My mother once told me that I could make it anywhere, that it did not matter whether I was in the United States or the Dominican Republic. She knew I was going to be a professional. My brain was the key, my mother would say…
I am proud of all the things that I have done in life, but graduating from college and deciding to further my education was, undoubtedly, a turning point in my life — everything changed afterwards.
I graduated from the College of Mount Saint Vincent with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and minor in Fine Arts on May 2010. I graduated top of my class in the Mathematics Department with honors, and was awarded the Mathematics Department Medal at graduation — a moment that I will always value as a young woman that overcame barriers in a field dominated by men. At an early age, I discovered my passion for mathematics, especially because of the beauty it expressed with its geometric figures.
I recall the moment when I went on the stage to receive my award — I thought about my elementary school, where I was in a bilingual class, struggling with Math. My mother was the one who taught me math, which then became a language that I understood better than English. In fact, mathematics became a language that both my mother and I understood in mi mundo de números (my world of numbers).
As a first year student in college, I remember how my fine arts professor found my work fascinating. I designed a leaf-strewn walkway that he said “was a compelling and fully-realized piece of work.” I then had a wonderful epiphany that made me realize that I wanted to be an architect. I talked to my professor about my decision to minor in Fine Arts. I was not completely sure if it was really architecture what I wanted to do, but I knew I was already a designer.
I started to do various independent studies in relation to mathematics, art, and architecture, since my school did not have a formal pre-architecture program. My professors tried, through the independent study, to provide what I needed to prepare for graduate study in architecture. After several independent studies and research work, I began to develop an interest in the relation between mathematics and design. That became my main motivation; I knew I was ready to change the design world.
I wanted to go to graduate school for architecture. While searching online for a design-related program, I came across the Harvard Career Discovery Program, a six week program that invites students to explore career possibilities in their life. The program offers a variety of concentrations such as architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, and urban design. Students engage in intensive studio work, lectures, workshops and field trips. I submitted an application and waited impatiently for this opportunity.
I received a decision by E-mail. I nervously opened the letter and it said Congratulations welcome to the Harvard Career Discovery Program! I could not believe it. I felt as if all my hard work had been rewarded! Everyone was very excited for me. I was ready to learn and make a decision about architecture over the summer of 2010.
The Career Discovery was very expensive, and my mother and I could not afford it. However, I applied for a grant from the school and was awarded full tuition to attend the program. My mentor from the GE Mentoring Program helped me with the room and board expenses. I truly thank her for what she did.
The program started in June! I had everything packed by the third week of May before my graduation. I was ready to go. Up to that point, I had never felt that excited in my life. It was also going to be my first time in Boston. Most importantly, I was going to Harvard!
My mother and younger brother took me to Harvard University — we arrived in Boston on a Friday afternoon. I checked into the Harvard University Law School dorms. I was staying in the second floor!
In the Program, I learned about design, worked on intensive graduate school level projects, participated in group discussions and presented projects to instructors. It was through this experience that I discovered that I wanted to be a landscape architecture, using the logic of mathematics. Today, I am pursuing a Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture at The Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture, CUNY City College of New York.
I could not be more satisfied with my decision. I am now working on a second publication and a book with a PhD. professor from my graduate school. This will be another addition to my thesis idea. I feel much stronger and confident than ever, and have many projects in mind.
As a landscape architect and mathematician, I want to extract the beauty of mathematics to design public spaces that enhance neighborhoods. Places where I hope to have the opportunity to express my designs include the United States, the Dominican Republic, India, and Brazil. My goal is to own a Landscape Architecture firm and create scholarship programs to help increase the number of Hispanic students attending college.
I highly recommend the Career Discovery Program at Harvard. I met some great people there, who helped me with my portfolio and graduate essay. I also found love there, and I am currently engaged to a wonderful man.
I found my passion in life! Most importantly, I found a place where I can design with numbers! I hope that you find your own mundo de números!