New York Leader Week Shout-outs!

***Friday Shout-Outs!***

Hey HamFam! We're excited to share extra special New York Leader Week shout-outs with you!

We are so grateful for all the time and effort all of our volunteers, partners, and supporters devoted to helping make NYLW an impactful and empowering experience for the 2018 cohort.

Shout-out to everyone who brought history to life for the Scholars during the week's excursions! Thank you to Federal Hall National Memorial, Mindy Anderson of New York Harbor Parks for making a video of our visit to Federal Hall, Alexandra Woods who provided a Hamilton descendant's perspective at Hamilton Grange National Memorial, and the wonderful Ranger Smith at the African Burial Ground National Monument! Thank you to Sandy Trenholm of The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and New-York Historical Society for providing us with a space for our sessions and giving us an unforgettable experience connecting with the past. Thank you to Bill Chrystal for allowing Scholars to meet Alexander Hamilton!

Shout-out to Maria Asayag for hosting an admissions info session, and to Diana Carranza and Santi Tobar-Potes for providing Hammies with a guided tour at Columbia University.

Shout-out to Akil Belo, test prep extraordinaire, and to the college reps who shared key insights about the college application process with the Hammies: Clifford Thornton of Wesleyan University, Mia Rogers of Hamilton College, Nikki Chambers of Barnard College, Kaitlin Oliver of Franklin & Marshall College, Allyson Umali of University of Virginia, and John Chavez of Columbia University in the City of New York.

Shout-out to Ellen Daviero for the amazing and delicious nourishment you provided the Hammies all throughout the week. The love and care you put into every meal was truly astonishing.

Shout-out to all of the Hambassadors who served as airport guides, panelists, and mentors: Barbara Biney, Cherrysse Ulsa, Bemnet Zewdie, Andrea Jurado, Jonathan Samayoa, Miatta Harris, Kyle Baldwin, Drew Simon, Anastasiya Parvankin, Andrew Ock, Caleb Bradford, Jesus Moran, Peiyi Mei, Kay-Ann Henry. Special thanks to Carlos Sotelo and Lona Nguyen who served as Hammie chaperones and POD leaders for the entire week!

Last but not least, shout-out to the dynamic duo Kelly Herrington and Lynell Engelmyer, who served as the key architects behind program sessions as well as chaperones and one-on-one college and financial aid counselors to the 2018 Cohort. This week would not have been possible without your expertise and unwavering dedication.

With deep gratitude,
AHS Team

Seattle Leader Week Shout-outs!

Happy Friday HamFam! We're pleased to share some extra special shout-outs with you.

Shout-out to Seattle University - Conference and Event Services for helping Seattle Leader Week run smoothly. We greatly appreciate the careful attention to detail, quality, and kindness that characterize your work, and we look forward to future collaboration.

Shout-out to our dedicated volunteers Priscilla Wright, Cathy Hiller, and Carolyn Cox who facilitated sessions for the 2017 Scholars and who provided crucial assistance on arrival and departure day. Thank you for all the care you devote to the Hammies!

Shout-out to all of the older current Hammies and Alumni (Lona Nguyen, Beatriz Nájera Pérez, Maggie Flores, Emily Anne Vargas, Khoi Ha, Steven Nguyen, Jessica Sun, Pau Anzaldo) who took time out of your busy lives to give back to the organization and your fellow Hammies. Thank you for exemplifying what AHS is all about. You all make us proud to be a part of this organization, and the examples of selflessness, determination, and heart that each of you exhibit will be emulated by the 2017 Hammies. Special thanks to Victoria LaQuíta Wilburn for the incredible spirit, openness, and inspiration that you brought to the week, and to Tiffany Wong for working so hard to capture the work AHS does with your outstanding and beautiful video!

With deep gratitude,
AHS Team

College Signing Day 2018

College Signing Day signals an important milestone in the lives of millions of young people across the nation. For under-served and first-generation college students, it means that all the hard-work, all the sleepless nights, all the times they steeled themselves against exhaustion and doubt to overcome the roadblocks in their way, have finally paid off.  Join us in celebrating this special moment with the 2017 Cohort as they take the first exciting step in the next phase of their lives. The road ahead will be full of both triumph and defeat, but we know they will all succeed in becoming the next generation of leaders and we can’t wait to see what they accomplish along the way.

Congratulations 2017 Scholars!

Introducing 2018 Scholars

These 34 Scholars represent 16 states and a wide array of communities, backgrounds, and cultures. They exemplify the best of our nation’s youth, displaying grit, determination, and the ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve their ambitious goals, while still always putting others before self as they seek to be leaders and agents of positive change in their schools and communities. Like the young Alexander Hamilton, they will use their incredible talents to address their communities', our nation's, and the world’s most pressing needs. See their pictures and stay tuned for their incredible bios later this week.

Abegya Berhanu - Baltimore, MD
Alondra Barragan - Leavenworth, WA
Angela Tocci - Washington, PA
Anubhav Thapaliya - Woodbridge, VA
Bonnie Chen - Brooklyn, NY
Brandon Lopez - Oklahoma City, OK
Carlos Fuentes - Houston, TX
Chidinmma Egemonu - Jacksonville, FL
Daniella Passariello - Miami, FL
Danielle Sandia - Jemez Pueblo, NM
Desiree Cervantes - La Puente, CA
Dominic Arzadon - Honolulu, HI
Elizabeth Guadarrama - Royal City, WA
Emmalynn Beck - Danville, IA
Fatima Lopez - Richmond, CA
Georgina Concha - Oklahoma City, OK
Grace Kim - Germantown, MD
Gracemary Nganga - Hazelwood, MO
Halimo Farah - San Diego, CA
Jacquelin Flores - Mulberry, FL
Jennifer Hernandez - Alexandria, VA
Julon White - Oklahoma City, OK
Kevin Palomino - Oklahoma City, OK
Liliana Gonzalez - Hialeah, FL
Maria Estrada - Miami, FL
Paulina Lopez-Castillo - Richmond, CA
Ruben Garza - Corpus Christi, TX
Ruthchamar Jolibois - Orange, NJ
Sana Hussain - Chicago, IL
Tulsi Patel - Eagleville, PA
Vincent Tran - Anaheim, CA
Vivian Lu - Cherry Hill, NJ
Vivian Vasquez - Burbank, CA
Zayn Imran - Harrisburg, NC

Thank you to these individuals who helped select the 2018 Cohort, together contributing over 700 hours of work since the application process began back in November. Welcoming the latest cohort into our Hammie Family would have been impossible without your service and dedication during this important, and difficult, process.

Board Members:
Bill Thomas, Brian Simons, Jason Lynch, Morgan King, Nick Gesualdi

Hambassadors (AHS Alumni):
Caitlin Ogren (2009), Christopher McAuley (2009), Elena De Jesus Hernandez (2009), Emily Gee (2007), Erika So (2009), John Jimenez (2011), Lauren Hickey (2008), Lona Nguyen (2013), Luna Ly (2012), Mackenzie Welch (2009), Rachel Brill (2008), Shandon Coffman (2012), Shruti Bala (2005), Steve Barillas (2009), Steven Nguyen (2010), Sze Yin (Eunice) Ng (2011), Von Dickens Ulsa (2011)

Chantelle Dial, Jill-ann Painter, Jody Megrditchian, Joslin Boroughs,
Kelly Herrington, Kelly Pfeifer, Kirsten Martin, Larry Goldman, Lynell Engelmyer, Matt Skirven, Nikisha Reyes-Grange, Roberta Doyle

Victoria Wilburn (2006)

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Q: What have you been up to since college?
A: I've been pursuing my passion for producing music that empowers people to be their best selves, while simultaneously operating with a business-minded approach. I've worked my way up through the ranks of the entertainment industry including time at CAA, Sony Pictures Entertainment, CBS Films, Fullscreen and New Form. I specialize in business operations.

Q: What's your favorite Hamilton Scholars memory?
A: The trip to Guatemala (e.g. Roasting marshmallows on the volcano, going to the village and experiencing the culture, volunteering, etc...) and my time in Seattle where I met my cohort, worked on my 5/10 year Personal Development Plan, and a host of other things...), conference calls, etc...

Q: What LA restaurant do you recommend for those visiting LA?
A: Wow. I love food, so I'll share a few of my favorites: Perch, AY-Do-NO, The Boiling Crab, Crispy Crust, and Crepe Xpress to name a few.

Q: What's your favorite TV show?
A: I have many favorites - Game of Thrones, The Profit, Peaky Blinders, Shark Tank, Breaking Bad, Empire, and Scandal.

Journey Browne (2017)

“Black people. I love you. I love us. Our lives matter, Black Lives Matter.”

“As a proud follower and endorser of the Black Lives Matter Movement, I am very familiar with Alicia Garza. Usually people assume that I back the Black Lives Matter Movement because I’m, well, Black. While this is obviously true, I support the movement because of the woman behind it. She is a black queer female, the lowest of the lows when it comes to any sort of privilege. And yet, she speaks out. Garza is the true embodiment of the quote “Black women will fix it.” To me, she represents modern activism. Activism is no longer about sitting in at diners and stopping traffic. Today it is about using any platform you have to make a statement.

When I lived in a shelter, I had a really hard time communicating my feelings. In a room full of people, I had not a single soul to confide in. In this world where everyone had their own problems, no one asked me how I felt about being homeless. My voice went unheard above the noise of shelter life and my emotions and I faded into oblivion. That was until I turned on my computer. My mom had scraped together money to buy me a computer for my birthday. Black and small, it came equipped with a trusty companion: a web camera. Every night I turned on the camera and spoke to it as I lay on my scratchy cot. We talked about how broken I was feeling, how helpless I felt watching my parents struggle and how jealous I was of people who ate home-cooked meals. He watched me cry. He watched me laugh. Never judging, he listened attentively, recording all I said. My web camera became my one and only friend. Through the eyes of the web camera, I realized that I had been talking to myself all along. I had been watching me cry, it was me who I talked to about my problems. Through his eyes, I had found myself, my voice, and my will to express my feelings. I decided that if I had nothing in this life, no real home, no clothes, at least I would own my voice.

Long story short, I understand Garza’s use of technology as a mode for social change on a more personal level. Both she and I, through our actions, have pledged to use our voices for the advancement of society. What I admire most about her is the fact that she didn't intend to create a globally known movement. Garza was just tired of the injustice and brutality she had seen taken out on our brothers and sisters. She did not allow the criticism that claimed she is “anti-White” to deter her, and instead continues to get others to join the cause. Her way of bringing people from different races together never ceases to amaze me.

All in all, AHS’ heritage curriculum gave me a chance to tap into my thoughts and passions that I seldom put onto paper. Also, it gave me a chance to read the reflections of my peers and to appreciate about how far we all have come and how far we will continue to go with AHS’ support.”

#heritage #blm #blacklivesmatter



Alicia Garza was born on January 4, 1981 and currently lives in Oakland, California. Garza studied anthropology at UC San Diego and has engaged in activism for LGBT rights, civil rights, and fair housing. Garza self-identifies as queer and is married to a biracial transgender woman. These aspects of her identity, along with her identity as a black woman, shape her social justice organizing efforts. Her past work includes serving as the executive director of People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER), a labor group based in San Francisco.


Through Garza’s leadership, POWER won the right for free youth transportation in San Francisco, challenged gentrification, and shed light on police brutality.

In 2013, following the acquittal of George Zimmerman who killed unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin, Garza reacted on social media, lamenting how undervalued black lives are in American society, and this resulted in her now-famous quote going viral on social media. With her two friends, Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors, Garza founded Black Lives Matter and organized demonstrations across the US to protest the killing of Michael Brown.


Garza and her colleagues are credited with reinvigorating the civil rights movement in the US. Garza’s work has garnered her multiple awards and recognitions including being recognized on the Root 100 list of African American Achievers (between ages 25 and 45), named a runner-up for The Advocate’s Person of the Year, and honored with the Jeanne Guana Communicate Justice Award from the Centre for Media Justice.

Works Cited

“Alicia Garza.” Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, 20 June 2017. Web. 22 June 2017.

“Alicia Garza.” Jewish Women’s Archive, 2017. Web. June 2017.

National Mentoring Month

"We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives." - John F Kennedy

January was National Mentoring Month, an observance that raises awareness of the important role mentors play in young people’s lives. During this month, individuals, businesses, government agencies, and community organizations partner together to recruit mentors for youth programs with the greatest need for volunteer mentors.

Joanne 'Jojo' Kuria (2011) attended Sterlie Achille's (2013) graduation in December at the University of Florida, December 2017.

Joanne 'Jojo' Kuria (2011) attended Sterlie Achille's (2013) graduation in December at the University of Florida, December 2017.

At AHS, Scholars can attest to the positive impact mentorship has had on them. Through the AHS Mentorship Program, Scholars are matched with older peer mentors during their senior year of high school, receiving help with the college transition and their personal goals. Participation in this program allows Hammie mentors and mentees to create supportive, meaningful relationships that strengthen the Scholar community.

In honor of National Mentoring Month, Hammies express gratitude toward their Scholar mentors. With so many wonderful Hammie mentors we could have highlighted, we decided to feature reflections on the mentorship of Carolina Sosa (2014), Jojo Kuria (2011), and Hassan Hassen (2013), each of whom have built storied Hammie “dynasties” by taking on multiple mentees in numerous cohorts. Says Anh-Tu Lu (2015), “My mentor, Carolina, has helped to provide me with different information about programs and scholarships that I qualify for. Whenever I needed resources, Carolina always ensured that I achieved my intentions and goals. She has been one of the biggest influences in my life, for instance, by encouraging me to work in Senegal through Global Citizen Year, and I hope to be as a great mentor to someone else as she is to me.” Sterlie Achille (2013) comments, “Jojo encourages me, celebrates with me (she flew in on my college graduation day!), and her trust in my vision has helped me to graduate on time. She often tells me, "I will always have your back," and every single time, her support is there without fail! Jojo, THANK YOU for being more than just my mentor (who forces me to practice self-care even when I deem it unimportant), but also, thank you for being my fun older sis, my inspirational friend, and my valuable role model!” Esther Brown (2015) adds, “As a mentor, Hassan has assured me that I can do anything I’ve ever really wanted. As a friend, he always challenges me to navigate my own path in the manner that is most consistent with the way I am wired as a person. Hassan will be a lifetime mentor and friend! Thanks to the Hammie family for connecting us."

In addition to the mentorship Scholars receive during their college transition, AHS also facilitates mentorship connections that assist them during their career transition. Our Career Readiness and Career Transition curriculum gives Scholars the opportunity to develop relationships with professionals in their fields of interest through resume reviews, informational and mock interviews, and Texas Leader Weekend career site visits. With an increasingly robust network of alumni and professional volunteers, and through the generosity of our supporters, we are constantly strengthening our Mentorship Program and empowering the next generation of leaders.

To learn more about how to participate in National Mentoring Month events, including International Mentoring Day (1/17) and #ThankYourMentorDay (1/25) please visit

#mentor #mentee 

Carolina Sosa (2014) enjoys a GIANT bowl of Pho noodle soup with Anh-Tu Lu (2015).

Carolina Sosa (2014) enjoys a GIANT bowl of Pho noodle soup with Anh-Tu Lu (2015).

Their futures are bright

We're excited to share some joyous news this holiday season - this December five more Hamilton Scholars earned their bachelor's degrees! In 2017, a total of 32 Hamilton Scholars graduated from colleges and universities across the country. (Check out our2017 Spring Graduates here.)

Since 2010, 95% of Scholars who completed the Hamilton Empowerment Program have graduated from college within six years, and 80% within four years. For comparison, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) recently reported that only 41% of academically strong students from low socioeconomic (SES) backgrounds graduated from college, compared to 74% of similarly scoring student from high-SES backgrounds.

Thanks to your generous support , these Scholars grew personally and professionally throughout their experience in the program. From participating in transformational Leader Weeks and creating a Personal Development Plan, to engaging with our annual curriculum, personal check-in calls, and AHS’ Internship Program, they honed their skills and passions. These insights will guide them in their next transition from college to career. Because of you, they now step into the world ready to take on whatever comes next, and for that, we are all grateful. Please join us in congratulating these leaders of character on this major life accomplishment!

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Rachel Brill (2008)

Rachel now lives in New York City, and is a 6th grade teacher (and team lead!) at Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School. Rachel recently completed her M.A. at Columbia University's Teachers College, participating in their Summer Principal's Academy program. Along with teaching and working on her masters, Rachel also ran the NYC Marathon (26.2 miles!) earlier this month. Congrats to Rachel for all she's accomplished in the classroom and beyond!   

Rachel now lives in New York City, and is a 6th grade teacher (and team lead!) at Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School. Rachel recently completed her M.A. at Columbia University's Teachers College, participating in their Summer Principal's Academy program. Along with teaching and working on her masters, Rachel also ran the NYC Marathon (26.2 miles!) earlier this month. Congrats to Rachel for all she's accomplished in the classroom and beyond!


Thank you, Dallas!

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As the fall comes to a close, so too does the 2017 AHS Leader Week season. From June to October, 117 Scholars traveled to Seattle, New York, Guatemala, and Dallas, participating in rigorous leadership training focused on instilling practical tools for success in college and the post-college world, and reflecting on how they can influence the world and make positive change.

Our final Leader Week of 2017 took place October 18-22 during the third annual Texas Leader Weekend in Dallas, where Scholars prepared for the workplace through career exploration, networking, and developing their professional skill-set. This experience will help Scholars build their careers and be leaders in their own communities, and it would not have been possible without the welcoming generosity of the Dallas community and local residents such as Ron Chapman, Jr. and Rita Garcia-Ransdell. Thank you to everyone who came out for Thursday night’s networking and fundraising event, Connect to Opportunity, and establishing connections with Scholars as talented, service-minded future leaders. Dallas businesses and non-profits opened their doors to host site visits for Scholars on Friday, where they gained an in-depth view of an organization’s culture, learned about job and internship opportunities, and connected with staff or HR personnel through informational interviews and resume reviews. Thank you to AHS Board Member, Arthur Hollingsworth from LoneStar Investment Advisors , Steve Shore from Bank of America , Alan Kajihara from Peterbilt Motors Company , and Joel Rothermel from CNM Connect for your hard work in organizing these visits and giving Scholars this incredible opportunity.

As one Scholar said, “I am confident leaving Texas with refined skills in making professional connections, largely due to engaging in mock interviews with employers. The professional experts were understanding of my needs and met me at an even level when providing me feedback and resources I can research when I return home.” Another Scholar reflected, “This weekend was incredible. The AHS program consistently reminds me of my ‘why.’ I used to get so burnt out because I was so focused on the day-to-day craziness of life, but now even though I am stressed, there is a sense of peace because I know my actions matter and are for the benefit of others as well as myself.” Read more about Scholars’ experience in Dallas in this week’s Hammie News Day , featuring Vincent Garcia (2012). Be sure and save the date for next year’s event, October 11-14 , where we look forward to continuing and strengthening our partnerships with those in the Dallas community. 

Vincent Garcia (2012)

Last month, 20 Scholars attended Texas Leader Weekend (TLW) in Dallas, engaging in professional development workshops, networking opportunities, and workplace site visits. Vincent Garcia (2012), reflects upon his TLW experience.

"Prior to attending TLW 2017, I was uncertain how I could pursue a career in software as a self-taught programmer with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. The company visit to Bank of America’s IT department, arranged by AHS, addressed my uncertainty by providing me exceptional advice through mock interviews. I personally do not like interviews given my history of social anxiety, however, the professionals from the IT department understood my needs while providing me with honest feedback. The key advice I took away from the company visit was that my resume is simply a ticket to an interview; beyond that point, I have to be comfortable sharing a story that illuminates who I am.

In addition to the career advice I gained from TLW, I realized my goals will change over time. During the first year of the program, AHS encourages Scholars to develop a personal development plan (PDP). The purpose of the PDP is to help us establish our values in leadership and attainable long-term goals throughout our undergraduate career and entrance in the workforce. The PDP is then revised prior to attending TLW so Scholars can reflect on their growth from their undergraduate experiences. I found that while my values have not changed, my goals have. TLW reassured me that I don’t have to feel anxious about my future and shifting goals because “the future is unpredictable, the past already happened, so now it is best to make the most of the present. Everyone is on a different timeline, you are not behind nor ahead, you are where you need to be.”

While I am open to the idea that my goals are subject to change, my current goal is to obtain a career in software development. AHS has provided me the confidence that I can achieve a fulfilling career in technology. Being reminded that I am cared for and that I have AHS’ social and professional support network at my disposal gives me the courage I need to pursue a career outside of my major.

AHS ensures that Scholars like me do not endure their undergraduate experience alone. Its continuously expanding national network allows Scholars to gain professional connections that are difficult to acquire in the post-college phase. By giving to AHS, supporters are strengthening a network that helps young leaders leave their legacies through civic engagement. Together, AHS and supporters provide hope despite the uncertainty of our future."

#hammienewsday #tlw2017 #career #transition #interview #network #empower #goals #pdp

Caps and Gowns

Twenty-seven Hamilton Scholars graduated from college this spring, equipped with degrees ranging from Russian Language to Neuroscience and tools to change the world. 85 percent of the 2012 Scholars who entered the program five years ago have remained active, with a 100 percent retention rate for first-generation college students. While the national six-year college graduation rate is 59 percent, the Pell Institute reports that 10.9 percent of low-income, first-generation college students graduate from college within six years. At AHS, 90 percent of retained 2012 Scholars and 86 percent of first-generation 2012 Scholars graduated from college within four years.

As college graduates, these Scholars now enter the role of Hambassador. Whether through becoming donors, sharing their time, energy, and expertise, spreading the word about AHS in their communities, or participating in fundraising efforts, we encourage alumni to give back to the organization in ways that are most meaningful to them.

Because of you, these Scholars have traveled to Seattle, Washington and Tecpán, Guatemala for transformative leader weeks dedicated to the college transition and leadership and service. Your contributions to the Independent Internship Scholarship and Texas Leader Weekend have supported career readiness and transition for our Scholars. Your impact shines in each of these graduates. Thank you.     

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Summer Internships

From Austin, Texas to Dalian, China, members of the 2013 and 2014 Cohorts are embarking on internship opportunities that will set them on paths to successfully transition from college to their careers.

Did you know that AHS' Independent Internship Scholarship provides opportunities for unpaid or underfunded internships? This summer, nine Scholars will receive an average of $2,855 as they pursue their dreams.    

When you donate to the Independent Internship Support Program, your contribution goes directly to Scholars like Ana and Kenneth, and gives them the opportunity to gain the experience and skills that will allow them to reach their ambitious career goals.

Please, donate today, and join us in celebrating the Hamilton Scholar interns who will positively impact communities and organizations across the globe this summer!

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