Upcoming Events

Yaya Speaks Women’s Empowerment Series:

Preparing Yourself To Go Back To Grad School – 8/1/2012, Washington, DC

Have you been thinking about going to school for your graduate degree?

Come for this FREE insightful session about applying, enrolling and paying for graduate school. A panel of recent graduate school applicants will share their experiences and successful application strategies.

Whether you plan to go back to school as a full-time or part-time student, you will take away a wealth of information about how to plan and prepare for going back to school.

Topics Include:

  • Discovering what programs are out there
  • Positioning yourself for acceptance into the program you want
  • Researching funding options for graduate school


Betty Paugh-Ortiz, Moderator

BettyPaugh Ortíz is President of BPO Consulting.  She provides expert advice on education, Latino relations, and nonprofit development.  Most recently Betty was the Senior Vice President at the NEA Foundation where she led the development and introduction of innovations to support the continued growth and mission.

Betty’s story

I was working at the National Council of La Raza as Director of Maternal & Child Health when I decided to go back to school. I was most worried about the finances, relocating to a new city, and leaving my job.  I was reluctant at first because I loved my job and DC.  But the timing was right and after researching programs opted for moving to Chicago to attend DePaul University. Today I have MA/MS in International Studies and Public Service Management.

Holly Ann Triska, Panelist

Holly is the Director of Federal Programs at the Hispanic College Fund. She will pursue a Masters of Arts in Integral Economic Development Management at Catholic University of America this fall.

Holly’s story

After three years in the Peace Corps followed by five years at the Hispanic College Fund, I felt it was time for a new challenge.  I wanted to ensure my expertise met my evolving career interests: international women’s rights and program evaluation.  Most of the last year was spent preparing for graduate school: studying for the GRE, saving, applying to scholarships, connecting with faculty, etc.  The hardest part for me was accepting change and uncertainty, but the alternative of not following my dreams wasn’t an option.  I found a program that fit well with my interests, received two scholarships, and obtained a research position with my advisor working in Guatemala. 

Elida Sarmiento, Panelist

Elida is a Chief at Social Security Administration’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review’s Employee Services and Career Programs Branch.  She oversees nationwide employee training and professional development for one of the largest administrative adjudication systems in the world.

Elida’s story

I started working for the Social Security Administration (SSA) after I graduated from high school. Though I developed an extensive résumé of increasingly responsible staff and management positions, I felt unsure about my career trajectory because I did not have a degree. Then, in 2008 I made the decision. I moved to Arizona and decided to pursue a Bachelor’s degree. With a new career and increasing family responsibilities, it was challenging but I was determined to finish my degree.  I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management and Political Science and Government from Ashford University in October 2011.  Now I have a new job in Washington, DC and am currently pursuing a Masters in Public Administration with an emphasis in Key Executive Leadership at American University.

Rosalia Miller, Panelist

Rosalia is the co-founder and Chairman of the Board of the Latino Student Fund. After a twenty-six years as an educator in one of DC’s top private schools, Rosalia retired from teaching, closed up her house, and she and her husband moved toCambridgefor a year.  Rosalia conferred a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University in May of this year.

Rosalia’s story

I have always been a dreamer. I dream of what is possible for a young person. This is why I have put my heart and soul into building a strong foundation of education, encouragement and support for thousands of young children in my classroom and in the Latino Student Fund. After a twenty-year career at the IMF, and twenty-six years of teaching, I continue to dream of the possibilities. I dream that the Latino Student Fund will have a national presence and change the lives of many more deserving students throughout the country. When I decided to apply to the Harvard Kennedy School of Government for a Master’s in Public Administration, I had my doubts. Would I be able to do the work? My dreams were bigger than my fears and I just went for it. Now the dream for myself has come true, and I am ready to continue my life’s work.


Evelyn Garcia-Morales, Panelist

Evelyn is the Educational Enrichment Program Manager at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), an organization dedicated to developing the next generation of Latino Leaders. Her experience is deeply rooted in the advancement of all Latino’s through leadership program development, with organizations such as the National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI), and the Latinas Leading Tomorrow (LLT) organization.

Evelyn’s story

If the statement “nothing good ever came easy” is true, it explains why I choose to pursue a graduate degree. Before I became a full-time student at George Mason University’s, Master’s of Science in Organizational Development and Knowledge Management program (ODKM), I knew I would have to make reasonable, short term sacrifices-however, necessary to fulfill my long term professional and personal aspirations. Now, more than halfway through the program, I have reaped the benefits of post-secondary education with a new job, over $13,000 worth of scholarships for non-tuition expenses, and an additional set of skills I have applied in both my workplace and community. The source of my motivation to “juggle” the growing responsibility of a young family, my role as a full-time employee, and wife is in the satisfaction knowing I carved a road less traveled for others.


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