Siberón: First Latino on Nassau Community College Board

Puerto Rican-born George Siberón was nominated by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to lead the Latino representation at Nassau Community College. (Photo via Noticia Long Island)

Community activist George Siberón founded the Hempstead Hispanic Civic Association, served as district manager for Rep. Nydia Velázquez, was the executive director of the Nassau County Youth Board during Thomas Suozzi’s tenure as county executive, and, after a long and successful career, has been nominated by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be part of the board of trustees at Nassau Community College (NCC).

(…) Siberón, the first Latino to hold the position, said that he hopes to be the driving force behind a great shift in the institution’s direction at the educational level.

(…) The NCC’s student population is 50 percent African American and 25 percent Hispanic.

The 10-member board of trustees is in charge of all college policies and of handling resources and improving services for students. “One of my goals is to bring in more African-American professors and students, and that youths currently in high school choose to go to NCC and see it as a good option,” said Siberón.

After dedicating all his life to community work, obtaining a degree in psychology from Queens College, a master’s in social work from Fordham University and another one in public administration from Baruch College, Siberón remembers his childhood in Puerto Rico and the first years of his life with his grandmother.

“I used to live in a humble house on a mountain where I had no luxuries, but education was always very important for my family. I would walk down the hill to my school every morning to study, until I was 10 and my parents brought me to the United States with them,” he said.

Those memories now motivate him to fight for the interests of NCC students, who are mostly minorities and have to find affordable colleges. “My intention is to represent the university and my community, and do my best so that the students attending NCC receive the best education and have the resources they need at their disposal,” said Siberón.

(…) “I have arrived at NCC at a crucial moment, because they are looking for a new president. We need to choose someone who meets all the requirements and understands what it is like to be a student,” said Siberón regarding his goals at the board of trustees.

He also spoke about a $2 million federal grant the college is trying to obtain, which would benefit all students but requires that 25 percent of them are Hispanic. The NCC already meets these numbers.

“I want to be part of the process to get this aid and ensure that the funds are used appropriately, that is, to hire more Hispanic professors, to try to reach more Hispanic students so they come to NCC to continue their studies instead of quitting, and to offer more advice to help students once they finish their two years at NCC,” he said.

As the new member of the Nassau Community College Board of Trustees, Siberón finds it impossible to leave Dreamers out, (…) as a number of NCC students are protected by the DACA program.

“I would like to find a way for the college to help them even more. These are young people who have shown excellent behavior, gotten stand-out grades and deserve the help of NCC,” he said. Siberón started working on Aug. 10 in the position, which is unpaid, from which he said he aims to continue doing his best for the community.

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