Meet the Scholars

Alumni in Action: Arielle’s Story

From Upward Bound to graduate school, 2010 Dell Scholar Arielle has always seen education as a way to access opportunity. Learn more about her college story, advice for Dell Scholars, and how she has continued to engage with the Dell Scholars program since graduation. 

I grew up in a very poor, single-parent home in a blue-collar town in the Midwest. It’s homogeneous in a lot of ways—racially, linguistically, economically, culturally—and I knew that I did not wish to stay there. Education was a way out. My sister and I joined the Upward Bound program our freshman year of high school, and Upward Bound made college possible for us. We are now both first-generation college grads with advanced degrees.

I worked full-time throughout undergrad at Georgetown University and grad school at George Washington University. To manage, I was deliberate about which classes I took and when. For example, I took classes each summer break and studied abroad during the summer. There are parts of the undergrad/grad experience that I missed because I was working; I didn’t always take the classes, go to all of the events, or participate in all the student clubs that were most interesting to me. But I still earned my degrees, got really good grades, and made lifelong friends.

Being a Dell Scholar made it possible for me to study abroad in Egypt, have a laptop during college to do homework and also connect with family, repay some student loans from grad school, and purchase books every year. As a young professional, I’ve been afforded an opportunity to support and engage in the alumni network—attending the webinars, reading scholarship essays to help select the new scholar class, and establishing a pilot alumni connection program. I also have a unique lapel pin to complement my professional attire! These are real, tangible impacts and I am so deeply grateful and fortunate to be a Dell Scholar.

Arielle’s Advice for Dell Scholars

Life is long. There’s no need to rush—grad school will be there. Jobs will be there. There’s a lot of value in taking a breath, taking a break, and focusing on yourself

Ask questions when you don’t know and focus on building relationships. This is especially important for those of us who are the “first” and “only.” We often lack the social and cultural capital to thrive while navigating systems like the workplace. Ask questions and make connections to avoid “expensive” mistakes like not maximizing our retirement funds or never getting coffee/lunch with coworkers.