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Monica Laddaran ’22 is the recipient of a 2023 Inspiration Award from Step Up, a national nonprofit mentoring organization for young women and girls.

The Young Adult Honoree award recognizes young adults like Laddaran who have participated in Step Up programing with a dedication to advancing themselves and their careers, said Kathryn Robinson, vice president of programs at Step Up.

“We’re so proud of Monica and her ability to take advantage of and leverage the opportunities Step Up has provided in order to take her first steps toward her vision of success and her career,” Robinson said. 

Laddaran has been involved in Step Up since January 2022. She was a social media ambassador for the organization, helping to promote programs and events. She also participated in some of these programs to improve her own career readiness, networking skills and confidence. 

At Dominican, Laddaran was a TRIO Student Support Services ambassador, using mentorship and other support services to increase college retention and graduation rates among her fellow students. 

“I definitely loved the mentorship aspect of it,” she shared. “I liked to see myself as the older sister role model.”

This opportunity helped Laddaran, a first-generation college student, gain confidence and find her leadership abilities, she said.

“I honestly don’t know what other college I would have thrived in,” Laddaran said. “I definitely feel like Dominican helped me grow out of my shell and become the confident person I am today.”

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in informatics, Laddaran joined the Schuler Scholar Program as a full-time academic coach this fall. The Schuler Scholar Program helps high-achieving and underrepresented high school students access college and succeed. Like Laddaran, many of these students are first in their families to go to college. It is a population she feels especially passionate about supporting. 

“One of my professional goals is to become a Step Up mentor,” Laddaran said. “I want to give back to the community through mentorship and helping teen girls and women—especially with their careers. There are a lot of inequities based on gender and I feel like there’s not a one-size-fits-all on the career path.”