Three LaGuardia Community College Students Prepare for Immersive Learning Experience in the 2023 Vassar College Exploring Transfer Program

Pictured from left to right: Mingyo (Min) Song, Tania Sierra, and Gabriella Paltoo Sierra.

LONG ISLAND CITY, NY (April 25, 2023) — LaGuardia Community College students Mingyo Song, Tania Sierra, and Gabriella Paltoo Sierra were recently accepted to the 2023 Exploring Transfer Program at Vassar College.

The program provides an immersive academic experience for community college students interested in transferring to competitive and rigorous senior colleges. Over five weeks during the summer, Exploring Transfer students live on the Vassar College campus and take two courses co-taught by Vassar and community college faculty. The program is cost-free for the students; a scholarship covers tuition, fees, room, board, books, and supplies.

“Particularly for students who are the first in their families to go to college, getting to experience what it can be like to live on a residential college campus can be transformative,” said Jose Plasencia of LAGCC Transfer Services, who serves as LaGuardia’s campus coordinator for the Exploring Transfer program. “They get to experience living away from their families while going to school, build confidence in their abilities to be successful when transferring to a four-year college, begin their acclimation process to a four-year college, and add to their transfer application.”

Mingyo (Min) Song, 19, is an Early Education major from South Korea. She hopes to graduate from LaGuardia in June 2024 and then pursue her bachelor’s degree. Her goal is to become a kindergarten teacher. “I know what life is like at LaGuardia, so I’m excited to see what life is like outside of New York City and what it’s like to be at a four-year college. The Vassar campus is so pretty.”

Tania Sierra, 27, is the first in her family to go to college. Her family emigrated from Mexico. She is an ASAP and Honors Program student majoring in Public and Community Health with a 3.8 GPA. “After high school, I started at another college but had to leave when my grades were too low. Now to be back in college at LaGuardia, with a strong GPA and having gotten into the Vassar program, I feel very fortunate.” Tania expects to graduate from LaGuardia in June 2024, and then hopes to pursue a bachelor’s in public health at Hunter College. Her goal is to become an epidemiologist.

Gabriella Paltoo Sierra, 21, of Woodside, Queens, plans to graduate from LaGuardia in June with her associate degree in English. She was raised in Woodside, Queens. Her mother emigrated from Mexico and her father’s family is from Trinidad. Gabriella plans to pursue a career in international relations and environmental sustainability. “The Vassar program will be a good test of how I can do at a four-year college—what will it be like to be on a big campus, can I balance my time well, and whether I have the study chops.”

The Exploring Transfer Program was initiated in 1985 as a partnership between Vassar College and LaGuardia Community College. Previous LaGuardia students who have gone through the Exploring Transfer Program at Vassar College have transferred to selective colleges for their bachelor’s degrees.

Based on the program’s success, additional schools joined the Exploring Transfer network. Today it includes 16 community colleges throughout the Northeast.

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LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC), a Hispanic-Serving Institution, located in Long Island City, Queens offers more than 50 degrees and certificates, and more than 65 continuing education programs to educate New Yorkers seeking new skills and careers. As an institution of the City University of New York (CUNY), the College reflects the legacy of our namesake, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the former NYC mayor beloved for his advocacy of underserved populations. Since 1971, LaGuardia’s academic programs and support services have advanced the socioeconomic mobility of students while providing them with access to a high quality, affordable college education.


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