Changemaker Ashlyn: Breaking Boundaries as a First-Generation Latinx Woman

The Next Generation to Drive Change:

Since its inception, iMentor has served nearly 38,000 students across the country. Today, many of these incredible individuals are now members of the workforce, drivers of change in their communities, and proud iMentor alumni. As associate director of development for iMentor NYC, Allison Dorf-Ferrandis recently had the opportunity to reconnect with four iMentor NYC alumni, and they had a lot to share.

The alumni talked about what they’re up to now, reminisced about their first impressions of their mentors, reflected on what life has been like during the pandemic, and looked ahead to where they see themselves in 10 years. Keep reading to learn more about Ashlyn, an inspiring iMentor alum in the next generation of leaders.  

For more from these inspiring young professionals, join us 10/28 for iMentor Alumni: The Next Generation to Drive Change: A panel moderated by Emmy-Award Winning Reporter, Maria Hinojosa featuring Jada, James, Ashlyn and Luisais.

As a high school freshman, Ashlyn wanted to be matched with a mentor who was in business but also interested in the creative world. Her mentor Sharmini was just that person. “Getting involved in the iMentor program changed my trajectory, career and life,” Ashlyn said. She shared that her father worked in the food service industry and her parents did not go to college until she was a young adult, so Ashlyn was excited by the prospect of being matched with a college-educated mentor

After getting to know Sharmini, Ashlyn felt empowered. “As a Latina and a first-generation college student, I felt very inspired by her,” said Ashlyn. “Seeing a woman in technology who was very high in the ranks at her company was mind-blowing.” Ashlyn and her mentor went bike riding together, visited Sharmini’s office at Goldman Sachs, and saw the stock trading floor. It was Ashlyn’s first exposure to that type of professional environment. “My mentor inspired me to break boundaries as a person of color. I saw what she could do, and I said, ‘I can do this too,’” said Ashlyn. As one of her first experiences pursuing the business world, following her mentor’s encouragement, Ashlyn was able to secure an internship at Morgan Stanley, which only further propelled her interest in business.

Now, Ashlyn is pursuing her passion for both business and the arts at the business school at SUNY Albany. She is majoring in business and English studies, and declaring a marketing and entrepreneurship concentration. This combination marries her love of writing and storytelling with her studies in business, which Ashlyn says is at the heart of marketing. She’s only three hours away from her family, close enough to visit them, which she often does--especially this past year.

Ashlyn shared that her typical day involves taking a few classes (poetry, economics, finance, entrepreneurship, small businesses) and balancing her activities on and off campus. She is a housing manager for more than 100 students and is organizing a fundraiser and community service program for a local nonprofit. She is also interning for the New York State Comptroller’s Office, working on projects to help thousands of applicants who are looking for work, and helping with the Comptroller’s diversity and inclusion strategy.

In the past, Ashlyn has sometimes felt burned out due to her many responsibilities, but being remote this past year has enabled her to make time for self-care—going on walks and to the gym, rather than studying all day long.

“My dream since I was young was to start something – to start a nonprofit to help families who are struggling with food insecurity, or the affordability of college. That was hard for me, I had to apply to many different scholarships,” said Ashlyn. “I would love to start some sort of community outreach program, and potentially also focus on education and mentorship.”

Ashlyn is also looking forward to signing up to be a mentor herself. “iMentor should be everywhere. If the program was more accessible to all students everywhere, especially in this new virtual world, trying to help students navigate these unknown waters,” it could make a big difference, she said. “It was life changing for me and so many other students.”

Ashlyn's story is part of a collection of stories highlighting a few iMentor alumni who are driving change. Check back on our blog to read the next feature!