Keeping The American Dream Alive

By Sonia Cabrero • July 7, 2015

At 17 years old, Valeria, a native of Peru, was working on her first international development project. As a research assistant for the Apprendre/Collaborarer/Transformer (A.C.T.) consulting firm in Miami she researched, computed and summarized data on the macro-environment job market in Haiti to be used for a report to the US Agency for International Development (USAID). When she got accepted to Northeastern University, she decided to defer for a year to continue to explore her field. During that time, she worked as a Resource Development Coordinator Assistant for Habitat for Humanity in Costa Rica and a Public Diplomacy Department Intern at the Embassy of Peru in Washington DC.

During the first year at Northeastern, she became involved as a member of different clubs including the Latin American Student Organization, in which she assumed leadership roles in the following years. In her second year, Valeria was awarded the prestigious full-tuition LaCLA scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to only eight students from the school per academic year. The purpose of the scholarship is to encourage academic excellence of students and promote community service on campus and in Greater Boston. The scholarship requires 50 hours of tutoring and 200 hours of community service a year. For her community service, Valeria chose the only Spanish speaking Down Syndrome Organization in Massachusetts. This organization, which was only run by parents who did not speak English, had never had a volunteer. Valeria created the volunteer program for this organization, helped them file non-profit status in Massachusetts, coordinated fundraising, create their online presence to increase their membership and presence within the community, brought bilingual speakers to their meetings to increase the understanding, development, opportunities and challenges of Down Syndrome. In 2014, the City of Boston and Mayor Menino distinguished Valeria's work and impact with a certificate of recognition.  At 23 years old, she became one of the youngest people to receive such award.

While at school, Valeria was a Global Student Ambassador for the American Classroom Program and a Study Abroad Ambassador. Her study abroad experiences in Japan, Czech Republic, France and Iceland motivated her to inspire other to take advantage of the Dialogues of Civilizations and semester abroad programs the school offered.  In order to fund her experiences abroad, Valeria won the highly competitive national Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, the 2014 Clara Carter Higgins Summer Environmental Studies Scholarship and the Japan Student Services Organization Scholarship Award.  During her semester in the Czech Republic in 2012, Valeria created an internship with the University of Economic Prague as a research assistant. Once back on campus, she started taking on part-time internships during the semesters to complement her studies. She was an in intern at the United Nations Associate of Greater Boston, a Program Assistant for Harvard Law School, a Public Policy and!

  Research intern at the Office of the Prime Minister of Peru and a Consulting Intern at Meister Consultants Group through the Massachusetts Clean Energy Program. Valeria did her co-op at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, where she was able to meet and greet the President of Peru. During her last year at Northeaster, Valeria became one of the Huntington 100, a Greg Jarvis Memorial Scholar, received a Civic Engagement award by the Latino Student Cultural Center and for the second year in a row the La Unidad Latina Foundation Award.

Valeria has articles published in the Northeastern University Political Review, Huntington News and internationally in Peru and Panama, where she has also been featured for her work. Valeria finished her last semester in the summer of 2014 as a Field Study Consultant during her Dialogue of Civilization in Iceland and as a Teacher Assistant in a Dialogue to France. During that summer, Valeria founded the Urban Strategies Group (USG), a non-profit that contributes to the advancement of the new urban agenda with attention to equity, sustainability, accountability and transparency.

USG was an observer organization at the Conference of Parties conference in Lima last December and collaborated in a project that was exhibited during that week. USG has a past Prime Minister of Peru as their senior advisor and is currently working on a project in the Pisco region, and a grant proposal to the World Bank for the San Agustino municipality.  While Valeria worked part-time on her organization she was also working remotely as a Global Research Analyst intern for Habitat for Humanity International.

Throughout school, Valeria held a retail job during the night shift after school and her internships and weekends to fund her living expenses in Boston. Despite, working two to three jobs during the school year, Valeria graduated Summa Cum Laude last August and will be starting her Master's degree in City Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ranking as first and best in the country for this program this upcoming Fall.  She is considering pursuing a Dual Degree with a Master of Business Administration. Since April of this year, Valeria has been working as a Consultant for Cayu Consulting LLC in Boston focusing on research and analysis of politics and economics of different countries.  Valeria keeps her involvement with Northeastern University as a volunteer for the Northeastern Alumni Association, Co-chair of the Society of Latino Alumni (SOLA) and Coach of the Latino Leadership Program. It is with no doubt that Valeria keeps the american dream alive.

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