Month: March 2017

This week, we reached out to one of our first LVS classes in an effort to capture the experiences of scholars who have not just graduated from our program, but also from college! Nahiomy Alvarez was part of the LVS Class of 2012 and was a winner of the 2012 QuestBridge National College Match Program, which awarded her a full four-year scholarship to her match school, Williams College, in Williamstown, MA.



Nahiomy Alvarez


High School

Lynn Classical


Year of LVS Graduation




Williams College



Political Economy


Did you have any internships while in college?

My first internship in college was at a residential program for students with complex psychiatric, behavioral and/or developmental disorders at Hillcrest Education Center in Pittsfield, MA. Having the opportunity to work with children with tough upbringings was immensely meaningful and reinforced my belief in the importance of supporting vulnerable members of our communities.


What did you do after graduation?

Like many first-generation students I didn’t have a clear idea what I wanted to do after graduation – in part because the goal for years had been to get into college. Period. And so, for my first few years at Williams, I very intentionally considered all sorts of alternatives. Psychology? Hmm, I liked talking to and psychoanalyzing people. Law school? Why not, I liked arguing. A PhD? Sure, I loved school. A job in banking? Eh, could use the money.


Meanwhile, I was taking all these classes that inadvertently opened up my eyes to something I hadn’t really intentionally thought about all that much growing up. Even though I experienced it every day, I had never sat down to think and talk about America’s race and class issues. I suddenly had the privilege – the time and the resources – to sit down and learn about redlining, read The New Jim Crow, and write a capstone group thesis on mass incarceration and recidivism in the U.S. I thought, “Wow, I need to do something about this.” Eventually, my plan became to find a job where I could impact policy-making, find ways to bring more folks to the table, and infiltrate the boys club at the top – hence how I ended up looking for a job in D.C.


Where are you working now? What do you do?

After graduating last May (2016) I moved to D.C. for an Analyst position at a firm called Hamilton Place Strategies (HPS). HPS is a consulting firm founded on the idea that by providing a better understanding of issues we can influence and improve policy-making. My work consists of using a combination of analysis and communications to distill complex issues, explain these issues to target audiences, and persuade critical influencers. My day-to-day work involves working on all sorts of issues, including financial regulation, alternative energy, international development, early education, and tax policy.


What are some things you learned at La Vida Scholars that prepared you for college life, finances, and academics?

Writing. La Vida is where I wrote and refined my first real essays – which is insane. Writing all those essays, learning new SAT words, reading, etc., all that helped me develop the writing skills that I constantly need in my job and needed in college.


What are three words that come to mind when you think of La Vida Scholars?

Opportunity. Mentorship. Growth.


Anything you want to say to all the current La Vida Scholars?

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to make use of ALL opportunities in front of you. Don’t waste those! Commit yourself to beating your best SAT score and then beat it. Commit yourself to writing the best possible scholarship essay and then write it. Commit yourself to learning something new every day and then learn it. I remember how non-urgent it seemed at the time, and fortunately it worked out, but time is money.

Picture: Jessica Johnson (left) and Yamilka Leon-Lopez (right)


Currently a senior at Lynn English High School, Yamilka Leon-Lopez joined LVS in September of 2014. She’s currently applying to 11 colleges; her top schools include Pomona College, Occidental College, and Denison University. Yamilka is interested in the Environmental Science, Mechanical Engineering, and Fashion fields; however, she’s open to the liberal arts experience and wants to explore other subjects once he gets to campus.


We caught up with her and asked a couple questions, take a look below!


Please describe your perfect pizza.

It would be really thin made with olive oil instead of tomato sauce topped off with cheese, pepperoni, broccoli, mushroom, spinach, chicken, ham, and love. Don’t forget the cheesy crust!


Who is your hero? Why?

My dad. He was able to be selfless at a time where he knew he needed support from his family. He was able to create a better future for me. He left everything behind in the Dominican Republic and moved here to the United States just so me and my sister could have a shot at a better education.


What song would you perform on American Idol?

“Rise Up” by Andra Day


What has been your favorite La Vida class or topic?

I really liked the Stress Relief class. Some of the techniques I learned are some that I still use when I get too overwhelmed.


You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

I would be a light blue with a swirl of yellow. I would be called “Mellow Yellow” to represent the joys and sadness in life.


What is your favorite La Vida memory?

My first year in the program [10th grade] was when my class was still getting acquainted with Jessica Johnson, Operations Manager who would go on to become my college advisor and mentor. She created a game for us to play outside and get us all moving. It was very simple, just throwing around a beach ball so that it never touched the ground, but it was very memorable to me.


Why do you want to go to college?

Going to college will be the ultimate achievement for me because it’s what my dad fought so hard for me to be able to do.


We’d like to announce that an anonymous donor has agreed to triple all individual donations made to La Vida Scholars, though December 31, 2017. This is your opportunity to give!


Program Update


Welcome back everyone! This has been such an exciting month – we hope you find the profiles of our current and past students interesting! If you have any feedback about our blog or if there’s any topic you’d like for us to explore, please let us know!



Our 12th graders continue to get accepted into their top colleges and universities. Their acceptance number has gone up to 67 since last month’s 43! Some of those school are: Hofstra University, Lesley University, MassArt, Hobart and William Smith College, Wheaton College, Clark University, UMass Boston, Lowell, Dartmouth, and Amherst, LaSalle University, UConn, Brigham Young University, Stonehill College, and more! Late March and early April are primetime for admission decisions – we’ll have the full list available in a few weeks!


With each college acceptance, students receive a financial aid award letter, a document that is instrumental for a student’s final college choice. We strive to help all our students make the most conscious decisions and have them weigh the pros and cons of each acceptance, using factors such as academic programs, location, and affordability.


A monumental part of the affordability factor is the success a student has in applying to and winning scholarships. Just this month, our students applied to many national, regional, and local scholarships, such as United Way’s Marian L. Heard Scholarship.


Juniors and Sophomores


After weeks of Kaplan ACT Test Prep, we decided to take all of our 10th and 11th grade students to visit some nearby colleges. During winter break, we went to Bridgewater State University, UMass Dartmouth, and College of the Holy Cross. Below are some pictures from our trip! More available on our Facebook page!