Embracing Diversity: Boricua College’s Trailblazing Education Vision With Dr. Victor Alicea

Boricua College, under the leadership of Dr. Victor Alicea for 47 years, has revolutionized the concept of higher education. With campuses spread across Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, Boricua College caters to a largely Latino and ethnic student body, making it the first bilingual college in the area.

The college’s mission is rooted in the belief that education should be accessible to all, regardless of their background or circumstances. By providing a second chance to individuals who couldn’t afford or qualify for college earlier in life, Boricua College fills a crucial need in the ethnic and Latino communities. This approach aligns perfectly with Dr. Alicea’s vision of empowering his students to overcome barriers and achieve their academic goals.

One of the key factors that sets Boricua College apart is its commitment to flexible scheduling. Recognizing that many students are juggling multiple responsibilities such as family, work, and other commitments, the college offers classes during evenings, weekends, and even online. This flexibility ensures that students can pursue their education without sacrificing their personal and professional obligations.

In this article, we will delve into the trailblazing education vision of Boricua College and Dr. Victor Alicea, exploring the impact of their approach on the Latino and ethnic communities. Additionally, we will discuss the future of education in light of the college’s pioneering efforts to embrace diversity and provide equitable access to education.

Please enjoy our interview!

What sets Boricua College apart from other colleges in New York City?

Dr. Victor Alicea: Boricua College is a unique institution, the only one of its kind, and we give individualized instruction, meaning a course of one student in a class and the largest classes are 10 to 12 students. The other classes are currently online. We utilize a hybrid model of instruction. One of the interesting things about this is that we have decided that the important thing about an adult education system is that we look to train the student’s minds. We think that that is a critical part of any academic enterprise.

You have to train people on how to think, otherwise, people have a tendency to absorb what somebody else thinks, and other people’s opinions. But if you have the capacity to think then you can actually create knowledge yourself, not just absorb other people’s version of knowledge. So, that’s a very unique way of looking at education, especially higher education.

What are your thoughts on the future of education?

Dr. Victor Alicea: The future of higher education is likely to be shaped by several exciting trends. These trends include personalized and adaptive learning experiences, increased use of technology for teaching and administration, focus on lifelong learning, and a growing demand for skills relevant to rapidly evolving industries. However, striking a balance between technology and human interaction will be important for effective learning experiences.

Additionally, there could be a shift towards more interdisciplinary and experiential learning opportunities to better prepare our students for the dynamic challenges of the modern world. These are approaches that have been refined and central to Boricua College’s educational model for the past 50 years.

What are (3) things that you feel will shape the future of education?

Dr. Victor Alicea: Three significant factors in the future of education or the integration of technology for personalized learning, the emphasis on life longer and upscaling, and the increasing importance of interdisciplinary and real-world problem-solving skills.

Do you agree with a quote previously made: ‘Technology is no longer a motivating factor when it comes to learning — it is a must. It’s something that needs to be incorporated to ensure students are equipped with the skills to cope in a world dependent on technology.

I agree with Alan November’s position where he indicates that technology is no longer optional in education. I agree that integrating technology effectively helps students acquire the skills they need to thrive in a tech-dependent world. Please remember that he also goes on to emphasize student-centered learning which is a core feature of the Boricua College learning model. Let me take a moment to emphasize the importance of critical thinking skills that enable students to evaluate information, solve complex problems, and think critically about the content that they encounter.

What other projects or endeavors are you currently involved with?

Dr. Victor Alicea: Let me also point out that Boricua College is preparing for its 50th anniversary. We were established in 1974 and we will now have an opportunity to reflect on our achievements. I look forward to a promising future. It’s an opportunity for the college community to come together, share stories, and reaffirm the College’s commitment to education, integration of culture, and growth in excellence.

What is next for Boricua College?

Dr. Victor Alicea: We are expanding our wellness and mental health supports focusing on enhancing support services for students and faculty, recognizing the importance of addressing well-being in the learning process. We have also increased our community engagement and are very pleased with our ability to create and foster partnership programs with local community school districts and community-based organizations. Boricua College is uniquely positioned to provide leadership training to marginalized communities and its residents.

Learn more by visiting: https://www.boricuacollege.edu/

Photo Credit: Valentino Caviar

Tammy Reese

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