Produced by the Department of Media Relations & Publications

Lehman Alumnus and OAS Scholarship Winner Recounts Lehman's Transformative Role in His Life

March 4, 2010

Lehman alumnus Elías Alcántara, who was recently awarded the prestigious Organization of American States Scholarship to pursue a master's degree in Chile, talks about how his Lehman experience has shaped his development as a scholar and enabled him to seize new opportunities. This interview was conducted in 2008, a few months before his graduation.

3 Minutes 37 Seconds

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This is Joanna Gomez, a sophomore at Lehman College.

As Chile continues to grapple with the devastating impact of its recent earthquake, Lehman College alumnus Elías Alcántara sets off for that nation next week to pursue his future — the Bronx native is one of only three Americans to win a 2010 scholarship for graduate studies from the Organization of American States. He will attend the Institute of International Studies at the University of Chile in Santiago for two years to earn his master's degree in International Studies, while also conducting research on the rights of indigenous people.

In this podcast, Alcántara talks about how his experiences at Lehman College have prepared him to pursue his future goals.



I mean, I feel through my study-abroad programs that I've done here at Lehman, through my student government activity, through my internship that I got at the New York State Attorney General's office through the political science department, through the committees that I'm serving on at the moment-- I feel that all these things have just kind of, I guess, opened up the window to kinda show me that there's a lot more out there in the world than, I guess, just-- I guess-- what's here.

And it's-- it's def-- all that, in one package, is-- is definitely driving me to kinda, I guess, reach for higher-- I mean, it sounds cliché, but (CHUCKLE)-- reach, I guess, to keep reaching and reaching because I-- I see these people in front of me, such as Professor Bloom, Professor Castro, President Fernández-- Vice President Magdaleno, that have made it to a point where they obviously happy be doing something that they like doing. And-- I'm seeing that in front of me. And I wanna-- I wanna be there one day.

I'm first generation in college. A-- and I will be-- a May college graduate-- first-generation American, as well. I guess I-- I can't really say I had that many challenges, because even though I'm the first generation, my family always-- really value the importance of education. So even though they didn't go to college, it was somethin' that has to be done. So-- I always had that support at home. So j-- I mean, that-- that drove me to kind of be where I am. Challenge-- challenges, I guess, gra-- grade-wise-- I guess keepin' (CHUCKLE) up my grades, that's been-- one of the toughest things, especially now, I mean, being able to balance, I guess, my student-- life-- and my academic life.


I guess that's another thing that I-- y-- y-- that you brought up that would make Lehman special. I mean, we're extremely diverse. I mean, I have-- I have-- I have a Irish friend, a friend from Nigeria, a friend from Guyana, you know, a friend from Peru, all these different-- diversity.

And I think that-- that not only helps me, I guess, to grow as a person, in terms of learning different cultures here without having to travel anywhere. But I guess that helps the whole community-- in itself, because you-- you meet these-- these different people and you-- from different cultures-- and-- and you're just-- you're learning. And when you-- and when you go out there in the world, you're-- you're a lot more receptive to meeting new people, because you're-- you're basically at a place where you kinda-- you-- you-- you're kinda doin' it every day. So-- I think that just helps-- not only me but each and every student to kind of grow as people (SIC) and to go out there in this-- in this world that's basically becoming globalized and-- that is our future and our present. So-- I love that.



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