Odalis Polanco


English High School
Northeastern University

Odalis grew up in the Dominican Republic and moved to the United States with his family 9 years ago. He lived with his mom and sister in Jamaica Plain. He learned to speak English during his junior and senior years of high school. "But I only spoke when I needed to," he says.

He first came to Bottom Line after hearing about the organization from his guidance counselor at English High School. During his senior year, Odalis visited Bottom Line to receive help applying to college. He applied to Salem State University, Northeastern University, Suffolk University, UMass Amherst, UMass Boston, Wentworth Institute of Technology, and Boston College. After receiving acceptance letters to many of these schools, Odalis' counselor helped him apply for financial aid. On the recommendation of his counselor, Odalis also applied for the TORCH Scholars Program at Northeastern University. Odalis was selected for this program and enrolled in Northeastern in the fall of 2006. Through TORCH, Odalis received a full-tuition scholarship each year.

Odalis became very involved when he reached campus. He participated in organizations such as Orientation Assistance for International Students (OASIS), the Latin American Student Organization (LASO), and the Legacy Mentoring Program. While Odalis immersed himself at Northeastern, he also confronted his struggle with the English language. As time went on and he worked hard in his classes, Odalis' English greatly improved. He declared his major in International Business and focuses on Accounting within these studies.

During sophomore year, Odalis travelled to Jamaica on alternative spring break. While there, he built playgrounds for several schools on the island. He also spent time with the local students and their families. This was a great experience for Odalis and it fed his passion for helping others.

During his third year, Odalis completed his first co-op, working at Pioneer Investments. He also founded an on-campus organization called the Dominican Republic Youth Volunteer Efforts (DRYVE). Through DRYVE, Odalis and the other organization members travelled to the Dominican Republic to complete community service projects. The group was comprised of 15 members and Odalis served as the president.

Odalis studied abroad in Puebla, Mexico, during his junior year. He continued to excell in his studies while there, receiving As and Bs in his classes. He also completed another co-op, working at textile company in the city.

Odalis graduated from Northeastern University in May of 2011 as part of the inaugural class of TORCH scholars. He has joined the staff at MathWorks, a developer of technical computing software, as a Revenue Accounting and Controls Associate. Odalis continues to be an active member of the Bottom Line community by volunteering and sharing his college experiences with high school seniors who aspire to achieve the same success he has.


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