Please introduce yourself, the year you graduated, and what was your major when you graduated?
My name is Nathalie Quezada Warren. I am Dominican, born in Puerto Rico, and raised in the Bronx, NY. I graduated May 2008 with a double major in International Relations and Psychology.
What was your Syracuse University experience like when you attended?
I knew I wanted to go to SU as soon as I stepped foot on campus. I visited during the Multicultural Spring Program and stayed overnight with a host. It was April and the weather was beautiful, the sun was out, and the birds were chirping. Little did I know, Syracuse was playing a hoax. Anyone who has lived in Syracuse knows this kind of weather in March is a rarity, and a total tease. During my visit, I was impressed by the diversity of SU’s population. I had previously visited other campuses and had not experienced this; I felt comfortable here and I was sold. A couple of months later I found out I had been accepted and I was psyched.
Once a student, I was very interested in getting to know the local Syracuse community. As a freshman, I co-founded the Cross-Cultural Connections Program, a successful diversity-training model that paired bilingual high school students from Syracuse’s west side community with Syracuse Police Department officers. In 2007, I was honored to receive the Racial Justice Award from Community Wide Dialogue to End Racism – InterFaith Works of Central New York and the Chancellor’s Award for Public Engagement and Scholarship.
I joined the SU Outing Club and learned how to rock climb and cave, satisfied my adrenaline craving, and met some remarkable folks. I also studied abroad in Madrid, Spain and had a wonderful time exploring Europe and Morocco. All in all, I took the initiative to make my experience at SU what I wanted it to be – an opportunity to meet new people, step out of my comfort zone, make connections, and have fun.
What did you do post-SU?
After graduating, I worked for about a year as a Youth Health Educator for Catholic Charities of Onondaga County, then as a program coordinator and site director at Delaware Academy for Say Yes to Education, a national non-profit organization committed to increasing high school and college graduation rates for inner city youth. I loved and became a part of the community of Delaware Academy, a local Syracuse City School District elementary school on Syracuse’s west side. I invested my time in creating and managing attendance and behavioral intervention initiatives, managing the Say Yes after-school program, the Say Yes pro-bono legal clinic within the school, and creating a student government.
In September of 2012, I took on the role of Assistant Director of Winnick Literacy Initiatives within Syracuse University’s Shaw Center for Public and Community Service. In my role, I manage the Literacy Corps tutoring program and work to forge partnerships with the local Syracuse community to sustain community literacy and programming in the community.
I still maintain close connections with Syracuse’s Latino community. I am a member of the board of directors of Partners in Learning Inc., which provides support to the MANOS Early Childhood Education program, and the West Side Learning Center, an adult education center serving refugees and others for whom English is not the first language. I also serve as a mentor to young first-generation college women through On Point for College, a college assistance program.
Certainly, the greatest thing I have done was when, in late November of 2012, my husband and I welcomed our baby girl, Ámali Luz Warren.
What’s the best advice you would give to current students?
First, make connections, and maintain them – network! I have been working with college students for many years now and am always impressed by students who find the time to touch base. These relationships are valuable; when asked to give a reference, I am able to speak more clearly to this person’s growth and successes. In addition, when career opportunities come across my desk these are the folks that come to mind. It’s hard to forget a student who is in touch.
Second, open yourself up to experiences outside of your comfort zone, whether this means eating a new food, joining a new organization, studying abroad, or simply doing something on your own. These kinds of challenges prepare you for life after college. You won’t always have the opportunity to explore Europe without obligation or go rock climbing with a group you met just two weeks ago, so cherish your time here at SU and relish in those moments.
Third, in this economic climate, it may be ever more challenging to graduate and be immediately employed in a place that you love. Do not let that dissuade you from being successful. These are stepping stones and you never know where these opportunities will lead you. Challenging situations push you to explore yourself and your environment and can be opportunities for you to open yourself up to new adventures!
What do you think about LANSU Scholarship?
As the cost of higher education continues to rise, attending college has become increasingly more difficult. Although we have enrolled larger numbers of Latino students, the issue of retention is a real one. This is especially true for those who lack access to lending or financial resources. However, this should not determine the fate of a deserving student’s college education. A LANSU Scholarship can assist in alleviating some of the financial stresses so that students can focus on what they’re here for – to be successful at a prestigious University like Syracuse. I am proud of my alma mater for taking on this issue and providing students with a much needed resource.