Yenny Tavarez DRC’21 serves as a role model to many—not only at Douglass, but also out in her larger community. A psychology student and strong advocate for equity in education, Tavarez has spent her undergraduate years pursuing a future in which she will be poised to use her talents to make meaningful, structural change.
“I am working towards changing the education system in the U.S. Currently, I am applying to graduate school to enter the professional world as a lawyer with a joint Ph.D. degree in Human Development. I hope to work for organizations that focus on finding resources to fund productive, equitable education for future generations.”
Tavarez is a decorated researcher. Her work has previously been awarded a first-place prize by the Black Doctoral Network. Additionally, Tavarez was recently awarded the Cooper Fellowship to work under the Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab (SECD) in the Psychology Department at Rutgers. The SECD Lab focuses on studying social development, violence prevention, and decision-making in an educational environment. Outside of her successful research career, Tavarez is a proud member of the Douglass Global Village as well as a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion ambassador. As an ambassador, Tavarez is involved in preparing trainings on critical social justice topics for other Douglass students. She’s particularly passionate about advancing equitable education as well as advocating for the LGBTQIA+ community.
“My role as a DEI Ambassador has been eye-opening and comforting. I didn't think it would be so necessary to be in a room with empowered women who are willing to engage in difficult conversations,” she said. “It's refreshing to see and interact with people who are looking to spread understanding, love, and justice.”
While Tavarez has faced obstacles, her perseverance and ambitions have and will continue to move the needle many young people in the future—including her sisters.
“My biggest challenge I would say is sometimes feeling alone in this journey, being first-generation and low-income at a University definitely has many downs,” said Tavarez. “However, my biggest reward would be the understanding I have of the world, the growth I have made as a person throughout my years at Rutgers and at Douglass, and the example my sisters see in me. It’s not that they have to go to college necessarily, but that they are worthy of doing whatever they dream.”
Douglass has been her home throughout her college career. Her involvement in the Global Village, where she lived and learned with peers who shared her passions, has been one of her favorite experiences.
“Being surrounded by a group of women with goals and dreams is an amazing experience,” she said.
Like many Douglass students, Tavarez is persevering through the remote environment despite its challenges.
“The current operating environment has been difficult, motivation comes and goes, but we keep on moving.”
Douglass is excited to see all that Tavarez will accomplish in her final year at the College.