Gazette Ceases Publication: Donates Archives to LHS

In 2010, the Larchmont Gazette ceased publication. In 2011 the publishers donated all contents to the Larchmont Historical Society, which will continue to make the Gazette archives available online.

All inquiries should be addressed to the Larchmont Historical Society.

22 comments - (Comments closed)

MHS Hispanics Attending College at High Rates

Increasingly, children of local Hispanic immigrants are thinking favorably about college, according to two guidance counselors running a college preparatory program at the Hispanic Resource Center (HRC).

The counselors, Larchmont residents Penny Oberg, formerly with Rye Country Day, and Peter Marcon, retired from Rye High School, believe the intensive help available to immigrant children in the Mamaroneck school system is paying off. Immigrant children are succeeding academically at the high school level and aiming for college at rates much higher than the national average.

The Mamaroneck High School guidance department said that last June’s graduating class included  33 Hispanic children. Of these, an astonishing 32 went on to college, 21 to four-year colleges and 11 to two-year programs.  Nationwide just 35% of Hispanic high school graduates enroll in college.

Mr. Marcon said the old idea that the immigrants were only interested in staying here a few years, making some money and returning home, is being turned on its head. Increasingly the younger generation is looking to build a life here.

Counselor Peter Marcon shows college preparation workshop students at the Hispanic Resource Center the enormous volume of college application information available online.

Counselor Peter Marcon shows college preparation workshop students at the Hispanic Resource Center the enormous volume of college application information available online.

Ms. Oberg said, “HRC has been aware of the need to complement the high school’s counseling with a specialized ethnic-tailored program presented at HRC’s St. Thomas headquarters, an environment familiar and comforting to the families.”

The program is one of a number of educational programs HRC has funded through its annual Fiesta fundraisers, this year’s to be held on November 13th at the Hampshire Country Club.  Sandra Espada, program development director at HRC, helped develop and implement the program last year and its continuation this year.

One Successful College Students Shares Her Story

The program opened this year on September 30 with counselors talking about students’ and parents’ roles in the college admissions process, basic requirements for college admissions and when to start planning for college.

On October 7, the two counselors prepared a surprise for attendants: a visit from 21-year old Jirandy Martinez, a former Mamaroneck High School volley ball team captain, now a junior at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and an HRC part-time staff member. She gave  her personal story on “why and how” she prepared for college.

Ms. Martinez said she was the first in her family to go to college and she had to figure out how to do it on her own. “Both my parents were working and they didn’t know, or have the time to learn the process. It was up to me,” she said.  She was shy as a freshman but learned she had to “step out and be noticed. You have to ask questions and be involved. I made sure teachers knew who I was and they liked that. I made counselors my best friends. And they still are. I still stop by to see them.”

Jirandy Martinez (standing on left), Penny Oberg (seated), and Sandra Espada (standing on right) answer questions raised by participants of college preparation workshop at Hispanic Resource Center.

Jirandy Martinez (standing on left), Penny Oberg (seated), and Sandra Espada (standing on right) answer questions from students in a college preparation workshop at the Hispanic Resource Center.

Ms. Martinez said she was accepted at the SUNY College in Albany, one of ten colleges she applied to.  But after her freshman year, she transferred to CUNY’s John Jay College in Manhattan. “I’m a city girl, and I missed being near New York City,” she said. The Albany institution was diversified and enjoyable, but John Jay proved more to her liking. She said John Jay’s student body is a broad mix of students from all backgrounds. “I don’t feel isolated here. I feel welcome. The Latino student population is very involved, very competitive and wants to get somewhere.”

She said she hopes to go on for a master degree in English and then pursue a law degree. “I like studying: it’s my life. It’s what makes life better,” she added.

College Bound Immigrants May Have Special Needs

Ms. Oberg said it is not surprising that in many cases it is the students, not the parents, who are leading the push for college. Many Hispanic parents are uncertain and worried. How will they pay for it? Will it weaken bonds of a close-knit family? How will the family hold on to traditional values and customs?

She concurred with Ms. Martinez that “many parents don’t understand how the system works and are embarrassed to ask about it. They think they are the only ones who don’t understand and at a large high school meeting with a cross-section of local parents, they tend to be too self-conscious to speak up. Conversely, when they come to HRC they already know the place and the case managers and they’re more confident about asking and listening.”

Many Challenges: Some Solutions

Mr. Marcon and Ms. Oberg agree that college preparation is a real challenge for immigrant families. But they say the counselor’s job is to point out some of the solutions.  Here is the way they see it:

  • College can be financially burdensome, even at community colleges and other public institutions. There are costs including minimal tuition or fees, books, clothes and transportation. Also, important to many families, there is an opportunity cost in the loss of income from an 18-year-old child who might otherwise be working full-time soon. The answer is that there are numerous scholarships and grants, loans and other programs available to ease the strain.
  • Immigrant children have a harder time getting into colleges of their choice for reasons of finance, lack of useful contacts, and networking opportunities.  The answer is that there is a college for almost everyone. Status aside, the benefit of most any college is proportionate to what a student makes of it.
  • The actual college application process is complex and even intimidating. The financial aid form is particularly complex. The answer is that Ms. Oberg and Mr. Marcon, alongside HRC staff, not only discuss these forms at meetings but will offer one-on-one help to the students and parents.

At the October 14 session, students and parents talked to Mamaroneck High School counselor Andrea Yizar; learned the road map to application success; and got an understanding of  tests, forms and deadlines. On October 21st they will learn about tutoring and mentoring programs; a two year vs four year plan; and last minute options.

PrintFriendlyTwitterGoogle GmailYahoo MailShare

Related Articles:

22 comments to MHS Hispanics Attending College at High Rates

  • Sandi

    I think it’s great that 32 of 33 Latino grads from MHS class of 2009 went on to college and I am delighted to see community institutions supporting this effort. However, since the district has been working hard to ameliorate a longstanding minority achievement gap, some additional statistics may be necessary to look at the population as a whole. Of the Latino freshmen who entered in the fall of 2005, how many have graduated? Equally important, of those who have not yet graduated, how many are still enrolled in school?

    • Eleanor

      I agree with you Sandi.

      Not all Hispanic children are children of immigrants. Why should we assume that? How many minorities were eligible to graduate? How many minority students do we have at MHS to determine if we are really making an impact for these students. Seems to me that we certainly have more than 33 Hispanic students in a graduating year.

      What are the statistics of other minority groups? What about black, Chinese, Japanese,inter-racial or other ethnic students? How did we do with them?

      Years ago, I had a Hispanic student working for my business. She told me that Dr. Orfinger called her in and asked her “how come you are so successful in school and other Hispanics are not?” She found this to be very insulting. Even though she was Hispanic, her parents were well educated professionals and she was very bright. She told me that she didn’t like being “ethnically labeled” or made to feel as though she was different or expected to fail.

      Let us have transparent numbers that tell the whole story if we are going to report statistics.

  • Steaming Stanley

    I don’t know this Dr. Orfinger but has anyone thought of sending him a copy of Emily Post’s book of Etiquette? Finesse he does not have. Asking such a question is racist to say the least. Personally, he should be muzzled or censored if this sort of communication with students continues to plague his reputation.

    As a famous American writer once said, “it’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it up and remove all doubt!”

    Duly noted Dr. Orfinger.

  • Eleanor

    I think that the Larchmont Gazette “comments” is a great place for the community to share their thoughts. It used to be “divide and conquer.” Now they can’t muzzle parents. Thank you Stanley Steamer for venting your steam. LOL Your comments are appreciated.

  • Eleanor

    Sorry, Steamer Stanley…I reversed your name. I guess my dyslexia is showing. I apologize. LOL :-)

  • rosita fichtel

    I can’t believe such a positive article about the success of Hispanic students at MHS and the counseling effort at HRC has been perceived so negatively by the above commentators. My congratulations first go to the students and their parents for taking their future in such an excellent direction. Second I congratulate the counselors at MHS and HRC for their work and their encouragement of the Hispanic youth in this community.

    I am a first generation daughter of parents from Spain and Argentina, of Catholic and Jewish heritage. I am proud of my Hispanic background and am happy to be “ethnically labeled.” If I am perceived as not measuring up because of my Spanish background, so be it. I would be glad to challenge that view. My daughters, being second generation Americans, are also proud of their heritage and do not hide their Spanish connection.

    In addition, it is very inappropriate to make a judgment on a quote by Dr. Orfinger that was not heard first-hand by any of the commentators above. I absolutely do not believe that he is racist at all, and to suggest so is out of line.

    I think we should all applaud the progress being made with the Hispanic youth in Mamaroneck.

  • Eleanor

    I think that you are missing the point. It was never established if all of these Hispanic children are children of immigrants. Why should we assume that? As far as it being difficult for parents to pay for college, I think that goes across the board no matter what your ethnicity.

    By “labeling Hispanics as expected underachievers” is what I found offensive. What if a black student was called into the Principal’s office and asked “how come you are black and do well in school, compared to other black students? Tell me why?” Can you see the implications now?

    To segregate or label people as “perceived underachievers” is offensive to me based on their race, gender, or religion. It is called “stereotyping.”

    I think it is wonderful when any of our students achieve success. It is just the “labeling” that I found offensive. There are very educated and intelligent Hispanic people in our community and I don’t find it a surprise that their children are going to college. Why should we assume otherwise?

    I am glad that you are proud of your ethnicity and religion. We all should be proud of our ancestry. But that belongs in your “home life.” I don’t want to label “Hispanics or any other group of people” as “underachievers who don’t send their children to college.” That was the point of my comments. I don’t like stereotyping students.

  • rosita fichtel

    I did not miss the point.

  • complicated

    The example chosen cuts little ice in Westchester: start at SUNY (4 year college), drops over to CUNY John Jay (read : become cop or jail guard after a few years of validated credits in anything). If this is a feelgood article for Hispanics, good for them. Else, can we compare with all minorities, whether second generation or not, did they graduate and in how long? So we can really celebrate.

    • Compassionate

      What is wrong with becoming a police officer (not a cop), or prison guard (not a jail guard)? And, what does it have to do with “Westchester?” What difference does it matter on how long it takes to get through college either?

      “Complicated” if you are injured in an automobile accident, let’s see what you say about police and ambulance professionals then. How do you feel about nurses, or hospital aids who may have to clean up your mess? Would you care where they lived, or how long it took them to get through college. Or, would you care if they went to college or not at that point?

      Sounds like you have had some disappointments in your life. Apparently, these are not professions that would please you if your children went into them. You are setting yourself up for disappointment and seem so bitter. :-( If you are fortunate to have children, you sound as though your love is “conditional.” That’s really uncool.

  • Penny Oberg

    I was present at the HRC the evening Ms. Martinez spoke about her education and future plans. I do not think, nor do I think she believes, that switching from Albany to John Jay was a “drop.” Her plans for the future include a Masters Degree in Literature and Law School. She was exactly what we hope for in young women — smart, poised, ambitious, and accomplished.

    • Eleanor

      One day Jirandy Martinez may become a Supreme Court Justice. I applaud her for her perseverance and goals.

      Supreme Court Justice Sonia Soto Meyer grew up in the Bronx projects, and is of hispanic heritage. She didn’t come from Westchester, or wealth.

      Don’t let anyone dim Jirandy Martinez’s light and vision.

  • Steaming Stanley

    Complicated, before you knock down one of the best schools in its league today, understand that John Jay College of Criminal Justice is one of the most renowned institutions for graduate school studies in the country.

    As a graduate of several SUNY and CUNY schools (multiple degrees), it is what you put into your education that counts. The SUNY and CUNY systems are undervalued in communities like ours who too frequently use them as “safety” schools. Many top students are choosing SUNY and CUNY schools today because of the high costs of private colleges.

    I would highly recommend any one who has never been to a class at SUNY Purchase, or other nearby SUNY schools, to do so one day. The level of teaching is as good as NYU and I would certainly not turn my nose up at their graduate school programs.

    Truth be told, both California and New York have the two best state school systems in this country, bar none. With so many online classes today, its hard to tell the difference between one academic institution from the other. We are lucky to have the SUNY and CUNY systems here in New York.

    Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it!

  • Eleanor

    I think there is an additional issue which is “not” being discussed here. If you are an “illegal immigrant,” you are not eligible for college financial aid. They must receive a scholarship, or it may not be affordable for them to attend college. Many illegal immigrants were brought here as young child, and attended our schools. When it comes time for college, they can’t apply for financial aid because they are ineligible for FASA. This is the country that they were brought up in, but because of their illegal status as young adults it becomes an issue and hardship. They had nothing to do with the choice of their parents, but are ultimately financially trapped in a difficult situation. I don’t know how they deal with this. They will also have difficulty getting a job because they will be undocumented when they graduate college.

  • Impressed

    From the college’s website here is an impressive statistic :

    Close to 43% of entering baccalaureate degree students graduate from the college with a baccalaureate degree within 6 years

  • Steaming Stanley

    Impressed: Your arrogance precedes your intellect here.

    These students take longer to graduate because they are PAYING for college themselves with very little financial support. Thus, they work part time and go to school full time for as long as they can – but usually, it’s not possible financially in the NY DMA to sustain that lifestyle. So they take time off, or cut back to part time.

    Question: Did you “Silver Spoon” it or did you pay for any of your Undergraduate education yourself?? Over 90% of SUNY and CUNY students pay for their education themselves.

    Hence, it may take them longer than you and your privilged buddies to make it to the finish line of a B.A.

    Man, I am so embarrassed to be in the company of people who live such privileged yet thoughtless, incompassionate lives. It’s just inhumane.

    Wonder how Impressed would fare if he or she were born to immigrant parents who could not speak English and who worked 3 or 4 jobs so their kids could get a college education. Even if it was ……***cringe**** a Public Education!!!!

    For the record, please look up the roster of erudite scholars who graduated from various CUNY Schools including Baruch, John Jay College, Queens College, Hunter College etc. etc.

    Amazing….truly myopic people exist here.

    • Eleanor

      Steaming Stanley,

      You were right…”Impressive” is a “Less than Impressive” person in her narrow minded opinions.

  • Eleanor

    Steaming Stanley, I am not sure if “Impressed” meant it as a “negative comment.” I just read it as factual.

    Actually “Impressive” said it was an impressive statistic. It may or may not have been meant as condescending. Perhaps, I just like to see the better side of people. I assumed that “Impressive” knew the difficulties for this population had getting through college.

    I would hate to put all of our, or all people who live in a community in a negative light, jut because of one person’s comment. It really doesn’t matter what people think. What matters is what “we think of ourselves.” I think that “struggles” build character. But whether we struggle when we are young, or when we are old, none of us leave this earth without experiencing struggles and difficulties..even those born with silver spoons. It is what we learn from those lessons that make us better human beings.

    Whether it takes a person 4 years, 6 years or a lifetime to get through college, it really doesn’t matter. I certainly wouldn’t defend my education or apologize for it. Glad you let off some steam. lol :-)

  • Impressed

    The less impressive part of the MIS, actually, is the 57% who don’t graduate. Now there may be financial reasons for that, strategy reasons too (you usually only need credits, not graduation, to go into government jobs), and (horror) also maybe the systemic fact that college is not for everybody.

  • Eleanor

    Actually, with a college graduation rate of 46% percent John Jay students have a “higher than the national college graduation average” of 35% percent for low income students. You can read more about that at:

    However, your condescending comments, at best, are “unflattering to you.” It is easy to stereotype people because of economics or race, but how would you do in their circumstances? Your comments only show that you are insecure because if you are given adversity, you would not be able to cope.

    Students like Jirandy Martinez understands coping in adversity, and ultimately will win her dreams. If Jirandy is reading this, congratulations and you keep on dreaming gal. We need more students like you. I know you will succeed at anything you try. You are a credit to MHS alumnai.

  • Anon E Mous

    William Butler Yeats said that ‘Education is not filling a pail but the lighting of a fire. It has unfortunately been made clear here that some are impressed ? to display shortcomings in their education. Fortunately others honor those who seek education and they help to keep the fires lit.

    A degree is not an education; it is one of many symbols along the path of life.

    Education is a lifelong process to which fortunately the colleges of CUNY and SUNY have and continue to open the doors to many who seek to fulfill their dreams and contribute to our nation and to society.

  • Marley & Me

    I’d also like to add that Cornell’s School of Agriculture is also part of the SUNY system. They have one of the most outstanding Veterinary programs in the country (Marley and Me think our Vet is SO great and he went to Cornell’s School of Veterinary Medicine and did his undergrad work at Cornell’s SUNY division too!).

    Ruff, ruff!