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Young Ambassador Educates The Inequalities of the Puerto Rico Education System

Ricardo D. Vergel Negrón

Camila Vázquez

Ricardo Vergel is a student, leader, and ambassador from Puerto Rico that has taken many initiatives in the DMV region. As a student from Washington, D.C., and a leader with the National Puerto Rican Student Coalition (NPRSC), he had a lot of experiences to share. This is what he had to say to us:

“I was born and raised in Cataño, Puerto Rico. After graduating from high school, I was selected as one of the Young Ambassadors for the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange, where I had the opportunity to study in Germany for a year. I am currently a rising junior pursuing a bachelor’s degree in International Studies with a minor in Public Administration and Policy at American University in Washington, D.C. On the professional side, I work as a Fellow at Friends of Puerto Rico, a non-profit organization in DC dedicated to the development of young entrepreneurs in public schools in Puerto Rico.

Since my first year at AU, I have been involved in the Puerto Rican Student Organization (PRSO) at my university, serving as Secretary in the organization’s first executive board, and now as Outreach Coordinator. PRSO’s work in the past three years has been focused on engaging and empowering Puerto Rican, Latinx, and non-Latinx students to raise awareness on Puerto Rican social, political, economic, and racial issues. PRSO acts as a safe space for students and community members to gather and celebrate their shared Puerto Rican culture and Spanish language. In the past three years, PRSO has hosted panels and events that discussed different issues such as the environment, education, and other topics that crucial for Puerto Rico and its diaspora. Thanks to the great teamwork of PRSO, the organization was recognized as Exemplary New Student Organization by the Center for Student Involvement.

As the membership of our organization grew, we noticed the importance of creating spaces that provided a focus on the challenges that Puerto Ricans live. Therefore, along with the president of PRSO, we approached the Center for Community Engagement and Service and proposed an Alternative Break program that approached the inequalities that the education system in Puerto Rico has. This program explored and educated students on the impact hurricanes Irma and María had in Puerto Rico’s public education system by visiting schools and engaging in conversation with different community organizations such as Instituto Nueva Escuela, which dedicates to promoting Montessori philosophy in the public education system.

In June of 2019, I was offered to represent PRSO along with Daniela Martínez Berríos, our former president and co-founder, at the National Puerto Rican Student Coalition NY Encuentro. In this Encuentro, we had the opportunity to connect with different student leaders across the nation. During this event, we defined key issues that face Puerto Rican students in the diaspora and the island. As a result, we have started to organize Puerto Rican students in the DMV area. I currently serve as Regional Liaison of NPRSC in the DMV area and work directly reaching out to students in the universities in the region. I look forward to connecting with the students across the region not only to build a united student body but also to help students in college to create safe spaces for Puerto Ricans. 

You can reach out to the NPRSC-DMV Region at nprscdmv@gmail.com

The initiative and formation of programs to educate the diaspora and students in Puerto Rico represent the exceptional work of many of the leaders of the NPRSC. Ricardo Vergel has worked alongside great leaders in the DMV region to form a platform of networking and action for student leaders that want to unite and create safe spaces for Puerto Ricans. We take much pride in the achievements of Ricardo and his team.