Ashley German Soto '24 is a political science major with a minor in Spanish. Her favorite class so far was “Crime Stories” with Professor David Collinge and one of her most memorable Union experiences was Memorial Day fireworks on campus. “All of the persons of color gravitated towards each other and we found a spot on the field and made jokes, ate some snacks and watched the fireworks. It was one of the moments where I felt safe and happy to be here at Union.” Ashley is from Boston, Mass., and aspires to become a Supreme Court justice “to be the voice for people who are silenced.”
How did you find Union and why did you choose to attend?
I always say that I didn’t choose Union, Union chose me. I was fortunate enough to be nominated for the Posse Scholarship by Minds Matter Boston. I went through a selective process and ended up being picked to be one of the 10 students to come to Union and be a part of the Class of 2024. These are people who I call family now!
Who are your mentors and how important has their guidance been?
Someone I consider my mentor on campus is Dru Alvez. He is always a phone call away when I need support in classes, advice on how to handle a personal situation, and even what to eat for lunch. LOL. He is just always there to guide me when I need it. He was the one who taught me that it is okay to ask for help and that I don’t always have to be the strong one. Without his support I definitely think that I would’ve dropped out of the first term of freshman year. The
Bridges Program gave me the opportunity to branch out and have support from many different faculty on campus as well.
Students often feel pressure to do well in college. Do you feel any particular pressure?
I definitely think that I have to do well in college because I’m not just doing this for myself but for my family and the progression of my family. I’m the first high school graduate of my family and soon to be the first college graduate. My mom sacrificed a lot coming to this country and I have to be able to be in a position to put us in a better position. It is a lot of pressure but it is motivation to keep going even when it does get tough. It’s made me the resilient person I am today.
Where do you feel most seen on campus? Most invisible?
I feel the most seen in the Unity Room. It is my safe space, where I feel like I can be myself without getting judged. I can have tough conversations with people and grow from these conversations. I have made strong connections with people that I wouldn’t have connected with without the Unity Room.
Have you provided any mentorship yourself, academically or otherwise?
I became a first-generation advisor for the Bridges Program before school began. I think that it was important for me to be a first-generation advisor because I got really close to my own first-gen advisors. They showed me the way and gave me great advice. I still see the first-years that we have mentored and they still come to me for advice, and I love that they trust me enough to come to me.
Where have you found your niche? What experience made you feel like you belonged at Union?
I definitely think that coming here with Posse, many people think that you only remain in that circle of friends, but pre-orientation gave me the opportunity to interact with some of my best friends now. The moment I realized that I belonged here was when I actually switched my work study to the Office of Intercultural Affairs. I was able to feel like I was making a difference on this campus. Seeing how many people were showing up to the Spill the Tea and Identity Dialogue sessions made me feel like critical conversations were being had and more people were leaving the space with knowledge that they can share with others as well.
Do you feel your Union experience has differed from that of your peers? If so, how?
As a first-generation student, I didn’t really have family members talking to me about their experience. I really had to do everything myself – FAFSA profiles, CSS profiles, college applications and paying school bills. I don’t have the helping hand that everyone else has because my family just aren’t experts on the topic. I had to learn how to do stuff myself for a lot of college but that doesn’t mean that my family isn’t supportive. They are my biggest cheerleaders and are there to support me whenever I need the push.