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Alumni Spotlight: Shawn Chin-Chance

Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership
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Alumni Spotlight: Shawn Chin-Chance

Shawn A. Chin-Chance, '05, Political Science, entered The City College of New York knowing early on that he was interested in public policy. He points to mentors like Dean Vince Boudreau (then chair of the political science department), Professor Jacqueline Braveboy-Wagner, and Professor Andrew Rich, being instrumental to his success--helping him along the path through CCNY and onward to post-graduate studies, policymaking, and public service. 

With other alumni, he established the Political Science Alumni Affiliate in 2007, and is now taking a leadership role in reinvigorating the group, which includes holding an inaugural Alumni Awards dinner on May 20, 2015.

What's happened in your life since leaving CCNY? What are you doing now and where do you see yourself going professionally? 

Attending The City College of New York was a solid foundation for me. After graduating, I accepted an opportunity to work as Committee Clerk for Assemblyman William Scarborough in the State Assembly, who was then Chair of the Committee on Children and Families. Later I'd become his Legislative Director. I was actively involved in the development of a variety of public policies. One in particular I am proud of is the enactment of the Safe Harbor Act, which decriminalizes young girls who are sexually exploited through prostitution in New York State. After spending four years working with community leaders and advocating for the passage of this law, Governor Patterson signed the legislation into law in 2008.This was a first of its kind piece of legislation in the nation.

In 2009, I was recognized as a rising star under 40 in state politics and was honored by the Afterschool Coalition for my dedication to quality afterschool programs. I later got married and decided to return to NYC to raise a family and become more involve locally. So I accepted an appointment position with the Office of Children and Family Services as assistant director of the agency’s Bureau of Youth in Transition Program. The bureau was responsible for overseeing workforce development, vocational, and life-skills programming for youth in juvenile delinquent residential systems. Since joining the agency, I have taken on several roles, and today, I oversee and manage several contracts that provide support for juvenile delinquents returning to their community. I am also co-manager of a statewide juvenile justice initiative that provides an estimated $8 million in funding to counties that support alternative to detention and Incarceration programs.  

Professionally, I am still carving out my ideal career pathway. I do know that I want to continue shaping public policy, whether as an administrator or policymaker through the legislative process. And I know that I want to continue to be an advocate for youth. 

How have you remained connected to the departments and the college after graduating? 

As a working professional, it can be difficult to stay involved with my alma mater. But I believe it's important to maintain connections to the institution that helped shaped who I am today. A few friends and I started the Political Science Alumni Affiliate Group in 2007. We started the group with two main purposes: to continue the friendships founded while enrolled at City and with the professors as well. We also wanted to make sure that there was a network of professionals working in the field that graduating students can connect with, and could serve as a guide as they nurture their budding careers. The current political science alumni affiliate is made up of members who graduated from City College over the past 10 to 15 years. We are a young group, in that we are in the early stages of electing new leadership, including our student liaison. With the inauguration of the Colin Powell School, we've gained new support to expand our network and reach out to new graduates, and to make our City College Alumni chapter a stronger, more vibrant group. We look forward to continue building on the dedication of alumni around the world, both those who are members of the City College Alumni Association and those who may not be members yet, but who do place a high sense of loyalty and pride in their college association.

On May 20th, we will, in collaboration with the Political Science Department and Office of Institutional Advancement, inaugurate our annual awards reception. Our keynote speaker for the evening will be Cesar Peralas, New York State Secretary of State and also a CCNY grad ('62). We are excited about this event because we will have an evening to highlight the achievements of students in the department as well as leaders in the area of public service and civic engagement.

How do you think alumni can connect with currently enrolled students? Do you see yourself in a mentorship role? 

I think it’s important that we form personal and specific relationships. We have to understand that alums may not necessarily connect in their minds their alma mater and degree with the work they are doing now. So we become afraid to offer help to students. We need to help alums talk less about the degrees they have in common with students and more about their experiences since graduating. What path did they take or not that has lead them to where they are now. I remember and appreciate the invaluable advice I received from my professors at City College and the professionals I have met along the way who've supported and guided my career. So I know what it means to get good advice and support. Whenever students come to our office in search of internships, I always make an extra effort to shepherd them through. 

What kind of partnerships do you believe are necessary and achievable between our recent alumni and the Colin Powell School, as well as with CCNY in general? 

Early cultivation of our alumni is the best partnership strategy. What I mean by that is that the school and college should be especially assertive in their outreach to recent graduates, who are just beginning to building their career--not with an ask, but with a commitment to maintaining a relationship and an offer of support as they begin to move up the career ladder. By doing this, the school fosters a more secure relationship to alums, so that when they are further ahead in their career and have gained more financial stability, are more likely to want to give back.

This would be a small investment on the college's end but with fruitful results for years to come. For instance, utilizing social media to stay in contact with alumni is critical, and has minimal cost. We also want to receive more detailed information about what is happing on campus, perhaps through a dedicated alumni portal. Additionally, it would be great to give greater access to the larger alumni body through a robust, searchable alumni database. Many alumni associations are doing this as a way to keep alums connected. We want to encourage more lifetime memberships to the association and connect these memberships to unique benefits--like an alumni college ID and personalized email account associated with the college or school. Ultimately, we want to make it easier for recent alums, along with alumni from decades past, to be connected to the college in a personalized way. My work now with the Political Science Alumni Affiliate is setting this into action with a school-wide alumni outreach plan that brings together alumni and students for mentoring and career development and as a way build on the love we have for the college. 

The Political Science Alumni Awards dinner is May 20. Make your nominations and RSVP! For more information on alumni networks, contact Nkem Ejoh: nejoh@ccny.cuny.edu