Life is full of ups and downs and Amanda can say she has had plenty of them. With everything she has had to fight, she has not let them stop her from becoming who she is or who she wants to be. She has a ton of faith in herself and in the path that she has chosen to take. No matter what others say about her, she has proven that she has become something to be proud of.
Q: Can we get to meet the woman behind the face?
I am Amanda Lee Santiago, a graduate student, majoring in Social Work at Delaware State university.
Q: Where were you born and what was your upbringing like?
I was born in Newark, NJ to a working-class family. I was raised by my grandmother who raised her daughter as a single mother. Both my parents were addicts and could do little to raise me and my sister. I lived in a small two-bedroom apartment with my grandmother and little sister.
Q: Who has been the greatest influence in your life that has impacted the woman you are today?
The greatest influence in my life was my grandmother who raised me. My grandmother taught me that no matter what, I could accomplish anything I wanted. She thought me that I should never let a person tell me that I couldn’t do something because of the difficulties I had in my life. She taught me to take those difficulties as motivation to prove everyone wrong that no matter what, I can accomplish what I want if I try hard enough.
Q: What about your family?
My family has always been just my sister and my grandmother. Both my parents were in and out of our lives due to their addictions and criminal activities thus, they never had any role in my family.
Q: Can you tell us of your education history and what your goals or life ambition was when you were a student in High School/College?
I went to Technology High School and while in high school I wanted to become a lawyer, focusing on child advocacy because I wanted to make sure all children had the chance to get there forever family like I did with my grandmother when my parents couldn’t take care of me. It was one of my largest goals in life. When I started college, I thought it would continue, but when I arrived at Bryn Mawr College, I changed my mind and started to pursue a career in social work and applied to Delaware State University’s masters of social work program. I still am unsure as to how exactly I will be using my social work degree, but with the different positions available with a social work degree I know I can do anything with it.
Q: Can you tell us of your job/education experience prior to what you’re doing now?
Currently I am working at the Division of State Services Centers in emergency services, trying to help families alleviate such emergencies as evictions or possible utility disconnections, as well as search for shelter when our clients are experiencing homelessness. Before this job, I worked for the Division of Social Services, helping clients apply for state benefits such as Medicaid and then processing the applications for eligibility.
Q: What was the most memorable point at that job/school?
The most memorable point in my schooling was getting accepted into Bryn Mawr College. I never thought I would be going to college let alone thought I would be going to a ranked 5th in the nation liberal arts school. Having the opportunity to go to Bryn Mawr has been most of the memorable moment of my life.
Q: Is this where you thought you’d be 5 or so years ago?
Not really, I thought I would have been done with school by now and focusing on a specific career. I also thought by now I would have had a child and started to settle down my life, but I am okay with still finishing my career as I am in no way ready to be a parent.
Q: What informed your decision on doing what you’re doing now?
I have a job as well as a career that allow me to provide for my family and allows me to start planning for a future in which I will have the opportunity to help others.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
I plan to look into the opportunity to work with immigrant families focusing on helping them reunite with their families after being separated by society. I have thought about applying to law school and getting a child advocacy degree or a degree that focuses on immigration working in government policy. But at the moment, I am still unsure as to what it is exactly that I want to accomplish.
Q: What kind of advice would you offer a student, who is undecided on his or her career path?
Do not be afraid of not knowing what your next step or future will be. Never be afraid of proving people wrong when all odds or against you. Always go for your dreams and do not be afraid of failure just get back up and try again.
Q: How would you describe the state of higher education in America today?
I think the price of higher education in America today is outrageous and it discourages many people from getting a higher education passed high school. I think the U.S needs to provide more support for students to be able to get a higher education.
Q: Have you ever travelled outside of the United States? Where, and how does life outside compare to that in the US?
The only time I have traveled outside of the U.S was when I went to the Dominican Republic for Spring Break. I stayed at a resort the whole time so was not able to compare life there to life in the U.S.
Q: What does the future hold for America?
I am not sure at all and honestly scared of finding out what could happen if the political climate continues in the manner that is promoting violence and hatred within Americans.
Q: Are you interested in politics? If no, why not? What is your take on the state of politics and the future of the American democracy?
I am not interested in politics at all I find them too complicated and I find that understanding them does add anything to the narrative of my life. It is nothing but another system that finds ways to put minorities down, thus, I do not put much importance into politics.
Q: How are you responding to the outbreak of the Convid-19 virus?
I am following all mandates that the CDC has implemented. I wear a mask where ever it is necessary and try to take all the precautious necessary to keep those around me safe.
Q: How are you handling this stay-at-home order?
It has been hard and isolating at times which has made it hard to follow the order to stay at home, but there is nothing I can do because it is being put in place in order for me to be safe and my family as well.
Q: What about virtual learning?
Virtual learning has been complicated and it has caused me to have difficulties with being on top of my work as it’s hard to do it without feeling supportive from staff and classmates when in the classroom.
Q: What keeps you going during these trying times?
Keeping my family safe at all cause, seeing a therapist, and trying to keep positive vibes that all this will not last forever.
Q: How can the government better handle the situation?
I think the government needs to further educate people on what is going on instead of trying to keep things closed to the public. There needs to be a more open dialogue as to what is going on and not a bunch of silence as that is creating violence and ignorance in the world.
Q: What are your hobbies or extracurricular activities?
I do not have any extracurricular activities as I have no free time currently. Hobbies: listening to music, watching movies usually horror, cooking, and spending time with my family.
Q: How would you describe your philosophy of life? That is, how do you see this life and what principles get you grounded and moving forward?
My philosophy in life is you should never let anyone tell you that you cannot do something as only you know the power that you have inside of you. All odds were against me I still managed to accomplish everything I set my mind to do and I never let anyone tell me otherwise. Fight against everything if you have to in order to accomplish your dreams.
Q: Let us end this interview with a memorable quote from you. How would you describe yourself to the world?
Complete the sentence: I am…
I am not a statistic and you cannot clip my wings for I was born to fly.
It was a real privilege to speck with Amanda Santiago, and to have some insight on her life. She seems like a very strong and determined young woman. Life has handed her a rough road, but she has smoothen that road out. I can say that the one quote that will stick with me after this interview is “I am not a statistic and you cannot clip my wings for I was born to fly”- Amanda Santiago. We are no statistic and we all need to spread our wings and take flight.