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Stephanie Olarte ’06

 

Stephanie Olarte ’06

Stephanie Olarte ’06 (Tolman High School) graduated from Johnson & Wales University in 2010 with a B.S. in Global Tourism Management with a concentration in Tour Management and Sales & Events Management. She then earned an M.A. in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations and Comparative Politics from the University of Rhode Island in 2016. “I originally chose Global Tourism Management because it was one of those unique fields that many people aren’t aware exist, and therefore I found it exciting,” says Stephanie. “However, after a few years in the industry and with the pleasure of having the opportunity to travel, I went back to school and decided to pursue politics. The reason I chose politics was to work as an advocate for women and children’s rights at the state, national, and international levels. I currently am affiliated with many different organizations whose main focus is to lead in advocacy for people of color, women and children, and the LGBTQ community.”

Since earning her graduate degree, Stephanie has dedicated her time to attending citywide events and networking with local, state, and national officials. She has volunteered for several years for UNICEF, working on their TAP Project for clean water by fundraising and creating awareness workshops. She has also recently affiliated with the HEforSHE campaign sponsored by UN Women, organizing events such as movie nights for men and women to come together and discuss feminism. She has also volunteered with local political campaigns in Pawtucket. “The Rhode Island community is organizing very efficiently to help the most vulnerable in the state,” she says. “I am happy to have been part of these movements.”

For Stephanie, investing in personal connections is very much a passion. “I think the best part of my college experience were the connections I made not only with friends and professors but also with professionals in many walks of life,” she says. “I was very active in networking while in college, going to events at my university and to events hosted by neighboring colleges if they were open to the public. I feel that these experiences build many skills necessary in personal and professional life, so I am grateful that I took the initiative.”

She is also grateful for the personal connections she made during her time as a Crusader. “The College Crusade helped me mostly in developing confidence in myself and in my potential,” she says. “I will not forget this experience because it was part of becoming the person I am today. I am mostly thankful to Courtney, who was my Crusade Advisor in high school. She fought for me when other education professionals around me refused to. I have a disability, and they said not to bother with applying to college because it would be too difficult for me to handle. Courtney never held that low expectation for me. She took me under her wing and brought me on as many college trips as I could attend. She made it her mission to help me with the process. She was definitely someone who made a positive difference in my life, and I will always appreciate her dedication to me and the rest of the Crusaders she helped.”

Stephanie also appreciated receiving a College Crusade scholarship. “Being from a low-income family growing up and knowing the importance of attending college, I was always worried about how I would pay for my education,” she says. “My mother always said education is the path to succeed and she was right. Even though she wanted to help financially, she had other responsibilities that were far more important. I decided to put the financial burden of paying for my education on myself. I was lucky that The College Crusade had been in my life since I was in third grade. When I learned that the program provided a scholarship, I was grateful because it significantly helped me throughout my undergraduate years.”

In her free time, Stephanie has an ongoing interest in travel. “I travel whenever I have the opportunity,” she says. ”I have been to many European countries and recently returned from Colombia, where I spent wonderful time with family and friends.” She also loves to read and recommends Trevor Noah’s new book, Born a Crime.

To high school Crusaders starting college in the fall, Stephanie advises keeping a balance. “When we start college we tend to go overboard,” she says. “Some people party too much, forgetting why they are in school, and others don’t leave the library or dorm room because they want to only focus on school. Keeping a balance is important because you can do well in school and still be active on campus. Networking should always be in your mind. If there is an event or workshop and you are free at the time, it’s important to attend. Not only do you build a skill but you may meet a future employer. Keeping these connections can be imperative for your future.”