Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Education without borders

by nycfashionista5 (writer), Queeeenz, May 07, 2007

A new start or beginning takes place everyday and everywhere. For most people on the Queens Campus of St. John's University, a new beginning started with the first day on campus or the first day on the job.
Freshman Laura Ibarra, 18, has had many new beginnings, including her first steps to St. John's University's campus in August 2006. Traveling from her home country of Mexico with her mother, Laura and new found St. John’s friend Sergio Cueto, 19, a Mexican-American from Texas, was ready to take on New York and college.
“I was very nervous and excited,” said Ibarra as she recalled her flight from Mexico to New York. “When you have that fear of the unknown, that’s why I was nervous, but I was excited for the most part.”
The freshman class of 2010 was the largest class at SJU with an entering number of 3,266 students. Christine Goodwin, Director of Data Management, Analysis and Management in the Office of Institutional Research at St. John's University, indicated that seven of our students are non-US-citizens from Mexico. However, there are 127 non-U.S. citizens from Central and South America which makes for a larger number of Latino students continuing their education here.
“I know her parents didn’t have the resources to get her here and she had to fight her way into the school,” said Manuel Beltran, 18, a Mexican-American SJU student from California and Ibarra’s close friend.
Together, Ibarra, Beltran, Cueto and Yesenia Perales, 19, another Mexican-American SJU student from California, make up a tight knit group of friends. But long before college, Ibarra and her family were making new beginnings to get Ibarra where she is today.
Ibarra was born in El Paso, TX, making her a U.S. Citizen, yet she has lived her entire life just over the border in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Ibarra spent her Kindergarten year in Mexico and from first grade through her senior year in high school. She attended private Catholic schools in El Paso, TX during her early education and graduated from Loretto Academy in June 2006. Each day Ibarra crossed the International border of Mexico and the U.S. by bridge. When her brother Ubaldo, now 12, started attending school, Ibarra’s mother drove everyday.
“We woke up at 5:30 a.m. to be at the bridge by 6:30 in the morning,” said Ibarra. “That gave us an hour and a half to get there [school].”
The Ibarra’s mostly took the Bridge of the Americas across the border. In Juarez, there are four or five different bridges alone that one can take to cross into the U.S. Ubaldo Ibarra Sr. 46, and Laura Ibarra Sr. 48, wanted their children to have a Bilingual education even if it meant sacrifices.
“After 9/11, it had a great impact on travel time,” said young Ibarra. “The wait was two to three hours.”
Ibarra’s commute to school is just a quick five minute stroll across campus now. However, her transition from Mexico to St. John’s University did not begin easily. Ibarra’s paperwork for housing and a meal plan never made it to the Queens Campus prior to her arrival. Ibarra’s initial week at St. John’s was rocky.
“When she first got here, she didn't have a room and she wasn’t able to stay anywhere around the area,” said Beltran.
Ibarra and her mother had a short stay in The Holiday Inn by JFK Airport, before Laura moved into a single room she was to share with another roommate. Corridors were tight and Ibarra moved out a month later into a double room share that she still had to share with two other girls. Next year, Ibarra and her friends will be living in housing at SJU Manhattan Campus due to lack of housing at the Queens Campus.
“Laura is very driven,” said Perales. “I think she could be anywhere she wants to be and this is where she chose to be.”
Since coming to NY, Ibarra has settled into the SJU community nicely despite her rough beginning. She works part-time at St. John’s University School of Law Career Center. When she’s not studying for classes towards her Government and Politics major and French minor, she’s out enjoying NYC. Ibarra and friends spend time hanging out, exploring the city by walking around or having coffee, and searching for authentic Spanish cuisine.
“We do have different friends, but without meaning to, we stick together,” said Cueto of the four friendship group. “Laura knows what she wants and won't compromise her values, but she'll still listen to other people and what they want.”
Ibarra’s co-worker also added her input.
“She’s a lovely, bright young girl who speaks a lot of languages,” said Pat Thompson, Receptionist at SJU Law School Career Center. “Very sweet.”
Ibarra has high hopes for her future. She wants to one day work for the United Nations and her ultimate goal is to be Secretary General of the U.S. Although she’s suffered from being home sick, it’s the love and support of her parents and friends that have kept her going. Her father is an inspirational speaker about Latinos self-improvement in terms of their physical, mental and spiritual state. Mr. and Mrs. Ibarra were skeptical at first about Ibarra coming to NY for school, but they are now behind her 100%. Ibarra’s mother is a housewife and Laura talks to her nearly everyday, but it has been hard on their close mother-daughter relationship.
Ibarra was not alone in fighting her way to SJU, despite her parents’ doubts.
“I think that fact that we're the first, they're [parents] not used to everything like us being here in college,” said Perales. “It was hard for them to understand, it was hard to make them understand that it was for us. All the cultures we're exposed to here, it's different. We're exposed to diversity back home, but it's not as great as here.”
Ibarra, Cueto, Beltran and Perales have made it through their first year in college successfully. They have one another, family that anxiously awaits them for the summer months and the beginning of a strong college education.
“I wouldn’t change my education in the U.S. for anything,” said Ibarra. “I love Mexico, but I wouldn’t study there. I’m very thankful, even if I struggle sometimes, I’m very thankful.”

About the Writer

nycfashionista5 is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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2 comments on Education without borders

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By Charles, Jr on December 04, 2007 at 10:44 pm
well done
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By Annonymous on December 05, 2007 at 12:40 am
article okay needs some paragraphs
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