Parent of Katherine Mateo, Lehman College, triple major in Political Science, Physics, and Philosophy
Macaulay: Can you share with us some biographical background?
My name is Maritza Casado Mejia and I am the mother of Katherine Mateo, a senior in the Macaulay Honors College Class of 2011 at Lehman College. In 1995, my family moved from the Dominican Republic to New York City, where we sought to attain a better future for our three daughters. Their father and I returned to college and completed our degrees after coming to this country. I now work as a Mental Health Counselor and their father is an Institutional and Research Manager at Lehman College. Currently, all three of my daughters are in college and, as a big part of my daughter’s academic lives, I know first hand of their struggles to become successful in their endeavors.
M: What was your hope for your daughter when she started Macaulay Honors College in 2007?
MCM: When Kathy started with Macaulay Honors College in 2007, I hoped that she would be able to prosper. She has always been an overachiever, but I also knew that college would bring with it new challenges. When she started with the Honors College, it was still relatively new, and I hoped that the program would develop with its students to meet their needs and help them aspire to bigger and better things. I am happy to know that the Honors College has grown and become so prestigious. The direction and assistance that Kathy has gained from the College will last her all throughout her life. I can tell, both from what she has told me of her experiences at the College and from the success that she has gained in her academic career, that the Macaulay Honors College was the right choice for her!
M: What has been the biggest surprise over the last four years?
MCM: The biggest surprise over these last four years has been seeing my daughter gain employment at so many prominent offices. She has worked with the New York State Office of the Attorney General, a Supreme Court Justice, a New York State Assemblyman, and a United States Congressman. Although I have always known Kathy to be such an accomplished and determined person, I would have never thought that, as an immigrant coming to a new country, she could make it to such influential government offices. However, moving forward, I have changed this mentality about her. Even as an immigrant and a minority, I am certain that her motivation will override any stereotypes or obstacles she encounters.
M: What goes through your mind as each graduate school accepts Kat into their law program? Do you want her to stay in New York?
MCM: Although I love my daughter and would, like most parents, hope that she stays close to home for law school, I admire her hard work and her dedication to her goals. Right now, she is like the wind – a force that is autonomous and strong. I refuse to put any limitations on her and instead, I am grateful for the opportunities that are being offered to her, even if they may beckon her to leave home. If these opportunities happen to blow her far from home, I will surely miss her, but I know it will be for her success. After all, she will always know where home is.
M: For parents with students just starting college, what would you say, from your experience, is the most important thing to keep in mind?
MCM: The most important thing to keep in mind is that it is crucial to be involved and constant as a parent in your child’s college experience. These four years will be very different from their high school experience and it will take some adjustment for them to adapt to the new demands of college. Although they are now adults and, as Macaulay Honors College students have proved their potential for great success, they are still our children. Baby them now, because at the end of the four years you too may have to let them fly away to make their own homes and lives.