"My vision is to shift the interest of governments around the world from focusing on money and material development to emphasizing what truly gives development to any state, the quality of life of their citizens.”

May 20, 2019

“Happiness is the Motor of the Human Being” – Alan Tiburcio

Alan Tiburcio calls himself a philosopher and says he wants to dedicate his life “to spreading love and knowledge in order to increase happiness in society.”  He believes that when people do what they love, they are more motivated and inclined toward peace.  “Happiness is the motor of the human being,” he says.

Alan embodies this philosophy.  He says he was a mediocre student at his high school in the Dominican Republic (DR).  Yet since coming to PCCC and taking courses in philosophy, history, and languages, Alan has transformed into an honor student. “I am learning what I love.” he said, “That makes me happy, and I want to share that with others.”

Alan receives his Associate in Arts Degree in Liberal Arts/Humanities with honors. He is a member of the Honors Program and the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and maintains a 3.7 GPA. Alan is also the recipient of a full-tuition scholarship award to attend New Jersey City University where he will pursue a bachelor’s degree.

A deep thinker, the 20-year-old once dreamed of playing professional basketball. He trained intensely to qualify for his school team. Though his career goals have changed, Alan says,“As a disciplined athlete, I learned skills that have helped me in my daily life.” 

A love for his hometown motivated Alan to volunteer for community service. He tutored children and worked on political campaigns. Serving others and learning how the political system works prompted Alan to learn more about politics.

“I learned from Plato that the philosophers were the people who should be the leaders of society, thanks to their understanding of life,” he said.  As a result, Alan plans to pursue his bachelor’s degree in political science.

“I don’t want to be a politician,” he explained. “I want to learn how things work. My vision is to shift the interest of governments around the world from focusing on money and material development to emphasizing what truly gives development to any state, the quality of life of their citizens.”

To accomplish this goal, Alan felt he needed to go abroad for a better education. He immediately started learning English to prepare for a move to the United States. “I wanted to be ready to communicate as soon as I arrived here,” he said.

By the time Alan arrived in the U.S. in January 2017, traveling solo, he was fluent in English, as well as Spanish.  He moved in with relatives in Clifton, and enrolled in PCCC the following September.

“PCCC gave me a better education than I ever could have received in DR,” said Alan. “I am very impressed with the professors at PCCC.” He singled out history professor Martha Brozyna. “She is a great teacher. I had three courses with her and would take more if I could.”

When Professor Brozyna saw his potential, she suggested Alan join the Honors Program, a more intense program of study for high-achieving students. “I never imagined I would be an honor student,” he said, but he thrived in the more challenging classes. “The projects and discussions were so stimulating,” he said.

An advocate for student involvement, Alan says, “Enrolling at PCCC, paying tuition, and not taking advantage of the opportunities here is like going to a great restaurant, ordering and paying for food, then not eating it.”

His community service and college support activities include acting as an ambassador and also helping to build a house for Habitat for Humanity with the Men of Color Success Initiative, a support group at PCCC for minority male students.He also supported the Honors Program at Open Houses, and represented Phi Theta Kappa at the International Convention Catalyst 2019.

With his eye on a career in international relations, Alan has added French and American Sign Language (ASL) to his repertory of languages. “ASL was my biggest challenge and became my favorite class,” he said, signing as he spoke. He was, at first, surprised to discover the class is conducted mostly in silence. “But after a while I adjusted and enjoyed the experience,” he said.

Immensely grateful for all that has come his way, Alan hopes to return to DR at some future time in order to share what he has learned for the benefit of education in his hometown.  For now, before he returns to the U.S. to continue his education, Alan plans to spend some time in DR this summer visiting his mother. “It was hard for both of us, when I left to come to the U.S., but my mom always encouraged me to follow my dreams,” said Alan.

An eloquent speaker and multi-lingual, Alan sees himself working for the United Nations, or as a diplomat. He says, “I believe we find strength when we pursue ways to create more love and more peace in the world.”

Written and photographed by Linda Telesco