As the founder of C.A.R.E., Vanda Depina '17 created a supportive environment for students who are on their own.
Overcoming the challenge of homelessness
My greatest challenge over the course of my undergraduate career has been due to personal life experiences: being able to manage school and life.
During my freshman year, I was facing the unfortunate circumstances of being homeless. Luckily enough, through the extended connections I have made through College Now, I was able to spend nights at friends’ homes either on couches or in spare bedrooms.
Today I live throughout the year at UMassD while being employed at the university.
Founding the C.A.R.E. student organization
In 2015, I developed and funded a student organization called Creating Acceptance through Relationships and Empowerment, or C.A.R.E. Its purpose is to provide support for students in the foster care system and those who have been emancipated or displaced. Working with other organizations, we've sponsored several events—such as dinners for Winter Break and Thanksgiving—to create fellowship for students who are living on campus for extendxed periods of time.
In leading C.A.R.E, I also learned to understand and manage my peers' expectations, to help us all achieve more than we dreamed possible.
I've also been a very active member of student organizations such as HERO (Helping Each Other Rise), Share Esperanza, the Cape Verdean Student Organization's Dance Group, and HASA, the Haitian American Student Association.
Applying the principles of psychology
I believe that with a psychology degree, I'm able to understand others more conscientiously than I could have before.
I've learned greater aspects of the human consciousness, behavior, cognitive, and clinical mind and how we tend to perceive and understand our surroundings and/or situations. I've learned to apply these subjects to the outside world, and I hope to explore them more.
My goal now is to use what I've learned as a psychology major and apply it to the world of business.
College Now: opportunities & connections
The College Now Program has influenced my college career in the most positive way. I truly believe that if it were not for the College Now Program, I would not have attended this university.
If it were not for the great opportunities they offer current and incoming students, I would not have this bright future ahead of me. Through College Now, I've made life-long connections and friendships that I believe will continue years after college.
I’d like to say a special thank you to the College Now team for all they have done over the years and for the thousands of students they have helped accomplish their dreams. I’d also like to say a special thank you to both Deborah Taylor and Anne Boisvert for their generosity, expertise, and help.
Set goals, learn from experiences
I've learned that—through patience, goals (short-term or long-term), faith, and belief—everything you set out to accomplish will eventually take place.
The advice I have for incoming students is to enjoy college to its full extent. Enjoy and learn from all of the rollercoaster experiences: the laughter, joys, excitement, anxieties, procrastination, anger, sadness, insomnia, failures, and victories that come with being a college student.
I also think it’s only appropriate to say that incoming students should come in with an open mind in order to learn and adapt to the university’s environment.
Future steps: MBA & continuing to do good
My plan after graduation is to continue my education and pursue my MBA here at UMassD. But my larger goal is to leave my imprint on the world by helping as many people as I can, every day, to the best of my abilities.
Some content for this story was previously published in the College Now Spring 2017 newsletter.