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As we worked together to get rid of the shadow of isolation and ethnic conflict over the past 18 months, what promise did you make to yourself?

What I heard from many people—and what I said to myself—sounds like this: Be truthful. Choose influence over prestige. Align our behavior with what we really value.

So easy to speak or write. Life requires courage.

This is why I was so impressed this week when I learned who would be the next CEO. University track.

College Track began in 1997, when Laurene Powell Jobs and Carlos Watson realized that the first student in their family to go to college received little guidance on how to go to college. Today, the organization provides services to thousands of students-from high school to university, and promises to provide them with up to 10 years of guidance. In June, longtime CEO Elissa Salas stepped down.

This week, College Track announced that Shirley M. Collado, currently the ninth president of Ithaca College, will serve as president and chief executive officer of a non-profit organization headquartered in Oakland, California. Corrado is the first American woman of Dominican descent to run a four-year college or university institution in the United States; she is also the first woman of color to be the dean of Ithaca College in Upstate New York, which has approximately 6,000 students .

Voluntarily leave the position of university president? For a rising higher education leader, this is hardly a “usual” path.

However, it is precisely because Corrado’s story is rarely ordinary, so she consciously made another unusual move. “I’m not going to make a transition,” she told me on the phone this week. “But in the past year, even in the incredible academic opportunities, it has exposed very large inequalities.”

Seeing the inequality of low-income students worsen in the past year has become an urgent call for action by Corrado. And she never shy away from working hard.

Corrado grew up near Sunset Park in Brooklyn and was a child of immigrants from the Dominican Republic. Her father drives a taxi. Her mother and other women in her family work in a factory that makes baby clothes. Corrado eventually raised her two younger brothers and started working when she was 11 years old. University does not seem to be an option.

But an emerging organization called Posse Foundation saw something different: potential. With the help of Posse, after graduating from high school, Collado found himself riding a Greyhound bus to Vanderbilt University with a small group of other first-generation students.

That experience, and subsequent graduate work at Duke University, changed her life. Corrado began to blaze a trail, led her to get a graduate degree from Duke University, helped develop the Posse Foundation itself, and became President of Ithaca in 2017.

Along the way, Corrado has supported many students, but is still keenly aware that many first-generation college students are struggling to deal with challenges that no one else can see.

When Corrado first came to the Ithaca College community, countless students lined up to shake hands with her. Among them was a young Latino student who used her mobile phone nervously to chat with someone in Spanish while waiting in line. When the students finally reached Corrado, she burst into tears. “She said,’Can I hug you? I can’t believe that the president of my university is a Dominican!” Corrado recalled. It turns out that the girl shared her experience with her mother over the phone. “At that moment, I really understood the importance of representing the future of that student and many others,” Corrado said.

During her tenure, Corrado put students at the center of the conversation, aiming to “make sure everyone feels they have a place in conversation and work.” She recruited a top-notch senior female leadership team, including people of color. Kind of and many people who are first-generation students themselves. One of the new provost and executive vice president La Jerne Terry Cornish will serve as Ithaca’s interim principal for the next school year. In cooperation with Cornwall, Corrado oversaw the development of Ithaca’s plan for the next five years.

“From the very beginning, President Corrado has been a change agent,” Ithaca trustees David H. Lissy and Jim Nolan were giving the university community a chance. Wrote in the letter. “She gave Ithaca College a deep understanding of the importance of making higher education more accessible and affordable, and why this has such a positive impact not only on students and their families, but on the entire IC’big family’.”

However, when College Track called, Collado once again deeply felt how to break down barriers for the first generation of students and create conditions for success in many institutions.

Corrado’s values ​​cast a decisive vote. Laurene Powell Jobs, Chairman of College Track wrote: “She will take College Track to new heights, inspire and empower the next generation of students who are going to college to do what she has done: pursue her dreams, open up new paths, and It was difficult to climb while climbing.” In a statement.

“The alarming reality is that talent is everywhere, but opportunities are not the case,” Corrado said. “The vision of College Track fits very well with my efforts throughout my career and in Ithaca. I cannot ignore this call for large-scale services and services.”

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