C.W. Post Graduate Reflects on Past to Guide the Future
Gina Bigelow,Associate Director of Public Relations
C.W. Post Campus,
Long Island University
For Jose Arriaza, the road to a college degree was long, but ultimately rewarding. And along his educational journey, he discovered a brand new, unexpected career path, one that returns him to his roots.
Arriaza, who will graduate with a B.S. in Marketing Management from the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University on Friday, May 6, grew up in El Salvador in the 1970s. Living in a nation torn apart by civil unrest, Arriaza witnessed atrocities no child should ever have to see. Raised by his grandmother until he was nine, he and his siblings emigrated to the United States and joined his mother, a housekeeper who had come to this country to make a better life for her family. Although he could barely speak English and faced many obstacles, Arriaza pressed on.
When it came time to choose a college, Arriaza enrolled as a student at the Southampton Campus of Long Island University, but with just nine credits left in his degree program he was offered a job at Salomon Smith Barney. While his intentions were to continue his schooling while he worked, his educational plans quickly took a back seat to his career and he left the campus to pursue professional interests. But in the wake of the recession, he found himself unemployed and decided it was time to finish what he started.
"Jose is not your traditional college student," said William Clyde Jr., director, Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program, in which Arriaza is enrolled. "He started at Southampton, left to do the corporate thing and now has returned to C.W. Post to finish. He's been diligent in going after what he wants -- he has set goals and knows what he is after. He sees the prize at the end and has a plan to get it."
While initially Arriaza thought a career in corporate America was in his future, thanks to his experiences and an education course he took at Post, he says he realizes that what he'd really like to do is teach ESL to children. A product of the program when he arrived in the U.S., he says what and how kids are learning now is different, but doesn't compare to what he did nearly three decades ago. He's is exploring different options, including the New York City Teaching Fellows program.
Arriaza, a resident of Flushing, N.Y., says he is inspired by his grandmother, to whom he would read the newspaper to everyday, growing up in El Salvador.
"My grandmother was illiterate, but she always told us that education would always lead us to a brighter future," he said.
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