Rachel DaSilva grew up in a small town about 30 minutes outside of Boston, MA. She had wanted to attend Syracuse University since middle school, but it wasn’t until she visited the campus towards the end of high school that she fully committed to this educational goal. She was accepted into Whitman, and for her freshman year she majored in Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises.
With high academic achievements already underway after her first semester, DaSilva decided to push herself a little more and add the honors program to her course load. By the beginning of her sophomore year, she wanted to crank it up again and add a second major. This one would be through the iSchool. She declared her iSchool major in Information Management and Technology, and though her path through Whitman has changed a few times over the years, DaSilva finally settled on Retail Management as her business major.
DaSilva first interned with Deloitte, through their Pioneer Internship Program. She rotated through marketing and communications and then through risk and financial advisory services, gaining as much information and experience as she could. Following that up was another opportunity with one of the Big Four accounting firms – EY. Here, DaSilva landed a role as a Launch Intern, and worked on logistical solutions for many of the new issues arising from the pandemic, while also rotating through different divisions to get an overall feel for the organization.
Her next internship was with Citi. She was the Corporate Banking Summer Analyst and this opportunity brought her one step closer to her long-held dream of pursuing a career in banking. This was a role in their corporate banking division and she gained valuable experience across many aspects of the profession. She gives credit to her previous chance to work with Citi–participating in their Freshman Discovery Program–with helping her secure this internship opportunity.
Seeking a diverse environment has always been important to DaSilva, and it was a large part of her decision to attend Syracuse University, as well as in her appreciation for the workforce at Citi. She traces her craving for diversity back to her small hometown, where she was very much in the minority. “I was one of two black kids in my graduating class in the town I grew up in,” says DaSilva, “everyone was white, there were only a handful of asian and hispanic students, and me and one other black girl. So that’s what drove my desire for diversity.” DaSilva’s quest for a more colorful environment was galvanized during her experience working with a non-profit called Jack and Jill of America while she was growing up. Here she collaborated with black students from all over the country on a wide variety of projects and was exposed to professional development programs and community service with many other peers sharing similar experiences. Wishing to join a similar community during her college experience, she now is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., where she and the other members of the campus chapter serve the community through a variety of methods.
Pursuing her interests around marginalized communities and technology equity, DaSilva describes the topic of her honors thesis as being, “About how prisons can use information technology to have their incarcerated individuals leave and be more equipped to connect with society.” She points out that it’s difficult for marginalized communities to adapt, especially with technology changing so rapidly. There are a lot of former prisoners coming out of institutions with no knowledge about search engines and smartphones, or the online job market, and many of them lack support networks to help them catch up. She hopes to broaden her understanding of the issues facing prisoners and policy makers where it concerns access to technology. Through her thesis work, she plans to identify viable solutions for some of these difficult issues.
DaSilva’s honors thesis is an opportunity to nurture her passions for social justice and giving-back to her community, while also applying it to her education. With all of the useful material she was learning in technical and business classes, she also wanted to honor another side of her interests. Knowing that she will only have four years of college, she is taking advantage of all the opportunities she can while she is still there.
When DaSilva graduates she is heading back to Citi in NYC, this time as a Global Consumer Bank Analyst. While her interests shifted from traditional banking, this role is nicely aligned with her undergraduate curriculum and general interests, and she will be mostly focused on retail banking and marketing. Working in the financial sector, but having an education in technology, has done well to prepare her to enter the full-time workforce. DaSilva says, “One of the reasons I applied to the iSchool is because of how relevant technology is becoming, and it is becoming like that in every line of work, and it just keeps growing. I wanted to know how to operate and work with technology in a current sense so that it could help elevate any career I’m in and whatever I’m doing with my life.”