Nov 23, 2014

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Spotlight: Yafreisy Carrero, Mathematician and Landscape Architect Graduate Student

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Today’s New Latina’s Spotlight is on Yafreisy Carrero, a Dominican-born Latina, raised in NYC — a Mathematician and Landscape Architect student with a very bright future!  

Country of Origin or Family Heritage: I was born in San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic. I grew up in the Bronx in New York. My family is originally from the Dominican Republic. Some of them currently live here in the United States. I came to the United States in the early 1990’s with my mother and father, when I was four years-old. We experienced hard times. We faced financial hardships and feelings of isolation.  Afterwards, it was just my mother and I alone. I remember that when my mother had a doctor’s appointment or needed to visit Immigration, I always accompanied her to translate, although my English was not fluent then. Even if we arrived early, to our dismay, all of the seats were taken. We always ended up standing against the walls for hours. I often wondered if I would have to endure such hardships and isolation from the world throughout my entire life. With encouragement, however, I was able to transform these negative situations into positive ones. I wanted to be part of a world of art, philosophy and exploration, and going to school was the only way into this world.

Anything else you want to share about your family, cultural heritage or any immigration stories? My mother and I were aware of the challenges that we both faced in life in the United States. In elementary school, I was in a bilingual class; and when I was struggling, my mother was the one that taught me Math. This became another language that I understood more than English. It made me realize my passion for mathematics from an early point; especially because of the beauty it expressed with its geometric figures. The overlapping of the figures and its symmetry created a three-dimensional world. The laws of mathematics created a hidden place for me; my best friend. When it came to mathematics, nothing stopped me from being in mí mundo de números (my world of numbers). I was not ashamed of my life as a child, but I wanted to know what other opportunities this new life had to offer me. I was willing to work hard in school and this taught me self-reliance. I hoped some day to use my education to serve others. My education also gave me insight into my values and motivation to become a Landscape Architect.

Career and Professional Information: I hold a Bachelor’s of Arts in Mathematics and a minor in Fine Arts from the College of Mount Saint Vincent since 2010. I am currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture at The Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture, CUNY City College of New York.

Professional/Social Achievements: In 2009, I was awarded a scholarship from the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, and became part of the General Electric Foundation Mentoring Program, where I am a GE mentee, and have a mentor that works for the GE Healthcare Life Sciences Divisions Area.

I was also very involved in my college community. For example, I worked in the tutoring center helping other students in various subjects with minimal exposure and preparation in mathematics. I mentored a student from the TRIO Student Support Services Program, where I was a member as well.

I conducted research for the Sociology Department, with Dr. Omar Nagi, at the Highbridge Voices After-School Program as a Student Research Director and Math teacher. The research resulted in a presentation at the Eastern Sociological Society Conference, and my first solo presentation at the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics Conference in 2008. I did various independent studies in relation to math, art, and architecture. One in particular was the independent study that I did with Artist and Professor Richard Barnet from my undergraduate college that began at the Art Students League of New York in the summer. I combined this study with the research that I also worked on with a professor from the Mathematics Department, Dr. Amir Niknejad, on a project based on computer graphics and pattern recognition, singular value decomposition method for the reconstruction of blurred images. This project resulted in a solo presentation at the Spuyten Duyvil Regional Undergraduate Mathematics Conference in 2010.

As a student in a Catholic institution, I had the opportunity to be inducted into the Kappa Gamma Pi, The National Catholic Graduate Honor Society, as well as Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges; Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society; and the Alpha Tau Chapter, Delta Epsilon Sigma, National Scholastic Honor Society.

At the moment, I am the first one in my family to receive a college education in the United States.  In 2010, I graduated from the College of Mount Saint Vincent with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and a minor in Fine Arts. I graduated top of my class (Cum Laude) in the Mathematics Department, and was awarded the Mathematics Department Medal. Over the summer, I was admitted to the Career Discovery Summer Program at Harvard University Graduate School of Design for Architecture. There I combined math and art into architectural drawings, which lead me to go major in Landscape Architecture.

In the past, I worked as a Teacher at the Dorothy Bennett Mercy Center in Brooklyn, where I taught adult students in Spanish and English to obtain their General Education Diploma.

In 2011, I collaborated on an international scientific research paper with researchers’ mathematicians and scientists from Ukraine. Now, I am Co-Author and Co-Editor of a published research paper: “Discrete Dynamical Modeling of System Characteristics of a Turtle’s Walk in Ordinary Situations and After Slight Stress,” which appeared in the Bionics of Intelligence journal in Ukraine.  This is my first publication!

I am proud of all the things that I have done in life, and hope to do more to better myself and others.

I want to be an example to others that are experiencing similar challenges to those that I experienced in life. They know that the journey to success is not as easy as it might seem, but I hope to become living evidence that it is worth it to take the ride.

Who Has Always Inspired You to Be Your Best? God has been one of my inspirations as well as my mother, Ramona Alvarez, who has always inspired me to strive for the best, my brothers Justin Pemberton, and Hector Carrero, my boyfriend Shane McCabe, my mentor Gisela Bellinello, my family, my friends, and my professors. I thank them all for their support, encouragement and motivation; most importantly, for being an example in life. I also thank my father for bringing me to this country to experience this life.

25 Million Latinas and Counting! Your thoughts?  Some individuals assume that the right path in life is to always go in a straight line, but I disagree. To have a positive ending, you do not need to start with a positive beginning. I am passionate about math, and this passion can be used to illustrate my belief. Take the mathematical equation P(x) = 5x² + 9×-1, where x is equal to -3. While the function input is negative, the result will be positive [5(-3) ² + 9(-3)-1 =17].  When referring to my life, this negative number is equivalent to the events that I experienced in some parts of my life. For some time, I was that negative number searching for a positive destiny.

Through experience I have learned that there are two different sides in life, the good and the cruel. In order to value one side, you must experience both of them.

You will come across people that will recognize your potential as well as others that will try to lower your confidence or belittle you. For example, this can be seen in situations where someone can be biased against you because of what you try to do. Keep moving forward. The hardships that you experience in life make you stronger.

Your Favorite Magazines? My favorite magazine is New Latina as well as magazines that discuss research in mathematics, science, and landscape architecture.

Your Favorite TV show? I would have to say Dr. Oz. He is very informative, and makes learning about our health an exciting topic.

Stilettos or Flat shoes? Stilettos!

Countries You Have Visited, and Your Favorite One
: I have only visited the Dominican Republic, and hope to travel to Brazil and India in the future.

What Has Been Your Biggest Challenge in Life? My biggest challenge in life was figuring out whether I wanted to be an architect or a landscape architect. I figured this out just in time. Estoy bien agradecida con mi familia por su apoyo. (I am very thankful to my family for their support). However, as much advice as they provide, the best decisions in life are the ones that you make on your own. This gives you a sense of who you are, confidence, and it establishes that you are in control.

What is Your Next Big Dream? My dream is to create a new landscape architectural design system utilizing the logic and structural designs of mathematics.

Three words that best describes youKind, Understanding, and a Perfectionist.

Who would you like to meet in the future? I would like to meet Jorge Ramos from Noticiero Univision, and President Barrack Obama. I have some landscape design ideas for the White House.

What would you do as a future Landscape Architect? I want to work with others while designing projects that make a difference in peoples’ lives. One of my main priorities is to extract the beauty of mathematics to design public spaces that enhance neighborhoods. My long term goals in landscape architecture include creating programs that benefit low income families to help them afford housing. I hope to extend a hand to those who need help the same way others have helped me. Places where I hope to have the opportunity to express my landscape designs include the United States, the Dominican Republic, India, and Brazil. One day, I hope to own a Landscape Architecture firm, and create scholarship programs to help increase the number of Hispanic students attending college.

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Marlyn Nunez

Marlyn Nuñez is a graduate of New York University, earning a Bachelors Degree in Communication Studies. She also received a Masters Degree in Education from CUNY's City College.

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