Last year, Bottom Line partnered with The Fellowship Initiative (TFI) to provide one-on-one college advising to  40 young men in New York City.   In his essay, “If One Kid Can Change The World,”  Mark shares the importance of role models and self-belief. 

In 2014, I received the best news that would go on to change my life forever. “You have been accepted into The Fellowship Initiative (TFI) sponsored by JPMorgan Chase.” Those words turned my life around. During these two unbelievably amazing years, I have been given the chance to learn from thirty-nine other African American and Latino males like myself, and it has made me feel like we could change the world.

Before TFI, I never found anything interesting because I was always a quiet student. I was afraid to try new things or explore. What I do know about my younger self was that the color of my skin made me feel very insecure. It made me isolate myself. Growing up, I had friends who were afraid like me. I would talk to them and tell them of my plans to be a young man who stands out from the group; I wanted to be more.

When I joined TFI, I was excited to work with other students like myself and have a mentor who would teach us about college and the business world. The moment I knew that I was capable of being a leader was when this mentor, Fernando, asked me to speak at an event for Outward Bound. At first, I was horrified. So many people would be watching me. I was not yet comfortable in my own skin, but I knew I could not disappoint Fernando. He had chosen me and if he thought I could do it, then I did not want to let him down. Right before I went onto the stage, he told me, “Mark, you can do whatever you want to do if you put your mind to it.” Fernando believed in me. He was instilling in me the tools I would need to self-motivate and conquer my fears.

Fernando has consistently believed in my abilities to be a leader and has motivated me to be an example to young men like me. In order to channel this energy and make a positive change in my community, I became a board member for the Neighborhood Advisory Board. This board helps allocate funds for projects within my community like after-school programs, play grounds, and books. Through TFI, I have had the opportunity to speak at other events and be on a panel with accomplished adults. Being able to represent my TFI brothers and JPMorgan Chase at these events has made me very proud. Looking back, I have realized that if I would not have accepted the challenge of joining TFI, I would not be the person I am today.

TFI has empowered me and I feel a duty to give back to my people. My dream and purpose of living is so that I can inspire others to believe in their dreams. I am confident that I will change the world by helping the young people in my community find the best within themselves. All it takes is one person, one thought, or one encouraging influence to help set them on the path of greatness. I am proud of my skin and I am determined and I am ready to reach back and help my community.

Jismaly Mejia: Alumni Board Member

Jismaly Mejia: Alumni Board Member

Advice I have for Bottom Line Alumni: “In order to pass along career advice to the Bottom Line Alumni community, it is important for me to reflect back on how I got to where I am today. Throughout high school, college and today, my support systems have always managed to expand beyond my family and friends. Fortunately, my supports included a variety of amazing organizations, such as Bottom Line, where my personal and professional network grew. Within these organizations, I have been able to experience a multitude of roles, such as a student and alum, a volunteer, an intern, a partner, a mentor/mentee, and much more. Through these roles, I have been able to explore educational and career options, collaborate and network with diverse individuals, and inspire youth in a variety of ways.

With that being said, I encourage all Bottom Line alumni to expand their horizons by seeking new opportunities through creating meaningful networks with those that surround them. Growth happens the moment you step outside of your comfort zone!”

Grace Tan: Alumni Board Member

Grace Tan: Alumni Board Member

Why I am proud to be a Bottom Line Alum:

“I proudly tell people that I am a part of this network because of all the good work Bottom Line does for its students and the community. I have been through the Bottom Line program from high school until college graduation, and I don’t believe that I would be as successful as I am today without Bottom Line. The staff at Bottom Line truly wants to help students get into college and prosper academically and personally. I’m very thankful that this organization is part of my life and I hope it continues to impact others the same way.”

Advice I have for Bottom Line Alumni:

“My best piece of advice to any alum would be this: If you are faced with an issue that is important to you and there are two solutions presented to you, go for the more difficult one. In life it’s always tempting take the easy way out, but down the line when you reflect on your choices, you will regret that you didn’t try harder.”

Edwin Gonzalez Alumni Board Member

Edwin Gonzalez: Alumni Board Member

Why I am proud to be a Bottom Line Alum:

“I really value community and all the aspects that make a strong community. I’m proud to be an alum of Bottom Line because BL is a community organization centered around providing crucial resources in Boston and throughout the country. That’s also why I’m so excited to have joined the alumni board in order to build a community around BL alumni.”

Advice I have for Bottom Line Alumni:

“Take risks! Challenge yourself by taking on new and interesting opportunities. It doesn’t always have to be about your career either. Take on a new hobby or finally get around to doing that thing you’ve always wanted to do.”

Alumni Board Member Daniel Figueiredo

        Daniel Figueiredo                 Alumni Board Member

Why I am proud to be a Bottom Line alum:

I am proud to be a Bottom Line alum because it means that I am part of a group of people that defied the odds to get where they are. Every Bottom Line student had above average obstacles in their life, but through determination, will, and support from Bottom Line we are in positions to do great things.



What advice I have for Bottom Line Alumni:

Advice I would give to Bottom Line Alumni is to get involved with Bottom Line and with your community. It’s important to stay grounded in what helped you get where you are today and to help others have similar opportunities.


Bottom Line Alum & Access Team Manager ShaCara Telemaque

BL Alum & Access Team Manager
ShaCara Telemaque

What is your experience as an alumni who is now working at Bottom Line:

“Being a former student, counselor, and now a manager Bottom Line has shown me that the interactions that we have with our students today, can greatly influence who they become later. As a student, my relationship with my counselors were the highlights of the program, besides the financial aid support. Bottom Line has done an amazing job of picking staff that genuinely want to support students—and that’s exactly why I wanted to work here. It’s an amazing feeling to see a student’s relief when they know they’ll be taken care of at Bottom Line, just like I was.”

What advice do you have for Bottom Line Alumni:

“Share the knowledge and skills that you further developed while being involved in Bottom Line and after. If your job involves recruiting, tell Bottom Line. If you want to do some volunteer hours, tell Bottom Line. Remember, current students are looking for life experiences and professional development just like you were. No one is a better expert at life beyond high school than you, so share your story!”


Help support Sarah and Bottom Line!

Sarah has been with Bottom Line in a variety of functions for over 10 years, and is currently our National Access Program Director. She is also running the Boston Marathon for us in April!  If you wish to help Sarah reach  her fundraising goal, you can do so here.  A donation of just $15 will fund a care package to a Bottom Line student!


Sarah’s favorite part of working at Bottom Line: 

Sarah Place Bottom Line's National Access Program Director

Sarah Place
Bottom Line’s National Access Program Director

I love that Bottom Line has a culture of continuous improvement and accountability.  Staff at all levels are constantly asking, “how can we do this better?” and take an active role in improving the way we serve students.  We strive to be the best at what we do because Bottom Line students deserve to receive the highest quality services.  I also live for reading college essays!


Sarah’s advice for alumni:

Please stay in touch!  Not only do we love hearing updates about alumni, but it could also benefit you to stay active in our network if we ever have the chance to connect you to opportunities.  Our current students are always looking to expand their networks so you could also have the chance to give back to your community by being an active part of the Bottom Line community.  We want to continue seeing you go far!



Yaritza Peña Alumni Board Member

Yaritza Peña
Alumni Board Member

Why I am proud to be a Bottom Line Alum …

“Bottom line values developing meaningful relationships with their students and other stakeholders, and I am proud to be a part of an organization that genuinely cares about the success of all its students. I can personally attest to this as I have always felt supported and encouraged by the staff and my counselors. I also owe a lot to Bottom Line for noticing systemic injustices and actively doing something about it. As an alum, I have witnessed firsthand the powerful impact of the organization’s mission and alumni. Bottom Line boldly provides a voice to those without a microphone.”

What advice I have for Bottom Line Alumni …

“Take the time to learn about yourself, and truly figure out what you want to do, and what your passions are. From there, develop short and long term goals, and push yourself to find concrete ways to accomplish them. Lastly, never forget those who helped you along the way, and be there to help push them in the direction of their dreams as well.”


Idaliana Medina Alum & Career Counselor

                Idaliana Medina               Alum & Career Counselor

Q: What is your experience as an alum now working at Bottom Line?

A: “I think as an alum of Bottom Line who came back to work for the organization, I realize how important the work that Bottom Line does is. As a student, I’m sure I didn’t always come to meetings (Sorry, Yorky, Ali and Michelle) or I didn’t listen to what my counselor had to say. I realize now that they were just looking out for me, and they had my best interest in mind. It feels good to be working for the company that helped me become who I am today.”

Q: What advice do you have for Bottom Line Alumni?

A: “Take advantage of the services that Bottom Line offers to alumni! We have a lot of connections with different companies and are always posting new jobs on our hiring board. These can definitely help you in your careers! We also have alumni events that are great for reconnecting with your fellow alumni and for networking! Take advantage!”

Melissa Pena Alumni Board Member

Melissa Pena
Alumni Board Member

Why I am proud to be a Bottom Line Alum … 

“When I reflect on all I have accomplished to this day, I feel a sense of appreciation in my heart knowing all of the support I received along the way. Throughout high school and college, my support system not only consisted of an amazing group of family and friends, but also of incredible organizations such as Bottom Line.”

What advice I have for Bottom Line Alumni … 

“My advice for alumni is to continuously dream bigger, take risks, share wisdom gained through experiences and sacrifices made, and expand your reach by paying it forward. There is always a generation to learn from before you, as well as a path of influence to leave for those after you.”