News - Helping Immigrant Students Achieve Their College Dreams

img_9606In order to better support students going on to college and vocational education programs, the school is enhancing our transitions program. Selvon Waldron, a former nonprofit executive director who is himself an immigrant, was hired to lead the program. The three main goals are building college access through completion plans, bolstering the school’s scholarship program, and providing a more comprehensive system of career guidance and planning. Looking ahead, Selvon hopes to build an alumni network and create a mentoring program.

Selvon comes to the school with a background that closely mirrors that of many of our college bound graduates. He came to the U.S. from his native Trinidad and Tobago in 2003. He said it was the coldest day he’s experienced arriving in December with not much more than a light jacket. Eventually he was accepted to the University of the District of Columbia and graduated with a degree in business management and then went on to earn his MBA. He became the Executive Director of an organization focused on providing opportunities for young men of color. While in this position Selvon started mentoring Carlos Rosario School student Osman. When Osman invited Selvon to the School’s graduation he was touched by the school community celebrating the success of more than 300 students. He knew he wanted to get involved. Soon after he saw that his skills and background could be applied to the Transition program. He began in fall 2016. “This mission is a powerful one. I’m humbled to be a part of it. It’s a joy to be engaging directly with students again. I leave everyday inspired. I love supporting students to dream big scary dreams that are not impossible,” said Selvon.

Advanced intermediate ESL student Maria Diaz, who is being coached by Selvon, said, “I really appreciate the help Selvon gives me. He always tries to make me feel comfortable, to feel at home. I came from a country where the education system is very different. If not for him I wouldn’t have the information I need to choose the right university and how to apply. Because he is an immigrant, he gives us hope. He shows us that it’s possible to get a degree, it’s possible to speak another language, it’s possible to be whatever you want to be.”

Selvon’s advice to adult learners is that education is always worth fighting for and can never be taken away from you. You’re never too anything to go back to school.