Two MCC alumni, Marisol Conde-Hernandez and Charlie Hahn, were keynote speakers at the E.M.P.O.W.E.R. 10th anniversary celebration in October of 2019. E.M.P.O.W.E.R. is a college prep and mentoring program aimed at high school students in New Brunswick.
Ms. Conde-Hernandez became New Jersey’s first undocumented female attorney in October of 2018, after a lifetime of stress – but also support from her family and community. Her parents crossed the U.S.-Mexico border with her in the late 1980s when she was only 1 year old. She grew up in Mercer and Middlesex Counties knowing and understanding she was undocumented, but it did not diminish her relentless commitment to her goal of a college degree. Since 2005, she continuously and concurrently worked full-time, studied part-time, and publicly advocated for humane immigration reform and policies. In the process, Ms. Conde-Hernandez graduated from Middlesex County College, graduated summa cum laude from Rutgers University–New Brunswick, and then became New Jersey’s first undocumented law school graduate. She has addressed hundreds of venues and crowds of various sizes and demographics on immigration topics while organizing and advocating for pro-immigrant federal and state legislation, like the DREAM Act of 2007 and the NJ In-State Tuition Bill of 2013. She also co-founded New Jersey’s first statewide, grassroots immigrant youth-led organization, which, in collaboration with other organizations of young advocates, successfully moved the state and then-governor Chris Christie to make in-state tuition for certain undocumented students at public colleges a reality.
After over a decade of advocating for New Jersey’s immigrant community, she is proud and privileged to now represent and advocate for individual members of her community before state, federal, and administrative courts. She is an Associate Attorney of the Law Office of Eric M. Mark, where the firm specializes in “crimmigration,” the intersection of criminal and immigration law.
“My road had a lot of bumps and a lot of challenges but ultimately what keep me persevering was the love for my parents and the fact that I couldn’t let them down,” she told the audience at the E.M.P.O.W.E.R. celebration.
Mr. Hahn is a U.S. Air Force Veteran, currently working in New York City as a Data Analytics Manager at MKTG. In 2012, Charlie graduated from MCC as Salutatorian of his class, then transferred to Rutgers University where he graduated with a Bachelor’s in Economics in 2015.
During his time at MCC and Rutgers, he actively volunteered with AmeriCorps and the E.M.P.O.W.E.R. program, which were some of the highlights of his college experience, and where he met his lovely wife. Coincidentally she was MCC’s Salutatorian in 2011.
Presently, Mr. Hahn is not only busy balancing work and life, but also chasing around his active 1-year old son.
“MCC I hold close to my heart, as its where I met my wife and proposed to her,” he said.