First Niagara Intern Spotlight: Diana Velasco

Name: Diana Velasco
Hometown: Naugatuck, CT
College: University of Connecticut
Major and Minor: Human Rights & Political Science
Favorite Children’s Book: The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein

In December of last year, during my winter break, I thought to myself that I needed to do something good for myself and the community. After doing some searching around, I landed on the volunteer page of New Haven Reads and I applied to become a tutor. The moment I walked into the building and saw all the children enjoying their time learning and the welcoming environment, I knew this was where I wanted to be. As I tutored at both the Dixwell and Bristol sites, the months flew by. I was happy to apply for the opportunity to become an intern for the summer. What I thought would be just a winter break volunteer opportunity has turned into months of being involved with one of the best organizations in New Haven.

Every time I come to New Haven Reads, I experience something new and exciting. Every student here has such an amazing personality and I feel honored to get to know them. My time here has given me insight into the world and the people around me. I have formed some amazing bonds with students and coworkers. One of my favorite experiences is connecting with a student due to our very similar backgrounds. We enjoy getting right to work so that at the end of our session together we are able to share how our week went and bond over our similar interests. I remember after a week that one student was absent, he came to me excited to tell me all about his trip to Mexico. He had the opportunity to tell me about the places he visited, especially the ones we talked and learned about together!

He had the opportunity to tell me about the places he visited, especially the ones we talked and learned about together!

Another part of New Haven Reads that brings me joy are the enrichment clubs. From the animal club to chess, every student brings life to it. Everyone’s unique personality comes together in order to complete a mission: learning by having fun. I am grateful every day that I go into work at NHR because, to me, this is the definition of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

I would like to thank New Haven Reads and First Niagara Foundation in partnership with KeyBank for allowing me this opportunity. I am excited to see what the rest of the summer will bring and hope the best for each and every person that is part of New Haven Reads.