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Alumni Spotlight

Mariama Wilson 
Internship Program, Summer 2011-2012; CBRE
The Young Women's Leadership School of East Harlem, Class of 2012
City College of New York, Class of 2017


  
    








Catching Up

Tell us a little about what you are doing now. Where are you living? Are you in college, in a career? What jobs have you had since you participated in Futures and Options?

  • I am currently a senior at the City College of New York majoring in mechanical engineering. I transferred from City Tech where I completed two years of the mechanical engineering technology program, but decided to continue my education at CCNY to receive my Bachelor of Engineering. After my first year in college, I was able to secure an internship with NASA at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. I made it my mission to always work in an internship during the summer in order to gain more hands-on experience outside the classroom and to better my engineering skills. The summer of 2014, I did research with Iowa State University in their Human Computer Interaction department. In the summer of 2015, I worked as a school operations intern at Success Academy Charter Schools. 

    I aspire to continue my studies and go to graduate school where there I plan to receive my M.S in Mechanical Engineering and pass my Fundamentals of Engineering (F.E.) exam. Ultimately, I want to become a project manager at a leading engineering firm.

What is your greatest accomplishment since participating in Futures and Options?

  • My greatest accomplish since participating in Futures and Options has been molding myself into a leader not only in my community but also in my university. I have made it my duty not only to master my major, but also to give back as a leader. I hold various leadership positions in the organizations that I am involved in, including: being a mentor with the Step Up Women's Network, a retention coordinator of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), a youth activist in the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) and the interim vice president of the National Council for Negro Women (NCNW). My contributions to these organizations make me know that I am creating change with my peers and community.

Futures and Options

What was the most valuable lesson you learned from Futures and Options?

  • The most valuable lesson I learned from Futures and Options is to always be a professional. I have to thank both Futures and Options and the Step Up Women's Network for starting off my career very young. I had my first internship with Van Cleef & Arpels under Step Up Women's Network at age 15. I then was lucky to find Futures and Options and they continued to polish my career and professional work ethic. There, I was able to intern at CB Richard Ellis for two years. With all the prep work and workshops provided by Futures and Options, I was able to polish my resume, my interviewing skills, and my workplace conduct.

What advice would you give to high school students?

  • Get yourself out there! Although I was never the student to be shy or timid, college really does bring out your inner beauty and potential. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals who share your same interests in success and personal growth.

    Any university you attend is lucky to have a student like you; so make yourself known. Participate in the classroom, make your professors know who you are, become friends with administration, join clubs, have fun, but most importantly, do not burn yourself out. It is important to stay grounded and in control. College is a whole different game and it takes a lot of practice to get it right. It is perfectly fine to not know your major and perfectly fine to switch out of a major. Although you have heard it plenty of times, major in something you love.

Eudeirys Espinal 
Internship Program, Summer 2015; Equinix
Queens Vocational and Technical High School, Class of 2015
Borough of Manhattan Community College, Class of 2017


  
    






Catching Up

Tell us a little about what you are doing now. Where are you living? Are you in college, in a career? What jobs have you had since you participated in Futures and Options?

  • Currently, I am studying business administration at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. After completing my associate's degree, I plan to attend Baruch College to pursue a bachelor's degree in finance. I am also working part-time in an afterschool program.

What is your greatest accomplishment since participating in Futures and Options?

  • One of my greatest accomplishments so far is finishing my first semester with a 3.5 GPA.

Futures and Options

What was the most valuable lesson you learned from Futures and Options?

  • There will be times when you feel stuck or when you do not know what to do, but it's important to ask for help sooner rather than later.

What advice would you give to high school students?

  • Focus your energy on something you really love. Read books on matters you are passionate about and consume as much knowledge as you can on that topic. Surround yourself with people who are also interested in, or know about the particular field you want to pursue.

Jesus Espinal 
Urban Leadership Fellows Program, Summer 2015; BlackRock, Summer 2014
Queens Vocational and Technical High School, Class of 2015
Borough of Manhattan Community College, Class of 2017


  
    




Catching Up

Tell us a little about what you are doing now. Where are you living? Are you in college, in a career? What jobs have you had since you participated in Futures and Options?

  • I currently attend the Borough of Manhattan Community College and I am majoring in Business Administration. I will receive my Associates degree in May 2017 and will then enter two more years of college to receive my Bachelor Degree. I have been working part-time at Sunnyside Community Services since 2015 and have recently been promoted to Group Leader.

Futures and Options

What was the most valuable lesson you learned from Futures and Options?

  • One valuable lesson I have learned from Futures and Options is to stay connected with the people you meet. I use email and social media such as LinkedIn to stay connected.

What advice would you give to high school students?

  • In life, one will face many challenges and obstacles. People will say things to you that are not pleasant and might bring you down. However, that person will not stop you from pursuing your dreams. You, yourself will. You must stay focused, motivated, persistent. 

    Negativity is all around us. It is unavoidable and sometimes contagious. A technique that has help me to deal with negativity is to convert all the negativity into positive energy. Absorbing information and thinking about it in a positive manner rather than in a negative manner because thinking negatively does not help. Thinking positive keeps me motivated and focused. Remember that out of the worst circumstances, opportunities do lie.


Amanda Pusey 
Urban Leadership Fellows Program, 2007
John Dewey High School, Class of 2007
Binghamton University - State University of New York, Class of 2011
The New School, Class of  2014


  
    





Catching Up

Tell us a little about what you are doing now. Where are you living? Are you in college, in a career? What jobs have you had since you participated in Futures and Options?

  • I am currently a program analyst at the New York City Department of Homeless Services, and I live in Brooklyn with my dog Jackson. I also tutor geometry and elementary grammar, and I started a business writing resumes and cover letters for individuals with minimal work experience. I am also an active member of Futures and Options's Young Professionals Committee, where I serve on the alumni engagement sub-committee and help with recruiting.

What is your greatest accomplishment since participating in Futures and Options?


  • I feel my greatest accomplishment is being able to volunteer with Futures and Options events. I was asked to speak at an Urban Leadership Fellows Program reunion and while speaking in front of a crowd is nerve-wracking, being able to practice my public speaking skills is rewarding.

Futures and Options

What was the most valuable lesson you learned from Futures and Options?

  • Networking and staying in touch with people are two valuable lessons. When I graduated from my undergraduate studies, the job market was terrible. I reached out to organizations I participated with in high school and was able to find employment through networking.

What advice would you give to high school students?

  • No one is going to give you a job, so keep your options open and know that it takes determination and focus to get one.


Esther Orekunrin 
EISC Manhattan Borough Office, 2013
The Frederick Douglass Academy, Class of 2013
The City College of New York, Class of 2017


  
    




Catching Up

Tell us a little about what you are doing now. Where are you living? Are you in college, in a career? What jobs have you had since you participated in Futures and Options?

  • After graduating high school, I worked full time at the Charles Hayden Foundation as a secretary. Currently, I am in college and doing fieldwork with SCAN NY Youth Service as a counselor and teaching assistant with children from 6 to 12 years old.

What is your greatest accomplishment since participating in Futures and Options?


  • My greatest accomplishment thus far has been the opportunity to use the lessons I learned from Futures and Options to attain leadership roles in my community, and on campus . With all the career workshops and opportunities given to me, I have learned to be confident, network everywhere I go, and always believe in myself. Futures and Options has given me the desire to be persistent, and continue my journey to medical school.

Futures and Options

As a recipient of the Dream Big scholarship, how did this scholarship help you achieve your dreams? What would like to say to others who this scholarship might help?

  • The Dream Big Scholarship has allowed me to maintain the necessary skills to pursue my education. Not only has the Dream Big Scholarship provided assistance for my family, but it has also granted me the opportunity to pursue my dream because the stress of tuition has decreased for my family. I would say to others who this scholarship might help to use this opportunity to the fullest, and be very grateful for this chance because not everyone receives it.

Liliana Nunez 
Urban Leadership Fellows Program, 2002
John Dewey High School, Class of 2002
Pace University, Class of 2007


  
    





Catching Up

Tell us a little about what you are doing now. Where are you living? Are you in college, in a career? What jobs have you had since you participated in Futures and Options?

  • I am currently a corporate internal auditor with Kuehne and Nagel.  In my career, I have been a sales audit consultant with Marc Jacobs, external auditor with PwC, worked in marketing, public relations and have been a staff accountant.  In addition, I am a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) as I love processes and procedures.  Currently, I reside in Brooklyn.

What is your greatest accomplishment since participating in Futures and Options?


  • One of my main goals was to attend a private university, get a graduate degree and not have any debt at the time of completing my studies. I am very proud that I graduated with my BBA in Accounting and MBA in Accounting and International Business from Pace University, and that I earned enough scholarship money to graduate debt-free while working at PwC. I also recently obtained my certification in internal audit.

Futures and Options

What was the most valuable lesson you learned from Futures and Options?

  • The most important lesson I learned from Futures and Options is how important it is to give back. I participated in the program almost 15 years ago and our Founder, Dr. Barbara L. Christen, was a strong believer in giving back. Because of her and the confidence she instilled in me at an early age, I stayed in touch with the organization and am currently part of the Young Professionals Committee, where we are focused on making a positive impact on young talent. This program set me up for success in my career and I want to make sure to leave a legacy just like Dr. Christen's.

What advice would you give to high school students?


  • A piece of advice I would give to high school students in the program is that when you are given the opportunity to work at an amazing company, it is your responsibility to continue to develop your skills and leverage the opportunity for bigger and better things. This program gives students the foundation they need to start building a successful career in the business world, but you will only get out of if what you put into it. If there is a high school student who is thinking of applying to the program, take the time to do it; you will be exposed to real work experience, great workshops and a great group of staff members committed to helping young talent develop!

Maria Rojas 
Great Eastern Energy, 2013
Leon Goldstein High School, Class of 2013
Boston University, Class of 2016


  
    




Catching Up

Tell us a little about what you are doing now. Where are you living? Are you in college, in a career? What jobs have you had since you participated in Futures and Options?

  • My first year in college, I worked in the Electrical and Computer Engineering IT department at Boston University. I discovered that even though I was intrigued by the idea of being able to work alongside well-versed coders and engineers, I needed a more creative outlet. I moved on to work with Boston University's Alumni Development and Relations office. I started as an office assistant and within my first semester I took on additional responsibilities, such as helping to coordinate alumni events.
    This semester I am interning for Judy Wu-- a London/Shanghai based couture fashion designer and studying abroad in London as part of the internship.

What is your greatest accomplishment since participating in Futures and Options?


  • As a second semester sophomore, I joined the Sigma Delta Tau sorority and started volunteering with on-campus activist groups. I learned that time management was key and that I needed to be able to juggle my responsibilities. My greatest accomplishment thus far has been teaching myself to code amidst a packed academic, work, and social schedule.

Futures and Options

What are your career dreams?

  • My career dream spans the ever growing media field; working in the world of communication means having to wear multiple hats and learning to be flexible in times of adversity. I don't have one set goal except to continue to learn and adapt while positively influencing the world around me through advertising. 

How has the Dream Big scholarship helped you to achieve your dreams? What would you like to say to others who this scholarship might help?


  • This scholarship helped alleviate some of the financial burden that college brings. I'd like to say to future scholarship winners: make the most of the opportunities presented to you.

Arvind Dhayalan 
BlackRock, 2015
Hunter College High School, Class of 2015
New York University, Class of 2019


  
  
  




Catching Up

Tell us a little about what you are doing now. Where are you living? Are you in college, in a career? What jobs have you had since you participated in Futures and Options?

  • I am currently a first year student at New York University, studying finance and management. Since participating in Futures and Options last summer, I have been working at a financial data intelligence firm called Triton Research and a brand strategy consultancy called maslansky + partners.

What is your greatest accomplishment since participating in Futures and Options?


  • Since participating in Futures and Options, my greatest accomplishment has been my ability to lead on campus. I have ran and been elected to Student Council, been selected for an executive board position in my school club governing body, been selected for the All-University Council, and served as a campus ambassador for three different startups. Futures and Options definitely provided me with the skills and confidence to accomplish all of this.

Futures and Options

What was the most valuable lesson you learned from Futures and Options?

  • The most valuable lesson I've learned from Futures and Options is to be proactive in pursuing what you are interested in. Actively looking for the next opportunity and utilizing your time effectively to do so is an incredible skill to have, and one that I am continuing to better learn.

What advice would you give to high school students?


  • My advice to high school students would be the same lesson I've learned from Futures and Options – to invest your time in your own future success. As high school students, time is your most valuable resource. Invest it in finding and exploring a field you are interested in or in developing a hidden talent or passion. Just don't waste it!

Bre'Annah Braithwaite 
Education Through Music Intern, 2015
Talent Unlimited High School, Class of 2014
SUNY Potsdam, Class of 2018


  
  
  




Catching Up

Tell us a little about what you are doing now. Where are you living? Are you in college, in a career? What jobs have you had since you participated in Futures and Options?

  • I am a sophomore at SUNY Potsdam, studying Business Administration and History. After Futures and Options, I worked at a day care Fivebellow, and at White Castle. On campus, I work as a secretary at the Student Success Center and I am a resident assistant in my dormitory.

What is your greatest accomplishment since participating in Futures and Options?


  • My greatest accomplishment since participating in Futures and Options was receiving the Mary Clouden Scholarship at SUNY Potsdam. I received this award not by applying, but through a nomination process.

Futures and Options

What are your career goals?

  • At first my career dreams seemed like any easy answer: "I want to do something in business." But now I find that there are several career possibilities I could pursue with my degree. I definitely see myself in a position where I am the glue to a company. I want to help keep things together.

What advice would you give to high school students?


  • Seek out scholarships and if you do receive a scholarship, make sure you use it wisely.

Theo Lopez 
The Bank of New York Mellon, 2005
Samuel A. Ramirez & Co., 2006
Grace Dodge Vocational & Technical High School, Class of 2007
CUNY Bernard Baruch College, Class of 2012


  
  
  




Catching Up

Tell us a little about what you are doing now. Where are you living? Are you in college, in a career? What jobs have you had since you participated in Futures and Options?

  • I am currently living in the South Bronx, where I have resided for the last 15 years. During this time, I was given the opportunity to attend CUNY Bernard Baruch College. I graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor's Degree in Business and Corporate Communications. Currently, I am part of the Sales Team as a Sales Associate at Marathon Ventures LLC, a private company specializing in direct response advertising sales.

What is your greatest accomplishment since participating in Futures and Options?


  • Graduating college. College was a challenge, but it was worth it since it has helped me get to where I am today.

Futures and Options

What was the most valuable lesson you learned from Futures and Options?

  • "Two heads are better than one." I learned the value in working together as a team in order to achieve a common goal.

What advice would you give to high school students?


  • Get involved and make sure to get out of your comfort zone. You know never know what is out there unless you implement the rule of trial and error.

Ahmed Elsayed 
Public Resources Advisory Group, 2007
James Madison High School, Class of 2007
State University of New York College at New Paltz, Class of 2012


  
  
  




Catching Up

Tell us a little about what you are doing now. Where are you living? Are you in college, in a career? What jobs have you had since you participated in Futures and Options?

  • I live in New York City. I graduated from college in 2012. After my internship, I had a work-study job on campus which involved working in the computer labs. Upon graduation, I had a job in the fashion industry. Currently, I launched my career in the media sales industry. I work as a media planner at Marathon Ventures Media Sales and am responsible for managing airtime inventory.

What is your greatest accomplishment since participating in Futures and Options?


  • One of my greatest accomplishments was obtaining my dual degree in Accounting and International Business, as well as studying abroad in Egypt.

Futures and Options

What was the most valuable lesson you learned from Futures and Options?

  • One of the most valuable lessons I learned from Futures and Options is to not be afraid of networking, and of working hard on any assignment.

What advice would you give to high school students?


  • My advice to students is to be fully committed and dedicated to any task assigned, and to take initiative. Also, internships and various experiences add value to every candidate.

Quincy Bedeau
Urban Leadership Fellows Program, 2008
John Dewey High School, Class of 2008
Babson College, Class of 2012


  
  
  




Catching Up

Tell us a little about what you are doing now. Where are you living? Are you in college, in a career? What jobs have you had since you participated in Futures and Options?

  • I graduated from college in 2012 and have moved back to NYC, currently in Brooklyn.  Since graduating I have worked as a financial analyst at Morgan Stanley in the Wealth Management division and I am currently at Goldman Sachs in their Asset Management division.

What is your greatest accomplishment since participating in Futures and Options?


  • My greatest accomplishment since participating in Futures and Options was creating a social media page called "guys with grit" aiming to help young men in urban areas develop a sense of professionalism in style and mannerism from an early age. It allows for the development of the participants as well as the mentors as creating an uplifting atmosphere for young men.

Futures and Options

What was the most valuable lesson you learned from Futures and Options?

  • The most valuable lesson I learned from Futures and Options was to always network. You never know what part of your story someone could be listening to. Whether it is the largest failure to the smallest development, something will connect you to another person. Futures and Options brought that willingness to be myself out of me and provided me with a competitive edge.

What advice would you give to high school students?


  • The best advice I could give would be to continue being open minded and optimistic. Life has only just begun. There are a multitude of tests, trials, lessons, and victories that await you at every corner. Every opportunity to learn counts.

© 2016 Futures and Options. All Rights Reserved.
Futures and Options is a nonprofit career development and paid internship program for New York City youth.

120 Broadway, Suite 1019. New York, NY 10271. 212-601-0002. info@futuresandoptions.org