Name: Saul Arvelo
Dreamer Cohort: Ravenswood I
Year joined program/Which grade were you in?: 3rd Grade; 1993
What did you think about “I Have A Dream” – New York when you were in school? The program was an “academic training ground” that supplemented the education that I was receiving in school. Because of the [investment] of time and energy from our mentors, I was able to excel in school. IHDF-NY also provided a safe place for us to be creative
What High School did you attend, and what year did you graduate? Long Island City High School Class of 2004.
Did you graduate college? If so, what school and what did you study? I graduated from Hofstra University with a BA in Communications.
What are you doing now? I am actually in the middle of an exciting transition in my career. I had been working at the Disney ABC Television Group as a Talent Acquisition Coordinator. However, my true passion lied within television production and development, and I am finally able to make that dream a reality, as I am now working as a Production Manager for NBC Universal’s Daytime programming.
How would you explain the “I Have A Dream” program to someone who had never heard of it? IHDF-NY is a true year-round youth development organization that keeps kids on the right track academically, while supplementing the education that they receive with amazing life lessons and experiences. They expose the kids that they serve to an unlimited amount of opportunities that they otherwise wouldn’t have direct access to.
How did being a Dreamer affect you? Being a Dreamer affected me in huge ways. It provided a platform for me to display my craft and to be successful. Ever since I was a young kid, I always had a passion and interest in all things media-related, from acting and singing on stage, to production and writing. The I Have A Dream Program helped develop my social skills and confidence to actively pursue those interests. They also put me in touch with key industry figures and taught me how to network with professionals. As a result, I landed key internships during my college years with VH1 and ESPN, where I helped produce the annual ESPYS, which in turn, led to a successful early career at both ABC and NBC.
What were some of your favorite memories about being a Dreamer? The bond that my friends and I made with our Program Directors, Staff, and sponsors is something that will always stand out. We were incredibly lucky to have so many positive role models in our lives; something that definitely wasn’t the case for other kids in my neighborhood who weren’t a part of the program. I specifically remember the college trips with our Program Director, Thierry Cazeau. Mr. C (as I’ve always liked to call him) simply knew how to get us so rallied up and excited about the whole experience. I also remember going out to lunch with our sponsor, Mr. Friedman. We did this a few times during the years, as he would check in on our academic progress and see what kinds of goals we were setting for ourselves. Mr. Friedman held us accountable. He even came up to have lunch with me at Hofstra University; a gesture that I’ll never forget.
What does your family think of “I Have A Dream” – New York? My family is forever grateful for the IHDF-NY. They entrusted the program with me at such a young age,
Are you still involved with “I Have A Dream” – New York? How? I am definitely still involved with IHDF-NY. I’ve served as an amanbassador and spoken on their behalf at various events and fundraisers. I also recently participated in a career day event for the Dreamers at the Ravenswood II Program, as well as served as a translator for the Spanish-speaking parents at a FAFSA Application session.
If you are a Dreamer Alum who would like to share your story for the blog, please contact Thierry Cazeau at firstname.lastname@example.org .