College Advisor, Claremont International High School
Coordinator, Success Programs
College Advisor, DreamYard Preparatory School
Allison Palmer, M.S., Director of College Success Initiatives, joined New Settlement as the founding director of the College Access Center in July 2001. She holds an M.S. in social administration from Columbia University’s School of Social Work and a B.A. in history from Wesleyan University. She has more than a decade of experience in access to higher education, positive youth development, teen leadership training and adolescent counseling. As director, Allison leads program design, development and implementation of New Settlement’s college access and success initiatives. She represents New Settlement in citywide and statewide coalitions and national conferences. She served as a New York State delegate at the National Association for College Admission Counseling for three years and helped to develop a training curriculum for college advisors that is currently used by the Department of Education to train high school counselors.
Avril was born and raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She moved to New York at a young age to pursue her dream of attending college in America. Avril is a first generation college student and hopes to one day become the Principal of a high school. She received a Bachelor’s degree from Manhattanville College, where she studied political science and communications. Her passion for law guided her to work in a helping profession, specifically with teenagers who might be going through hard times. Avril is currently working on her master’s degree at Lehman College. She is studying school counseling hopes to better help students reach their full potential.
Avril has worked with students for several years, from camp counselor, dean, teacher, and finally college advisor. She is an alumna of the College Access Center, enjoys working with youth, and hopes to have a positive impact on her students’ lives. Avril spends her free time with her son and engaging in outdoor activities.
Cindy is the Coordinator of New Settlement’s College Success Program, which provides support for students as they work towards a college degree. She has worked in the realm of youth development, advocacy, and education for over five years. Her passion is in youth empowerment, youth voice, and creating an inclusive environment for English learners.
Prior to this position, she was an Educational Counselor for New Settlement’s Student Success Center. In addition, she trained and supervised five cohorts of high school interns who served as peer advisors in the college application process.
Cindy’s connection to the College Access Center is deeply rooted in her experience as a former participant. She is a graduate of Ithaca College with a B.A. in Sociology. In her spare time, Cindy volunteers through New York Cares, travels, and is active in arts initiatives that are focused on social change, diversity, and community.
Deen was born and raised in Staten Island. Deen has long relished the opportunity to provide mentorship and guidance to our future leaders. As a high school student, he cherished the confidence his college counselor had in his abilities and always looked to pay it forward later in life.
After high school, Deen attended Duke University, where he was able to gain exposure to people and cultures from all different corners of the world. Both inside and outside of the classroom, his undergraduate career served as an unforgiving lesson about the prominent role privilege plays in society and how it impacts us all on a daily basis. He graduated with a degree in Sociology and a desire to make a difference in the places where it matters the most.
Upon returning to New York City, Deen worked as an Academic Tutor for the Center for Family Life in Sunset Park. It was at this job that he felt compelled to help students in their pursuit of a college education, an essential key to open many different doors in life. During his search to do this, he discovered the College Access Center and was immediately thrilled by the opportunity it provided. At the Center, he has been given the responsibility of working with students as an Educational Counselor and as a facilitator for the 11th grade College Explorers group.
When he is not helping students to find their way in life, Deen indulges in different forms of creative expression. As a co-founder of the first spoken word organization at Duke, he enjoys creating, listening to, and reading poetry in his free time. Additionally, as a music aficionado, he devotes much of his time to honing the crafts of production and audio engineering.
Felix Cuma was born and raised in California. He graduated from the University of California, Davis where he earned a degree in Chicana/o Studies with an emphasis in Public Policy. After learning about the Latina/o educational pipeline and low outcomes of Latina/o students earning a graduate degree, he became passionate about closing the achievement gap. After graduating from UC Davis, he joined an AmeriCorps program named City Year Philadelphia, in order to learn more about closing the achievement gap. It was during City Year where his passion in working with adolescence grew. His passion in working with adolescence and young adults lead him to obtaining a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership, Politics, and Advocacy from New York University. After obtaining a Master’s degree in Education, he was the Youth Development Associate for a community-based organization at a NYC public school in Brooklyn. It was during this time when his skills in counseling and advising students in college access/success developed even further. Felix developed a graduation success program that guaranteed students to graduate on time from high school and gain skills needed to succeed in college. Outside of youth work, he likes to watch some favorite shows like Modern Family, Shark Tank, POSE, RuPaul’s Drag Race, and Love & Hip Hop. He enjoys art, performing arts, being creative, walking his dog, listening to chill music, and plants.
Jennifer values education for its capacity to open up people’s worlds, along with its contribution to social justice and community development. Her own educational journey, along with experiences with program participants, has reinforced how invaluable investing in higher education is to personal development, social mobility, and civic engagement.
After attaining her Bachelor’s degree from Ithaca College, Jennifer came to the College Access Center, with an interest in closing the achievement gap, supporting students to degree attainment, and a passion for educational reform.
During her time at the College Access Center, she has been an Educational Counselor, a College Advisor at Dream Yard Preparatory School on the Taft Educational Campus, and is now is the Coordinator for the Access Program. Jennifer deeply believes in the work and impact of the College Access Center, as it trickles through and beyond the Bronx. She is proud to be part of a team that is all in and advocates for participants to reach their full potential.
Outside of work, Jennifer enjoys, yoga, dancing, and spending time with family and friends.
Jesus Lara was born and raised in The Bronx, New York. As a Latino growing up in the Bronx, Jesus knew what it was like to face socioeconomic disadvantages. That is why his passion is to inspire and motivate youth to achieve all of their goals and dreams. He aspires to be a motivational speaker and a successful investor who gives back to low-income communities.
After graduating from high school, Jesus decided to pursue his undergraduate career at SUNY Oswego. During his undergrad, Jesus undertook various opportunities in which he would mentor and advise college students. Jesus graduated with a Bachelors in Psychology and Philosophy.
After graduating from SUNY Oswego with a Bachelors Degree in Psychology and Philosophy, Jesus took some time to travel to Australia and Costa Rica. Once he returned to New York City, he stumbled upon the opportunity to work with The College Access Center as a College Success Counselor. As an alum of the program, he thought it would be an amazing chance to give back to his community. Also, his passion to motivate and inspire people to succeed, allows him to be a dedicated Success Counselor for the program. He wants all students, especially the ones from low-income homes to succeed in life.
In his spare time outside of work, Jesus likes to go to the gym, read, play sports, hang out with friends and enjoy the outdoors.
Maggie loves serving her Bronx community through education and college access. Maggie was born and raised in the South Bronx in the projects. She has experienced the unfortunate reality that kids from low income families and poor districts face. However, with a lot of ambition and perseverance, she enrolled at Skidmore College, where she double majored in Political Science and Spanish, with a minor in Latin American Studies. While at Skidmore, she studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina where she got out of her comfort zone and learned about other cultures. For two summers of her undergraduate years, Maggie served as a Summer Bridge College Coach for College Bound Initiative and Urban Assembly. This is where she truly became passionate about college access and equity. Skidmore also opened up Maggie’s eyes to the disparity in education between her affluent peers and her peers from back home. As a first generation college graduate, her experiences at Skidmore and her involvement as a Coach reassured her that she wanted to enter the field of college access, which landed her in her first post-undergraduate job at the College Access Center (CAC). At the CAC, Maggie was an Educational Counselor and the Co-Facilitator for the 11th Grade College Explorers Group. She worked with 11th graders in the early college awareness program and with 12th graders, young adults and adults in the college application and financial aid process. After a year at the CAC, Maggie transitioned to DreamYard Preparatory School as a College Advisor, Senior Seminar Teacher, and a Youth Leader Supervisor.
In the future, Maggie hopes to have a bigger institutional impact on low income students and students of color. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Administration at Baruch College, with the desire to work in the policy field to make college accessible for everyone and to close achievement gaps.
For fun, Maggie loves spending time with her daughter, family and friends. She travels to Dominican Republic every year, and aspires to travel to different places in the world!
Maristela (Mari) Perez began her journey at New Settlement Apartments the summer of 1999 as a Summer Youth Worker. Once the summer program was done she joined the New Settlement family as a part-time assistant in their Afterschool Program. Since then, Maristela has worked in almost all of the programs at New Settlement (Girls Program, Parent Action Committee and Teen Program). In 2008 she found her permanent home as she joined the College Access Center team as the Office Manager. In her eighteen years at New Settlement, Maristela has had the opportunity to see 6-year old participants begin their own adventures as after school program participants and finish their journeys at the College Access Center at 21 years old.
New Settlement Apartments has become such an integral part of her life that Maristela became a tenant in 2010. Her son Benjamin is a student at the New Settlement Community campus and a participant in New Settlement’s summer camp and afterschool program. When Maristela is not working, she reads and bakes. She has a fascination for Wonder Woman and claims that she is not Wonder Woman, but no one has ever seen her and Wonder Woman in the same room.
Maritza was born in Queens, New York but grew up in Hamilton Heights. Before beginning high school she moved to the Bronx where she currently resides. Maritza attended Aquinas High School, a Catholic all-girls school located in the Bronx. She then went on to attend Hunter College, CUNY as a SEEK student where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in English. While at Hunter College she served as a SEEK Peer Mentor and Student Ambassador. She also worked part-time as a College Assistant for the SEEK Program. It was those wonderful experiences during her four years working with the staff of the SEEK Program that sparked her interest in counseling and that eventually led her to pursue a Masters in School Psychology, which she plans on completing in the future. When she is not working she likes to binge watch shows on Hulu and read avidly. She also believes that the X-Men is one of Marvel’s greatest teams.
Mylasha Furlonge was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. Mylasha knew College Access was her calling when she interned in her high school college office at Murry Begtraum High School. Graduating as her high school class Valedictorian, Mylasha received a full ride to Smith College. At Smith she received her B.A in Sociology. After completing her Bachelors, Mylasha was inclined to further her education. She went on to complete a one year accelerated Master’s at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, receiving her M.A. in Public Policy.
Returning back to New York, as a first generation college graduate, Mylasha felt a great desire to work in the education system. She worked with the New York City Department of Education on analyzing and revamping educational policies. Her passion to work with the youth, and make sure students have someone to look up to, has led her to New Settlement. Mylasha now serves as the College Advisor at Bronx Collegiate Academy on Taft Educational Campus.
When Mylasha is not working with students, she loves to travel, shop, and spend take with family and friends.
Shuba was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. She graduated from Middlebury College in 2017 where she majored in Sociology with a minor in Education Studies. At Middlebury, Shuba was able to create and take part in the diversity implementations on campus – including the building of an intercultural center for underrepresented students. She also developed, planned, and led the first First Generation Pre-orientation program for incoming freshmen students. Prior to Middlebury, Shuba was a student at Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics in Harlem.
Before Shuba joined the College Access team, she was a Program Assistant at Futures and Options. At Futures and Options, Shuba was able to help assist in providing high need high school students with access to internships in New York City. Additionally, Shuba has worked with a Department for Youth and Community Development (DYCD) funded program as the Academic and Career Counselor for the Young Adult Internship Program (YAIP) serving young adults ages 17-24 years old supporting them with work readiness and leadership development. As a Bronx native, Shuba’s work has always reflected her passion for helping young people through youth development and leadership training. She looks forward to contributing to the resources that the College Access Center provides for the community to help create educational opportunity for students in the Bronx. On her spare time, she likes to knit, go hiking, hang out with friends, and try new food – she’s open to any food suggestions at any time!