By Randy Martinez

The Second Transition

A Native of the Dominican Republic, Cristhian Gonzalez came to the states 7 years ago; moving to the Bronx, New York. When he first arrived, it was an incredible learning curve to understand the cities’ inner workings and how to navigate it. He went from living in a country with a population in the low millions, to living in just a city of the same size, and transitioning was one of the most complex challenges Cristhian says he has had to face to date. Yet, he realized earlier on that to live in New York City was an opportunity many adults desired as a teenager; he had to embrace his chance to live in one of the most culturally stimulating places in the world. While living in the city and attending Bronx Latin High School, Cristhian never could have thought that at the end of his senior year of high school he would be transitioning once again, this time to the Adirondack State Park, a place completely different than what had just become his new normal over the years.

As the summer ended, I walked away with a newfound friend and a deep respect for his individual journey

Cristhian Gonzalez enjoys the freedom of living in the Adirondack wilderness, but that hasn’t always been the case. Through the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), Cristhian, like a few others began a summer session at Paul Smith’s College to prepare for the coming year, and this is when I met him myself. There is a saying that when you are a Dominican you can always identify a fellow Dominican. Whether this is true or not I cannot say. But one math class I leaned over and complained to Cristhian in full blown Spanish, not forgetting the many colloquial words found on the island, just knowing he would understand; and I was right. We both talked frequently about the uniqueness of this campus, how free it feels to be a student amongst 14,000 acres and to view it all as your classroom. As the summer ended, I walked away with a newfound friend and a deep respect for his individual journey. Personally, for me it was challenging to move from my home in the city to this isolated campus, I could only imagine what it felt like for Cristhian to move from his home to a new home and then to start the process all over again.

Cristhian began his academic career at Paul Smith’s College in the Entrepreneurial Business Studies program, where after speaking to his advisors and Professor Joseph Conto, he found his way over to his current major: Hotel, Resort, and Tourism Management. As Cristhian put it, “…When I started in the Business program I liked it and thought it was a great start, but deep down I knew what I really wanted to do was work with people of all cultures and be in a position in which I could travel frequently, and I figured that was in the hospitality industry.”

Today, Cristhian continues to work toward his degree while also maintaining a role in our college local DECA Chapter. DECA is a global organization based around preparing future leaders in the hospitality and business field. After being at Paul Smith’s these last two years, it is clear to Cristhian that the Adirondacks and our campus is a special place to learn. In November, he travelled with a fellow hospitality student to Philadelphia to represent our college and let other students out there know that studying hospitality at Paul Smith’s College is an experience unlike any other. This April, Cristhian will be continuing his work with DECA and attending DECA’s International Career Development Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

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