The word valedictorian comes from the Latin phrase, “to say farewell.” Nevertheless, Eugenio María de Hostos Community College has not seen the last of its 2014 Valedictorian, Shalim López.

Attaining the title of valedictorian is a major accomplishment for any student, but in Shalim’s case it is even more impressive because three years ago she could not speak English.

After graduating from high school in the Dominican Republic, Shalim came to the United States with her family. Speaking only Spanish, she enrolled in the CUNY Language Immersion Program (CLIP) at Hostos in the Spring of 2011 and went right to work.

“I felt comfortable, because Hostos has many Spanish speaking students and faculty members. The CLIP Program made a great impact on my life. Not only did it teach me English, it helped me make valuable friendships. It also gave me confidence,” Shalim said.

Being the first member of her family to attend college did not daunt her, and neither did the language barrier. Not only did Shalim overcome obstacles with the wholehearted support of her family, she also raised the bar. She wanted more.

Now three years later, Shalim is graduating with a 4.0 GPA. Shalim says she enjoyed majoring in Liberal Arts because this gave her the opportunity to study many different subjects.

“With Liberal Arts, I had the chance to explore different areas that helped me discover my major. I think it made me a more well-rounded student.”

While maintaining a 4.0 GPA for five semesters, Shalim was also the President of the Hostos Connections Club, which helps students obtain support services on campus.

After being in the work-study program, Shalim was hired as an intern and as a college assistant. She says all of these opportunities contributed to her professional development.

Shalim is now enrolled at Lehman College and working toward a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work,

Fabian Wander, the Wellness Center Coordinator at Hostos, who mentored Shalim and served as her Connections Club Advisor said that, “Shalim has inspired other students to follow her lead, and I am very confident that we will continue hearing about her accomplishments while she continues her studies at Lehman. She really challenged herself to come out of her shell and become an amazing student leader. I am really proud to know her.”

After she graduates from Lehman, Shalim plans to earn master’s degree and eventually a Ph.D. in social work.

She also plans to come back to Hostos.

“The CLIP program provided me with a great opportunity. It was an experience that I feel I can share. So I want to return and be a source of strength for other students who are starting out.”

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.