Escalera Program Graduate, Nicole Sanclemente, is Ready for the Future

By David Castillo, Digital Content Manager, NCLR

Through her involvement in our Escalera program at our Affiliate Center for Latino Progress, Sanclemente was awarded a $5,000 college scholarship generously donated by UPS.

Photo: Connecticut Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission
Photo: Connecticut Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission

When she was in grade school, Nicole Sanclemente was always very aware of the differences between herself and her classmates.

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She was born in Connecticut and spent much of her early years in the state’s capital, Hartford. In the second grade, Nicole and her family moved to the small rural town of Marlborough, where her father had received a job offer at an elementary school. When Nicole started at her new school, she very quickly realized just how different things were going to be. As the only Latina at her school, Nicole did her best to fit in with the other students.

“I was always very different. Growing up in that, I wanted to fit in with everyone else,” said Nicole. “I tried to start doing the things everyone else did, buy the brands they did.”

Nicole also wore lots of “traditional clothing,” as she puts it, from her parent’s native Colombia. Her parents put a premium on bilingualism, so they insisted she learn Spanish first, which meant she had a slight accent when speaking English. These differences were inescapable. Yet the adversity she experienced in grade school would later become an asset when she applied to the Sport and Medical Sciences Academy (SMAS), back in Hartford. Nicole has always wanted to study medicine and the magnet school offered a program that was too enticing to pass up. Nicole was eventually accepted and began working toward her dream.

An added bonus of SMAS was its diverse student body, which Nicole found welcoming and refreshing.

“I started meeting people from all over the world. It was a very multicultural experience,” said Nicole. “I feel like I taught the kids at Marlborough a lot about my culture. I feel like that helped them become more culturally aware. They were four wonderful years.”

1273175_10153191078250507_1872325720_oLast year, Nicole also had the opportunity to attend our Annual Conference in Los Angeles as through her participation in our Escalera program at Center for Latino Progress.

See video on the Center for Latino Progress Facebook page of Nicole receiving her award at last year’s conference.


Nicole also wants to see a better Connecticut and to give back to her community. But first she has to complete her education. She graduated high school a few weeks ago and is now enjoying a well-deserved summer vacation. In the fall, the young Latina will start at her first year at the University of Connecticut where she will begin her studies in biology/premed. Ultimately, Nicole plans to go to medical school to begin her work on becoming an orthopedic surgeon.

She is especially grateful for all the support she has received, especially the UPS scholarship, which she said lifted a great weight off of her and her family.

“Coming from an immigrant family, we don’t have all the luxuries that other families do, but my parents always impressed upon us that no matter what it would take for them, that they would still help us pay for college because it’s a necessity in this country,” said Nicole. “This is a blessing… and another step toward my future.”

Congratulations, Nicole! The NCLR familia wishes you all the best in the fall and in the future!