Essex County College CAO Calls for More Support for Immigrant Students

Steve Adubato talks with Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer at Essex County College, Dr. Jeffrey Lee, about why he believes schools need to be more inclusive and supportive of immigrant students.

1/21/17 #2597






"Doctor Jeffrey Lee is Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer at Essex County College. Good to see you doctor. Good to be here. Doctor, you are a part of the series Classroom Closeup, that our colleagues and friends at the New Jersey Education Association... They featured you, we're about to see a video that features you and your work with Sofia Medina, who is a student from Ecuador, correct? Correct. And why is it significant? What we're about to see? She is one of our students who has come from so far and back. She came to this country looking for education with her family, and has the ability, and had the stamina to succeed in classroom, but just didn't have the academic ability and the immigration status issues. And so she came to us, and we were able to help her. To the point where now she is finishing up school at Johns Hopkins University, and debating on whether to go to med school or for a master's in public health, or to do all of the above. That's awesome. By the way, your area of expertise is? Microbiology. Oh that thing. Yes, that thing. [laughter] Pretty awesome. Microbiology. This is a piece from Classroom Close Up, which you can catch on a regular basis on the great NJTV, the public television station in the great state of New Jersey. This is the video piece that features Doctor Lee and Sofia Medina. Check it out. Classroom Close Up. [music playing] Hey! Hi Doctor Lee! My favorite student! Sofia Medina is a graduate of Essex County College. She comes back, often, to visit with some of her former professors, especially Doctor Lee. Out of, probably, 2,400 students, over 22 years, she is one of the top five that I have seen academically. It's very nice. But her academic success has not come easily. Throughout most of her life, Sofia has faced many uncertainties because of her undocumented resident status. The main reason why my parents decided to move our family from Ecuador to the US was mainly for educational purposes. During my senior year, I was applying to several schools. I got accepted to one of my top choice universities at the time which was Penn State University and just seeing that there was just no way for me to pursue those opportunities for economic reasons, and also my immigration status, was very disheartening. It was like I'm going to Essex County College, and I'm gonna be there until I get my residency. If I'm there for a semester, and I get my permanent residence, then I'm transferring after a semester. [music playing] In a way, it was sort of an arrogant behavior..."