Caroline Altagracia

  • Home: South Bronx
  • Age: 19
  • Currently: Sophomore at University at Albany, Psychology

Caroline Altagracia was supposed to work her job at the supermarket that weekend, but she called an audible.

“I was just like, ‘I have to do something! I have to go!’ ” she says. “I look at life like, if I have an opportunity, I’m going to take it. And it was right here, so I called out of work.”

The opportunity was the Crypto Community Project, a venture that started with young leaders from the South Bronx, teaching them about cryptocurrency and community impact. She had been invited by Carlos Acevedo, the project leader, and one of her friends, Shamani Smith.

“I knew about Bitcoin, but I didn’t really know about it. I didn’t know how it worked. So when Shamani said this was going to happen … I jumped. ‘Yes I’ll do it.’ ”

It was a good move, she says. She learned a lot over the two-day workshop and is inspired to pass on her crypto knowledge in her community and the Dominican Republic, where most of her family still lives.

“I feel like right now, we are doing so much just to transfer money. If my family wants to send me money from DR, someone has to take time and go down to Western Union. It’s a major process. Then I have to pay to travel to the Western Union here in the city, pay a fee to get the money, pay to travel home. And all the time that takes — it’s really not a good situation.”

Altagracia is studying psychology at the University at Albany. She’s not set on a career, but she knows where she’ll end up eventually.

“What can I do for the women in DR? It’s a different place and it can be really difficult for them there,” she says. “There’s inequality and discrimination, and for some things, a lack of knowledge. I’d like to start a nonprofit, help to educate women and make things more accessible, like counseling services and birth control.”

“I’ve been given an opportunity here, so I want to pass that on.

The desire to extend opportunities to others in need fits Altagracia’s understanding of the challenges and hopes of growing up in the South Bronx.

“People think bad about people born in the Bronx, [but] I want to be seen as someone who took advantage of the opportunities. I’ve always been big on helping people, ever since I was a little girl.”

And she sees the CCP as a potential game changer for helping others.

“I saw it as a networking opportunity, but besides that, how am I going to get more people involved in this? How can I help benefit people?  [Here is] the chance to do something more, understand more and use this to our advantage.”