Yaneli Ruiz

“STEP students are truly incredible and any college would be lucky to have them in their community.”
— Assistant Dean of Admission, Claremont McKenna College

Yaneli, a first generation college graduate herself and currently Assistant Dean of Admission at Claremont McKenna College, has worked with STEP since 2014. “I have a very strong commitment to our school’s diversity and STEP is a very special program to me,” says Yaneli. Over these two years she has witnessed the transformation in students who participate in the wilderness leadership expedition. “I can most definitely see a difference between the juniors and the seniors who went through the expedition. I think that expedition serves as an incredible learning opportunity on so many levels. Beyond practical skills, it really truly allows them to become more comfortable in their own skin and to understand that going out of your comfort zone gives you a lot more than what you expected. Having that open-mindedness absolutely opens them up to new college experiences, beyond their homes in Arizona. Taking that open-mindedness to college is huge and will be useful well beyond college. STEP prepares leaders way beyond the college experience.”

“Resilience,” says Yaneli, “is the first skill that comes to my mind for college success. And this is certainly a trait that STEP students possess and that STEP cultivates throughout the program.  STEP students come from unique and special backgrounds. They have such a commitment to their studies, dreams, and aspirations. They have an incredible work ethic or else they wouldn’t be at a workshop at 9am on a Saturday. Continuing to have resilience throughout college and life is critical, because we’re always going to be faced with challenges. But it all pays off when you earn it through your own hard work.”