Dariana is the reason why BridgeYear has summer interns. Like many of the other BridgeYear interns, Dariana is a prior student of mine who regularly updates me while she is in college. When we were catching up this past Spring, she mentioned her difficulties with her summer internship search, and it struck me that BridgeYear (like many organizations) may be missing out on an unique opportunity. College underclassmen often have limited summer internship opportunities – yet their energy and willingness to learn are undeniable. As a prime example, Dariana was on board almost immediately after I sent her a few preliminary pitch decks of statistics and business plan ideas and began communicating with students just a few weeks afterwards – even before the official internship started. She has done so much more since the summer has started. Read on for her reflections:
Q: What inspired you to be a BridgeYear intern?
A: After my first year of college I realized the significant amount of obstacles that come between a student and successful matriculation. I was lucky enough to have guidance in the transition process and so when BridgeYear came along, I jumped at the opportunity to do the same for someone else. After I was introduced to more research about community college matriculation rates, I strongly felt that something had to be done to reduce and eventually resolve issues like summer melt.
Q: Tell us about an ‘aha’ moment – a time when you were most excited about the work you are doing this summer.
A: One that comes to mind is the moment one of my students told me she was not enrolling in HCC this fall. I knew that I would respect her decision, so long as she was making it with enough information. When she told me she would defer because she felt it was too late and she didn’t know how to proceed with some documentation, I knew it was something I could help with; something BridgeYear could help with. She was so relieved afterwards, once she was back on track, a moment that convinced me of the real importance of our team’s work!
Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of your work at BridgeYear?
A: As someone who appreciates structure in their work environment, it was challenging to walk into something where I had to create a lot of that structure along with my teammates. Although I was hesitant and often worried about making the right calls for our students, this exposure has boosted the confidence in my decision making. I’ve grown to appreciate the freedom I am given in my work despite the imminent fear of the F word… failure.
Q: If you had to give your BridgeYear experience a hashtag, what would that be and why?
A: #BeatTheOdds. Our students, who are really the reason we do this work, came on this journey with us because they wanted to defeat the statistics that are against them. As an individual, I had to trust that my desire to effect change was enough, even on the days that it didn’t seem like it was. And as a team (I am surrounded by ridiculously talented people might I add!), we had to come together to do what some might deem impossible: learn the ropes of a community college system in just a couple of weeks.
Q: Other than BridgeYear what else have you been up to this summer?
A: When I’m not advising or interviewing students for BridgeYear I’m (ironically) advising incoming Brandeis freshmen, helping with the planning for my sister’s Sweet Sixteen, and preparing for Round 2 of college.
Dariana’s excitement about BridgeYear’s potential and her steadfast conviction that no student should be without support are what have propelled us to continue developing BridgeYear to what it is today. The amount of responsibility and initiative she has taken on has far surpassed what I had initially imagined as reasonable to expect from a college summer intern. But Dariana does her job with such poise and drive that we hardly think twice about entrusting her with the responsibility of managing the advising of close to 100 students. Not bad for a first summer out of college, I would say!