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Law Students from the Dominican Republic Are Welcomed at the Start of an Intensive Exchange Program

John Jay gave a warm welcome to 11 law students from the Universidad Autonma de Santo Domingo on Monday, June 3, in a ceremony that also paid homage to the value of higher education, diversity and the longstanding relationship between John Jay’s Department of Latin American and Latina/o Studies and the Universidad Autonma de Santo Domingo (UASD). UASD is the oldest university in the Western Hemisphere founded in 1538 by Pope Paul III.

The ceremony was attended by dignitaries such as New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, Hon. Fern A. Fisher, Director, New York State Courts Access to Justice Program and
Deputy Chief Administrative Judge, NYC Courts; Manuel Lantigua, Community Leader and Officer of the NYDO, Association of Dominican police officers; and Johnny Nunez, Officer of GANLEP, Association of Dominican Police Officers.

Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez spoke about the multifarious contributions of the country’s growing Dominican population, the value of higher education and personal integrity.

As Dominguez said, Domincans are one of the largest minorities among CUNY students. “As you know, we live in a diverse society where we have to celebrate who we are,” added Rodriguez. “CUNY is an entry door,” he said.

President Travis followed Rodriguez’s remarks, “Let me take a moment to thank Councilmember Rodriquez for coming by to greet these students and give his very inspirational message about the value of education and integrity in one’s life, and why we try to maintain those values and standards and most importantly to celebrate the longstanding relationship between our two great institutions.”

The students will spend the first week of the seminar at John Jay in seminars taught by the faculty of the Department of Latin America and Latina/o Studies, and during the second week they will visit courtrooms and observe criminal trials, acquiring firsthand experience of the United Sates legal system.

The UASD students’ arrival on campus marks a significant evolution in the relationship between John Jay and the UASD. For six years UASD has hosted John Jay students as part of a study abroad program to the Dominican Republic, coordinated by Professor Luis Barrios of the LLS Department. The program is designed to educate John Jay students about the Dominican justice system and justice issues involving the Hatian-Domincan border.

Jose Bernal, a College Assistant in the Office of Testing and Evaluation and a recent John Jay alumnus, attended the ceremony and partook in the John Jay study abroad program while he was a student. He believes opportunities for both countries to learn from one another are intrinsic to our mutual growth.

“This is a big step for both John Jay and the UASD: exchange students can learn about both institutions, the criminal justice systems, and become advocates for justice wherever they go,” said Bernal. “The relationship between John Jay and the UASD is very unique and important because both institutions are educating us to fight for what is just and right.”

“The most valuable aspect of my study abroad program in the Dominican Republic was learning more about my heritage and the knowledge and experience that one can gain from it. Equally significant was the exposure to the criminal justice system in the DR.”

The welcoming event was featured on NY1 Noticias and Dominican Today.

To view the NY1 Noticias segment, click here.

To read the Dominican Today article, click here.