Alumnus Aramis Gutierrez Molds Future Scholars

12/09


The transformative powers of education are well known to Aramis Gutierrez, Jr., of Trenton. Ever since he can remember, the importance of a solid education has been firmly planted in his mind. His father, one of 11 children and a top high school graduate in Puerto Rico, did not attend college due to work obligations. Gutierrez' mother, Gladys, attended MCCC and later graduated from Rider University while raising him and his two brothers.

All three sons absorbed their parents' passion to succeed. "Our inquisitive father and our mother, who became a high school Spanish teacher, showed us that it takes hard work to succeed in anything," said Gutierrez. His brother Abdel is now a local high school principal, while his brother Abel is CEO and founder of THINK, Inc., a health and fitness management solutions consultant.

Gutierrez himself is breaking new ground in the education field. As director of the Rutgers University Future Scholars Program, he leads an initiative whose mission is to ensure that academically promising middle school students from at-risk communities have the support they need to attend and graduate from Rutgers University. Selected students receive year-round academic enrichment and mentoring to help ensure successful academic and personal outcomes, as well as free tuition if admitted.

Aramis Gutierrez

"We want to help ease the pressure and anxiety these students face and surround them with like-minded, driven, young people," said Gutierrez. Rutgers' first cohort of 200 scholars, the Class of 2017, began their affiliation with the University in the summer of 2008.

In addition to designing the curriculum, Gutierrez works to build alliances with partner school districts, the Rutgers community, local industry and government leaders. "I am very fortunate to be in an enjoyable and meaningful position that will significantly impact the lives of families, improve our communities and our state," he said.

A graduate of McCorristin Catholic High School, Gutierrez enrolled at MCCC in 1993, where he found abundant learning opportunities. Majoring in Humanities and Social Science, he credits Mercer for helping him improve his writing skills, time management, and goal setting. He recalls Professor Noreen Duncan as having a particularly positive influence on his life and career. "Professor Duncan set high expectations and created a supportive and nurturing environment that challenged me," Gutierrez said.

Transferring to Rider University in fall 1995, Gutierrez earned a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and Sociology in 1999. From there, he taught at U.S. Grant Elementary School, earning the NJ Governor's Recognition for Excellence in Teaching and the Trenton Board of Education's Outstanding Bilingual Teacher awards. He later worked as a guidance counselor at Princeton High School and served as associate director of the Nontraditional Career Resource Center at Rutgers prior to his present position.

Gutierrez maintains a valuable connection with Mercer County Community College, working as a part-time academic counselor to give back to those "who could easily have been me" 15 years ago. Continuing to seize new educational opportunities, he is currently completing a master's degree in Liberal Arts at Rutgers and plans to pursue a doctorate in American Studies.

His ultimate goal is to raise the bar for youngsters who wish to succeed against the odds. "I always tell students to expect the best from themselves," Gutierrez stresses. "Learning doesn't just take place within the walls of a classroom. If you're not learning, you're not living. Education can be a great equalizer; its transformative power creates opportunity."

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