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Alumni spotlight: Catherine Garcia

I immigrated to Providence from the Dominican Republic at the age of 2. My parents wanted a better future for my siblings and me. They were very excited when they heard about the Onward We Learn at my elementary school and immediately signed me up when I was in third grade. As a third grader, I had no idea what it meant to be a Crusader. I was just very excited about the idea of attending fun programs during the summer and making new friends. As I got older and attended many of the college tours hosted by the Onward We Learn, I began to feel excited about the idea of attending college.  

With the help of the Onward We Learn, I went on to complete my bachelor’s degrees in biological sciences, cell and molecular biology, and psychology at the University of Rhode Island in 2016. Fast forward to today and I am about to graduate from medical school at Brown University and become a neurosurgery resident at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles! 

It wasn’t just the educational workshops/resources, college tours, or even the financial support the Crusade provided me during my time at URI that made the biggest impact, but it was their advisors.  

I remember chatting with my URI/Crusade advisor, Kristina Moyet, about applying early to Brown medical school during my sophomore year. She encouraged me to apply, kindly wrote me a letter of recommendation, and edited my personal statement. Having adults who believe that you can go to college (and even medical school!) and guide you through the process was a positive and life-changing experience.  I always knew that aside from my family, I had my advisors rooting for me as I strived to reach my academic goals.  

Onward We Learn provided me with positive academic role models, and for that I am eternally grateful. Therefore, my biggest advice to all the students currently in the Onward We Learn is to lean on your advisors. They want you to succeed in life and are willing to help you to the best of their abilities.