When Gisselle Belia came to the United States when she was 18 years, she did not speak English.

Settling in Paterson, New Jersey in 2008, she refused to impede her progress, and she quickly enrolled in ESL classes at Passaic Community College.

But more obstacles followed.

Gisselle’s son was diagnosed with autism, and she also struggled with a cost of living increase after moving to New York City. It was these factors that contributed to her decision to continue her education at Hostos Community College, where she flourished studying public administration.

“Being a public administration major opened my eyes to the way the government works and how laws and bills get implemented,” Gisselle said. “I joined the Hostos Public Administration Club first as a member, and was eventually elected to be the club’s vice-president.”

Her hard work was paying off—she even won an essay competition for her presentation about possible solutions to the immigration policy problems in the United States. But she kept pushing forward for her and her son.

Gisselle put her leadership skills to work as a member of the Hostos Student Leadership Academy, where she participated in conferences and volunteered in several communities.

After becoming the first person in her family to earn a college degree, Gisselle is now set to transfer to Baruch College this fall. She wants to become an attorney, fight for people’s civil liberties, and also help spread awareness of autism in low-income communities.

 “The Leadership Academy also inspired me to seek out an opportunity to intern in the office of New York Assembly Woman Gabriela Rosa,” Gisselle said. “Thanks to Associate Dean Ana García Reyes, I was able to obtain an interview. Interning at Assemblywoman Rosa’s office has taught me about the implementation public policy at the state level, and I think I found my calling in life,” Giselle said.

About Hostos Community College
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College is an educational agent for change that has been transforming and improving the quality of life in the South Bronx and neighboring communities since 1968. It serves as a gateway to intellectual growth and socioeconomic mobility, as well as a point of departure for lifelong learning, success in professional careers, and transfer to advanced higher education programs. The College’s unique "Student Success Coaching Unit" provides students with individualized guidance and exemplifies its emphasis on student support services.

Hostos offers 29 associate degree programs and five certificate programs that facilitate easy transfer to CUNY's four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions. The College has an award-winning Division of Continuing Education & Workforce Development that offers professional development courses and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. Hostos is part of The City University of New York (CUNY), the nation's leading urban public university, which serves more than 480,000 students at 24 colleges.