At 16, Edward José Marte Rosario left his immediate family and the Dominican Republic for Binghamton, looking to forge a better future. One major obstacle: He didn’t know the language, a deficiency that initially prevented him from enrolling in his local high school.
Fast forward six years, and he’s now an American citizen eager to lend a helping hand and, of course, fluent in English. He is also a proud SUNY Broome graduate with a talent for leadership, and planning his eventual transfer to Binghamton University.
“I am the only one from my family who is in college. I want to make my family proud,” he reflected in an essay for SUNY Broome’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). “I want to make a better life not only for me, but for my mom. Even though she lives far away, my mom always calls me and is a great source of encouragement and support as I continue my education.”
Preferring to earn a Regent’s diploma rather than earn a GED, Edward spent a year at the American Civic Association, learning enough English to attend his local high school.
“I was the only teenager there. Everyone else was 40, 45 (years old),” he remembered. “One of my friends was from El Salvador, and he recommended the Boys and Girls Club. At the Boys and Girls Club, I could interact with other teenagers and I learned the language in a year. I went back to high school for three years and graduated.”
While at Binghamton High School, he took advantage of opportunities to develop himself — even if they required waking up hours before his peers. To participate in the Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute at OCM BOCES, he took the 4 a.m. bus to Syracuse, reaching BOCES at about 6:30 a.m., hours before the start. The long days were worth it.
“It was a great opportunity — working with Latinos and having the opportunity to network and learn leadership skills. It opened my eyes,” he said.
A helping hand
Community college students often hold down a job as they pursue their studies and during breaks between semesters. Edward, who graduated in May with a degree in Individual Studies, held down three: at the local Boys & Girls Club, at a McDonald’s restaurant and in the Housing office on campus. He’s back on campus this summer to take a few more classes in preparation for transfer.
At SUNY Broome, he still made time for campus life, serving as treasurer of the International Students Organization and as a senator with the Student Assembly.
“I had 19 credits and three jobs; I work 65 to 70 hours a week,” he reflected. “It was a little bit hard.”
Despite his busy schedule, he always makes time to help the people around him. On his first day of class, he befriended an international student from Mexico, helping him learn about the campus and the area, and connecting him with EOP.
“I even showed him how to do laundry,” he remembered. “Everywhere I go, I get the opportunity to help other people, even at SUNY Broome.”
He’s received a helping hand, too, from dedicated faculty and staff, including EOP director Venessa Rodriguez, housing coordinator Norma Caraballo-Vega and Maureen Breck of Academic Affairs, who visited Binghamton High School when he was a student. Loreta Paniccia of the Learning Assistance Center also offered encouragement and advice.
“Having that support really impacts my life,” he said.
In recent years, Edward fulfilled two dreams: finishing his first college degree and becoming an American citizen, a milestone he achieved last year.
Next up: Applying to Binghamton University, where he plans to major in human development, and working toward getting a green card for his mother. Career-wise, he hopes to become a counselor working with immigrants and helping them transition into their new American life – making a tough road a little easier.
Edward José Marte Rosario found a welcoming environment at SUNY Broome, and he urges his fellow Hornets to embrace the diversity.
“There are a lot of opportunities for people from all different backgrounds at SUNY Broome. The students should take advantage of that,” he advised. “We have the International Students club, talented professors always offering to help, the EOP program. I think the faculty members are always willing to help you out.”