On May 21, 2014, the Alumni Relations, Career Services, Student Activities and Transfer Services offices collaborated to bring the Salute to Graduates Orientation & Celebration to provide soon to be graduates of Hostos with valuable information for their big day on June 3 and for their futures after graduation.

Held at the Hostos Café, the Salute to Graduates Orientation & Celebration also recognized Transfer Scholarship Award winners, Maskana Adedjouman and Gisselle Belia.

But the highlight of the event was Hostos alumnus, Dr. Van Tran’s ’02, inspiring speech.

Dr. Van Tran himself graduated from Hostos in 2002 with an associate degree in liberal arts. He followed that up by earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Hunter College in 2009, followed by a Ph.D. in sociology and social policy in 2011 from Harvard University.
Van Tran’s “from Hostos to Hunter to Harvard” journey is now somewhat legendary at Hostos.

When Van Tran was a young man, struggling to survive in a refugee camp in Thailand, education was not even a consideration. Surviving day-to-day was all that mattered.

But Tran always wanted to do more than simply survive; he wanted to make the world a better place, not only for himself, but for those around him.

The man who was born in Vietnam and suffered through political persecution eventually made his way to New York City. Realizing education was the key to the doors that had been closed to him before, Tran eventually enrolled at Hostos Community College.

Now holding a Ph.D. in Sociology from Harvard University and teaching in the classrooms at Columbia University, his focus now is on teaching about the socioeconomic, civic and political incorporation of post-1965 immigrants and their children, and its implications for the future of ethnic and racial inequality in the U.S.

He said his experiences at Hostos helped to fuel his interests in the subjects of immigration, race and ethnic relations, neighborhoods and communities, class and culture.

His main message to the Hostos Class of 2014 was simple: be yourself, be the very best version of yourself, and always believe that anything is possible.

 “When I came to Hostos, I could not get over all the different types of people around me. It was exciting and new. I had to learn more,” Van Tran said. “Life is completely unpredictable, and I urge you to go as far as you can from this point on.”

About Eugenio María de Hostos
Born in Puerto Rico, Eugenio María de Hostos (1839-1903) was a 19th-century humanist, revolutionary, and author who traveled extensively and spent most of his life in exile. He made major contributions to education in the Dominican Republic and Chile. He was also an exemplary figure for the New World societies: an activist who fought for human and national rights at a time when these were hardly acknowledged as fundamental values; a committed abolitionist; and a staunch advocate for the recognition and enfranchisement of marginalized groups: women, the Chinese, Native Americans, mestizos, and peoples of African ancestry. All of this made him a champion for inclusiveness and one of the most powerful voices for diversity in the Hispanic world.

Hostos’ views on education are worthy of note for their visionary character. His pedagogy was student-centered and based on scientific and rational methods of teaching that included observation, experiential learning, use of manipulatives, reasoning, and critical thinking. It brought to teaching the motivational theory of learning as well as an awareness of the relevance of context.

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.