From a young age, Alezandra Guillen has focused on the power of education to fuel a successful and rigorous future in the public sector.
Guillen was a 2012 graduate of Syracuse’s Henninger High School. Following high school, Guillen received her bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University in 2016 with a double-major in international relations and political science. Not stopping there, Guillen graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2020 with a master’s degree in international crime and justice and an advanced certificate in transnational organized crime studies.
An incredibly driven student and worker, Guillen’s story began with some hardship.
“During my 8th-grade year, my mom was struggling to find work, and we ended up having to move to the City of Syracuse from Baldwinsville after staying with friends and family for some time,” said Guillen. “We looked into private schools, but they were too costly, and we also looked at the charter school. My mom wanted to make sure I could still get a good education.”
After much deliberation, Guillen’s mom learned from an article about Say Yes Syracuse and that those who attend a Syracuse City School District school can receive free tuition, which prompted a decision to attend Henninger High School.
In high school, Guillen was in the student council, National Honor Society, National Art Honor Society, and STEP (science technology entry program). She competed in a STEP statewide research competition, placing first in a social science project about traditional bullying versus cyberbullying. In addition to participating in many clubs and organizations, Guillen participated in Say Yes career days.
“I learned about the Say Yes job shadows and career days through my guidance counselor,” said Guillen. Say Yes has made college more financially feasible for her and has allowed her to make great connections and opportunities to join the Say Yes community following graduation.
Say Yes Syracuse provides fully endowed last-dollar tuition guarantee scholarships to all eligible Syracuse City School District students. Beyond the financial support, it also provides families with academic support specialists, access to mental health clinics and legal services designed to help mitigate the systemic barriers to higher education.
From AmeriCorps member to trial preparation assistant, Guillen is ultimately motivated by her ability to help others, leading her to a successful position in New York City today. Guillen is currently a training coordinator at the Bronx County District Attorney Office, where she creates, organizes, and conducts learning opportunities related to professional development, in addition to many other responsibilities.
Guillen lives by her mother’s saying, “positive thoughts, positive outcomes,” and continues to manifest this as she provides her expertise in the workplace.