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At Saint Rose, says Michael Alston ’14, learning Spanish definitely did not mean memorizing vocabulary words. It meant total language immersion and traveling to Panama and to Puerto Rico to experience daily life and examine some of the harder edges of poverty and race.

“Because all of my Saint Rose classes were in Spanish, when I went to study at a university in Puerto Rico, where all of my classes were also in Spanish, it wasn’t a big shock or a difficult adjustment,” says Alston, who completed a double major in Spanish and criminal justice. He had the drive, and his professors provided the opportunities, to combine his interest in Hispanic cultures with a look at deviant behaviors. On a faculty-led research trip to Panama, he researched the difference in status between African blacks and those from the West Indies. Alston presented his finding as an on-campus research symposium. He followed with a year-long independent study in Puerto Rico and produced a web site on the history culture and linguistic influences of people of African descent in Puerto Rico. He continues to explore these questions as a master’s degree candidate at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. Next up: a Ph.D. program in sociology where he can study crime, delinquency and racism in the United States and abroad. It has been a clear path since Saint Rose, thanks to the small sizes, inspiring professors and study abroad opportunities.

“Saint Rose has prepared me academically and socially to handle the real world. Upon graduating I felt 100 percent ready to face my future.”