Produced by the Department of Media Relations & Publications

Arlene Montalvo (B.A. '10) Learns a Lesson in Perseverance at Lehman

June 9, 2010

Arlene Montalvo

Arlene Montalvo has been attending class at Lehman College since she was 15-years-old. "I had an older friend who used to take me with her to class," she recalls. "I would sit with her in the back of her Abnormal Psychology class and get into the discussions and couldn't wait until it was my turn to participate."

After she graduated from high school, there was really no debate about where she would attend. Once she was enrolled, the Harlem-native quickly decided on creative writing as a major with minors in political science and Puerto Rican studies.

"I have a passion for writing, telling stories and literature," she says. "Writing is a gift and craft that must be honed."

However, her years here at Lehman have been challenging. By her sophomore year, the SEEK student was on the Dean's List and in the Lehman Scholars Program. But then she had personal issues and difficult family situation to deal with. Her grades began to suffer and she lost her financial aid.

"I've spent the last few years gaining my self-esteem back, raising my GPA, working two jobs and realizing that setbacks happen," she says, "but I can—and will—work hard until my goals are finalized."

When she looks back at her accomplishments at Lehman, Montalvo, who hopes to get a master's degree in education at City College, can't help but be amazed. "The most important thing I have learned is that I can persevere and accomplish anything that I want," she says. "Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that at the age of 19, a Puerto Rican girl from the projects would have ended up on a 2-week trip with Lehman studying abroad in London and traveling to Paris."