Name: Meralis Lantigua Martínez
Hometown: Carolina, Puerto Rico
School/Major/Focus: Brown University, Neuroscience
1) How did you hear about City Year?
I first heard about City Year at a career fair at Brown. I attended an info session for City Year, Teach for America, and Peace Corps. After that session, I was convinced that serving with City Year would be the best way to spend my gap year.
2) How do you think this year will connect with your long-term goals or career path?
I can’t think of a time in which I wanted to be something other than a physician. For me, going to college
wasn’t necessarily a time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life but why I wanted to become a physician. During college I set out to explore other interests besides medicine, which led me to become a mentor for minorities pursuing concentrations in the STEM fields, a peer advisor for first-year students, and a teaching assistant for an ESOL class, among other activities. I eventually realized that what I love about medicine is its social impact— the ability that healthcare providers have to improve entire communities by tending to people’s health; but during my time at Brown I’ve also learned that social impact isn’t limited to medicine. More importantly, I’ve realized that although I am working towards a career in medicine, I don’t need to wait until I am Meralis Lantigua, MD to start contributing to the world I’d like to see one day. With City Year, I can start making better happen now.
3) What are you most excited about for your corps year?
I am most looking forward to mentoring the kids. As a first-generation college student, and the first of my siblings to leave Puerto Rico to attend college in the United States, I often felt a sense of displacement and a lack of self-efficacy at school. As a result of my time at Brown, I have come to appreciate the importance of visibility and of being able to identify with people in leadership positions—with those who have “made it.” Eventually, I had the luck of finding other incredibly inspiring people whose stories greatly resonated with me. Their drive and resilience continue to inspire me whenever I doubt myself. That is that I want to be for my students!
4) What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten that you’re going to keep with you for next year?
This isn’t exactly a piece of advice I was given, but rather a line I heard the great Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, III, say in his keynote address at a conference I attended: “You don’t have time to be a victim.”
That line has encouraged me to acknowledge the great opportunities I’ve had, regardless of the difficulties I’ve encountered along the way, and the great responsibility to give back to my community as a result.
5) Complete this prompt: I can #makebetterhappen by…. instilling academic confidence in my students.