Options Center Helps Harlem Twins Pursue Their Dreams

Angelica, Livea, Nelly and Julius taking a picture.

Nelly Gomez has a six-year plan. (“She’s one of those people,” says her twin sister Angelica, the way twin sisters do.) The SUNY-Plattsburgh junior is triple-majoring in Multimedia Journalism, Magazine Journalism and Graphic Design. She’s hoping to move to Japan after graduation, teach English, and work for an English-language magazine in Tokyo.

Why Japan?  “We’re interested in the culture. We grew up reading manga and watching anime,” says Angelica.

“We come home and go to ramen bars,” Nelly adds.

College has been part of Angelica’s plans since middle school. But while she never lacked motivation, she did face other obstacles. She and Nelly are first-generation college students, so they didn’t have family expertise and advice to draw on. Nor did they have any way to pay for college.

“Options made it easier,” says Nelly. “They were a big help with picking a school and applying for financial aid and paying application fees.”

Our Options Center exists to help students like Nelly and Angelica fulfill their dream of a college education. Options assisted both Nelly and Angelica in researching colleges to find programs and courses that fit their interests. It guided the young women through a maze of applications and aid forms, took them to visit campuses, and arranged interviews with college admissions counselors. It gave them small grants to cover the cost of applying.

And the help didn’t end when the twins enrolled in college.

Nowadays, Options buys bus tickets for both of them to come home to Harlem twice a semester from their campuses (Angelica studies at SUNY-Brockport, where she’s majoring in Journalism and minoring in Film and English). Their counselors check in with them regularly by email and phone.

“Every time there’s a break they come and visit us,” says counselor Livea Ortiz. “We make sure they have all the resources they need.”

Options also tracks their grades to make sure they’re not slipping behind. Admittedly, with these two, that’s not a big issue: Both are on the Dean’s List.

Now Livea and Julius Moyo, Nelly’s new counselor, are working with them on summer internship plans.

“That’s our goal,” Livea says. “For them to start getting work experience.” Because at Options, planning for the future never stops.