We recently re-connected with Orlanda Dos Santos, one of Dearborn STEM Academy’s first college graduates, about her experience at Dearborn and the impact of our early college programming on her journey at Bentley University.
Orlanda arrived in the US at 10 years old from Cape Verde, and she attended the Condon School in South Boston. The following year, she entered into 6th grade at the Dearborn, where she described herself as having limited English skills and in need of additional support. She felt supported by the Dearborn community, as many staff and students spoke Cape Verdean Kriolu. She continued ELL classes until the start of her freshman year.
When Dearborn temporarily moved into space at Burke High in the fall of 2015, Orlanda noted that amid the transition, everything felt the same. “The culture was still vibrant and I felt I had a good experience in school, but I wished I had more opportunities and teachers from different fields.” she said. That same year, BPE assumed operation of the school.
Orlanda said that the transition in leadership did not affect her day-to-day experience, but she did notice a difference in access to opportunities. She and a handful of other sophomore students commuted to area colleges (Fisher, Bunker Hill and Wentworth) after school to take college-level courses, something she wished she could have done even earlier to help prepare her for college. When asked what she remembers most, Orlanda described how her exposure to engineering at Wentworth sparked an interest she still carries and hopes to incorporate into her career one day.
In her senior year, she still felt undecided about her path and shared her concern that she might not be accepted into any colleges. Her hope was restored when she met Dearborn guidance counselor, Tim Likosky. Orlanda credits him for not only her acceptance to Bentley University, but also the full-tuition scholarship she received!
When Tim reflects on his time with Orlanda he describes her as determined and always seeking opportunity: “Orlanda was always looking for a challenge, either through college courses (Dual Enrollment), Engineering programs at Wentworth, and Enrichment Programs at UMass Boston. She involved herself in several academic programs and also completed internships each summer during high school in order to learn more about Engineering and Business, two careers she was considering. Orlanda was extremely focused and determined to be the best student she could be so that she can create a greater future for herself and her family. She also participated in several community service projects including Team New Orleans in 2017 and local projects in and around Boston… Her perseverance, determination and positive attitude helped her to see great success at Bentley University. I look forward to seeing her continue to accomplish great things in the near future.”
This summer, Orlanda graduated from Bentley University with her undergraduate degree in Finance, having developed a passion for banking along the way. When she returns later this year from a trip to Cape Verde – the first time she’s returned since arriving in the US – Orlanda plans to further her education in the field of finance.