Malcolm/King Award Winner Idalina Marin ’20 Looks to Improve STEM Programs in New York City Public Schools

Malcolm/King Award Winner Idalina Marin ’20 Looks to Improve STEM Programs in New York City Public Schools

Malcolm/King Award Winner Idalina Marin ’20 Looks to Improve STEM Programs in New York City Public Schools

In celebration of Black History Month, our entire community is recognizing the incredible achievements and contributions African-Americans have made to this country. Aiming for a future that fully embodies the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we’re also applauding the work our students, faculty, staff, and alumni are doing to continue this proud legacy. The College is hosting a series of events during the month of February exploring the African-American experience, its history, and its impact on culture; including Education Emcees: Hip Hop and Community Building; AfroLatinidad; and an African-American Military Heritage Luncheon. The month-long celebration culminates with the 30th Malcolm/King Awards Breakfast on February 28, which honors the legacy of Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and recognizes the intellect and determination of our student award winners.

In anticipation of the Malcolm/King Awards Breakfast, we spoke with this year’s award winners to understand what Black History Month means to them and to learn how they hope to advance the work of the African-American leaders that have come before them. The next student in our series is Idalina Marin ’20, an English major from New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood, whose goal is to improve science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programming in New York City public schools, especially in underserved Latinx and African-American communities.

February is Black History Month. What does it mean to you to celebrate the many achievements generations of African-Americans have accomplished?
Black history month is a time to emphasize the importance of black leaders in every community and celebrate all the opportunities they’ve created for future generations. It’s also a chance to reflect on all the ways African-Americans have positively impacted this country for the better.

What goals do you have for advancing equality and fairness for all people, especially African-Americans?
My goal is to improve the STEM program for all public schools in New York City, especially those schools in the underserved Latinx and African-American communities. There are so many intelligent and passionate students with potential to become future scientists in those communities, yet they don’t have access to adequate and engaging STEM programming experiences early in their education. Take my neighborhood of Washington Heights here in New York City for example. Growing up, the STEM programming I was exposed to was terrible. So, when I came to John Jay, I felt so unprepared and like I was falling behind. Improving how STEM programs are run and how students are taught the material, would make it so that public school students coming into college won’t struggle as much; and then they’ll be more likely to want to engage in those classes at the higher levels and pursue careers in the STEM fields.

“African-Americans made it possible for people like my grandfather to immigrate from the Dominican Republic to this country and build a better life for him and his family.” —Idalina Marin

When you think of African-American history, what makes you the proudest?
The drive and motivation African-Americans have had throughout history is something I’ve always admired. African-Americans never seem to lose hope; they fight for what they believe in, whether its civil rights or improving the justice system; and they always have the goal of making society better for everyone. African-Americans made it possible for people like my grandfather to immigrate from the Dominican Republic to this country and build a better life for him and his family.

If you could talk to Malcolm X or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., what would you want to say to them?
I would thank both of them for being inspirational role models and civil rights leaders. Their leadership opened the eyes of many in my community. And, I would ask them: “Did it ever feel like, despite all your hard work, it would never make a difference? Did you ever feel like giving up?”

“The Malcolm/King scholarship means I can stay in school and continue my education.” —Idalina Marin

What does it mean to you to receive the Malcolm/King Scholarship?
The Malcolm/King scholarship means I can stay in school and continue my education. It is a struggle for me to pay for College, so the scholarship will help pay for tuition costs. My father is actually the one who introduced me to Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. and he always told me to view them as role models who fought for justice and made a difference in the world. I’m inspired to follow in their footsteps, and I know through my hard work, I’m making my father, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. proud.

If everything goes according to plan, where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years, I see myself finishing medical school and entering my first-year residency. I also see myself helping kids in STEM programs, providing encouragement, tutoring, and advice.