My First College Semester: Standing Up & Finding Our True Selves

My First College Semester: Standing Up & Finding Our True Selves

by Regina De Los Santos, Alumni & College Success Manager

One of my greatest joys in my new position as Alumni & College Success Manager, a position to support seniors and college students “to and through” college, was going back to college simultaneously with the Row New York class of 2016. We celebrated highs and lows together and shared helpful tips. Like not watching Netflix for five hours when you really have to study for a big exam.

Here’s a look into Ruben Martinez, Alina Siminiouk and Gustavo Diaz’s insight into their first college semester.

Ruben Martinez, Hamilton College ‘20


Ruben Martinez, is an alum from our Manhattan program. He attends Hamilton College, class of 2020.

What was the most challenging aspect of this first semester?
One of the biggest challenges for me has been finding my own way to act on the social issues that I am more exposed to than ever, in this new stage of my life. I have found different ways to channel my emotions as well as to act upon the inequalities around me. I have started to journal my feelings, and to write poetry that expresses my current experiences as a minority in a predominantly white college. Also, I have become involved on campus in organizations such as the Black and Latino Student Union. But more importantly, I am speaking up when I encounter something that marginalizes minorities of any kind. Being a minority in my new community, I no longer feel like I have the luxury of acting like everything is perfect; and although I choose my battles, I make sure that my voice is heard when I disagree with something.

Gustavo Diaz, College of Saint Rose ‘20


Gustavo Diaz graduated from our Manhattan program this summer. He attends the College of Saint Rose, class of 2020.

What didn’t your pre-semester self know, that you know now?
Before going to college I didn’t notice I was trying to conform myself some way into society. When I was a freshman in high school I came with the intention to be myself. But the question was, what is “myself”? I wanted to be myself, but at that point, I didn’t really know who “me” was. Sophomore and junior year I tried to be what I thought was fitting in. The summer of my junior year I gave up and decided to go with the flow. My whole senior year was great. I was more of myself without even trying – it just came out. Reflecting back that has it’s good and bad. GOING AWAY FOR COLLEGE WAS MY REAL TURNING POINT. I can now say I know who Me, Myself and I truly is. It took me being away from the regular New York City norms of clothes, parties, and family in my teenage life to have a hard self-reflection and pay more attention to these questions: Who do I want to be in society? How do I present me? What do I want to succeed? Leaving NYC has helped me answer those question. Without leaving my social bubble in the City I probably wouldn’t have been able to answer these questions today.

Alina Siminiouk, Smith College Posse Scholar ‘20

Alina copy

Alina Siminiouk attends Smith College and is a Posse Scholar, class of 2020. She graduated from our Queens program this past summer.

Who was a source of support this semester?
Someone who gave me some serious support was one of my friends, Tiffany. We knew each other and developed our friendship before getting to campus since we were both selected as posse scholars for Smith and went through pre-collegiate training together. We helped each other academically, like studying for calculus exams together, but also emotionally whenever we would have our heart to heart chats or watch shows together over the weekends. College is a lot less stressful when you have a friend that you click with going through the same thing as you are.