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Morrisville State College Student Pursues Architectural Dream, Will Graduate During Commencement Ceremony May 19

MORRISVILLE, N.Y.—When he was young, Julio Torres used to break open his toys to see what was inside.

The intricacies of how things were constructed fascinated him—a curiosity that shifted later in life from toys to bigger things, like buildings and monuments—and became the foundation for his desire to become an architect.

That dream once seemed out of reach for the Dominican Republic native who grew up so poor he sold candy bars and cleaned shoes to help provide money for his family.

So much has changed for Torres since then.

Today, the 22-year-old Morrisville State College student from Bronx. N.Y., is making plans to graduate with an associate degree in architectural studies and design. He will be among Morrisville State College students participating in commencement exercises which will be held May 19 at 1 p.m. on Drake Field.

Although the road to college was laden with obstacles and challenges and entailed moving around a lot, Torres dreamed big and never stopped going after what he wanted.

“All I know is that people can do anything they set out to do,” he said. “Sometimes life seems hard and people close themselves in a bubble. It is good to look outside of yourself to see what others have been through—then you realize things aren’t really as bad as you thought.”

When he did, Torres saw all of the good things in his life—including a world of opportunity and dreams—and he chose to go after them, starting with pursuing a college education.

“If someone says it’s too hard or you can’t do it, I take on the challenge,” he said. “When I was little, people thought because I came from a poor background, I wouldn’t be able to get to where I wanted to go.”

He proved them wrong.

Torres left the Dominican Republic and moved to Puerto Rico when he was 12 years old. He moved to the United States four years ago, settling in Bronx, N.Y., with his aunt, Julia Torres. There, he learned how to speak English and enrolled at Morrisville State College where he has excelled academically and as a student leader.

He took advantage of every opportunity Morrisville had to offer to enhance his college experience, getting involved both on and off campus.

“I am the kind of person who always wants to be learning something,” Torres said.

That is evident in his college involvement and one of the reasons he was recently awarded the prestigious 2007 SUNY-wide Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, an honor bestowed for outstanding academic achievement and service and leadership on campus and in the community.

He’s visible on campus through his membership in a variety of clubs, including the Morrisville State College Architecture Club and the American Institute of Architecture Students, Morrisville State College Chapter. He serves as president of the college’s Latin American Student Organization (LASO) and was a member of the college’s basketball team.

His academic kudos include being named to the Dean’s List and Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, receiving the Tony Patane Award in recognition of academic excellence, the Architectural Portfolio Award, Architecture Alumni Award, School of Science and Technology Award, and an award from the New York State Assembly/Senate Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force for his work with a New York State Senate Session Project.

A resident assistant and a peer tutor in the college’s Academic Support Center, he was named a Sheila Johnson Institute Fellow, a fellowship which offers meritorious students opportunities to learn skills that will help make them successful in the workplace and in life, and is a member of the college’s Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP). He participated in the college’s Hurricane Katrina Walk-a-thon and was a holiday bell ringer for the Salvation Army. He is currently participating in the Google Sketch-Up Build Your Campus in 3D Competition.

His passion in life and on the Morrisville State College campus is evidenced in everything he does, according to faculty and staff.

“Julio is a rare individual who intuitively understands how to assert his presence and impact in any situation in a positive manner and with a maturity and grace beyond his years,” Anne Englot, associate professor of architectural studies and design, said. “He is self-motivated and gifted; he has made connections all across campus and has availed himself of every possible resource.”

“He is one of the most positive individuals I have ever met,” Darshini Roopnarine, CSTEP coordinator, said. “He goes above and beyond in every aspect of his life and you feel empowered just being around him. He extends himself not only in terms of his own hard work, but he is always willing to help others.”

He’s been offered several summer internships—one with architect Anne Decker, of Rill and Decker Architects, a noted group out of Washington D.C., and another in the Department of Architectural Planning at SUNY Cortland.

Modest about his achievements, Torres attributes them to people who have enriched his life with encouragement to pursue his dreams—professors, friends and his aunt.

He still dreams big.

Torres plans to transfer to Cornell University, eventually obtain his master’s degree and return to the Dominican Republic to put his skills as an architect to work.

In the Dominican Republic, much of the architectural work is completed by outside companies, something Torres would like to change. 

“It’s another dream of mine, to make my country proud by creating architecture that showcases my origin and lets people know that this building was designed by a Dominican architect,” he said.

“With his positive attitude and clear vision about what he wants in life, there is no doubt he will accomplish his goals,” Roopnarine said.

While he will never forget where he came from, Torres is surrounded today by wealth of the greatest kind—family, friends and opportunity.

“If you have all of these, you are a very rich person,” he said.

Morrisville State College offers more than 70 bachelor and associate degrees and options. Considered to be one of the most technologically advanced colleges in the nation for its ThinkPad University program and wireless technology initiative, the college recently became the first in the nation to comprehensively replace landlines in residence halls with individual cellular phones. Morrisville State College was also chosen as one of the top five colleges in the nation for campus activities by Campus Activities magazine.

The Morrisville State College Norwich Campus offers programs in business, computer technology, office administration, liberal arts/education transfer, nursing and early childhood to Chenango County area residents and employers. Students may also apply coursework to other associate or bachelor degrees at the main campus.