Moises Urena was strolling through the quad at the University at Albany like he owned the place, sweatpants hitched up showing off his high-top Nikes, blue backpack hanging low. “Mentor” was splayed across his favorite t-shirt. At the center of campus, bleached skeletal buildings in mod 60s style enclosed a shallow turquoise wading pool.
Moises was surrounded by fellow incoming college freshmen from the Bronx, Brooklyn and Harlem on a bright July afternoon at a special orientation for low-income students. A few were from industrial towns upstate and the working-class villages of Long Island. Most made it out of neighborhoods like the one Moises, who comes from in the South Bronx, grew up in. They resisted being sucked into gangs, drugs and violence by imagining themselves here.
Moises said after just two weeks, it already felt like home, but he hadn’t met the kids who came later, who have their own cars and have …