Around the UFT

Bronx college fair

Members volunteer to help students

Kim Verboys (left), a school counselor at the Lehman HS campus in the Bronx, expAlison GendarKim Verboys (left), a school counselor at the Lehman HS campus in the Bronx, explains college and financing options to a parent as Eva Garcia (center), the executive director of the NYS/NYC Regional Bilingual ESL Resource Network, translates the information into Spanish. The college admission and financial aid process can be daunting no matter who you are. But for English language learners and recent immigrants, it may be even more intimidating. “It’s a tough process for everyone, and more so if there is a language barrier,” said Kate Kamanga, a UFT member and college counselor at KAPPA International HS in the Bronx, who volunteered on Oct. 6 at a Bronx college fair designed to support that audience. Kamanga translated the jargon of federal student aid forms into Spanish for seniors and their parents at the event, co-sponsored by the UFT and the NYS/NYC Regional Bilingual ESL Resource Network, at Fordham University in the Bronx. “This is an opportunity to help students and their parents one-on-one,” she said. Volunteer Kim Verboys, a school counselor at the 721X inclusion program at the Lehman HS campus, wanted her special needs students to understand their options. One of her students wants to attend a college with a film program. Verboys explained the teen’s options for his mother with the help of a Spanish translator. “It works,” Verboys said. “You can see it in the parents’ faces: new dreams, new goals.” In addition to providing volunteers, the UFT helped bring representatives from six Puerto Rican universities to the all-day fair. There was also a presentation, in Spanish, about how to ensure that children stay on a college track or enroll in career training after high school. “Bringing parents in early and empowering them is good for our students, schools and communities,” said Nicholas Cruz, the UFT’s Bronx parent liaison. James Rodriguez, a retired teacher and the coordinator of College Goal NY, another fair sponsor, said many families are unaware of the free tools available to help children go to college. “We can help make this happen,” Rodriguez said.

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