NL grad encourages bilingual teens to attend college
By Scott Bellile
A New London alumna returned to town this month to encourage bilingual high school students to attend college.
Ruby Fortuno, daughter of Pamela and Jose Fortuno and currently a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, joined three members of UWO’s Student Organization of Latinos in answering New London High School bilingual students’ college questions on Nov. 5.
The New London Class of 2015 grad said returning home was worth it to help her younger friends with their life decisions.
“I know some of them were kind of iffy about going to college, but talking to some of them and knowing they changed their minds, that’s a really nice feeling,” Fortuno said.
Fortuno is studying criminal justice and Spanish at UWO with the hopes of becoming an immigration attorney.
“From an early age, Ruby expressed her desire to succeed and knew she wanted to continue her education after graduation from high school,” said Lori Menning, School District of New London bilingual coordinator. “In addition, her family expected it of her, as she is the first in her family to attend college.”
A few years ago Fortuno wanted to study law at UCLA but found it to be too expensive. She shifted to UWO after she attended its Multicultural Preview Days and summer PreCollege Programs and realized it felt like home.
Fortuno is active in Student Organization of Latinos and is pledging a sorority.
Her tips for future college students: apply for university scholarships and New London’s NewLASS community scholarships early senior year, write a personal budget before heading off, get homework done right away for more free time and live in the campus dorms.
“It’s nice to have a home away from home,” Fortuno told students. “Even though I’m 40 minutes away, it’s nice. Don’t feel afraid to go to college just because you don’t want to be away from your family. Be brave to branch out.”
Flora Stapel, admissions counselor and Hispanic community liaison at UW Oshkosh, said Fortuno is a leader who does well academically. Stapel enlisted her and the other guests to convince Latino students that a college education is achievable, even if they’re first-generation or their family’s finances are tight.