Click to hear Carlos Barralaga tell you about his journey at Stockton University, what his plans are as inaugural president for the Honduran Student Association and what he would give to first-year students.
When the time came for Galloway native Carlos Barralaga to start thinking about college, he found himself inspired by an event hosted by the Hispanic Association of Atlantic County (HAAC) in 2019.
Growing up in Galloway posed challenges when deciding whether to attend a local university, but after attending the Latino Youth Leadership Summit on May 18th, 2019, while a sophomore in high school, my entire perspective of Stockton University changed. Stockton was no longer just the university in my local town but a university with a welcoming sense of belonging that truly sealed the deal for me.
He soon applied to Stockton University and became a first-generation student. However, working full-time proved to be a hurdle.
I was initially unaware of how to take part in Stockton's opportunities, so I faced the challenge of becoming involved on campus. My first year proved difficult as I was failing a class, lacked campus engagement and struggled to make friends.
During the summer, I contemplated dropping out but decided to embrace stepping out of my comfort zone.
I actively worked on my social skills, initiating conversations and breaking the ice. Over time, I became more extroverted, started forming connections and started a student organization centered on Honduran culture, uniting students of Honduran and non-Honduran backgrounds. This transformation took me from an uncertain freshman to a proactive junior.
Speaking of that club for Honduran students…
My advice to first-year students at Stockton is to set clear goals, identify the necessary steps to reaching those goals and be honest with yourself because, many times, the magic we're looking for is in the work we're avoiding.
Many Honduran/Honduran American students at Stockton are unaware of how many peers share their cultural backgrounds. While we all belong to the Latino community, we are a highly diverse group. To promote broader Latino representation on campus, I believe student leaders from all three of the Latino-based organizations, collectively Los Latinos Unidos (LLU), the Mexican Student Association (MEXSA) and the Honduran Student Association (HONSA), must lead by example, working collaboratively to represent our diverse identities.
As the inaugural president, I'm eager to demonstrate to students the opportunities available at Stockton, set an example for how to make one's voice heard and unite students, not only those of Honduran descent but from all backgrounds, to advocate for their cultural representation on campus and in our surrounding communities.
Carlos hasn’t just found his footing at Stockton – he’s been soaring since and hopes that future students will do the same.
In my junior year, I plan on improving my daily routine to enhance my education at Stockton, which includes improving time management and prioritizing mental health. Effectively managing time and problem-solving under pressure have been valuable skills I've started to develop, but recognizing the need to step back and prioritize mental well-being has proven to be essential not only for me but for all students.
My advice to first-year students at Stockton is to set clear goals, identify the necessary steps to reaching those goals and be honest with yourself because, many times, the magic we're looking for is in the work we're avoiding. We are all capable of anything, so long we put our mind to it.