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Mar. 17, 2010

Vol. 110, No. 10

A laudable response

On Dec. 29, a New York Times article by Joseph Berger entitled “An Undocumented Princetonian” described the odyssey experienced by Harold Fernandez ’89. I encourage everyone to look up the article, but in sum, it describes how a teenager from the mean streets of Medellín, Colombia, made his way to ivy-laced Old Nassau and beyond.  

It also describes how Professor Arcadio Díaz-Quiñonez, President William G. Bowen *58, and members of the administration responded when the fact that Fernandez was an undocumented immigrant came to light: They made an enlightened decision to find a solution that would allow their promising young student to remain at Princeton. That decision proved sage, for after graduating with honors in 1989, Mr. Fernandez went on to Harvard Medical School and soon became Dr. Fernandez, a respected cardiac surgeon.

Immigration is a hotly debated issue in this country, which — as Walt Whitman once pointed out — is not merely a nation, but a teeming nation of nations. President Harold Shapiro *64 echoed this notion in his 1998 Commencement speech, in which he affirmed that “we have extended Wilson’s phrase ‘Princeton in the Nation’s Service’ by adding ‘And in the Service of All Nations.’ We have done so to reflect the changing makeup of our student body and the growing interdependence of the global community and the role we hope that our University and our graduates will play in this new world that is rushing toward us.”

Never have I been more proud of my alma mater than I was upon reading how it responded to the curious case of an undocumented Princetonian.

Ezra Fitz ’00
Nashville, Tenn.

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