Meet Juan, Linda, and Diane

During his junior year at Sleepy Hollow High School, Juan was accepted into the Latino U Scholars program and matched with his College Coaches, Linda Zeltner and Diane Wrobleski. Linda and Diane are longtime supporters and experienced volunteers at LUCA, coaching since 2018. This year, they are working with Juan plus two additional Scholars.

Since the summer, Juan, Linda, and Diane have been meeting weekly at a local park or coffee shop to work together on the rigorous college application process; Linda supported Juan as he built his college list and completed his applications, and Diane worked with him on his college essays. Linda and Diane encouraged Juan to apply to more selective schools through the QuestBridge program. A few weeks ago, QuestBridge matches were announced, and Juan will be spending the next four years at Dartmouth College! He is LUCA’s first Scholar who will matriculate there. This Dream Team has developed a great relationship, learning so much from one another. Read more about their journey together in the interview below.

What was it like working together as Coaches and Scholar? What have you learned from each other?

L: Working with Juan has been a joy. From the first day we met at LUCA, I knew Diane and I would be working with an outstanding Scholar.

D: Juan has been an exemplary Scholar and a genuinely nice young man to know. As a retired teacher, I continue to enjoy coaching young people, sharing in their joys and dreams and helping to make those dreams come true.

J: Thanks to Diane, I have learned to revise and edit my work, which has helped me produce high-quality writing and become a more confident and skilled editor of my own work. I have also learned to develop good ideas and make my ideas come to life. From Linda, I have learned more about the college process and how to effectively research more schools and see what they have to offer. Both Linda and Diane’s support and encouragement have been instrumental in my college search journey.

Juan, what are your career goals and aspirations?  

J: I want to major in a STEM field and eventually work as a software developer. In the future, I hope that I can support everyone in my family – allowing my mom to retire – while also working towards something meaningful to society.

What are you most excited about in this new chapter as you graduate high school and become the first in your family to go to college?

J: I’m most excited to use my newfound independence to discover the real world and any undiscovered passions I may have. In addition, I am eager to meet new people and broaden my horizons beyond the small county where I have lived for the past 12 years.

What is the most rewarding part of having Linda and Diane as your Coaches?

J: Linda and Diane are two of the most wholehearted people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. I am eternally grateful for their help and encouragement throughout my college journey.  Linda and Diane are not only mentors to whom I look up, but also friends whom I am grateful to have. They are two of the most dedicated and honorable individuals I have ever met. Working with Linda and Diane, despite being stressful at times, has been a very rewarding experience that I will forever cherish.

Linda, how has your experience been as a volunteer College Coach?

L: I love being a volunteer College Coach! I love working not only with the Scholars but the devoted, professional and farsighted (and tireless) staff.

What is the best part about working with Juan?

L: One part that I have really enjoyed about working with Juan is getting to know his mother. She has been an incredible parent despite her own personal challenges. Yet, she has given Juan the tools to succeed and has given her support with every step of his journey. She is in disbelief about Juan’s acceptance to Dartmouth with a full four year scholarship! It is even beyond her biggest dreams! 

D:  It has been a delight to work with Juan because he is always prepared, listens carefully, and asks insightful questions. His determination and perseverance are two admiral traits that contribute to his success.

What are your hopes for Juan’s future?

L: I see Juan doing whatever he wants to in his career and work. And being a vital contributor to his profession and community.

D: I am confident that Juan will succeed at whatever he endeavors, and he will be sure to make a contribution to improve the lives of others.

What message can you share about the rewards of being a College Coach at LUCA?

L: As a teacher, I place education as a stepping stone to broad opportunities for each person’s future. I also see so much educational inequity in our society. As an individual, I can contribute to our society by helping our first-generation students attend schools and receive an education that would be unimaginable without LUCA.

D: Being a College Coach has been a very rewarding and gratifying experience. It is humbling to know that you have helped the next generation of wonderful, hard-working students access the opportunities that make going to college a reality.

Where did you go to college? And what is your favorite college memory? 

L: I went to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. While I loved living and learning away from home, I am grateful that CWRU gave me the foundation and confidence to not only be a lifelong learner but also the opportunity to have both personal and professional fulfillment. And to continue knowing and sharing the value of a college education!

D: When I attended Hunter College, it had two campuses both in New York City and the Bronx. I traveled by subway between the two schools to use the library and to take classes with gifted professors who inspired me to become a teacher.