[video] From CSI to Harvard, Valedictorian Irvin Ibarguen Exemplifies What Can Be Achieved


Irvin Ibarguen (center, bottom) credits the support of his family for making his academic dreams a reality. (Photo courtesy of the Ibarguen family.)

Irvin Ibarguen, College of Staten Island Valedictorian for 2012, is the first CSI undergraduate to be admitted into Harvard University’s prestigious PhD History program.

View his commencement address.

Irvin, a senior History major with The Verrazano School honors program, began his college career as a Marketing major. When asked why he made the switch from Marketing to History, Irvin answered, “People usually think of history as a set of names and dates, but, in reality, it’s a lively and, at times, acrimonious debate. I wanted to be a part of it.”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZjUQ4Gd5Ew[/youtube]Although Irvin is aware of his achievements, he regards his admittance to Harvard’s PhD program as one stop in a long, academic ride, which so far has earned him several scholarships including an IME Research Fellowship: a full-tuition scholarship awarded to Mexican Americans, and the prestigious Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship, which provides undergraduates with three consecutive summer internships.

As part of the Watson fellowship, Irvin has worked for the Institute of International Education; Crain’s New York Business, writing several articles for the seminal business newsletter; and will be traveling to Tunis, Tunisia to work for Amideast, a non-profit organization offering education activities in the Middle East, as a program assistant.  “Tunisia will be a radically different experience,” said Irvin. “I am looking forward to the challenge.”

Irvin maintained a 4.0 GPA and is quick to credit his CSI professors, namely, Drs. Calvin Holder and Richard Lufrano of the History department, for establishing “my love for reading and writing about History.”

On Irvin’s success at CSI, Dr. Lufrano noted: “In my 25 years of college teaching at different institutions, Irvin is among the top two undergraduates I have taught.”

Irvin especially credits his family with supporting him throughout his scholastic life.  His parents moved here in 1990 while his mother was still pregnant with him.

Growing up in a small apartment with ten inhabitants would seem like a drawback to many people but to Irvin it was more of a blessing. “I was never alone… They were the best support group,” he said of his parents who worked several jobs while raising him. “I was able to focus exclusively on my education.”

A graduate of Midwood High School in Brooklyn, Irvin also credits his background for motivating him to pursue a History PhD. “The scorn directed at illegal aliens often found its way down to me,” said Irvin, who admits to having distanced himself from his heritage while growing up. It was not until Irvin enrolled in an advanced seminar, in which he completed a paper about Mexican immigrants in New York City that he was able to “embrace the beauty of [his] Mexican background.”

At Harvard, Irvin hopes to continue to write about illegal immigration in a way that can contribute to ongoing debates.  In this regard, his background puts him in a unique position. “I am here because of the sacrifices of ‘illegal immigrants’ and I am deeply respectful of their plight, but I also grew up detached from them, so I can analyze their history with an interesting mix of passion and objectivity.”

Irvin eventually hopes to publish his dissertation, and establish himself in a tenure-track professor position where he can produce quality scholarship and influence students’ lives for the better.

For now though, he is “simply grateful to the CSI community for its constant support, especially Dr. Lufrano, Dr. Holder, [The Verrazano School’s] Katie Geschwendt, and [the Career and Scholarship Center‘s] Dr. Geoffrey Hempill.”

IME Grants Funds for Scholarships to Mexican Students in New York

CSI President Dr. Tomás D. Morales (left) and Acting Consul General Ismael Naveja (second from right) are joined by CSI student scholarship recipients at the Mexican Consulate’s Endowment Awards Ceremony.

The Mexican Consulate in New York announced today that the scholarship program of the Institute of Mexicans Abroad (IME) has awarded $20,000 to support the education of the low-income immigrant community that resides in this city.

These funds provide scholarships to eight students of Mexican origin who carried out studies at the College of Staten Island (CSI), The City University of New York (CUNY). The eight students were selected from 20 young people who applied for the scholarship.

The recipients are young people between the ages of 19 and 27,  born in Mexico or in the U.S. with Mexican parents, who already conduct their studies in areas such as history, nursing, business administration, and international relations.

To Araceli Neri Maron, who came from Mexico to the United States 20 years ago when she was seven, it is a great motivation to have been granted this scholarship, amounting to $2,500 per student and covering a semester. “I want to study to be able to help people who do not speak English. In addition, I want to change the stereotype that Mexicans only have low-paying  jobs,” said Araceli, who is studying nursing.

“It is essential that our youth have the same educational opportunities,” said Ismael Naveja, consul general.

Ibarguen Irvin, another recipient, was born 20 years ago in New York shortly after his parents reached U.S. soil from Puebla in search of a better future.

Ibarguen will use his scholarship to help fund his fourth year of studies in history. The money will ease the burden on his parents who work in a factory in the city. “This money lessens the burden that my parents have to support my studies. My father has three jobs,” said Irvin, one of three brothers.

Of the 250,000 students in the CUNY system, University executives estimate that between 5,000 to 6,000 are of Mexican origin, although that number could be larger, as indicating origin is voluntary.

In addition, Jay Hershenson, CUNY Vice Chancellor, said that this alliance sends a clear signal to the Mexican community on the importance of education. “Especially during this economic period it is critical that people receive education. Students are the future of the city, nation, and the world, ” said Hershenson, who noted that CUNY has experienced a 215 percent increase in enrollment of Mexican students in the last decade.

The goal is to promote education among young Mexican Americans and decrease the rate of students who drop out from school,” said Jesus Perez, IME council member and who leads the Academic Advising Center of Brooklyn College.

According to Luz Valdez, who is studying business administration, it is a great opportunity to be able to continue studying. “It was difficult to get the scholarship but I did it,” said the student, who lives in Staten Island, a borough that has seen an increase in its Mexican population.

The Mexican government has signed several educational agreements with CUNY, such as the recent one that offers English classes for Mexicans working in restaurants and the construction industry.

CSI Student Selected for Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship

For the third consecutive year, a CSI student has been accepted into the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship.

Irvin Ibarguen is a sophomore member of The Verrazano School, majoring in Business Marketing. Although only a sophomore, Irvin has already participated in three internships—with the publisher Simon & Schuster’s marketing department, the marketing department for the SINY non-profit organization, and the executive director’s office of Northfield Bank. He is a former member of the LAWbound program, which is designed to prepare Latino students for careers in law. He has also been extensively involved with the CSI community, particularly through his efforts to help develop The Verrazano School program, which is now in its third year. To date, Irvin has served on The Verrazano School Student Initiative and written a marketing plan for the future recruitment of potential students. In addition to these accomplishments, he has managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA. Upon graduation, he plans to attend law school and pursue a career in immigration law and advocacy for immigrant rights.

The Watson Fellowship is a three-year career-building and mentoring program that places students in paid internships for the final three summers of their college careers. Watson Fellows also have the opportunity to attend various cultural events and professional development events around the city. Recent CSI recipients of the Fellowship have included Brian Kateman and Michael Maslankowski (2009), Michael Young (2008), Alexander Perkins (2006), and Sara Butler and Hal Harris (2005).

For this summer’s internship, Irvin is considering The Scholar Rescue Fund with the International Institute of Education (IIE), Echoing Green, and DonorsChoose.org.

In order to apply for the Fellowship, students must be freshmen or sophomores, not older than 25 years old at the time of application, and U.S. citizens or green card holders. Ideal candidates will be able to demonstrate a history of academic success and community/college involvement. If you would like to learn more about this exciting opportunity, please visit the Career and Scholarship Center in Building 1A, Room 105 or call 718.982.2300.

By Geoff Hempill, PhD

CSI sophomore and Verrazano School student Irvin Ibarguen has been selected as a Watson Fellow.