The Hostos Alumni Spotlight Series illuminates the remarkable impact our graduates have in our communities. These stories illustrate personal triumphs through challenging circumstances, but also share resonating messages about the boundless potential of motivated individuals equipped with the tools for success. These evocative, personal insights from alumni affirm to our students that with the transformational power of education and the supportive environment provided by Hostos, they, too, will succeed in making their dreams come true.
We invite you to consider supporting this special series – each sponsorship level provides an array of promotional benefits in recognition of your generosity and empowers us to continue preparing the leaders of tomorrow.
Class of 2015
Ifeanyi Obinali's journey from Nigeria to New York City is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. Arriving in 2008 with a mere $170 in his pocket, Obinali faced the harsh reality of survival. Exhausting his funds at the 2nd Ave YMCA in Manhattan, he found himself navigating the city's subway system, eventually making his way to the Bronx through the 2 line. In a twist of fate, he stepped out one day to the sound of familiar Nigerian voices, which marked the beginning of a transformative chapter in his life. These newfound friends not only embraced him but also played a pivotal role in helping him secure his first room in an apartment. From that moment on, Ifeanyi found a sense of belonging in the Bronx that he had never experienced elsewhere, shaping his life in the city.
Class of 2019
Hostos Community College is a vital agent for change for individuals impacted by the justice system, offering programs and support services that create pathways for personal growth and career development.
John Gargano's journey, from his own justice system experiences to a successful educational and professional career, is a testament to the College's commitment to transforming lives and bettering the community.
Class of 2013
Kay Bell discovered the healing power of poetry in the Bronx, the borough she proudly calls home. Her educational journey, which started with her dropping out of high school and eventually getting a GED, took an unexpected turn when she decided to give higher education a chance at Hostos Community College. This institution, a beacon of hope in the South Bronx for countless students, played a pivotal role in transforming her life. Hostos opened her mind, nurtured her soul, and provided the inspiration to even pursue graduate studies. Today, she stands as the 2023-2025 Bronx Poet Laureate, a testament to the life-changing opportunities Hostos granted her.
Class of 2019
She believes in her community and will continue to empower it to the best of her abilities. Hostos Community College provided alumna Tameka Ridley with new ways of understanding herself as a human and professional and the role she can enact to make a difference in her home borough through literacy and publishing.
Dr. Ramón De Los Santos
Class of 2001
Ramón De Los Santos is no stranger to Hostos Community College. He not only started his educational path at the College but also his career as a higher education administrator. A native of Santiago Rodriguez in the Cibao region of the Dominican Republic, Dr. De Los Santos arrived in New York City in 1998, lived in Queens, and took three trains and a bus to pursue his education in the South Bronx.
& José Manuel Guevara
Jessica and Jose Manuel are proud alumni of the Hostos Community College dental hygiene program – and also husband and wife. Both have gone on to advance their degrees; Jessica is pursuing a master’s and Jose Manuel is in his first year of dental school. A power couple indeed, these exemplary Hostos Community College graduates clearly demonstrate that mutual support, perseverance and dedication offer a formula for shared success.
Class of 2018
After her father’s deportation, Hostos alumna Denise Herrera and her mother were traumatized and struggling financially. Denise found empowerment, support, and healing through her education and involvement at Hostos Community College. After receiving her associate in liberal arts from Hostos, she went on to obtain her bachelor’s in social work from Hunter College. Now, while completing her master’s at Hunter, she is also helping families as a social work intern in the immigration unit at Brooklyn Defender Services. Denise is an active leader who wants to use her education to fight for immigrant rights.
Class of 2020
Alumna Jaime-Lee Lewis knows that she has a gift for helping others. Now, she is applying that passion as she serves our country through the United States Army National Guard with skills that she acquired at Hostos. Her civilian job prepared her to give patients optimal medical care, and now she will be aiding the country in its efforts to continue to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. However, life has shown Jaime-Lee that though supporting others is fulfilling, the most important person you can show up for is yourself.
Read our interview with 2020 graduate and Army Reservist Jaime-Lee to learn about how she balances her desire to serve others with her new-found perspective on making herself a priority.
Class of 1982
When Jimmy Cruz started at Hostos, he was already a husband and a parent, so he knew how important it was to find a balance in his life. He learned how to prioritize his time and was able to successfully navigate the responsibilities of work, parenthood, and his studies. He found a job at Stony Brook Hospital soon after graduation, and he has remained with the hospital for 38 years. Jimmy was driven by his motivation to build a solid foundation for his family, and he is now seeing his efforts manifest as his three sons enter adulthood and are empowered to shape their own paths.
Class of 1999
Christine Rivera was a single mother, but she refused to let that be a barrier to obtaining higher education. With tenacity and determination, she completed her associate degree in liberal arts. After graduation, she worked with an after-school program where she raised herself from a part-time role to eventually become a leader in the organization. She then went back to school to earn her bachelor’s in 2015 and her master’s degree in 2017, both from Boricua College. She currently serves as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in the Bronx with the NYC Department of Education. Christine reflects on her journey and her innate desire to uplift her community by giving Bronx students access to the social and educational services they deserve.
Class of 2016
Adjusting to college was certainly a challenge for Saint Mbakop, but his hard work at Hostos paved the way for his career success. He discovered his passion and aptitude for leadership while coaching fellow students to help them develop their strengths though the Student Leadership Academy (SLA). Saint also served as president of the Student Government Association (SGA). He is currently continuing his education at Harvard University, pursuing a joint undergraduate and master’s degree in business analytics. However, he is not delaying his career while he advances his education. As a student, Saint has published eight books and has established his own consulting company, Life by Design Coaching and Consulting. In addition, he is the director of sales and marketing at New York City Books and an operations training specialist at AmerisourceBergen.
Class of 2020
Hostos graduate Laura Segura earned her dentistry degree in Mexico before immigrating to the United States eight years ago. Upon her arrival, she looked forward to continuing to practice dentistry, but quickly learned that obtaining an American license would be a long and challenging process. While applying to dental programs, Laura worked as a dental assistant. Over time, her hope to practice dentistry at a higher level diminished. She felt stuck in her job as an assistant and was struggling to make any progress toward her dentistry license – despite her previous training, she would have to complete a master’s degree before she could even apply to a dental school. She knew that earning a dental hygiene degree would expand her options, but she had not found a program that she liked – until she heard about Hostos.
Now a proud graduate of the Hostos dental hygiene program, Laura has the fulfilling career she desired and plans to take her education even further.
Class of 1997
Robinson De Jesús
Robinson was born and raised in the Dominican Republic and immigrated to the United States after high school to further his education. He attained his associate degree in Liberal Arts from Hostos Community College and a bachelor’s in business administration from Baruch College. Robinson has worked for several prominent corporations throughout his career, including Moody’s Corporation, Merrill Lynch, and Wolters Kluwer Tax and Accounting, US. In 2019, he and his wife, an experienced accountant, co-founded Efficient Advice, LLC, a business consulting organization helping clients design success. Robinson has spent more than 20 years working with hundreds of organizations in both the public and private sectors to transform their business operations. He has been a consultant to Fortune 500 multinational organizations, such as Pfizer, CBS, Bristol-Myers, Texas Instruments, Kellogg’s, Estée Lauder, American Tower Corporation, and Verizon Communications, as well as the Office of the New York City Comptroller and a federal government agency.
Class of 2017
In his youth, Tomás Correa found himself involved with the justice system and enrolled at Hostos Community College after being incarcerated. Throughout his time at the College, he dedicated himself to advocating for justice-involved youth and working to address the mass incarceration crisis. He participated in community panels, discussing the need for better academic opportunities for justice-involved youth while working as a mentor to young people. Tomás has demonstrated that adversities are simply small obstacles on the path to success. He participated in a three-month coding course at Columbia University, which opened the door to his current career in programing. Tomás and his team created a mobile application called not911 that has been revolutionizing how citizens access emergency services. Tomás’s life serves as an inspiration to many whom have experienced setbacks. We invite you to learn more about his inspiring journey.
Class of 2009
Ischia Bravo was forced to drop out of high school due to her family’s circumstances. However, the opportunities provided by Hostos allowed her to complete her GED and associate degree and prepared her to obtain her bachelor’s in public administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Ms. Bravo has been a public servant for the past 16 years, focusing on addressing the inequities that shaped her childhood and the lives of so many of her neighbors in the South Bronx community. She worked for Congressman José Serrano’s Office, State Senator Serrano’s Office and was Executive Director of the Bronx Democratic County Committee before running for her first elected office in 2016. She currently serves as the commissioner of jurors/Bronx County clerk for the New York State unified Court System. In 2020, she was honored by the Hostos Office of Alumni Relations and the Division of Institutional Advancement at the third annual Alma Matters Awards.
Class of 2005
John Meche graduated from Hostos Community College in 2005 while dual enrolled at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. In addition to his associate degree in public administration and bachelor’s in judicial studies, he holds a master’s from Baruch College and is nearing completion of his doctorate from Morgan State University. His illustrious academic journey has focused around higher education and community college leadership, with a special emphasis on promoting the success of marginalized groups within the higher education demographic. Mr. Meche was an adjunct lecturer and assistant to the dean of student engagement and success at Bronx Community College, and is now an adjunct lecturer and the project director of the Black Male Initiative at the College of Staten Island. This year, he was honored by the Hostos Office of Alumni Relations and the Division of Institutional Advancement at the virtual third annual Alma Matters Awards.