College Diploma in Hand, Hamlet to Pursue Career in Finance

When Hamlet Margarin crosses the stage at graduation this May at Niagara University in Niagara County, NY, he will have achieved a dream he first set out to attain as a high school sophomore.

“I’ll be the first in my family to graduate from college,” said Hamlet, who graduates with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality and tourism. “I have a younger sister, and I can see she wants to go to college too. My parents are really proud of me, and I’m so grateful for this opportunity.”

Hamlet earned a Certification of Recognition for participating in the Niagara University Opportunity Program.

“In my neighborhood, my options were either to go to college or be in the streets,” said Hamlet. “I told Paul, ‘I don’t want to live that life. I want to go to school.’”

Paul Diamond is Hamlet’s mentor. According to Hamlet, he’s also “the most cool person ever.” The two met six years ago through iMentor NYC when Hamlet was a junior at the International High School at Prospect Heights in Brooklyn, NY, and they still talk regularly. Sports is one topic that comes up a fair amount, since Hamlet is a Yankees fan and Paul roots for the Mets

“Paul helped me by telling his story – what he did in college,” said Hamlet. “He told me about clubs, about opportunity programs. He was always a resource whenever I had a question. He taught me about getting a bachelor’s degree from a private university. He taught me about going away – you have to do your own laundry. He told me about loans for college.”

When it was time to decide which college he would attend, Hamlet mostly consulted his high school guidance counselor, his iMentor program manager, Sally Long, and Paul. He chose Niagara because of its opportunity program and the financial aid package he received.

The two became close and it wasn’t long before they were going to baseball and basketball games together. Paul introduced Hamlet to his family, and also helped Hamlet get a summer job with a contractor working on renovations in his building. The contractor, said Paul, praised Hamlet for being a great leader and a hard worker.

Hamlet with his Niagara University mentee

College brought unexpected challenges. During his first semester, Hamlet struggled with the freedoms and responsibilities of being on his own. “Paul would guide me about how to spend my money wisely, how to manage my time, how to be organized. He told me to get a planner to stay organized. Little things like that,” said Hamlet.

By the time it was sophomore year, Hamlet had improved his focus and gained a better sense of his priorities. He earned a spot on the dean’s list twice. He pursued an interest in hospitality through his major, and lately he has begun exploring finance careers within the hospitality industry. “I want to get my foot in the door and start my career,” said Hamlet.

“Hamlet’s become part of my family,” said Paul. “I really care about him. Once he gets out in the business world, hopefully I can help him. I think with his personality, he’s going to excel.”

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