To many of those born outside of the United States of America, our country is viewed as a land of opportunity. Educational programs and vocational opportunities exceed what is available in a number of other countries around the world. For Essex County College, this means a concerted effort to accommodate immigrant students is a high priority.

Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer at Essex County College in Newark, Dr. Jeffrey Lee, visited the set of Caucus: New Jersey with Steve Adubato to talk about why he believes schools need to be more inclusive and supportive of immigrant students. Lee, who is also a professor within the Division of Biology & Chemistry at the college, told Steve Adubato, PhD., about the educational and social adversities countless immigrants face after moving to the United States.

On the subject of why it can be incredibly difficult for immigrants to fully enjoy all of the benefits our country has to offer, and the challenges they face, Lee said the following: “They face a lot. They face scorn, in some cases. They face ridicule. In public schools in New Jersey, where they do get a very good education, they are often disheartened because they don’t have the ability to apply to different schools because of their status.”

Essex County College Immigrant Students
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In illustrating the prevalent hardships most immigrants face, Lee also shared the story of Essex County College graduate Sofia Medina, who moved to America from Ecuador and has had to overcome a string of obstacles ever since.

“Many times, young students and young people like Sofia, they’re supporting their families, their parents, their grandparents,” said Lee. “They’re the ones who know the language, so they’re the ones that have to act as mediators for court cases and other things. And so, particularly for the young students and the young people coming into the country, (they) have a very, very hard, very heavy burden on them to support themselves and their families.”

To learn more about Sofia Medina as well as Dr. Jeffrey Lee’s mission to make New Jersey schools more supportive of immigrants, check out this edition of Caucus: New Jersey with Steve Adubato.

For more stories that impact New Jersey residents, click over to our Hot Topics in NJ series.


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