EMS Millennium Scholar: Program shows Penn State's true diversity commitment

Angelina Santamaria
December 03, 2019

Penn State sophomore Angelina "Angie" Santamaria, who plans on double majoring in Earth sciences and policy and women’s studies, said the Millennium Scholars program put her on a path toward success that she once thought was unattainable. In a recent letter, Santamaria wrote about her Penn State experiences and her hopes for the future.

"My name is Angelina Santamaria but, most people call me Angie. I am currently a sophomore at Penn State University Park. I plan on double majoring in Earth sciences and policy and women’s studies in my undergraduate career, attending law school, and then getting my doctorate in environmental systems engineering. After that, my goal is to work in Washington as a policy writer or to work within the United Nations. 

"If I had the chance to tell my past self that this is what my current life projection looks like, I would have laughed. For the majority of life, college seemed like an unattainable goal. After my father left my life, my twin sister, mom and I have always struggled to make ends meet. We live on a teacher’s salary and in a single-parent household. I knew that we would not even have enough money for my sister and I to submit college applications. Most of the other people in my community could pay for college without a second thought and I knew that was not an option for me. 

"Even though I was hopeful for the future, I was still unsure of what my path would look like. So, when I learned that there was a program that was helping other Latinx students go to college I was beyond ecstatic. Becoming a Millennium Scholar has given me so much direction in my life. I am consistently surrounded by like-minded individuals who understand what it is like to push through adversity. We uplift each other and push each other to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be. I know that sounds cliché but, I cannot count the number of times that director Amy Freeman and Elaine Barsness have been there for me when I needed a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen. 

"Programs like this help to relieve the systemic disadvantages that students from lower-income areas and underprivileged backgrounds face when they want to get an education. Universities constantly use buzz words like “inclusion” and “diversity” in their mission statements but unfortunately, their intentions are too infrequently enacted upon. Penn State is actively making efforts to close the education divide which is evident through the creation and support of programs like MSP.

"Without the support system I know that I would not have been given most of the opportunities and privileges that I experience today. I can be assured that I will make a positive change in the world and that I don’t have to struggle alone. I have realized that there are people who want me to see me succeed, and they exist at Penn State. 

Sincerely, Angie Santamaria"

To find out more about the Millennium Scholars Program or to see how you can support the program, visit  Giving Tuesday Campaign homepage.

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Last Updated December 03, 2019