Students represent FDU at Hispanic higher education conference


At the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities conference in Miami, Fla. are: (L to R) student Ruben Chavez, Assistant Director for Global Partnerships Lisetty Nigrinis, student Melany Reyes, HACU Chair and President Tomas D. Morales, and students Julissa Castillo and Kira Lee Concepcion. (Photo courtesy of Nigrinis)

Lisetty Nigrinis, director of the Two Worlds Program and assistant director for global partnerships in the Office of Global Learning, recently led a student delegation to the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities Conference in Miami Beach, Fla. Three Fairleigh Dickinson University student representatives, seniors Melany Reyes, Kira Lee Concepcion and Ruben Chavez, wrote about the experience:

Melany Reyes:

The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) concerns itself with the issues of Hispanic students pursuing a college degree and entering into the American workforce. HACU has affiliate or member schools all over the United States which enroll a certain percentage of Hispanic students at their college or university.

In the days leading up to the HACU Conference, I doubted about what I would learn and the connections I would make — being an education major when the workshops appeared to be mainly business-oriented.

But I met up with Lisetty Nigrinis from the Office of Global Learning, the chaperone of the trip and the other three students from FDU, at Newark Airport. I had never traveled with a group of strangers before, which made me uneasy. Almost instantly though, we bonded over common experiences we share being students at FDU. The students were welcoming and I think we owe that to Lisetty. Frequently chaperoning FDU students all over the world, she knows how to make people bond and connect instantly. I traveled to Miami with the peace of mind that I would enjoy my time with my fellow delegates; however, I was still skeptical about the conference.

At the conference, I was able to work on my networking skills. We constantly were making connections with other students, the presenters and companies at the exhibit hall. I learned valuable résumé tips and interviewing techniques. Presenters emphasized the need to participate in internships, which translates to field experiences for an education major like me. We also learned about issues that are currently impacting higher education of Hispanic students.

The President and CEO of HACU, Antonio R. Flores, addressed the students multiple times. He is an advocate for the rights of students to achieve their full potential. I left Miami with a positive outlook on my own career. Seeing so many motivated Hispanic students who are just as driven as me was empowering! This was the conference I was not the only minority represented. I want to thank Lisetty for accompanying us on the trip and my fellow delegates for making it the conference of a lifetime!

Reyes is majoring in humanities with a concentration in American studies at the Metropolitan Campus. She is enrolled in the University’s five-year QUEST program for education majors where she studies elementary education and is pursuing a special education certification.


FDU students attending the conference: (L to R) Julissa Castillo, Melany Reyes, Kira Lee Concepcion and Ruben Chavez. The four worked on their networking skills there, meeting students from other institutions and presenters. (Photo courtesy of Nigrinis)

Kira Lee Concepcion:

My experience at HACU was simply amazing. I had the pleasure of meeting new people and making new friends. I was able to reconnect with some old friends, too.

One of the best things I learned is that even though we are a minority group, there are people from big corporations who are willing to help us. I now know that once I finish my undergraduate degree, I will be able to apply to work at places where I know I will be helped.

HACU has also helped me develop new friendships. I had the pleasure of meeting people from my major who are looking for graduates to apply to their organization. The best thing about the whole trip was knowing that I would be surrounded by amazing people that all wanted the same thing, a better education. They want a better future and with HACU help, we will have one.  

Concepcion is studying criminal justice at the Metropolitan Campus.

Ruben Chavez:

It was a very pleasant and motivational experience at the HACU conference, surrounded by like-minded individuals who were taking the time to self-develop and ready themselves for their professional and personal lives post-graduation.

The workshops and presentations that took place during the three conference days were very diverse and helpful to me and many other students regardless of our majors. Although the presentations and seminars were not specific to any majors, we were able to learn very specific skills and philosophies that will be practical when the attendees prepare to go into the work place, or even when seeking a part-time job or internship while still in school. At the HACU conference I learned how to better brand myself, and appeal to different organizations and opportunities.

Aside from learning how to transition into the workplace, I had the opportunity to network with a great deal of fascinating students and professionals that I never would have met otherwise.

HACU, to me, was more than just a conference — it was a much-needed time to step away from all types of distractions and focus on the bigger picture. It was the perfect time for me to truly think about where I am today, and what I need to improve in order to reach where I would like to be tomorrow. Removing students from their routines and placing them in such a beautiful place surrounded by like-minded, hardworking people, is what makes the HACU conference wonderful. I am very grateful to Fairleigh Dickinson University for giving me the opportunity to be a part of such a wonderful experience.

Chavez studies consumer psychology at FDU’s Metropolitan Campus.