Center for International Programs congratulates first #YouAreWelcomeHere scholarship recipients

SUNY New Paltz’s Center for International Programs joined a select few U.S. colleges and universities in offering a #YouAreWelcomeHere scholarship to international students, as part of a broader effort to promote intercultural education and exchange.

The College named Alex Palmero ’23 (Computer Science) and Isabela de la Rocha ’21 (Finance) as its first ever #YouAreWelcomeHere scholarship recipients for the fall 2019 semester.

“We are delighted to welcome our first #YouAreWelcomeHere scholarship recipients to New Paltz,” said Beth Vargas, executive director of international programs. “These students bring diversity to our campus and both benefit from and contribute to the creative environment that our campus provides.”

Palmero was born in Spain and moved to Ireland with his family at the age of 14. He is pursuing a degree in computer science and dreams of someday specializing in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. He is a member of the men’s swimming team and is currently working to create a co-ed fraternity on campus that brings together international and domestic students in mentorship relationships.

“Throughout the whole application process, SUNY New Paltz was so helpful and attentive with every step,” Palmero said. “The atmosphere on campus is so vibrant, and every person I’ve spoken to in New Paltz has been incredibly friendly.”

Isabela de la Rocha is from La Paz, Bolivia, and comes to New Paltz as a transfer student after beginning her collegiate career in the United States at Jefferson Community College in Watertown, New York. She is planning to organize hybrid food events where New Paltz community members could share typical dishes from their families and cultures.

“Bridging cultural divides is more important now than ever,” de la Rocha said. “An international cuisine event with an American twist would be a great way to support intercultural learning and bridge cultural divides.”

The #YouAreWelcomeHere initiative is a collective of institutions of higher learning, created in November 2016 with a shared mission to ensure that international students feel welcome and comfortable studying at U.S. colleges and universities.

“International students play a crucial role in creating academic and cultural growth in our programs, bringing experiences from their home countries that often change the perceptions of those they interact with while they’re here,” said Amanda Stevens, scholarship committee member and manager of international recruitment at SUNY New Paltz. “We can’t wait to see what these scholarship recipients will do to implement their ideas.”

The #YouAreWelcomeHere scholarship will continue to be offered at SUNY New Paltz for the fall 2020, 2021 and 2022 semesters, resulting in a total of eight international students receiving support.

“I would like to extend a personal thank you to Vice President L. David Eaton who has been supportive of international educational exchange throughout his distinguished tenure at SUNY New Paltz and who made the funding for this scholarship possible,” Vargas said.

Eligible students must apply to SUNY New Paltz before completing a scholarship application, which can then be submitted via email to

Learn more online about the #YouAreWelcomeHere scholarship and how to apply.