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Pick Up Your Bags: Come Colegial Invites You To Their First Free Mini Market

For many of us, the phrase “the struggle is real” has become more of a lifestyle, where we, as students, undergo many hardships in order to pursue our dreams and goals alike. Due to the recent uprising of the enrollment price in the UPR system, the daily problems with the electrical power, food, and supplies due to last year’s atmospheric events, and the uncertainty and worry of a hurricane affecting the island, the student population of UPRM are left with a constant reminder of the reality of their own situations and problems. Regardless of the “struggles” we face, one thing we can count on is our student association Come Colegial, who dedicate themselves in providing groceries and other supplies based on the needs of our student population with the purpose of giving us a peace of mind and making sure we have a meal waiting for us at home.


(Picture found in Come Colegial’s official Facebook page)


Their first Free Mini Market, which happened on August 30th, 2018, was an event created by their vice-president Paola Velez Lopez because she was thinking of a strategy to let more students know of the services Come Colegial offers while at the same time, distributing food, school supplies, water, and other resources to a large number of students. In contrast to previous activities, where they would offer groceries and food to students who signed up to receive these services. This time, “we were able to achieve a new milestone, where students who have previously benefited from our services, and those who are discovering who we are as an association and what we work towards our students at Colegio, can benefit from the amount of resources of today’s Free Mini Market.”


(Picture found on Instagram @problematicshopaholic)


As always, Come Colegial’s advisor, Lucy Serrano Gaston, was present at the activity supporting members of the board and the multiple undergraduate and graduate student volunteers who were actively working moving water and other supplies for the event. Serrano mentioned that it was important to open a space for such an event for “we are currently in hurricane season and we feel it is important for our students to have peace of mind during their studies knowing they have both food and resources to be better prepared in case of another catastrophic event, such as last year’s hurricane.”  


(Picture taken by Mildred M Vargas Astacio)


This was the main reason why it was important for Come Colegial to give out nonperishable food, and enough resources to students in a “bigger scale than normally, for students of all majors to know about our initiative and integrate themselves more as a collective community were they support each other.” On a final note, Serrano commented that one of the reason this activity was successful was the message it brought to our students, for “this activity was an example where one can admire students’ compassion and hard work to their fellow Colegiales.”


(Picture found in Come Colegial’s official Facebook page)


As Velez Lopez expressed, this event was also possible with the collaboration of Abbott Laboratories - Barceloneta, which is a pharmaceutical company with branches across Puerto Rico and the US. This company provided large crafts of bottled water, and a bag with their company logo filled with first aid supplies, such as large batteries for flashlights, hand sanitizer to keep unwanted germs away, non oily or grease Off to keep flies and the Zika virus away, and other items. Among the many food items students were able to receive on the mini market were canned food, breakfast items, such as cereal and pop tarts, snacks, ingredients for a nice lunch or dinner, and school supplies as well, specifically for those students who have a hard time getting all their materials on time due to economic difficulties.


(Picture found in Come Colegial’s official Facebook page)


With the huge collaboration of volunteers, the aid from Abbott Laboratories - Barceloneta, the motivation of the Come Colegial board, their constant mentoring from their advisor, and the inspiring idea from their Vice-president, their first Free Mini Market was a complete success. In the future, they hope to offer more Free Mini Markets, seeing how they were not only able to impact a large number of the UPRM student population, but they also inspired undergraduate and graduate students to join their organization and lend a hand for their fellow Colegiales. As Velez Lopez reflected on the success of the activity, she expressed “there is no better feeling than the satisfaction of helping others for them to have a less stressful week by not worrying about not having food on the table or not having school supplies to complete their assignments.”


Edcel Javier Cintrón Gonzalez is an English Instructor and a certified ESL Secondary Level Teacher working towards achieving a Masters of Arts in English Education at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus where he also obtained a B.A. in English Literature. He is currently working as a Graduate Writing Facilitator at the new Graduate Research and Innovation Center at the UPRM. Edcel has served many roles during his academic career, such as the Logistics representative and President of the Professional Graduate Honor Society (PGHS), a peer-tutor at the English Writing Center, and ex-President of the Future Teachers Association. He has presented in the national Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association (PCA/ACA) conference, the Central Illinois Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference at Illinois State University (ISU), the College English Association-Caribbean Chapter annual conference, and in Puerto Rico TESOL. In addition, he has taught INGL 3201 & 3202 in the Faculty of Arts & Science, taught courses in the Faculty of Business Administration, such as the EXADEP Exam Review, and Conversational English, and a series of invited talks on campus and at Carlos Albizu University at Mayagüez. His research interests include Children’s Literature, ESL education, Resume and CV writing, among others. Now, he is working as an editor for HerCampus UPRM.
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