Stuyvesant Hosts College Panel with Yale Alumnus Juan Carlos Salinas

The Junior Caucus hosted a virtual college panel on October 14th and 15th with recent Stuy alumni and Yale alumnus Juan Carlos Salinas.

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The Stuyvesant Junior Caucus hosted a virtual college panel open to all juniors on October 14 and 15 from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. Attendees received the opportunity to listen to a variety of recent Stuyvesant alumni as well as Juan Carlos (JC) Salinas, Yale alumnus and the director of a free college counseling nonprofit Y Tu Tambien (YTT).

The initial idea for the college panel was proposed to Salinas over the summer by members of the Junior Caucus, but planning continued in the following months. “In early to mid-October, we met with JC over Zoom to plan out the content of the panel. In terms of reaching out to guest speakers, JC took charge of that and just sent us a list of speakers a couple [of] days before the event,” Junior Caucus Co-President Grace Rhee said.

Fortunately, the team worked closely with Salinas to coordinate the event and therefore did not encounter any major difficulties. “We didn’t encounter any notable challenges because JC was absolutely incredible, and we were able to stay on top of everything. I think a major reason why the event went smoothly was because we planned everything in advance,” Rhee said.

The panel gave advice on finding schools that match students’ financial, educational, and social needs as well as what colleges look for in their applicants. “Honestly, they answered questions I didn’t even know I had before. Like, I never thought about whether colleges take into account the teachers you have, but the panel addressed that,” junior Yasong Feng said.

Furthermore, Salinas spoke about the importance of creating a compelling story within students’ college applications. “One thing they mentioned was how some Stuy students might work in their parents’ restaurant [and how] it’s something that is not so common outside of Stuy. You don’t have to hide anything about yourself,” Feng said.

The panel also covered subjects like mental health and resources for students. “I mean it when I say it—absolutely no school is worth sacrificing your mental health,” Salinas said. “ I also want students to understand they don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on private consultants who take advantage of student paranoia on what seems like such a secretive process. There are plenty of free resources out there for students.”

The participation of Stuyvesant alumni added a special dimension to the event, reinforcing the sense of community and support. “It was great to have a good number of Stuy alumni come back and share their thoughts with the students,” Salinas said. “The YTT family goes beyond the college application process. The fact that eight different Stuy [alumni] came back to help out shows that Stuy alumni are interested in helping other Stuy students succeed.” 

Salinas was very pleased with the event and the students’ involvement, underscoring their dedication to their educational journey. “Working with Stuy students is always a pleasure. I loved that the students came prepared with so many questions and were also willing to listen,” Salinas said.

The Junior Caucus held this event in hopes of reducing anxiety relating to college applications and raising awareness about the application process. “We think that YTT is a resource that many Stuy students like to gatekeep, but as junior class presidents, we wanted to make sure that this resource could be widespread to more students,” Rhee said. “Since the college application process can be daunting and overwhelming, especially in junior year, we thought that bringing in a professional could help to ease that stress and allow students to navigate the process together as a community.”

In the future, the Junior Caucus hopes to continue to host similar events with YTT, possibly in person. “We had a pretty good turnout, but we do want to hold events like these in-person in the future and hopefully reach more people,” Junior Caucus Co-President Josephine Yoo said. “JC strongly emphasized [getting] started on the college process as early as possible, so we want the information and resources to reach everyone, not just our grade.”

Overall, the Junior Caucus believes that events like these are a great way to empower students to face the college application process confidently. “Students are not alone in their journey to college, and it really isn’t too late to start thinking about it now. There are so many good, free resources that students can take advantage of, and we just want them to know that they exist,” Yoo said.