Graduates 2020 - LEAP for Education LEAP for Education

Graduates 2020

College Success Program → Graduates 2020

Meet our 2020 College Graduates

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Benjamin “Ben” Bergstrom

Benjamin “Ben” Bergstrom

Salem State University
Bachelor of Science in Chemistry
Minors in Math and Physics

Ben has been with LEAP since his junior year at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School. This year, Ben will be graduating from Salem State University (SSU) with a bachelors in Chemistry with minors in Math and Physics. During his time at SSU, Ben acted as a tutor in the Chemistry department and is the current Vice President of the Chemistry Society. Upon graduation, Ben hopes to work in the industry for a while, before he pursues his masters in Chemistry or an accelerated bachelors in Physics. With his interests in the sciences, Ben hopes to pursue a career in either cannabis analytics or inorganic chemistry with a focus on batteries and metals. Ben’s academic journey has been arduous and long, and this bachelors degree is a reward for all of the time, energy, and hard work that Ben has invested into his education and to bettering himself.



Denisha Dominguez

Denisha Dominguez

Salem State University
Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Denisha joined LEAP during her junior year at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School. Denisha has always given back to LEAP through volunteering her time with us, participating on panels, discussions or wherever else we needed her. Denisha’s personality and charisma is so infectious that for these reasons she was the MC at our 2019 Great Expectations event, alongside her best friend Glade. She also showed the same level of passion and drive on campus, becoming involved in numerous clubs and moving into roles of leadership. As a nursing student at Salem State University, Denisha’s plate was always full academically and beyond. This past December, Denisha graduated with her bachelors in Nursing. Upon completion of her Nclex RN Exam, she will go on to find a full-time job in the nursing field. Denisha is a first generation-to-college student and is a role model for her sisters as well as those around her.



Estefany Villalona

Estefany Villalona

Boston University
Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science
Minors in Chemistry and Spanish

As a Peabody Veterans Memorial High School graduate, Estefany has been with LEAP since her junior year of high school. This year, Estefany will be graduating from Salem State University as a Biomedical Science major with minors in both Chemistry and Spanish. Estefany emigrated from the Dominican Republic in 2003 and since then has worked increasingly hard academically to make her parents proud as a first generation-to-college student. Beyond her academic excellence, Estefany has worked at Brooksby Village in Danvers since 2013. She initially started as wait staff in the dining services and quickly rose in leadership and is now a Nursing Assistant for the elderly. Upon graduation, Estefany hopes to follow her dream of becoming a Nurse Practitioner.



Glade Vasquez

Glade Vasquez

Salem State University
Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Ever since joining our College Success Program during her junior year at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School, Glade has always been driven. Driven to succeed academically, driven to excel through challenges, and driven to open doors for herself. Through her drive, Glade chose to study Nursing at Salem State University, one of the most challenging programs at the school, but nothing Glade could not handle. Glade was not only a part of the honors program during all four years, but also became a mother during her college experience. Aaron, her son, became even more of a reason for Glade to be driven to become a registered nurse. Being a full time mom and a full time student is not easy, but Glade continued to excel, and got grades that kept her in the honors program. As a first-generation- to-college student, Glade achieved her goal of graduating college this past December and now is taking the next step of becoming a full time registered nurse.



Jacarlys Roman

Jacarlys Roman

University of Massachusetts Lowell
Bachelors in Public Health (on the pre-med track)

Jacarlys came to the U.S. in 2012 from the Dominican Republic for just one year. This is when she joined our program as a junior at Salem High School. She then moved back to D.R. to complete her senior year of high school. Upon completion, Jacarlys returned to the U.S. to pursue her academic dream of becoming a doctor. Jacarlys began her collegiate career at North Shore Community College and then transferred to University of Massachusetts Lowell where she will be graduating with a bachelors in Public Health on the pre-med track. Jacarlys will be the first in her family to graduate from a four year university in the U.S. She is currently applying to medical school and hopes to gain entrance into a doctorate program for osteopathic medicine in the Spring 2021 semester.



Jhonel Roberts

Jhonel Roberts

Stonehill College
Bachelors in Business Administration

As a first-generation-to-college student, Jhonel has been a part of LEAP since his junior year at Salem High School. At the time, Jhonel was an aspiring basketball star, and chose Stonehill College to pursue his academic and athletic career. Throughout his collegiate experience, Jhonel became a valued asset to the Stonehill campus and quickly rose as a leader through his involvement in extracurricular activities such as the peer mentoring program, and career services where he currently works. Beyond his involvement on campus, Jhonel also gives back to the local community of Taunton, where he is a mentor of middle school students. Jhonel will be graduating from Stonehill College with a bachelors in Business Administration. He hopes to combine his natural born leadership skills and his degree to create his own non-profit in the future, focusing on the development of young men in underserved populations through sports engagement.



Karen Cevallos

Karen Cevallos

University of Massachusetts Amherst
Bachelors in Psychology (on a pre-med track)

Karen has been with LEAP since her junior year at Salem High School. Karen will be graduating from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a bachelors degree in Psychology on the pre-med track. Due to Karen’s commitment to herself and her career goals, she has gained early admission to UMass Medical School, where she will begin in the Fall of 2021. During the summer of 2019, Karen was seen often at LEAP studying for her medical school admission test. Beyond her own academic perseverance, Karen has also played a major role in other students’ successes by acting as a teaching assistant on campus, a peer advisor for the College of Natural Sciences, and a leader at UMass’ multicultural center. Karen was a recent speaker with her father at LEAP’s Great Expectations event. Her family has always championed her and supported her throughout her whole academic experience and now she will be the first in her family to graduate from college!



Katerina “Kat” Kerastaris

Katerina “Kat” Kerastaris

University of Massachusetts Amherst
Bachelors in Public Health

Kat joined LEAP her junior year at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School. As a first-generation-to-college student, Kat began her collegiate experience at University of New Hampshire, but transferred to University of Massachusetts Amherst after her freshman year. She will be graduating with a bachelors in Public Health. Throughout her time at UMass Amherst, Kat maintained her position as a participant in the National Society of Collegiate Scholars due to her leadership skills and high scoring GPA. More so, while being a full time student, Kat also became a certified nurse assistant and a home health aid. After graduation, she will be taking a year off to get more work experience, and study for the GRE before she enters Physicians Assistant School in the Fall of 2021.



Lisa Nguyenhoang

Lisa Nguyenhoang

Merrimack College
Bachelors in Biology
Minor in Religion

Lisa joined our program her junior year at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School. Six years later, Lisa will be graduating this spring from Merrimack College with a bachelors in Biology and a minor in Religion. While at Merrimack, Lisa was a student athlete on the rowing team. Lisa was the first recipient of the Merrimack-LEAP scholarship and is the first of her four siblings (who are all part of our College Success Program) to graduate from college! Her commitment to her family is admirable and she is always doing what she can to support her siblings. After college, Lisa hopes to gain some more lab and research experience before pursuing her masters.



Lishberny Alcantara

Lishberny Alcantara

Salem State University
Bachelors of Science in Business with Concentration in Hospitality

Lishberny has been a part of LEAP since her junior year at Salem High School. In high school, Lishberny wanted to pursue culinary arts so she combined this passion with her interest in management and decided to pursue business at Salem State University, with a concentration in hospitality. Throughout her college career, Lishberny held multiple jobs while being a full-time college student. Due to her goal-oriented mindset, Lishberny set two specific goals for herself which she was able to accomplish: graduate college debt free and have A’s every semester. During her junior year, Lishberny had the opportunity to study abroad in Florence, Italy where she got to explore the hospitality industry and had an opportunity to work in local restaurants. As a dedicated member of our community, she’s been a speaker at multiple college events and programming for high school students, in addition to doing an internship with us in the summer of 2018.



Sabrina Silviera

Sabrina Silviera

Salem State University
Bachelors in Social Work

Sabrina joined LEAP during her junior year at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School. After high school, Sabrina received her associates from North Shore Community College (NSCC) where she explored different career paths and completed her general requirements. As a first-generation-to-college student, Sabrina knew she wanted to help those in non-traditional life circumstances like herself. So, combining her career exploration, her empathetic nature, and active listening skills, Sabrina decided that the realm of Social Work would be the first step to fulfill her true dream of becoming a sex therapist. Therefore, after graduating from NSCC, Sabrina continued on to Salem State University where she chose to pursue a bachelors in Social Work. She plans on pursuing a masters in the same discipline upon graduation.



Sarah Smialek

Sarah Smialek

Fitchburg State University
Bachelors in Human Services

Sarah joined our College Success Program as a high school senior while studying at Salem High. Sarah will be graduating from Fitchburg State University with a bachelors in Human Services. On campus, Sarah is heavily involved with Campus Ministry as a campus ambassador of the Christian Fellowship. Sarah is a motivated, kind hearted student who is filled by service to others. Sarah is strengthened by her faith, friends and family, and hopes that whatever she does in life she can continue to help people in any way that she can.



Tori Thompson

Tori Thompson

Gordon College
Bachelors in Communications and History

Tori has been a part of LEAP since her junior year at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School. After high school, Tori decided to attend Gordon College where she will graduate this spring with a bachelors in communications and history. Beyond her academic achievements in these disciplines, Tori has dedicated a lot of her time to developing her craft as a videographer. Tori began recording music videos on her cam recorder in high school, and now, in her senior year in college, has been offered a position with Lightmark Creative, here in Salem. In order to refine her videography skills, Tori took advantage of many opportunities on the Gordon campus, such as managing the equipment room and becoming the senior media tech person in the center for technology. Throughout college, Tori has dedicated herself to service and has completed two service trips to Mexico where she served at La Casa de Esperanza, an orphanage for children, and where she plans to return soon.