Edwar Aviles-Mercedes: Breaking Barriers to Advance Marginalized Communities

Edwar Aviles-Mercedes is a current junior at Bard College, and a recipient of the prestigious full-tuition Posse scholarship for leadership. When he reflects on how his upbringing influenced his accomplishments, he shares that “it takes a village”.

Edwar was born in La Romana, Dominican Republic, and raised with his sister and mother. They joined his grandparents in the United States when Edwar was 7, and he initially struggled to learn English and acclimate to American culture. However, he said his family always encouraged him to take school seriously. Right before she dropped him off at school, his mother would always tell him, “Concéntrate en tus estudios porque es el futuro/Concentrate in your studies because that is the future”. He shares that, whether it was club events or sports events, his mother always did her best to show support and attend these events. Being raised by single parent didn’t lessen the love and support his mother showed him and his sister.

Edwar2Edwar visiting the New York Stock Exchange. 

Edwar attended Berkmar High School in Gwinnett County, which has a diverse student body and he always felt supported. When he was a sophomore in high school, he was already in the midst of applying to scholarships. When he stopped to share his passion for going to college with his high school counselor, she told him she believed in him, which Edwar said pushed him to work twice as hard to reach his goals.

By the time he was a senior, Edwar co-founded a chapter of the Hispanic Organization Promoting Education (HoPe), to motivate other Latinx students to attend college. He was also the President of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), a student with Upward Bound, and founded a scholarship committee at his school to help other students apply for scholarships. When he enrolled in Bard College, he has awarded the Posse Scholarship, Liga De Campeones Scholarship through Univision, and the McDonald’s Ray A. Kroc Youth Achievement Award.

Edwar3Edwar with his family graduating high school. 

While in college, Edwar has traveled to the Dominican Republic to do research on Dominican-Haitian relations in his hometown of La Romana. He was also a Teaching Fellow with Breakthrough Collaborative, a Graduation Coach with HoPe, and an intern at State Street Financial Services in Boston. Edwar is currently in his junior year of college and is interning in New York City with Central American Legal Assistance in New York, where he support lawyers who provide legal assistance to asylum seekers from Central and South America.  

Edwar’s goals are to graduate college, pay it forward to help underrepresented communities, and manage a business that empower the Latinx community. His advice for other young students is to always believe in yourself and not let other people project their fears onto you.

Edwar1Edwar in front of State Street Financial Services, where he interned last summer in Boston. 

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