Abel DeLeon

“Before joining STEP, I had no idea liberal arts colleges existed.”
— Abel DeLeon
STEP Class of 2014, Colgate University Class of 2018

“I am so grateful that STEP took the time and resources to introduce me to a variety of liberal arts colleges around the country, and of course, for introducing me to Colgate University. I love my college! There are not enough words to describe how much I love it. The location, the size of the student population, the faculty and staff, and especially the programs that helped my transition into my first year of college. Moral of the story, STEP gave me the guidance to attend the college that best suited me, and a college that gave me great financial aid, by the way.”


Abel clearly loves Colgate, but in the STEP spirit of expanding his worldview, Abel decided to spend the fall semester of his junior year studying abroad in Madrid, Spain at the University of CEO San Pablo. “I decided to study abroad because I wanted to experience the world and my financial aid package covered all the costs. I’m doing a Colgate study group, so I study with Colgate students and have a Colgate professor. I have a lot of liberty here and get to experience the culture by staying with a host family.”

Like Alaska, traveling with a study group in Spain has its challenges.

“My STEP expedition gave me a lot of confidence in my leadership skills and speaking up when I see things that are wrong. That’s been really helpful in Spain when I’m traveling with a group. I really like to implement the strategies I learned in Alaska for making group decisions. I like to listen to other peoples’ thoughts, but I’m also not afraid to share what I think is right.”

While enthusiastically recounting about the art, culture, and food in Spain, and his strong support network at Colgate, Abel reflects, “I actually get homesick quite often. But STEP gave me my first taste of being away from my family through that month in Alaska, where we couldn’t even contact home. That really prepared me. At least in college I can communicate with my family as often as I like.”

Abel looks forward to continuing to expand his worldview. In fact, he has recently declared a Latin American Studies major and minor in LGBTQ Studies, and is considering joining the Peace Corps after graduating. “I’d love to travel and make a difference.”