Preparing for success – Newsroom

July 19, 2022

Hispanic Student College Institute paves the way for Latinx students to achieve their dreams

Posted in: Hispanic Initiatives, University

Seventy-nine high school students from across the state and one international student attended the Hispanic Student College Institute in Montclair in mid-July.

Eva Cordero first visited and fell in love with Montclair State University when she was a teenager. She was on campus for a pool party at the Student Recreation Center and remembers thinking college was “cool.” She visited campus again, this time for a performance at the Alexander Kasser Theater, with her seventh-grade choir. It was then that she decided that Montclair was the place for her.

In mid-July, the 16-year-old Wood-Ridge High School student was back in college for the Hispanic Student College Institute (HSCI), an immersive three-day program for Hispanic high school juniors and seniors. / Latinx. descent designed to help them navigate the college admissions process and prepare them for academic success. Cordero, who heard about the Institute after visiting the University’s website, was one of 79 students. Despite her love for Montclair and attending the University Open House with her parents, she was at first uncomfortable being away from the comforts and familiarity of home for the first time.

“I was a little nervous. I didn’t know if I would like it. Was I going to make friends? she says. “I gave it a chance. long.

Two students walking in the university fair
Students compare notes at the HSCI College Fair, where they learned about Montclair’s honors and study programs. Each summer, HSCI welcomes Latinx students and helps them navigate college.

Now in its sixth year, HSCI offers students insight into the college experience, while helping them learn everything from financial aid and the college writing and application process, to majors and internship opportunities. They can also network with academic and professional mentors. HSCI, which is free for students, is supported by State Farm Insurance.

Group of students speaking with President Jonathan Koppell and Montclair administrator Mary Comito
Montclair Trustee Mary Comito of State Farm Insurance (in red) and University President Jonathan Koppell visit students at the HSCI networking event.

Throughout the program, students also work closely with peer mentors, primarily Montclair students, who emphasize the ongoing support that has helped them achieve their personal, educational, and career goals. Montclair has been ranked among the top 100 colleges for Hispanics for the past 19 years by Hispanic Outlook on Education magazine.

Assistant Vice President for Hispanic Initiatives and International Programs Katia Paz Goldfarb says HSCI uses access and equity as a guiding framework.

“We provide access to information, human and financial resources, and mentors because we know what is crucial for a successful application process and a smooth transition from high school to college,” she says. “Furthermore, this program intentionally serves our future Hispanic students and reflects the work that Montclair State University does as a Hispanic-serving institution and our institution’s commitment to serving our communities.”

Katia Goldfab speaking on the catwalk
Associate Provost for Hispanic Initiatives and International Programs Katia Paz Goldfarb welcomes students to the HSCI networking event.

Not only did Cordero make new friends, but she says she found the sessions informative. She plans to major in Family Science and Human Development and a minor in Business to achieve her goal of becoming a social worker and school guidance counselor for children with special needs.

She says the business minor will come in handy as, eventually, she wants to open her own daycare center for children with special needs. “I want people to work for me,” she says. “I try to anticipate and prepare for success. I want to do it for myself and make my parents proud because without them I wouldn’t be where I am.

two students side by side
Two students listen attentively to the advice.

The importance of family, culture and giving back to one’s community were common themes among HSCI attendees this summer.

Shantal Proano, a Montclair peer mentor and medical humanities major, became emotional when she shared with HSCI participants that when she feels exhausted, “I think of my [immigrant] parents and their struggle because they didn’t come here for nothing. His comment drew applause from HSCI attendees, many of whom relate to and will be first-generation students.

Keynote speaker Gian Paul Gonzalez ’07, shared some thoughts about his father, a Cuban immigrant, with the students, noting, “My father is about greatness. He worked two jobs, came home and never complained.

The motivational speaker and founder of the Hope + Future Youth Center in West New York, New Jersey, urged students to be “All In” when it comes to serving others rather than seeking fame or fortune. “Fame is what you do for yourself, but greatness is what you do for others,” said Gonzalez, who gave up an NBA career to become a ninth-grade world history teacher at Union City. “Fame is a matter of self-preservation; how good can you look. Greatness is a matter of self-sacrifice; how good can you make someone else look? »

Goldfarb says: “The family component is extremely important. Many of our participants will be the first in their families to go to college. Families also need access to information and resources to better support their children. She notes that the peer mentors will continue to support families and participants throughout the year.

It’s also important to create a community with people who understand your experience. Stephanie De Dios, a mentor, told students that seeing Hispanics among Montclair students, staff and faculty weighed in her decision of where to enroll. “For those who don’t know, Montclair is a Hispanic-serving institution, and seeing other Hispanics on campus is something I’ve been looking for and was a deciding factor for me in attending MSU,” a- she told the students. “I like diversity. It’s welcoming and you feel less out of place.

student leaning against a high table
A student listens to speakers at HSCI’s networking event, one of many opportunities offered during the three-day program.

This year, HSCI had an international student. Moira Mejia, a 16-year-old from the Dominican Republic, is in New Jersey to visit a friend of her mother’s. Mejia heard about the program from her mother’s friend, whose daughters attended HSCI. She decided to attend after reading it. Mejia, who wants to study acting or fashion, says she doesn’t know if she will come to college in the United States, but would consider Montclair.

“From what I’ve heard, it’s really good here, and they help you a lot, which is good,” she said, adding, “It’s great. I love it. I never thought I would be here.

16-year-old Gabriel Galloza, a rising junior from Morristown High School, attended not only for himself but for students in his Immigrant Resource Group. Galloza, who was born in the United States to immigrant parents, enjoys helping immigrant students and English language learners navigate student life. More than half of the high school’s student population is minority, mostly Hispanic, and about 20% are ELL students.

Gabriel Galloza, Arianna Robaina and Moira Mejia pose together
Mentor Arianna Robaina (center) smiles alongside Gabriel Galloza from Morristown High School and Moira Mejia from Colegio Padre Fortin in Santiago, Dominican Republic.

While Galloza hopes to pursue his dream of going to Harvard, which he visited this summer, he wanted to learn everything he could at HSCI. “My main goal is to specifically learn what the college process is like for undocumented students in New Jersey to give them hope,” he says. “A lot of these students have told me they want to be a doctor or they want to study astronomy, they want to study business, study so many things, but they have no idea how they’re going to do it. TO DO. So that’s what I want to get out of this program.

Marco Cordova addressing a group of students
Marco Cordova, director of summer programs for the Office for Hispanic Initiatives, interacts with HSCI students who, over the course of three days, explore a path to college.

Programs such as HSCI, Pre-College Access Institute, and the Summer Bridge Program are important in helping underserved student populations succeed in college.

Cordero is already sold. “I am so determined to come here. In my head, I’m already committed,” she says, adding that she applied and was accepted into the University’s Early Bird Junior Admit Program. “I have a place but I still have to apply in September. I’m really excited about it.

Photo gallery

large group of students and mentors pose with Rocky on a staircase
HSCI students enjoy a moment with Rocky.
students seated in a row
Peer mentors answer student questions about attending Montclair.
group of students on campus
Students were led by peer mentors, Montclair students who could share their college experience with them.
Two representatives speaking with three students around a table at the HSCI University Fair
College of Education and Human Services representatives answer student questions at the HSCI College Fair.
two students talking with professor Sandra Adams around a table at the university fair
Biology professor Sandra Adams interacts with students at the HSCI College Fair.
two students walking on campus wearing backpacks with the HSCI logo
HSCI students travel to the Feliciano School of Business for one of three days of learning about college life.
students at a table talking with a representative at the HSCI College Fair
HSCI students are introduced to one of the many fields of study available at Montclair.
student talking with a faculty member
HSCI students mingle with Montclair faculty and staff at a networking event.
students gathered around Lisa Hoyt
Associate Vice President for Development Lisa Hoyt captivates a group of HSCI students.
Katia Paz Goldfarb with a group of HSCI students and mentors
Katia Paz Goldfarb poses with HSCI participants, including students and peer mentors.
Campus Reading Print Banner
The sign says it all.

Story by writer Sylvia A. Martinez. Photos by Mike Peters and Sweet Dreams Studios.

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