentiments, however, the adjectives hopeful, happy, and rewarding also come to mind. I was fortunate enough to attend a small private boarding school with a graduating class of 77. This condition allotted me more than sufficient attention and care from my college guidance counselor. I am also a member of the 10th class of the TEAK Fellowship, a community organization for high-achieving, low-income, NYC students. As it had done during my high school application process, TEAK greatly assisted me throughout my college admissions process by providing me standardized test prep help, interview practices, funded college visits, and a counselor whose knowledge and expertise in the particular area I could rely on. Both TEAK and my high school were definitely instrumental in helping me navigate the application to twelve schools and further on, in choosing the right fit for me after I received ten admissions offers. I ultimately narrowed this list down to three schools, all of which I visited in April of senior year. I chose Amherst College because of the five-college consortium, its incomparable diversity, unquestionable educational reputation, commitment to making college affordable for all applicants, and the testaments of success that three of its alumni, whom I know, offer. After a year here, I am very confident that I made the right choice.

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Name: Amber Boykins '18
Hometown: Lathrop, CA
Major (or potential major): English; Political Science
Activities on campus: Circus (campus literary magazine), Black Student Union, EDU
Hobbies: Reading, photography, listening to music, painting nails, Netflix binges

I began my college search with nearly no accurate knowledge about the application process and no idea about what type of school environment I wanted to join in the coming four years.  Luckily, I had an awesome college counselor and family members that were committed to helping me find the right place to continue my education.  These individuals helped me tremendously, providing both crucial information and thoughtful advice that helped me in making informed decisions every step of the way. I am also an A Better Chance scholar, so I received guidance from and had access to various resources through their organization as well.

I first learned about Amherst from my favorite high school teacher, who is an alum, and I only continued hearing positive remarks from my counselor and other trusted adults.  These accolades piqued my interest in the college, so over the summer of my junior year I applied to one of Amherst’s Diversity Open House (DIVOH) weekends, which would allow me to see the school first-hand.  During my weekend visit, I put in a concerted effort to be fully engaged in all activities and take advantage of the opportunity to talk to students so that I could get a feel for what Amherst is truly like. One of the most important pieces of advice I can give to high school students beginning their college search is: ask tough questions, of both yourself and the school.  I really liked what I saw during my visit, so after reflection and discussion with my family and college counselor, I decided to apply Early Decision.

I understand how daunting and difficult the college application process can be, but I believe that it can also be a great opportunity to reflect on your goals and dreams and find a place where you’ll truly thrive. As a Telementor, I am so excited to be a source of support as you make these discoveries.

Simone Brown '19

Name: Simone Brown ‘19
Hometown: Bronx, NY
High school: The Brearley School
Majors (or potential majors): Black Studies
Activities on campus: African and Caribbean Student Union, ACSU Dance, Black Student Union, Quest Scholars, Partners for Animal Welfare, Hip Hop Club
Hobbies: Baking, Traveling, Photography, Netflix, Napping

Attending small schools my entire academic career, I knew I wanted to go to a small college which would provide a close-knit community and familiarity with professors and peers. My high school college advisor and two other advisors from outside programs, including the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, assisted me as valuable resources. It was very difficult to navigate the application process because I had many people telling me what to do, and they all seemed to be advising different things. Because I am the first in my family to go to a four-year college, I felt extremely pressured and very alone. All of my friends had parents, siblings, and grandparents who had gone to college, so they had a knowledgeable support system at home. My parents supported me as much as they could, but we were all learning at the same time. I ended up choosing Amherst because it had everything that I was looking for in terms of community, curriculum, distance from home, and a manageable financial aid package. I don't think I could have picked a better college for myself.

I chose to be a Telementor because I was lucky enough to have had multiple great resources helping me through the college application process when I was afraid to be the first in my family to go through it. I know that many high school seniors view the college process like enrolling in another course with approximately the same workload and time commitment. I consider myself to be a very honest person, so I hope to be useful in helping dedicated seniors get through this difficult process in a realistic and feasible manner.

Thais Calderon '17 .jpg Name: Thais Calderon '17
Silver Spring, MD
High school: James Hubert Blake High School
Major (or potential major): Neuroscience; Spanish
Activities on campus: DASAC, Amherst Dance, Project Salud, EDU
Hobbies: Dance, running, and Netflix

I’m the kind of person that likes to have things structured, to know where I am and know exactly where I’m headed. The college application process had other plans for me, it left me uncertain and confused for periods of time and for others I was just anxious. I didn’t understand FAFSA and then CSS came out of nowhere. Luckily I had someone to guide me through the process who was my telementor and with their help the college process became more like a box of surprises that still left me uncertain just not as confused.

My guidance counselor introduced me to Questbridge my junior year and it was the one of the best things that could have happened to me. With the support of my telementor and counselor, I was able to get through the college process and feel confident in my application. I was offered acceptance to great schools and offered very generous financial aid to all of them (thanks to Questbridge) so the choice was all mine. I chose Amherst because it embodied what I wanted from a higher education institution and it has produced ambitious, active, and bold minds; something I want to be when I graduate. I am very thankful and I feel lucky to have had the kind of college application process that I did (it could have gone terribly wrong, trust me) and I hope to be as helpful and comforting as the people in my experience were.

Antonella Dominguez '18.jpg Name: Antonella Dominguez '18
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
High School: Emma Willard School
Major (or potential major): Asian Languages & Civilizations; Art History; Anthropology
Activities on campus: Student docent at Beneski Museum of Natural History, women's ice hockey team manager
Hobbies: Painting, drawing, arts & crafts projects; translating Japanese literature; thinking up good puns

I think one of the most difficult things about the college application process is choosing which colleges to apply to. Visiting colleges and surfing college websites can teach you a lot, but staying overnight or even attending a class at a college can help you make a much more informed decision. I knew I wanted to attend a small liberal arts college not too far from home, so I visited a few different colleges, including Amherst. I didn't know what I wanted to major in, and it wasn't until I visited Amherst that I realized what I wanted to study and pursue as a career. I once volunteered at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, and so stepping into the Beneski Museum of Natural History was like stepping into a dream. I knew I wanted to work there and learn more about museums to be able to work at the AMNH in the future.

I decided to apply to Amherst Early Decision. As a result, I only had to complete one application, but it was still a stressful part of my senior year. I went to boarding school and could not ask help from my parents, but I did have the TEAK Fellowship for support. The TEAK Fellowship is a non-profit organization that helps low-income students enter private high schools, and they fully supported me for both high school and college applications. Before TEAK, I never imagined myself achieving at elite schools, but they gave me the support I needed to get through both application processes. Amherst was a match for me and I have enjoyed my time here. There is always something to do and so many places to discover on campus. I enjoy the small community, and when things get hectic and stressful, there are so many ways to unwind and relax. I look forward to spending the next three years here.

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Name: Bolaji Ekhator '18
Hometown: Wakefield, MA
High School: Saint Mark's School
Major (or potential major): Political Science
Activities on campus: Amherst Football, Amherst College LEADS program
Hobbies: Reading, writing, watching movies, listening to music

As a first generation college student, my college search process was a largely independent undertaking with little guidance from others. Although my parents were supportive of what I wanted to study and what I wanted in a school, they were mostly unable to help me in regards to applying to schools. From coordinating trips to visit schools to reaching out to college coaches, I completed this process essentially on my own, and as a result, I was able to make a calculated, uninfluenced decision about what school was right for me. Ultimately, I hope that as a Telementor I am able to provide assistance to high school seniors in their college search and help to make their college application process as smooth as possible.

Ha Ram Hwang '17

Name: Ha Ram Hwang '17
Hometown: San Diego, CA
High school: Del Norte High School
Major (or potential major):
Chemistry and Anthropology
Activities on campus:  Health Collaborative, Terras Irradient (A Cappella), DBJ Five College Dance, ACEMS, Amherst Christian Fellowship, Reader to Reader
Hobbies: Val sitting, baking

The college application process was a tough one--I am a first-generation Asian-American and my relatives had never attempted to diverge from the community college route. Having been very active and motivated in high school, I knew I wanted to take a chance, but I had no idea how to do it. It wasn't until senior year that I began scrambling to take SATs and ACTs, while applying for too many colleges that I had no idea about. I also had no idea about the financial aid process so I spent countless hours trying to understand how I was going to afford college--that is, if I was going to make it at all. It wasn't until I received my acceptances and heard about my peers' experiences that I finally sat down to do critical research in order to narrow down my choices. It is then I learned about the generous financial policy of Amherst College and the differences between large universities and liberal arts colleges. Thanks to my lonely struggle, however, I now know how to navigate the system and hope to prevent others from stumbling into the same confusing journey that I took my senior year.

Ermias Kebede '19

Name: Ermias Kebede ‘19
Hometown: Falls Church, VA
High school: Stuart High School
Major (or potential major): Economics 
Activities on campus: Cross Country, Track & Field, African Caribbean Students Union (ACSU)
Hobbies: Reading, basketball

My college search process began when I constantly visited my guidance counselor during my junior year to ask about what I could do to best prepare for college. During one of those visits, she recommended I apply to a summer program called Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA). After being accepted into LEDA, I was able to spend the summer of my junior year at Princeton University under the guidance of many individuals dedicated to assisting socioeconomically disadvantaged students gain entry to the top colleges and universities in the nation. It was mainly because of my LEDA summer that I was able to navigate the college search and application process, but I wouldn't have made it as far as I did without the constant support of my sisters and mother. Amherst College was a name that I heard of a couple of times throughout high school, so it was always on my mind throughout the search process. It became my dream school by the time I submitted my applications, so I was more than excited when I received my acceptance letter. Ultimately, I made my decision to attend after visiting Amherst during an overnight open house program.

As a student at Amherst, I'm constantly surprised by the number of resources and opportunities the college offers. After spending just one year at Amherst, I feel as though I've learned more than in my four years in high school. I wouldn't be able to enjoy this amazing learning experience if it wasn't for the help I received to get here in the first place. That is what motivates me to share my experience and knowledge about the college processes as a Telementor.

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Name: Caroline Kinsley '17
Hometown: Tempe, AZ
High school: Tempe Preparatory Academy
Major (or potential major): Classics
Activities on campus: Choral Society, Women’s Chorus, Book Conservation at Frost Library, Classics Club
Hobbies: Reading, Knitting, Sewing, and Painting

While applying to college, I had very little support from my family. As a result, while I knew what I wanted in a college, I had no idea how to go about applying. Luckily, I had the privilege of attending a small liberal arts school that was able to offer me much needed guidance. I made a list of characteristics I wanted in a college (small, liberal arts college with good financial aid on the east coast) and brought it to my college counselor. She directed me towards QuestBridge, and from there I researched each of its partner colleges. After finding the ones that interested me, I made a short list and applied to those through QuestBridge’s National College Match. Through hard work and the support of my college counselor, I matched with Amherst College!

My college application process was long, stressful, and difficult, but I learned a lot about the process. I would love to be able to take this experience and use it to help others find the right colleges for them.

  Sophia Lesperance '18

Name:  Sophia Lesperance '18
Hometown: Boston, MA
High School: Noble and Greenough School
Major (or potential major): French & Psychology
Activities on campus: Treasurer of the Black Students' Union, African and Caribbean Students' Union member, DASAC, ACSU Dance, Haitian Creole Conversation Partner at the Five College Center for the Study of World Languages
Hobbies: Dance, photography, music, foreign languages, Netflix/Hulu, eating

I went into the college process with high hopes of finding the perfect match for myself but was daunted by the ultimate decision I would have to make. Being a first-generation college student did not help matters as I found that my parents were extremely encouraging but unable to provide the guidance I needed. I was fortunate to have a school college counselor who gave me vital information on how to go about the process. She advised me to attend diversity initiative programs on as many campuses as possible. Staying overnight and sitting in on classes at multiple colleges helped me to get a feel for campus life that I wouldn't have captured from brochures and websites. Many of the strongest connections I have at Amherst resulted from people I met during these visits. I applied Early Decision to Amherst College, and I am very grateful to be here. I hope through the Telementoring program I can help others feel as confident and supported in their college application process as I felt.

Zixi George Liang '17.jpg Name: Zixi (George) Liang '17
Guangzhou, China/ Westmont, IL
High school: Hinsdale Central High School
Major (or potential major): Film and Media Studies, Mathematics
Activities on campus: Glee Club, Film Society, IT, Olio Yearbook, Mock Trial
Hobbies: Cinema, biking, singing, sledding down Memorial Hill

I had the privilege of attending an excellent college prep school in one of Chicago’s western suburbs, but even with the wealth of resources I had, college applications were extremely complicated and time-consuming. Despite all the help you may or may not receive – from counselors, parents, even friends – looking for, applying to, and choosing a college is ultimately a personal process, and it is up to you to make that final decision. While a large number of students in my graduating class simply chose to attend the local community college or the state university, I spent countless hours reading guidebooks, browsing through online college forums, and just sitting around having debates in my head. In the end, choosing Amherst was a due to a combination of several factors, including a gut feeling that the school was “the right choice,” but it was a visit during the Diversity Open House Weekend that finalized my decision. After a year here, I can say that I do not regret my decision one bit. And I am here to – hopefully – help you make that decision. 

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Name: Melissa Martinez '18
Hometown: Houston, TX
High School: S.P. Waltrip High School
Major (or potential major): Neuroscience
Activities on campus: Resident Counselor, IT Specialist, Outing Club Historian, Quest Scholars, Women's Club Soccer
Hobbies: Running, drawing, poetry, languages, gymnastics

As many students before me have experienced, I was full of dread and confusion as the college application process crept up. Initially, I thought I would probably attend a community college because the costs of attending the state schools were too high. Being the first in my family to even consider attending college, I had no one to look to for advice, until I found out about QuestBridge, which introduced me to colleges that were willing to pay for me to attend college. 

Even so, the QuestBridge application was stressful, and I turned to my calculus teacher for help. I was matched to Amherst College through the QuestBridge National College Match Program and have made amazing friends since. Having had this wonderful opportunity, I am beyond eager to help others who share a similar experience in seeking some additional guidance regarding the college application process. 

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Name: Silvia Mavarer '18 (Study Abroad Fall 2016)
Hometown: Miami, FL
High School: Ronald W. Reagan / Doral Senior High School
Major (or potential major): Law, Jurisprudence & Social Thought
Activities on campus: Pride Alliance, First Generation Association, Quest Scholars Network
Hobbies: Working out, watching Netflix, listening to music

During my junior year of high school, one of my teachers spoke to the class about QuestBridge. After applying for and receiving the College Prep Scholarship, I was able to attend a conference in Chicago that introduced me to a plethora of amazing schools, like Amherst, that I had never heard of before. I decided to apply to fly-in programs before my senior year, and I ended up getting the opportunity to visit Amherst for its Diversity Open House (DIVOH) Program. When the time came to submit my QuestBridge College Match application, I ranked Amherst and I was matched! I want to help other students learn about all of the different opportunities that are out there for them, so that they can end up at a school that makes them as happy as Amherst makes me.

Kaelan McCone '19

Name: Kaelan McCone ‘19
Hometown: Greensboro, NC
High School: The Early College at Guilford College
Major (or potential major): Math, French, Political Science
Activities on Campus: Questbridge, Student Government (AAS), Tour Guide, Figure Skating
Hobbies: Photography, Traveling, Netflix, Listening to music nonstop

As the low-income child of an immigrant parent, I faced a complicated experience when applying for college. My dad didn’t understand anything and was only familiar with the Ivy Leagues. My mom did her best to understand what I was going through, but I went through the majority of the process alone. I remember being terrified of applying to elite colleges, but QuestBridge gave me the courage to apply to Amherst.

As a student at Amherst, I have come to love the support system that I’ve built in my year here. My friends, ranging across all four years, are what get me through long nights and even longer days. In addition, I love the community that exists, whether it be that of the Quest chapter at Amherst, the Multicultural Resource Center, or any other group on campus. I can say without a doubt that I can’t imagine myself anywhere else. 

Dakota Meredith.jpg Name: Dakota Meredith '17
Bensalem, PA
High school: Archbishop Wood High School
Major (or potential major): Biochemistry; English
Activities on campus: Rhythm & Shoes musical theater Stage Manager and Writing Team Leader, GlobeMed staff member, Pride Alliance, Colleges Against Cancer
Hobbies: Reading, writing, dancing, singing, tie-dying, and, most importantly, thesis writing

When the time came to apply for college, I had no idea of what kind of school I wanted to attend. I knew I would prefer to stay on the East Coast, and I knew I wanted some of the independence associated with moving away from home, but that was all I had on my checklist. My high school advisor was nice enough and was able to assist me in some of the financial aid process, but she had hundreds of other students and couldn’t do much to help me think about the big questions. Would a smaller or larger school be better for me? Did I want my college to be better known for its English department or its science program? Should I live in the city, or should I look somewhere more isolated? As a result, my college list was long and very scattered.

I also didn’t feel comfortable talking to my advisor or my family about the stresses and insecurities that come part and parcel with the college application process. It was incredibly nerve-racking to know that ultimately my decision would come down to who was able to give me the best financial aid package. And when I was rejected from the school I had applied to through Early Decision, I was crushed. It took a lot of effort for me to be able to move on and work on applications for other schools. In the end I discovered Amherst, and although the situation was such that I had to accept their admission offer without the benefit of visiting first, since then things have worked out fantastically. I’ve found a home at Amherst, and I’d like to help you find the same perfect fit. I also want to help you be more organized and decisive than I was, even though eventually things worked out for me. And last but not least, as a Telementor I want to be there to talk to you through this incredibly stressful process.

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Name: Aleks Merkovich '17 
Queens, NY
High school: Stuyvesant High School
Major (or potential major): Biology, Psychology
Activities on campus: Route 9 (a cappella), Glee Club, Amherst Dance, Resident Counselor, Biology TA, Biology Research Assistant
Hobbies: Photography, listening to music, walking

As a child of immigrants and part of the first generation of my family to go to college, I had to rely heavily on outside sources to help me find and apply to college. My parents knew very few colleges outside of Ivy Leagues and state schools, and everyone else in my family had attended a state or city university. Luckily, my school had lots of resources to help with the process, including college trips, college fairs, and college representatives come and talk to us. We also got to sit down with individual college counselors who would help us with our search. The QuestBridge program ultimately is what expanded my college application pool, allowing me to apply to tons of great schools I had never even heard of before! That's even how I found Amherst. When I was applying, I originally didn't think a small liberal arts college was for me, but visiting the school really made a difference. If there's one thing I learned through the application process, it's that visiting a school is super important; it can determine whether or not you apply - or even attend! - a certain school.

Lilly Mommens '18.jpg Name: Lilly Mommens '18
Hometown: Portage, WI
High School: Portage High School
Major (or potential major): Computer Science
Activities on campus: Amherst Christian Fellowship, Fencing, Stage Combat, Women's Chorus, QuestBridge Scholars Network
Hobbies: Drawing, painting, Writing, crocheting, binge-watching Netflix

My college search process was a mess. I had no idea where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do. My 'list' of potential colleges ranged from the local community college to Yale, with lots of other schools in between. I was so concerned about not getting into school that I felt tempted to apply to every school that sent me a flyer in the mail. To calm my swarming thoughts, my friend suggested I apply through QuestBridge. The two My of us struggled through the long application together, and naturally I only ranked one school: Yale. At that point I had never even looked at Amherst. After being rejected, I applied regular decision to many other schools. I visited Amherst after I was accepted (but before I committed) during a Diversity Open House. I was stunned by how much I felt at home.

Looking back, I had a number of people trying to help me but so few who actually could. In my experience, hardly anyone was even able to explain what it meant to apply 'Early Decision', as the schools my friends applied to (mainly state schools) had a rolling admission set-up. I was so confused, and I remember just being glad it was over. Still, coming out of this struggle at Amherst College makes it all worthwhile. I feel even more at home on campus than I do at home sometimes. As a Telementor, I hope to help other students connect to the school that will make them as happy as I am.

Gianna Radelijic '18

Name: Giannna Radeljic ‘18
Hometown: Suffern, NY
High School: Suffern High School
Major (or potential major): Neuroscience
Activities on campus: ACEMS, Crew
Hobbies: Decorating, Listening to music, reading


Applying to college was a huge task for me, but one I wouldn’t trade for anything. As a first generation college applicant with a recent accident in the family, it was very difficult to find means to visit schools. After becoming a Questbridge finalist and applying to twenty-two schools in total, I ended up at Amherst and I could not be more thankful.

Cristian Ramirez '18.jpg Name: Cristian Ramirez '18
Hometown: Bradenton, FL
High School: Manatee High School
Major (or potential major): Neuroscience
Activities on campus: ACEMS, Charles Drew Health Professions Society, Debate Club, Orchestra, Amherst Democrats, Outing Clug
Hobbies: Camping, mountain biking, cooking, video games, reading, writing

As a first generation student attending a large public high school, I was unsure whether I would be able to afford the very best colleges or how to even begin applying (much less whether I would even be accepted!). Fortunately,  I had wonderful guidance counselors who took a particular interest in me, gave me individual advice and attention, and introduced me to QuestBridge. It was through these resources that I was able to sort through the (long!) college application process and was ultimately admitted to my dream school.  Amherst has been the perfect fit for me academically, socially and in even other unimaginable aspects, from the challenging, interesting classes, amazing professors, great friends, close-knit class, breathtaking views (I spent my first snow day ever sledding down Memorial Hill), and opportunities available to me. I was very lucky to have had one-on-one attention paid to me during my college search process, and I think every student needs and deserves that kind of mentoring. As a Telementor, I hope to be a resource to help my mentees achieve their loftiest goals. Don’t forget: college is accessible, affordable, and most importantly, you can do it!  

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Name: Tia Robinson '17
Brooklyn, NY
High school: The Kew-Forest School
Major (or potential major): Political Science; Asian Civilizations and Languages
Activities on campus: The Amherst Student, Black Student Union, Campus Activities Board
Hobbies: Traveling, Reading, Writing, Listening to music  

There was never a doubt in my mind that I would attend college, however I had no idea how the college process worked. My mother went to a nearby college, so we didn’t know much about how to apply for college, not to mention deciding on which one would be a good fit. I was completely clueless about how rough the college process was. I followed what my fellow classmates were doing and started my college search early, thank goodness! However, because I was just following along, I had no idea if what I was doing was correct or necessary. This is where having a great support system kicked in. I actually had two college counselors, one from my high school and one from a program called Prep for Prep. My Prep for Prep counselor could sense my uncertainty and fear, so she suggested that I first decide where I wanted to go college. My mother and I had some disagreements about how far I would be able to go, but after some reassuring, she decided that I needed to pick what was best for me. Then I decided whether I wanted to go to a large state college or a small liberal arts college. I was open to both options until I realized that a small liberal arts college would provide me with more specialized attention and support. I was still pretty indecisive and I ended up applying to 11 colleges, Amherst being one of them.

After my acceptance letters rolled in, my counselors were still accessible to help me with financial questions and final decisions. Financial aid may be the toughest part of the college process! My counselors were always there to help me and it gave me the encouragement that I needed. I choose to attend Amherst because of its rigorous curriculum, diversity and sense of community.

I became a Telementor because I wanted to give another student the support system that I received during my college process. I want to give back the reassurance and help that I was given. College applications and financial aid may seem overwhelming at first, but with a little help it can be very manageable!

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Marina Tassi '17
Bridgeport, CT
High school: Central Magnet High School
Major (or potential major): Computer Science
Activities on campus: Peer Tutor, Hello Girl: Women in Computer Science
Hobbies: Running, Blogging, Piano, Acting

My College Search: I come from a large urban city in southern Connecticut. Although I've had some fantastic teachers and great opportunities, the resources at my school were limited, especially the guidance in the college search process. I want to make sure everyone gets to lead with their best foot and have more confidence in the decisions they make throughout the college application process. Information is power.

Juan Villasenor '18

Name: Juan Villasenor ‘18
Hometown: Evanston, IL
High School: Evanston Township High School
Major (or potential major): Environmental Studies 
Activities on campus: KDSAP, Club Soccer, Mountain Biking Club, Outing Club, La Causa 
Hobbies: Biking, ceramics, photography, working out (every once in a while), and listening to lots of music 

I started my college search process knowing I wanted to attend a small liberal arts college, but I knew pretty much nothing else. As a first-generation college student, my parents were unable to provide guidance, and I was left to figure things out on my own. Knowing almost nothing about the application process placed me in a tough position, but luckily for me, before beginning the application process I found Evanston Scholars and was able to obtain a mentor through them. Both of these resources facilitated the entire application process and helped me find Amherst College, a school I had not known of until then. While Amherst seemed like an amazing school online and on paper, it wasn’t until I visited campus for a Diversity Open House (DIVOH) weekend that I fell in love with it. After my visit I knew I wanted to be a part of the Amherst community. The aspects of Amherst that drew me here are what still make me proud to attend such a school. I love the people who I have met here, the open curriculum, and the campus itself.

While my application process may have been more straightforward than others, I did have moments of confusion and uncertainty which could have been more difficult to overcome without the support of Evanston Scholars and my mentor. Recognizing this, I would like to make myself available to support students in the midst of their application process in any way possible.

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Name: Christin Washington '17
Brooklyn, NY
High school: Loomis Chaffee
Major (or potential major): Political Science and Black Studies
Activities on campus: African Caribbean Students Union, Equestrian, Black Students Union, Homeless Connect
Hobbies: Reading, watching “reality” shows, knitting, writing, listening to music

During my college application process, I had a college counselor from my school and one from my program, Prep for Prep 9. Although I had help from two major influences in my life, I often felt pulled in different directions (and the two separate Naviance websites, reviews on CollegeBoard, and advice from The Princeton Review helped complicate things a little further.) Swamped with uncertainty about the size of the classes I wanted to be in and the size of the college I wanted to attend whilst focused on my need for a generous financial aid package, a welcoming community, and a challenging curriculum, I wondered and worried how it was possible to find the perfect college for me. More informal questions concerned me such as, how will my hair get done and is it possible to get into Amherst after being denied from the Diversity Open House? Trust me, I can relate to the feeling of opening a can of worms during my college process.

However, the good thing about it all was learning how to be flexible with what I wanted and unwavering with what I needed during this major process and decision. Likewise, the college process was an extremely reflective time for me that I would not change for the world. As stressful and reflective as this process was, as a Telementor, I aim to ease the confusion and help balance varying emotions by supporting fellow students through the college process. I have experience as a resource for underserved high school students who need or request advice and general help navigating through the college websites and financial aid forms. As a Prep for Prep student, I am also very familiar with enrichment and mentor groups and the importance they place on prospective students having access to a college education. I am truly excited about offering guidance any way I can, to share the advice and the resources that were given to me, and to find the school that best suits you!

Hailim Youn '19

Name: Haelim Youn ‘19
Hometown: Franklin, Tennessee
High School: Fred J. Page High School
Major (or potential major): Asian Languages and Civilizations; Political Science
Activities on campus: Reader to Reader, Korean Students Association
Hobbies: Painting (watercolor and acrylics), traveling, watching movies, Val sitting!

The college application process was stressful and confusing, especially because I had to navigate it on my own. At my small high school in Franklin, TN, most of my peers planned on going to public state colleges. My counselor tried his best to help me, but his knowledge of private colleges outside of Tennessee was limited. I did a lot of research and found out about QuestBridge. QuestBridge not only helped me discover and learn about a lot of selective colleges, but it also provided me with the resources I needed to apply. Although I wanted to attend a small, private college, I applied to various partner colleges to keep my options open. I visited Amherst over Admitted Students Open House weekend and fell in love with everything here. After a year at Amherst, I am confident that I made the right choice!