On June 18, 2014, 112 students from the Adult Learning Center at Eugenio María de Hostos Community College received their high school equivalency diplomas. A determined woman who preceded them was honored at a special ceremony on the following day.
 
Elaudis Méndez, who is now attending Hostos after having earned her GED in 2013, received the Peter Jennings Laurel Scholarship at the Graduate School and University Center on June 19. She is one of a very few Adult Learning Center graduates to have earned this honor.
 
The prestigious award is named for the late Peter Jennings, a longtime anchor of ABC’s World News Tonight who passed away in 2005. In 2003, Jennings received the CUNY Chancellor’s Medal for his extraordinary achievements in journalism and contributions to a better-informed citizenry. These scholarships are given to students who have demonstrated determination and initiative in earning their high school equivalency diplomas, an accomplishment that Jennings strongly supported.
 
Elaudis earned her GED from Hostos at the age of 21. Having come to the United States from the Dominican Republic, she had been here only a month when she realized that she needed a high school diploma to make a better life for herself. Because she worked as a cashier and attended classes after her shifts, this was not easy, but now her goal is to help others through teaching.
 
“I had culture shock because I was trying to adapt to this new city and a new school system. My classmates and I created study groups to develop our knowledge in mathematics, writing, reading, social studies, and science,” Elaudis said. “We met in the library or in the classroom every day. We also went to Hostos on Saturdays to review our classwork.”
 
Elaudis also had a lot of faith, and drive, to get the job done.
 
“I never thought I would win something like this award, but I remembered a verse from the Bible, Joshua 1:9. I always keep this verse in my mind.”
 
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
 
At the ceremony, Elaudis met Dr. James B. Milliken, the recently appointed CUNY Chancellor, and Dr. Carlos Molina, Vice President for Continuing Education & Workforce Development at Hostos. Also present at this event were Sheryl Smith, the Director of the College’ Adult Learning Center (ALC), and Darryl E. Rogers, the Program Coordinator for the ALC’s Young Men’s Initiative IMPACT Peer Mentoring Project.
 
For Elaudis, the experience was unprecedented and inspiring.
 
“I want to earn an associate degree in Early Childhood Education at Hostos. When I finish, I will transfer to City College to get my bachelor’s degree in Psychology,” said Elaudis, who is putting the $1,000 award toward her education. “I would like to become an educational psychologist so I can work with children who are facing challenges in their academic lives and share all the knowledge I have acquired.”

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.