Pa'lante: Help me get to Grad School!


My name is Amarillys and I hope to achieve a master's degree in Public Policy or Public Administration and potentially a dual degree in Urban Planning (depending on the program), focusing on social and urban policy. I am particularly interested in anti-poverty efforts, family policy, non-profit management, affordable housing and holistic models of community development, social entrepreneurship and leadership. I have a list of programs I am interested in applying to and my goal is to start classes next fall.

I come from a poor, urban background so a lot of the issues I am interested in professionally I have experienced personally, and these experiences motivate me to seek solutions and create positive social change. My parents both had careers in public service and they are also a major inspiration for me. I have worked to translate these interests and values into action by studying public policy in my undergraduate education and serving organizations and communities through Public Allies CT and the Emerson National Hunger Fellowship. I currently work at a national non-profit in Washington, D.C., focusing on family economic security and work-life balance issues. For more on my experience, see my LinkedIn profile.

A master's level degree will help me advance in my field and I feel that I am ready and the timing is right for me to start the application process. Unfortunately, even simply applying to graduate school is expensive and can make such an education further out of reach. 

I am financially independent and am saving money for retirement, emergencies and school. However, the cost of living in D.C. and a modest starting salary means there is not much left after the bills are paid. I am and will continue to do my part by cutting extra spending, using second-hand study materials for the GRE, applying for fee waivers, financial aid, and paid internships, and pursuing other funding. I also imagine that like most people, I will end up taking out considerable loans to pay for school. Still, any help would be deeply appreciated.

Your support will help me:
- register early for the GRE to get a good test date, 
- pay to send my scores to programs in excess of the four I get for free,
- pay to send any applications in cases where I am not eligible for or am denied a fee waiver,
- pay for travel and related expenses to visit programs that may not be covered by the program, and
- pay for other costs such as moving, supplies, and tuition. 

I was hestitant to make something like this but then I thought about how, when deciding where to go for my undergraduate education, a teacher at my high school bought a plane ticket for me to fly across the country to visit a campus and make a more informed decision. And more recently, I almost did not accept the Emerson National Hunger Fellowship because of financial concerns, despite the aid the program provides. But for the urging of some wonderful mentors I would have missed out on a transformative experience...

I know I got to where I am today with the support of many people and this motivates me to keep going and give back. I'm hoping that more support will prevent financial circumstanstances from becoming a barrier to taking the next steps in my professional career and personal journey. Please consider giving what you can and I will do my best to continue learning, fight poverty and empower low-income families, women, and people of color to create more just, sustainable communities.

Thank you!

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Amarillys Rodriguez 
Washington D.C., DC
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