The 4th annual “Two-Generation Student Retention and Degree Acceleration Program” achievement ceremony was held on August 7 in Hostos’ Faculty Dining Room. The event was a joyous one; student-parents, their children, friends and family lunched to the strains of Michael Jackson, and happy conversation filled the room.

Hostos’ Director of Health and Wellness Fabián Wander welcomed the attendees and spoke about the holistic support program, which provides for student-parents to work toward degree completion, while their children participate in the College For Kids Summer Academy, all free of charge. Wander described the program as a marvelous “collaboration” between students, children, faculty, and staff members. He thanked Corporate and Foundation Relations Manager Susan Bronson for her exemplary fundraising efforts in securing support from The Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, acknowledged Director of External and Governmental Affairs Joshua Rivera’s contributions, and introduced Freddie Escobar, who delivered a powerhouse rendition of “The Greatest Love of All.”

When the applause died down, Christeen Francis of the Empowering Student Parents (ESP) Program spoke of the way ESP and “Two Gen” work together to assist student-parents. Hostos President David Gómez also congratulated everyone associated with the program and quoted Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, whose mother is a graduate of Hostos: “Seeing my mother get back to her studies was all the proof I needed that a chain of emotion can persuade when one forged of logic can’t. But more important was her example that a surplus of effort could overcome a deficit of confidence. It was something I would remember often in years ahead, whenever faced with fears that I wasn’t smart enough to succeed.”

Highlighting the event were the stories shared by the program’s participants. Stacey Almena talked about how she successfully overcame anxiety and doubt before reaching her goals. She introduced Haide Manila, Milkee Anazco, and Rosa Herrera, who also related their experiences as student-parents.

Manila spoke of “the opportunity to improve our lives” the program offers. Anazco appreciated the way the Summer Academy demonstrated to her son “that is was possible to learn and have fun at the same time.”
Solomon Picou of the Student Success Coaching Unit revealed that 35 student-parents took part in this year’s program—the largest number to date—and four of them had completed the requirements for graduation. To date, 500 students have participated in the program and 141 have graduated.
New York Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson was up next. Few are likely to forget her rousing, empowering remarks. “My heart is filled with so much emotion,” she said, and stressed the city’s commitment to education. She urged the student-parents to “Continue aiming for stars. It is time for women—and women of color—to take their rightful place in society. … We need you like never before.”

Council Member Gibson then distributed certificates of completion to the student-parents. New York City Council Member Rafael Salamanca, Jr. also attended the ceremony.

Tilsa Pattee of the Continuing Education and Workforce Development described the work of the College for Kids Summer Academy, and invited the attendees to a performance by the children in the Hostos Repertory Theater to close out the day.

About Hostos Community College
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College is an educational agent for change that has been transforming and improving the quality of life in the South Bronx and neighboring communities for nearly half a century. Since 1968, Hostos has been a gateway to intellectual growth and socioeconomic mobility, as well as a point of departure for lifelong learning, success in professional careers, and transfer to advanced higher education programs.

Hostos offers 27 associate degree programs and two certificate programs that facilitate easy transfer to The City University of New York’s (CUNY) four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions. The College has an award-winning Division of Continuing Education & Workforce Development that offers professional development courses and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. Hostos is part of CUNY, the nation’s leading urban public university, which serves more than 500,000 students at 24 colleges.