Changemaker Luisais: How to Manifest Your Own Destiny

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 Luisais, an inspiring alumni who is 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.

Luisais appears to accomplish more in 24 hours than most people do in a week, and she has the enthusiasm and positive energy to match.

A senior at Hunter College, Luisais took 18 credits this past spring, majoring in clinical psychology and minoring in women and gender studies. She is on track to complete a certificate in human rights while pursuing a mini concentration in Japanese. When I asked about a typical day in her life, she showed me her daily agenda. She starts her day at around 6am, which helps her have enough time for her reading, her responsibilities as a The Percy Ellis Sutton Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge (SEEK) student representative on the Hunter College Senate, her job as a college transition coach through College Bound Initiative (CBI), and her role as an Eva Kastan Grove fellow, which provides mentorship for students interested in human rights. SEEK and CBI are programs that ensure students across New York City have the tools, resources and support necessary to pursue their post-secondary ambitions.

Luisais, who grew up in the Bronx and now lives in Harlem, was similarly active during high school. At the Marble Hill School of International Studies, she served as a Spanish translator for parents, a student representative for school leadership, a rower for three years, a participant in a trip to Argentina, and a member of the Youth Leadership Seminar -- in addition to doing 530 hours of community service.

Luisais remembers that her soon-to-be mentor, Lori, used to always sit at the same table as she did in the cafeteria, but was matched with another iMentor student, while Luisais was getting to know her own mentor. As if by fate, Luisais’ mentor moved out of the city and could no longer volunteer with iMentor, and Lori’s mentee moved and left the school, so the two were formally introduced. They immediately clicked. They went out to eat, went ice skating, visited the Met, and Lori even taught Luisais how to ride a bike.

“Academically, I had it down. But Lori made me blossom as an individual,” said Luisais. “She wanted me to thrive on a personal, individual basis.”

Before the pandemic, Luisais had a trip planned to Japan, which she has postponed a few times. She is now hoping to take the trip during the upcoming winter break. She says that the pandemic caused her to slow down. “When you are at 100 every day, running around, I felt like I was performing or sometimes masking my true emotions because of social pressure,” said Luisais. “But this time caused me to slow down and be myself.”

The pandemic also caused her to change the course of her professional future. Though she has always wanted to be a humanitarian aid worker, she initially intended to go directly to grad school to study social work after college. Instead, after Lori connected her to a friend who is a human rights lawyer, Luisais is now interested in pursuing fellowships or other less conventional opportunities to get hands-on experience as she pursues her career goals.

In 10 years, Luisais sees herself having traveled to many countries, making an impact on an international scale, and maybe adopting a child. One thing that she knows for certain is that she will continue to carry the lessons her mentor has taught her. “Lori taught me that it’s normal to fail but it’s not normal not to try,” she said. “I taught her that you can manifest your own destiny.”

Luisais’ 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!