"Participating in this program has been an incredibly rewarding experience."
October 3, 2023

PCCC Participants Graduate from NJ Governor’s Hispanic Fellows Program

Congratulations to the four PCCC alumni and one current student who graduated from the 2023 New Jersey Governor’s Hispanic Fellows Program (NJGHFP), an eight-week summer program offering internships and professional skills training for high-achieving students who have an interest in diversity and inclusion.

Participants are accepted into the program from a pool of applicants based on their academic achievements and service activity. Over the course of the summer, they learn from leaders in business and the professions, get hands-on experience to develop skills for success in the workplace, visit various business locations to observe how various workplaces function, and enjoy networking and socializing with each other and with their coaches.

“The program was phenomenal,” said Gabriel Rivera (’21). A future educator, Gabriel named leadership coaching and networking opportunities as two of the main benefits he gained from the program. He also appreciated the program’s balance between professionalism and fun. “Some of my favorite experiences include laughing it up with my peers, bonding with my coaches, and visiting new and memorable locations such as the AT&T Bell Labs and Bristol Myers Squibb.”

In addition to Gabriel, other PCCC participants who graduated in the NJGHFP Class of 2023 were alumni Roberto Saenz, (’20); Darryl Ortiz, (’19); and Wilbert Minoso,(’19). One current student, Cristy Sarmiento, also graduated from the NJGHFP. All were recognized during the 2023 graduation ceremony held July 28 at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton.

Currently a senior at William Paterson University, Gabriel received the Pa’Lante Award for “excellence and dedication to NJGHFP.”  He is a VISTA AmeriCorp participant and for his NJGHFP internship was assigned to PCCC’s EOF (Educational Opportunity Fund) program.

Roberto served as Class Speaker at the graduation celebration. Now a student at NJ Institute of Technology (NJIT), Roberto is also the 2023-2024 SHPE (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers) president there. His summer internship was at the NJ Office of Faith Based Initiatives. In his NJGHFP graduation speech, Roberto recognized two PCCC administrators for their commitment to supporting student success, particularly for underserved students:  Enrique Noguera, director of PCCC’s EOF program, and Carlomagno Ontaneda, an EOF admissions counselor and recruiter.

Darryl is currently in a master’s degree program at NJIT. He serves at PCCC as a STEM mentor and tutor for the TRiO SSSP (Student Support Services Program). Darryl completed his summer internship at PSE&G and was offered the opportunity to continue on there as a part-time employee.

 Wilbert received a BS in engineering technology from NJIT and is currently in a master’s degree program online from the University of Buffalo. For his summer internship, Wilbert worked for the City of Passaic Engineering Department.

Cristy Sarmiento, a current biology student at PCCC, received the Rising Star Award at the ceremony. The award is given for “extraordinary effort, dedication, and commitment.” At PCCC, she is an ESL mentor for the TRiO SSSP, and she also serves as the president of the B2B (Bridges to Baccalaureate) STEM Club.

“Participating in this program has been an incredibly rewarding experience, offering a multitude of benefits,” said Cristy, who completed her internship with the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey.  Among the benefits she appreciates are increased self-confidence, networking effectively, and gaining firsthand insights into companies that she would otherwise not have had the chance to explore. “But perhaps the most profound benefit,” said Cristy, “has been the chance to push my boundaries, explore my potential, and see what I am truly made of.”  In total, Cristy sums up the NJGHF program “an enriching and transformative journey.”

Mr. Ontaneda urges high school seniors “to attend PCCC and take advantage of the extraordinary opportunity with the NJ Governor’s Hispanic Fellows Program,” as well as other exceptional opportunities available to PCCC students during their first two years of a four-year college education. 

To learn more, contact Mr. Carlomagno Ontaneda at [email protected] or call 973-684-6112.  

Photo (left to right: Gabriel Rivera, Roberto Saenz, Darryl Ortiz, Cristy Sarmiento, Wilbert Minoso)