Ambar Castillo is a writer, actor, and student advisor with a B.A. in Latin American Studies/Journalism from Boston University. Ambar’s writing and research on women’s, immigrant, and health issues and arts programming have garnered several awards, publications, and dramatic readings at LaGuardia Community College, where she is a Theatre major, as well as at Inviolet Theatre Company. Ambar’s acting roles have ranged from cross-gender ones in Boston-based William Suspension Productions to a role in “Vagina Monologues” with Athena Players and that of a mayfly at LaGuardia, for which she earned a 2017 Irene Ryan acting nomination. As a 2018-2019 Fulbright India researcher, she will study performance-based initiatives to combat social problems, continuing the work she pursued as a Pulitzer Center Reporting Fellow in Gujarat last summer.
Ryan Cooper is a proud New York City native who from a tender age experienced both the rich culture and vices of the five boroughs. In middle school, recognizing his immense potential, his music teacher, Mr. Manning, encouraged him to audition for the Borough Wide Band which eventually led to his acceptance at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts leading to an interest in composing music and writing songs. Throughout high school, he participated in the Jazz Standard Youth Orchestra and was selected to play trombone with the Pershing’s Own United States Army Band at Lincoln Center. In his senior year, his family was faced with the turmoil of homelessness. This led to an exploration in writing and songwriting. After three years of struggling to overcome displacement, he had recorded and released his first series of songs on an EP entitled, “Meditations EP”. Following the release, he felt it was time to return to school to pursue an education in fine arts and philosophy. Through this secondary education, he began to volunteer his free time to community organizing in Queens and has worked towards the empowerment of the Corona street vendors.
Amina Cunningham is a theatre major at LaGuardia Community College. She is graduating in June 2018 and wishes to continue her education at a four year school. She has been passionate about theatre since her first show when she was at Dance and Drama Camp at Christ the King when she was eleven. While she has dabbled in straight theatre, her real passion is musical theatre. She has been a part of many community theatres such as Maggie’s Little Theatre, JC Players, and Maspeth Town Hall. She has also tried her hand at being an assistant director of the elementary school Sacred Heart’s production of Annie.
Brandon Francis is a Computer Science major at LaGuardia Community College. He is currently pursuing a career in video games. He loves to figure out how things work, and exploring game mechanics is part of that. As such, he is also interested in video game design and development, and would be interested in starting his own game company someday. One of the mechanisms he seeks to understand is the mind: he believes that people come from many different perspectives and interpret information differently.
Shakerria Henderson is a second year Theatre major at LaGuardia Community College. She has been a LaGuardia Mellon Humanities Scholar since 2017 and is expected to graduate with her AS in June 2018. She aspires to train at The Neighborhood Playhouse, an acting conservatory, once she graduates. Although acting is her main passion, it is not her only one. Shakerria has a humanitarian spirit, never wants to take the opportunities that have been given to her for granted and is always looking for a way to do more.
Sandep Kaur was a student at LaGuardia Community College, and had majored in Liberal Arts: Math & Science. She hopes to take her degree a further step by attending Hunter College in the fall of 2018 and attaining a bachelor’s in Science. Her main goal is to attend medical school and become a physician assistant. Sandep has a passion for helping people from a young age seeing how doctors had helped her save her own life has made her appreciate life and hopes to do the same one day. In a personal account Sandep has seen how doctors and physician assistants provide care for her father when he was ill. Her passion to do the same has grown she knows it wouldn’t be easy but with hard work she knows she will get there.
Giselle Mendoza is a student studying Business Administration at LaGuardia Community College. Last year she was diagnosed with a Chiari Malformation which is a chronic illness that affects your nervous system but she has grieved and came to terms that this is her new normal. When Giselle is not busy spending time with her son and attending classes she works on campus helping students with their Foundation Scholarship and as a Board member of the LaGuardia Film and Media Club. She hopes to one day own her own business and be able to help the youth in her community.
Luisa Madrid is a Commercial Photography Degree student at LaGuardia Community College. Originally a social worker with a Master’s degree in Social Work and International Law in Human Rights, Luisa decided to start over. She wanted to continue making a change in the world while also creatively expressing herself. She found photography to be a discipline that could fulfill both desires. By pointing her camera at individuals on the fringes of society, or covering topics that are difficult to discuss, Luisa’s photography sheds light on subjects that are often lost in the dark. She aspires to pursue her MFA, and acquire a position as a photojournalist/documentary photographer in New York City. Her hope is not only to capture images that are pleasing to the eye, but that also start a conversation and a desire to create change.
Paula Moreno is from Colombia and she came to the United States in 2014. She studied Business Administration for two years in her country. After she moved to New York, she focused on learning English while she was at LaGuardia Community College pursuing Business Administration. She chose this major because she had some experience in this field. However, her goal is to earn a bachelor’s degree in BBA-Finances. Paula is going to graduate in the summer of 2018 and she will transfer to Queens College to continue her studies in Finance. Paula is patient, optimist, responsible, and a hard worker. She is passionate about her career and learning new things, especially languages such as French. In addition, Paula likes to interact with people from different cultures, travel, and explore. She has been in LaGuardia Mellon Humanities Program since 2016 where she has learned and explored different topics through the different workshops and the enrichment activities.
Telijah Patterson is a proud, non-traditional, honors college student and winner of three prestigious study abroad scholarships including the Benjamin A. Gilman and Critical Language Scholarship both managed by the Department of State. During her gap years she traveled, gained vocational industry certifications, and participated in national service. In 2015 she joined City Year, an AmeriCorps program that aids students in high needs schools. While at City Year she discovered her passion for social justice. The next year she enrolled as a student at LaGuardia Community College. After graduation, she hopes to get a job in a time volunteering at or planning community events. Telijah lives by the mantra that “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” She actively seeks out and is involved in numerous leadership activities. Telijah is currently working towards her Associate of Arts in International Studies. One of her ambitions is to work at the intersection of education, technology, and intercultural communication by starting a network of tech-focused bilingual schools in the U.S. targeting highly ambitious students in underserved communities with sister campuses in rural China!
Dayana Sadova is an artist living and working in New York City. She was born in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and since early childhood was exposed to the artworks of her father, who was also an artist and a cartoonist. Dayana grew up at her grandmother’s house. Her grandmother was a journalist and a poet. Spending most of the time in her grandmother’s library, Dayana was deeply influenced by literature and philosophy, which later would have an impact on her works. Dayana started illustrating her favorite stories at the very early age and continued doing it through her high school years. She was 17 years old when she came to the US and became a freshman at LAGCC having a specific plan to begin her career path in the arts. In Fall 2018, Dayana is transferring to Hunter College with and will be working towards her BA in Film. Working with a production team and participating in a filmmaking process was her long-lasting dream. As a fine artist, she plans to become a production designer and establish the physical world of the story that would grow into a movie. However, she would also like to continue illustrating books and articles part-time as she still truly enjoys the process of envisioning what she reads.