Mother and Daughter Power Team Graduate Together from ESU
Different majors, different goals, different stages in life.
But mother and daughter Maria Ortiz-Cintron, 46, and Victoria Cintron, 22, from East Stroudsburg, have been in sync all the way through their college careers. Both will receive their ESU bachelor’s degrees on December 15, Maria in communications and Victoria in Spanish. Both are Dean’s List students who have won academic awards. And both are focused, motivated and determined to excel.
Maria and Victoria started their academic careers together at Northampton County Community College when Maria decided that earning a college degree was a good example for her children. They received associate degrees in 2017. When Victoria transferred to ESU, being a full-time student earning a bachelor’s degree was not top of mind for Maria, who at first thought her involvement with ESU would be driving her daughter to school. “I decided I might as well stay for classes,” Maria laughs, “And not just serve as her taxi.”
Native New Yorkers from the Bronx, the Cintron family moved to East Stroudsburg in 2001, seeking a slower pace and better schools for their children. (Ironically, with typical energy and determination, Maria for some time continued the grueling commute to her job as an executive assistant at the New York Botanical Gardens.)
As “NuyorRIcans,” native New Yorkers of Puerto Rican descent, Maria says the Cintron family has close ties to family in Puerto Rico. So at ESU both Maria and Victoria opted for majors that tied into their heritage and pressing social concerns.
For Victoria, being bilingual led to her major in Spanish. After courses like Spanish for Business, and a translation course, she realized the many opportunities for translation and interpretation. “I want to start my own business,” she says. “There is a need in healthcare, the law, and the Spanish-speaking population is growing.“ Susana Maiztegui, instructor in ESU’s Spanish for the Professions program, agrees with Victoria’s choice, noting the demand for translators and interpreters includes social services, social work, the legal field, criminal justice, financial planning and more, a market that the ESU program is working to meet. “Victoria is an exceptional young woman,” Maiztegui says. “She is extremely goal oriented and a very hard worker. I know she is going to do well.”
For Maria, her ties to Puerto Rico and communications courses like Political Communication and Criticism of Television led to her final independent study project on the failures and successes of communication in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and the importance of radio in those efforts.
“The people of Puerto Rico were literally incommunicado from each other and from the rest of the world – in fact, the Governor could not communicate with the mayors of the 78 municipalities, thereby delaying recovery efforts,” Maria says. “In all of this, it was radio that saved the day, as central hubs for people to come to, get on air and let their loved ones know they were okay. A year after the hurricane, it was my way of making sure the disaster, and more importantly, the valuable lessons learned, remained relevant.” Professor Robert McKenzie, chair of the Communication Department, says part of the project is also designed so Maria can share the outcome with emergency management groups.
Of his student McKenzie says, “Professors love returning adult students like Maria. They are so focused, have advanced knowledge, and understand the value of their education.”
Interestingly, along the way to her degree Maria Cintron says she discovered her true passion – research. “I discovered, wow, I’m really good at this!” she says. So she is applying for a fellowship at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) leading to a doctorate in history, with research focusing on Puerto Rico both pre- and post-Hurricane Maria, including migration patterns after the disaster – and preparing for another long commute.
For Victoria Cintron, next spring she hopes to participate in a six-month cultural ambassador program offered by the Spanish Consulate.
For the Cintron family — Victoria’s brother Jared, is also an ESU student, a sophomore computer science major — Maria sums up their guiding principle. “It is important to get it done and get it done well. And it’s never too late to get things done!”