From Here to There: Program helps underrepresented students advance their academic career

Author: Erin Blasko

When Yamil Colón arrived at the University of Notre Dame from Puerto Rico, he had yet to spend much time outside of the island. A chemical and biomolecular engineering major, Colón grew up in Bayamón, a city of about 200,000 in the northern coastal region of Puerto Rico, outside the capital of San Juan. His mother taught middle school. His father worked at the local television station. He spoke imperfect English.

“My original exposure to Notre Dame was through football,” Colón said. Like others on the island, he sometimes watched the Fighting Irish football team on NBC Puerto Rico.

But with support from faculty as well as Multicultural Student Programs and Services (MSPS), Colón soon found his way at Notre Dame. He did research with Joan Brenneke, then the Keating Crawford Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. He joined the Latino Student Alliance and participated in Latin Expressions, a showcase of Latino culture. He was a leading member of the intercollegiate ballroom dancing team.

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Originally published by Erin Blasko at on September 08, 2020.