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PAY IT FORWARD


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LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT STAYING AHEAD OF THE TRENDS Amabell Rodríguez A LONE STAR SHINES BRILLIANTLY Derick Moore JUST BELIEVE Ediberto Saldaña PAY IT FORWARD Anaiz Flores A LEGACY OF LEARNING Michael Cruz HOOP OF DREAMS Stephanie Argüello

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LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT It is my honor and privilege to be part of an educational community where each and every day I bear witness to the positive transformation of people’s lives. In the following pages, you will be introduced to six outstanding Hostos Community College students who are representative of our student body at large: Amabell Rodríguez, Derick Moore, Ediberto Saldaña, Anaiz Flores, Stephanie Argüello, and Michael Cruz. Each of these students has his/her own unique story, but they are collectively united by their demonstrated commitment to make the most of every opportunity, realize their full potential and build successful lives. Moreover, there is one additional trait that these students share which makes them truly inspirational: each exemplifies the College’s hallmark of “paying it forward” and contributing to a “chain reaction.” “Paying it forward” and generating chain reactions are prevalent themes in our institutional culture. In the fall of 2011, Professor Tere Martínez’s play “Chain Reaction” about legendary Puerto Rican educator Antonia Pantoja was performed on-campus by the Hostos Repertory Company. The moral of the play is that each individual has a contribution to make to improve the quality of life around us. These positive actions then create a ripple effect, inspiring those touched by good deeds to extend themselves in benefit of others, thus “paying it forward.” This catalytic practice of working in service of others is evidenced daily throughout our college community. Volunteering to servicelearning initiatives, adopting leadership roles in student organizations, and participating in cultural study abroad activities are just a few of the many ways in which our students invest their time and apply their skills to make a difference. Hostos makes every effort to ensure that our students are provided with encouragement, meaningful growth opportunities and the necessary tools to go out and make their mark in our society. The College makes higher education an accessible reality to those who may not have thought it possible – and we do it with the help of friends like you. I encourage you to show our students that you believe in the value of their efforts, that you believe in them. By making a contribution to the College in support of our students, you, too, will “pay it forward.” Providing educational pathways is an assured way to initiate a chain reaction that impacts not only the lives of our students, but indeed, us all. Now, without further ado, please meet six remarkable men and women. My very best regards, Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, Ph.D. President 3


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STAYING AHEAD OF THE TRENDS Amabell Rodríguez

In the world of fashion, trends come and go. Working as a professional designer in the industry, Amabell Rodríguez kept pace with all the latest “in” styles. But when she was laid off from both of her fashion jobs due to the weakened economy, Amabell found herself in need of a totally new design – a design to last beyond the season, one tailored to stand the test of time. After obtaining her Teacher Assistant Certification through the Continuing Education program at Hostos, Amabell decided to build upon the foundation she had laid. She identified her goals and sketched out how to reach them. Amabell enrolled fulltime in the College’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP), outfitted with a customized plan for success. She was determined to be a model student and make the most of her time at Hostos. A Liberal Arts major, Amabell is an Ambassador for the Hostos Leadership Academy, Vice President of the Phi Theta Kappa Hostos Chapter, a United States Department of Agriculture Science Fellow, and a member of the Community Committee Board at The Bronx Museum. Amabell has also contributed to a group exhibition at the Hostos Art Gallery and participated in the College’s Study Abroad program to the Dominican Republic. Amabell credits Hostos with giving her “focus, direction, leadership opportunities, a strong sense of kinship, and hope.” Through her tenacious example, she has demonstrated to others that regardless of the challenges they face, they, too, can redesign their plans and seize a future filled with enriching accomplishments. She plans to study at a senior college and hopes to one day teach at Hostos, where a supportive community helped her to realize her many capabilities. After all, as Amabell will tell you, an education is the “classic must-have” for all seasons.

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A LONE STAR SHINES BRILLIANTLY Derick Moore

Derick Moore came from the Lone Star State to New York City looking to make it big. Coming from a Texan family graced with musical talent, Derick was determined to make his musical mark as a shining star in The Big Apple. Like many before him, he soon discovered that he needed additional tools to translate his talent to professional success. After three trying years in New York, he adopted a plan of action to realize his musical dreams. The Digital Music Program brought Derick to Hostos to study sound engineering, and he quickly found himself marching to his own beat. Derick became an Ambassador of the Hostos Leadership Academy, a William T. Morris Foundation Scholarship recipient, a member of the Ernesto Malavé CUNY Leadership Academy’s CUNY Corps, and a gold medalist in the Digital Music Program. His campus involvement hasn’t stopped with these achievements – in just over a year, he also volunteered over 120 hours of service to the Hostos community. Derick has learned that by having a positive attitude and applying himself wholeheartedly to everything he does, his life has found its harmony. Derick plans to go on to a senior college to continue his studies in sound engineering, and hopes to ultimately open a conservatory for other entertainers. He envisions an institution much like Hostos Community College, where nurturing faculty positively encourage students and assist them in navigating their career paths. Like his mentor Rees Shad, Assistant Professor of Visual and Performing Arts, has asked of him, Derick will ask but one thing of his students: “Be brilliant.”

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JUST BELIEVE Ediberto Saldaña

The Army’s rousing call to “Be all you can be” resonated in the very heart of Ediberto Saldaña. Having had to support his mother and siblings after his father passed away, Ediberto knew all about hard work and service. At 21, he left Puerto Rico for New York to build a better future. He enrolled at Hostos to learn English, but soon heard the call of the United States Armed Forces and enlisted. Following his service, Ediberto returned to Hostos but soon left again to attend to family issues. At 36, Ediberto’s life took yet another sudden detour when he was diagnosed with hypertension and suffered a heart attack. Not long after his recovery, he received the news that he had spinal stenosis. Hoping to avoid paralysis, he underwent surgery and endured a lengthy rehabilitation period. Ediberto refused to let his physical challenges be an obstacle to achieving his goals and contributing his service to others. He remained determined to continue to be all that he could be. After a 13-year absence from college, Ediberto’s winding road once again led him back to Hostos. A Liberal Arts student, Ediberto is now a Senator for the Student Government Association (SGA), a Student Commissioner, and Chairperson of the SGA Information Center. He is also an elected member of the Hostos College-wide Senate Committee on Committees and volunteers in a variety of other campus roles. Ediberto has overcome many obstacles in order to dedicate his life to serving others – his family, this country, and the Hostos community. He plans to continue at a senior college and become a social worker, and hopes one day to establish a nonprofit organization to assist people with disabilities through the performing arts. Ediberto wants others to know that regardless of the challenges they face, they too can be all they can be.

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PAY IT FORWARD Anaiz Flores

One of seven siblings, Anaiz Flores grew up with big dreams but limited means. Just as Anaiz’s grandparents taught her parents that their destiny was to get a job and work, they held that same expectation for their children. A native New Yorker of Mexican descent, Anaiz and her family struggled just to make ends meet. Pursuing an education seemed infeasible, yet still she aspired to become a teacher one day. Giving birth to her first child shortly after graduating from high school, being laid off from the local pharmacy due to the economic downturn, and finding herself in hard times, Anaiz decided it was time to break the cycle and make a change. The proximity of Hostos to her home, coupled with the financial assistance it offered, presented a once in a lifetime opportunity. Now a happily married mother of two daughters, Anaiz is now in her fourth semester of the Early Childhood Program at the College. She is also a Phi Theta Kappa member, has served as the Vice President of the Student Health Club, and is currently the Vice President of Teachers of the Future. She looks forward to continuing her studies at a senior college, knowing that with perseverance and education, anything is possible. Anaiz is proud of having encouraged her younger sister to enroll at Hostos, and also of being a role model for her own daughters. Confident that she can build a brighter future for herself and for her family, she believes it is her responsibility to share the lessons she has learned beyond her own family circle. Anaiz extends herself by teaching parents about the value of education and the importance of seizing opportunities so that they can realize their dreams and reach their full potential.

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A LEGACY OF LEARNING Michael Cruz

It’s no wonder that Michael Cruz considers Hostos his second home. After all, it is his family’s legacy. With his mother, brother, and sister among the College’s alumni, Michael set out to make them proud. He was determined to leave his mark on their alma mater – and on the world at large. Being a Student Ambassador of the Hostos Leadership Academy has taught Michael about the power of diplomacy to effect change. Serving as head delegate at the 2011 National Model United Nations taught him about human rights issues and conflict resolution strategies. His service to the Hostos’ Student Government Association as Vice President of Academic Affairs and Chair of the Senate has provided him with leadership skills. Michael is also one of the first students to represent the College in the Ernesto Malavé CUNY Leadership Academy’s Campus Leadership and Student Services Program. In addition, he has received the CUNY Leadership Award and the National Puerto Rican Day Parade Scholarship. Michael possesses a deep-rooted desire to advocate for underrepresented populations and credits the College with cultivating his passion for public service. A Liberal Arts major, he plans to earn his Juris Doctorate degree in International or Immigration Law, with a concentration in Human Rights. The Cruz family is proof positive of what is attainable when commitment, hard work and accessible educational opportunities come together. Michael will take what he has learned from them and from Hostos to help others, who then may be inspired to do the same. Perhaps this principle, which guides Hostos and students like Michael, is best expressed in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Compensation”: “In the order of nature we cannot render benefits to those from whom we receive them, or only seldom. But the benefit we receive must be rendered again, line for line, deed for deed, cent for cent, to somebody.”

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HOOP OF DREAMS Stephanie Argüello

Although she was raised in El Salvador, Stephanie Argüello was born in Texas and knew that one day she would return to the United States. At the age of 17 she realized that goal and landed in New York City. Her first few months in the City were quite difficult. She spoke very little English, got lost easily, struggled financially, and missed her family terribly. Determined to overcome these obstacles, Stephanie enrolled in English language courses and went on to earn her GED. Though she worked two jobs in order to make ends meet, she was determined to pursue her education and build a life for herself in the country of her birth. During Stephanie’s first semester at the College, she was invited to join the Hostos Caiman Women’s Basketball Team. Through basketball, she found that she was becoming part of a new family. Stephanie credits her relationships with her teammates with helping her to grow not only as a team player but also as an individual. The support of her fellow basketball players taught her to rely on others as well as to trust in herself. Stephanie’s ever-increasing proficiency in the English language, the supportive camaraderie of her team, and her newfound confidence led her to explore opportunities for growth at Hostos. In addition to volunteering her time to community service, Stephanie is a member of Phi Theta Kappa as well as The Hostos Leadership Academy. With everything Stephanie does, she always sets out to “go for the win,” both on and off the court.

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If you would like to support our students, please visit: http://www.hostos.cuny.edu/givetohostos

Portrait photography by Amabell RodrĂ­guez Graphic design by Studio Iodyne Printing by Imlay International


Pay it Forward  

Hostos Community College Student Profile: Pay it Forward

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