For Antonio Flores, president of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, the way to raise underserved communities is an open secret: higher education — with a clear pathway.
“We must create a new paradigm of collaboration among all levels of education, creating pathways to success and helping young people to think of themselves as future scientists, engineers, professionals, social workers, teachers — whatever it is that they choose to become — thinking of themselves as the leaders of this nation,” he said recently.
Flores made his remarks at a roundtable event at New Jersey City University that discussed the crucial role that Hispanic-serving institutions play in uplifting communities and providing equal access to education.
He noted the importance of investing in Hispanic-serving institutions.
“(It) takes institutions like NJCU,” he said. “I feel honored to take part in this conversation today, and to be sharing ideas about how we are going to continue to contribute to the betterment of the country and beyond.
“Being here gives us new energy and ways of thinking about what we’re going to do next.”
Flores had complimentary remarks for NJCU interim President Andres Acebo, the only current Latino university president in the state and only the second in the history of the state. Acebo also is a graduate of the HACU Leadership Academy.
“Keep up the great work you’ve been doing,” he said.
Flores and Acebo were joined at the event by Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-Jersey City), Hudson County Community College President Christopher Reber, Union City Public Schools Superintendent Silvia Abbato, Jersey City Public Schools Superintendent Norma Fernandez, members of the NJCU board of trustees as well as current NJCU students.
The group discussed the vital role of HSIs in increasing economic mobility, and NJCU’s unparalleled role in providing access to education for everyone in Hudson County, regardless of their economic circumstances or background.
Acebo said HACU’s impact has been substantial.
“It’s not lost on me the significance the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities has had, not just for NJCU,” he said. “There is no better advocate for HSIs in Washington and nationally than Dr. Flores. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.
“We are poised as a community to be elevated because we have true champions that live the mission. HACU is the singular national voice for Hispanic-serving institutions and Hispanic-serving school districts across the country.”
Acebo completed a one-year fellowship program as part of the third annual cohort of the HACU Leadership Academy/La Academia de Liderazgo in Spring 2022, when he was one of just 25 fellows selected nationally.
Acebo presented Flores with the New Jersey City University Presidential Medallion during the event. And, while the roundtable was Flores’ first visit to the NJCU campus in Jersey City, he previously participated in the university’s commencement exercises in May 2016 at the Prudential Center in Newark, when he received an honorary doctorate and was recognized for 20 years of leadership of the association.