Nicoly Santos (Class of ’17), Duke University, Graduated Spring 2021
Degree: Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology with a Minor in English & Ethics
Career Goals: I am currently pursuing my Juris Doctorate at Harvard Law School as I would like to be a human rights lawyer.
What has been the biggest surprise about the college experience? I was surprised by how many different backgrounds everyone is coming from. I was exposed to incredible amounts of diversity, life experience, and ambitions. I definitely enjoyed getting to know everyone and learning how their personal experiences shaped them and their future goals.
Most challenging coursework in college: I was definitely the most challenged in my course’s freshman year. It wasn't that they were necessarily the most difficult, but they were intensified by having to adjust to a new environment. It was a lot harder to make it through classes before I had good friends to study with and had a solid understanding of the classes I was interested in. I'd definitely recommend trying to take what you imagine will be easier classes your first semester as you try to adjust to your new environment.
Accomplishment most proud of: In college I became a Broadhead Service Fellow and a Jacqueline A. Morris Undergraduate Fellow, which were two research fellowships given to me for my work with refugee communities. I became a member of 3 research teams, president of the pre-law society and of the ethics community, the secretary for my school's chapter of my scholarship program, an editor for a feminist magazine on campus, a writer for the black and Latinx student magazine. I also co-taught a half-credit course at Duke on Ethics and Global Citizenship and began a project that led workshops for refugee youths concerning personal and professional development. I am currently at my first year of Harvard Law and have so far become the Assistant Managing Editor for the Human Rights Journal and have joined Advocates for Human Rights and Harvard Immigration Project, which will allow me to conduct legal research and work on drafting immigration policy recommendations.
Can you provide any advice to our current Knights? I would highly recommend getting to know as many people as you possibly can throughout all of college and taking every opportunity that comes your way. Networking is one of the most important skills you can begin to foster, and it will carry you all throughout college. This can take the form of making lots of friends who will be your support system when things get rough but can also be making appointments to speak with your college advisers and professors about what you would like to do with your time and what your career goals are. It's the best way of finding out what sorts of opportunities are out there that suit your interests. Once you find anything that interests you, try your best to become involved with it. It doesn't have to be what you spend the rest of your life doing, but it may expose you to things you didn't even know you were passionate about. Sign up for as many club list-serves, projects, research opportunities, and mentorship programs as you can happily commit yourself to. You'll learn quite a bit through that process.
I paid for college with…: In undergrad, I was a Horatio Alger State Scholar ($10,000), a QuestBridge Scholar (full ride), and a David M. Rubenstein Scholar (full ride). In law school, I have the Dennis Washington Graduate Leadership Scholarship ($120,000).
Fondest memory from high school: I miss all of the teachers I was lucky enough to have at Jose Marti. They all cared so much about seeing us succeed and truly did their best to guide us every step of the way. In particular, I'm extremely thankful for Mr. Milian, Mr. Kearns, Mr. Dean, Ms. Llanes, and Mrs. Henderson, who were each wonderful support systems and amazing instructors. Without them, I doubt I would have had the success I did during the college application process or developed the confidence needed to succeed at institutions like Duke and Harvard.