Defying odds and overcoming challenges is nothing new to Amarfi Collado, the valedictorian of SJC Brooklyn’s 101st graduating class. Since Collado moved to New York with her family from the Dominican Republic as a teenager, she has persevered and lived up to the College motto: Esse non videri ─ “To be, not to seem.”
Collado is an honors student and the third consecutive Academic Center for English Language Studies (ACES) scholar to earn the honor of valedictorian. She has earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice while minoring in psychology and philosophy. She is also working on a counseling certificate.
After graduation, Collado will attend New York University and pursue a master’s degree in counseling for mental health and wellness, focusing on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community.
“I’m extremely proud of my 2020 fellow classmates; their resilience is one to be emphasized after their entire previous lifestyles were turned upside down,” Collado said. “When one’s routine is suddenly taken away, most people can’t cope with it but the 2020 seniors have been coping and going beyond to stay focus and maintain traditions.”
Collado said she is honored to be representing such a resilient class.
“I don’t want to tell my fellow graduates to be strong because they already are,” she said. “I want to tell them to look forward and always keep their ‘why’ present. To remember ‘why’ they entered SJC and finished their bachelors, and ‘why’ they should continue with their master’s.”
Valedictorian Immersed in Campus Life
Collado is involved in all aspects of campus life at SJC Brooklyn. She was president of the Student Government Association for the 2019-20 academic year, and was a member of the dance team, step team, dance club, honors society, Student Leadership Experience (SLE), LGBTQA club and Poder Latino.
Collado thrived at St. Joseph’s, traveling to Greece with the Honors program and helping develop the Voices of SJC oral history project, where she and her peers documented the College’s history by interviewing alumni. She also helped advocate for donations from the Alumni Association to turn the Bear Cave into a recreation center for her peers. Collado held a busy schedule at St. Joseph’s, but whenever a classmate or a friend needed a helping hand or support at a campus event or fundraiser, she could be counted on to be the first to volunteer her time.
After finishing high school at Pan American International High School in Elmhurst, Queens — where she was also valedictorian of her class — Collado knew she wanted to continue her educational career at a college with small class sizes, similar to what she was used to at her alma mater.
“Being selected as valedictorian reminds me of when I was the valedictorian in high school,” Collado said. “I can vividly remember being nervous right before giving my valedictorian speech … Despite everything, I feel extremely privileged to have been picked for this honor.”