City Tech Welcomes First Dominican Republic Scholarship Students Brooklyn, NY -- April 12, 2006 -- “I miss my country, but I’m learning a lot and I do like it here. Our group really has a chance to make a difference -- to leave a legacy about the importance of cross-cultural communication.” So says Jose Heriberto Martinez, one of seven students from the Dominican Republic who are studying at New York City College of Technology (City Tech) as part of the new "Study at The City University of New York (CUNY) Scholarship Program" sponsored by CUNY and the government of the Dominican Republic. Martinez and the other newly arrived Dominican students have had their transition to life and college in New York eased by the large Hispanic contingent of students enrolled at City Tech. Currently, nearly 28 percent of the student body self-identifies as Hispanic, with 227 indicating they were born in the Dominican Republic and 810 indicating they are of Dominican descent. In CUNY as a whole, there are more than 23,000 students of Dominican descent now enrolled in degree programs. Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Dr. Selma Botman, who has spearheaded the project, expressed her appreciation to His Excellency Leonel Fernandez, President of the Dominican Republic, and CUNY Trustee Dr. Hugo Morales for their strong support of the initiation of the program. "This program is a symbol of CUNY's strong relationship with the Dominican Republic," she says. "The Dominican students on the exchange are not only performing superbly, they are also adding immeasurably to the life on our campuses. We are delighted by their presence and proud of the work they are doing." The seven Dominican students at City Tech, who were chosen in a national competition last spring, receive a full tuition and fees scholarship plus a $300 per semester book stipend, courtesy of the Dominican Republic Secretariat of State for Higher Education, Science, and Technology (SEESCyT) and CUNY. They are enthusiastic about being involved in the program’s language and cultural immersion experiences and about being exposed to curricula on the differences and similarities between the Dominican and American cultures. While they all share an interest in seeking ways to develop channels of communication to reach out to other potential participants back home, they are quite a diverse group with a wide range of goals and interests. For example, Eduardo Tonos, age 22, says that becoming fluent in English is most important for career preparation. “While Dominicans who have lived in the U.S. all their lives may have mastered spoken English, many of them are still greatly in need of help with the written language. All of us are working hard in that area.” Tonos is living in Brooklyn, majoring in computer systems and looking forward to forming a Dominican Culture Club with the other students from his country to share experiences and enhance communication. Esther Mota, 17, the youngest of the participants, is living in the Bronx. “We are hoping to set up a website,” she says. “That would be the best way for us to express ourselves, to let others know how we are enjoying this experience.” Mota says that being part of the scholarship program “helps me realize that it is time for me to stop being a girl and become an adult.” Alberto Moreta, 27, also lives in the Bronx. He was in audio school in the Dominican Republic when he received word that he was selected for the program. He says his fellow participants “are currently in the creative process,” figuring out how best to alert the Dominican community back home to the existence of the program. Explaining that his primary musical interest is playing the guitar, Moreta says he hopes, eventually, to become a producer and, toward that end, is majoring in entertainment technology at City Tech. Martinez, 20, is also a new Bronxite, and is majoring in computer information systems. He says that he and the other participants “have no problem” with the requirements that they maintain a 3.0 average and that they return to the Dominican Republic for two years after earning their degrees. “After all,” he adds, “part of the program’s goal is for us to bring our knowledge and expertise back home for the benefit of all.” In addition to studying for their degrees, the seven City Tech Dominican students -- who also include Victor Alcantara, Angel Esteban Garcia and Giselle Gonzalez -- are joining with their 36 peers based at several other CUNY colleges to have a fully-rounded educational experience. According to Ana García Reyes, a special assistant to the president at Hostos Community College/CUNY who was a member of the project advisory committee, these activities include "meeting and interacting with some of the most notable intellectuals, scholars and artists of the Dominican Republic and the Diaspora, and taking field trips to historical sites to support their classroom research.” Dr. Stephen Soiffer, City Tech’s special assistant to the president for institutional advancement who is coordinating the Study at The City University of New York (CUNY) Scholarship Program on campus, notes, “This is the broadest and most significant CUNY initiative designed to build academic bridges between learning institutions in New York State and the Dominican Republic. Its goal is to provide the Dominican Republic with a U.S.-trained, highly skilled workforce, especially in the areas of leading technologies so that the country can be competitive in a global marketplace.” In addition to the CUNY Scholarship Program, the agreement also includes three other major components: the Program for Student Exchange, the Program for the Teaching of English in the Dominican Republic and the Program to Encourage Transfer Students. The exchange program will enable students who wish to complete their degrees at their current institutions, whether in the Dominican Republic or at CUNY, to study abroad for either a semester or an academic year. The teaching component will give CUNY students majoring in the Teaching of English as a Second Language or a related field the opportunity to teach English for up to one year in the Dominican Republic to students at various grade levels. The transfer program will allow CUNY students registered in associate and baccalaureate programs and students in Dominican universities registered in licenciatura programs to complete their degrees at a respective foreign institution. CUNY's Office of Academic Affairs expects to implement the new components in stages. Presently, Fenix Arias, director of testing at York College, herself a Dominican and last year’s project recruiter, and Assistant Dean Cheryl Williams, project coordinator, are in Santo Domingo conducting an orientation for the incoming cohort of scholarship students and their families. They are also meeting with SEESCyT officials to lay the groundwork for beginning the next phase of the agreement. “City Tech looks forward to welcoming an increasing number of exchange students from the Dominican Republic over the coming years,” says Dr. Marcela Armoza, City Tech’s acting vice president for enrollment and student affairs. “This is definitely a “win-win” program.” New York City College of Technology (City Tech) of The City University of New York is a recognized national model for urban technological education and a pioneer in integrating technology into the teaching/learning experience. The largest public college of technology in New York State, City Tech enrolls more than 12,000 students in 57 baccalaureate, associate and specialized certificate programs. Another 14,300 students enroll annually in adult education and workforce development programs, many of which lead to licensure and certification. Located at 300 Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn, City Tech is at the MetroTech Center academic and commercial complex, convenient to public transportation.
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