January 24, 2017
Catching up with Dream Project Alum
By Amber Valenzuela
I served as a Dream Project mentor during Fall 2013 through Fall 2015. I also participated in the Disability Seminar in which I learned a lot about creating a safe space, disclosure conversations, different terminology, etc.
The reason I first joined Dream Project was that I was involved with the program at Auburn High School my senior year as a mentee. I attended Admissions Workshop Weekend (AWW) and it was the first time I was on UW campus. I remember getting help with my personal statements and applications that day. The experience overall was so rewarding that I wanted to be able to give back to my high school community once I hit college!
I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, a minor in Diversity, and a Husky Leadership Certificate. I am now working in UW Advancement with the Information Management team. I have the opportunity to help train and support Advancement staff all across the University on different Advancement tools. Since I work in fundraising and development within higher education, my experience in Dream Project has enabled me to share the program’s mission across campus with any chance I get. For instance, I created a Mock Dream Project Event in Cvent to use as an example to spread the word during training.
However, I would say the largest influence Dream Project has left on me is my character when I am around others. There are a lot of terms that I like to educate others on so everyone can feel like they are in a safe space, regardless of their race/gender/sexuality/etc. I have also acquired an understanding of what it means to be a social justice advocate and I try to continually support those students who may not otherwise have the resources and mentorship available to them. I practice this mainly through an organization called Unleash the Brilliance, where I assist in the founding mission to help close the achievement gap for students at risk of academic failure and keep them out of the school-to-prison pipeline by providing influential speaking at truancy workshops, school assemblies, and community outreach events.