Intern Highlight – Summer 2017 | Families Empowered

Intern Highlight – Summer 2017

Meet Our Interns!

09/14/2017 9:34:14 AM

The Summer Call Center is an important part of mission-driven work we do: helping parents navigate the marketplace of schools. We pull together a team of dedicated interns – all alumni of our charter school partner networks – who personally reach out to the waitlisted families of Houston and San Antonio.

Our interns gain career-applicable skills: communication, leadership, and teamwork.

See what they’re all about! 

Samantha Acuna

2017 Call Center Intern;
YES Prep Alum 
Midwestern State University

I’m studyingI’m studying Sports and Leisure Studies and minoring in Business Administration. Initially I applied as an Athletic Trainer major. From that first semester I realized I didn’t enjoy being on the sidelines just waiting for a potential fatality to happen. It is not that it scared me, it just wasn’t what I wanted to do the rest of my life. I loved the education side of physical fitness, and found it perfect that I could know the “behind the scenes” of education. Not only is it about the athlete, but also about who the instructor is and how he or she reaches out to the the learners.

In ten years I see myself: Working in a family recreational sports facility hopefully at the administration level. I hope to be settled down in a city, and be with my boyfriend in a stable and growing environment. I really hope to be able to support my loved ones and make my parents proud after years of them helping me. 

As a communications intern I’m learning: To approach the person on the other side of the phone without sounding like machine. I been told I am very pleasant to talk, but it is only now that i can really access if that is true. I hope not to get someone upset with my voice. 

My secret? I been waiting to sign up to take a ballroom/Latin style dance class. Now that i have a partner I can definitely do so. 

Jonathan Estrada

2017 Call Center Intern;
YES Prep Alum
Austin College

I’m studying: Ever since I was young I would accompany my father over the summers and help him with his company by mowing lawns, but I would also make some money to buy my personal video games and things of that sort. Going into college I realized I could major in business admin and minor in accounting and help him grow his company, and maybe help him become a supervisor since he is growing old. I was inspired by my dad’s old boss who began his own landscaping company and my dad was one of his first employees and stuck with him through thick and thin.

In ten years I see myself: I see myself in a desk next to my father’s in an office answering phone calls of potential clients. I also see myself outside of the office cheering on my family since we usually make a family soccer team to play in a Sunday league. Moreover, if for some odd reason I do not end up working with my father I see myself becoming a certified public accountant.

As a communications intern I’m learning: More about how the education system works and the different types of schools. It is also interesting to see how similar applying to a high school is to be applying for a college – of course there are differences but there are lots of similarities. I am also improving my multitasking skills.

My secret? I have no secrets that I could think about but fun fact, I have sprained my right ankle three times so far.

Oscar Hernandez

2017 Call Center Intern;
Harmony Alum 
North American University

I’m studyingI have just finished my first year in North American University studying Computer Science. I was originally going to major in geography because the subject interests me but I changed my mind to computer science because it is needed and it is also an area of study that interests me.  

In ten years I see myself: I see myself being a humble Christian man making a living in IT, helping people in different ways that I can serve, and being better at my craft in music production.

As a communications intern I’m learning: I feel like I am learning a lot of things. Starting with the phone calls, I speak with a lot of different people. I used to have my eyes closed to this but I have realized that choosing a school for your child is a very serious decision. Of course sending a child to a good school doesn’t automatically guarantee them to have a successful life, there are otherfactors. But the education and challenge they receive does play an essential role as well as making sure that they are in a good environment. So it is safe to say that I am learning about the parent’s position, the educational system, and families empowered.

My secret? If I expose my secret it would not longer be a secret. But I shall secretly share some sealed sensitive shocking scientific data in the following sentence. Due to the nonfunctional neurons in my brain, they are incapable of giving me the nerve to buckle my seat belt! 

Samantha Ramírez

2017 Call Center Intern;
YES Prep Alum
Salem College

I’m studying: Religion and Communications.

In ten years I see myself: I see myself in a new city, with my masters, and in a very happy marriage. 

As a communications intern I’m learning: A lot about how different schools, whether they are public, private, charter, vanguard, magnet, etc., operate in different districts.

My secret? I do not really have a secret, but my fun fact is that I am terribly afraid of sharks. 

Veronica Martinez 

2017 Call Center Intern;
YES Prep Alum
University of Houston, Main Campus

I’m studying: I’m studying Mechanical Engineering and what excites me about being in that field is that I am a woman. There aren’t many women that take on that major, so I’m excited to be an example so that other 

women can pursue STEM majors. I hope to one-day work for a company like Boeing, where I can help innovate and renovate our current technology.

In ten years I see myself: I hope to own my own house, perhaps own a small company on the side, outside of my career. I want to travel to at least 3 countries by that time, with one of them being Germany.

As a communications intern I’m learning: I have been learning how to work with different personalities and how to work in professional settings. It has taught me patience, tolerance towards people, and how lucky I have been for getting the education I did through the past few years.

My secret? I abhor bananas and anything that is banana flavored.

Diana Santiago 

2017 Call Center Intern;
University of Houston, Downtown Campus

I’m studying: Finance because I have always been interested in finding new ways into how I can save money. Taking my finance courses in school has broadened my financial knowledge. Most of my finance professors have been very passionate about their classes and that has peaked my interest even more. I have always tried to come up with new ways as to how to increase my own funds by selling items in garage sales and etc. I have always had some sort of excitement when it comes to counting funds. 

In ten years I see myself: I see myself as manager in a company within the finance department. I also want to travel to various countries like Italy, the island of Fiji, and Kenya. There are various other countries I’d love to visit, but the list would go on forever! I want to remain as someone who is open to everything and does not judge others.

As a communications intern I’m learning: How hard it is to get into charter schools due to the lottery process. Speaking with some of these parents has made me appreciate the fact that I had been selected to attend KIPP Academy for 8 years, since the 5th grade. Hearing some of the parent’s struggles within some schools has opened my eyes as to how different schools can be.

My secret? I LOVE watching “Real Housewives of Atlanta”.  

Arue Jacobo

2017 Call Center Intern;
College of Wooster Graduate & University of Houston, Main Campus (Enrolled For Grad School!) 

I’m studyingI just graduated from The College of Wooster with a Sociology degree and a minor in Art History. In the fall I will be starting a graduate program in Social Work at the University of Houston.

In ten years I see myself: Hopefully 4 or 5 years into a PhD program in Social Work, or finishing my dissertation. I want to do research with Latinos and their health care accessibility. At Wooster I wrote a 77 page research thesis and began doing research on Hispanics living in a Midwestern state. My hope is that I can get funding for this research to continue. 

As a communications intern I’m learning: All the ways to make great first impressions. When we call families and parents, I feel it is my responsibility to leave the parent feeling content with the information that we provide and give them hope for their children. I love the feeling of helping others, and relieving some stress from parents. 

My secret? Art and museums are my guilty pleasures.

Carolina Castillo

2017 Call Center Intern;
YES Prep Alum
Washington & Jefferson College

I’m studyingI am a Child Development Education and Spanish double major. I attend a liberal arts college which allows me to take classes from different subjects, not just those that pertain to my majors. I also really like that my school provides an in class internship for every education class. This allows me to gain experience from great teachers. Also for my Spanish major I had to study abroad, and this past semester I had the opportunity of studying in Ecuador and it was an incredible experience. 

In ten years I see myself: I have always wanted to be a teacher, (since I was 6 years old) so ideally I see myself teaching at an elementary school in Texas. My goal is to become an elementary bilingual teacher and help children adjust to this new world, in which being fluent in two languages is very important. At some point I would also like to work for Teach For America, FullBright or teach in underserved communities. 

As a communications intern I’m learning: Right now I am adjusting to the professional office setting and multiple online programs. I am also learning how to communicate with families from different backgrounds. I have already spoken to at least 100 families and have also memorized a few new school names, which is always nice since I want to work in schools in the future.

My secret? I love giraffes. I have a giraffe pillow pet, multiple stuffed animals and a cute giraffe keychain. Even though they are my favorite animal, I have yet to feed one at the Houston Zoo. 

Andres Mata-Santellano 

2017 Call Center Intern;
Boston College

I’m studyingI am Majoring in Psychology and started taking a lot of business classes this past year. I am combining these two interests of mine in order to become an industrial-organizational psychologist. Through this job title I will be able to go into management at a company and manage with an emphasis on looking at how human behavior in the work place affects the environment of the company, and make decisions on how to increase productivity with these focuses in mind.

In ten years I see myself: I see myself owning my own real estate company and construction company. With this company I will build houses in Texas and commercial buildings all around the world. With my company I hope to also help out the community buy bettering the infrastructure by donating buildings and facilities to schools and other organizations that need it. I believe that by providing resources to the community, children will have a greater opportunity of learning skills and preparing them for the future, which will better the community as a whole throughout time. 

As a communications intern I’m learning: How to overcome my introversion. In the past I have been scared of giving speeches and presenting in front of other. However through this internship, by making many calls and working on my communication skills I hope this fear will eventually diminish. These communication skills will also help me very much when I enter the job market because being able to express my ideas in a logical manner is a very important skill to have. 

My secret? I love Rom-Com or what are typically called “chick flicks.” Especially any movie with Audrey Hepburn in it. I just think she is the best of all time and super beautiful. I’ll watch Sabrina, Roman Holiday, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s about three times each in a year. 

Genesis Rios

2017 Call Center Intern;
YES Prep Alum
University of Houston, Main Campus

I’m studying: I’m a Liberal Studies majoring, focusing on Cultural Studies and Sociology. I’m interested in going into the non-profit field, so I know that Cultural Studies and Sociology will help me to be culturally and socially aware of the needs of the people I will likely be working for in the nonprofits.

In ten years I see myself: I definitely will still want to work in the non-profit sector, but by that point I think I might be interested in starting my own non-profit. It might deal with education; I’m not entirely sure yet what issue would be its focus, but I definitely see Families Empowered as a stepping stone that can help me reach that goal in the future. I also see myself having lived internationally and pursuing a MBA.

As a communications intern I’m learning: I think that it is really teaching me about the charter school system and has led me to reflect on my experience within the system. I’ve learned that there are plenty of other options that could fit children differently. It just makes me excited to learn more, because I know I can use that knowledge to help others. In my third year in interning with FE, I have developed a passion for non-profit work and education. This opportunity has shaped my career path, as I intend to continue nonprofit either in education or refugee aid. 

My secret? I make very good kimchi, which is a Korean cuisine staple – I’m not trying to brag.

Gustavo Mireles

2017 Call Center Intern;
YES Prep Alum
Rhodes College

I’m studying: I am an Educational Policy major with a minor in Spanish. I am currently a student at Rhodes College, a liberal arts school in Memphis. I love attending a liberal arts school because it gives me the freedom to take different classes. I’ve been able to intern for many school districts like Shelby County Schools, Pasadena ISD, YES ISD. I’m motivated to reform the educational school system. 

In ten years I see myself: I had never considered becoming involved with the educational system. It wasn’t until college that I because passionate about education. I hope that in ten years I will be done with grad school. I plan on becoming a principal for a couple of years and eventually begin my own charter school chain. 

As a communications intern I’m learning: I’m currently learning how to communicate with families with different backgrounds. I’m also learning how to work in a professional setting with different personalities. Every day I am reminded of how lucky I was to receive the education I did and that motivates me to want to help everyone else.

My secret? I pretty much eat everything with a fork and knife. I hate touching food.

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