SUNY Oneonta

Yahayra (Yaya) Colon (2019)

My First Generation Story

At first, I wasn’t sure what was required of me to be a college student and was unsure what resources were available to me. I thought about training as a Marine, but I knew my real passion was to work for the FBI in forensic science. I just didn’t know how to get there.

Because I was a good student who was living in New York City, I was able to enter the accelerated high school program at Columbia University. It helped me prepare for entering college. I began to learn more about financial aid and absorbed everything that the people who supported me had to share. Unfortunately, my grades were too high and my mom made just a little bit too much (she works two jobs) to qualify for certain financial aid.

That’s when I learned about SUNY Oneonta’s ACE program—Access to College Excellence. It provides additional services and support to students who are academically and financially disadvantaged and who possess the desire and potential to earn a college degree. And the best part? The eligibility required applicants to be the first in their family to obtain a college degree. When I discovered this, not only did I believe that I would attend college, I knew I would attend SUNY Oneonta!

I was accepted and can’t believe the opportunities that have opened up to me. I was able to intern at the University of North Carolina in the Criminal Justice department researching crime analytics. There, I also worked with the Charlotte police department’s forensics lab. I feel the experience has really opened doors for me. I feel more prepared to apply for a master’s program and hopefully attend the University of New Haven for their master’s program in Forensic Technology with a certification in National Security. For the spring semester, I am interning with the Illinois State Police.

About the Student

Yaya Colon Resized

Yahayra (Yaya) Colon is a senior studying Criminal Justice at State University of New York at Oneonta (SUNY Oneonta). Yaya is thankful for the opportunities college has opened up for her. She is involved in a number of activities, including serving as a career development ambassador, assisting her college’s Office of Equity and Inclusion as a senior student manager, interning at the local ARC where she is learning signing, and serving the community.

Student Stats

Name: Yahayra (Yaya) Colon (2019)
Age: 19
Year in School: Senior
Major: Criminal Justice

Favorite Course: Interrogation and Forensic Mental Health

Dream Job: Federal Agent

About the School

SUNY-Oneonta logo

The SUNY College at Oneonta unites excellence in teaching, scholarship, civic engagement and stewardship to create a student-centered learning community.



  • Kellee Edmonds
    Vice President of Communications and Public Relations
    (202) 478-4662