Category Archives: Betas

Adil Ali

Hometown: Rochester, NY

Education: Neuroscience, University of Rochester

Adil is a recent graduate of the University of Rochester with a degree in Neuroscience. His love to work with students only grew as he taught students within the Refugee Student Alliance throughout college and mentored classmates as a teaching assistant for various Neuroscience classes. In addition to enjoying activities like playing guitar and squash on the courts, Adil also has a passion for traveling abroad and gaining diverse perspectives that give a fuller understanding of both medicine and education. He recently traveled to Chile for a health studies program and remained heavily involved on his college campus to advocate for healthcare and education equality. During his four years of college, Adil also served as Class President and continued to build community and engage students across Rochester. He cannot wait to join hands with Blue Engine and pay service forward to his students as a Math BETA.

Morgan Apostle

Hometown: Santa Rosa, CA

Education: English with a Minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Barnard College, Columbia University

Morgan has always been interested in entering some kind of helping profession, and about a year ago she realized that she would eventually want to go to graduate school to attain a Master’s in Social Work. Before starting on a social work track, however, Morgan sought to gain some experience in the field. Blue Engine seemed like the perfect fit because of the amazing work that they do in New York City, a city Morgan has grown to love over four years of college. She is excited for all of the personal growth that this year will bring, as working in a high school classroom will be a new experience, and knows she will gain so many skills and be able to push herself in new ways. Additionally, she is very excited to meet and get to know all of the high schoolers as well as the others BETAs!

Kasandra Aquino

Hometown: Queens, NY

Education: Psychology and a Minor in Education, St. Lawrence University

Kasandra, raised in Queens, New York, is a recent graduate from St. Lawrence University, where she studied psychology and education. During her summers, she worked as a Group Leader at various summer camps where she discovered a passion for youth development. Throughout her years at St. Lawrence, she served as a Community Assistant where she created an encouraging, supportive and community-like environment for her residents. In addition, she promoted academic achievement and referred students to a variety of effective resources on campus. Senior year, she interned at Rose Hill Adolescent Treatment Center in Massena, NY, where she shadowed the clinical counselor and conducted various group lessons based on sexual health and Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS). After graduating from college, she became a Tutoring Fellow for SAGA Innovations, a non-profit organization that provides rigorous math instruction in small-group settings. In addition to academic instruction, Kasandra mentored students on behavior, skills, attitudes and other factors that are crucial to academic achievement. As she continues working with youth, specifically students from underserved communities, she finds it important for students to see people of color in positions of authority. This builds on their confidence and ability to see themselves in similar positions. With the support and engagement with Blue Engine, Kasandra will continue her journey in education and youth development.

Marcia Aristil

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Education: Social Work, CUNY York College

Marcia knew she wanted to work in a classroom setting when she acknowledged how her friends were receptive to the information she advised them. Throughout her friendships, Marcia is constantly teaching valuable lessons about love, self-discipline, and making wise decisions. Her friends became active listeners and she enjoyed teaching and also learning about different perspectives. Marcia is excited for the year ahead because of her passion to use social work skills and the skill sets she will gain working with students.

Matt Berman

Hometown: Armonk, NY

Education: Educational Studies and Archaeology, Minors in Earth Sciences and Anthropology, Dickinson College

Matt attended a public school in Westchester, NY, where he learned the value and importance of the public education system. Over time, he developed a passion for working with students through experiences at summer camps. In college, he studied both the power of and the issues related to education throughout the country. He tutored elementary and middle school students in Central Pennsylvania and New York, directed programs at an integrated bi-lingual camp in Israel, and taught in Miami for Breakthrough, a summer enrichment program. All of these experiences have allowed Matt to build on his passion for equipping a generation of leaders with the skills and values needed to change the world. Matt believes one of the greatest issues in the public education system today is the lack of resources dedicated to individualized student instruction and relationships; he sees Blue Engine’s model as a great starting point for solving that problem.

Hannah Brownstein

Hometown: Londonderry, NH

Education: Psychology and Anthropology and Minor in American Culture Studies, Washington University in St. Louis

Hannah is a New Hampshire native and a recent graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. While at WashU, Hannah was drawn to the social sciences, ultimately majoring in Psychology and Anthropology and minoring in American Culture Studies. Through her coursework, she discovered her passion for learning about people and hearing their stories. She became interested in education, taking part in a middle school tutoring program through WashU and interning at a KIPP school in St. Louis. As she learned more about the achievement gap through her AMCS classes and her experiences within the field of education, she became committed to pursuing education equity. Outside of her interest in education, Hannah enjoys kickboxing, playing rugby, biking, playing guitar, listening to live music, going on road trips, and reading. She is new to NYC and can’t wait to learn more about the city and experience all that it has to offer. She is proud to work for an organization whose values align with her own and with a group of individuals who are capable of inspiring so many students. She is looking forward to spending time in the classroom as an ELA BETA this upcoming year!

Miranda Chapa

Hometown: Hinsdale, IL

Education: B.A. History, Yale University

Miranda grew up in Hinsdale, IL, a suburb of Chicago, and recently graduated from Yale University. Throughout her life, books and stories have offered new ways to see the world and she is excited to share that experience with students. Miranda majored in history, fascinated by social movements in the US and social justice struggles that continue into the present. In college, she was also part of the Education Studies program, where she learned about education policy and how to think critically about educational inequalities. Miranda had the opportunity to spend two summers teaching writing at Breakthrough in Denver, a nonprofit summer program for middle schoolers. Those summers full of growth, community, and fun inspired her to pursue teaching. Miranda is thrilled to be in New York City supporting Blue Engine’s mission in 10th grade ELA. Besides school, she loves soccer, listening to music, and cats.

Ciara Diaz

Hometown: East Harlem, NY

Education: B.A. English and Minors in Latino/a Studies, Creative Writing, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Ciara grew up in East Harlem, New York, with a single mother who constantly stressed the importance of school. In the 4th grade, she and her mother moved to Flushing with her now stepfather who was one of the first people in her life who graduated from college. In order to alleviate some of the stress placed on her parents, at the age of 15 she began working. Many of her past jobs included working in daycares, after school programs, and tutoring. This is where her love and passion for teaching began. Soon after graduating high school, she returned back to East Harlem. She worked with Educational Alliance in the Lower East Side as an After School Mentor as a student in college. She graduated from John Jay College in May of 2017 with a BA in English and minors in Creative Writing and Latino/a Studies. During her years at John Jay, she was given the opportunity to work as a Teacher’s Assistant to a writing professor for four semesters, giving her first-hand experience at teaching a subject she loved. She hopes to attend graduated school within the next two years.

Lillie Diomede

Hometown: Norwalk, CT

Education: Economics, Dickinson College

Lillie was given the opportunity to work at a summer enrichment program dedicated to assisting children from underserved communities in reaching grade level reading standards. This experience not only unlocked a love for teaching, but opened Lillie’s eyes to the reality of inequity in education. By working as a BETA, Lillie is empowered to fight for quality educational experiences for ALL students.

Maddy Drolen

Hometown: Altadena, CA

Education: B.A. Anthropology, Washington University in St. Louis

Raised in Los Angeles, Maddy is a recent graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. After working with the nonprofit Mission St: Louis as their Math Summer Associate, Maddy’s initial interest in studying the sciences shifted to incorporate a more human-based approach to learning about the world. While at Mission St. Louis, she grew frustrated with the obvious opportunity gap that the students she was teaching experienced. Fueled by a passion to address this disparity and an energy she found in teaching, Maddy decided to study anthropology and education as a way to equip her both as a future teacher and as an advocate for the students she taught. Since her time at Mission St. Louis, Maddy has worked with first-generation college students coming to her university, has interned with D.C. Public Schools, and has served as a peer counselor for her fellow students at WashU. This counseling work has inspired her to advocate for robust mental health programs not just in universities but at all levels of schooling. Maddy is excited to learn and grow with Blue Engine and to act as a resource for her students.

Ashley Duongtran

Hometown: Oregon

Education: B.A. English, B.S. Security Management, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Growing up in a military family, Ashley spent a lot of my free time volunteering for two nonprofit military organizations, Yellow Ribbon America and The Family Readiness Program. SHE assisted in organizing family activities in order to support local military members and their families through local military support efforts such as Military Family Day Events, Deployments Events, Welcome Home Events, and Holiday Support. This experience allowed me to connect with those who understood the physical and emotional hurdles of military life. I had the opportunity to provide personal guidance to children, paving way to a foundation for my curiosity in psychology. My passion for justice had me move across the country from California to New York since John Jay College had one of the best Forensic Psychology programs. However, during my general education courses, I found myself gravitating towards composition and rhetoric. I continued with my passion for justice and knowledge by pursuing a Bachelors of Arts in English and a Bachelor’s of Science in Security Management. During my time with the John Jay Veterans Association, I volunteered time to help military veterans with their college papers. When I would babysit my nephews during the summers, I would assist in their advancement in the English, both verbally and written. My favorite activities include eating, playing Scrabble, hiking, traveling, going to the beach, and reading. Blue Engine’s mission to supplement student’s education by adding more teacher assistants to a room, thus balancing the ratio, really speaks out to me. I admire the implementation of incorporating more teaching assistants to one classroom; therefore, students who learn at a different rate than others may receive the same amount of attention and education as those who learn at a quicker rate.

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