Lolita was fourteen years old when she left Guatemala. Fleeing an environment of violence and poverty that pushed her to the edge of desperation, in February 2014 she decided to embark on a perilous journey that would cover 1,500 miles across uncertain territories to find opportunity and freedom in the United States. “Were you scared?” I asked her. “To tell you the truth,” she replied almost matter-of-factly, “having to speak English in public is much more scarier…I think…than getting here.”
Through my role as student ambassador of the Universities at Shady Grove I am called upon to give tours on campus, assist in our open house (Our next one is July 18th!!), tend tables at local community colleges, and so far twice this year, speak to aspiring Latino high school students in our community. Being fluent in the second most spoken language in the United States, Spanish, provides myself and other Spanish speaking ambassadors the special task of bringing our message to the most important and rapidly growing demographic in America. By 2050 one in three Americans will be of Hispanic decent, becoming a majority in our diverse society. My question to many politicians, and society as a whole, what are we doing to weave these soon-to-be-Americans into the fabric of our society? To give you our answer, here at USG our mission is to develop and educate the local leadership that will drive Montgomery County’s prosperity today and tomorrow. This includes preparing the next generation of students no matter of which nation, race, religion or ethnicity they pertain; come tour our campus and you will see that we have already fulfilled our commitment.
To be a source of encouragement to the twenty students I was able to speak to on Wednesday is the greatest gift the USG student ambassador program has imparted to me. I have spoken to countless prospective students about the benefits of attending our campus, but never had it carried as much weight as it does in these extraordinary presentations. As I said to Lolita and the other students, can’t wait to see you soon at USG.