ISSO Holds Open House

Jesus Perez, director of the program, in the new Immigrant Student Success Office. /Maya Schubert

The newly minted Immigrant Student Success Office located in Roosevelt hosted an open house Tuesday, Nov. 12 to showcase the services they are providing to students.

“This is your home,” said Jesus Perez, director of the program, as he greeted a student. “This is for everybody.”

The Immigrant Student Success Office opened in early September with the goal of providing help to immigrant students by offering services like counseling or recommending financial and legal aid.

Now, a little over two months after its opening, the program has expanded accordingly, with between twenty to thirty faculty members on its committee, and about a dozen faculty members on staff. The program has partnered with CUNY Central to bring in immigration attorneys, as well as counselors and mentors.

Tuesday’s open house was the first day of work for Ana Bartolome, a certified consultant for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), and a new part-time assistant to Perez.

Bartolome, who will assist Perez with opening and closing the office, and handle the program’s social media page, wants the office to “be a place for students to have a voice.”

Alexis Perez, a junior, is one of those students. After immigrating to Brooklyn from Panama at age five, Perez has found a community at ISSO, where he volunteers several hours a week, taking phone calls and messages for Jesus Perez. Since spending time in the office, he feels he has connected more with a community that shares his background and experiences.

“It’s not just an office where people come in, get help, and leave,” Perez said. “He [Jesus Perez] actually cares about everyone.”

Goretty Dejesus’ “Me and the Forest” was one of many
paintings hanging in the ISSO. / Chloe Abosch

Recently, ISSO took in a collection of student artwork to decorate the office. On Saturday, November 9, ISSO hosted a kick-off ceremony to celebrate the selected pieces, which were part of the Open Studios initiative by MFA and BFA art students. The artwork represents the diverse voices of the school’s population, each piece a contribution to a larger story.

The day of the event had an added importance nationally as the U.S Supreme Court  readied to vote on whether to repeal the Obama-era immigration policy Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a fact not lost on Jesus Perez, who himself came from Mexico at a young age.

“I want to say to the Brooklyn College family that we’re building community,” he said. “We’re building a place of trust, and all people are welcome.”

ISSO is open to students during class hours. Individual staff hours are posted on the office’s door and listed under Student Support Services within the Student Affairs tab on Brooklyn College’s website.