Lenni Joya spoke from experience when he recently spent an entire day visiting English Language Learners at Huntington High School, discussing the college application process and his experiences at Marist College in Poughkeepsie. The alum’s visit was meant to both inform and inspire.
Mr. Joya received a full scholarship from Marist College. It covers studies through a Ph.D. “So he’s going to take advantage of this and continue with his graduate studies right after graduation,” said Huntington Spanish teacher Mercedes Peña, who invited her former intern to speak with her current students. “He’s considering the fields of political science and teaching languages (Spanish and Italian). He hasn’t decided which one he prefers as a major in graduate school because he’s had positive experiences in both areas.”
Lenni Joya as a Huntington High School senior.
The Huntington Class of 2015 member is a Marist senior so Mr. Joya had plenty of experiences to share with the high school students who listened to his every word.
“Lenni gave a wonderful presentation to the ELL students about the importance of going to college and how to prepare for this big step in life,” Mrs. Peña said. “He has been coming every year to talk to the ELL population, however this was the first year that he didn’t know most of the students, nor did they know him.”
Mr. Joya interned with Mrs. Peña as a senior and the ELL students he worked during that stretch went on to graduate last June. “Most of those students mentioned to me that Lenni motivated them to do well in high school so they could continue with college,” Mrs. Peña said.
The Huntington grad visited Home Language Arts classes taught by Mrs. Peña and her faculty colleagues, Itzel Cedillo and Maria Gonzalez. “Lenni is still an inspiration to our students,” Mrs. Peña said.
The visit went over very well with current Huntington students. “The main goal of my presentation was to talk about the college application process, experience and life while in college,” Mr. Joya said. “As a first generation student, I know the importance of this topic and I understand the value this conversation has on students that do not have anyone to rely on for college matters. Thus, I strongly believe that the community at Huntington High School can benefit from this type of talk.”
Mr. Joya told students that they “need to understand that it doesn’t matter [as to] one’s background, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, language, etc.; we can still progress in this country of opportunities.”