In high school, Valeria Belmonte was mostly focused on working. She had a job at Chipotle, and didn’t really see herself going on to college. So when Valeria joined Urban Alliance, she was still focused on getting a paycheck, but once she started interning at Northern Virginia Community College, her perspective shifted.
Valeria’s coworkers took her under their wing. “They’re really inspiring. They inspired me so much to keep going in school, you know, aim high,” Valeria said. “I am really blessed to have them.”
Before her internship, Valeria said, “I didn’t have anyone guiding me … Most people in my community don’t go to college … I think more kids from my community should join [UA], because they don’t really see that side of the world.”
Her mentors helped Valeria to see another path for her future than the one she had previously thought possible.
“I got to see more diverse people and I really felt inspired that they could go there too, go higher,” Valeria said. “For example, my mentor, we have the same socioeconomic background and I always asked, ‘Was it always this hard for you? … ‘She said, ‘Yeah, it was hard,’ and it took her five years to finish college. So she said, ‘Don’t feel like there’s only one way. Don’t quit.’”
Valeria is now studying nursing at Marymount University and credits her new direction to Urban Alliance: “I had a really positive experience … I really got to go out of my comfort zone and learn a lot …I just grew as a person and saw a different side of myself and saw that I could become a professional like them and be educated. It’s possible.”