NJIT has a reputation for turning out first-generation American college students. Three seniors, who will graduate at NJIT’s upcoming May 16, 2009, commencement ceremony (9 a.m.-noon) at the Prudential Center, exemplify that tradition. (ATTENTION EDITORS: To interview students prior to or at commencement, call Sheryl Weinstein, 973-596-3436. Photos can be made available upon request.)
Jumanah Yasmin’s parents left their homeland – Bangladesh – to come to America when she was three. Her family had a good life in Bangladesh – her father was a policeman – but schools were poor. Therefore, her parents left the warm embrace of their extended family to come to America, where they started all over. They lived in a small apartment in Paterson. Yasmin’s father, an educated man, took a job working in a convenience store. She and her siblings attended urban schools. Nevertheless, Yasmin excelled in grammar school and later graduated from John F. Kennedy High School as valedictorian. She won a scholarship to NJIT as a biomedical engineering major and Dorman honors scholar. Although her plans following graduation are not yet set, she will leave NJIT with two impressive honors: outstanding female student for the university and outstanding student in her department.
For Carlos Figueroa , of South Orange, who will graduate this Saturday with a perfect grade-point average, the new start is a horizon far beyond what he or his parents could have envisioned when the family immigrated to the US from El Salvador some 20 years ago, when he was a baby.
Come September, Figueroa will move on to Princeton University as a doctoral candidate in chemical engineering. Equally impressive is that he’s graduating in just three years because he arrived as a freshman with a year’s worth of advanced-placement credits thanks to his alma mater Columbia High School, Maplewood. Figueroa will also graduate as a Dorman honors scholar and has received the award for the top student in Newark College of Engineering.
Diego de Veyga, of Teaneck, who starts work following graduation with Schiavone Construction Co. LLC as a staff design engineer, has a similar story. de Veyga attended high school in Argentina where he was born. He only moved to the U.S. in 2001 with his family.
Upon graduating from Bergen Community College he transferred to NJIT, for its civil engineering reputation, affordability, nearness to home and night classes. The night classes were a major attraction, since he could attend college and still work. de Veyga will graduate as a Dorman honors scholar with not only a near-perfect undergraduate grade point average, but with enough credits to continue work on his master’s degree in structural engineering while working fulltime. His dream is to obtain a doctorate.