Ana Banegas emigrated from Honduras to the Bronx as a middle school student ten years ago and today proudly boasts a bachelor’s degree from Stony Brook University. It wasn’t easy.
“I was raised by a single mother and the pressure was on,” Banegas told a group of middle and high school girls at Fordham’s Rose Hill campus on March 19. “I even had a family member once tell me I’d end up pregnant by the time I was 17. But I was a role model to my little brother. I knew I had to make it.”
Banegas was joined by college graduates Mairelys Alberto, outreach programs coordinator at El Museo del Barrio; and Pilar Larancuent, a youth development coordinator at Graham Windham to speak to girls who attend Belmont Preparatory High School and M.S. 45 Thomas C. Giordano.
The exchange is part of the Mentoring Latinas program, which pays college students to build relationships with Latina girls in the Bronx, with the goal of empowering the young women and encouraging them to aim higher in school.
Founded in 2003 by Ellen Silber, Ph.D., the program is partly funded by AT&T, which funds the initiative through Aspire Grants.
On March 18, AT&T announced it was launching a quarter-billion-dollar campaign to help high school graduates to be well-prepared for careers and college.
“We hold events like this so the girls are continuously exposed to Latinas reaching their goals,” said Silber, the program’s director. “The more they see it, the more they’ll know it’s possible for them, too.”
Banegas, who had a mentor ever since she was awarded a scholarship for college, knows first hand.
“My mentor, who I now proudly call a friend, opened doors for me,” Banegas said. “She gave me more insight into media and entertainment, which is the industry I want to work in.”
Banegas, a marketing intern, meets with two mentees twice a week at Fordham.
“It’s been great. I’m seeing myself in them,” she said. “In my first week, one of my mentees told me she didn’t think she’d be able to get into a school like Fordham. I told her never to doubt herself because that’s what stops you.
“Take that uncertainty and shake it off. Know you can do this. That’s what I’m here for. If Fordham is your goal, we’re going to get there,’” Banegas said.