On the afternoon of Monday, October 18, 2010, the Honorable Ruth Noemí Colón, New York’s Acting Secretary of State, visited Eugenio María de Hostos Community College at the invitation of the college’s students and its president, Dr. Félix V. Matos Rodríguez.
After Interim Vice President Nathaniel Cruz of the Division of Student Development and Enrollment Management welcomed Ms. Colón to Hostos, President Matos Rodríguez added his greetings. He reminded the students that as the second Hispanic woman to serve New York as its Secretary of State, “Ms. Colón is indeed a role model for all students and particularly for women.”
After sharing thoughts about her life and new position, Ms. Colón engaged the students in an interactive discussion. Their questions ranged from how can a student get a paid internship at the New York Department of State to what is the most important decision Ms. Colón has made in her life and what she would like to become in the future. “The most important and challenging decision I have ever made in my life was going to college,” said Ms. Colón; “And I graduated from college because my mother was very strict.”
In addition to stressing the importance of getting an education and contributing to the community, she encouraged the students to “Have a good sense of humor; try to laugh often.”
After the students had bombarded Ms. Colón with questions, President Matos Rodríguez suggested that she turns the tables by asking them some questions herself. She responded by asking everyone in the room “What are you doing at Hostos? What attracted you to Hostos Community College?” Michael Cruz, President of the Student Newspaper Club, said, “I came to Hostos because my father, my mother, and other members of my family graduated from this college.”
“Hostos accepted me and I am very proud to be here as a student,” said student Sandra Mayflowers. “Coming back to school was one of the greatest decisions I have ever made in my life; and one day I will write a book about my experience here at Hostos.”
Among the students who asked or responded to questions were Tashema Spannou, Brittany Adlarich, Yuly Rodriguez, Myna Molina, Shalanda Tolbert, and Mark Cruz.
About the Honorable Ruth Noemí Colón
Ruth Noemí Colón was appointed New York’s Acting Secretary of State by Governor David Paterson on September 1, 2010.
Ms. Colón joined the Department of State (DOS) in 2007 and has served in a number of positions within the agency, most recently as Special Counsel, where she advised former Secretary of State Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez on strategic planning and a wide range of policy and legal issues.
During her tenure at the DOS, Ms. Colón has supervised the Administrative Law Judge Unit, and now as Acting Secretary of State will serve as the final arbitrator of decisions pertaining to licensing disputes involving the agency’s thousands of licensees.
She has managed the agency appointment processes, in which she identified vacancies and candidates for all boards and commissions, including the New York State Real Estate Board, the Committee on Open Government, and the Amistad Commission. She has also served as Executive Director of the New York State Athletic Commission and Director of Public Affairs.
A graduate of the University of Puerto Rico and the Pace Law School, Ms. Colón has more than 20 years experience working in government on policy and communications issues. Prior to joining the Department of State, Colón served as the Deputy Director for Communications at the New York City Housing Authority and acted as a liaison to the New York City Mayor’s Office on issues concerning the Latino community.
She has also served in a number of senior positions within the Puerto Rican government and has been admitted to practice law in New York, Connecticut and Washington, D.C. A resident of White Plains, Ms. Colón is a member of the Westchester Women’s Bar Association and serves on the board of the Puerto Rican Bar Association.
In 2008 she was named one of 50 Outstanding Latinas in New York by El Dario-La Prensa, the city’s largest and oldest Spanish-language newspaper.
Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College, part of the City University of New York system, was founded in 1968. Located in the South Bronx, the college currently serves more than 6,000 students. In addition to associate degree programs that facilitate easy transfer to CUNY’s four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions, Hostos also has an award-winning Continuing Education and Professional Studies Department that offers courses for professional development and certificate-bearing workforce training programs.
In four decades, Hostos has grown from a class of 623 in the fall of 1970 to the spring 2010 enrollment of over 6,000 students. The college also serves an additional 10,000 students through its Continuing Education and Professional Studies Department. Hostos has 300 faculty members, and serves a total of 16,530 students. For more information about Hostos Community College visit www.hostos.cuny.edu.