PENCIL Blog: From Our Notebook

Read our blog for original stories, interviews, event recaps, photo highlights and more!

My PENCIL Journey Takes Me to Dreamforce 2019

Recently, PENCIL’s Database Associate, Yamile Pacheco Cueva, attended Salesforce Dreamforce 2019. For the blog, she reflects on her PENCIL journey, which began back in 2013, and everything that led up to this eye-opening trip. Read all about it and the many highlights from Dreamforce.

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PENCIL Personals: Team PENCIL 2019

The TCS New York City Marathon is Sunday, November 3rd and we are excited to introduce you to some of the the incredible athletes running on behalf of PENCIL to help us connect students to success. Learn more about why they’re running and we hope you will join us in cheering them on!

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Pushing Students Ever Higher: A look at JetBlue’s PENCIL School Partnership

As this year’s PENCIL School Partnerships take off, read about the opportunities for college trips, hangar visits at JFK Airport, and more that longtime partner JetBlue is creating to connect students to success.

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Intern Personals: Nikhil Kumar

Meet Nikhil Kumar! He shares how his experience with PENCIL helped him gain his first professional experience in the field of investments. Upon reflection, he says, “It is rare that many students my age have the chance to partake in such activities” and he looks forward to carrying what he learned into his college classes and beyond.

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Intern Personals: RACHEL QIU

Meet Rachel Qiu! Returning to PENCIL for a third summer, Rachel says that “every year, PENCIL has helped me find an internship that catered to my career interest.” Read more about how her previous internship at the College Board helped her grow and what she looks forward to learning about in her internship with Empire BlueCross BlueShield this summer.

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Intern Personals: CERLINA LIN

Meet Cerlina Lin! About to enter her senior year at SUNY Buffalo, she is working here at PENCIL as a Communications Intern. In addition to sketching and pursuing other arts in her spare time, she is passionate about studying management and leadership. Thanks to PENCIL, her professional experience has supported her desired trajectory. She explains, “PENCIL’s training and internship helped me think about future opportunities by helping me build my professional network and connect with inspirational individuals.”

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Intern Personals: DAT NGO

Meet Dat Ngo! A rising freshman at Northeastern University, Dat is a current Data Intern at PENCIL. He shares what he learning this summer, how he spends his spare time and what he hopes to study when he starts college in the fall. He also took a moment to reflect on how moving through PENCIL’s training and interview process helped him “realize how many different careers there are out there.”

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Intern Personals: WARISHA SADDIQUI

Meet Warisha Saddiqui! A recent graduate from the Queens High School for the Sciences at York College and about to begin her freshman year at Tufts University, Warisha shares her experience in her internship last year at Long Island City Partnership. About the many lessons she learned while she was there, she says, “No matter what, don’t be afraid to ask questions… because that’s how we learn and grow.”

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Intern Personals: MASHIYAT KARIM

Meet Mashiyat Karim! A rising junior at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University, she recently joined PENCIL as an Institutional Advancement Intern. When asked for her thoughts on how her experiences have helped her, she says, “through Ladders for Leaders training and internships, I was able to receive first-hand experience on how to work in a professional environment.”

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Intern Personals: JOSHUA ROMAN

Meet Joshua Roman! He shares how his PENCIL internship helped him identify a new career path while honing his photography skills. By the end of the summer, he said, “I learned a lot about the art of photography…I felt I was able to call myself an artist.”

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Jeryl is a part-time staff member at PENCIL and joined the team as a program coordinator. While he pursues a BA/MA in History at City College of New York, his other interests range from cyber security to music. Read more about Jeryl’s work and plans for the future.

Name: Jeryl Raphael
Age: 23
City College of New York
Last Internship:
Urban Justice Center, obtained through CUNY’s Service Corps program
Special Skills:
I am adept at cyber security (and technology in general). I also work with musicians and do archive work as a historian.

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Intern Personals: SAMANTHA DIAZ

Meet Samantha Diaz! A recent intern at Penguin Random House, Samantha shares how the position helped her be more proactive and opened her eyes to the publishing industry as a whole. Speaking about the confidence it gave her, she says, “being a part of the PENCIL program has made me more optimistic about future opportunities.”

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Intern Personals: ANTHONY ZAMORA

Meet Anthony Zamora! He explains how his previous PENCIL internship helped him grow and what he anticipates learning this summer. This year, he is excited to “gain real world experience and become more confident in Corporate America after graduating from college.”

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Intern Personals: SALMA ELSAYED

First up in our summer series of Intern Personals, meet Salma Elsayed! A recipient of the Meringoff Family Foundation scholarship, she shares her her winning scholarship essay as well as important takeaways from her PENCIL internship experience, including the realization that “my internship last summer has provided me with a lifelong mentor.”

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PFAD Past and Present

On April 16th, business and civic leaders will head into public schools around New York City for PENCIL’s Principal For A Day®. While there, they will engage with the principal, teachers and students, share their professional experiences and learn what a day at a New York City public school is really like. But how did this event begin?

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Sumara is a part-time staff member at PENCIL and joined the team as a program coordinator. A talented cook, she loves to host friends for dinner. Read more about the experience Sumara has brought to PENCIL and her passion for travel.

Name: Sumara Ahmad
Hofstra University and Hunter College
Special Skills:
Cooking, especially when not following a recipe

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Francine is a part-time staff member at PENCIL and joined the team as a program coordinator. She is passionate about creating new opportunities for students across New York City. Read more about Francine’s love for writing and her many other hobbies.

Name: Francine Karpeh
Age: 25
Graduated from Rutgers University
Last Internship:
Cents Ability, a NYC non-profit focused on educating high school students on financial literacy
Special Skills:
Writing poetry, singing, playing the ukulele

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Calling all New York City Businesses!

PENCIL serves hundreds of high school and college students each year as part of the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development’s Ladders for Leaders Program and now is the perfect time to sign up your company as an intern host for the Summer 2019 season.

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Notes from a field trip with American Airlines and I.S. 141 The Steinway School

Recently, a group of 6th graders from I.S. 141 The Steinway joined PENCIL partner, American Airlines, for a fun and informative day out of the classroom and in a workplace like none other: John F. Kennedy International Airport!

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Team PENCIL Personals

The TCS New York City Marathon is coming up this Sunday, November 4, and we’re so proud of Team PENCIL! As we count down to the start, we thought we’d introduce you to some of the inspiring New Yorkers who are running on behalf of PENCIL, and fundraising to help connect students to success. We hope you’ll join us in promoting the race among your supporters and followers and consider donating in honor of these incredible athletes.



Intern Personals: TIANA DOUGLAS

Tiana is a part-time staff at PENCIL and joined as the Internship Program Coordinator. Tiana has a passion for all things creative and loves to go on food adventures throughout Manhattan. Read more about Tiana’s major and experiences.

Name: Tiana Douglas
Age: 23
School: Graduated from Fashion Institute of Technology (SUNY)
Special Skills: Painting and Film photography



Intern Personals: BOBBIAN LAWRENCE

Bobbian is a part-time staff at PENCIL and joined the team as the program coordinator. Her love for non-profits started at her previous position as a vocational intern at Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO). Read more about Bobbian and her love for the Marvel Universe.

Name: Bobbian Lawrence
Age: 21
School: Graduated from Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), currently a junior at Baruch College
Last Internship: Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO)
Special Skills: Communication-the ability to be a medium to ensure that communication flows easily in a medium no matter the time or place, and a great cook.


PENCIL has been sharing blogs about our students and their experiences. This made us look back to our own first internship experiences, what drew us to work at PENCIL, the advice we have for our younger selves and the current students as well as the importance of PENCIL’s mission of connecting students to success. We hope that you will enjoy these posts from our team, read more about it in PENCIL Personals: Part III