PKG Social Impact Internships: Isaac Toscano (’21)
My name is Isaac Toscano, I am a senior studying a double major in Materials Science and Engineering, and Business Analytics. In San Nicolás de los Garza, a municipality of Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico, we were raised with the stories of the “other side”, the fabled land of opportunities. The land where your children could attend schools unmatched in Latin America, the land where you could swim in a pool of dollars. Thirteen years ago, my family and I made that fateful trip to the United States in search of that “better life”, the stories so eloquently talked about and promised. This IAP the Boston HERC, a Latino-led organization, inspired me to continue fighting for educational equity.
Since my first day, this internship has given me the opportunity to take the wheel and really take a dive into the problems that the FGLI (First-Generation Low-Income) and under-represented minority community is facing. I was given full responsibility of developing an entire program for 600+ students that are a part of the Boston HERC alumni program. This organization has one mission, to be a resource for those who don’t understand the American education system, and be the guide for those who wish to pursue a higher education. As a FGLI student I understood better than most the struggles they would face coming into college. Navigating academic and familial duties, conquering the impostor syndrome, accepting that as the “trailblazer” of their family it was still okay to ask for help, are few of the many concepts I tackled during IAP. I developed a program that would allow them to understand the “ins-and-outs” of these issues. Through this internship I was given the privilege of working alongside the director of the program who served as a liaison showing me the new and reminding me of the old struggles that my community faced.
As FGLI students, the struggles that we undergo are unfortunately not unique but rather a series of obstacles that we must all face; our families work laboriously to make ends meet, oftentimes they ask us to translate documents or to help them pay bills, and we do so with the hope that one day we can earn our golden ticket to higher education. It is our rite of passage. This IAP the Boston HERC and the Priscilla King Gray (PKG) Public Service Center, showed me the numerous flights of stairs I climbed to be where I am today. They were a reminder that not everyone is able to climb these stairs much less find their way to them, like I did. The Boston HERC inspired me through their selfless acts of charity, giving everything to their students while expecting nothing in return. They inspired me to take matters into my own hands and through this program, alongside my long-time friend Ajinkya Nene (MIT ’20) we launched our own startup, BuiltStronger, in the non-profit/educational space.
BuiltStronger initially began as a heated conversation where we ranted on the lack of opportunities we faced as first-generation students. Although college served as a platform to launch ourselves into corporate America, such a transition came with its own obstacles. As first-generation students we are inherently unequipped to tackle the high barriers of entry that is corporate America. Without relatives in this space or an innate ability to network, again the FGLI student was left shooting blindly in the dark. We created this organization to level the playing field for our community, and to continue giving back to the “little guy” who so desperately wishes to launch themselves to the stars.
The PKG Public Service Center and Boston HERC have inspired me to fight for my community and given me hope that others will come after me to continue what I began.