Arturo Olea ’18

Arturo Olea ’.jpg

Arturo Olea ’18 was born in Higüey, the capital of the eastern La Altagracia Province in the Dominican Republic. He moved to New York in 2012. While attending Manhattan Bridges High School, he became inspired to major in mathematics and computer science at SJC. Olea enjoys connecting with other cultures and the ACES program at SJC is one platform that has helped him find what he was looking for.

I have met great classmates from Africa, Haiti, China, Russia, and Greece. They are wonderful people. I was encouraged to work with them on specials projects, share some foods and of course have some fun,” he said.

— Arturo Olea

Klara Kurti ’17

After living in Diber, Albania, until she was 6, Klara Kurti ’17 moved with her family to New York City for a better life. Like many families who immigrate from overseas, her family came with almost nothing. After she graduated from high school, SJC provided Kurti with financial aid, through the College’s Academic Center for English Language Studies (ACES) program. The funds made it possible for Kurti’s parents to afford sending Kurti and her sister to college.

Not a lot of colleges acknowledge immigrants and ESL students. It’s difficult to be successful in an environment where you don’t fit in — the ACES program is there for those individuals,” Kurti said. “You don’t feel alone, you don’t feel like you don’t belong, and most importantly, you don’t feel helpless because you weren’t born here.”
— Klara Kurti



When Mahmudur Rahman applied to St. Joseph’s College, he had been living in the U.S. for less than five years after moving here from Bangladesh with his family. He tested out of English as a Second Language courses in his junior year of high school. He joined ACES to perfect his English skills while exploring career options in computer science and biochemistry.
"I really liked it that I received a special grant to be an ACES student, and I’ve had fun while improving my writing, reading and comprehension skills," he said. 

“Most of my ACES classmates are all from different countries, but we have ACES as a common experience, so it’s easy to make good friends early on at St. Joseph’s.”



Kai Lian Chen had only been in the U.S. for two years when she entered the ACES Program at SJC. She loved her biology class in high school and she majored in biology at St. Joseph’s. During her senior year, Kai Lian was accepted at SUNY Downstate College of Medicine — an accomplishment she attributes in part to her experience in the ACES program. 
“It was great to be in a freshman English class where I could feel comfortable working to improve my essay writing," she said. 

The ACES professors helped me prepare presentations and papers for other classes so that I could keep my grades high enough to get into medical school.