Colin Powell School Blog https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/ en Wed, 05 Jun 2024 16:51:35 -0400 Championing Housing Justice and Community Engagement https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/championing-housing-justice-and-community-engagement
 
kucheva
Yana Kucheva: Championing Housing Justice and Community Engagement

Professor Yana Kucheva, interim chair of the Sociology Department at CCNY, explores the intricate intersections of housing, social inequality, and justice, She is also deeply engaged in community-based research. Currently the interim director of CCNY’s Sociology Department, Kucheva channels her passion for teaching and mentorship, inspired by her own mentor, Professor Hilary Silver.

Please share something about your personal and professional background.
I am a sociologist and demographer who studies U.S. housing policy, the social safety net, and environmental and climate justice. I came to the U.S. as an undergraduate student at Brown University where I earned a bachelor’s degree in urban studies and economics. I completed my PhD in Sociology at The University of California, Los Angeles and was a postdoctoral scholar at the Center on Poverty and Inequality at Stanford University. At CCNY, I teach courses on housing and community development, poverty and inequality, environmental sustainability and social justice, and methods of sociological research. This year I am also the Interim Chair of the Sociology Department. I am an avid indoor and outdoor urban gardener and in my free time, I take care of street trees and write about the social history of houseplants.


How did you discover a passion for your field; and what made you decide to pursue a PhD?
As a freshman in college, I signed up for a mentoring program where I was paired with a faculty member — Prof. Hilary Silver — who met with myself and a group of students once a month to discuss the transition to college and provide guidance on classes. I reconnected with Prof. Silver as a junior when I took her course on housing and homelessness in the U.S., and she helped me apply for summer funding to do research on the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program in Rhode Island. That study turned into my undergraduate thesis project, and I have been researching housing in the U.S. ever since. Prof. Silver was also the person who encouraged me to apply to graduate school and guided me through the process. This experience has been formative in how I mentor students at CCNY and is one of the main reasons why I have chosen to dedicate my career to teaching and working with undergraduate students.


Can you please briefly describe your scholarly work and findings? What’s most meaningful to your field — and to you — about your work?
My research is at the intersection of U.S. housing policy, social inequality, and social justice. I have published widely on the relationship between residential segregation, geographic mobility, and U.S. fair housing policy, with a particular focus on HUD assisted housing programs and anti-discrimination policies. My co-authored book Moving Toward Integration: The Past and Future of Fair Housing, provides the most definitive historical account from the 1880s to the present of how fair housing laws were shaped and implemented and how public policy can be used to achieve broad housing integration within a generation.


My current research combines the study of housing with immigrant, environmental, and climate justice. Recent projects in this context include a study of mixed-status families and the U.S. social safety net during the COVID-19 pandemic, funded by the Russell Sage Foundation, and a study of indoor air pollution in NYC, funded by the National Science Foundation. I am also the Principal Investigator of a large interdisciplinary project, funded by the CCNY Collegewide Research Vision (CRV) Initiative, which employs expertise across sociology, architecture, engineering, and computer science, to co-create scalable climate solutions with community partners in the areas of housing, energy, and environmental justice.


Can you say a bit about what brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School? How does CCNY differ from other colleges or universities you’ve been associated with? 
When I first interviewed with the Sociology Department at CCNY, I knew I had found my people! Having colleagues who are genuinely excited to work with you and to support you is what makes all the difference for junior academics. We certainly do not have the resources of any of the institutions where I have earned my degrees, but CCNY’s impact on social mobility is as large as it is due to our commitment to educating students who are the first in their families to go to college. In fact, the most fulfilling part of my job here has been working with and mentoring undergraduate students and creating paid research opportunities for them to actively contribute to the production of knowledge on social justice issues.


Please share something about your plans — regarding research, teaching, engagement — for the next couple of years.
My current work focuses on community engaged research with partners across New York City. I am starting two new projects at the intersection of land justice, housing justice, and environmental justice in collaboration with WEACT and the NYC Climate Justice Hub (a partnership between CUNY and the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance). I am also working on a new project on zoning, housing production, and residential segregation, funded by the Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development. In Fall 2024, I am excited to teach my general education course on environmental sustainability and social justice. The first iteration of this course was disrupted by the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, so I am looking forward to fulfilling the initial vision for the course as a vehicle to showcase the breadth of climate and environmental justice research done by CCNY faculty across all our divisions.


What would you want to make sure everyone knows about what makes the Powell School special?
It has been my privilege to grow as a scholar, teacher, and mentor at the same time as the Colin Powell School has grown and matured in its mission to educate the next generation of leaders in service to society. As the CCNY division that houses the social sciences, we combine an unparalleled commitment to our students and to engaged scholarship. We have comprehensive advising, mentoring and professional development services that are tailored to the specific needs of our students. And there is always someone available to help you – whether you are a freshman trying to fill out the FAFSA or a Department Chair that needs to figure out how to sign off on student scholarships!
 

Wed, 05 Jun 2024 16:51:35 -0400 colin powell school https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/30880
From Syria to NYC https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/reem-aliessas-journey-international-studies-and-social-responsibility
reem
From Syria to NYC: Reem Aliessa’s Journey in International Studies and Social Responsibility

 

Reem Aliessa ‘14 was born and raised in NYC to Syrian immigrant parents. Her passion for International Studies was shaped in large part by her family’s Arab-American identity and nurtured by the resources and opportunities at the Colin Powell School. Today, she works as the Vice President and Senior Program Manager at Citi Volunteers, where she leverages her education and experiences to make a positive social impact. Her journey from CCNY to a leadership role in corporate social responsibility exemplifies the transformative power of education and dedication. 

Where are you from and what is your background story?

I was born and raised in the heart of NYC. My parents immigrated from Syria, and my Arab-American identity sparked my interest in international studies and helped shape who I am today. During high school, my family decided to move back to Syria, marking my first time living outside the United States. The cultural shock I experienced strengthened me into a resilient person and made me appreciate many things in life that I had taken for granted, such as having electricity all day or access to the internet. Although I missed New York and my friends, I am grateful for the opportunity to learn about Arab culture and traditions that shaped my identity today.

I returned to the U.S. to start college and opted to take the GED instead of going through the process of evaluating high school credits. After completing my GED, I attended LaGuardia Community College to complete an Associate's Degree. After LaGuardia, I decided to transfer to CCNY with aspirations to join the Foreign Service and although I didn't pursue that specific career path, I am very happy with where I am today.

What brought you to CCNY and to the Colin Powell School?

I applied to CCNY because it was the only CUNY college with an International Studies program and a Diplomat-in-Residence. Since I wanted to join the Foreign Service, I knew that CCNY would provide the classes and resources I needed to get on the right track. 

What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?

My passion for pursuing a major in International Studies and a minor in English stemmed from my interest in global affairs. I was always curious to learn about other cultures and political systems abroad because to me the world seemed so connected yet so distant. The decision to minor in English closely relates to my joy of reading, literature, and creative writing.

Briefly, how has your career unfolded? How did City College and/or the Colin Powell School help you to get where you are in your career?

My career has unfolded uniquely, and I value this journey because I have learned and developed at every step. My time at City College, particularly the classes offered by the Colin Powell School, allowed me to learn about global issues, international law, political economy, and other topics that are essential for my field. 

Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your career or time at City College / Colin Powell School that you would like to share?

Two of my favorite memories from CCNY were studying abroad and participating in the National Model United Nations. I had the great opportunity to receive the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship and the Study/Travel Opportunities for CUNY Students (STOCS) Scholarship to study abroad for a summer in Morocco. During my participation in the program, I took an advanced Arabic language course and interned at a local nonprofit organization, Al-Noor, which served youth with disabilities.

I also enjoyed participating in the National Model United Nations and much of what I learned then prepared me for my current role. As a member, I developed a better understanding and practice of research, writing, public speaking, and negotiation skills all taught in an interactive environment. Throughout this experience, I made great friends and met inspiring peers through this experience.

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

Be present. We all have so many things going on in life, and it can be a challenge to be fully present at any moment. For instance, we may attend class or participate in campus events but spend time replying to text messages or emails, missing out on significant opportunities to network or important details discussed in class. It's critical to be present in the moment and practice active listening; these skills will be very helpful for any career.

What are your future aspirations for your career?

I want to advance my career in the corporate social responsibility field to continue helping make a positive social impact in our community.
 

Wed, 05 Jun 2024 16:39:24 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/30879
Crossing Horizons https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/crossing-horizons
 
Anson Cheuk-Hin Chung
Crossing Horizons: Anson Cheuk-Hin Chung's Journey in Political Science

Anson Cheuk-Hin Chung, a 2022 graduate of CCNY in Political Science and History, is currently pursuing an MA in Political Science at the University of Toronto. 



Where are you from, and what is your background story? Please share your details from the period before you arrived at CCNY.

I was born and raised in Hong Kong and immigrated to New York City when I was fifteen. Before my migration in 2016, Hong Kong had experienced several social movements, including the 2014 Umbrella Movement. This deeply influenced my political interests and broadened my understanding of democratic processes. The experience was further intensified upon witnessing the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the workings of the Electoral College. The struggles of fighting for democracy back home and the shock of how democracy works in America encouraged me to be invested in learning about the political system, and that became my focus when I was accepted into CCNY.

What brought you to CCNY and to the Colin Powell School?

To be very honest, CCNY was not my initial choice, and I intended to stay for just a year, having received a conditional offer from another institution for transfer after completing my first year of undergraduate study elsewhere. However, the sense of community at CCNY compelled me to stay. Particularly during the pandemic in 2020, the CCNY community remained connected online, allowing me to maintain strong relationships with professors and fellow students in every class. The support provided by CCNY during these challenging times, along with its commitment to maintaining various programs, truly made it a vibrant and supportive community. I owe much of my success today to the unwavering support I received from CCNY, especially during the pandemic.

What was your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?

My passion is straightforward: it stems from my deep love for politics and political history. During my time at CCNY, I devoted myself to courses in political science and history, seeking answers to the complex behaviors of the polity. The accessibility and dedication of my professors, who continued to support me even after graduation, further fueled my passion for political science. Their ability to make the material engaging and their encouragement to question fundamental concepts in political science inspired me to pursue this field wholeheartedly.


Briefly, how has your career unfolded? How did City College and/or the Colin Powell School help you to get where you are in your career?

I initially entered the Division of Humanities and Arts as a history major, driven by my fascination with political history. However, my college journey led me to discover political science as a discipline through introductory courses like Intro to World Politics with Professor Nicholas Rush Smith. These courses deepened my interest, leading me to pursue academic avenues. I owe much of my career trajectory to mentors like Harry Blain and Andrés Besserer Rayas, who inspired and guided me in research and graduate school applications. Besser Rayas's invaluable support and guidance, especially in developing my research paper and securing the APSA fellowship, have been instrumental in my academic achievements.


Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your career or time at City College / Colin Powell School that you would like to share?

One of my most significant accomplishments was being selected as the Kaye Scholar by the Division of Humanities and Arts. Amidst the challenges of the COVID-19 transition, the application process was particularly demanding, amplifying the stress I faced. Prior to this achievement, I experienced rejection from the Skadden, Arps Honors Program in Legal Studies. While initially disheartening, this setback prompted introspection. It led me to realize my passion for law within the realm of social science, rather than its practice. The acceptance into the Kaye Scholars program became a pivotal moment at CCNY, illustrating that rejections can serve as guiding indicators towards unforeseen paths. It reinforced the notion that true fulfillment often emerges from unexpected journeys.


What advice would you give to current students or recent graduates majoring in your field of study?

For those considering graduate school, nurturing relationships with professors is paramount. CCNY's political science faculty are accessible and esteemed in the field, offering invaluable guidance for aspiring researchers. Whether uncertain about pursuing further education or delving into research, self-reflection is key. Assess your interest in theory exploration and engage with professors who have navigated graduate studies themselves. Remember, in social science, there are no definitive answers. Embrace topics of personal interest, as they may catalyze your academic journey, as they did mine, evolving into compelling research samples for graduate school applications.

What are your future aspirations for your career?

My aspirations include pursuing a PhD in Political Science, focusing on political and constitutional developments, particularly in Asia, with a spotlight on Hong Kong and Taiwan. My ongoing interest in migration politics and immigration policies across various nations, including Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, remains steadfast. Ultimately, I aim to contribute to the discourse on Asian politics, enriching political science literature, especially from the perspective of the Global South. As an APSA Diversity Fellow, I'm committed to amplifying underrepresented voices in political science, fostering a more inclusive and globally informed dialogue on politics and its myriad dimensions.
 

Tue, 14 May 2024 10:58:20 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/30806
A Personal Journey to Mental Health Advocacy https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/personal-journey-mental-health-advocacy

 

Nusrat Bushra

Nushrat Bushra: A Personal Journey to Mental Health Advocacy


Please share a little about your background — what’s your story?

I am a first-generation college student, born and raised in Bangladesh. I moved to the USA at the age of 12, entering a completely new environment. Initially, adapting was challenging due to the cultural and religious differences. It took some time to feel comfortable here, especially without any friends and having left my brother and relatives back in Bangladesh. Language was another significant hurdle. Although I could understand others, speaking was difficult for me. Over time, I began to pick up the accents and speech patterns by observing how people spoke. I practiced speaking English with my niece and nephew and by watching cartoons, which significantly helped me overcome my obstacles and eventually speak fluently. Now, people sometimes think I was born here, which I take as a compliment. Before moving to the USA, I completed my 8th-grade board exam, known as the Junior School Certificate, in Bangladesh and earned a GPA of 5 out of 5. I remember the hard work required for this exam, but it was worth it in the end.
 

Since arriving in the USA, I have lived in the Bronx, which has become an integral part of my life. Here, I connect with people from my nation and others, contributing to the community's diversity.

I am someone who respects the culture and religion of others as much as my own. I believe in expanding my mindset rather than changing myself simply because I live in a Westernized country. I focus on things that help me grow and shape myself as a person. Valuing and respecting my own culture and religion has become a significant part of my life, enabling me to respect others. 
 

What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?

Before enrolling at CCNY, I was a high school student at New Visions Charter High School for Advanced Math and Science. During my junior year, I was accepted into a summer internship program called "First Workings" and was placed at Gemdale USA Corporation in the architectural development department. Initially, my goal was to major in STEM, particularly to become a doctor or an engineer. When I spoke with one of the employees there and discussed my plans with my counselors, they suggested that CCNY was the best option. Also, as an immigrant, I have always wanted to live and study in a place where I could find people from my community and experience diversity, and I couldn’t find a better option than CCNY. Additionally, when I first came to CCNY, I was amazed by the beautiful campus and the many opportunities it has to offer, especially for first-generation students.
 

Where are you in your career? How has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?

As I initially mentioned, my goal was to become a doctor or an engineer, but as time passed and I explored other options, I discovered that psychology was the field I wanted to pursue. I am fascinated by how human behavior, personality, and correlation work together. Additionally, as I grew older, I realized the importance of mental health care, just as much as physical health care. More importantly, our entire body functions through signals from our brain, which fueled my passion for studying psychology. Growing up, I observed my parents dealing with stress, anger, anxiety, and more, yet they never received help through therapy. Likely, we were unaware of how therapy and counseling could be significantly beneficial for functioning properly. Considering all these factors, I decided to work within the mental health profession.

While working toward my psychology major, I received an email from Dr. Melara, the chair of the psychology department at Colin Powell School, informing me that we could pursue a Bachelor's and Master's simultaneously if we qualify. This led me to apply to the BA/MA Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counseling (CASAC) program, which I successfully entered. Currently, I am working toward both my bachelor's and master’s degrees in the CASAC track while working as a substitute paraprofessional at the NYC Department of Education.

Moreover, Colin Powell School enabled me to take a course with Braven, a nonprofit organization that assists students, especially those from underrepresented groups, with resumes, cover letters, jobs, internships, and much more. I completed the course as an accelerated fellow and then had the opportunity to work with a mentor who helped me apply to the Crisis Text Line. Now, I am volunteering as a crisis counselor and gaining valuable experience in mental health. I am currently a student ambassador for Braven, improving my leadership skills and public speaking. I cannot thank Colin Powell School and Braven enough for the guidance they provide toward our careers. The fellowship, internships, and scholarship opportunities provided by CPS are immensely beneficial.
 

What are your post-graduation plans?

My plans after graduation are to pursue a second master's degree in Mental Health Counseling and obtain licensure. I want to work with teens, adolescents, students, and minority groups who face numerous daily struggles with their mental health. I aim to be there for them, as my parents didn't have that opportunity. I want to provide support and create a comfortable space that makes their lives safe and cherished.
 

Please share a significant memory and/or accomplishment from your time at CCNY.

A significant accomplishment from CCNY was being accepted as a Peer Counselor Educator at the CCNY Counseling Center. This role has allowed me to work alongside mental health professionals and gain hands-on experience. We conduct tabling with monthly awareness topics, posing questions to students and reading their answers to better understand their struggles. Additionally, observing how college students struggle academically with stress, anxiety, family issues, and much more has been enlightening. Thanks to this opportunity, I collaborated with my peers on a project addressing how technology impacts mental health and how to avoid addiction. We also explored how older generations can learn from the younger ones to make healthy lifestyle decisions. This project opened my eyes to my own technology addiction, particularly with social media, and I am now taking steps to care for my mental health and make life more beautiful.


Moreover, I was accepted into the CUNY Career Launch program for a summer internship in 2024, which will be a great experience for me.

Another cherished memory from CCNY is my active involvement in Women in Islam, Student Justice for Palestine, the Psychology Club, and the Navigate Student App Committee. The amazing people I've met and the events we've created have truly brought my community together, despite our different cultures, sharing the same mindset. I pray for freedom for the people of Palestine and for our community to divest from genocide and act towards humanity. It costs nothing to be kind.
 

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?
My advice to current or future students would be, "Never run after success; if you work smart and hard, success will run after you." This is a quote I also use for myself because it helps achieve sustainable results in the long run. Also, never get demotivated by bad outcomes, whether it's your GPA, an internship, or a scholarship you applied for but didn't get. If you stay persistent with your goals, you will shine no matter what. Just keep going and take care of your mental health.

How would you describe CPS in three words?
Empowering, opportunity, dynamic.
 

Tue, 14 May 2024 10:54:31 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/30805
Societal Perspectives https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/societal-perspectives

 

Larry Au
Societal Perspectives: Professor Larry Au's Journey


In the academic realm, Professor Larry Au stands out for his interdisciplinary scholarship. Originally from Los Angeles and Hong Kong, Au has spent the last decade in New York City. He became an Assistant Professor in the Sociology Department in Fall 2022. Au's research focuses on inclusive science and medicine, delving into precision medicine's globalization and the politics surrounding long Covid. As he works on his first book project on Chinese biomedical innovation, Dreams of Global Science: The Transnational Politics of Chinese Biomedical Innovation, he envisions a future where scientific norms align with societal needs.



Please share something about your personal and professional background.
I received my PhD in sociology down the road from Columbia University in 2022. I’m a sociologist and I consider myself to be an interdisciplinary scholar primarily interested in topics related to science, knowledge, and technology. I also hold degrees in history and global governance. I’ve lived in New York City for almost a decade now, so the city is home. I was born in Los Angeles, but grew up in Hong Kong.


How did you discover a passion for your field; and what made you decide to pursue a PhD?
I had the good fortune to have the opportunity to explore a wide range of disciplines when I was an undergraduate, but I eventually decided to concentrate in sociology. My sociology professors back then were particularly supportive and provided enthusiastic mentorship. I was also drawn to the plurality and openness of the discipline to a wide range of viewpoints, topics, and methods. When I got to graduate school, I still hadn’t quite decided on what to focus on, but I connected with other graduate students and faculty who worked on issues related to the sociology of science, knowledge, and technology. What they were working on just seemed so fascinating—topics such as how genetic technologies shape social inequalities, how patients can create new forms of expertise and challenge expert authority, and how the state plays a role in shaping scientific knowledge and innovation. Through conversations with them, I eventually narrowed down what I was really interested in.


Can you please briefly describe your scholarly work and findings? What’s most meaningful to your field — and to you — about your work?
My research now looks at how we can make science and medicine more inclusive, and in the process, serve the public better. One part of this work examines the globalization of precision medicine — or the use of genomics and other forms of big data to improve diagnosis and treatment — as a policy idea and scientific project, focusing primarily on its rise in China. A lot of money has been invested in these new tools, with promises that these technologies will revolutionize and disrupt mainstream medicine. In my work, I show how we need to critically assess these optimistic claims and think about how inequalities and inequities often accompany new forms of scientific innovation.


A second part of this research looks at the politics of expertise around Long Covid, in particular, the experience of patients as they navigate uncertainties around their condition. This is very collaborative research, with folks in all career stages and in different institutions. Through talking to patients in the United States, Brazil, and China, we’ve come to understand how collective illness identity is shaped by institutional factors related to healthcare provision, histories of patient activism, as well as more micro-level processes related to patient-physician interactions. The goal of this research is to think about how to better provide care for this group of patients who have already gone through so much.


Can you say a bit about what brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School? How does CCNY differ from other colleges or universities you’ve been associated with? Perhaps discuss your work with students.
The students here really are fantastic and it is a privilege to be able to work with them. Not only are the students here incredibly diverse, they also represent all that makes New York City great: creativity, ingenuity, resourcefulness, and more. I teach classes at CCNY related to the sociology of health and illness and medical sociology, and many of my students already have backgrounds and experiences in health professions — such as working as certified nurse assistants, doulas, physician assistants, volunteering in community health settings — or aspire to enter these careers after their time at CCNY. They’ve been able to bring so much to the table by sharing their experiences. Because they are already so embedded within their communities, you can not only see the impact that their education at CCNY will have on them, but also on others around them.


Please share something about your plans — regarding research, teaching, engagement — for the next couple of years.
I am working on my first book project, tentatively titled Dreams of Global Science: The Transnational Politics of Chinese Biomedical Innovation. The book explores U.S.-China scientific collaboration in the life sciences, and how Chinese scientists navigate this increasingly contentious terrain. The book argues that scientific norms, goals, and priorities are shaped by the location of individual scientists within broader social structures and networks. It is in everyone’s interest to better align these norms, particularly around new technologies like gene editing and genetic data sharing.


What would you want to make sure everyone knows about what makes the Colin Powell School special?
The Powell School really is a welcoming and supportive community for students. The faculty and staff here are truly committed to seeing their students thrive after their time at CCNY. The types of opportunities that our students have access to really are incredible, such as things like fellowships to explore career opportunities in community organizing, climate justice, policy work in DC, and more. And it’s been great to see how the faculty and staff here are continuously working to better serve our students.

Tue, 14 May 2024 10:46:14 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/30803
From Physics to Psychology and a Storied Career at CCNY https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/physics-psychology-and-storied-career-ccny

 

 

Paul Wachtel
Paul Wachtel’s Journey from Physics to Psychology and a Storied Career at CCNY

 

Please share something about your personal and professional background.

I grew up in the Bronx and have been a New Yorker for most of my life. We were a family of four living in a one bedroom apartment. My father had dropped out of school after the ninth grade to support his single mother and younger sister. So I can identify with the many students at City who are the first in their family to attend college, and with the experience of whole new worlds opening up as a consequence. I was lucky enough to win a National Merit Scholarship which fully paid for my undergraduate education at Columbia, and I attended graduate school at Yale on a fully paid NIMH fellowship. Many of my childhood friends, from similar economic backgrounds, also were able to get a high quality college education without paying tuitions they could not afford because they attended City College, and their experience at City changed their lives the way my education changed mine — and the way that a City College education continues to change the lives of generation after generation of students whose intellectual resources are often far beyond their economic resources. I feel very fortunate to have ended up teaching at City, where students from economic circumstances like mine were growing up can thrive and achieve their potential.


‌‌How did you discover a passion for your field; and what made you decide to pursue a PhD?

As an undergraduate, I was a physics major for my first three years. Although I did well, something felt missing, some part of me was not being engaged. Because my course load was heavily weighted with math and physics courses, I did not get to take the standard freshman humanities course until my junior year, and for me it was a revelation. In writing a character analysis of Alceste, the central figure in Moliere’s play The Misanthrope, I experienced an excitement that I had not experienced in my math and physics courses. I enjoyed those courses, and still have a strong interest in science and math. But I realized that my passions were directed more toward the dynamics of personality than the dynamics of particles. I had found my calling.


Your most recent book, Making Room for the Disavowed, is being translated into Japanese, adding to the list of translations of your works into various languages. Could you share a brief overview of the central themes and concepts explored in this book, and why you believe it resonates with such diverse audiences globally?

Psychotherapy is often seen as uncovering the deep, dark truth about people, the feelings and desires they hide from themselves (and from others). Such a view, I think, limits how therapeutic the experience can be for the patient. The book examines how therapy can be more effective when the focus is not on what we hide from ourselves but what we fear in ourselves, the parts of ourselves we have learned to be ashamed of, and it elaborates an approach to therapy that aims to help the patient make room for the thoughts and feelings they have squeezed out. In pursuing that aim, I draw on contributions from all of the major schools of psychotherapy. The field of psychotherapy is impeded by the silos that block therapists of one orientation from learning and adaptively borrowing from therapists of other schools. Some years ago, I was one of the founders of the Society for the Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration (SEPI), an organization devoted to overcoming these problematic divisions. SEPI has become an important international voice for integration in the field of psychotherapy, and it is partly as a consequence of my leadership role in SEPI that I have received so many invitations to lecture and offer workshops around the world and that my books have been translated into many languages


Please share something about your plans — regarding research, teaching, engagement — for the next couple of years.

In my research and theoretical explorations over the years, I have been especially engaged in integrative efforts that incorporate observations and ideas from psychologists of different theoretical persuasions and challenge the silos that preserve limited and parochial understandings. I aim to continue these efforts and, as well, to further explore another theme that has been central to my thinking and my writing for many years — the destructive effects of defining well being in terms of all the “stuff” our economy tries to persuade us is the measure of the good life and of our defining the success of the economy in terms of the growth of the economy. Despite growing awareness of what we are doing to our planet, the ways in which our difficulties in achieving the changes necessary to avert environmental disaster are related to our faulty assumptions about the foundations of satisfaction and well being remain insufficiently understood. In the coming years, I hope to further explore this topic and to illuminate the ways that we are pursuing policies — both individually and as a society — that are based on a faulty understanding of human psychology. Organizing our lives around the goal of economic growth does not bring more and more satisfaction but simply more and more desire for more and more. We are not being forced into a tradeoff between the good life and the regrettable necessity to “cut back” — that way of thinking prevents us from achieving both the goal of effectively addressing climate change and environmental degradation and the goal of achieving the good life. In pursuing these themes, I hope to illuminate how moving away from the psychological treadmill that growth-obsessed economic thinking creates can enable our lives to be more satisfying, a win-win rather than a forced tradeoff.


What would you want to make sure everyone knows about what makes the Colin Powell School special?

A central fact of American life is that those who have more economic resources have a far easier path to thriving and fulfilling their potential. The Colin Powell School, like City College in general, is a profoundly important counterweight to this stark social fact. Talent is distributed far more broadly than is wealth, and by enabling those with much of the former regardless of the latter to receive the education that will enable them to contribute to society as leaders and innovators, the Powell School serves an indispensable role. As someone who in my own life began with limited economic resources and was enabled to thrive through the power of education, I am especially pleased to be a part of an institution whose values are so closely entwined with my own.

Tue, 16 Apr 2024 15:56:06 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/30684
From Immigrant Roots to Legal Leadership https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/immigrant-roots-legal-leadership

 

 

Andre Desir
From Immigrant Roots to Legal Leadership: Andre Desir ‘16

Andre Desir ‘16, who was born to immigrant parents from Haiti and Canada, initially undervalued a college education. Desir's decision to attend CCNY and join the Colin Powell School was deeply influenced by his father's educational legacy and the allure of CCNY’s diverse programs and vibrant community. Motivated by a desire for maximum agency in navigating life, he recognized education as the key to a better future. At CCNY, Desir participated in the Skadden Arps Program (now the Honors Program in Legal Studies), which provided invaluable resources and support on his path to becoming an attorney.


Where are you from and what is your background story? Please share your details from the period before you arrived at CCNY.

I am a first generation (attorney) from Queens, New York, born to parents who immigrated to America — NYC — from Haiti (father) and Canada (mom). I enrolled at BMCC at 21 years old as a late bloomer and someone who didn't (at the time) value a college education. My father attended the City College of New York from which he graduated with a degree in Economics. After getting my associate degree from BMCC, commuting to the other end of Manhattan seemed to me at the time to be my birthright. Prior to starting CCNY in the Fall of 2013, I got real world experience by working odd jobs in and around NYC at places like JCPenny, Macy's, and Chase.

What brought you to CCNY and to the Colin Powell School?

My father attending CCNY and his presence as an educated black man in America inspired me to continue the tradition. The Colin Powell School was alluring because of the various programs (such as Semester in DC), the wonderfully brilliant, opinionated folks who were part of the program, and the general civic engagement, such as registering folks to vote, inviting elected officials to campus, etc. 

What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?

I always wanted maximum agency while moving through the world, and I somehow understood for a poor black man in America that education was my key to a better, more impactful life, where I would have agency in the direction of my life and what I could offer others. While at City College, I joined the Skadden Arps Legal Education Program to give me the resources of making my dream come true, the dream of becoming an attorney. CCNY provided me clarity on what was a black box to me. CCNY also exposed me to alternative ways of learning and thinking, and my fellowship aligned me with engineers, doctors, and artists. I got to improve my processes and ways of viewing the world by supplementing my values and morals with those who are different to me. 

Briefly, how has your career unfolded? How did City College and/or the Colin Powell School help you to get where you are in your career?

Skadden paid for my LSAT, for my law school applications, they provided me with test prep, and more important than anything, they made me believe that it was possible. After CCNY, I worked for a year as a campaign director for a super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton for president. The reason I applied for this job was because of the hubris and pride instilled in me during my time at CCNY. By being surrounded by leaders, activists, and other brilliant students, I was confident that I could take on tall orders, and fulfill them with grace.  In the Fall of 2017, I enrolled at Villanova Law school where in the spring of 2020 I graduated with my Juris Doctor, with honors, And in spring of 2022 I was sworn into the bar of Pennsylvania as an attorney and counselor at law. I was lucky to be selected as a law clerk for two brilliant state court judges from 2022-23, and now I work for a financial firm as an estate planner. 


Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your career or time at City College / Colin Powell School that you would like to share?

I was elected vice president of student government where I learned Robert's Rules of Order, the gridlock and bureaucracy inherent in any governing organization, and was inspired to read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. As a campus leader I felt responsible for others and began to understand the importance and weight of representing others. I also got to meet General Powell during the fellowships trip to D.C.: meeting one of the titans of the world before his passing will be a memory I forever cherish. During my time at CCNY, I joined Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, and made lifeline friends and connections (who joined my lifelong board of directors) and learned the subtle art of diplomacy and being responsible to others. In the Partners for Change fellowship my cohort put on a conference and facilitated a conversation about higher education and invited distinguished folks to campus. 

What advice would you give to current students or recent graduates majoring in your field of study?

During some of the most difficult periods of my life, I found the mesmerizing words of Winston Churchill returned to me, and I offer those words to you so that they too might offer you the same confidence and comfort. In 1941, Churchill delivered a speech, at an institution of learning no less, in the face of the mounting German war machine and reminded the world to: "never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense" Those words have reminded me many times to never give up.

What are your future aspirations for your career?

I plan to open my own law firm and to choose which cases I take and who I help.
 

Tue, 16 Apr 2024 14:08:22 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/30674
2024 Salutatorian - Steven Fernandez https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/2024-salutatorian-steven-fernandez

 

Steven Fernandez
Steven Fernandez
Major: Economics and Business


Please share a little about your background — what’s your story?
I'm currently a graduating senior at the Colin Powell School, majoring in economics with a concentration in finance. I was born in the beautiful Dominican Republic and spent my early years in the rural countryside (i.e., “campo”). In 2007, when I was six, my family and I moved to New York. We settled in the vibrant and diverse neighborhoods of Inwood and Washington Heights. Our years in upper Manhattan have brought about their fair share of challenges, from finding affordable housing to dealing with the high cost of living and residing in a community with limited access to fresh food. Overcoming these experiences has strengthened the bond within my family and instilled in me deep values of responsibility, appreciation for education and opportunities, and pursuit of a good life. These are the driving forces behind my pursuit of a career in finance, as I am inspired to strive for a career that will drive long-term positive impact by changing how corporate leadership makes its decisions while inspiring others in their career paths.
 

What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?
My passion and purpose behind my studies at CCNY comes from my curiosity for economics. It astonishes me how people behave around monetary and fiscal policy, as money affects everyone. I became intrigued by how the pandemic and recent world events were impacting the world. It allowed me to see how the pandemic affected my family and me both financially and psychologically. Moreover, it has allowed me to witness the importance of monetary management and investing. Many people can end up in unwanted circumstances if they don't analyze their spending carefully. This led me to not only value personal finance more but to also value my education. My goal is to help corporations and business leaders make sound business decisions using data insights.
 

Where are you in your career? How has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?
For the spring of 2024, I am currently serving as an operations intern for the constituent services office of Assemblymember Manny De Los Santos, where I’m automating their weekly reporting processes and addressing constituents' concerns. I am also serving as a teacher's assistant in the Department of Economics and Business, where I assist one of the professors in developing workbooks designed to teach financial analytics within the capital markets industry, including topics like portfolio management programming for data analytics. The Colin Powell School has played an instrumental role in shaping my academic journey and career progression, providing me with an array of resources, from advanced finance courses to valuable career prospects, all of which have significantly influenced my professional development. Within the school, I've had the privilege of enrolling in advanced finance courses, including financial modeling, and participating in networking events that facilitate connections with prominent employers like JP Morgan Chase and BNY Mellon. Additionally, I seized an exceptional career opportunity by interning at Bloom Energy, a renewable energy manufacturer based in San Jose, California, where I served as an Accounting intern during the summer of 2023. This hands-on experience has allowed me to apply my academic knowledge in a practical context within the finance industry. Furthermore, this opportunity opened the doors for me, as I went on to become a Santander Fellow, where I met my mentor who is the managing director of treasury sales and is always willing to connect me with others and help me learn about different areas of the bank system. To culminate all of it, I ended up acquiring a summer 2024 internship at BNY Mellon under their Global Finance Leadership program, where I will be exploring my skills through forecasting and reporting for the corporate treasury team. I can confidently state that the extensive resources provided by the Colin Powell School have empowered me to navigate and shape the trajectory of my professional career within the finance sector, and I am very appreciative of it all.
 

What are your post-graduation plans?
Upon completing my studies at the Colin Powell School, I want to commit myself to continuous learning and professional growth in the realms of finance, technology, and analytics. I hope to harness the skills I've acquired to make a meaningful impact in technical positions such as operations, financial analytics, and business analytics.
 

Please share a significant memory and/or accomplishment from your time at CCNY.
I consider obtaining the position of a finance teacher's assistant at CCNY a fairly strong achievement during my academic journey. It's not something I anticipated during my time in school. A year ago, I couldn't have imagined being offered such a role or considering the challenge it presented. Nevertheless, I am appreciative of this opportunity because it allows me to delve into a different aspect of the finance industry and develop a valuable skill — teaching my peers. A significant memory that I will never forget is my Bloom Energy internship with the inaugural cohort, take a look at the video link below. Credits to Nymul Islam for putting the video together.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1b2-LYQkuK2f9prB9NWnhy48loEpi4UCm/view?…
 

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

I would like to offer three pieces of advice to current or future students within the Colin Powell School:

1. Network strategically: Building a strong network is crucial not only for your college experience but also for your future career. Make an effort to get to know your peers, professors, and professionals in your field. Interacting with different and diverse people can enhance your interpersonal skills and help you form lasting and meaningful relationships. Networking can also open doors to career opportunities by connecting you with potential employers or mentors who can give you insights into your career or the company that they work for. They can also act as mentors as you apply for different opportunities. Building these relationships early in your college journey can pay off in the long run, both personally and professionally. As an example, I currently hold many mentors within companies that I aspire to work at where they have offered to do coffee chats and mock interviews with me before the application process. Even more
recently, I've had recruiters from top financial services companies, whom I met at networking events about a year ago, reach back to me referring to full-time roles in their companies. Sometimes you can leave a good impression and receive a referral.

2. Seize Early Opportunities: College is a time for growth and exploration. Don't hesitate to step out of your comfort zone and take advantage of early opportunities. Consider taking on leadership roles in student organizations, pursuing certification courses, joining academic societies, or applying for internships or part-time jobs or externships. These experiences not only enrich your college life but also provide valuable skills and insights that will be beneficial in your future career. Embrace challenges and failures as opportunities to learn and grow, as they will better prepare you for your future endeavors. For instance, practicing interviews or attending networking events for internships early on can make you more competent and skilled when the time comes for crucial job interviews.

3. Get to know yourself: starting college can be a tough experience, and it's perfectly normal not to have a clear career path from the get-go. Take the time to explore your interests, passions, and strengths. College is a unique opportunity to discover what truly excites you and aligns with your values. Don't feel pressured to have everything figured out immediately. Focus on your journey and your needs to excel and never compare your career journeys to others because we aren’t all born to be the same. The important thing is that you're actively working towards finding your path and evolving as an individual. Just like many of your peers and people in the world, you're on a continuous journey of growth and self-realization. Remember that your college experience is a valuable part of that journey, helping you shape your future and contributing to your personal and professional development. Put it this way, your career is your ship and you are the captain, where are we going? and how are you going to prepare yourself and your ship for that trip?

How would you describe CPS in three words?
Diverse; Ambitious; Leadership.
 

Tue, 16 Apr 2024 13:53:41 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/30673
2024 Salutatorian - Sumaiya Rashid https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/2024-salutatorian

 

Sumaiya Rashid
Sumaiya Rashid
Major: Psychology
Minor(s): Anthropology & International Studies


Please share a little about your background — what’s your story?

I am a child of two extremely hardworking Bangladeshi immigrants who came here to pursue opportunity and a chance for education. I am a first-generation college student, born and raised in Queens, where I was always immersed within a deeply diverse community. Due to my upbringing, I gained an extremely culturally conscious lens that I apply to my personal, professional, and academic career.  Drawing from my personal experiences, I recognized the gap in existing resources for many marginalized communities, including my own. This sparked my passion for advocacy specifically surrounding mental health in the South-Asian community, and something that I remain committed towards. Ultimately, I hope to leave a positive impact in both increasing visibility and drawing awareness to serious issues. In the future, I want to continue to bring this lens to initiate change for all under resourced and unheard groups.


Why did you choose CCNY? What brought you to CPS?

I chose CCNY mainly due to the depth of programs offered by the Psychology Department. As an incoming freshman, I knew I wanted to pursue a Psychology major, however I didn’t know which avenue would most align with my goals. Thus, to see such variety and a broad range of topics covered within the coursework, I knew I had to attend CCNY. I really invested myself into the CPS community on account of their focus on first-generation college students and helping them through their college journey. As a first-gen student, this was extremely important and inspirational to me, as I felt that I was truly seen. My entire college career has been shaped by the wonderful professors and mentors who have guided me to maximize my potential and truly achieve all the hopes I set out for myself. In finding this safe space, I have truly thrived and couldn’t be more grateful for CPS.


What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?

I am currently pursuing a major in Psychology with a double minor in International Studies and Anthropology. I chose to focus on these subjects because I wanted to gain an interdisciplinary lens about society as a whole, understanding different cultures, communities, and history. I chose to major in Psychology because of my personal interest in mental health and accessibility. I added both my minors in International Studies and Anthropology, because I was able to expand the depth of my understanding to include a socially and historically conscious perspective. Through pursuing these studies I have learned how to think critically, engage holistically, and remain a receptive communicator for all communities. 


Where are you at in your career? How has it unfolded? And how has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?

My career is continuously being shaped by my interests and currently I am invested in the industrial-organizational (I/O) sector of Psychology.  During my time at CPS, I gained so many wonderful experiences that have shaped me both professionally and personally. I was able to intern at various organizations that shared missions similar to mine and learn more about the nonprofit sector and the public service field. CPS has supported all these professional endeavors and allowed me to understand what I want to do with my career and how to do so. I was able to not only receive help on materials like my resume, but I was also given advice and mentorship through my entire career path and plan. I am now not only extremely confident in what I want to pursue, but my skills as well, and how to truly leave an impact with the work I do.


What are your plans post graduation?

Currently, I am planning to pursue a Human Resources Internship over the summer and continue on exploring the different facets and sectors within I/O Psychology. I’m excited to learn more about different HRIS Softwares and ATS Systems to gain a comprehensive lens about how to be a successful leader in HR. I’m hoping that after a few years of working and expanding my HR-related knowledge, to continue my education and pursue an MPA, and be able to dedicate my career towards public service and management.


What is your biggest accomplishment from your time at CCNY?

My biggest accomplishment at CCNY relates to my work as a Student Success Guide and Peer Mentor, where I help incoming freshman and transfer students find their place at CCNY. It has honestly been one of the most rewarding experiences, as I am able to help others find what they want to do in college and guide them through it. In many ways, it feels very full-circle, and I am grateful to have the chance to meet and form meaningful relationships with these wonderful people and watch them grow in all areas of their life. Since the Fall semester, my mentees continue to amaze and inspire me, and I feel extremely fortunate and accomplished to share this experience with them and see the impressions I can make to help others achieve their goals.


Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

CCNY has so much to offer to its students, beyond academic opportunities; there are so many avenues to grow both personally and professionally. Therefore, you must take your shot at any and every chance you are interested in. We have so many resources at CCNY and CPS that are here to help us cultivate these skills and interests. It’s our responsibility to use all these spaces and reach our full potential. Although you may hear a few “No’s” along the way, don’t let that deter you from pursuing your passions. It’s important to take criticism and improve from it and allow us to grow. This is a space where everyone wants the best for you and in engaging with this, you can set yourself up for true success.


How would you describe CPS in three words?
Empowering, Nurturing, Innovative

Tue, 16 Apr 2024 13:53:15 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/30672
2024 Salutatorian - Ziné Ebersohn https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/2024-salutatorian-zine-ebersohn

 

Zine Ebersohn
Ziné Ebersohn
Majors: Psychology and Philosophy


Please share a little about your background — what’s your story?
I grew up in a small town in South Africa with parents who worked extremely hard to provide a life of love and opportunities for my brother and me. From a young age I have always been interested in listening to other people’s stories and I found my way to the stage and performing. After high school I got a scholarship to study acting in New York and that was the start of my scholarly intimacy with human behavior and the bigger questions that surround our existence.


Why did you choose CCNY? What brought you to CPS?

During the pandemic, I lived close to CCNY and would often go for walks around the campus. It quickly became a space where I felt a variety of emotions. I think most people who walk on campus immediately feel a connection with the visual environment of our school. The history that it’s clothed in. I chose to study at CCNY because I saw a school where I could learn in various ways. The fellowships, student body and academic faculty are different from most other schools. And then luckily one of my majors, Psychology, connected me with the CPS. This would be a life-changing connection. So, thank you CCNY for bringing me to the CPS.


What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?

My passion has and will always be people. I think the reason I love my studies so much is because it allows me to be curious and to learn something new about human behavior every day. Mental health is what allows us to find healing for ourselves and our communities. The barriers that exist in mental health access are immensely frustrating. As someone who is open about sharing my own mental health struggles, I found it troubling how inaccessible healing can be. I want to do whatever I can to invest in mental health access or perhaps just to listen to the needs of people.


Where are you at in your career? How has it unfolded? And how has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?
Graduating from the Powell School has not only allowed me to ask bigger questions about the world, but how to listen better. As an international student, the school became my home away from home with people in every department investing their time and energy in our success as students. Having the support of mentors and students who embrace the endless number of questions I have about the world is special. CPS helped me embrace who I am as an integral part of my current and future work.


What are your plans post graduation?

After graduating from the Colin Powell School, I hope to spend the first few months interning at an organization that works on mental health inclusion and policy expansion. I would like to advocate for resources that would help expand access to eating disorder recovery for people who cannot afford it. While submitting applications for graduate school, I want to learn, intern and volunteer as much as possible to further my knowledge on the structural inequalities that prevent access to mental health services. If all goes to plan, I hope to start my dual master's degree in psychology and philosophy. After that, I want to pursue my clinical psychology degree with a meticulous focus on the metaphysics of mental health healing and the obstacles within those structures.


What is your biggest accomplishment from your time at CCNY?

Participating in as much as I could has allowed me to get to know the CCNY community. I am proud to graduate from CCNY with a community of friends and mentors who truly impacted my view of the world. From theater to fellowships and mentoring I got to know the school and the community in a wonderful way. I showed up for Ziné on the good and the bad days and for every student that should be our biggest accomplishment.


Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

There is a community of people who are there to help you. You are not alone. To be yourself is the best thing you could be at our school. It is exactly who you are and the story you have to tell that makes our school what it is. Try something new, take a class that you never thought you would take. And most importantly, find moments to be a student, make mistakes and learn from them.


How would you describe CPS in three words?

Ubuntu, grit, unique

Tue, 16 Apr 2024 13:52:47 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/30671
2024 Salutatorian - Kazi Tejwar https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/2024-salutatorian-kazi-tejwar

 

Kazi Tejwar
Kazi Tejwar

Majors: Political Science and Government; Sociology  Minor: Legal Studies 


Please share a little about your background — what’s your story?   

I was born and raised in Flatbush, Brooklyn, and I’m a proud son of two Bengali immigrants. My story always starts with my parents. They’ve sacrificed their entire lives to come to America to give their three children the best possible lives they can lead. I will never forget their sacrifice. 
Growing up, I’ve seen the devastating effects our economic and political systems have had on New York’s Bengali community, as it related to my father’s 30-year work in organizing in the community and working towards fairer representation. I was always inspired by it, and I think it’s part of what got me involved with public service because of the amount of inequality that exists against marginalized and disadvantaged communities across the country. 

I came into City College during the pandemic, at a time where I wasn’t too sure about my life or what I wanted to do. I ended up finding myself through the opportunities the school has provided. I’ve been fortunate enough to have served at the top of student leadership at CCNY and in CUNY, interned and organized with NYPIRG on campus, organized with Amnesty International USA for over a year, and interned for House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries at his district office and Congressman Adriano Espaillat on capitol hill in DC. 


Why did you choose CCNY? What brought you to CPS? 

In honesty, it was the affordability. I came to CCNY on the Excelsior Scholarship, a statewide program that provides students coming from families making less than $150,000 with free tuition at any public institution in New York. For me, that institution was CCNY. 

When I came into CCNY, I thought that CPS would be a great place for me because of the idea that was forming of what I wanted to do in public service. I was amazed with the number of opportunities that existed through fellowships, career mentor support, and of course, the legendary team at the Office of Student Success. Looking back on it now, I made the right decision, and it led me to where I am now. 

What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY? 
 
I was originally an undeclared major in my freshman year, then I ended up taking Political Science and Sociology as my majors because my passions of tackling inequality aligned with those fields of study. Attending office hours through instructors, like Karen Struening and Gwendolyn Dordick, built confidence over time and it piqued my interest enough to take these subjects as my majors. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from instructors from a wide range of courses, and I’ve grown in my thinking because of the education here. I now think more clearly about policy, theory, and the future of how I can use that in the real-world. It’s cool stuff. I try to use my studies to match my values as a person: To help find solutions to problems and seek answers that can sometimes be uncomfortable to know. Doing things that are uncomfortable leads to the best outcomes. 
 
Where are you at in your career? How has it unfolded? And how has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way? 
 
Recently, I got accepted into a congressional fellowship in the summer through the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), and I’m in the process of applying for congressional internships. Getting to this point was a crazy ride. 
 
I came into my freshman year without any sense of direction, and my Political Science 101 course with Karen Struening was helpful. During office hours, she connected me with NYPIRG and I landed my first internship there. I started getting involved in the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), first as a Senator then eventually as Vice President of Campus Affairs, and I received a lot of support from President Boudreau, Dean Rich, and a lot of the Colin Powell School administration on initiatives to better student engagement and well-being. Their support allowed me to trust my abilities in leadership. 
 
My first fellowship with the school was in freshman year for the Democracy Corps Fellowship, where I landed an internship with the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit during that year’s primary election. In my junior year, I became a Colin Powell Fellow in Leadership and Public Service and a Ropes & Gray Scholar through the Honors Program in Legal Studies. I have the world to thank for Debbie Cheng and Jennifer Light for the opportunities provided through these programs. Through the Colin Powell Fellowship, I’ve been able to pursue internships with Hakeem Jeffries and Adriano Espaillat. And I started organizing with Amnesty International USA when I approached a guest speaker from one of our seminars because I found their work to be interesting — crazy the doors that open out of nowhere! In the Honors Program in Legal Studies, I receive nonstop support: it provided free LSAT prep when it’s very expensive, and I’m grateful that Jen Light matched me with the Ropes & Gray legal firm. It allowed me to connect with top antitrust legal firms, and I received mentorship through a former Department of Justice antitrust official when I was in DC through that firm. It’s people like Jen and Debbie that make stories like mine possible. 
 
What are your plans post graduation? 
 
I’m planning to take some time off before going to law school. I want to continue working in service and get more real-world experience before I take that next leap in my academic career. I will most likely be in DC again this summer through that congressional fellowship I mentioned, and afterwards I might work on Capitol Hill or for campaigns and causes that deal with tackling inequality and providing equity for disadvantaged communities. 
 
Long-term, I see myself advocating for equity and fairness through antitrust law. Many disadvantaged communities are politically and economically vulnerable, and the way opportunities are structured is a testament to that. Through antitrust law, there could be more opportunities for people to move up the social ladder. And I’ve been fascinated by the subject. I want to give back to the communities that brought me up and lift those same boats. There are other longer-term ideas I have of doing, but a wise man once told me: “God laughs at the plans you say out loud.” So y’all are going to have to see what happens! 
 
Life does have its turns, so let’s see what ends up happening. I’m still very optimistic. 
 
What is your biggest accomplishment from your time at CCNY? 
 
I would say my biggest accomplishment from my time in CCNY would be launching and delivering on the John Lewis Initiative to open campus up as an early voting site. Strengthening democracy and civic engagement are causes that I am very passionate about, and after attacks on voting rights, I thought it was important to do something. Harlem also has some of the lowest voter turnout rates in the city. That’s why when I was Vice President of Campus Affairs in USG, I decided to push for CCNY to be an early voting site. 
 
I am always grateful for President Boudreau’s support when we were working on this. It showed that students, faculty, and administration could work together on any issue — big and small. Working with the Board of Elections (BOE), the administration, and student organizations allowed us to deliver. Together, we expanded voting access in Harlem. 
 
I still thought that there was more work to do. A year later, I worked to revive the Democracy Corps Fellowship at the Colin Powell School. I was previously a part of the original cohort, but the program was later discontinued because of lack of funding and partnerships. I am grateful for the support by Dean Rich and Debbie Cheng on this. Together, we formed a new relationship between the school and the City’s Civic Engagement Commission (CEC) that provided internships for 26 students at the CEC. We boosted civic engagement, put money into student’s pockets, and set an example for future work to come. We should always work to increase participation in democracy. 

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students? 

Show up, do the work, and never give up. It’s important for all of us to follow our passions, no matter what they may be, so always try to take advantage of the opportunities given to you to go on the route you want to be on. Be prepared to take risks and chances, and though some things might not go according to plan, you come back from those situations stronger and more resilient with better opportunities waiting for you. We're always going to have the moments where we feel defeated, but what matters most out of anything is how we carry ourselves up, grow into better people, and learn how we can be the best version of ourselves. Don’t be afraid to fail. During my time here my fail to success ratio was 6:1, and the best thing I can say to y’all is to trust the process and keep the faith. Things will work out. 

You can be who you want to be right now, and you can start from the simplest things. Go start a conversation with someone about the amazing ideas you have. Go to the office hours for classes that interest you and find ways to get involved in that interest. Go talk to someone from the Office of Student Success about your career goals and seek help. Go to Jennifer Lutton about scholarships outside the school that could be life changing. Don’t be afraid to step into the fire and always know your worth as a person. You can do it! 

How would you describe CPS in three words? 

Strong, humble, and resilient. Those three words represent the values of this school — from students to faculty — and it perfectly represents the silver lining in all our stories. If you talk to anyone in the Colin Powell community, you will hear stories that inspire you. We are a community of humble beginnings, and the growth you see from these beginnings speaks for itself. There’s nothing more beautiful than it. Each one of us has struggled in the past, and we have all come back stronger in the end. We use our experiences to channel the value of being my brother's keeper to look out for one another, and that’s something you can’t find anywhere else. 
 

Tue, 16 Apr 2024 13:52:31 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/30670
2024 Valedictorian - Alivya Barry https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/alivya-barry-bama-program-research-psychology-minor-anthropology
 
 
Alivya Barry
Alivya Barry, BA/MA program in Research Psychology with a minor in anthropology.


Please share a little about your background — what’s your story? 

I grew up in a mission-oriented family. When I was 7, we started fostering kids out of the fostercare system, which exposed me to many levels of trauma, I saw the impacts of poverty, cognitive disabilities, and physical/emotional/sexual abuse. My parents dedicated most of my childhood years to their non-profit which aimed to create safe homes and spaces, as well as fill other gaps within the foster care system. Also, during the border crisis of 2012, we partnered with the government to open our home to unaccompanied minors who crossed the border from Central America in hopes to be reunified with their parents here in the states. Over the course of the 10 years we were involved with the foster care system, my family saw over 70 kids and teens in our home.


Throughout my childhood I also studied ballet and modern dance techniques, which I excelled in and ultimately led to my acceptance to the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities, an arts boarding school. So I moved out at 15 to attend this school. It was also dance that brought me to NYC — when I was 17, I was accepted to The Ailey School on a full merit scholarship, so I then moved here all by myself and have been here ever since.


While dance was always my heart's passion, I knew that I wanted to do something more with my life and recognized all the trauma I had been exposed to through the foster care system. I began to wonder why some children fared better than others. Despite witnessing significant trauma, I managed to achieve a level of success that perplexed me. This stark contrast led to a sense of survivor’s guilt, which ultimately propelled me into my current academic journey. While I lacked clarity on the details of my pursuit, I was determined in helping others and addressing the impact of childhood trauma.


With very little knowledge yet strong resolution, in 2020 I enrolled at the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) to pursue an associate degree in psychology. After my first year in this program, I was invited by the chair of BMCC’s psychology department to apply to the Bridges to Bachelorette grant, a T-34 NIH training grant at CCNY. This program, which selected five students from BMCC within the STEM field, provides rigorous research training and experience to underrepresented students. To my surprise, I was awarded this grant, launching me into a career I could never have fathomed a year prior. Participating in this opportunity expanded my understanding of the field of psychology and potential ways that I could impact my community through research. Experimental psychology was never a field I had considered; however, over the past three years I have become engrossed in its creative process, and it has become clear to me that I want to pursue a career in research.


What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?

Definitely the kids we fostered. I think about them often and wonder how my current research could have helped them growing up.


Where are you at in your career? How has it unfolded? And how has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?

Still at the VERY VERY beginning. I think it has unfolded in the most perfectly unexpected way — I never thought I would be where I am today, but I couldn’t be more happy. CPS has helped me get here in so many different ways, but truly through the financial support and internships that I've received through the school. I would not be here if it was not for the support and opportunities awarded by the faculty and staff of the school.


What are your plans post graduation?

Most immediately, I plan to work as either a clinical case manager or clinical research assistant, as well as begin to work in a teaching capacity at CCNY. Over the next year I will begin to apply for PhD programs in developmental research and clinical practice (formally called Clinical Developmental Psychology).


What is your biggest accomplishment from your time at CCNY?

I would say the NIH grant is potentially my biggest accomplishment — also maybe being valedictorian. I am truthfully not sure, because I feel incredibly proud of all I have achieved, but it's more so about the person I have become throughout my time here. Incredibly grateful to be fostered in such a space.


Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

Honestly, just go where the wind takes you. Obviously have a structure to your goals, but be open for those goals to change based on the opportunities presented to you. If you're too rigid, you’re going to break, but if you're too fluid you take whatever form people put on you instead of truly knowing yourself and your passions.


How would you describe CPS in three words?
Empowering, challenging, satisfying.
 

Tue, 16 Apr 2024 13:47:36 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/30669
“I Feel Tremendous Pride in Being Part of the Colin Powell School” https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/i-feel-tremendous-pride-being-part-colin-powell-school

 

Diana Punales

Dr. Diana Punales Morejon, Director of The Psychological Center, migrated to the US with her family from Cuba to escape communism. Now, she is shaping the next generation of psychologists. With a focus on overseeing clinical teams and ensuring the competency of doctoral students, Dr. Morejon navigates the challenges of staying updated on evolving training competencies while finding deep fulfillment in nurturing socially conscious professionals. She also addresses socio-economic and systemic hurdles in accessing mental health, including implementing a sliding fee scale and other inclusive practices to increase accessibility. 


Please share something about your personal and professional background.
I was born in Havana, Cuba and immigrated to the US when I was young with my parents fleeing from Communism. It was very difficult to learn English as no one in my family spoke English. As a child, I became the translator and cultural broker for my family which was both wonderful to help my family out in this way but also quite exhausting for a child.

Can you elaborate on your role in training doctoral students and overseeing clinical teams?
As the Director of The Psychological Center which is the training clinic and community mental health center, I run Clinical Supervisory Teams where doctoral student therapists present their clinical work. Additionally, I review the clinical training for each student to ensure that they are achieving the competencies that they need to attain as they progress through the program. Lastly, I oversee the administrative and clinical operations of The Psychological Center where over 50 doctoral student therapists treat patients.


What challenges and rewards do you find in this role?
One of the greatest challenges in my role is to be up to date on all relevant training competencies for doctoral students since we are an APA Accredited Clinical Psychology PhD Program. This requires my participation in a series of consortiums and organizations relevant to the training of doctoral students and ensuring that my own competencies as a Clinical Director are current.

One of the most rewarding aspects of my role is to be able to train the next generation of psychologists who are ethical, clinically competen,t and who uphold social justice in their clinical work.


Working with impoverished high-risk clinical populations presents unique challenges. What strategies do you employ to address socio-economic disparities in mental health care delivery and ensure accessibility for those in need?
The main strategy that we use to help address the socio-economic disparities in mental health care delivery and increase accessibility for those in need of mental health services is that we use a sliding fee scale to set fees for psychological services. I try to be as inclusive as possible and not only take into account the prospective patient’s income but also consider the number of dependents that they are responsible for and the rent/mortgage that they have to cover. We do not consider stable housing to be a luxury and therefore we discount rent/mortgage from the person’s income so as to have the adjusted fee be as equitable as possible. However, all that said, the mental healthcare system in the U.S. is broken in many different ways and it is a reality that obtaining mental health services can often be hard. We are not a free clinic and rely on patient fees to subsist. For patients who need free services, we recommend that services be sought out through public hospitals where the person can apply for charity care or through the NYC Program for Mental Health Referrals (dialing 988).

Can you say a bit about what brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School? How does CCNY differ from other colleges or universities you’ve been associated with? 
I have been at CCY for quite some time and was delighted to have the Colin Powell School and feel honored to be a part of it.  I believe that CCNY differs from other colleges and universities in that the faculty and staff that work here are committed in a genuine and serious work to supporting the academic experiences of our students who represent an incredibly diverse group of learners. Our graduates are often on the front lines of service provision to populations that historically and currently experience significant challenges in obtaining mental health care. I feel tremendous pride in being part of the Colin Powell School especially because of its commitment to civic and social justice leadership.
Please share something about your plans — regarding research, teaching, engagement — for the next couple of years.

For the next couple of years, I plan to expand our Sports Psychology Program as part of the Clinical Psychology PhD Program which is the only one of its kind in the CUNY system. I also plan to expand our Asylum Justice Program which I co-direct and which provides pro-bono psychological evaluations to individuals who are seeking asylum in the U.S. And I look forward to continuing to train future psychologists.

What would you want to make sure everyone knows about what makes the Colin Powell School special?
I would like to make sure that everyone knows that what makes the Colin Powell School so special is its commitment to supporting students, faculty and staff in ways that encourage growth, that fosters a genuine interest in community, and that develops real leaders who are focused on bettering the lives of those around them. It is an honor to be a part of such an endeavor.

Tue, 19 Mar 2024 10:51:19 -0400 colin powell school https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/30489
“Inclusive, Inspiring, Empowering” https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/inclusive-inspiring-empowering

 

 

Aravdeep Kaur

Aravdeep Kaur, a senior majoring in Economics, was raised by Punjabi immigrant parents in Queens and discovered her passion for Finance and Analytics while attending CCNY. Kaur underscores the pivotal role of the Colin Powell School in providing opportunities for professional growth, including fellowships and internships.


Please share a little about your background — what’s your story?  

I was born and raised in a vibrant neighborhood in Queens, to Punjabi immigrant parents. I attended P.S. 108, M.S. 137, and then Brooklyn Technical High School and throughout these formative years, my parents had instilled in me the importance of education. During middle and high school, I was a quiet and shy student who rarely took advantage of the opportunities to engage in extracurricular activities alongside my peers. Upon graduating high school in 2020, during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was determined to step out of my comfort zone and welcome change. 

What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?

As I began my academic journey at CCNY, my goal was to pursue a degree in Biochemistry on a pre-medical track. However, a pivotal moment occurred when my CCNY peer mentor helped me realize that medicine was not truly my passion. I declared my major in Economics after completing my first semester at CCNY due to the versatility of the field. However, it was when I delved into courses like Financial Analysis & Decision Making and Python for Business Analytics that I discovered my passion for Finance and Analytics. After making this significant decision, I was welcomed into the Colin Powell School with much support and guidance from my academic advisors and professors. 

Where are you in your career? How has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?

CCNY has allowed me to gain immense knowledge through my coursework, but this institution also gave me the opportunities to build on my academic and professional experience through fellowships like the Santander and S Jay Levy Fellowship Program, the Student Success Guide Peer Mentorship Program, and by working at the Colin Powell School as a Finance College Assistant. As a Santander and S Jay Levy Fellow, I was able to learn advanced financial analysis and receive mentorship and professional development guidance which assisted in my receiving an Accounting internship at Downtown Brooklyn Partnership during the summer of 2023. Working at the Colin Powell School Finance Office as a college assistant, with an incredible team, for two years was the beginning of my career journey. These opportunities allowed me to form meaningful connections with professionals working in the Finance sector and start life-long friendships with my peers.

What are your post-graduation plans? 

Currently, I am working part-time as the Operations and Finance Coordinator for Leadership for Democracy and Social Justice at the Colin Powell School and CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies. I am thrilled to join LDSJ full-time after I graduate in Spring 2024! I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the growth and development of the institution that allowed me to pursue higher education and sharpen my professional skills as a student. Looking ahead, I hope to further my education, specifically in Analytics, through graduate school and make a commitment to life-long learning by seeking opportunities to enhance my knowledge throughout my career and personal journey. 

Please share a significant memory and/or accomplishment from your time at CCNY. 

An unforgettable moment from my time at CCNY was the privilege of attending the Equitable Advisors’ Greater New York Impact Day event at the iconic Apollo Theater. Alongside my peers, I had the honor of hearing from influential community leaders and changemakers from both public and private sectors, while also being awarded a generous scholarship. We were able to invite our parents to celebrate the occasion with us and hear from leaders regarding financial literacy and their journeys to success. The event ended with a performance by an American Idol Finalist and the chance to network with speakers and attendees, making it a memorable and enriching experience. 

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

As I reflect on my academic journey at CCNY, I realize that doubt and uncertainty are intrinsic to the college experience. Most students do not know what major they would like to declare or how to achieve their academic and professional goals. This is why it is crucial that you allow yourself to learn about the possibilities by taking advantage of several opportunities, like fellowships and clubs while keeping an open mind. Form friendships with students, connect with your professors, and remember that this is the perfect time to venture beyond your comfort zone. College is a challenging moment in our lives, but it emphasizes the importance of having a support system of staff and faculty, and especially students who share your experience. Last, practice self-compassion and learn to embrace uncertainty.


How would you describe CPS in three words?
Inclusive, Inspiring, and Empowering

Tue, 19 Mar 2024 10:43:49 -0400 colin powell school https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/30488
"Never Be Afraid to Walk Through New Doors” https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/never-be-afraid-walk-through-new-doors

 

Angela Vasovic

Introduction

Angela Vasovic '22 was born to parents who immigrated to America from Yugoslavia. Growing up, Vasovic developed a profound interest in global perspectives during family visits to Serbia and decided to begin her journey in diplomacy at the City College of New York. Her commitment to international affairs and human rights led her to an early internship with International IDEA, and her participation in the Colin Powell and S Jay Levy fellowships at CCNY paved the way for an internship with the Department of State during the pandemic, and opened the doors to her professional future. 

Where are you from and what is your background story? 

I was born and grew up in Hell's Kitchen, New York City. My parents are immigrants from former Yugoslavia, today’s Serbia. As I was growing up, my parents and I would visit our family in Serbia in the summertime. This inspired in me a deep interest in the world and a love of learning about other countries. I believe growing up with immigrant parents has helped me have a wider understanding of different perspectives and the role culture plays in how people view the world.

Growing up in New York City and meeting people from diverse backgrounds further strengthened my interest in the world. In my classrooms, there were rarely kids who looked like me or had the same story as me. Yet, I never noticed it growing up. I later understood that no matter how different you may seem from someone, there is always something in common.

What brought you to CCNY and to the Colin Powell School?

In my Sophomore year of high school, I realized I wanted to do international work as a career, possibly through the State Department or the United Nations. I made my decision to come to City College rather late in my Senior year of high school. Initially, I thought going to a big school away from the city was a step I had to make and what was expected of me by typical American standards. In my case, going away would have meant in-state tuition and SUNY. However, living in a small town and being away from home never felt right for me. By the time I had to decide on where to go, I chose what meant the most to me — a school in the city that would lead me to my ideal career.

The opportunities presented by CCNY excited me — I had been to its beautiful campus before, and I knew that the Colin Powell School offered programs I liked and opportunities for career support. I thought that going to school in New York City would give me a chance to pursue internships to gain practical experience much more than doing so elsewhere in the state.

What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?

When I look back at my undergraduate experience, I was very active in making the most of my time. My family's experience with the Yugoslav wars is what initially fueled my passion for my studies and career. I want to protect the lives of civilians and uphold a universal understanding of human rights. Hearing my classmates’ first-hand knowledge about injustices happening around the world, in the places where they come from, further motivated this purpose. In my first year of study, Professor Sarah Muir tasked us with an assignment to make a 5-year plan for our life. This activity helped me turn my hopes and aspirations into concrete steps I tried to follow, even with the pandemic affecting some of them.

Briefly, how has your career unfolded? 

My career started in my Freshman year of college with a chance encounter with Dr. Tommasoli who taught at CCNY and also worked at International IDEA, an intergovernmental organization affiliated with the United Nations. Getting an opportunity to do an internship with International IDEA so early in college — attending meetings at the UN and writing reports on democracies around the world — was an experience that started the ball rolling for me. I also received the Colin Powell Fellowship and the S Jay Levy Fellowship, both of which provided great professional support. I am so thankful I had these opportunities very early on in college. 

In my Junior year, during COVID-19, I did a virtual internship with the Department of State, and I was able to do it due to the fellowship support. This experience opened the door for me with the State Department, and I started a full-time position there at the end of my studies through the Pathways program. I spent my first year at the DoS with the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) and was a part of the White House initiative to open new embassies in the Pacific Islands. This winter, I did a three-month contract as an Adviser to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) office of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. On behalf of the U.S., I negotiated General Assembly resolutions which was an amazing experience. I recently started a new position with the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation as a Program Officer for the Office of Cooperative Threat Reduction. I learned a great deal from my fellowships on how to present myself professionally and how to seek new opportunities.

Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your career or time at City College / Colin Powell School that you would like to share?

I am proud of my ORCA summer research fellowship experience. I worked with Professor Cronin from Political Science on a research topic that I care about very much — the protection of civilians during armed conflict. I did a case study on the 2004 Second Battle of Fallujah, Iraq examining armed forces, casualties, and damage to the city. It was my first time doing extensive academic research, and the process taught me useful skills. 

What advice would you give to current students or recent graduates majoring in your field of study?

Any time you have an opportunity to do something, seize it! It is never too early to look for professional opportunities. I initially thought that I would look for an internship in my Senior year of college, but when an opportunity presented itself in my Freshman year, I jumped into it. I changed the classes I was going to take, I made room for it in my schedule, and I am so glad I did it. One door leads to another, never be afraid to walk through it, you never know if it will be there later. If things don’t work out the way you hoped or planned — change your plan. Discover your passion or your purpose and work towards it. 

What are your future aspirations for your career?

I am working on completing my Master’s degree in International Relations at the CUNY Graduate Center now and hoping to grow in my career with the Department of State. When I first considered a career in international relations, I thought I would seek a position as a Foreign Service Officer. I have since discovered other aspects of State Department work and I genuinely like learning about them. I hope to be more directly involved in foreign affairs policy-making, but I also will seek a variety of opportunities to round off my professional development. I appreciate that the DoS offers rotations, and I hope to do more of them in the future, including internationally. 
 

Tue, 19 Mar 2024 10:39:01 -0400 colin powell school https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/30487
Cultivating Leaders! https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/cultivating-leaders

 

 

Bobby Deriwal

Cultivating Leaders: Bobby Derival’s Impact at the Colin Powell School

Bobby Derival, Executive Director of the MPA Program at the Colin Powell School, is passionate about creating positive social change through education and mentorship. 

Derival’s background as a public health practitioner and entrepreneur brings a unique perspective to the MPA Program, emphasizing the importance of leadership development and challenging the status quo for a more equitable society. 
 
 What strategies do you employ for student recruitment and admissions in the MPA program, and how do you ensure a diverse and talented student body?
 
The Colin Powell School MPA Program looks at each masters candidate holistically — which means that we take the “whole person” into account. In addition to considering academic performance and achievement, our admission committee reviews candidates’ professional experience, their commitment to civic engagement and public service, as well their demonstrated ability to think critically about the challenges in their lives or within their community. 
 
The MPA Program is rigorous and amounts to a major time commitment, something we tell all candidates up front. In an effort to ensure a diverse and talented student body, we’ve adapted our graduate program to better support working professionals, especially those from backgrounds underrepresented in public service leadership and management. We provide academic and professional coaching to each student who enters the program, we have a part time option, and we continue to explore different learning modalities through hybrid and virtual programming. The Colin Powell School MPA model is responsive to student needs and ensures multiple touch-points with students to ensure that MPAs can align their graduate school experience with their career aspirations and development. 
 
Can you share more about your experiences as a public health practitioner and entrepreneur and how they contribute to your role in the MPA program?
 
Prior to this role, I worked in the NYC healthcare service delivery sector as the Chief Executive Officer for a minority women-owned home care agency. Working in the private sector, particularly in the entrepreneurial world of small business, taught me valuable lessons on how to maximize limited resources, how to leverage a diverse range of stakeholders, and how to meet both the people you serve and those you employ “where they are”. Even as a trained public health practitioner, I did not feel immediately prepared to navigate the real world dynamics of financial pressures competing with the programmatic priorities of serving a medically vulnerable population. Yet, as is often the case in life, baptism by fire is the best teacher. I tell my students all the time — it's OK to struggle, in fact, adversity is a gift that trains you for the next challenge that you’re bound to face in life. 
 
When I became MPA Program Director, I brought with me a deep commitment to challenging the status quo — always in service to advancing a more equitable society. In addition, my experiences in healthcare and business forged my dedication to leadership development, something that I viewed as sorely lacking in the many sectors that affected people’s everyday lives and wellbeing. 
 
 
Can you say a bit about what brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School? How does CCNY differ from other colleges or universities you’ve been associated with? 
 
Surprisingly, my first interaction with CCNY was by chance (though I do not believe in coincidences!). I was offered an opportunity to visit the MPA program’s Leadership class in Fall 2018. What I witnessed changed my life in profound ways. I recognized, almost immediately, that developing leaders through educational programming was a career pathway I had never considered, but that really appealed to me. I also realized that CCNY, and the Colin Powell School in particular, was the most unique place to cultivate that mission. Up until that point, most of my experiences with academia had been with private colleges and universities. On CUNY’s Harlem campus, however, something different is happening. The authenticity of diverse perspectives and experiences found at this institution energized me, and I quickly could not see myself being anywhere else. I love working with my students — both inside and outside of the classroom. They are the leaders we need to take power and shift our systems to better serve our diverse public. 
 
 
Please share something about your plans — regarding research, teaching, engagement — for the next couple of years. 
 
As the program evolves, we see numerous opportunities to improve the quality and relevance of public service management instruction through experiential and applied learning experiences. We are particularly focused on exposing students to in-demand skills that will take their leadership and management practice to the next level. I see this as core to our mission to prepare public service professionals to shift power and transform society.
 
In practice, this can look like expanded course offerings and fellowships in partnership with organizations on the frontline of public service and social change. For example, we’ve partnered with the NYC Department of Housing and Preservation to embed MPA fellows in their policy and strategy team for summer internships. As a next step in our engagement, we’ve begun to develop an MPA course offering, delivered by HPD, to hone MPA skills in policy innovation and policy entrepreneurism. Deepening our partnerships will be a key programmatic focus for the next couple of years.  
 
What do you want everyone to know about what makes the Colin Powell School special? 
 
The Colin Powell School is a place where transformational leadership already exists — amongst our students, our faculty, and our staff. It is also a place where that leadership capacity is cultivated, nurtured, enriched and exercised in both the smallest and most profound ways. We learn so much from our community. And that ability to listen and learn allows our institution to adapt to shifting needs, meet our diverse stakeholders wherever they are, and to deliver high-quality instruction and programming. The extraordinary people of this place are exactly what makes the Colin Powell School so special. 

Wed, 21 Feb 2024 12:27:56 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/30321
​Bridging Dreams and Determination https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/bridging-dreams-and-determination

 

Jesus Villegas

Bridging Dreams and Determination: Jesus Villegas' Journey from East Harlem to Economic Impact

Jesus Villegas, a first-generation college student from East Harlem, is pursuing a BA in Economics with a concentration in Finance. Villegas’ motivation stems from his family's sacrifices and his own experiences, including a transformative period of injury and recovery during the pandemic.

Please share a little about your background — what’s your story?  

My name is Jesus Villegas (He/Him), born and raised in East Harlem, New York. Growing up in this diverse community has deeply influenced my perspective on life and shaped my personal aspirations. I am proud to say I am the first person in my immediate family to have the privilege to attend college. This milestone has not only been a personal achievement of mine, but also shows all the sacrifices and dreams of my family it took to get here. 

Currently, I am pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics with a concentration in Finance. With my degree, I hope to pursue a career in Finance while ensuring to continue supporting underrepresented communities by giving back through helping projects within low-income communities, mentorship opportunities, or possibly working in the non-profit and/or public sector. 

As a first-gen student, I understand the challenges often faced by students in a similar situation and I also understand the responsibility as a first-gen student to support others. By sharing my own experiences and story, I hope to make a positive impact on the lives of others by inspiring them.

What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?

My purpose behind my studies at CCNY are primarily fueled by my family and loved ones. Their support has been my anchor throughout all my life, they’ve always been there to push and motivate me to do better. Whenever I‘ve struggled, they have always helped me by doing the simplest things which mean everything to me. All my life, my family has lived paycheck to paycheck and I witnessed various struggles which are the reason why I can push through the challenges I face. My dream is to be able to fully maintain them financially and support them to live the rest of their years as happily as they can. 

My passion for finance stems mainly from my time during the pandemic. I was working as a full-time employee at a warehouse in order to support my family financially. However, I began pushing myself a little too much, working more than I should have and putting unnecessary pressure on myself. Eventually, I sustained injuries which led me to the lowest point in my life being bedridden for over two years. I spent much of my time depressed and doing nothing. This all started turning around when I began watching YouTube videos about the stock market. The stock market intrigued me and I began actively investing my own time and money. I decided to return to college after I had recovered enough of my health and strength to study economics due to the passion I developed from compiling and analyzing data and trends. 

Through my studies, I aspire to not only gain the knowledge and expertise in finance but also to leverage this knowledge to make a difference in the lives of my family and others. CCNY provides me with the platform to transform my passion into purpose, equipping me with the right skills, network, and knowledge to ultimately secure a brighter future for myself and my loved ones.

Where are you in your career? How has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?

This semester marked the transition into my junior year, where I've been actively pursuing a summer internship within the Finance industry. Despite encountering various challenges along the way, I've navigated them to the best of my abilities and take pride in my successes thus far. I firmly believe that what is meant for me will eventually find its way, and in the meantime, I maintain a positive outlook while applying to as many opportunities as possible. I'm excited for the prospect of applying everything I've learned at the Colin Powell School when the right opportunity presents itself.

The Colin Powell School has been instrumental in helping me build a network that played a crucial role in securing my first internship. From the supportive friends who assisted me during mock interviews to the invaluable guidance of my mentors, their support was indispensable in securing the Recruitment and Workforce Intern position at Braven.

At Braven, a relatively new presence on CCNY's campus, I contributed to increasing student engagement, enhancing social media presence, and streamlining outreach efforts through various initiatives. For instance, I engaged in tabling, delivered presentations, and spearheaded the Braven Student Ambassador initiative. As the leader of this project, I trained a team of Braven fellows to assume responsibilities, fostering efficiency and productivity. From starting with just one intern — myself — to leaving behind a team of student ambassadors, I not only supported Braven's mission but also empowered fellow students to enhance their resumes and gain valuable experience and skills.

Following my experience at Braven, the connections forged through the Colin Powell School enabled me to join the CCNY Financial Literacy and Stock Market Club, initially as a member and later as a supporter. This semester, I'm excited to lead the establishment of the ALPFA chapter alongside a fellow Colin Powell School student, Steven Fernandez. With the strong network and support system I've cultivated, I feel confident and eager to share my knowledge, skills, and resources with others. Leading this club provides me with a platform to give back to the community and support students like myself.

What are your post-graduation plans? 

Currently, I find myself in a phase of uncertainty regarding my post-graduation plans. Nevertheless, I remain steadfast in my commitment to furthering the skills I've cultivated during my tenure at the Colin Powell School. In the foreseeable future, I envision charting a career path within the finance sector, leveraging these skills to support causes that resonate deeply with me, particularly those aiding low-income or underrepresented communities.

Whether it entails volunteering, mentorship, or other avenues of community engagement, my goal is to effect positive change and lend support to individuals navigating challenges akin to those I've faced. While the finer details of my post-graduation trajectory may still be hazy, I am resolutely dedicated to exploring opportunities that align harmoniously with my values and aspirations, all in pursuit of crafting a gratifying and impactful professional journey.

Please share a significant memory and/or accomplishment from your time at CCNY. 

I could reminisce about the countless amazing memories I’ve experienced at CCNY. From the invaluable connections with professors to successfully navigating challenging courses or to the friends I have made along the way. However, one particular memory stands out as a significant milestone which is when I landed my first internship at Braven. During the time period when I was bedridden, self-doubt often clouded my mind. There were countless moments where I doubted I would ever get up from the bed again, let alone return to college. 

However, upon my return to CCNY in the Fall of 2022, I remember seizing every opportunity I could in order to gain experiences to build my resume. Eventually this determination led me to enroll in the Braven Leadership Accelerator course as part of their initial cohort during the Spring semester of 2023. When Braven offered internship positions during the middle of the semester, I became determined in securing a position. At the time, I had never held a job outside of being a waiter and working at a warehouse so I really wanted this position. I began dedicating countless hours to prepare by practicing mock interviews, missing out on sleep while juggling all my coursework, and praying to secure the position. 

Eventually I had my interview and I began waiting for a response. After weeks of anticipation, I received an acceptance offer. I still remember all the emotion, crying and being grateful for my first ever opportunity as an intern. Since then, I’ve eagerly anticipated the next chapter of my journey where I hope to be able to participate in a finance-focused internship. 

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

Three pieces of advice I wish I knew before starting college would be: 
Be confident: Trust the process and always remain patient despite the setbacks or rejections you may face. Remember, if something is meant for you, it will come in its own time! Have confidence and a bit of patience. 
Manage your time effectively: I know balancing academics, extracurricular activities, and your personal life is VERY difficult. While it is tempting to take on too much sometimes whether it is to build experiences or any other reason. Remember to ALWAYS prioritize your mental and physical health first. Learn from your past experiences and avoid overworking yourself. Make time to socialize, rest, and self care.
Build meaningful connections: Networking is a key to success in life! Challenge yourself to meet new people and create both professional and personal relationships. You never know where these connections may lead, whether it's securing internships, advancing your career, or forming lifelong friendships. Also remember to stay in touch! 

How would you describe CPS in three words? 
Network, Supportive, Opportunities 
 

Wed, 21 Feb 2024 12:24:35 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/30320
Journey to a Career in Urban Planning  https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/journey-career-urban-planning

 

 

Carlos Pazmino

Alum Carlos Pazmino’s Journey to a Career in Urban Planning 


Carlos Pazmino ‘15, a Transportation Planner/Urban Planner II at The District Department of Transportation, immigrated with his mother from Quito, Ecuador, at the age of 10, during a very turbulent era in that country. City College provided a platform for Pazmino to blend personal experiences with academic pursuits, fueling his passion for urban planning. 

What brought you to CCNY and to the Colin Powell School?
My stepfamily has a longstanding history with CUNY, as my grandfather attended Lehman College in the 1960s when CUNY was first established. He often regaled me with cherished memories of his older friends attending City College. What resonated with him most was the fact that City College set an example as one of the few institutions of higher learning that did not discriminate against Jews, immigrants, or the marginalized. As a Jewish man, the mission of City College – which in turn developed into the CUNY system – allowed him to gain an education and access to the American Dream when other institutions did not. When I transferred in my sophomore year of college, I felt a profound sense of pride in continuing this tradition of attending public higher education within my new family, all while navigating life as an immigrant. City College embodies a legacy of inclusion, opportunity, and progress that has left an indelible mark on me.

What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?
Upon my arrival in the United States, I found myself thrust into a whirlwind of change, beginning with the fiercely contested 2000 Presidential election and culminating in the devastating events of 9/11 the following year. Growing up in downtown Manhattan during this period of profound political turmoil left an indelible mark on my perspective, shaping both my political beliefs and moral convictions. I bore witness to the resilience of my community in the face of the horrific terrorist attack. However, I also saw how existing economic policies exacerbated hardships, displacing many good people from their businesses and homes. Additionally, I observed the rise of unfounded animosity towards Muslims and immigrants, exemplified by opposition towards an Islamic center near my home. These experiences deeply influenced my understanding of American life and fueled my determination to pursue a career aimed at making a meaningful difference. It became clear to me that I wanted to contribute to a cause that could uplift the lives of others, uniting people from all walks of life. I recognized that City College provided a unique platform where my life experiences, rooted in the challenges and unity I witnessed in my neighborhood, could not only be heard but also seen. My passion and purpose behind pursuing my studies at City College were driven by the profound desire to bridge divides, promote understanding, and work towards a more inclusive and harmonious society for all.

Briefly, how has your career unfolded? How did City College and/or the Colin Powell School help you to get where you are in your career?
Enrolling in John Krinsky's Urban Economics course marked a pivotal turning point in my academic journey, one that had a profound and lasting impact on my career trajectory. It was in this course that I was first introduced to the complex realm of urban and regional planning, and I can confidently assert that this experience played a transformative role in shaping my life's path. In particular, a compelling moment of revelation emerged when I delved into a comprehensive survey of the supply of vacant homes in the vibrant community of Harlem. This exploration not only broadened my horizons but also served as a catalyst, prompting me to critically assess the limitations of existing urban policies and their implications for local residents. This newfound awareness ignited a passion within me for urban planning and community development, which led me to pursue a career as a Transportation Planner. In my current role, I wholeheartedly devote myself to the intricate dynamics of neighborhood development and equity, with a commitment to implementing strategies that create thriving, inclusive urban environments.

Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your career or time at City College / Colin Powell School that you would like to share?
My time serving as the USG Student Ombudsperson between 2014-2015 was definitely a highlight. In part because the student body had witnessed a period of deep student turmoil with the overlapping student body protests and systemic changes in CUNY. I am deeply proud to have helped students advocate for themselves, address their concerns with the school, and provide needed support with their financial aid.

What advice would you give to current students or recent graduates majoring in your field of study?
Be open to new experiences and listen to all perspectives. Applying nuance to complex situations is a critical step in both lifting up a community and oneself. Always find the balance between humility and grace

Wed, 21 Feb 2024 12:19:31 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/30318
The Diversity of This Community Reflects the Diversity of N.Y. Itself https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/diversity-community-reflects-diversity-ny-itself

 

Bruce Cronin

Bruce Cronin: “The Diversity of This Community Reflects the Diversity of N.Y. Itself”

Influenced by his parents' activism as opponents of the war in Vietnam and supporters of civil rights, Political Science professor Bruce Cronin developed a passion for international politics, particularly human rights. After earning a degree in Political Science and Urban Studies at SUNY Albany, he pursued a career as a community organizer and later earned a PhD from Columbia University. Cronin’s scholarly work delves into human rights and international law, with a focus on state violence. 

Please share something about your personal and professional background.
 
I’ve grown up in all three regions of New York state: the City (Brooklyn), Long Island, and upstate. I went to college at SUNY Albany, majoring in Political Science and Urban Studies. Following college I worked as a community organizer for two years, mainly organizing tenants, and later as a staff person for a nuclear disarmament organization, Mobilization for Survival. I decided to pursue academia and attended New York University for my Master’s Degree, and Columbia University for my PhD.  After receiving my degree, I was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship at the Center for International Affairs, Harvard University. The following year I was hired as an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I stayed for five years. However, my goal was always to return to New York and I accepted a position at City College in 2003. My wife was able to secure a job as a college professor at Wagner College in New York, so we have been fortunate to be able to coordinate our professional and personal lives.
 
How did you discover a passion for your field; and what made you decide to pursue a PhD?
 
I have always been interested in politics, particularly international politics. My parents were strong opponents of the U.S. war in Vietnam and supporters of the Civil Rights movement. I guess I was influenced by that. During the late 1980s, I worked to oppose U.S. intervention in Central America and decided that I wanted to pursue the study of international relations more formally. Although I always had a passion for human rights, my interest was piqued by the genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda. I became particularly interested in the protection of civilians and the laws of armed conflict after witnessing the war crimes and the abuse of civilians during the Russian war in Chechnya, the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the 2006 war in Gaza. I viewed international law as one of the few ways to restrain (up to a point) the ambitions, violence, and aggressive tendencies of states.                               
 
Can you please briefly describe your scholarly work and findings? What’s most meaningful to your field — and to you — about your work?
 
My primary research focuses on human rights and international law. I am currently working on the third leg of a three-book project addressing state violence and international law. The first book (Bugsplat) examined why states that are committed to the principle of non-combatant immunity end up killing and injuring large numbers of civilians during their military operations. I found that despite the efforts of many Western military organizations to comply with the laws of armed conflict, the high level of civilian casualties produced by their military operations is the inevitable outcome of the reckless methods through which they fight wars. Drawing on their superior technology and the strategic advantage of not having to fight on their own territory, such states employ highly-concentrated and overwhelming military force against buildings and infrastructure located deep within heavily-populated towns and urban areas, inevitably producing high levels of civilian casualties and severe damage to civilian facilities.
 
My most recent book, Purging the Odious Scourge of Atrocities, explores the growth of a type of international human rights law that prohibits the use of extreme violence by states against their populations even when perpetrated within their own borders. I found that the international community has developed a universal legal ban on such nefarious practices as genocide, widespread attacks on their civilian population, torture, and the violation of civilian immunity in civil wars. Such a prohibition is legally binding even if states refuse to sign treaties banning these practices.
 
Can you say a bit about what brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School? How does CCNY differ from other colleges or universities you’ve been associated with?  


I originally came to City College as a means of moving back to New York, where I grew up.  However, almost immediately I realized how fortunate I was to work in an academic environment that was so culturally diverse and exciting. City kids are far more interesting and street-wise than other students whom I have taught. They bring a depth of experience, diverse backgrounds, and knowledge that is unique among college students. I love the close sense of community among them. The diversity of this community reflects the diversity of New York itself. 
 
Please share something about your plans — regarding research, teaching, engagement — for the next couple of years. 
 
My current work over the next year or two focuses on the use of armed force by states against other states and non-state actors. The prohibition against the use of military force by states is one of the most deeply embedded legal norms in international law and diplomatic practice. It is the cornerstone of the United Nations, an organization in which every country in the world is a member. Yet despite the general ban against the use of military force, many acts of state violence are common and some types are tolerated by the international community. My research explores the extent to which states, individually or in concert with others, can use force when the Council does not act. In practice, there appears to be a hierarchy in international law regarding the types of armed violence employed. Some are illegal at all times, while others are contingent on specific circumstances. Still others may be technically illegal but are tolerated depending on the purpose and means. The determination of which acts fall into which category depends on the degree to which a particular use of force is consistent with, or violates, basic values that have been broadly accepted by the international community. These values have been enshrined in international law and diplomatic practice.
 
What would you want to make sure everyone knows about what makes the Colin Powell School special? 
 
The mission of City College is to provide a diverse student body with opportunities to advance and achieve academically, creatively, and professionally in their chosen fields, thus its public commitment to “access” and “excellence.” Most people are aware that CCNY makes great effort to increase access to underserved populations, but the Colin Powell School also excels at providing the resources for students to achieve the excellence side of the commitment. Through the Office of Student Success, its staff of advisors provides a level of student support and service unparalleled at City College, or at CUNY for that matter. The School provides close support for all students from admission to graduation. Its fellowship and internship programs offer unparalleled financial and academic support to students majoring in one of the School’s departments. From a faculty perspective, I find a real sense of community among the professors in the five academic departments and this (among other things) encourages interdisciplinary collaboration and socializing. 
 

Tue, 30 Jan 2024 10:31:57 -0500 colin powell school https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/30199
“Never Be Ashamed to Ask for Help” https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/never-be-ashamed-ask-help

 

Leila

Student Leila Cole '25: “Never Be Ashamed to Ask for Help”


Leila Cole, born in Sierra Leone and raised in the U.S., originally aspired to be a computer animator before shifting to the fashion industry. Feeling unfulfilled, she resigned from a strategic role in a luxury jewelry company and enrolled at CCNY. The passion for addressing global issues, especially injustices against women and children, led her to pursue International Studies at the Colin Powell School. 


Please share a little about your background — what’s your story?  

I was born in Sierra Leone, West Africa, and arrived in the States when I was four. Despite being the product of two legal professionals, my trajectory towards law wasn't initially apparent. As a profoundly artistic child, my early aspirations leaned towards computer animation, fueled by a fascination with cartoons and comics. However, a shift occurred around my sophomore year of high school, inspired by my immersion in the pages of fashion magazines — Teen Vogue and Seventeen Magazine, courtesy of my Aunt's subscriptions. Recognizing that the world of fashion was where I envisioned building my career, I enrolled in the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). Following my graduation from FIT, I spent years working in the industry, culminating in my role as a strategist for a luxury jewelry company — an exciting prospect since they had been my dream client during my fashion studies.

Despite this, a few months into the role, I began to feel a sense of unfulfillment. It became clear that my acute awareness of local and global issues was steering me towards a different path, beyond the confines of the fashion world. In November of 2022, I made the challenging decision to resign from my fashion role. In December of the same year, I applied to City College and received acceptance in the first week of January 2023. This led to my enrollment in the Spring 2023 semester, commencing less than three weeks later. The rest is history!


What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?

I decided to pursue International Studies with a minor in Human Rights and concentration in culture and communication because of my heightened awareness of local and global issues. The persistence of crimes against humanity, social and economic disparities among communities, and injustices targeting the world’s most vulnerable — particularly women and children — underscore the urgency for proactive engagement. My aspiration is to serve others and be a catalyst for meaningful change.


Where are you in your career? How has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?

I’m pursuing a second bachelor’s degree at CCNY — a Bachelor of Art (BA), with plans on going to law school after completion of this program. Coming to CCNY was honestly such a blessing. I’m able to benefit from such a quality education at an affordable cost, one that’s really opening my eyes to other local issues and perspectives I was not previously aware of. During my first semester, I enrolled in the Braven Accelerator course, which was particularly valuable given my recent career transition. Through this course, I was paired with an exceptional learning coach from Google, had the opportunity to meet industry leaders at events, and was part of one of the winning teams for the capstone challenge with Brooks Brothers! Towards the end of the Spring semester, I was accepted into the Honors Program for Legal Studies. This has made the prospect of law school feel much more attainable and tangible, bringing it closer to reality.  There are such an abundance of resources that we have access to in this undergrad program.


What are your post-graduation plans? 


Law school! I aspire to specialize in international law. Being born in a country marked by civil unrest, I am drawn to advocating for the rights of women and children in war-torn regions. My goal is to be a voice for the underrepresented.


Please share a significant memory and/or accomplishment from your time at CCNY. 


Winning the Capstone Challenge with Braven in collaboration with Brooks Brothers was a moment of immense pride. Additionally, being accepted into the Honors Program for Legal Studies served as a strong vote of confidence, affirming that I am on the right path and capable of achieving my goals.

One notable memory involves taking Professor Matthew Reilly's Critical Race Theory class during my first semester at City College. Professor Reilly is an exemplary ally. He approached the sensitive course material on Indigenous populations and culture with great respect. The class provided me with the opportunity to uncover historical aspects I hadn't learned before — crucial history that should be acknowledged to prevent the repetition of past injustices.


Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students? 


Never be ashamed to ask for help. There are resources here at CCNY to make the journey easier. Some of the resources are more obvious and easily accessible than others but they’re there. Also, make sure to pay attention to your CCNY emails! I’ve found so many gems there  — career opportunities, events, paid workshops!


How would you describe CPS in three words? 
Humbling, motivating and revelatory!

Tue, 30 Jan 2024 10:23:53 -0500 colin powell school https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/30198
Curiosity Will Take You Places You Never Thought You’d Go https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/curiosity-will-take-you-places-you-never-thought-youd-go

 

Alesia

Alesia Burnazi ‘17: Curiosity Will Take You Places You Never Thought You’d Go

Alesia Burnazi ‘17 is Communications Associate for Palladium and Communications Manager for the UNICEF-funded AFPro project in Albania. Born in Tirana, Albania, Burnazi’s began her college career at BMCC before transferring to CCNY. Her family background, paired with her passion for world affairs, politics, and journalism, led her to study international studies at CCNY. 


Please tell us a little about your background.

I was born and raised in Tirana, Albania. I am of Bulgarian and Kosovo roots. My father immigrated to the U.S. leaving all behind for a better life. After all his immigration struggles he finally became a U.S. citizen opening a wide door of opportunities for me to explore in the U.S. Right after finishing high school in Tirana, I moved to NYC to pursue my bachelor's degree. I started my academic journey at BMCC on a liberal arts degree not knowing what to do or what to pursue. Community college felt huge at first and I felt so little. It was a culture shock that I had never experienced before, immersing myself in a pool of students from all over the world. I didn't know anyone, and no one knew me. The beginning was hard. My English was great but I hesitated to speak during classes. I felt timid using my voice while others spoke so confidently. During those two years at BMCC, I changed. I became stronger and more confident, I made friends and I started to explore my passions. I always knew I wanted to pursue a degree either in the arts or social sciences. BMCC was a pool of opportunities for me where I tried everything I was passionate about. I tried theater, creative writing, photography, astronomy, but also foreign languages and literature. BMCC set the basis of my education where I was able to distinguish myself through my hard work and commitment, being part of the Dean's List for two years straight.


What brought you to CCNY and to the Colin Powell School?

After finishing two years at BMCC I was faced with the big decision of which college to apply to pursue my education. I finally decided to explore International relations and journalism degrees all over CUNY. I decided on CCNY because of the variety of the international studies degree and the curriculum. I loved that students could choose different concentrations based on their interests. I started CCNY in Political Science, then switched to International Studies.

What was your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?

At CCNY, I studied International Studies with a concentration on international relations and I also did a minor in Journalism. I always knew I wanted to study something that would have a bigger impact on the world. I have always been curious and this curiosity has driven me to explore many things. I wanted to be in the middle of world affairs, to understand complex issues, shape my critical thinking, and be able to speak eloquently with people from different backgrounds. I love culture and I started to love learning about politics. On the other hand, journalism runs in the family. My mother is a journalist and my maternal grandmother has worked in the Albanian Radio Television. Since I was a child, I dreamed about writing and telling stories like my mother. This was my thinking behind pursuing a journalism minor at CCNY.

How has your career unfolded? How did City College and the Colin Powell School help you to get where you are in your career?

Colin Powell School was the place where I found myself. This school and the degree I pursued shaped me into the person I am today. The classes I have attended and the professors I had the honor to be taught by are one of a kind. I was a little girl from Albania and I was presented with the world at CCNY. The professors at CCNY wrote my recommendations for my master's applications at the London School of Economics and Political Science where I pursued an MSc. in Human Rights. In the last four years, I have worked in social and legal research, research and development, international development, and communications. I have worked for several organizations, companies, and public institutions such as the Prime Minister's Office in Tirana, Albania, The Centre for Artificial Intelligence in London, Palladium, UNDP Albania, UNICEF Albania, Ministry of Tourism and Environment of Albania, etc.


Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your time at CCNY that you would like to share?

I loved my time at City College. I have made lifelong friends from all over the world with whom I still maintain close relationships. I also am very grateful for my professors Michael Busch, Barbara Nevins Taylor, Rajan Menon, Rajul Punjabi, and many others. My most precious memory would be being selected to attend the NMUN conference in 2016 along with my classmates. I was part of the Human Rights Committee and it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget. This conference also spiked my interest in human rights which I later pursued as a master's degree at LSE.

What advice would you give to current students?

Be curious. You don't have to know what you want to do yet, which is okay. But being curious will take you to places that you never thought you would go. It will keep the drive within you going and it will be the start of everything you want to explore in life.

What are your future career aspirations for your career?

I want to focus more on storytelling. I want to integrate my knowledge of human rights and journalism into creating a platform for underrepresented voices. Ideally in the future I would like to have my own media or institute where art, culture, journalism, and human rights would be the center of it. I also want to work for UNESCO focusing on education and culture and making an impact for the younger generation. I want to write a book, but I haven't decided on the topic yet. I will continue to stay curious.
 

Tue, 30 Jan 2024 10:16:33 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/30197
From City College to Amsterdam, the story of Alumnus Fatjon Kaja ’16 https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/city-college-amsterdam-story-alumnus-fatjon-kaja-16
Fatjon

From City College to Amsterdam, the story of Alumnus Fatjon Kaja ’16

Born in a small Albanian town, alumnus Fatjon Kaja’s journey has led him from Fort Hamilton High School in Brooklyn to City College to Amsterdam. 

***

Where are you from and what is your background story? 

I was born in a small town in Albania, where I lived until my junior year of high school. I went on to complete my high school education at Fort Hamilton High School in Brooklyn. Following this transition, I enrolled at the City College of New York where I pursued my degree in Economics and Philosophy.

What brought you to CCNY and to the Colin Powell School?

When I was considering colleges, I had to take into account not only the reputation of the university and the strength of its programs but also the affordability of pursuing higher education in New York. I came to see that CCNY excelled in all these premises, so it quickly became an obvious choice. What drew me to the Colin Powell School in particular while at CCNY were the programs and the dedication of the professors. I took classes with Professor Kevin Foster, Rajan Menon, and Professor Bernstein and I was impressed by their expertise, humbleness, and devotion to mentorship.

Briefly, how has your career unfolded? How did City College and/or the Colin Powell School help you to get where you are in your career?

After graduating from City College, I went to law school at the University of Minnesota Law School, where I obtained my Juris Doctor. I then became a lecturer in Law and Economics at the University of Amsterdam. Initially, I was drawn to academia for the thrill of debating ideas and witnessing the transformative power of education, I found satisfaction in guiding students toward their career aspirations. However, a pivotal shift occurred last year when I opted for a leave of absence from academia to assume the role of a Judicial Law Clerk at the Supreme Court of Palau. This immersive experience allowed me to witness the tangible effects of law on diverse communities, offering insights into the practical challenges individuals encounter daily. This hands-on engagement provided a real-world context for legal principles, further fueling my passion for public service as I strive to navigate the intersection of theory and practical impact in pursuit of a more just and equitable society.

Along the journey, I benefited from the help and mentorship of Dean Rich, Associate Dean Foster, and President Boudreau, so I am grateful for their advice.


 

Thu, 21 Dec 2023 15:02:44 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/29865
Dr. Dave Chokshi’s Vision for Health and Education https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/dr-dave-chokshis-vision-health-and-education
Dave Chokshi

Former NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi, recently shared his reflections on health, medicine, public service, and joining CCNY as the inaugural Sternberg Family Professor of Leadership at the Colin Powell School.

Please share something about your personal and professional background. What inspired you to become a doctor?
I was not one of those kids who had a Fisher-Price stethoscope and always dreamed of becoming a physician. In fact, as the first doctor in my family, I didn't really have role models to help me understand what it meant to practice medicine. What I did have was a number of personal and family experiences with illness that showed me how health and opportunity were fundamentally connected. I've always tried to hold on to that notion of health (beyond medicine) as my professional 'north star' — whether taking care of patients at Bellevue Hospital, or trying to change broader systems of care.


Teaching at an undergraduate institution is a new venture for you. Can you say a bit about what drew you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School?
In a word: the people! I reconnected with Dean Andy Rich soon after stepping down as New York City's health commissioner — and was so inspired by how he described the mission of the Colin Powell School and CCNY as a place to forge the leaders we need for the world we ought to have. Teaching at a public institution, and getting the chance to help steward that mission, feels like an extension of the public service I've dedicated my career to.

Share something about your plans — regarding research, teaching, engagement — for the next couple of years?
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a seismic event that resulted in unfathomable loss and human suffering, our times call for bold change. If the pandemic were an earthquake, we must examine the tectonic plates underlying that suffering — poverty, racism, tribalism, and the lack of trust, social cohesion, and human connection across communities. We require fresh approaches and different ways of organizing groups for purpose, particularly groups of people spanning different lived experiences and generational boundaries. I'm looking forward to working with students and colleagues on this through teaching, scholarship, and real-world organizing. Some examples include: a course I am teaching on leadership in health equity; an essay I wrote on healthspan; and a new initiative known as the Common Health Coalition to pursue a reimagined health system. 

What would you want to make sure everyone knows about what makes the Colin Powell School special?
Well, the truth is that I'm still getting to know the Colin Powell School myself! But what has struck me already is that it is an institution that "walks the walk" when it comes to social mobility and making real the American Dream. The same reason I care so much about health — because it is fundamental to opportunity — is what sets apart the educational approach at CPS and City College.


Former NYC Health Commissioner Joins CCNY Faculty – Dr. Dave A Chokshi

Thu, 21 Dec 2023 14:58:46 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/29864
“I Have Chosen to Shoot for the Stars Instead of Merely Observing Them” https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/i-have-chosen-shoot-stars-instead-merely-observing-them

 

Miguel Arias

Moynihan Fellow Miguel Arias: “I Have Chosen to Shoot for the Stars Instead of Merely Observing Them”

Miguel Arias was “once a kid on an island with a curiosity matched by nothing else.” Today, Arias is a self-described “public servant” for CCNY and CUNY students. 

Arias came to CCNY aiming to challenge injustices, amplify the voices of the marginalized, and effect change. Understanding that he could not achieve this alone, he chose CCNY to learn how to translate these passions into action.


Please share a little about your background — what’s your story?

Me llamo Miguel. Today, I am a young adult who was once a kid on an island with a curiosity matched by nothing else. In the US, that curiosity turned into actions and passions — some good, some bad, but nevertheless essential to discovering who and what I am. I was once a volunteer, an intern, and a dreamer with my eyes on the stars. Today, I might be the same, but I have chosen to shoot for the stars instead of merely observing them. Now, I am a public servant for CCNY and CUNY students, and I am still training to be the best at what I do as a Moynihan fellow. You might know the plot of my story now, but only the future knows the climax and its end, so stay tuned.

What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?

When I arrived at CCNY, my aspiration was to leave a meaningful impact on this world. I aimed to challenge injustices, amplify the voices of the marginalized, and effect change. Understanding that I couldn't do this alone, I chose CCNY to learn how to translate these passions into action. What a better place than this college with all of its resources of professors, professionals, academics and intellectuals you name them. 

Where are you in your career?

I'm at an early stage in my career journey, still a student eager to learn. Despite being in this phase, I've taken initial strides forward. I was elected Vice President of Academic Affairs for the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and serve as a delegate for the University Student Senate (USS) at CUNY. Later in life I want to continue being a representative of the people but to do that I need to first start from the bottom with the people, and that is where I am with my career. 

How has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?

City College as a whole including the Colin Powell school has what you need to succeed in your career. I have several reasons why to thank the Colin Powell school for the help it has given me, but there is a particular time in which this school saved me from giving up. There was a moment during the pandemic when I struggled with my commitment as a student. However, my academic advisor suggested I did one last push. I was confused about what she meant. It was through an email for Colin Powell students regarding summer internship opportunities that the light bull in my head turned on. I secured an internship in a political campaign for the Manhattan District Attorney that same summer, which proved to be a pivotal experience that reaffirmed my career choice and reignited my determination. My advisor, the Colin Powell School, and the sender of that email played crucial roles in this turning point.

What are your post-graduation plans?

Upon graduation, I aim to continue my educational journey. I strongly believe that one never stops learning and aspire to pursue a Master's or PhD. In my professional endeavors, I intend to engage in social events that deepen my understanding of communities and their struggles, ultimately informing my future path.

Please share a significant memory and/or accomplishment from your time at CCNY.

While academic achievements matter, being acknowledged for an initiative pursued without expecting recognition holds a special place. As an independent senator in CCNY's student government, I proposed a plan to clean up old posters from the campus boards, an initiative that gained approval and was successfully executed. At the end-of-term of my administration we often hold an end of the semester ball for students to celebrate this year of accomplishment. We also held an award ceremony for the USG cabinet and two senators (a male and female). I was surprised and confused when I was awarded Senator of the Year. This unexpected recognition reinforced the belief that solutions come in diverse forms and sizes but nevertheless an accomplishment. 

Do you have any advice for current or future students?

An insightful piece of advice I recently received is to value what we're truly comfortable doing instead of trying to manage a multitude of tasks. Just because we can do something doesn't mean we should. Balancing various responsibilities, I've learned to prioritize effectively.

How would you describe CPS in three words?

Effective, innovative, resilient.

Tue, 05 Dec 2023 11:36:31 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/29814
The Students Are the Heart and Soul of the Institution https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/students-are-heart-and-soul-institution

 

Marta Bengoa

Economics Professor Marta Bengoa: “The Students Are the Heart and Soul of the Institution”

Professor of Economics Marta Bengoa is the first woman to achieve full professor status in Economics at CCNY,  and as such values her role as a mentor, particularly for women in Economics and Business. 

Please share something about your personal and professional background, and what brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School.

I am a Professor of Economics; my field is international economics with international trade specialization. I am the first woman to become a Full Professor in Economics in the history of City College and part of the elite of women across the country who are Full Professors in Economics (only 14% of the women who start a Ph.D. in Economics achieve the highest professorship level in Academia). I first came here as a visiting  professor in 2008 and I was immediately haunted by the thriving community, its potential, and the kind of impact and influence I could develop at CCNY, especially for women in Economics and Business, as a mentor.
My time at the City College of New York has been extremely productive and rewarding. It has allowed me to flourish in my field and be internationally recognized by my peers through national and international research collaborations. The Colin Powell School is a thriving institution, and the school ranks top in the country in promoting social mobility. I am very proud to be a faculty member of CCNY and I have seen myself grow in parallel with the latest renascence of the school.

How did you decide to pursue a PhD and discover a passion for your field?
I studied a bachelor's degree of five years in Business Management in Spain, and I was always more interested in the econ subjects than in the business ones. When I graduated in 1995, there was a huge recession in Spain, hitting households very hard and with an unemployment rate above 25%. I was worried about my country, about my peers and thought about what kind of policies could be implemented to try to ease out the hardship. I did work in the corporate world after graduation, in large multinationals, but was never fulfilled. Then, after a thoughtful discussion with the father of one of my friends (who was a professor) I decided that a PhD could be what I was looking for. And the rest is history.
 
Can you please briefly describe your scholarly work and findings? What’s most meaningful to your field — and to you — about your work?

A common methodological theme of my work is the use of detailed micro- and administrative data, at the firm and individual level, to econometrically estimate the effect of policies and responses to policy changes on a variety of economic outcomes. My research focuses on four major areas of specialization, in which I do combined theoretical and empirical research in fields that are intertwined: i) Trade integration, foreign direct investment (FDI), and home bias effect ii) Innovation, productivity, and technical progress. Iii) Migration and innovation, iv) Economic growth and inequality: Theoretical and empirical analysis.
With respect to my contribution to the subfield of international trade, I have published an important set of papers that have allowed us to have a better understanding of the magnitude of the home bias of trade (one of the puzzles in International Economics), as well as its influence on the distribution of foreign direct investment across Europe. This work is ground-breaking as it quantifies the size of the border effects of trade at a very disaggregated level to help understand why consumers and firms prefer to purchase local “home” goods and inputs in a globalized world. It happens that the size of the home bias is of significant magnitude and affects foreign investment placements, employment, and industrial development.
 
Can you say a bit about what you like about CCNY and the Colin Powell School? Perhaps speak to your work with students. What do you like about CCNY?  

I love the intellectual environment and enjoy the many discussions with students and colleagues across fields. Critical thinking is encouraged because the institution is interdisciplinary, cosmopolitan, and diverse (so it allows me to constantly learn from others). It is a thriving environment, and I am always happy to come to work. After 13 years of working for CCNY, I still find it extremely exciting and intellectually stimulating. The mission and vision of the CPS align with my view of the world, and I love being part of a community that is proud of educating and shaping the next leaders of the country and the world at large. What could be more exciting than that?
 
Share something about your plans — regarding research, teaching, engagement — for the next couple of years?

I am currently working on a project with colleagues at CCNY and from other institutions about international migration in the US and what makes those migrants to be entrepreneurs. We are also focusing on how local and federal policies affect entrepreneurship decisions for natives versus migrants. This is still an undeveloped topic in the entrepreneurship and migration fields and given the increasing flows of migrants coming to the US, we think that shedding some light on the topic can help understand the migration dynamics and the economics behind it. I am always excited about teaching, especially in person. I am a passionate person and that translates into how I teach.
 
What would you want to make sure everyone knows about what makes the Colin Powell School special? 

The people: the staff, the students, the faculty…we all face many hurdles working here as this is a public institution with structural barriers (bureaucratic and budget-wise). However, we are always creative in finding ways to overcome those with the objective of giving the best of us to our students. The students are the soul and heart of the institution, and we thrive when they excel inside and outside of the walls of our institution. We are in the business of creating well-rounded new leaders and in my opinion, we are doing a stellar job.
 

Tue, 05 Dec 2023 11:24:07 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/29813
“Embrace Your Imperfections, and Remember That You Are Brave” https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/embrace-your-imperfections-and-remember-you-are-brave
Zine Ebersohn

 

Zine Ebersohn ‘24, who comes from South Africa, brings a deep love for her country and a passion for storytelling and helping people to CCNY. Her journey to New York was initially as a scholarship recipient studying acting. Inspired by her community's struggles with racial inequality and barriers led her to realize the importance of mental health access for all. She has found her calling in mental health advocacy. 

Please share a little about your background — what’s your story?   

I grew up in diverse South Africa, and I have a deep love for my country and its people. I never fully realized how blessed I am to have grown up in such a diverse country until I began my journey at CCNY. I've always had a passion for storytelling and helping people. My mom's favorite story to share is about how she used to think she had lost me, and when she'd look around, I'd be either sitting at a table talking to a stranger or making new friends. People are my passion. At the age of 18, I received a scholarship to study acting in New York. Thanks to the collective efforts of my entire community, who organized fundraisers and supported my dreams, I had the incredible opportunity, albeit a bit daunting, to move to New York. Through my own mental health challenges, I came to the realization that I wanted to share and listen to other people's stories in the field of mental health. That's when I encountered the wonderful institution that is the City College of New York.

What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY? 

My passion is mental health access for ALL. It was amazing for me how CCNY connected me in a profound way to South Africa. My community has been my anchor and yet so many of the people do not have access to mental health services, still struggling with racial inequality and barriers that make me furious. I am studying for them. I want to use my voice and energy to serve the communities who are first to cheer us on, no matter how difficult their own struggles are. My mom, dad and brother who made my dreams their own. I want to be of service to my New York, South African and global community. They are my passion and my purpose.  

Where are you in your career? How has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way? 

I think I will always see my career as a journey. I will never know enough. In that regard I am at the best point in my career because I am learning something new every day: not only academically but about human beings. The Colin Powell School has been my mascot and pillar. The staff at the Office of Student Success are my family, away from home, and without them I do not know where I would have been. Through my Colin Powell Fellowship I have met friends for life, and I found an amazing internship that introduced me to people who are already doing what I dream of doing in the mental health field. In my six years in New York, the Colin Powell School has been the greatest blessing.  

What are your post-graduation plans?  

I am planning to do my master's degree in clinical psychology with a focus on mental health policy and inclusion. I double major in Psychology and Philosophy because I would love to pursue a PhD in the philosophy of psychology and hopefully teach future psychologists about mental health inclusion and the ethics of removing westernized ideologies from counseling and working with each patient regarding their identity. Given the current situations in the world, I have been thinking more about taking a break after graduating and volunteering with organizations who are in the field, serving the communities who need all our help.  

Please share a significant memory and/or accomplishment from your time at CCNY.  

Becoming a Colin Powell Fellow is still one of my greatest honors. The fellows in my cohort inspire me with their passion and life stories and I still cannot believe I get to share a room with them. Running for school president was a beautiful experience for me, it allowed me to understand our CCNY community so much better and share in the passion of their needs. My favorite memory at CCNY (so far) is sharing moments with my mentees. To hear their fears and excitement and being able to use my experience to guide them is something I hold remarkably close to my heart. And of course, introducing my parents to some of the staff at the Colin Powell School: two of my families in one room.  

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students? 

When you get overwhelmed, look around you: you are not alone. You are brave, you are smart, and you are so loved at CCNY. It is also okay to make mistakes, you are a student, and your job is to learn not to be perfect.  

How would you describe CPS in three words?  

Beautiful, Powerful, Home (for all) 

Tue, 07 Nov 2023 14:26:51 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/29664
Professor Diana Greenwald: “I Learn Something New from my Students Every Day” https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/professor-diana-greenwald-i-learn-something-new-my-students-every-day
Diana Greenwald

Professor Diana Greenwald’s academic journey was profoundly influenced by the post-9/11 era and the subsequent Middle East conflicts. Her academic focus revolves around the examination of local Palestinian politics in the West Bank, carried out under the backdrop of Israeli occupation. Her research encompasses data collection and analysis, including interviews with local politicians, shedding light on the intricate dynamics at play. Her work underscores the complexity of Palestinian lives under occupation and the resilience of individuals navigating these challenging circumstances.

Please share something about your personal and professional background, and what brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School.

I began studying Middle East politics while I was in college. 9/11 and the ensuing war in Afghanistan occurred during my senior year in high school, and the war in Iraq started my sophomore year of college. Thus, many of my formative years in my 20s were consumed by the broader “War on Terror.” I became interested in studying the politics of the Middle East and the Arabic language while I was an undergraduate at Georgetown University. After college, I worked for four years in Washington, DC. Before starting at CCNY and the Colin Powell School in 2018, I had finished my PhD at the University of Michigan and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School.

How did you decide to pursue a PhD and discover a passion for your field?

As part of my undergraduate degree, I wrote a senior honors thesis on Egyptian intellectuals and their relationship to the Egyptian state under the former regime of President Hosni Mubarak. I loved the research process — reading primary sources and even interviewing some of the intellectuals themselves and other scholars with expertise in Egyptian politics. I still wasn’t sure that I wanted to pursue a PhD, so, after college, I traveled to Syria for a summer Arabic program. When I returned to the US, I got a job offer to help a displaced Syrian human rights activist reestablish his NGO in Washington, DC. I worked there for two years, then subsequently worked for two years at a DC think tank. I soon realized that I felt more fulfilled in the academic world, not in the policymaking world, so I began applying for PhD programs.

Can you please briefly describe your scholarly work and findings? What’s most meaningful to your field — and to you — about your work?

In my book and in related work, I study how local Palestinian politics works in the West Bank under Israeli occupation. For this research, I got to do what I love most — collect and analyze various kinds of data, including interviews with local politicians from all across the territory, geographic data on Israeli and Palestinian territorial control, and quantitative data on how Palestinian local governments manage and dedicate their resources. I find that Palestinian mayors, municipal councils, and staff operate in a very challenging environment, often stuck in between the Israeli military authorities and their own people. I also find that the way the Israeli occupation works generates fissures and tensions within Palestinian politics, but also, surprisingly, Palestinian politicians from diametrically opposing parties can also be parts of the same social networks, or even family members or friends, with one another. The most meaningful thing I have tried to achieve in my work is to reflect the complex reality of Palestinian lives under occupation, and to highlight the agency and voices of people living within this reality.

Can you say a bit about what you like about CCNY and the Colin Powell School? Perhaps speak to your work with students. What do you like about CCNY?  

Our students, and the broader community, are what makes this place special. I teach courses in world politics, courses on the Middle East, and courses on global conflict and economic development. Many of our students at the Colin Powell School and at the college as a whole are first- or second-generation immigrants, or have lived outside of the US for some period of time, so we really do benefit from having a global classroom. I learn something new from my students every day. I have also been able to hire a few students on a part-time basis to assist with research; this has been a great experience for both the students and me.

Share something about your plans — regarding research, teaching, engagement — for the next couple of years?

I am currently exploring several possible future research projects. One builds on a paper I have already published to analyze the impact of generational or cohort membership on political attitudes in conflict settings, such as Palestine. We define generations as cohorts of individuals who were roughly the same age (or in the same age range) at the same period of time. So, to place it in terms that are relatable for all of us — Perhaps having lived through the COVID-19 pandemic shapes one’s attitudes in durable ways. But perhaps it not only matters that you lived through the COVID-19 pandemic, but it matters how old you were when the pandemic occurred. The latter is what we use to define generations. In conflict settings, we might think that exposure to certain key events is likely to have long-lasting effects on individuals’ political attitudes, depending on whether those events occurred when they were at a particularly impressionable age. Another possible future research project will use historical maps of the MENA region to understand certain aspects of contemporary politics. This will involve efforts to digitize and geocode historical maps, something I am currently exploring with collaborators.

What would you want to make sure everyone knows about what makes the Colin Powell School special? 

The school is really unique in the communities that it brings together. The social science faculty are conducting rigorous, influential, high-impact scholarly research, while initiatives like the Leadership for Democracy and Social Justice initiative and the Moynihan Center are doing important work to bridge the gap between research and practical change, whether through movement building or public service. As a result, our students are exposed to a wide range of approaches on how to effect change in their communities and around the world, and they engage with these approaches in the classroom, in fellowships and internships, and as they embark on their post-graduate careers.

 

Tue, 07 Nov 2023 14:24:00 -0500 Colin. Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/29663
Steven Tuber on Almost 40 Years at City College: “I Wouldn’t Have Taken Another Road for a Second” https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/steven-tuber-almost-40-years-city-college-i-wouldnt-have-taken-another-road
Steven Tuber Headshot

Professor Steven Tuber has been with City College for almost 40 years, and has been a full professor in the psychology department for more than 30 years. In a recent interview, Tuber described his passion for teaching, the nature of his work with children, his family’s background, and more. Tuber acknowledged the Colin Powell School’s mandate to provide a platform for diverse future leaders as being intertwined with the doctoral program’s mandate to provide the highest quality care to persons who are often ignored or mistreated by the mental health system.

Please share something about your personal and professional background, and what brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School.

I have had the pleasure and privilege to have been a faculty member at City College for a long time, 39 years and counting. I’ve been a full Professor in the Psychology Department for over 30 years, been Director of Clinical Training in the doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology for 24 of those years and the Head of that Program for 21 years, both and counting! I wouldn’t have taken another road for a second, except for if I had been offered the position of starting point guard for the Celtics, but at 5 '7” that wasn’t going to happen! I grew up poor financially on the streets of Coney Island in the 1960's to immigrant parents who lived lives full of trauma and loss and thus wanting to be part of City College was a natural desire on my part once I felt that I had something to offer to students. I have always loved teaching and being in the front of a classroom is still a deep thrill, even after all these years.

Can you please briefly describe your scholarly work and findings? What’s most meaningful to your field — and to you — about your work?

Most of my work clinically and intellectually has been with children. Even as a teenager, I was fascinated by babies and their rapid development and took to working therapeutically with children and their families from the very start of my doctoral training. I continue to teach our doctoral students how to be child therapists and have written extensively in this area. I have also been drawn to assessment techniques that could make the process of treating children clearer and more three dimensional. I have used ambiguity-driven tasks such as the Rorschach Inkblot Method to get a closer look at the inner conflicts of prospective patients and found it very useful. I’ve written extensively on the use of this method as well. Since 2016, the doctoral Program has exclusively become part of the Colin Powell School and we are honored to have been designated the first doctoral granting Program in the Colin Powell School.

What would you want to make sure everyone knows about what makes the Colin Powell School special?

The Colin Powell School’s mandate to provide a platform for diverse future leaders is beautifully intertwined with the doctoral program’s mandate to provide the highest quality care to persons who are often largely ignored or mistreated by the mental health system. I look forward to future intersections between the Clinical Program and the Colin Powell School.

Tue, 17 Oct 2023 12:38:48 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/29542
Steven Fernandez, ‘24, Forging a Path to a Career in Finance https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/steven-fernandez-24-forging-path-career-finance
Steven Fernandez Headshot

Originally from the Dominican Republic, Steven Fernandez grew up in the vibrant neighborhood of Inwood, Washington Heights. The impact of global events on his family and personal life drove his passion for economics and financial management,

Please share a little about your background — what’s your story?

I'm currently a senior in the Colin Powell School, majoring in economics with a concentration in finance. I was born in the beautiful Dominican Republic and spent my early years in the rural countryside (i.e., “campo”). In 2007, when I was six, my family and I moved to New York. We settled in the vibrant and diverse neighborhood of Inwood, Washington Heights. Our years in upper Manhattan have brought about their fair share of challenges, from finding affordable housing to dealing with the high cost of living and residing in a community with limited access to fresh food. These experiences have strengthened the bond within my family. They are a driving force behind my pursuit of a career in finance, as I hope to make a positive impact on such issues and inspire others in their career paths.

What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?

My passion for economics and my purpose in studying at CCNY are driven by a deep curiosity about the subject. Economics is a field that fascinates me because it reveals how people interact with the complex world of monetary and banking policies, which affect everyone. Recent global events, such as the pandemic, have had a profound impact on the world, including my family and me, both financially and psychologically. These experiences heightened my awareness of the significance of effective financial management and investment. I've come to realize that many individuals may find themselves in challenging situations if they do not carefully analyze their financial decisions. These realizations have not only deepened my appreciation for personal finance but also reinforced the value of education. My goal is to major in finance, and my aspiration is to assist both individuals and corporations in making sound and ethical decisions that contribute to equity, equality, and overall growth.

Where are you in your career? How has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?

I am currently serving as a teacher's assistant in the Department of Finance, where I assist one of the professors in developing workbooks designed to teach financial analytics within the capital markets industry, including topics like portfolio management. The Colin Powell School has played an instrumental role in shaping my academic journey and career progression, providing me with an array of resources, from advanced finance courses to valuable career prospects, all of which have significantly influenced my professional development. Within the school, I've had the privilege of enrolling in advanced finance courses, including financial modeling, and participating in networking events that facilitate connections with prominent employers like JP Morgan Chase and BNY Mellon. Additionally, I seized an exceptional career opportunity by interning at Bloom Energy, a renewable energy manufacturer based in San Jose, California, where I served as an Accounting intern during the summer of 2023. This hands-on experience has allowed me to apply my academic knowledge in a practical context within the finance industry. I can confidently state that the extensive resources provided by the Colin Powell School have empowered me to navigate and shape the trajectory of my professional career within the finance sector.

What are your post-graduation plans?

Upon completing my studies at the Colin Powell School, I want to commit myself to continuous learning and professional growth in the realms of finance, technology, and analytics. My hope is to harness the skills I've acquired to make a meaningful impact in technical positions such as operations, financial analytics, and business analytics.

Please share a significant memory and/or accomplishment from your time at CCNY.

I consider obtaining the position of a finance teacher's assistant at CCNY a fairly strong achievement during my academic journey. It's not something I anticipated during my time in school. A year ago, I couldn't have imagined being offered such a role or considering the challenge it presented. Nevertheless, I am appreciative of this opportunity because it allows me to delve into a different aspect of the finance industry and develop a valuable skill— teaching my peers.

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

I would like to offer three pieces of advice to current or future students within the Colin Powell School:

1. Network Strategically: Building a strong network is crucial not only for your college experience but also for your future career. Make an effort to get to know your peers, professors, and professionals in your field. Interacting with different and diverse people can enhance your interpersonal skills and help you form lasting and meaningful relationships. Networking can also open doors to career opportunities by connecting you with potential employers or mentors that can give you insights on your career or company that they work for. They can also act as mentors as you apply to different opportunities. Building these relationships early in your college journey can pay off in the long run, both personally and professionally. As an example, I currently hold many mentors that within companies that I aspire to work at where they have offered to do coffee chats and mock interviews with them before the application process. Or sometimes you can leave a good impression and receive a referral.

2. Seize Early Opportunities: College is a time for growth and exploration. Don't hesitate to step out of your comfort zone and take advantage of early opportunities. Consider taking on leadership roles in student organizations, pursuing certification courses, joining academic societies, or applying for internships or part-time jobs or externships. These experiences not only enrich your college life but also provide valuable skills and insights that will be beneficial in your future career. Embrace challenges and failures as opportunities to learn and grow, as they will better prepare you for your future endeavors. For instance, practicing interviews for internships early on can make you more confident and skilled when the time comes for crucial job interviews.

3. Get to know yourself: Starting college can be a tough experience, and it's perfectly normal not to have a clear career path from the get go. Take the time to explore your interests, passions, and strengths. College is a unique opportunity to discover what truly excites you and aligns with your values. Don't feel pressured to have everything figured out immediately. Focus on your journey and your needs to excel and never compare your career journeys to others because we aren’t all born to be the same. The important thing is that you're actively working towards finding your path and evolving as an individual. Just like many of your peers and people in the world, you're on a continuous journey of growth and self-realization. Remember that your college experience is a valuable part of that journey, helping you shape your future and contributing to your personal and professional development. Put it this way, your career is your ship and you are the captain, where are we going? and how are you going to prepare yourself and your ship for that trip?

How would you describe the Colin Powell School in three words?

Diverse; Ambitious; Leadership.

Tue, 17 Oct 2023 12:31:45 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/29541
Paula Garcia-Salazar ‘15: “College is the Place Where You Have the Most Freedom” https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/paula-garcia-salazar-15-college-place-where-you-have-most-freedom

Born in Ecuador but raised in the US since the age of 7, Paula Garcia-Salazar by chance ended up as a student in Loudoun County, Virginia – one of the richest counties in the entire United States. Despite facing challenges as an undocumented immigrant in Virginia, she had the opportunity to attend excellent public schools. Her motivation to advocate for marginalized communities stemmed from this experience. Garcia-Salazar found her way to CCNY through a search for free education in New York City. While initially undeclared, her aspiration to pursue a law degree led to a path into Political Science. Garcia-Salazar is currently a Civil Rights Attorney — Legal Fellow/Staff Attorney at the Legal Aid Society, Special Litigation Unit. She credits the Colin Powell School’s Honors Program in Legal Studies (then the Skadden Arps Program) which played a pivotal role in her career development.

Where are you from and what is your background story? Please share your details from the period before you arrived at CCNY.

I was born in Quito, Ecuador, and moved to the United States when I was 7 years old. I initially moved to Brooklyn, where my father lived, but eventually my mom and I settled in Loudoun County, Virginia, because we had relatives there. Through a stroke of luck, that happened to be one of the richest counties in the U.S., and had an excellent public school system. Even though we were low income, I benefited greatly from attending these public schools. Throughout this time, my mother and I were both undocumented, and I went to school in a district that was not very diverse. This experience was both very formative, and very uncomfortable for me; and really motivated me to get out of my town and also to care about the rights of marginalized people, having gone through the experience myself.

What brought you to CCNY and to the Colin Powell School?

I was in high school during the first DREAMER movement, and prior to DACA and the slight expansion of rights for undocumented immigrants that came to several states after. At the time, you needed a social security number to attend college in Virginia. This meant that I had to leave the state to attend college. Thankfully, my father still lived in New York (Elmhurst, Queens) where I would visit him often in high school. I loved New York, and wanted to come to school here even aside from my immigration status, but my family could not afford a private education. I googled "free school nyc" and lo and behold, CUNY popped up. I applied to the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter originally, but I received a call from (I believe) Robin Villa who convinced me to go to CCNY instead. I gratefully accepted, and ended up at CCNY as an undeclared major, but eventually declared Political Science. At the time, the school was not called Colin Powell yet! But I knew I wanted to eventually pursue law, and eventually the political science department became part of the Colin Powell School.

What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?

I grew up undocumented and low-income in the richest county in the United States. Though we wouldn’t have qualified for SNAP or public benefits because of our lack of status, my mom was lucky enough to secure a job that placed us at an income threshold slightly above the federal poverty line. She pulled that off with a small amount of generational privilege that she had accumulated and cashed in on as soon as she came to the U.S.: her parents sent her to a school that had an English curriculum, and she has been a fluent English speaker since she was young. The butterfly effect that her education had on mine resulted in me having a privileged position compared to a lot of my undocumented peers. I went to an excellent public high school and my good grades there allowed me to go to a public college for free. When it came time to choose a career, I knew that I had to enter the public interest world and pay it forward for the immense luck I’d had, and I felt my strongest skills naturally lent themselves to pursuing a career in the law.

Briefly, how has your career unfolded? How did City College and/or the Colin Powell School help you to get where you are in your career?

City College — specifically the (then called Skadden) pre-law program — was instrumental in my career. Skadden primed me for a career in law. As a first-generation college grad and first generation lawyer, I had never even met a lawyer before attending City College. The stipend that they provided was instrumental in supporting me through school since I was ineligible for financial aid as an undocumented student. And the Honors center, specifically Jennifer Lutton, was extremely helpful for helping me secure post-graduation employment. My first post graduate job was as a Community Fellow in the Immigrant Justice Corps, where I served the immigrant community in the Bronx and helped hundreds of immigrants apply for affirmative immigration benefits and helped guide and refer those with criminal or deportation issues to attorneys.

Initially, I thought my calling was immigration, but I eventually found my way to the world of criminal justice at my second post-graduate job at the New York Civil Liberties Union, the New York affiliate of the ACLU (which, by the way, came to my attention from a panel that one of their attorneys attended at City College!). Being a formerly undocumented immigrant has always made me very sensitive to surveillance, tracking, and policing. Even before I had developed an interest in the subject matter professionally, I was personally drawn to these issues from growing up as an undocumented immigrant fearing that government surveillance could lead to devastating consequences for me and my family. I followed this passion and was lucky to be admitted to Yale Law School in 2019, where I worked on these issues as well as delved into public defense related issues as well. Also at YLS, I helped found our own law school pipeline program, which I was excited to do knowing how beneficial that had been for me. Since graduating from YLS in 2022, I gratefully accepted a two-year position as a Skadden Fellow in the Special Litigation Unit of the Legal Aid Society's Criminal Defense Practice, where I work as a civil rights attorney. My work mostly focuses on due process, fourth amendment, and privacy rights litigation and other forms of criminal justice reform impact litigation and law reform work.

Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your career or time at City College / Colin Powell School that you would like to share?

I was very proud to have received one of the awards for my thesis, the Stanley Feingold Award, and speak at the CCNY Alumni Gala to accept the award. I was also very grateful to have been identified as a candidate for valedictorian although it went to somebody else. But I am overall most grateful for the amazing learning experiences with my professors, which really exposed me to amazing radical thinking — especially John Krinsky and Grisela Rodriguez, and professors that also exposed me to some less-radical but crucial learning that gave me a solid foundation for my current work, of which there are too many to name, and for the amazing life-long friendships I made at CCNY!

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

College is the place where you have the most freedom, intellectually, to learn whatever you want — lean into taking classes that attract you and help you find your passion!

Tue, 17 Oct 2023 12:18:59 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/29540
Student Ashanti Johnson Launching a Career in Financial Literacy https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/student-ashanti-johnson-launching-career-financial-literacy
Ashanti Johnson Headshot

Economics major Ashanti Johnson brings a unique determination to her academic journey. Having grown up in a low-income, predominantly African American community in Brooklyn, Johnson is driven by her desire to leverage her education for the betterment of her community. She believes that expanding her knowledge of financial literacy is a crucial step in this endeavor. Currently on the cusp of launching her career as a full-time hire at Bloomberg in their Analytics and Sales Department, Johnson attributes much of her success to the support and resources she received from the Colin Powell School. From mentorship programs to academic guidance to fellowships opportunities, the Colin Powell School has been instrumental in Johnson's journey.


Please share a little about your background — what’s your story?

My name is Ashanti Johnson and I live in Brooklyn. I am an Economics major at the City College of New York, and I chose to pursue an economics degree because I wanted to expand my knowledge of financial literacy through higher education. I come from a low-income predominantly African American community, and I want to do my best with my opportunities to pay it forward.

What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?

My mother is African American, and my father was a Jamaican immigrant. Neither finished high school due to their circumstances. They worked hard to make sure I valued and could pursue higher education. I am specifically interested in economics because you learn how to navigate people’s behaviors and the markets.

Where are you in your career? How has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?

I have recently accepted an offer to be a full-time hire at Bloomberg within their Analytics and Sales Department. The Colin Powell School gave me resources necessary to propel my professional career. I was chosen to be a part of the JPMorgan and Colin Powell School mentorship program as a freshman, and I am still in contact with my mentor. The Colin Powell School academic advisors helped me best map out my academic trajectory. Additionally, I was a Boudreau Fellowship recipient which further motivated me to pursue my studies in economics.

What are your post-graduation plans?

I will be joining Bloomberg soon after my graduation next summer. What’s so impressive about Bloomberg is that it’s a sweet spot for financial analytics and technology. The company is always innovating, which is exactly the mindset you want to have in these ever-changing times.

Please share a significant memory and/or accomplishment from your time at CCNY.

I recently attended the S Jay Levy Graduation/Welcoming Ceremony as a graduate of the fellowship. If not for the S Jay Levy Fellowship I would not have made some of my closest friends now or applied for an internship with Bloomberg.

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

Network, which is still a difficult concept for me. However, if it wasn’t for me reaching out and asking questions to those around me, I would not have obtained the opportunities I had to get me where I am now.

How would you describe the Colin Powell School in three words? Innovation. Collaboration. Support.

Tue, 19 Sep 2023 10:09:20 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/27660
Lincoln Ajoku ’03 on the Pursuit of Education, Purpose, and International Development https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/lincoln-ajoki-03-pursuit-education-purpose-and-international-development
Lincoln Ajoku Headshot

Lincoln Ajoku’s journey serves as a testament to the transformative power of education and the pursuit of meaningful purpose in a career. Born in Manhattan to Nigerian immigrant parents, Ajoku’s upbringing in a working-class Brooklyn neighborhood instilled a deep appreciation for hard work and education. Witnessing the sacrifices made by his parents to provide for the family and the influence of his grandmother on the value of education, shaped his early outlook on higher education.

Growing up during challenging times in New York, marked by crime and struggling public schools, he developed a passion for addressing disparities in healthcare and education, which guided his path to CCNY, where he began at the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education. Through self-exploration and faculty support, Ajoku found a new passion which ultimately led him to major in Economics and minor in International Studies at the Colin Powell School. These decisions opened doors to his exploring such diverse topics as microfinance, economic policies, and education across regions.

His advice to current and future students is to develop a core set of positive values and purpose, seek guidance from mentors, and learn from failure.

Where are you from and what is your background story?

I was born in Manhattan to parents who emigrated to the United States from Nigeria. We grew up in a working-class Brooklyn neighborhood until my teenage years, when we left the city. But during that time, I learned from the powerful example of my parents and their sacrifices, working long hours, attending university at night (my mother studied at Brooklyn College for her undergraduate degree), and raising me and my siblings. My grandmother was also central in our upbringing because while she never completed her primary education, she always encouraged and instructed my siblings and me on the value of education along with the possibilities it could open up for us.

We grew up during a difficult time in New York — rampant crime, unsafe streets, and struggling public schools. As I grew older, I became aware and concerned about the large gaps that existed for basic services such as healthcare and education. I was motivated to do something about these disparities in places like New York or Nigeria and around the globe through my studies and my future career, and that guided me as I was applying for college.

What brought you to CCNY and to the Colin Powell School?

I took a circular route to CCNY — I originally was attracted by the then-Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education; that’s how I originally got into the school. I thought I wanted to be a doctor as I believed this was the best way to serve people and address some of the challenges people in marginalized communities face. But as I continued in the program, I realized my heart was pulling me in another direction — towards issues of economic development, education, and politics. I listened to my heart and made the difficult decision to leave the program.

But I was having this compelling experience at CCNY, so at the same time, I realized I did not want to leave to go to another university. I took time to look into various programs of study and what major I wanted to pursue. After some conversations, I decided to major in Economics with a minor in International Studies. And I am glad I made that decision because it’s shaped everything I’ve been able to achieve professionally since then.

What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?

Once I knew that I was going to study Economics and International Studies, I felt a newfound ability to explore a wide range of topics in these fields. I could consider the field of microfinance and what it meant for women entrepreneurs in Ethiopia, for instance, or the economic policies that help propel rapid economic growth and transformation in the so-called Asian tiger countries. Being able to consider education policies across regions and what that meant for economic development. These were the range of topics I was passionate about during my time at City.

To fuel my passion for these topics during that time, among many people, I was grateful to have the encouragement and support of Dr. Stanley Friedlander and Prof. Kevin Foster in the Economics Department; for International Relations and Political Science, I had the invaluable guidance of Dr Marina Fernando and now-President Vincent Boudreau. And then there was the Honors College, led so ably by Robin Villa and Lee Linde, where there was never a silly question and there was seemingly no limit to the possibilities of experiential learning.

What is your current profession/position?

I work in International Development, in education in emergency/humanitarian contexts to be exact. I am an Education Specialist with UNICEF in Nigeria.

Briefly, how has your career unfolded? How did City College and/or the Colin Powell School help you to get where you are in your career?

I wouldn’t say there was a template. I’ve moved between different roles but at the center of my career was a focus on “dedication to service,” to paraphrase the great educator and civil rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune. Specifically, I wanted to work in fields where economic development was prioritized and so this led me to work in different areas of education to help students build their skills and civic knowledge; researching international trade agreements and their impact on Latin American countries; and working in humanitarian settings, particularly to help those areas affected by conflict to have a return to normalcy, especially the resumption of economic activities.

Practically this has meant working as a teacher, providing technical reports regarding education policies and budgeting, and working in several NGOs and international organizations on programming for education and livelihoods. I’ve had the chance to help design and evaluate complex interventions for education and social protection for vulnerable communities around the world, including in Haiti, Somalia, and Bangladesh, as well as manage diverse teams to achieve results in emergency settings.

What I did at City College — studying Economics and International Studies and with help from the Honors College — helped me see the possibilities for an enriching career in international development. Whether that was through study abroad, in which I completed a business course in China; researching political and economic integration in the African continent; or becoming a Jeannette Watson Fellow where I got to take part in some meaningful summer internships — CCNY helped shape my outlook on the world.

Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your career or time at City College / Colin Powell School that you would like to share?

One of my favorite experiences at City College was the opportunity to do an internship and study tour in Rwanda with other CCNY students, following my graduation. The summer program was organized through the CCNY International Studies Department and the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology in Kigali, Rwanda. I had the opportunity to intern at the Rwanda Ministry of Finance, helping with research for their strategies for economic development and poverty reduction. It was a defining experience for me and a truly remarkable way to end my time at City College and embark on my career in international development. It was moving to see Rwanda try to pick up the pieces after the 1994 genocide through a mix of efforts at reconciliation, education, and economic development. I credit this experience for launching my career in international development.

What are your future aspirations for your career?

I am currently studying for a doctoral degree in Leadership and Change at Antioch University. I appreciate this course of study, as it gives me a chance to further my theoretical underpinning to my work in international development and the humanitarian sector. Ultimately I am interested in using my experiences in international development and humanitarian contexts to help train the next generation of professionals and leaders in this field. I think it is important for those entering this field to be aware of the contexts of the countries they are working in, as well as the historical issues including poverty, racism, discrimination, and economic policies that have impacted development outcomes in many of the countries of the Global South. That could then inform unique approaches and new, creative solutions to the economic challenges some of these countries face.

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

My main advice to current and future students would be to develop a core set of values and purposes that are positive and meaningful and that motivate them for their career interests. These core sets of values can range from empathy, to serving others, to putting family first, or addressing injustices in society through one’s career. These are the pillars that will keep someone steady when things get rough, as they do from time to time. If a student does not have this feeling of purpose or maybe is not sure what it can be, this is a great time to find professors, mentors, and leaders to talk to and learn from their examples on the values that guide them.

I’ve found in my career, both in a good sense and in challenging times, the importance of having that core. That allows for some flexibility with the different types of career opportunities that may come up, putting me in a position to take advantage of them.

Two books for students that I highly recommend are full of practical advice for careers and life: Ethical Ambition by the late Derrick Bell, which draws upon his career in academia to frame important questions students should be asking themselves as they embark on their careers, and Negotiating the Nonnegotiable, by Daniel Shapiro, which helps people examine their values, tensions and conflicts and negotiate through these elements to achieve personal and professional goals.

I would also say something about the importance of persistence and learning from failure. These days, failure is seen as something fashionable, especially in some celebrity quarters, but the reality is it can be dispiriting and not a luxury that everyone can afford. But learning from failure, as difficult as it can be, especially at the moment, can be truly powerful for future success.

Tue, 19 Sep 2023 09:44:16 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/27659
City College Feels Like my True Home Institution https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/city-college-feels-my-true-home-institution
Norma

Norma Mayorga Fuentes, director of the Latin American and Latino Studies program, spoke to us about her experience at the Colin Powell School and what makes it special. 

Please share something about your personal and professional background, and what brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School.

I am an immigration scholar, a qualitative sociologist/ethnographer by training and a philosopher by default. When I was invited to give a job talk at City College, late spring of 2014, coincidentally scheduled within the newly renovated premises of the Dominican Studies Institute, I remember being very nervous.  My talk focused on the immigrant experiences of Dominican and Mexican women in New York City and included a crowd of Latino/a/ Caribbean scholars I recognized. To slow the rate of my pulse, or break the silence, following my academic introduction, I remember sharing with my audience what brought me to City College. I said that I felt this is where I belonged given my past history of volunteer work for a national Dominican 2000 conference led by Dominican youth; my rushing to donate a copy and electronic version of dissertation, the moment Columbia Library bounded it, following my degree completion, in 2005.
A month before, the day of my dissertation defense, my mentor, Herbert J Gans, a world-renown race, ethnicity and urban poverty expert, had announced that I was the first U.S. Latina-American to receive a PhD from the Sociology Department, as other peers or graduates before me, socialized in Latin America, often returned to their nation of origins to transfer their elite education into their nation-state or society.  I remember sharing this statistic and emphasizing, as I do in the prologue of my recently published book on this subject, that unlike the average Latin American student who enters Columbia, my education was unusual, as the daughter of a single Dominican mother, and as a third generation descendant of a family nursed, sustained, and led by working women, devoid of the income authority or tutelage of men. I shared with my audience and since then with my students, to try and gain their trust or incite their humanity, why City College feels like my true home institution. I tell them how, like the average CCNY Colin Powell student, I had managed to achieve a higher or advanced education, despite multiple family, work, and intergenerational responsibilities as the daughter of working poor immigrants; and as the first member of my family to reach such mobility heights in the diaspora.  

As my ongoing, longitudinal and comparative research focused on the social mobility of the daughters of immigrants in the cities of Amsterdam and New York reveals, these immigrant youth often face double burdens, forced to navigate the larger institutions of the host society, alone and mostly on behalf of their parents’ and younger siblings. We are, I often joke but invite my students’ reflections about the miracle, meaning and function of our education, as part of an innovative and not fully understood social experiment in a new terrain, like those of men-directed robots on the moon, charting new terrains, gathering new data, which one day hopefully bring our host nation new discoveries for a better world, a more humane society.  But, again, why City College? I tell students these days that I survived at Columbia’s PhD Program. It was here where I found a refuge, a place to volunteer, to dream of the possibility of social mobility, of having a space and function in the larger society, along with other Dominican graduate students, like Nancy Lopez (Professor, University of New Mexico); Edward Paulino (Professor, John Jay); and Zaire Dinzey (Professor, Rutgers University) and others I cannot include nor recall at this moment. It was in these young students’ company, in the DSI, and in the NAC building where I found solace, away from the pressures and at the times isolation and at times, alienation, from the privileged peers with whom I shared classes and other assignments. As I say in my book, and as one of my daughters has reminded me whenever I feel like leaving, “it is there mom, where you will really make a difference, nowhere else!”

How did you decide to pursue a PhD and discover a passion for your field?
While completing a summer course within the Anthropology Department at Columbia, spring of 1989, an advanced PhD Adjunct Professor invited me after students had presented their individual end-of-term projects, to speak about graduate school. His name is David Nugent, today a distinguished MacArthur Genius Fellowship recipient. He asked me if I had plans for graduate school, and after I professed an interest for maybe Law School or Public Health, he retorted, “Why not a PhD in Anthropology or Sociology?” I remember being in awe of this proposition; that he would think I was a candidate for a PhD, as I had never entertained such a possibility, determined to complete a medical or law degree, as most children of immigrants are encouraged to aspire. Besides, I had already earned an Associate Degree in Economics and Business Law at a Catholic College in Yonkers, and given it some try at a pre-medical program at Fordham University (2 years) and then at Columbia’s School of General Studies. The spring I was to apply to college, I had proposed to my guidance counselor my interests in medical school; but was soon persuaded to first complete a two-years’ associate degree: “Who’s going to pay for your school, my dear?”  my counselor gestured, “…. I suggest you learn how to type and this way you can pay for your school and help your mother!”  Despite his disavowals, completing an AA degree in business law and executive secretarial ensured my educational and career mobility and boosted my confidence. After my associates, I had brief jobs in a non-profit servicing immigrants in the City of Yonkers, and then as a Social Worker in the local district, within foster care. The experiences and my typing increased my ability to find work at Columbia University and pay for most of my undergraduate and graduate years. 
By the time of my transfer application to the School of General Studies at Columbia University as a part-time student, I had already secured a full-time job on campus. A work peer and close ally of my then husband, suggested I try to find a job at the university, irrespective of a possible admission. “This would allow you to get some form of tuition assistance and become a member of this educational community!” Indeed, after a placement test at the HR office allowed me the choice of a full time job as Assistant to the Director of the Harriman Russian Institute or to the Chair of the Sociology Department, I chose the latter. Unbeknown to me, and in retrospect, I came to understand how privileged I was to have worked and received the close mentoring of such brilliant and humane scholars, such as Professor Peter M. Blau, a world renowned sociologist of bureaucracy and formal organizations, and later, from Professor Herbert J Gans, who became my undergraduate senior thesis advisor and then my PhD mentor and professional sponsor.  Working within the Department, despite my youth and lack of elite social capital, gave me the unique opportunity to read sociological manuscripts, and professional reviews about innovative research and scholarly work which I hardly understood then but which slowly captured my interest, helping me forge a life-time commitment to the sociology of inequality, labor markets, and later, during my graduate training, one focused on international migration, race, ethnicity, and integration and life chances of migrant women and their youth.

Can you please briefly describe your scholarly work and findings? What’s most meaningful to your field — and to you — about your work?
I think what distinguishes my scholarship as well as my teaching pedagogy is my ability to move from my own experience to that of my research. The knowledge, sensitivity and sensibleness I have developed I owe to my grandmother’s, my mother’s immigrant experience, as well as my socialization in two cultures and as a transnational youth. Most important, my scholarship is based on my ability to represent and interpret the immigrant experiences of the immigrant women I am privileged to document and learn about the protean efforts and stories of Dominican and Mexican women in New York City, the cost and gains behind their migration, and the contributions they make to the social mobility of women in the community of origin and of destination. Such key findings I document in my recent and first book, From Homemakers, To Breadwinners, To Community Leaders (Rutgers 2023). A main key contribution this book makes is in documenting the significance of women-led migration from Latin America and the Caribbean within an increasingly racialized context. I believe this research is timely, especially against the backdrop of policy debates about the future of family reunification laws and the unprecedented immigration of women and minors from Latin America, many of whom seek human rights protection or to reunite with families in the US. The book also provides a new and compelling look at the contributions that Latin American and Caribbean as well as other brown and Black immigrants make to areas experiencing rapid gentrification. How the middle class that moves into East or West Harlem, for example, includes a brown and Black middle class, some of this ethno-racial middle class includes college-educated children of immigrants, whose bi-cultural and mixed racial background allows them to navigate and cross spatial boundaries, as well as contribute to the economic and cultural revival of these historically marginalized neighborhoods. My second book, on the social mobility of immigrant youths, also will include how these contexts and their education and the demography of the neighborhood impacts their racial capital, or valuation or devaluation of their ethno-racial identities.

Can you say a bit about what you like about CCNY and the Colin Powell School? Perhaps speak to your work with students.
What do I like about CCNY?  

Working for a division committed to closing the gap in educational inequality, one where most of my colleagues speak or understand or are committed to learning Spanish or another immigrant language. But, for the past 1.5 year, or since our return to back to our offices and the classroom, I have been seriously thinking of writing a poem about our mechanical escalator in the NAC building, for I know this experience is what binds most of our daily existence in our division, besides our commitment to social justice in education! But, I would like to write first about the men and women who keep those escalators, along with our offices and trash cans cleaned, the floors incredibly shiny! I am inspired because it is usually these ‘behind-stage’ actors who make this rather unattractive and forgotten infrastructure physically welcoming to our students and staff. These workers, like the young alumni or students who toil, front and back-stage functions within the Dean’s Office reception area, are also the first or last people who greet me when I arrive or leave the building. What else do I like about our Division? I have become somewhat of an informal expert these past few years directing students to the different classroom destinations, noticing their disoriented looks, during the start of the semester. This past year, in my role as Program Director for LALS, I have become aware of the nice community vibe our division enjoys; the smiles I get from my senior peers in Psychology, especially when I dash through the long corridors of the 6th floor on my way to a classroom; the warm reception I get when walking into the Dean’s Office from any of the young alumni or students who attentively want to help me find a key for my room, the countless times I have locked myself or forgotten my office’s keys. Lately, I am kindled and rejoiced to know soon our Associate Dean will begin to bake his delicious loaves of bread and place them in the common kitchen that now serves as a meeting and community place for most of us. I am reminded of how lucky I am every time I run into Dean Rich, reminded by his warmth and support that I am in the right place, and that things will be ok, working for a person named “Rich!” I think the heart of our division, honestly, is the Advising Office, the young students/alumni and staff, and the senior staff and professors that today make up that office.  There is always someone to receive me, to help one of my students, to rush and get tissues for the latest tears, including mine. Lastly, I am reminded that I am part of a large and protean community at Colin Powell. Every time, I think I must wear my red shoes or ornamental jewelry to match the red color of our wall or floor tiles! That in itself makes me want to come to work every day, smile, and forget about the squeaking mechanical stairs or the non-functioning elevators!

Share something about your plans — regarding research, teaching, engagement — for the next couple of years?
These past few weeks, I have been preparing to take my year sabbatical while onboarding the interim director for LALS, Professor Sherri Baver. This has allowed me to develop a closer work relationship with her, as well as with the Dean’s Office, especially with Kevin Foster, and Professor Irina (Lotti) Silber, as LALS is officially now part of the larger jurisdiction of the Anthropology Department. One key goal to be achieved during this sabbatical year is to develop a grant for the Spencer Foundation, one which is to support an educational project which I have been thinking about for nearly five years. But, writing a book, applying for tenure and other family and field research responsibilities have limited my time. I hope this grant will allow collaboration between the Sociology Department and LALS Program in the development of new courses and virtual certificate or MA Programs focused on the bridging of the social sciences and STEM disciplines. I am working also in collaboration with an interdisciplinary team of international scholars at the Universities of Granada and Deusto (Spain), and at La Universidad Popular Autonoma de Puebla (UPAEP), in Mexico, and Universidad Madre y Maestra in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. A second goal of my sabbatical is to complete follow-up data collection on the role of technology on the educational and work mobility as well as identity formation processes of immigrant daughters in the cities of Amsterdam and New York City. The research is to inform the writing of a second book project. I will conduct a number of in-depth interviews, in addition to focus groups among daughters and mothers, who participated in an earlier part of this longitudinal project, in 2006-2007 and again in 2009-2010. I also will conduct ethnographic insights of a few neighborhoods undergoing gentrification and public housing renovations; where new cohorts of young, middle class Moroccan and Dominican families, many immigrant youth who have participated in my earlier study, have found housing.

What would you want to make sure everyone knows about what makes the Colin Powell School special? 
I believe what makes our School special is the diverse number of scholars that work together on behalf of our large number of youths who are the first in their families to enter an institution of higher education. I believe the addition of a Center for Leadership, one for providing support and education to sexual minorities and the constant efforts in the search and distribution of material and emotional resources on behalf of our students and of the new faculty and lecturers that are joining our division, including our Dean’s reputation (:-) as well as the initiative of the Provost Office (with the hiring of Dr. Vanessa Valdez) speaks of the difference the CP is making in the inclusion of members from our local community in its commitment to narrowing the gap in educational inequality!
 

Tue, 29 Aug 2023 13:50:25 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/26563
Opportunities come to those who remain open to them https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/opportunities-come-those-who-remain-open-them

 

Nymul

Opportunities come to those who remain open to them

Born in Bangladesh, Nymul Islam embarked on a transformative journey when arriving in the United States at the age of 11, alongside their parents and two sisters. The complexities of American culture, language, and cuisine initially presented challenges. However, these experiences profoundly shaped Nymul's identity and perspective. 

Please share a little about your background — what’s your story?
I was born in a small village in Bangladesh and came to the U.S. when I was 11 years old with my two sisters and parents. America was a confusing place at first — the cultures, the people, the languages, and even the food were all so different.

One of the biggest challenges for me was learning English. But these challenges helped shape who I am today. Living in New York City made me realize that, despite our differences, we're all pretty similar deep down. As immigrants, our stories, dreams, and goals connect us.

For middle school, I went to M.S. 267 in Brooklyn, and for high school, I attended The School for Human Rights, also in Brooklyn. Throughout my schooling, I was lucky to have some really great teachers and mentors who gave me important advice and support at key moments in my life.

What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?
When I was applying to colleges, I had my heart set on staying in the city and attending a CUNY college. It made sense financially, and I wanted to stay close to home. Among the CUNY choices, CCNY caught my attention because of its wide range of majors, which made it stand out from the others. This unique feature convinced me that CCNY was the right place for my education. The idea of getting an affordable education, staying near my family, and having access to a diverse range of majors made it the perfect fit for me.

Where are you in your career? How has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way? What are your post-graduation plans?
I initially started at CCNY as a Film Production Major but later explored various other majors. During the Fall semester of 2021, I hit a low point in my college journey and began to question whether college was the right path for me. Feeling overwhelmed and in search of a new career direction, I turned to the Colin Powell School with hopes of switching to Economics. This decision turned out to be the most significant and transformative one in my life.

The Colin Powell School not only introduced me to a new passion for Economics but also provided me with invaluable resources to build the foundations for my future career. Thanks to the school's abundant support, I now aspire to pursue a career in the data/business analytics field.

As I look ahead to my post-graduation plans, I intend to continue exploring the realm of data and business analytics. Additionally, I have aspirations to pursue a master's degree in Business Analytics.

Please share a significant memory and/or accomplishment from your time at CCNY.
During my time at CCNY, one of my most significant accomplishments was co-founding a Financial Literacy & Stock Market Club right here on campus. Taking the initiative to establish this club was a courageous step for me, given my initial fear of public speaking. However, this experience turned out to be incredibly transformative as it helped me overcome my fear and led to tremendous personal growth. Over the course of two semesters, we successfully built a thriving community of nearly 200 students. Our primary focus was on imparting essential personal finance skills while fostering an environment that encouraged open discussions about financial literacy among our peers.

In the summer of 2023, I had the privilege of being selected as a Colin Powell - Bloom Energy Innovation Fellow. This opportunity took me to Silicon Valley, where I spent two enriching months working as a supply chain intern at Bloom Energy, a company at the forefront of revolutionizing the clean-tech industry. This experience stands out as not only a significant highlight of my time at CCNY but also the most profound and rewarding one in my entire life. Throughout the internship, I had the chance to engage in real-life projects that not only bolstered my professional career but also created lasting memories.

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?
Opportunities come to those who remain open to them. College presents a vast landscape of possibilities, and it's entirely normal to feel lost and overwhelmed at times. Embrace the journey of exploring diverse interests, connecting with new people, and, most importantly, daring to step out of your comfort zone. Being actively engaged on campus, participating in events and trips, and networking with others through platforms like LinkedIn, can unlock a world of personal growth and discovery.


How would you describe CPS in three words? 

Transformative, Supportive, Diverse.

Tue, 29 Aug 2023 13:43:50 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/26562
Beyond Borders: A Journey from Brazil to CCNY https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/beyond-borders-journey-brazil-ccny

 

Alumni Tamires Amorim

Beyond Borders: A Journey from Brazil to CCNY

Embarking on a transformative journey that transcends borders, our featured alumna shares an inspiring narrative of perseverance and purpose.  

Where are you from and what is your background story? I am originally from Brazil. I came to NYC to learn English because I had previously earned my BA in International Relations and noticed that I needed to experience life abroad to learn English and develop my career journey with opportunities. After a while in the US, I came across the Master's program at CCNY and knew this should be my next step. I did not have the financial means to study in a master's program but when I saw how supportive CCNY was toward its students I felt motivated to pursue my degree there. I am very grateful for the Colin Powell Fellowship because it gave me the means to pursue my dreams and taught me skills that I will take with me throughout my whole life.

What brought you to CCNY and to the Colin Powell School?
What brought me to CCNY and the Colin Powell School is the diverse student body benefiting from similar programs I was interested in. I also felt connected to the friendliness and openness to International students offered by the university. In fact, looking back, CCNY was the only school where I felt comfortable being a foreigner as a student. 

What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?
I grew up in a low-income neighborhood in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where I was exposed to inequality issues, and knew I should do something about it. When I saw the CCNY’s strong programs towards economic development and active social engagement, I knew this would be a place where my passion for social and economic development would be supported and flourish. 

Briefly, how has your career unfolded? How did City College and/or the Colin Powell School help you to get where you are in your career?
The Colin Powell School has an amazing team. They were very supportive from the time I started the Economics program all the way to the end. I participated in various mentoring meetings, at one of which, I met an alum who not long after divulged an opening at the World Bank to the Colin Powell students. I expressed my interest in the position to Debbie Cheng and she put me in contact with the person that announced the position to the School. Not long after, I got the job, and was very happy and grateful for the Colin Powell School  and Debbie support.

Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your career or time at City College / Colin Powell School that you would like to share?
I loved presenting my fellowship project to other Colin Powell Fellows, this inspired me to pursue a career in teaching, that is still to come but I know the spark came from this experience. I loved how the professors were always very supportive and understanding. Also, how the Colin Powell School always made me feel at home even though I was far away from my real home in Brazil.

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?
I would say that they should always pursue their dreams regardless of whatever obstacles they face. I remember going to an imposter syndrome session organized by the Colin Powell school and leaving the event feeling empowered in a way that my behavior shifted in every interview I had after. I think current students should take more advantage of all events and programs offered by the Colin Powell team, they are extremely important and could define your career just as they did with mine. Lastly, for the international students, I would advise them to engage as much as they can, they will build an amazing network that will last for the rest of their lives, and they can also feel more at home, just as I did.

What is your current profession/position?
I am a short-term consultant at the World Bank in Brazil's office, in the Social Protection and Jobs unit.

What are your future aspirations for your career?
My goal is to study for my PhD and start teaching development economics at the university level. Additionally, I want to work on improving my community by engaging in research that supports public policy centered on combating inequality in our society. 
 

Tue, 29 Aug 2023 13:39:17 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/26561
From CCNY to Business Owner https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/ccny-business-owner

From CCNY to Business Owner: Alumna Alice Mills Mai's Pursuit of Mental Health Counseling

Mills 16'


Where are you from and what is your background story? Please share your details from the period before you arrived at CCNY.
I am human first before any titles or roles. I am Alice Mills Mai (she/her), a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (New York and Ohio) and a National Certified Counselor (NCC). I am an immigrant and a proud daughter of Ghanaian immigrants and I consider the Bronx to be my home. Through a family tragedy, I discovered the profession of counseling which I am devoted to today. My counseling career comes in large part as a gift from my grandmother before she passed away. 

As someone currently on a healing journey, I know the significance of counseling and creating sacred healing spaces for individuals. I am no different from the clients I work with. As stated, I am human first and see a therapist weekly. Through my work, I am committed to being unapologetically human and Black, thus the focus on wholeness.

What brought you to CCNY and to the Colin Powell School?
I chose CCNY because it was close to home (Bronx), and the diversity of the student and faculty population encouraged me to pursue my degree there.

What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?
My passion is creating healing spaces and reducing the stigma around mental health. Through my degree program at CCNY, I developed my career focused on this passion for mental health. I pursued a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling from the City College of New York. This degree supported me in my journey to becoming a social entrepreneur, Ph.D. student, consultant, and founder/clinical director of Centering Wholeness Counseling. Centering Wholeness Counseling is a conglomerate of two business entities, Centering Wholeness LLC (for profit) and Embracing Wholeness Community Care (nonprofit). Centering Wholeness Counseling offers convenient and culturally affirming mental wellness services to Black and Brown people. I am also a workplace wellness consultant. I work with organizations to create a belonging and wellness culture in the workplace. 

I have most of my experience providing counseling and supervision services within nonprofits, correctional facilities, and private practice. My area of expertise and learning has been working with incarcerated survivors of intimate partner/domestic violence. I am forever indebted to survivors who continue to teach me about humanity, resilience, love, and advocacy. I am a doctoral student studying Counselor Education and Supervision at the University of the Cumberlands. My research areas include supervision, counselor wellness, the intersection of societal structures, and mental health.

Briefly, how has your career unfolded? How did City College and/or the Colin Powell School help you to get where you are in your career?
I graduated with a Bachelor's degree in 2013 from CCNY and then started a MA program at CCNY in Fall 2013. I graduated with a Master's degree in Mental Health Counseling in 2016. From there, I worked on accruing my hours for my independent licensure and once I received my license, I transitioned into a supervisory role and started seeing clients in private practice on a part-time basis. I went on to pursue a Ph.D. program shortly after that, in 2019, and in 2021/2022, I developed my mental health practice dedicated to serving Black and Brown people. I credit CCNY for giving me the tools to become a licensed therapist, supervisor, Ph.D. student, and business owner.

Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your career or time at City College / Colin Powell School that you would like to share?
One of my significant memories at CCNY is meeting Professor Ackerman during my Women's Studies class. I worked with Professor Ackerman on a few projects, including one at the U.N. and one in South Africa. I was the President of the Mental Health Counseling Club during my time at CCNY, where I had the opportunity to meet people that have become part of my network both professionally and personally.

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?
My first piece of advice is to get to know your faculty and colleagues. CCNY is an extensive and diverse community; make use of it. Secondly, do not undervalue your experiences and background; these things make you unique and who you are. Lastly, do not neglect your mental health and self-care while pursuing your degree. Integrate small self-care practices into your day such as 15-minute walks.

What is your current profession / position?
Founder/CEO at Centering Wholeness Counseling

What are your future aspirations for your career?
I aspire to create an international mental wellness brand dedicated to serving and educating Black and Brown people. I am currently a Ph.D. student studying Counselor Education and Supervision. My research areas include workplace wellness, holistic wellness practice, anti-oppressive supervision practices, and incarceration.


 

Tue, 18 Jul 2023 12:01:00 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/26390
A Coup and its Impact https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/coup-and-its-impact

 

A Coup and its Impact: Professor Omnia Khalil’s Journey from Architect to Scholar
 

Omnia Khalil

Please share something about your personal and professional background, and what brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School.
I was an architect, who was highly interested in community action planning to upgrade the urbanely deteriorated neighborhood in Cairo, Egypt. I then studied anthropology to fulfill a professional engagement with communities by learning to be an ethnographer and an engaged scholar, which was a journey I spent with my professors at American University in Cairo, especially Hanan Sabea, Martina Rieker, and Reem Saad. While I started my Ph.D. studies at the Graduate Center, I continued the journey with the encouragement of my advisor Jeff Maskovsky, who always helped me to be on the same track of being an engaged scholar, along with the amazing mentorship of professors Madana Limbert, Gary Wilder, and Paul Amar. Being at the Graduate Center, CUNY, made me politically and intellectually familiar with CUNY system and its contribution to the diversity of students who come from lower social classes, LGBTQ+, Muslim communities, and POC. The pedagogical philosophy of many professors I have met and worked with made working at CUNY the right political thing to do, that meets my social justice values, along with feminist Marxism, as a scholar. Joining CCNY and the Colin Powell School was special, not only as a CUNY institution of teaching and learning but also due to the number of people in this school who are concerned with achieving a social justice perspective, not only by teaching in the classrooms but also extend to activities and tremendous support and resources to the students. 

How did you decide to pursue a Ph.D. and discover a passion for your field?
My MA in Egypt was focusing on questions of gentrification, labor, and space in one neighborhood in Cairo. This was back in 2012 and 2013, which met the political upheavals of the Egyptian revolution of 2011. When I finished, the political sphere changed due to the 2013 coup, which led to tremendous oppression and backlash against revolutionary groups in Egypt. My questions about space and labor shifted to questions about violence and urban development as many mega projects started to be implemented in Egypt, which caused massive forced evictions to poor urban neighborhoods. The passion for the Ph.D. research project was to continue questioning the phenomenon of urban transformations and their political meanings in that contemporary moment in Egypt.

Can you please briefly describe your scholarly work and findings? What’s most meaningful to your field — and to you — about your work?
My scholarly work investigates the rise of the securitization regime in Cairo, Egypt, in the aftermath of the 2013 coup. I conducted 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Bulaq Abule’lla, a district in central Cairo that the Egyptian state targeted for residential and commercial redevelopment because of its high land values and neighborhood access to the Nile River. Adjacent to Tahrir Square, it was also a significant site of revolutionary activity during the 2011 revolution. In my work, I trace residents’ responses to the Egyptian state's rollout of new security measures and redevelopment schemes, focusing in particular on the three sites of Wikalet el-Balah, Maspero Triangle, and Ramlet Bulaq. My findings show how security is being accumulated via counterinsurgency efforts resulting from collaboration between state security and the residents of poor neighborhoods. My contribution to the field has to do with showing contradictions in communities who live in unregulated economies, and how subjectivities are shaped in such political contexts, it is a dialectical understanding of geography, counterinsurgency, and violence.

Can you say a bit about what you like about CCNY and the Colin Powell School? Perhaps speak to your work with students.
The best thing about CCNY and Colin Powell School is the diversity of the students we have, They come from a variety of social, economic, and political backgrounds, which enrich the classroom with questions related to their lives. International students, immigrants, and different nationalities enrich the classroom by making comparisons internationally between contexts, and not answering their concerns of social justice and political ideologies through one lens of analysis. In our conversations, we learn a lot about other countries and regions around the world, along with other histories to grasp the meaning of some other worlds towards an imagination of our present worlds, and future ones in political economy, gender, and human life.

Share something about your plans — regarding research, teaching, and engagement — for the next couple of years.
I am preparing my book manuscript The Making of Counter-Insurgent Geographies in Post-Revolutionary Cairo, Baltaga and Maslaha at Bulaq Abule’lla, which is based on my Ph.D. research project and findings, along with an Arabic book titled The Disappearance of Cairo about the neighborhoods that were evicted in Cairo, and meanings of place and politics. Regarding my teaching, I look forward to designing more classes about geography and security, along with the global social theory and introduction to international studies and anthropology classes. I look forward also to engaging more with students who come from Middle Eastern backgrounds and plan for activities to enrich their presence at the Colin Powell School and their intellectual growth.

What would you want to make sure everyone knows about what makes the Colin Powell School special?
What makes the Colin Powell School special is the number of engaged scholars who work alongside the students. Most of the faculty members are engaged both academically, and practically with communities around them to implement policies and solutions towards a more socially just future. In many classrooms, the assignments do encourage students to engage with their surroundings, to prepare them for a future of engaging with their communities to find ways in which to achieve collaborations. The preparation of students at Colin Powell School is not only about learning and teaching academic works but also encouraging the students to think of how to change our present from a position that they discover themselves in their future.

Mon, 17 Jul 2023 16:17:09 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/26389
Alanis Omar’s Academic Journey https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/alanis-omars-academic-journey

 

Alanis Omar’s Academic Journey
 

YMCA of Greater New York Honors Heroes of New York at 46th Annual Dodge Dinner
YMCA of Greater New York Honors Heroes of New York at 46th Annual Dodge Dinner

 

Please share a little about your background — what is your story?  
I am a first-generation college student with immigrant parents from the island of Trinidad and Tobago. Growing up, education was not seen as a necessity but rather a luxury for many of our parents, including mine. As a minority student at City College, I share the experiences and challenges faced by many of my peers. However, I have come to deeply appreciate the opportunity to pursue higher education and value the importance of knowledge and learning.


In addition to being a first-generation college student, I also grew up in a single-parent household. While it has been a challenging journey, I now see it as a blessing in disguise. Despite the financial struggles faced by my family, my strong-willed and courageous mother raised me to be a determined woman who seizes every opportunity that comes my way. She instilled in me a belief that knowledge is power, and I carry this mantra with me every day.


What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?
When I began my college search, City College and specifically the Colin Powell School were unfamiliar to me, despite entering as a declared political science major. However, during my time here, I have discovered that the Colin Powell School is truly a hidden gem. My experience at the school has been an enriching journey of learning, exploring opportunities, connecting with mentors, and participating in programs that have enhanced my cultural potential, education, and professional skills. It has truly inspired me to become the best applicant for graduate school and beyond.


As I continue my studies here and become more actively involved in the school community, I have realized that it not only helps me achieve my academic goals and personal growth but also prepares me to make a global impact. My passion for public service was ignited through high school programs like Youth and Government Civic Engagement, which allowed me to explore my interest in serving the public. Additionally, my bilingual skills in Mandarin and English have sparked my interest in making a global impact, particularly in Asian countries. This led me to study abroad in South Korea and pursue a minor in Asian Studies. These experiences have further focused my desire to contribute to the development and well-being of East Asian countries, while my commitment to public service continues to grow. Ultimately, my long-term goal is to actively serve as a diplomat in foreign service, representing my country and contributing to global diplomacy. 


Where are you in your career? How has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?
I have completed my second year studying Political Science and International Studies with a concentration in International Relations. The Colin Powell School has played a significant role in my academic journey, expanding my horizons and providing valuable experiences in the field of sustainable development goals. Thanks to the opportunities offered here, I had the privilege of studying abroad in South Korea and The Netherlands. These experiences provided me with unique insights into East Asian and European politics, further igniting my passion for international affairs. As a result, I decided to pursue a minor in Asian Studies, allowing me to delve deeper into the complexities of the region.
Additionally, the Colin Powell School has equipped me with networking skills and professional development opportunities. As a testament to this, I was fortunate to secure an internship at the City Council this summer, where I gained practical experience and applied my academic knowledge in a real-world setting.


What are your post-graduation plans? 
The college has given me incredible opportunities to explore the world, broaden my cultural horizons, and I intend to continue my travels wherever the opportunity arises. Additionally, I have a strong passion for writing and plan to dedicate time to continue working on my memoir with the goal of eventually publishing it. Looking ahead, I aspire to attend graduate school and pursue a master's degree in global affairs, further deepening my understanding of international relations and global dynamics. These aspirations reflect my unwavering commitment to personal growth, cultural exploration, and making a meaningful impact in the field of global affairs.


Please share a significant memory and/or accomplishment from your time at CCNY. 
The pandemic has and continues to play a hurtful role in depriving students of the same lively and eventful college experience the generation before us had. The Caribbean Student Association (CSA) at CCNY, like many other clubs, was not immune to these effects. However, throughout my second year at City College, I witnessed a group of students with a shared ethnicity and cultural background who were determined to revive the sense of community and cultural pride on campus. Through their efforts, they organized various events that brought back the vibrant student life we were missing. Events such as Soca and painting sessions, movie nights, and more not only brought joy and excitement back into our lives but also created a sense of belonging and familiarity. Being able to gather with students who shared similar upbringings and food traditions made me feel connected and supported.


Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the CSA's dedication to revitalizing our campus community has had a profound impact on my college experience. These events have provided a much-needed sense of home and a renewed appreciation for the diverse cultures represented at our college. 


Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?
Fully immerse yourself in the full college experience. 


How would you describe CPS in three words?
Oasis of opportunities 
 

Mon, 17 Jul 2023 16:07:56 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/26388
Vanessa O’Neil’s Journey at CCNY and Beyond https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/vanessa-oneils-journey-ccny-and-beyond

 

Vanessa O’Neil

Graduating to Success and Paying it Forward: Vanessa O’Neil’s Journey at CCNY and Beyond

Where are you from and what is your background story? 
My family moved to Crown Heights from Trinidad when I was 4 years old, in search of better opportunities for my sisters and me. My mother dreamed of becoming a nurse but worked in local retail to supplement our household, while my father worked as a policeman. Back then the Crown Heights area was deeply impoverished, and the rampant crime made it a much more dangerous place than it is today. My parents worked hard to keep my sisters and me out of the neighborhood. My mum kept us busy with afterschool programs such as ballet, music lessons, museum classes, and of course my absolute favorite, library trips.

I remember how my older sister would push the shopping cart down Eastern Parkway to the library with my younger sister and me walking beside her. As we passed through our neighborhood, we witnessed many people who seemed lost and suffering. While I had aspirations for something more, I did not see many examples of women that looked like me in the roles I wanted. Determined to become more than a statistic, I volunteered in the community and joined the local NYPD Explorers Youth Club. I studied hard in High School because I knew getting an education was my ticket to a better life, which landed me admittance to The City College of New York. 

What brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School?
As a little girl, my mother would take my sisters and me for walks in Marcus Garvey Park. I fell in love with Harlem and the beautiful representations of Black excellence. I applied to City College because it was very well known for its Science programs and I was excited to be accepted.

What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?
I have always been fascinated by the human mind and studied neuroscience in my high school's science research program. My first major at City College was Biology, but later changed to Psychology. I wanted to learn about the human mind, motivations, and behaviors. I felt with that knowledge, I would be well-equipped to help people lead balanced and healthy lives.

Briefly, how has your career unfolded? How did City College and/or the Colin Powell School help you to get where you are in your career?
I knew that I wanted to work in healthcare and was grateful for the opportunity to intern at Mount Sinai's Human Resources Department. I worked in their Supply Chain and was permanently hired as a medical secretary in a private OB/GYN office. I was hired at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in 2019 as an office coordinator in the Thoracic Oncology Department and currently, I am a Financial Patient Access Coordinator in the Pediatric Department. 

In addition to my day-to-day work, I serve as a STRIVE ambassador and I attend empowerment events and speak to new graduates to encourage them to keep striving for excellence. Memorable in my City College experience at the Colin Powell School and pivotal in my career include a group of mentors that helped me navigate college. They include my Colin Powell School advisor Herbert Seignoret, Administrator Charlene Darbassie, and Professors Robert Melara and Herb Boyd.

Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your career or time at City College / Colin Powell School that you would like to share?
While I was in college, I was a part of the Caribbean Student Association and the Bible Club. However, my entire life turned upside down. My father suddenly disappeared and I survived an attempted rape in what felt like a perpetual cycle of traumatic events. During that time, I went from being in good academic standing to struggling academically to stay afloat. It was then that I witnessed the impact of having a supportive network and received an outpouring of support from Dr. Seignoret, Charlene Darbassie, Professor Robert Melara, and Herb Boyd to continue my college degree despite the setbacks.

Around the same time, I came across a flier for the STRIVE program near my college campus and it became a sign for me to keep going. STRIVE is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1984 to help neighborhoods in East Harlem tackle unemployment and poverty. Their programs help people accomplish economic empowerment and overcome societal barriers. I applied to the Health Operations Program and was accepted. The STRIVE program was eye-opening and very challenging. It taught me to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, and gave me gentle reminders never to give up.

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?
Every single day I remind myself that I am constantly graduating to higher places and the only failure is not trying. One of the most important lessons I learned was how much control we have over our lives. My STRIVE trainers, Mrs. Latisha Smith, and Mr. Donnell Hill taught me that life is 10% of what happens to you but 90% of how you choose to respond.

I realized that I choose how I respond to negative situations. That requires thinking about all the possible consequences before reacting so that we make things better, not worse. Realizing that we have that much control over our lives is empowering.

A bad day does not mean a bad life. No matter how difficult things may seem, please continue to keep trying. Seek support from your peers, family, and community. I urge you all to use the resources offered by the campus and network every chance you get. You never know where your next job opportunity may come from, so please always be prepared. No matter what your current job or area of study is, your skills are transferable and you can work in any industry. Your education is the most powerful tool you have to actualize your potential. When you accomplish your goals, please never forget the support you received. Use what you learned to help pay it forward for others to make it.

What are your future aspirations for your career?
I will continue to build my career at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. My goal remains to learn new ways to help patients and their parents overcome financial burdens so it does not remain a barrier to them receiving the care they deserve. I dream of one day retiring from my current company.

Tue, 06 Jun 2023 12:02:21 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/26290
Crystal Rodriguez https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/crystal-rodriguez

 

Crystal Rodriguez

Crystal Rodriguez, a proud Puerto Rican-Dominican-American student, shares her journey of personal growth and determination. 


Please share a little about your background — what’s your story?  
I am a proud Puerto Rican-Dominican-American, deeply connected to my roots and the diverse tapestry of my family and friends. Growing up in East New York, Brooklyn, and spending cherished summers in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, has shaped who I am today. Despite the challenges posed by the environment in my neighborhood in Cypress Hills, including drugs, pollution, and violence, I have used these experiences to fuel my personal growth and ensure that my neighborhood does not define me. Instead, it has given me strength, resilience, and a unique perspective that I can share with others who face similar circumstances. While my path to becoming a nurse has been an unexpected roller coaster ride, I have embraced the journey and am committed to making a positive impact in the lives of others.


What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?
Initially, CCNY was my backup plan in my pursuit of a nursing career—a decision I made after facing multiple transfer attempts and consecutive rejections from nursing schools. I chose to study psychology at CCNY to enhance my understanding of human behavior and delve deeper into the reasons behind our actions and reactions, knowing it would greatly benefit me as a future nurse. During this journey, my passion grew deeper than I could have possibly imagined, uncovering extraordinary leadership skills that I never realized I possessed. My vision and purpose behind my studies are to take these leadership skills beyond the scope of practices, and be of service to my colleagues and peers, and help others believe that they can accomplish anything they put their mind to. By understanding the complexities of our reactions in various circumstances and connecting with myself on a deeper level, I have gained invaluable tools for fostering profound interpersonal and intrapersonal connections during my studies and beyond, as I embark on my nursing career.


Where are you in your career? How has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?
In 2014, I graduated with my Associates of Occupational Studies in Medical Assisting, and directly out of school, I landed my first career job, where I am still happily employed. I started as a Medical Assistant and nine years later, I am the Executive Assistant of the practice. In this position, leadership has played a vital role, and the Colin Powell School has been instrumental in my growth. Through their support and guidance, I have been able to develop and practice emotional intelligence, which has not only enhanced my ability to advocate and communicate effectively for those around me and my future patients, but has also been personally transformative.


What are your post-graduation plans? 
Post-graduation, I will finally begin a chapter that I have sacrificed so much for: Columbia University School of Nursing, here I come! In June 2023, I will embark on my accelerated Master of Science program, and by August 2024, I aim to conquer the NCLEX and earn my license as a Registered Nurse. But this is just the beginning of my aspirations. Looking ahead, I plan to pursue my Doctor of Nurse Practicing when the timing is right, further expanding my knowledge and expertise in the field. With a solid foundation established, I am excited to delve into a new hobby that has captured my interest for quite some time — gardening. It promises to be a fulfilling and rewarding experience alongside my nursing career.


Please share a significant memory and/or accomplishment from your time at CCNY. 
When reflecting on my journey, there are three accomplishments that hold a special place in my heart. The first two revolve around my roles as a Peer Mentor during my time at CCNY. In the Psychology of Student Success in higher education course, I had the privilege of working alongside Professor Mabel Gomez, a dedicated SEEK counselor, and my classmates. Together, we explored experiential learning and the concept of success. It was during this time that I realized the significance of small victories, like making my bed in the morning, which became a daily source of motivation to tackle other tasks and goals. This taught me the power of planting a seed within myself to foster personal growth.


The second accomplishment was being accepted into the Student Success Guide Program at the Colin Powell School, where I had the pleasure of working with Cynthia Guittierez. As a student success guide, I had the opportunity to connect with bright incoming students from diverse backgrounds, including high school graduates and transfer students. Guiding them through the intimidating transition to a new school allowed me to offer the support and guidance I wished I had received when I was in their shoes. It was a fulfilling experience to create a welcoming environment for them as they embarked on their journey at our rewarding university.


Lastly, I want to express my deep appreciation for my speech professor, Jonny Maldonado. His classroom provided a safe space for vulnerability, and he dedicated his time to educate us on the importance of effective communication. The lessons I learned about delivery and connection will undoubtedly take me to places I cannot yet imagine. The common thread that unites these experiences with my professors and mentors is the transformative power they had, not only on myself but also on my peers and colleagues. Initially guarded, we gradually created safe spaces for one another, allowing personal growth and discovery. I am forever grateful for the investment of energy and guidance I received at CCNY, which has shaped me into the person I am today.


Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?
Always remember to be kind to yourself, especially during moments of failure. It may seem like a dead end, but it is merely a chapter in your unique story. I have faced numerous challenges and encountered countless moments where I felt like giving up. I have dropped to my knees, tears streaming down my face, more times than I can count. Yet, throughout it all, I refused to let my failures define me. Instead, I used them as fuel to propel myself forward. When I didn't want to continue, I found the strength to push through and pursued alternative paths until I achieved success.


I transformed my failures and rejections into sources of resilience and perseverance. I learned the importance of seeking help when needed, asking questions without hesitation, and expecting answers. Embracing constructive criticism became a vital part of my growth. I became an advocate for myself, standing up for what I believed in. And through it all, I cultivated humility, recognizing that we are all on a continuous journey of learning and improvement.


How would you describe CPS in three words?
Compellingly life changing.
 

Tue, 06 Jun 2023 11:56:18 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/26288
“Lean in and Don't be Afraid of What Captures Your Imagination” https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/lean-and-dont-be-afraid-what-captures-your-imagination

 

Shariful Khan_CPS Alumni Profile_Headshot

Where are you from and what is your background story? Please share your details from the period before you arrived at CCNY.
I'm a proud alum of the New York City public school system. My parents immigrated from Bangladesh to Queens in the 1990s and managed to find a way to create a living for my brothers and myself. Though we grew up in a small, crowded apartment in Jackson Heights, and did not have much to spare, my parents were generous with others and shielded us from the daily financial pressures they faced. I only have the opportunities that I do today because of them.

What brought you to CCNY and to the Colin Powell School?
I chose to attend CUNY for the same reasons most people choose to: it was affordable and close to home. But I chose CCNY specifically because I knew that the school was a special place with a diverse student body, a history of activism and progressive politics, and (this was a real selling point) a pretty cool campus.

What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?
I studied Political Science and Asian Studies at City College. Asian Studies is easy to explain — after spending years learning a mostly Eurocentric history of the world, I wanted to learn more about the histories of different nations and cultures, especially those relevant to my background as a Bangladeshi-American. I studied Political Science because I am interested in making the world better, and it's difficult to do that without a basic understanding of the politics and systems of our time.

Briefly, how has your career unfolded? How did City College and/or the Colin Powell School help you to get where you are in your career?
After City College, I attended Yale Law School. At Yale, I got to work on economic justice and civil rights issues in a lot of different ways ranging from disability law and veterans' benefits to consumer protection. After I graduated from law school, I won a Skadden Fellowship — a two-year program designed to support young attorneys interested in public interest work — at Public Justice, where I'll work on students' civil rights issues before I clerk for two judges.

There's no way to separate the person I am and the things I care about from the places I've been and the people I've learned from. At City College, I developed the passions that have since been the driving force of my life. I saw in my classmates what economic insecurity can do to families. I developed a firsthand understanding of the power of mobility and opportunity, and how these possibilities are inextricably intertwined with housing, civil rights, and labor. In the morning, I learned from professors how the over-concentration of private power can hurt working families in the morning; and at night, I comforted friends as they struggled with wage theft, former convictions, and shoddy healthcare. 

At CCNY, I got to experience the practical realities of America clash with the lofty ideals of academia. I am thankful for that opportunity. And I am who I am today because of CCNY.

Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your career or time at City College / Colin Powell School that you would like to share?
So many. I loved my time in the Skadden Pre-Law Program at CCNY, then run by the wonderful Jennifer Light and Dr. Andrew Rich. I remember debating with friends in our lounge, respectfully challenging each other's ideas, and helping each other grow. I loved the short conversations I had with professors after class, where I would ask them what I thought was a simple question about some philosopher or historical event and see that gleam in their eye that revealed I had just touched upon one of their favorite subjects. And perhaps most of all, I deeply value the time I spent at the NAC Library, eating lunch with my friends, and building the relationships that will carry me forth for the rest of my life.

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?
Spend some time at school after your classes end. I know most of us commute and have places to be, jobs to work, and families to care for, but your classmates are brilliant and funny, and it will be the joy of your life to get to know them. 

Do not be afraid to engage with your professors. Looking back, I viewed college as an extension of high school. I should have been more aware of the different levels of respect and expectations professors have for their students. Follow the things that interest you, even if they're not what you thought they'd be when you first arrived at CCNY. For a second early in college, I thought I would pursue a career as a geologist. Rocks still rock, but I was quickly drawn to the classes where we navigated history and questioned the systems and policies around us. Lean in and don't be afraid of what captures your imagination.

What are your future aspirations for your career?
I have not figured everything out yet, and I don't think I ever will. But I would love to continue working for the public interest in some capacity, whether it's through public service or at a nonprofit or in academia, or elsewhere. I know that wherever my career takes me, I will not forget the lessons I learned and the people I met at CCNY.

Tue, 16 May 2023 12:13:47 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/26216
“Your Professional Career is More a Marathon than a Sprint.” https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/your-professional-career-more-marathon-sprint

 

Steven Rodriguez_CPS Alum

“Your Professional Career is More a Marathon than a Sprint.” Steven Rodriguez (‘14) and his Journey to Career Success

Where are you from and what is your background story? Please share your details from the period before you arrived at CCNY.
I am a first-generation Latino with parents from Colombia. I was going through the motions of education because that was the norm. The idea I grew up with was that to succeed in a career, we had to graduate from college at the very least. Without much guidance from family, I quickly stumbled and lost track of why I was on this path in the first place. I was academically dismissed after 5 years at Queens College and wound up in the CUNY New Start program based out of Kingsborough Community College where I finally graduated with an Associate's Degree. With my past track record in mind, I decided to offset the negative academic history with extracurricular activities at Kingsborough Community College as well as the broader CUNY level. I rose to President of Kingsborough Student Government and Vice Chair of the University Student Senate. In addition, my student activism led me to become part of the historic CUNY Pathways. 

What brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School?
Upon KCC graduation, and with the conversations I had with colleagues in mind, I decided to try my hand at completing my college education again. I applied and was accepted into the Skadden Arps fellowship program which aims to prepare students from low-income and underrepresented groups for successful legal careers. While at CCNY, the degree program in International Relations was the pathway that resonated with me the most and this in turn embedded me within the Colin Powell School community.

What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?
Initially, my passion for pursuing my education at CCNY came from wanting to prove that I was not just another failed Latino statistic in college reports and also to make my family proud. However, the more I engaged with my education and the college community, I was slowly developing a massive transformative purpose as it stands today: to accelerate human connection for a sustainable future. This newfound purpose dovetailed with my curiosity for continuous learning that stands true to this day.

Briefly, how has your career unfolded? How did City College and/or the Colin Powell School help you to get where you are in your career?
My career launchpad was the Summer Program in Washington DC. Through it, I was able to build a network of colleagues and find opportunities to explore new pathways in my journey to reinvention. I applied for another job placement/fellowship program at the NextGen Venture Partners venture capital firm. Following this chapter, I was then offered my first full-time salary position at the Global Entrepreneurship Network. Taking on this opportunity catapulted me from the local to the global stage and drove impact across more than 170 countries. I then launched my own Digital Marketing Agency and started traveling Europe doing remote work before the pandemic. I like to attribute this to the summer program that connected me to Washington DC.

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?
Your professional career is more a marathon than a sprint, with zig zags and variable terrain elevation. Have a goal but be adaptable to how your surroundings react to your presence. You are where you need to be, and you just need to drive your actions toward the goal you set out for yourself. I define luck when opportunity meets preparation. So get out there and drive your luck!

What are your future aspirations for your career? 
Build a multi-billion dollar business and help the next generation of traditionally underrepresented groups towards wealth access, equity, and inclusion.

Tue, 16 May 2023 12:11:11 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/26215
A First-Generation American Passionate About Public Service https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/first-generation-american-passionate-about-public-service

 

Olakunle

A First-Generation American Passionate About Public Service: The Story of Olakunle Atanda (‘14)


Olakunle is a first-generation American of Nigerian descent. He was born in Brooklyn but spent most of his formative years in Lagos, Africa’s most populous city. Growing up in a developing economy, he witnessed searing poverty, inequality, and political instability. This experience not only revealed to him the indispensable role of public policy in creating measures of support and opportunity for people but also seeded his passion for public service. After graduating high school in Nigeria, Olakunle returned to New York determined to equip herself with the skills and knowledge needed to make a meaningful impact. He sought an education that would challenge him and allow him to peer deeper into issues of institutional development and good governance from both analytical and comparative perspectives.

What brought you to CCNY and to the Colin Powell School?
I was drawn to CCNY for several reasons including affordability and the reputation of its political science program. What won me over, however, was visiting Shepard Hall and learning about the history of the college which was originally founded as the Free Academy. Perched in the heart of Harlem with the rich vibrance and diversity of the community and its neo-Gothic campus, I was immediately enchanted and am forever grateful I made the decision to enroll. City College is a microcosm not just of New York City and the country, but indeed of the world. The different backgrounds and perspectives I encountered across campus not only fostered cross-cultural understanding but also strengthened the intellectual environment in our unique but shared pursuits to understand and change the world.

What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?
Conditions in communities where I have lived and studied instilled in me a passion for public service. My courses in political science and public policy at City College provided me with the rigorous theoretical frameworks to understand how political phenomena and events within society are shaped. It provided a solid understanding of the intersection of American history, international security, political philosophy, foreign policy, and economics. It also emphasized experiential learning through internships which helped to couple theory with practice and provided real-life experience in policy making.

Briefly, how has your career unfolded? How did City College and/or the Colin Powell School help you to get where you are in your career?
From graduate school at Columbia University to work at the UN and World Bank, City College and the Powell School have played a critical role in my achievements to date. Taking part in Model UN helped groom me in the fundamentals of diplomacy which I currently practice in my job today. Having access to the Diplomat-in-Residence on campus connected me with opportunities I might not have otherwise had, including a U.S. Department of State fellowship. The Semester in D.C. program supported my White House internship and helped me expand my professional network — and, importantly, offered me a first glimpse of living in D.C., which is where I have now resided for the last 5 years. Above all, I appreciate that the Powell School reinforced service as a core tenet of its educational curriculum. This aspect has remained a central theme in my life today.

Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your career or time at City College / Colin Powell School that you would like to share?
I have several cherished memories from my time at City College. I’m eternally humbled to have graduated as the inaugural valedictorian of the Powell School and grateful to have studied abroad in Brazil. But the moments I hold most dear are perhaps the simple ones: hanging out with friends in the International Studies (I.S.) lounge, hunting down free food at club fairs, debating NYC politics with Professor Krinsky, protesting climate change and tuition hikes in front of NAC, and lazing on the grass between classes.

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?
Learning outside the classroom is just as important as time spent inside the classroom. In addition to studying hard, I strongly recommend immersing yourself in community activities, getting involved with campus organizations, and genuinely connecting with your peers. Finally, I would also recommend learning a new language and studying abroad if possible!

What are your future aspirations for your career?
Ultimately, I hope to help inform, develop, and advance policy solutions that address challenges in a sustainable way and expand opportunities for all, especially the most vulnerable groups.

Tue, 16 May 2023 12:08:31 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/26214
Take Advantage Not Only of all that CCNY has to Offer, but also the Entire CUNY System https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/take-advantage-not-only-all-ccny-has-offer-also-entire-cuny-system

 

Ayodele Oti_CPS Alum

Where are you from and what is your background story? Please share your details from the period before you arrived at CCNY.
I am originally from Tallahassee, Florida. When my parents were married they moved to Florida from New York (my dad by way of Nigeria, my mom by way of a Caribbean-American family rooted in Crown Heights). I am the youngest of three, but to some, I give off only-child energy because of the age difference between my brother, sister, and me (6 and 12 years each, respectively). My parents divorced when I was in 6th grade and I ended up spending much of my adolescence in my mom's household with our cat Smokey. Thanks to my mom, liking CBS, NPR, and cats are always going to be core parts of my identity.

Outside of those interests I loved the performing arts and I was a part of six different sports, with my longest relationship being with soccer. Academically, I was in a gifted program, which now with what we know about such programs, is interesting to grapple with. I do, however, believe this education was a formative part of my K-12 experience. My time in IB and AP classes is owed to that form of tracking, to be honest.

My path to public service started in high school. I had the opportunity to work in government twice and I participated in the Summer Youth Employment Program as a rising sophomore at the Leon County Board of County Commissioners. The following summer I participated in an internship at WCOT — The City of Tallahassee government access channel. During my time at WCOT I created a PSA about a superhero that destroys illegal signage in the city right-of-ways; thankfully there is no evidence on the internet of what they let a rising junior do. 

Of my years before CCNY, my fondest school memories were co-creating a student club with my then-friend called Peace Through Understanding Cultures (PTUC), multiple beach trips with friends to St. George Island off the coast of the Florida panhandle and receiving the 'Dreamer & Doer' superlative at graduation. Honestly, that distinction still tracks; it is a gift and a burden.

What brought you to CCNY and to the Colin Powell School?
I wanted to go to school in New York, though financially it seemed out of reach. Outside of CCNY, I applied to three other schools in my home state, however I was determined to make my New York dreams come true. It was then that I decided to scour the internet for scholarships and came across the Macaulay Honors College. With my SAT scores, this goal felt out of reach and I applied hoping that greater emphasis would be placed on my GPA, extracurriculars, and my commitment to apply early decision. 

I settled on CCNY because at the time I was interested in journalism, and though I did not know the focus area,I knew I wanted to travel internationally and write about social issues, so the International Studies program was really attractive to me. Here I should add, I did not know my parents were actually CUNY graduates (Brooklyn College and CCNY) until I shared where I was applying.

Also, all roads lead back to money; college can be expensive! At the time the Colin Powell School was the Colin Powell Center, and I learned about the flagship fellowship program and other scholarships that were available there. Given my interest in social impact, CCNY felt like the perfect fit because of what was offered. Funny enough, when I came to visit campus with my parents to try to convince them to let me attend ("them" was really my dad), I arranged a visit with the leaders of the Center: now President Boudreau and Dean Rich.

What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?
I started pursuing internships pretty early in my college career and took my first spring semester of freshman year at charity: water, a nonprofit focused on clean water access in developing countries. That internship influenced the trajectory of my college experience and my career aspirations for a time. 

I wanted to deepen my understanding of the connection between environmental issues, public health, and economic development and through this interest came across the CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies. Thanks to that program, I was able to tap into courses within the CUNY system that at the time were not offered at CCNY, such as community health and geography.

Briefly, how has your career unfolded? How did City College and/or the Colin Powell School help you to get where you are in your career?
My career has been a winding road that has allowed me to come full circle to something I have always been interested in: storytelling.

I have done a lot of different things, and I will spare all the details of how I went from being super passionate about global environmental health to now working in podcasting with role pit stops in operations / program management throughout government, nonprofit, higher education and private research companies. 

For anyone who has not seen Everything Everywhere All at Once, believe me when I say there is probably a multiverse where I am singularly pursuing each of the things I have done or wanted to do. And at some point in each scenario I will engage with storytelling in some way.

CCNY and the Colin Powell School fit into my little multiverse of madness (that's a Marvel reference) because my time in undergrad allowed me to explore so many different things. There was a time when I thought my experience was cohesive, but I now realize I followed where the wind swept me for quite a bit. I have no regrets because you will always find your true self in the end.

Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your career or time at City College / Colin Powell School that you would like to share?
The most significant accomplishment was winning the Truman Scholarship, representing both CCNY and the state of Florida. My winning that scholarship would not have been possible without CCNY staff at the Honors Center and the Colin Powell Center. Not only did they make possible the experiences I was able to include in my application (service learning, study abroad, internships, challenging seminars), they also helped me really polish that application. For that, a special shoutout is owed to Jennifer Lutton, who is still around!

At the time of the competition (finalist phase) I was studying abroad for the semester in Costa Rica. Past CCNY finalists and winners held mock interviews with me over poor internet on Skype and sent me words of encouragement when I flew back to the states briefly to do my interview in Atlanta. I am eternally grateful to everyone who helped me along that path to winning, and I especially have them to thank because 75% of my MBA at Baruch-Zicklin was covered because of that scholarship! Seriously, thank you CUNY for keeping me away from serious student debt.

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?
Take advantage not only of all that CCNY has to offer, but also the entire CUNY system. As members of the CUNY network, there are so many courses and opportunities that are available if you look for them. If you don't want to create an interdisciplinary major, no problem! Apply for an e-permit to take a class you are interested in on another campus. Are you looking for research opportunities, but your campus doesn't have what you are looking for? No problem, other campuses might have something for you through study abroad or other programs! 

Some of the coolest opportunities that I had throughout college happened because of professors in the CUNY network. I got to study arts and culture in Cuba because of a Baruch faculty member who was quick to get a proposal greenlit when Obama reopened relations; I went dogsledding on a glacier in Iceland and helped with marine biology sample collection in Barbuda due to a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program created by a Brooklyn College professor. 

CCNY has so many great programs, and when we add the rest of CUNY, our educational experience more than rivals any "top" school out there.

What is your current profession / position?
Media and social impact entrepreneur. I currently have a Substack publication called Sounds Like Impact where I curate social impact-related podcasts and calls to action.

Tue, 16 May 2023 12:03:50 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/26213
10 Year Anniversary of the Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/10-year-anniversary-colin-powell-school

 

Dean Rich-Pres. Boudreau 10th anniversary


Dean Rich in conversation with President Boudreau on the 10 Year Anniversary of the Colin Powell School


 
Dean Rich
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Colin Powell School, and I want to invite you to take a step back and reflect on the founding of the School. Take us back if you will: Colin Powell graduated in 1958; what got him reengaged at the College?
 
President Boudreau
I had been the director of the Colin Powell Center for only a few months and was told that the way to change the profile of the Colin Powell Center was to bring Secretary of State Colin Powell to campus to give a policy statement. And that would change everything for us. That turned out not to be the case. He came, and he did a terrific talk. A woman from Iran had just won the Nobel Peace Prize, and he talked about her. But when he stepped down from the stage, he pulled me aside, and he said, “I can't do anything while I'm in this office, but when I step down, I'm going to come back, and I'm going to see how I can help you.” There are pictures of him mingling with our students at the reception before he gave his talk, and he was very devoted to that.
 
So, sure enough, about six months after he left the office, he came back to the campus and we had a group of the really extraordinary first cohort of Colin Powell Fellows and he sat in a room with them and they talked about their lives and experiences. He asked them who they were, what they wanted to do, where they were from, and was, I think, more deeply moved than I thought he was going to be. At that time, there was a board of directors of the Colin Powell Center, and that board had never met. I had a really clear sense that we needed to start over with the board because we had essentially been dodging phone calls from them. So, I raised the question of reformulating this board with General Powell, and he kind of had me at arm's length for a little bit there. We ran the Colin Powell fellowship program for another year or so. We were into our second cohort when he came back and was willing to talk about the trajectory of the Colin Powell Center. For me, it was all about this fellowship program. I didn't necessarily know very much about what I was doing. I didn't have a curriculum. But we were on to something, and it was exciting.


Dean Rich
Let’s back up even further. How did you get involved with the Colin Powell Center in the first place?


President Boudreau
Oh, it was really funny. I had been Chair of the Political Science department. I had a little bit of a reputation, I think, for taking a department that was kind of moribund and giving it a little bit more life. You [Andy] joined the faculty at the time. Our big innovation was that we were going to do a lectures series, and I would go to Costco and buy food, and we would get students to come to lectures, and we asked the speakers to stay and engage with the students. There would be 20 people in a room with a lecture, and it made no impact on the educational quality. We were really trying, as a department, to do something new. We had a bunch of younger faculty — you, John Krinsky, Bruce Cronin — that were interested in this project. With respect to the Colin Powell Center, the Rudin Foundation had given us $500,000 to be spent over five years, and they were coming to campus for the first time after making that gift to figure out what we'd done with it. And there was nobody directing the Colin Powell Center.
 
Paul Wachtel had done it for a year or two, but going into it knew he didn't want to do it permanently. A guy named Ron Farrell, who had been our dean, was given the Colin Powell Center, but he did not engage with it very much. It was kind of moribund, so the long and the short of it is, they needed somebody to talk to the funders about what we had done with the money, and the answer was, we hadn't done anything. It was all basically still there. They had asked me a couple of times to be the director. I had refused, because I was chair of the department. It didn't seem to me you could do both jobs. But finally, I agreed, thinking that this was an opportunity to develop a program that would really support our students. At the time, the only kind of similar program that we had on campus was the Watson Fellowship program, which did wonderful things for a very, very small group of students. And I thought we could do the same sort of thing — specialized seminars, supported internships, access to other kinds of opportunities. It was as vague as that.
 
And when we met with the Rudin Foundation, I told them we hadn't done very much, but I had this plan going forward, and the Rudin Foundation was willing to stick with me on it. I had that plan in place. I had a group of extraordinary students that were there when General Powell met with them, and that was going to be the way going forward. I had pretty good anecdotal evidence at the time of what the college's official line was: “The average City College student works an average of 30 hours a week.” I would say that to everyone who would listen. And I thought if we could give students a $10,000 scholarship every year, If we could give them the ability just to be students, to focus on education and then provide some other opportunities, they could do great things. And indeed, they did. That initial cohort was extraordinary, and it proved the concept that with more support, our students would be as good as any City College student ever in our history.
 
Dean Rich
And you shifted the name from the Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies. It became the Colin Powell Center for Leadership and Service.
 
President Boudreau
Yes, General Powell liked that idea. He was always a little disinterested in a policy studies center. It wasn't what he wanted to do. I had read his autobiography. I had heard him say at least once that every stage in his career, at its core, involved educating young people. And knowing what I knew about City College students, I knew that it would be tremendously beneficial to our students to have this kind of a support.
 
Dean Rich
You started at the very beginning with a cohort structure, and I wondered if you might reflect on that. You could have just given out individual fellowships, and they could come see you on their own, but you did it as a cohort. Now, as you know, everything we do is cohort, and I just wonder if you have thoughts about the importance of that as a structure.
 
President Boudreau
I always thought, particularly talking to alumni at the time, they always had stories about the people that were sitting next to them in classrooms and what they had gone on to do, and what they had gone on to do together with classmates and other City College graduates. But I also thought that our students didn't just need money. They needed a sense of accomplishment. And that worked better in cohorts. At that time, it's hard to think back, but there was no place to get a cup of coffee except for the student lounge. We didn’t even have the coffee spot in the NAC. There were no benches anywhere on campus, forget the Hoffman lounge or some of the things that you’re doing up at the Colin Powell School. We didn’t even have grass on campus, we didn’t even have a blade of grass on campus. And so, the idea, I thought putting our students in a cohort was essential. In fact, when I was running the master’s program in international relations, one of the things I did to try to do to develop a sense of cohort was I taught one class in my apartment where we’d have dinner every week. I used to do office hours — these are masters students so they were all of age — at a bar on 110th street and Amsterdam Avenue. The rule there was that it was only to talk about international relations. So, in all these different ways it just occurred to me that students who were typically engaged in City College in a kind of “cash and carry” way, where they come pick their classes and go home, would have an opportunity to build connections with each other and then with the institution. So, I brought all of that into the Colin Powell Center. 
 
Dean Rich
How was the decision made to merge the school of social sciences with the Center?
 
President Boudreau
We had been getting bigger and bigger over the years, and we had gone from one scholarship to Colin Powell Scholarships. We then had taken on the Koch service scholarships. We had done something called Community Engagement Fellows, and Partners for Change. So, we had four separate scholarship lines. When you became Associate Director of the Colin Powell Center,  you brought the whole service-learning portfolio. And then we had taken service learning and were also doing seminars on public scholarship, where we were taking faculty and supporting them to find their voices to write for broader public audiences. But none of this really had a foothold in the college’s core activities, which is its degree granting work. These activities were always co-curricular. So we began to think about bringing the two together.
 
There was an interlude where we had started a campaign to build Colin Powell Hall, largely at the behest of some of General Powell’s friends, I would say fairly reluctantly on his part. We were supposed to raise about $15 million and the state was going to pay for the rest of it. And then the state said they didn’t have the money, so we’d have to raise all of what was $25 million, and then step by step by step over the next two years $25 million turned into $81 million. I went to see General Powell when the price tag was $41 million and he said “Ok, let’s raise the money,” and then it was $61 million. At $81 million, I thought “If we raise this money to build this building, we’re going to have no more operational funds.” The president and I spoke, and we agreed that we should  abandon the building project. We should instead do what we always had a sense that we should be doing, which is to attach the work of the Colin Powell Center to the main degree granting activities of the college somehow, and we founded the Colin Powell School. That way, we would be able to take the $30 million or so dollars that we had raised at that time and instead of spending it on construction, we could spend it on starting the programs of what became the Colin Powell School. I went down to have what I thought was going to be a really difficult conversation with General Powell, and it was so clear that this was far more attractive to him than building a building with his name on it. I was relieved to be able to say it; he was clearly relieved too. It had never occurred to me that he had in his mind acquired what he thought was an obligation to, or a responsibility or made a promise to, his college that he would help us build this building. And to be released from that and instead focus on what was a much more dynamic project, to build the school, was a relief to everybody and it made so much sense.
 
Dean Rich
As you now reflect, it’s been 10 years. What do you think you hoped the Colin Powell School would become on campus, and how would you describe what it means to have the Colin Powell School?
 
President Boudreau
You know, it’s funny. I thought even before we launched the school that increasingly the Colin Powell Center was becoming one of the things that people who are not involved in City College would see from a distance; that they would hear about it. They would start to see our students. But I also thought that this idea of service and leadership, of involving students in taking the things that brought them to school in the first place, a desire for just housing policy, equitable distribution of resources, fair immigration policy, policing policy that isn’t disproportionately visited on people of color — that a school that foregrounded those things and actually took students who were immigrants and people of color and people that had suffered at the hand of inequitable health systems or poor schools and put them in a position to make a difference, we’d have a much more informed set of policies in America. It was so important for me to figure out how to mobilize the voices of our students, and also to take faculty and staff who for the most part are not accidentally at City College, not accidentally at the Colin Powell School, but have come here to teach these specific students in this specific community around a set of specific concerns and commitment. That’s what I hoped the Colin Powell School would become, this place where leadership was developed to carry students with a more democratic and just or equitable perspective on important questions into the world when they graduated. And I only had, when I think of it now, I had less than three years, in some ways it felt like I was involved in the Colin Powell School forever. It was the leadup, a big long leadup. We had a year and a half of meetings where we talked about what it meant to take the ethos and the programs of the Center and move it over. And we spent time on questions from what the name would be to silly things like does it have to have special colors. And my view from the beginning was that we had established a mission and an ethos and a kind of commitment to certain things at the Colin Powell Center that had to be merged with the existing programs of social sciences.
 
Some faculty would say things like “Well, I just want to continue to be a sociologist. I don’t want to necessarily be involved in this other project.” So, it took us over a year to iron all that out and I felt like, as dean, we were only just getting started in the programmatic transformation of the school: building programs that would sink roots and would attract faculty. I tried to do some things that didn’t work. I had an idea that immigration was going to be one of our big strengths and taught a seminar designed to bring alumni and City College students together where one member of our faculty teaches his or her best lecture on immigration over the course of the semester. That didn’t really work out so well, but we started making investments in more activist programs. It was October, 2016, when I was tapped to come into the president’s office as interim president, and Kevin Foster agreed to be the acting dean while I was here. He did a good job of keeping everything running, but there wasn’t a lot of programmatic innovation during this period. We had built an Office of Student Success that I think had some real strong prospects and some important flaws. I think one of the significant flaws was it was on another side of campus, and so it was really difficult to integrate the work of that office with the academic core of the college. Kevin did me the favor of dismantling it and you all have now resurrected it in a place that’s intimately interrelated with the rest of the school.
 
So, what do I think of it now? I mean I got to be honest. If I could have mapped out where I wanted the school to be, it’s on that trajectory. You’ve done, I think, an exemplary job of taking the idea of the original fellowship programs, where we would maybe have 20 sometimes more Colin Powell Fellows who wanted to be in a seminar. But they came from across the college, and so did we teach leadership and service in the absence of a substantive curriculum? Hard to do. Did we on the other hand say you’re going to study this thing – immigration, justice reform, whatever be it– this is going to be the seminar this year. And some of them would be deeply interested, and some of them couldn’t care less. Working with that small group of students it was hard to figure out exactly how to teach leadership and service. What you’ve done now, with a group of between 3000-4000 students is you’ve said “No we’re going to recruit students interested in climate change, racial justice,” so you’re able to marry that activist mission of the school with the leadership and service values. Watching that unfold over new programs like the new Institute, Leadership for Democracy and Social Justice, I think you’re now operating at a scale where you can say “these are the five issues for now that we have a commitment to, and we’re going to recruit students that also have a commitment to these issues.” And that’s going to be how we execute on one element of the mission. The core social sciences and our faculty are the backbone of the school, and they are stronger than ever. And, then, of course, is the extraordinary support that you have in the Office of Student Success and the various elements of the program that you’re bringing in. Those two levels  — what do we do for students that are in an extraordinary way committed to making a difference on these issues and how do we connect the social sciences to that — and then, what are we going to do for the majority of students who maybe aren’t going to be a Racial Justice Fellow or a Climate Change Fellow but we know they’re going to be successful. I think that combination is exactly what we had in mind when we talked about bringing the ethos of the Colin Powell Center into the Division of Social Sciences.
 
Dean Rich
Speaking to you now as both the president and the founding dean, where would you like to see the Colin Powell School go over the next 10 years?
 
President Boudreau
I’ve always thought that people should recognize the Colin Powell School the way they recognize the Maxwell School or the Kennedy School. I don’t mean that it should just be prominent, I mean that it should be prominent in a specific way with a specific set of commitments. I think the social and political and economic leadership of people who come from underserved communities — that should be the identity of the Colin Powell School. I think expanding the work on student success is important. I think being diligent about asking — there’s climate change and there’s racial justice, significant work in immigration — where is social justice work going in the U.S. over the next decade, and making sure that the Colin Powell School keeps up with that. I also think there’s a real role for an expansion of work with people who aren’t necessarily matriculated students. You started this with Leadership for Democracy and Social Justice, where you’re bringing in mid-career professionals who are activists. I think there’s a lot of room for that level of engagement. I also think about the Conversations in Leadership series that you’re doing. And the fact that it is clearly being produced to be available online, in perpetuity, I think is fantastic. So, it seems a little like an empty response to say keep on doing what you’re doing, but that’s kind of what City College needs the ability to say “here’s how we translate our values, commitments, into social political economic impact.” I think that’s what the Colin Powell School should be doing.
 
Dean Rich
General Powell passed and Linda Powell stepped up to be chair of the board of visitors. And General Powell’s long-time assistant, Peggy Cifrino also joined the board. So many people remain involved who care deeply about General Powell and the legacy that he brought to this place. I wonder if you could reflect a little bit about having the connection of his family and friends to the school in an ongoing way as such a crucial part of his legacy.
 
President Boudreau
It’s funny, the original board that we put together, and so many of the original donors to the Powell School did it because of their personal friendship with General Powell. They worked with him, were influenced with him, socialized with him, many of those people were not available to us. General Powell would shepherd them into a supporting relationship with the college and the school, but that relationship always went through him. He was such a presence, he was so dynamic, so charismatic that I think you would be foolish if you didn’t ask the question “what happens when he steps away one way or another from this world?” I think the job always was to figure out how you translate his personal charisma and commitments and the desire that everyone had just to be in the room next to him and have his attention for a little while into an institution, into the aura of an institution. I think certainly having the family involved, Linda, Michael, that’s huge. Because what it says to us — Linda, when we launched the school, she used the phrase when she was talking about her service to the Colin Powell School “it’s my turn to put my shoulder to the wheel.” She meant that in my family this is the work that we do and this is going to be how I manifest that work.
 
So, there’s continuity there. But there’s also I think the ability to take the legacy of General Powell that was so concentrated in his purpose and diffuse it into the work of the school. You think about someone like Marco Antonio Achón who’s here, yes because he loved General Powell, but he doesn’t need for General Powell to be in the room to sustain the work that he’s doing. So many of the other people who are relatively new to the board, maybe younger and certainly more accessible, like Stephen Schwartzman, David Rubenstein, or even James Baker that will be able to see the importance of the institution not as a place where you get next to General Powell, but as an institution that will carry forward the values and commitments that he had and the mission that he gave us to build the place where people who are today like he was back then can be provisioned for success. And so, I think we are well on the way to at least identifying what a succession plan looks like and bringing in people. Here’s the thing: there was a long period of time where people didn’t need to see evidence that the Colin Powell Center was working because General Powell said it was. What’s fortunate, and I think a huge accomplishment, is that while he was with us and especially in the last four or five years, anyone can walk up to the program, to the Colin Powell School, without him being in the room and say “this is something that needs to prosper.” He’s not with us anymore, but I see him in the work that we’re doing. Frankly, that was the puzzle that needed to be solved in the institutionalization of the Colin Powell School, and we solved it.

Tue, 16 May 2023 11:29:30 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/26212
Class of 2023 Salutatorian  https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/class-2023-salutatorian-2

Class of 2023 Salutatorian Nija Daniels

Class of 2023 Salutatorian Nija Daniels

Please share a little about your background — what’s your story? 
I come from a family of Jamaican immigrants who sacrificed their education for greater economic opportunities in the United States. Growing up in East Elmhurst, Queens, I was inspired by my three sisters, especially my older sister who was the first in our family to receive a bachelor's degree. My involvement in community service groups, political campaigns, and youth programs further fueled my passion for making a positive impact in underprivileged communities.

Through my personal, professional, and academic experiences, I have developed a keen interest in business law. I believe that business law has the power to support under-resourced entrepreneurs, create generational wealth in marginalized communities, and alleviate poverty on a global scale. My goal is to use my knowledge and skills in business law to bring about positive change in the world.
 
What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?

I am currently pursuing a major in International Studies with a concentration in Comparative Public Policy, with minors in English and Human Rights. My passion for global history and its impact on present-day institutions was sparked during an AP Global History class I took during my senior year of high school at The Renaissance Charter School. This experience motivated me to become a globally conscious individual, eager to understand how political, economic, and social systems differ from my reality. My minors in English and Human Rights have helped me hone my analytical and practical writing skills, which I believe will be invaluable in my future legal career.
 
Where are you in your career? How has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?
My career goals, visions, and ambitions are constantly evolving as I gain new experiences and opportunities. Through my acceptance into fellowships and honors programs under the Colin Powell School, I honed my skills and gained valuable internship experience. Over the last few years, I interned with domestic and international organizations, such as the Urban Justice Center and the Federation of National Organizations Working with the Homeless. After engaging in work related to public policy, research, and law, I am now eager to pursue a career in transactional law, specifically focusing on aiding entrepreneurs with contract and legal agreement drafting.
 
What are your post-graduation plans?
After graduation, I will work as a full-time intern at the Center for Women & Enterprise to assist women entrepreneurs in beginning and expanding their businesses by providing legal resources, assistance with certification, and connections with corporations. After working as a paralegal in transactional law, I intend to go to law school to further my education. I’m thinking about applying to Fordham School of Law, Duke Law School, and Penn State Law.


Please share a significant memory and/or accomplishment from your time at CCNY.
I was eager to join a pre-law club to gain guidance and support in my career aspirations. However, to my dismay, I discovered that there was no such club on campus, and there hadn't been one for several years. Despite my participation in other clubs, I felt that my career development was lacking, and I longed to connect with like-minded individuals. With a passion for legal equality and a desire to help my peers pursue their interests, I took it upon myself to create a Pre-Law Club at CCNY. It was not an easy task, as I had to send countless emails in search of a faculty advisor who would support our vision. After persistent efforts, I finally received a positive response from a professor who was willing to take a chance on us and provide guidance. With the dedication of my hardworking executive board, we have successfully fostered understanding, learning, and appreciation of law among our 156 club members. Our primary goal is to introduce them to various legal careers, such as environmental law, medical law, and criminal law, among others. We hope that our members will develop their passion for social justice and align it with their careers in law.
 
Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?
CCNY is a remarkable institution that offers a unique and diverse community that promotes social and economic mobility for students from various backgrounds. However, like any university, the extent of your college experience depends on your willingness to take advantage of the opportunities available to you. Adapting to a new environment can be daunting for new students, but by familiarizing yourself with the campus, you can navigate CCNY and achieve all of your aspirations. CCNY offers a plethora of resources across all divisions, such as tutoring, the Career & Professional Development Institute, and fellowship programs, so it is essential to take advantage of these services. Additionally, there are various clubs and student organizations on campus that enable you to become an active member of the community. I hope students leave CCNY with the confidence, skills, and tools ready to conquer the world.
 
How would you describe CPS in three words?
Home, transformative, and legendary

Tue, 18 Apr 2023 11:20:56 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/26105
Class of 2023 Salutatorian https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/class-2023-salutatorian-1

 

Class of 2023 Salutatorian Lorena Modesto

Class of 2023 Salutatorian Lorena Modesto

Please share a little about your background — tell us your story?  
I moved to the US with my family when I was 5 and we settled in the Bronx. As the oldest sister, I had to take care of many things for my family, like making appointments and translating documents. When I was in high school, I didn't have a good college advisor to help me with opportunities and jobs, especially because of my immigration status. But when I started college, I applied for the New York State Dream Act, which helps undocumented students get grants and scholarships from the state.
 
Why did you choose CCNY? What brought you to the Colin Powell School?
I picked CCNY because I discovered they had a Dream Team, and I wanted to join. At Colin Powell School, I discovered ways to create inclusive spaces, collaborate with other clubs, host educational workshops, and support representation. I began to question why CCNY didn't have an Immigrant Student Resource Center to offer more help, mentorship, and networking for undocumented students.
 
What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?
At the beginning of my studies, I began working at the intersection of immigration and education. By bringing in lived experiences, I am focusing on how to uplift undocumented youth, and support them in their college journey or create a plan after graduating. Many students I supported were primarily from first-generation and less advantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. While on campus, I took interest in the fellowships and programs that CCNY offers, and eventually, I applied for the Honors Program in Legal Studies. I wish to see changes in immigration legislation, criminalization of marginalized low-income workers, and reform in the criminal justice system, so people can obtain all the services they need.
 
Where are you in your career development? How has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?
Throughout my years at the Colin Powell School, I was driven by advocacy and activism work, learning about injustices in the immigration system and how to protect the rights of immigrant families, workers, and laborers. This pushed me to take several positions to advocate for immigrant youth, and street vendors and create safe spaces for undocumented immigrant students on campus. Through the Colin Powell School, I met students who became researchers, educators, and scientists. I built academic and professional relationships with people who shared with me their aspirations and goals in life. 
 
What are your plans post-graduation?
Post-graduation I will focus on law as a career path. I wish to do more networking building and skill development through fellowships and LSAT preparation programs to help me build a strong profile for when I apply to law schools. I believe in saying out loud positive affirmations for myself because I am deserving of opportunities and the ability to keep learning and showing up for my community. Undocumented immigrant students can be lawyers too. We need more access to professional licenses and certifications to be able to work. 
 
Can you share a few memories or accomplishments from your time at City College of which you are particularly proud? Maybe things that will inspire other students?
I hosted a workshop and clinic on campus to help undocumented students apply for state financial aid and find scholarships. This event became an annual tradition. As part of the CCNY Dream Team, we aim to support immigrant students on campus. During my time on the team, I learned how to organize and lead events for immigrant communities. I was also proud to celebrate our library display in the NAC library in December 2021, which symbolized that undocumented immigrant students exist on campus, immigrant groups are not a monolith, and migration is not always beautiful. The display had resources ranging from scholarships, entrepreneurship and grad-guide poems, art, books, laws/policies in New York for immigrant folks, 
 
What advice would you share with current or future students?
I wish to share to undocumented immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers that you deserve higher education. If there are no opportunities available, demand a position or title to open, and create funds to be exclusive for individuals without Social Security numbers. You have the power to take control of your own narrative, immigration journey, and immigration status. Through your own personal experiences, you have so much knowledge already. Always be curious and ask questions, because our livelihood depends on creative solutions and urgency.
 
How would you describe the Colin Powell School in three words?
Colin Powell School is a hub of networks, collaboration, and education.

Tue, 18 Apr 2023 11:18:32 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/26104
Class of 2023 Salutatorian https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/class-2023-salutatorian-0

 

Class of 2023 Salutatorian Kethia Calixte-Sanon

Class of 2023 Salutatorian Kethia Calixte-Sanon

Please share a little about your background — what’s your story?  
 I am a nature loving small town girl from Jacmel, Haiti. My mother and I migrated to the United States in 2011 and I have been a New Yorker ever since. My family has always valued education above all, my teenage years were categorized by the now funny but true idiom ‘Lekòl, Lakay, Legliz’ which translates to ‘School, Home and Church,’ telling the analogous story of first-generation Haitian American teenagers. This traditional and strict background laid the foundation for my academic successes. I attended middle school at the Science and Medicine Middle School and although I spoke little English, I quickly became a top student with the help of my teachers, graduating with honors. The journey continued to high school at the Clara Barton High School for Medical Professions, where I successfully completed their accredited License Practical Nursing program at the age of 17, passed my New York state National Council Licensure Examination, and graduated high school with two diplomas. I always thought that I would end up in the medical field, until college where I decided to break away.
 
What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?
 Growing up in Jacmel, I loved being around people and going on adventures. My parents were educators, and our home was always filled with all kinds of people. My dad held classes for older individuals in our neighborhood, and I often joined in to help them trace letters. This sparked a desire in me to help others. When I came to CCNY, I struggled to choose a major that would allow me to pursue my passions for helping others. After pursuing nursing in high school and realizing it wasn't for me, I wondered how I could prioritize others as a first-generation immigrant. Through various internships and service opportunities, including AmeriCorps, I discovered that my purpose was to be a bridge between community members and organizations, and to apply interdisciplinary approaches to problem-solving. My goal is to support individuals and communities with sustainable, long-term solutions, and my choice of majors and minors reflects this goal.
 
Where are you in your career? How has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?
My time at the Colin Powell School has been brief but meaningful. I came in with interests in Public Policy and Sustainable Development, and over the past four years, they have grown exponentially. I've taken advantage of the opportunities and connections available to students, participating in fellowships and internships such as the Colin Powell Fellowship in Leadership and Public Service, where I was the first recipient of the Stuart and Daphne Wells Public Scholarship; the CUNY Women's Public Policy Internship Program; and the S Jay Levy Fellowship for Future Leaders. I also spent the summer of 2022 interning in Washington DC as a research assistant, focusing on labor movements of the early 20th century. These experiences taught me the importance of people, conversations, and networks. Now, as a graduate with International Development and Psychology majors and minors in Economics and Public Policy, I feel ready to pursue my passions and start my career.
 
What are your post-graduation plans? 
As a Legal Honors Scholar, my aim is to leverage my legal education to drive innovative and sustainable development practices. After taking a gap year, during which I plan to support local and international organizations in their research and resource organization efforts to combat climate breakdown and build resilience, I intend to enroll in law school. My focus on international development is rooted in the belief that the approach to solving complex issues should be multifaceted. It involves empowering local communities and societies while prioritizing sustainability. My experience in Senegal, where I completed a Sustainable Development and Ecovillage Service Learning program, provided me with a unique insight into the communities leading this change. I also worked on an independent study with Dr. Marie Nazon that investigated the effects of water access and REDES wells on the Lahel community. This opportunity enabled me to gather firsthand information on the tangible local, national, and international impacts of community-driven initiatives. During my gap year, I plan to further explore this area to deepen my understanding of community change and policy.
 
Please share a significant memory and/or accomplishment from your time at CCNY. 
One significant memory from my college experience was serving as a Senator for the Undergraduate Student Government. In the fall of 2021, I joined the student government to focus on academic affairs and student engagement on campus. This opportunity allowed me to gain a unique perspective on the CUNY system and the operations of our campus, but what made it truly memorable were the people I met. I had the privilege of working alongside individuals from every school and division of City College, who were passionate about shaping their learning experience and making it better for others. During my term as a Senator, I was able to build new connections and make major contributions to administrative conversations and steps. Serving the student body was an honor and the memories I made during that time will stay with me forever.
 
Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?
There is a piece of advice that I received during my college journey that has stayed with me and proven valuable: "Relax." At first, I didn't take it seriously, but as I prepare to graduate, I realize how important it is. It's easy to get caught up in the present and feel overwhelmed, but as General Powell once said, "It ain't as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning." When my mind starts racing and I'm trying to plan my future or navigate difficult situations, I've learned that taking a step back and slowing down can help me gain perspective. Walking, taking a breather, and giving myself time to rest and recharge have been key to helping me feel more grounded and less anxious.
 
How would you describe CPS in three words? 
Playground for Success.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tue, 18 Apr 2023 11:14:29 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/26103
Class of 2023 Salutatorian https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/class-2023-salutatorian

 

Class of 2023 Salutatorian Shahmir Zaidi

Class of 2023 Salutatorian Shahmir Zaidi


Please tell us about your background?

I have always been a disciplined, highly motivated, and optimistic individual. After finishing high school, I knew I had to explore the world, learn about new cultures, celebrate differences, and improve myself to become a better human being. Hence, I came to the United States from Pakistan with high hopes of not only becoming independent but also exposing myself to a whole new life experience. It was a challenging freshman year in a new college and a completely new city. However, with perseverance and determination, I was able to obtain scholarships, fellowships, and internships in the next three years. I walked the streets of New York, gained valuable experiences and knowledge, and even became the salutatorian. I feel immensely fortunate and appreciate the committee for this honor.
 
Why did you choose CCNY? What brought you to the Colin Powell School?

Choosing to study at CCNY, one of the top three colleges for socio-economic mobility, was a clear choice for me. Being part of the Colin Powell School was an incredible experience. Pursuing Economics as my major and Management & Administration as my minor was the perfect fit for me, and I'm convinced that no other school in CCNY could have provided me with such excellent academic and professional achievements as CPS did. The multitude of exceptional opportunities offered by CPS allowed me to grow professionally and learn something new every week.

What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?

CCNY is an esteemed institution that has a rich history of providing top-notch education to its students. I chose CCNY because of its unwavering commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion. With students hailing from more than 150 countries, CCNY boasts a diverse student body. Furthermore, CCNY has earned a reputation for academic excellence and has had the privilege of producing 12 Nobel Laureates.

How has CPS helped you in your career?

The support I received from the Colin Powell School and the Dean's office has been invaluable throughout my college journey. Thanks to their generous scholarships and fellowships, I was able to pursue my education without financial burden. The school also provided a wide range of internship opportunities that helped me gain practical experience in my field of study. Additionally, I was able to participate in an industry mentor program through the Colin Powell School, which provided valuable guidance in improving my resume, cover letters, and interview skills. I'm grateful for the Dean's office for always encouraging me to push myself and never give up, which ultimately led to me landing a job in my desired field.

What are your post graduate plans?

I graduated in December 2022 and have started working as an Associate Risk Analyst at AIG. I aim to continue working for my company and make a positive impact on my colleagues and the financial services industry. Furthermore, I also aim to create a foundation that works for the welfare of humanity, when I am capable of doing so.

Accomplishments at CCNY?

Getting selected for the Boudreau Fellowship — recognizes two students with outstanding academic achievements who are studying finance — was a huge honor for me. 

What advice would you share with current students?

I would advise believing in oneself at all times, even when everything seems to be going the opposite way. It is important to maintain a positive mindset and have faith that everything will fall into place perfectly when the time comes. Dream big, even if others call you delusional, and work tirelessly to make those dreams a reality. Our dreams are not meant to be realistic until we make them happen. As a dreamer, I believe that every person on this planet has a purpose, and it is our responsibility to find that purpose and make it grow into something amazing that can benefit others.

Living a life for oneself can lead to a lack of motivation, but living a life for others ensures that people around you are happier, healthier, and more inspired. We should all strive to make a positive impact on the world by using our privilege and resources to help those less fortunate. It is our duty and responsibility to ensure that the wealth we generate is circulated in society and used to help those in need, such as providing shelter for the homeless and feeding hungry children.

We all have the power to change the world, but we need to find our purpose, put in the effort, and be the right people when our time comes to shine. We live in a special time with vast resources to solve many problems, including world hunger. We only need the right people to step up and make it happen. So, if you can dream and convince yourself that it will happen, then it's just a matter of time until you see your dreams come to fruition.

How would you describe CPS in three words? 
Opportunity - Diversity - Compassion

Tue, 18 Apr 2023 10:22:56 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/26102
Enjoy the college experience https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/enjoy-college-experience

 

Infinite Clovie

“Enjoy the college experience.” - Infinite Clovie, B.A. Economics, Class of 2025


Growing up in Brooklyn and experiencing first-hand the inequities of New York City’s public school system, Infinite Clovie always dreamed of building a school for students with special needs in his neighborhood. Now that he’s pursuing his degree at CCNY and building his professional network, he hopes to have all the capital instruments he needs to realize that vision.

Please share a little about your background — what's your story?
I grew up in Brooklyn, East New York, with my grandmother and two younger sisters. I did all my grade schooling in my Brooklyn neighborhood. What initially drew me to CCNY was its affordability. It was one of the only schools I could attend without incurring significant debt. And once I visited campus, it sealed the deal for me, especially as I was greeted by the large gates held by the two stone pillars and all the castle-like buildings. I knew this was a place I belonged. I currently work as a finance and operations assistant at the Colin Powell School. I’m involved with The Institute for Responsible Citizenship, which is an intensive leadership development program for talented African American men. I helped create the first executive board within the New York Collegiate Institute of The Institute for Responsible Citizenship; and I currently preside as the Vice President of External Affairs. Once I graduate, my goal is to work at one of the large financial services firms, somewhere like JPMorgan or Morgan Stanley. 
 
What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?
I decided to pursue an economics degree at CCNY to understand the demands of investment clients and offer a range of products curated to their needs. My passion is building a school for special needs students in my neighborhood. Growing up in a district that lacked resources, I noticed the divide between students who needed extra help and those who were prepared. Many schools do not have the funds or the human resources to address the different needs of neurodiverse students, and not everyone has the funding to enroll their children in private tutoring. The education gap compounds when students are pushed through school without learning. This project will take many factors to become a reality, but most importantly, it will take funding! By studying economics, then working in the banking industry, I will have access to the capital instruments needed to mobilize this venture.
 
Where are you in your career? How has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?
The Colin Powell School is helping me reach my career goals in many ways. My economics classes help me understand how different factors affect our economy, and my math classes help me understand how to represent economic shifts with numbers. I started full-time as a finance operations assistant at CPS in June 2022. In this role, I track and manage the school's finances, which includes purchasing, charge reconciliations, budget analysis, physical asset management, and database curation. Along with my role at CPS, I juggle my responsibilities at The Institute for Responsible Citizenship. I was the first student from CCNY to be accepted into the program. Participating in it has allowed me to expand my professional network, and meet practitioners in the financial industry.

Working full-time and taking 15 credits a semester has its challenges, but I think it’s worth it. This summer, I will take time off from work and school to join Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group's investment banking team; I will be a full-time analyst working with various products, including asset-backed securities. Given the strategic alliances between other finance firms and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, I couldn’t be more grateful for an excellent start to my career in investment banking.
 
Please share a significant memory and/or accomplishment from your time at CCNY.
 My most prominent memory at CCNY was in one of my business courses. I presented my business plan, which focused on purchasing large life settlement contracts for investors, managing the contracts, and collecting a service fee. This was my first experience creating a business plan, and I discovered a valuable lesson; if you don't have a plan, you don't have a business—a simple but not always obvious lesson.
 
Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?
The advice I would give to future students is to enjoy the college experience. With work and school, I sometimes forget to slow down and enjoy life, which I am certain is the case for many other students. I am at a college filled with amazing staff and students, though I often do not interact with my peers because I am caught up in work. Working hard is great, but taking a break is sometimes okay.
 
What are your post-graduation plans?
My post-graduation plan is to work on structured financial instruments. I want to begin working as an analyst and move up the career ladder. I plan to continue exploring different options after my first few years with Morgan Stanley, but I know I want to start my career at the firm.
 
How would you describe the Colin Powell School in three words?
"Opportunity for all." I choose these words because your time at CPS depends on you. The classes range from moderate to extremely difficult, with abundant fellowship/internship opportunities available as soon as you begin your first semester. The options here are limitless; it is the student's choice of opportunities to take advantage of. Like many other students, I have participated in many fellowships, including the Edward I. Koch fellowship & David Berk fellowship. These programs are open to anyone; you just must be willing to put in the work.
 

Tue, 14 Mar 2023 13:20:02 -0400 colin powell school https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/25947
The core of what makes us human https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/core-what-makes-us-human
 
Laura Brandt
The core of what makes us human: Psychology Professor Laura Brandt’s commitment to researching substance use disorders

Please share something about your personal and professional background, and what brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School.
I am from Germany and lived in Austria for about 13 years before coming to New York, and my journey here was and is a winding road with many bumps and curves. While I knew that I wanted to become a researcher relatively early on during my graduate studies and my interest in addiction developed soon after, I would have never guessed that this path would lead me here. One important thing to know about Austria is that it’s tiny – the population of Austria is roughly the population of NYC! Consequently, there is very limited research funding, particularly for “niche” fields such as substance use disorder (SUD). For people in North America this may sound outrageous, given that SUDs are such an important public health challenge, but the “opioid epidemic” has affected European countries to a much lesser extent for many – partially complex – reasons (some of which I discuss in my class “Assessment and Treatment of Substance Use Disorders” in the Mental Health Counseling program). Therefore, my growing interest in SUD research, and particularly opioid use disorder and opioid overdose prevention, made it almost inevitable to leave beautiful Vienna and travel across the big pond. A fellowship from the Austrian Science Fund allowed me to do just that. I spent my first three years at Columbia University, in the Department of Psychiatry, and eventually I started craving discussions with fellow psychologists – no offense to psychiatrists! A colleague connected me to a research team at CCNY – Drs. Teresa Lopez-Castro, Adriana Espinosa, and Bob Melara from the Department of Psychology – and I simply loved working with them. I explored ways of spending more time in this creative, dynamic, and diverse space, and lo and behold, the Department of Psychology was hiring Assistant Professors – for the first time in eight years – and I was incredibly fortunate to join their faculty.

How did you decide to pursue a PhD and discover a passion for your field?
I got hooked on research pretty early on in my graduate studies. Through an Abnormal Psychology class, I became interested in alexithymia, a clinical construct manifesting itself in an inability to perceive and describe emotions sufficiently. At the time, only a few experimental studies examined the automatic processing of emotional information in alexithymia – so I set out to do just that. This plan was way overambitious for a thesis, but rather than deterring me, my wonderful mentor Dr. Ulrich Tran – after quite a bit of convincing – invested an enormous amount of time and energy in guiding me through the process of setting up and carrying out my study (if you are interested in the details see here). It took everything that I had to complete this project, but from thereon I was head over heels fallen for science and pursuing a PhD was the logical and necessary next step to work towards a research career. My interest in substance use disorders was fueled by my experiences during my post gradual clinical training which I completed at an addiction treatment center. I still remember sitting with my very first patient and, albeit having absolutely no idea what I was doing, I felt like I was in the perfectly right place. In my view, substance use and substance use disorders touch upon the very core of what makes us human and I cannot think of a more fascinating and daunting scientific pursuit.

Can you please briefly describe your scholarly work and findings? What’s most meaningful to your field – and to you – about your work?
One of my main research interests is in the implementation of interventions for substance use disorders and particularly overdose prevention. Reducing fatal opioid overdoses remains a major challenge for public health. Nonetheless, many opioid overdose deaths are preventable, and programs have been developed where laypersons are given brief education in recognizing the signs of opioid overdose and trained to respond to these situations including the use of naloxone, an opioid “antidote”. We often refer to these programs as “Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution” (OEND). OEND is an effective public health intervention to reduce opioid overdose fatalities. However, in the US as well as in Europe, different services have produced a range of OEND training protocols over the years, varying in their format, content, and level of training. These variations make it difficult to determine which contents are routinely covered in trainings, and to understand how this may influence outcomes, such as overdose knowledge and readiness to respond to an overdose situation. Addressing the question how differences in implementation have influenced outcomes of the intervention is incredibly relevant because it builds a bridge between the laboratory (where interventions such as OEND are developed under controlled conditions) to the real world (where these interventions are then used under “non-controlled” conditions). Interventions may work perfectly in a laboratory context, but fail to benefit people in the real world. Critically evaluating the bridge from laboratory to practice and checking where it may be brittle helps us ensure that we implement evidence-based programs to benefit all who need them. If you are interested in details of my work on the implementation of OEND see here.

Can you say a bit about what you like about CCNY and the Colin Powell School? Perhaps speak to your work with students.
I was overwhelmed by the warm welcome to CCNY and the Colin Powell School, both from the staff and the students. I quickly noticed more signs of a kindness with which people tend to treat each other at CCNY. Just to name one of many examples: It seems to be a universal rule that everyone holds the door for everyone. This does not seem like a big deal, but we are in NYC (you all know what I am talking about) and this seemingly simple act translates into a metaphor: here, no one will slam a door in your face – to the contrary, we will open it for you. To me, this attitude makes CCNY and the Colin Powell School special and it is expressed in a myriad of opportunities offered to students (fellowships, stipends, and other programs) geared towards supporting them in pursuing their individual academic paths toward a career that best fits their unique skillset and interests. It is truly rewarding to be part of this community and after a class filled with inspiring discussions from a highly diverse range of perspectives, I gladly accept an elevator that is overcrowded because the other ones are not working (anyone who occasionally visits the NAC building will know what I am talking about).

Share something about your plans — regarding research, teaching, engagement — for the next couple of years?
I am currently in the process of establishing my own lab at CCNY. For the past few years, I worked in a hospital setting and had patient contact on a daily basis. I still struggle a bit with finding creative solutions for translating my research activities, which used to involve patients, into a public-school setting where it is more difficult to conduct clinical research. However, I cannot wait to work with students and I have no doubt that, together, we will come up with study designs that not only work around but exploit this unique setting to produce new and exciting research.
 

Tue, 14 Mar 2023 13:17:23 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/25944
Pursue your passions and goals, shoot your shot and don't count yourself out https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/pursue-your-passions-and-goals-shoot-your-shot-and-dont-count-yourself-out

 

Jason Santiago

“Pursue your passions and goals, shoot your shot and don't count yourself out”: The Journey of former D.C. Fellow Jason Santiago ‘20 and his path to self-discovery 


Jason Santiago is a second-generation Bronxite and a proud product of the Caribbean Diaspora from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. A passion for giving back to his community along with first-hand experience with struggles of food insecurity, housing instability, and environmental and economic racism motivated Jason to pursue his education at Bronx Community College. There, his involvement in student government introduced him to activism. Driven by this purpose, he devoted his work to community organizing efforts and immersed himself in political campaign spaces at the local, state, and federal levels. Jason currently serves as a College Transition & Success Counselor and urges current students to build networks, skills, and knowledge while in college to help propel their life and career aspirations. 

Where are you from and what is your background story? 
I'm from the South Bronx, I'm the product of a Caribbean diaspora from the islands of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. I grew up in a single-parent household in a family that has lived in the Bronx for two generations. This has shaped my upbringing and worldview on justice and community. Growing up in the early 2000s gave me a special sense of community and also introduced me first-hand to our common struggles of food insecurity, housing instability, and environmental and economic racism. Themes that would follow me later in life when reading and studying gave me the language to describe the structures in place that gave me and my family, our neighbors, and community hurdles to overcome that quite a few of us would fall short of beating.

What brought you to CCNY and to the Colin Powell School?
I decided to join the working people's college and specifically, the Colin Powell School for its strong political science program. I wanted a strong grounding in government theory, philosophies, ideology, and practice.

What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?
My passion has always been giving back to my community and pushing forward the struggles of our past by any means necessary. I have worked in grassroots and institutional forces, and community and political organizing spaces in the pursuit of changing the conditions that I grew up with. Having realized the power structure does not work for communities like mine, I worked to study power in abstract discussions throughout college work and my professional career.

How did City College and/or the Colin Powell School help you to get where you are in your career?
I was a transfer student from Bronx Community College, where I first got involved in student activism and advocacy through student government and the New York Public Research Group. I continued contributing to these groups on the City College campus and gained enough experience to bring my skills and network out into the community. I began working as an intern for a local council member. I eventually went on to volunteer on political campaigns until I gained enough experience to get hired and subsequently worked on several local, state, and federal campaigns. I took classes in community organizing and also interned for the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition in the middle of the pandemic, which exposed me to virtual organizing for the Community Land Trust Movement. In organizing and activist circles, I've been a part of housing organizing efforts and activism in advocacy of Puerto Rican Independence. 

Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your career or time at City College / Colin Powell School that you would like to share?
During my time at City College, I was able to study abroad in Argentina. Right after my return flight, I set out to begin the Washington D.C. program where I studied and interned in the Democratic National Committee under the Association for State Democratic Chairs. These experiences had a profound impact on my political development and where I saw myself moving forward in the near future.

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?
I would urge students to network as much as possible. Being part of a commuter college can be a challenge to socializing in the university space especially when you are working and taking care of other life responsibilities. But, if you can manage to get out to events and meet as many peers, professors, and faculty as possible, it could make a huge difference in your time on campus. Take advantage of all programs and financial assistance as possible to pursue your passions and goals, shoot your shot, and don't count yourself out. These relationships, skills, and knowledge can help propel you forward in your life and career.

What are your future aspirations for your career?
I'm perpetually discovering what I want to do and where I want to contribute my energies. But, the constant is my passion for community and working to improve our conditions of living and relations with one another. Organizing and engaging people with love and respect brings transferable skills that help improve my vision of aspirations for a better community and move with me in all spaces I commit to. There is a lot of work to be done to make a better life for those who are born with extra societal challenges against us, and I hope the intention is to commit to any endeavor that is communally beneficial.
 

Tue, 14 Mar 2023 13:15:48 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/25945
“Motivation comes from knowing the end goal.” https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/motivation-comes-knowing-end-goal

 

Heather Stewart“Motivation comes from knowing the end goal.”

As a single mom of three, Heather Stewart forged her path to the United States with hopes of making a difference in the lives of her family and serving as a change agent for her community. Now that all her children have graduated from college, Stewart is putting herself back on course to make her dreams a reality. With a dual degree in Psychology and Business Management, Stewart hopes to start a new career in the financial sector. As a transfer from BMCC, Stewart took part in our inaugural cohort of Bridges to Success, an onboarding course for new transfer students that explores the history of student power and activism at CCNY, and ways to leverage the college experience for personal and professional success. She was chosen to serve as one of the school’s first Student Success Guides, a peer mentoring initiative intended to support new students as they start their career at CCNY, and now works as a private house manager, supervising estate employees and contractors and managing its monthly budget to maintain daily operations. As she plans her next steps after college, Stewart hopes to continue her education with a master’s program after getting work experience, and to inspire young women and single mothers to pursue their own passions and find their purpose.

 

Please share a little about your background — what’s your story?

I was born on the Caribbean Island of Jamaica from a small town tucked away in the parish of St. Catherine. The memory of landing in the United States at the tender age of twenty remains vivid in my mind. I had big dreams for myself. I wanted to attend college — be someone important and change the lives of my family — but I soon became a young single mom. With motherhood now my reality, I quickly realized that I had to put my dreams on the backburner and serve my children’s dreams, ensuring their success through education. All three of my children are now holding degrees (my eldest got her MBA from Michigan State, second daughter received a BA in Psychology from the University of Bridgeport, and the last is pursuing a Law degree at Columbia). Now that they’re all adults, I can put myself back on the path of making my dreams a reality. Before attending CCNY, I received an associate degree from BMCC in Business Administration, and I will finish my dual degree program in Psychology and Business Management this spring. The resounding note in my house is to value education because it is the great equalizer, as with education we can close so many gaps. 

  

What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?

The passion of changing lives still runs through my veins. I see myself speaking and inspiring an audience of untapped potentials. I know there is a young mother out there with a dream, but her reality is daunting. I know there is a woman out there with the desire of wanting to capture her dream of an education, but school seems intimidating. I speak to that young mother and that woman because I am her. If I can do it, so can you! Securing my bachelors from CCNY has opened opportunities far beyond my imagination. The challenges of being a non-traditional student can be overwhelming and intimidating. But here at CCNY, the diverse environment, the reassuring staff, and my wonderful classmates allow me to be myself. I can thrive here because of my professors and my peers, and by engaging in school life. 

 

Where are you in your career? How has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?

I’d like to shift my career to the financial sector. I currently work as a house manager where I supervise employees and manage the estate’s budget, but I recently interviewed with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Healthfirst.  Having the opportunity to interview with these institutions comes from the support system I have at the Collin Powell school, and through other offices like Future in Finance (FiF), the Career and Professional Development Institute (CPDI), and connecting with professors like Sarah Dyer Dana, the new Leader-in-Residence who teaches Fundamentals of Business and Leadership Communications. 

 

What are your post-graduation plans? 

With my undergraduate degree journey coming to an end, the desire to keep pursuing higher education is at the top of my to do list. I plan on applying to a Master’s in Business at Baruch College with a concentration in Financial Analytics. However, before graduate school I plan on working for a year so as to gain industry experience. In years to come, I also plan on establishing a foundation for young mothers to assist them with finding their purpose and voices. 

 

Please share a significant memory and/or accomplishment from your time at CCNY.

So many memories and experiences, but two stand out. I remember applying for the Student Success Guide (SSG) mentorship program. It was a new program at the time that was seeking students to mentor incoming freshmen and transfer students and to ease them into college life. Securing the position gave me the ability to work with fellow incoming students and navigate the challenges of college. As a mentor, I also had the wonderful experience of working on the team with Cynthia Gutierrez, Director for Mentoring and Alumni Relations. She has taught me how to lead in a gentle but impactful way, and I will apply her leadership style throughout my life. SSG taught me how to collaborate with younger people and to serve people with genuine fears and trepidations of a new environment. I also remember registering for Bridges to Success with Professor James Suggett, which was one of my first classes at the Colin Powell School. I really enjoyed the experience, and his feedback reassured me of my decision to further my education and to keep striving for excellence. 

 

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

Put in the work, study hard, make use of the resources and enjoy the ride. Two to four years will go by quickly. Make sure at the end of your time here at CCNY you hold no regrets. The school is loaded with resources, you will find them in posters around the campus, in the professors, the tutors, and all the offices filled with individuals yearning to help you succeed.  Know that working hard has its rewards. I leave a quote with you, “Motivation comes from knowing the end goal.” Remembering why you started will get you to the finish line successfully. 

 

How would you describe CPS in three words? 

Inclusive, diverse, and resourceful. From my first encounter as a non-traditional student, the Colin Powell School has embraced me with open arms. The faces I see in my various classes are from different backgrounds. This speaks to the schools’ ability to ensure that there is a place and resource for every student.

Thu, 16 Feb 2023 10:43:36 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/25835
Visiting Fulbright Scholar Margo Groenewoud brings new Caribbean insights to CUNY DSI https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/visiting-fulbright-scholar-margo-groenewoud-brings-new-caribbean-insights

 

Dr. Margo GroenewoudVisiting Fulbright Scholar Margo Groenewoud brings new Caribbean insights to CUNY DSI

Originally from the Netherlands, Margo Groenewoud has lived in the Dutch Caribbean for more than 15 years. There she obtained her PhD, developed herself as a teacher, and discovered the Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence program, which ultimately brought her to CCNY. In this position, Groenewoud focuses on research, guest lecturing and digital humanities, bringing her expertise on the Dutch Caribbean in the context of trans-Caribbean history and Caribbean Studies. Groenewoud aims to raise awareness of the intertwined histories of New York City and the Caribbean: “Just take a walk here in the neighborhood and count all things Dutch or Dominican, just for a  start. And there is so much more that doesn’t meet the eye!” The Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence program aims to bring new insights and practices to the US and endow the scholars with experiences they bring to their home communities, while strengthening relationships between different institutions. 

Tell us about your professional, personal, and academic backgrounds.
Originally, I am from the Netherlands but I have lived in the Dutch Caribbean for over 15 years now. I studied history at Leiden University, doing my thesis on a comparative study in colonial history. After that, I wanted to gain work experience in a variety of places, so I left academia thinking I would never return…  In 2007 I moved to Curaçao in the Dutch Caribbean and started to work there as Library Director at the University of the Netherlands Antilles (now University of Curaçao). It was there that I started to feel that I belonged in academia. Long story short, I obtained my PhD degree, continued to publish and develop myself as a teacher, and then last year received major support for my scholarship through a CUNY Dominican Studies Institute (DSI) Fellowship and a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence grant.


What projects have you worked on prior to City College that you are most proud of?
Frankly, when I started my PhD research, I never ever imagined an academic career as viable, thinking I could never compete with the ‘young generation.’ Then one day I met someone who had done exactly that in her (late) forties, and that really changed my attitude and my life. In that context, publishing in the amazing Small Axe Caribbean journal of criticism in 2021 was a major achievement and something I still feel very proud of, mostly because of the originality of the piece. I found my voice and an audience for it – that felt amazing.  

 
How did you find yourself ending up at CCNY? 
A friend and former DSI Research Fellow, Dr. Sheridan Wigginton, suggested getting in touch with CUNY DSI when I was preparing a new research project on Dutch-Spanish Caribbean affairs. I had a very nice and fruitful zoom conversation with DSI Librarian Sarah Aponte, who showed genuine interest and offered great support. We remained in touch and eventually applied for the Fulbright with the institutional support of Dean Dr. Andrew Rich of the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership, and of course Dr. Ramona Hernandez, CUNY DSI director. Knowing the odds for getting a Fulbright, I successfully applied for a DSI Research Fellowship. Then in May came the news that I was also awarded the Fulbright.  

 
How are you affiliated with the Fulbright program? 
I take part in the Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence program, which is a program for non-US scholars to work in a US institute for higher education for one or two semesters, and to bring new insights and practices to the US. Also of course, this program intends that you learn new things here that you will bring back to your home community, and aims at building sustaining relationships between institutions.


What are your primary responsibilities as the Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence? 
In my case, the emphasis is on research, (guest) lecturing and Digital Humanities. The output relevant to teaching will be through a publication (DSI Research Monograph) and developing Digital Humanities and teaching materials. I will guest lecture in a variety of places and for different audiences, which will be of major importance for fine-tuning my writing and teaching. I hope to continue my relationship with the CUNY community and CCNY as guest lecturer and in projects, bringing in my expertise on the Dutch Caribbean in the context of trans-Caribbean history and Caribbean Studies where needed.


What initiatives have you been working on?
Apart from the lecturing activities already mentioned, we also started a Round Table Conversations on Digital Humanities in Caribbean Studies that will continue in the coming months. DSI Library has developed a broad and very interesting offering of Digital Scholarship. The idea of this conversation series is to make connections with relevant partners and scholars, and to bring the discussion on Digital Humanities – which is mostly project-based – to a higher and strategic level. Also, I take part in some of the very interesting grant proposals being developed by DSI, in particular some relevant to heritage and education.


What are your overall impressions of CCNY and CPS in the time you’ve been here?
More than expected, I feel very much at home. I come from a small Caribbean island university where we teach mostly first generation students from all sorts of backgrounds. Though the Harlem ‘vibe’ is unique, the university population feels very similar to that of my home institute. The challenges relative to being a public school, such as non-functioning elevators, are also very relatable. Having said that, having all these amazing research facilities - such as the libraries and the offering of workshops and lectures - make me feel like being in a research candy store. Coming from an island that suffered major economic recessions in the past decade, the contrast in material wealth and facilities is substantial. To have so much research material available at your fingertips, online but also through the support of the DSI librarians, and being surrounded by so many interesting scholars, has had a major influence on the quality and efficiency of my research. 


What do you hope to accomplish in your time as the Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence?
Apart of course from my scholarly output, I hope to have supported raising awareness and building knowledge about how intertwined the history of New York City and its population is with the history of the Caribbean, and in particular with the Dominican Republic and the Dutch Caribbean. These histories for centuries have intersected and intertwined. Just take a walk here in the neighborhood and count all things Dutch or Dominican, just for a start. And there is so much more that doesn’t meet the eye! There are so many amazing stories to tell, and I would love to continue discovering and telling these stories together with my colleagues and friends here at CCNY. 
 

Tue, 24 Jan 2023 09:55:45 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/25658
The Lewis Mandell Memorial Fund for Students of Economics https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/lewis-mandell-memorial-fund-students-economics

 

 

Lewis MandellThe Lewis Mandell Memorial Fund for Students of Economics


The Lewis Mandell Memorial Fund for Students of Economics was established in tribute to Lewis Mandell (1943-2019), a 1964 graduate of City College of New York who credited CCNY, and specifically the Economics Department, with giving him the strong foundation from which he launched an extraordinary academic career that spanned more than four decades. 


Throughout his life, Lew helped countless students to achieve academic success and a chance to pursue their dreams. In gratitude to CCNY and the Economics Department, Lew’s wish was to assist today’s CCNY students in the pursuit of their futures by creating an endowment to assist undergraduate economics majors with their most urgent financial needs.


Lewis Mandell was an exceptional person with the breadth of knowledge and the curiosity of a Renaissance Man. He was an academic, a writer, a pilot, an inventor, an innovator, a life-long tennis player, and a world traveler. He had a great sense of humor. And perhaps most important, he was always a kind and considerate person. 


Lew was an outstanding teacher, specializing in investments and valuation at the graduate and undergraduate levels. He won countless teaching awards over the years, including the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2008.
Lew is well known as one of the founding fathers of financial literacy research. Part of his work included his creation of MoneySKILL, a free, interactive online financial education curriculum. By 2019, MoneySKILL had reached more than one million users in the United States and in forty countries. As a result of his financial literacy research and work, he received the William E. Odem Visionary Leadership Award, the nation’s leading award in financial literacy.


During Lew’s career, he held professorships at a number of leading universities and served as Dean of Business at Marquette University and the State University of New York at Buffalo. He taught in MBA programs and banking programs in China, India, Singapore, Israel, and Kuwait. He was the author of 22 books and numerous scholarly articles. He spoke nationally and internationally on consumer and investor financial literacy and education; hosted radio call-in programs on investments and entrepreneurship in two major radio markets; and served as an outside director of a publicly-traded corporation. He testified before Congress four times and was a guest on numerous nationally-broadcast television and radio programs. In addition to his scholarly articles, he was published in The New York Times, Fortune Magazine, and The Economist, to name just a few.


Lew cared deeply for his students, and devoted his career to helping and guiding them. Many of Lew’s students continued to talk with Lew, write to Lew, and visit Lew long after their graduations. So great was the devotion he inspired, that on Mother’s Day a year after Lew’s passing, a group of past students who are now professionals on Wall Street designated a spokesperson to call Lew’s wife to wish her a happy Mother’s Day from all of them, and to tell her, yet again, how much they missed Lew’s caring and guidance.


This Endowment is a tribute to Lew’s lifelong devotion to students and his abiding gratitude to the Economics Department and to City College of New York.

Tue, 24 Jan 2023 09:42:38 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/25657
Importance of Higher Education https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/importance-higher-education

 


Kyara ValdezImportance of Higher Education - Economics Major Kyara Valdez

Born and raised in Washington Heights, Kyara Valdez says that her family – originally from the Dominican Republic – stressed the importance of knowledge and education. Valdez discovered a passion for economics in high school when her family was confronting their own financial struggles. At CCNY, Valdez has strengthened this passion as a Santander Finance Fellow – a new initiative launched by the Colin Powell School to train its highest performing students to be leaders in the finance industry. Valdez has interned at Barclays’ prime brokerage team, and works with the Science Information Technology team at CCNY. Outside of school and her co-curricular activities, she started an at-home bakery in 2021, “Sweets by Kyara,” that you can follow on Instagram. Valdez hopes to use her skills to make a difference and ensure that those around her know how to manage their finances effectively. Her advice for future students is to stay positive, even when things do not seem to be going the way as planned, and to not be afraid to ask for help. 

Please share a little about your background — what’s your story?  
I am a senior majoring in Economics with a concentration in Finance and a minor in Management and Administration. I was born and raised in Washington Heights with two older siblings. My parents immigrated from the Dominican Republic and have always reminded us of the importance of getting an education. My father always told me, “Mija, remember, the one thing no one can take away from you is your knowledge and education, so be sure to always do your best in school.” My interest in economics began during high school after taking my first economics course. Learning how the decisions of the economy affect our everyday lives piqued my interest in the field, specifically financial economics. Over the past four years, I have been able to narrow down my career focus to analysis as I have always had a love for mathematics and general management. I have also worked with the information technology (IT) team on campus as an assistant since my freshman year. When I am not in school, I run my small business that I started back in January 2021: an at-home bakery called “Sweets By Kyara.” 

What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?
Growing up, my parents didn’t have the means to pursue a higher education, so they always stressed the need for a college education and fulfilling the American Dream. At some point, my mother decided that she wanted to set an example and not ask for something she didn’t have herself, and went back to school to get her bachelor’s degree. She inspired me to work hard and graduate as valedictorian of my high school before CCNY. My family's lack of financial knowledge – whether it be maintaining a credit score or the negative effects of past due bills – served as a catalyst in my decision to pursue finance. I’d like to use my skills that I’ve honed in and out of the classroom to make a difference and ensure that my family and others around me manage their finances effectively.

How has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?
I currently work part-time on campus with the Science Information Technology (IT) team providing tech support for the division and performing administrative tasks. The Colin Powell School has been an incredible help along the way as I gained experience in finance through the Santander Finance Fellowship – a program that helps future finance professionals gain exposure to the industry and its business areas. I was fortunate to be paired with an amazing mentor, Belen Alonso Robles, who taught me about her role in credit risk and its impact on the macro level. Belen helped me grow my professional network and introduced me to key professionals at Santander. Last summer, I interned at Barclays with the prime brokerage team. It was amazing to learn about all the types of services that the firm offers to hedge funds and other investment clients. I will continue to run my at-home bakery, but I enjoy having the flexibility to work on ‘Sweets by Kyara,’ especially when I need an escape from work and classes. 

What are your post-graduation plans? 
I am currently applying for analyst positions in different finance functions such as underwriting and portfolio management. I’d also like to continue educating myself about personal finances, especially with credit building and home buying, so I can share my learnings with others. 

Please share a significant memory and/or accomplishment from your time at CCNY. 
Being awarded the finance fellowship was a total shock because there wasn’t a formal application process. Selection is solely based on how well you perform in the finance bootcamp compared to the rest of the class. Luckily enough, I did really well and was offered one of the 12 spots for the program. I jumped at the opportunity because I knew it would help grow my network, challenge me academically and support the remainder of my studies here. Being able to start my professional career without any debt feels like a huge accomplishment, and I am beyond grateful for it. 

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it! You never know who you will meet and how they will impact your life. There are a countless number of individuals I have met during my time at CCNY and CPS and all of them have left a significant impression. Stay positive, even when things do not seem to be going your way or going as planned. Sometimes life has something better in store than you could’ve imagined for yourself. Just be sure that you enjoy whatever it is that you are doing.

How would you describe CPS in three words?
Unique, Powerful, and Determined. I think what makes CPS stand out amongst other universities is its academic advising and ability to support those in need. I am so proud to have found such an amazing school. It’s one of a kind and puts in every effort to see its students succeed.
 

Tue, 24 Jan 2023 09:30:27 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/25656
Using Interdisciplinary Research to Address Social Problems in the Global South and the U.S. https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/using-interdisciplinary-research-address-social-problems-global-south-and-us

 

Prabal DeNew Economics Chair Prabal De: Using Interdisciplinary Research to Address Social Problems in the Global South and the U.S.

As a high school student in Kolkata, India, Professor Prabal De took interest in the writings of the renowned Indian economist Amartya Sen. After completing his undergraduate studies in economics, he came to the U.S. and completed a Ph.D. in economics at NYU. Having grown up amidst the immense cultural diversity of India, he now considers himself an adopted New Yorker. As an economist, he has pursued a level of interdisciplinary research uncommon to the field, drawing links between poverty, inequality, mental health, education, and more both in Global South countries and among marginalized groups within the U.S. After a decade of teaching the principles of macroeconomics, his enthusiasm for explaining the major economics headlines of the day hasn’t waned in the slightest. Professor De looks forward to forging new institutional and community partnerships as the new chair of the Economics and Business Department at the Colin Powell School.

Please share something about your personal and professional background, and what brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School.
 
I grew up in Kolkata, a colonial, cosmopolitan city rich in diversity and cultural history. I briefly lived in New Delhi, India’s capital, while completing my master’s degree. Although my life in Delhi exposed me to the kaleidoscope of broader Indian culture and customs, where people speak dozens of languages, eat, dress, and socialize in many ways, I never felt at home there. I did feel at home in NYC immediately, though. I came here in 2002 to start my Ph.D. in Economics at NYU and never left. I live in the City with my wife and twin daughters, and consider myself an adopted New Yorker.
 
How did you decide to pursue a Ph.D. and discover a passion for your field?
 
I have been studying economics for a (perhaps embarrassingly) long time. I did my undergraduate at Presidency College, Calcutta, which has produced many prominent economists, including two Nobel laureates. Although I knew very little about economics in high school, I was influenced by some of the writings of one of them, Amartya Sen. I also understood at a rudimentary level that economics combines the rigor of hard science with the more fluid curiosity of disciplines like philosophy. During my graduate studies in Delhi, I interacted with a large swath of economics practitioners — academics, government policymakers, economists working in the private sector, and researchers in think tanks. I realized that I wanted to do independent research, exploring, in particular, the causes and consequences of poverty. I was fortunate to have a couple of mentors who advised me to apply to some of the top U.S. universities, and NYU made an offer with a generous fellowship.

Can you please briefly describe your scholarly work and findings? What’s most meaningful to your field — and to you — about your work?

I am a bit of a maverick when it comes to research. Modern economists are generally hyper-specialized. My work, on the other hand, is extremely interdisciplinary. My early work was in development economics, which examines economic issues like poverty, inequality, and lack of access to health and education in low-income countries of the world. But early in my career at CCNY, I realized that, unfortunately, some of these issues ail large parts of American society too. Fortuitously, a couple of collaborations happened with my colleagues at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) through a National Cancer Institute grant. We jointly examined the economic aspects of health inequality, particularly in cancer care. That work expanded into larger works on health inequality and discrimination. For example, some of my work shows how patients who feel discriminated against not only based on race/ethnicity but also gender, gender identity, and immigration status report lower physical and mental health outcomes.
 
Can you say a bit about what you like about CCNY and the Colin Powell School? Perhaps speak to your work with students.

I am very grateful to my department for supporting my interdisciplinary work, particularly in my early days as a junior scholar. And now, the Colin Powell School has assembled an amazing group of scholars that share many of my research interests, such as health justice and immigration. I am still an economist at my core, though. I have been teaching principles of macroeconomics for over ten years now and still get excited to explain headline items to my students — inflation, unemployment, GDP, the Federal Reserve. And my research is linked. If you study economics, you will learn great tools to analyze many societal problems in a rigorous, often evidence-based way. It is a unique discipline. For example, in a recent paper, my student and I showed how the Great Recession of 2008 increased mental health problems, and drinking.
 
Share something about your plans — regarding research, teaching, engagement — for the next couple of years?

I have just been elected as Chair of the Department of Economics and Business, for which I feel humbled and honored. I will devote a significant amount of my energy to the service of my students and colleagues. I do plan to continue my research and mentoring and complete the projects I am pursuing with my collaborators, particularly my former Ph.D. students. On the research front, I will continue to explore themes in health economics, such as links between education and health, the benefits of expanded access to insurance, and policies that promote economic and health equity. I just submitted two big federal grants jointly with my collaborator MSKCC. Keeping my fingers crossed.
 
What would you want to make sure everyone knows about what makes the Colin Powell School special?
 
I plan to focus on creating robust collaborations with an array of partners: academics, community, government, etc. It will involve a multi-pronged strategy. Some examples of such a strategy would involve overhauling our website to make it more informative, reaching out to high school counselors in our area to let them know about the fantastic things happening at CPS, and working with the CCNY media office to promote the innovative work of CPS among the wider public. Through different collaborations, we can ensure that a wide range of stakeholders appreciate CPS's uniqueness.
 

Mon, 12 Dec 2022 15:28:36 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/25541
Explores How Countries Reckon with Legacies of Genocide https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/explores-how-countries-reckon-legacies-genocide

 

Dirk MosesProfessor Dirk Moses Explores How Countries Reckon with Legacies of Genocide

In this interview, Dirk Moses, the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor of International Relations, reflects on his upbringing in Australia, his studies in both Australia and the United States, and his current work as a member of the Colin Powell School community. He recalls being politicized after seeing the Australian government oppress indigenous people, crush labor movements, and promote extractivist environmental policies. This drove him to study politics, history, and law and eventually to become an expert in the study of genocide. His work on Germany’s reckoning with its Nazi past has led him to explore how countries like Australia and the United States can reckon with their own settler colonial and genocidal legacies. Most recently, Professor Moses has published commentary online about the Ukraine war. Regarding the Colin Powell School community, he says: “I've been here only a few months but it is already apparent to me that the CPS is special for offering transformative opportunities for students and faculty.”

Please share something about your personal and professional background, and what brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School. How did you decide to pursue a Ph.D. and discover a passion for your field?

My generation of Queenslanders was politicized by gerrymandered rightwing governments, which oppressed Indigenous people and the labor movement while pillaging the environment. In response, I studied politics, history, and law in my combined five-year arts/law degree (which is possible in Australia). As political ideas and movements grabbed my attention, I moved to the U.S. for graduate school at Notre Dame and UC Berkeley where I developed an intense interest in how West Germany dealt with its Nazi past. I eventually translated this interest to the Australian context: how does a settler colony reckon with its genocidal pasts and decolonize? I am still asking that question. I know Americans are too.

Can you please briefly describe your scholarly work and findings? What’s most meaningful to your field--and to you--about your work?

While working on German intellectuals and the Nazi past, I began working on the history of genocide in colonial contexts. With colleagues, we tried to effect a “colonial turn” in the field, which has succeeded to some extent. Throughout that work, I observed how difficult it is for groups to successfully claim they have been victims of genocide: the bar was set too high. So I wrote a book about how that bar came to be conceived as the “crime of crimes.” Obviously, this field is affect-laden: the subject matter of this field is not only of a theoretical interest.

Can you say a bit about what you like about CCNY and the Colin Powell School?

The Colin Powell School and City College are renowned institutions: a community of world-class scholars and students. The alumni board in the NAC attests to our illustrious graduates, many from the social sciences housed in the Colin Powell School. I also like the centrality of the teaching mission here.

Please share something about your plans — regarding research, teaching, engagement — for the next couple of years.

I am now back to writing about Germany and Holocaust memory, this time in relation to its more diverse population. This work is part of a book about traumatic memories and genocidal subjectivities called “Genocide and the Terror of History.” Additionally, I have been writing online essays on the Ukraine war in relation to the question of genocide and possible peace solutions. In doing so, I am fortunate to benefit from the advice of colleagues in the Colin Powell School.

What would you want to make sure everyone knows about what makes the Colin Powell School special?

I've been here only a few months but it is already apparent to me that the CPS is special for offering transformative opportunities for students and faculty. Education at its best is a transformative experience for all of us: by inviting us out of our intellectual comfort zones and the necessary material conditions for serious learning (quiet spaces) and career advancement (internships).
 

Mon, 12 Dec 2022 15:19:00 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/25539
Be Bold, Humble, and Resilient in Pursuit of Your Passions https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/be-bold-humble-and-resilient-pursuit-your-passions

 

Kazi TejwarKazi Tejwar: Be Bold, Humble, and Resilient in Pursuit of Your Passions
 

Kazi Tejwar’s commitment to public service began when he was just six years old. A child of Bengali immigrants, Tejwar and his family experienced the devastating impact of the 2008 financial crash followed that same year by the hope and inspiration of Barack Obama’s ascendance to the presidency. Since then, his interest in policy and his passion for serving his community has only grown. As a double major in political science and sociology, Tejwar has interned for NYPIRG, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, and Amnesty International USA, and he was elected vice president of the student government at CCNY. His proudest accomplishment as VP is to have spearheaded the effort to open CCNY as an early voting site, thereby expanding voter access in Harlem as a direct rebuke of the attacks on voting rights nationwide. Tejwar’s advice to future students is to be courageous in the pursuit of their passions, reach out to Colin Powell School staff and professors for help, and be bold, humble, and resilient — words he says describe the school itself.

Please share a little about your background — what’s your story?   
 
I was born and raised in Flatbush, and I’m a product of two Bengali immigrants. I was six when the 2008 financial crash happened, and it served as a major financial setback for my family. My earliest experience with politics was when Barack Obama became President that year, and I was deeply inspired by who he was and his message of hope and change during such a tumultuous time. Growing up, I’ve become more passionate about being involved with public service and helping people due to my early childhood experiences. I’ve been involved with progressive causes since high school. First I served as a volunteer for the Elizabeth Warren presidential campaign. I came to CCNY on Excelsior, and I’ve been fortunate enough to intern for NYPIRG, work in Student Government, advocate for voting rights, be a Colin Powell fellow, and now organize with Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) and intern for Congressman Hakeem Jeffries.  
 
What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?
 
My passion has always been to help people, and I’ve had an interest in politics for the longest time. I originally started off my freshman year as a political science major, and it wasn’t until the spring semester of that year that I decided to take on sociology as well. My Sociology 101 professor at the time, Gwen Dordick, was always encouraging during office hours, and she helped me realize that sociology was a good fit for me because I’m a policy-oriented person. I try to use my studies to match my values as a person, to help find solutions to problems and seek answers that can sometimes be uncomfortable to know.
 
Where are you in your career? How has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?

I’m currently a community organizing coordinator for Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), and I intern for Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, the new Democratic leader in the US House of Representatives. I genuinely don’t think I’d be here right now if it weren’t for the Colin Powell School and everyone who works there. In college, I first started off by interning and organizing with NYPIRG, but I wouldn’t have been able to find this internship if I had not gone to Professor Karen Struening, the internship coordinator for the Political Science Department, and asked for help. I later got involved with Student Government, where I eventually became Vice President of Campus Affairs, and the Colin Powell School helped me with a lot of on-campus initiatives that I was spearheading, like the John Lewis Initiative to open the campus as an early voting site, and increasing student and civic engagement as a whole.
 
I recently became a Colin Powell fellow in Leadership and Public Service, and that has opened a million doors for me. I was connected with folks at Amnesty International because of guest speakers at the seminars. I took the chance of approaching one of the speakers who worked for Amnesty. I really appreciate Debbie Cheng for organizing these events and for working so hard to present these opportunities. I landed my internship with Hakeem Jeffries because of her and Dally Matos’s help in the process, and I can say right now that I’m really having the best experience I can get because of the Colin Powell staff. A huge shout out to the Office of Student Success team for working so hard to help us chase opportunities!
 
What are your post-graduation plans? 
 
After graduation, I hope to stay involved with nonprofit work dedicated to addressing problems that are affecting our communities, and I want to get more involved in the policy arena — because it all comes down to policy. I hope that I can end up going to law school, but I think it’s best to take some time off and get more experience with public service work. 
 
Please share a significant memory and/or accomplishment from your time at CCNY. 
 
My proudest accomplishment during my time at City College was launching the John Lewis Initiative to open campus up as an early voting site. Voting rights is an issue that I am deeply passionate about, and I couldn’t take what was happening after the 2020 election, where the big lie was running rampant like wildfire and states were passing voter suppression laws. That’s why I decided to act and launch the John Lewis Initiative. Harlem, for a long time, has had one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the city. With everything else going on around the country on this issue, I thought that we should follow suit with other campuses in the city and open ours up as an early voting site. As Vice President of Campus Affairs last year, I launched the John Lewis Initiative, and I worked with the school’s administration and the Manhattan Board of Elections (BOE) to see that get done. I’m grateful for President Boudreau, and the entire school administration, for showing support on the issue because it sent a message that students, faculty, and administration can work together on pressing issues — big or small. For months, we were able to maintain a triangular line of communication between us, the administration, and the Manhattan BOE to see us officially become an early voting site by the June 2022 primaries. Because of our work, City College is now an official early voting site, where 3,000 residents and Harlem now have easier access to vote. Don’t get me wrong: The fight isn’t over yet. States are still passing voter suppression laws, and unless Congress passes the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act with the Freedom to Vote Act, in tandem, we’re left to save our democracy on our own.  
 
Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

Show up, do the work, and never give up. It’s important for all of us to follow our passions, no matter what they may be, so always try to take advantage of the opportunities given to you to go on the route you want to be on. Be prepared to take risks and chances, and though some things might not go according to plan, you come back from those situations stronger and more resilient with better opportunities waiting for you. We're always going to have the moments where we feel defeated, but what matters most out of anything is how we carry ourselves, grow into better people, and learn how we can be the best version of ourselves.

You can be who you want to be right now, and you can start from the simplest things. Go start a conversation with someone about the amazing ideas you have. Go to the Office Hours for classes that interest you and find ways to get involved in that interest. Go talk to someone from the Office of Student Success about your career goals and seek help. Don’t be afraid to step into the fire and always know your worth as a person. You can do it! 

How would you describe CPS in three words? 

Strong, humble, and resilient. Those three words represent the values of this school — from students to faculty — and it perfectly represents the silver lining in all our stories. If you talk to anyone in the Colin Powell School community, you will hear stories that inspire you. We are a community of humble beginnings, and we were not born with a silver spoon in our mouth; each one of us has struggled in the past, and we have all come back stronger in the end. We use our experiences to channel the value of being my brother's keeper to look out for one another, and that’s something you can’t find anywhere else.

Mon, 12 Dec 2022 15:15:44 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/25538
Combining Dentistry and Humanitarianism https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/combining-dentistry-and-humanitarianism


Nini Puello AraujoHow Nini Puello Araujo, CPS Student and U.S. Military Veteran, Is Combining Dentistry and Humanitarianism

Since her family migrated to the US from Venezuela when she was a child, Nini J. Puello Araujo has built a career in service to society both as a U.S. Army veteran and as a rising humanitarian and public health professional. After completing her associate’s degree at Borough of Manhattan Community College, she joined the Army and served overseas for more than five years. One of her final missions was to set up a dental services clinic in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, an experience that ignited her passion for public health and humanitarianism.

“I came back… with my heart in my hands and I knew what I had to do next,” Puello Araujo said.

She enrolled at City College and declared a double major in Biology and Political Science, with her sights set on a career in dentistry and public health. Reflecting on her non-linear career and educational path, she encourages future students to recognize the value in transferable skills gained from diverse experiences.

Please share a little about your background — what’s your story? 

I am just like the many people that walk the streets of NYC every day. I am an immigrant, Latina woman of color in search of a good, honest life. My sister and I arrived in NY on December 22, 1998. I will never forget it. My mother was already here waiting for us to arrive after our green cards got approved. We were lucky because President Chavez in Venezuela had just been elected and I feel like we evaded that danger, and for that we’ve always felt lucky. In NY that December, it was so cold, but we were excited.

We moved into Flushing, Queens. I was eight years old and for a while there we moved around quite a bit, but eventually, we settled. My third school became the place I remember the most, PS 107, the greatest little elementary school. I did not know it then, but that was the school that had the biggest impact on my life. I learned I could do anything there, one of those things was play basketball, such an American thing. I grew up, finally got to high school, went to prom, graduated, and went to college. College was definitely something I never dreamed about in the way I think my classmates did, but I always knew it was the next step, because it was so important to my parents. My mother never graduated high school. Instead she went to a technical school and started working young. My father went to one semester of college but never followed through because he had to work to take care of himself. My parents were both from hard-working families with very little. This did not keep them from aiming for more through my sister and me. The disciplinarian at home is my mother. She is the big dreamer. She and my father did the best they could to raise us here in the United States with little English, little education, but a strong work ethic. 

College was my only choice because they worked hard to make sure we didn’t have to quit school and work like they had to. My sister also attended CUNY. She went to John Jay College, and I wasn’t sure of how to get where I was going, so I went to BMCC where I could take my time to figure it out. After achieving my Associates Degree from BMCC I took interest in the U.S. Military through the influence of a friend, and one day, during a quick visit with him, I entered a recruitment office, took the ASVAB pre-test and did very well. After one day of just thinking about it, I joined. I left home on March 12, 2013, swore in and was shipped out to Basic Training in Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, and later Advanced Training in San Antonio, Texas. From there I was immediately sent overseas to South Korea and then continued on to Bavaria, Germany for the next four and half years. I spent almost five and half years away from the U.S. 

I grew a lot in the military. I gained many skills and I reinforced many of the ones I was raised with. I learned how to lead, but most importantly I earned a sense of belonging. My active-duty time was an amazing experience, and I wouldn’t change anything I did. I gained many mentors along the way, including two I still look to for guidance even today, and many buddies whom I remain close with. I also left with more education than I ever thought I would receive, including my Dental Assistant certification and Dental Hygienist certification amongst many others that complement my field of work. For the last 9 months of my contract, I was shipped to San Antonio, Texas which is the medical hub for the U.S. Armed Forces. There I had my most life changing opportunity where I completed a humanitarian mission with Southern Command to Tegucigalpa Honduras with Joint Task Bravo’s DENRETE mission. I came back to the U.S. after those two weeks with my heart in my hands and I knew what I had to do next. When it came time for me to re-up my contract or go into the Reserves, I knew that there was something I needed to do to feel fulfilled and that was to pursue my career goals in dentistry. I decided to enter a new contract with the reserves so I could come back home and go to school without any breaks. I know I will go back on Active Duty soon, but my hopes are to return under a different capacity and serve as a dentist. 
 
Why did you choose CCNY? What brought you to CPS?

I chose CCNY because my best friend and I were supposed to go to school there together and when I decided to go back to school, I couldn’t think of any other place. 

As life would have it, I was in a tough place when I first came to CCNY, transitioning out of the military proved to be much more difficult than I thought. So much happened that I did not anticipate in my personal life and in school. In school I started out as a Biology major, Pre-Health on the pre-dental track and I chose CPS only after taking PSC 101 with Prof. DiSalvo. I took the class out of curiosity with open expectations about what I would learn. I think I needed a break from the demanding attention and workload of the sciences, so much that I was seriously contemplating leaving the school, transfering or quitting, but I really enjoyed Prof. DiSalvo’s class and when I approached him with questions he was inviting and positive and patient. I think it was a breath of fresh air to have someone take the time to inform me and then extend an invitation into the major like he did. That was the ounce of kindness I needed to have offered to me that day, I think, because at that point in time, things were hard. I don’t think he even knows it, the huge impact he’s had on my career and in my still being at CCNY and this pursuit of the Political Science degree. When I told one of my mentors from my time on Active Duty that I had taken up the major, he quickly remembered that the Colin Powell School was here at CCNY. I knew I was at the right place, and I had made the right decision.

What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?

My passion is in public health and humanitarian services. I’ve been a part of humanitarian efforts with the military, and I learned a lot in the DENRETE mission with JTF-Bravo with Southern Command in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. We serviced over 100 children in a matter of maybe 10 days. It was a two-week mission which involved a lot of logistical work from us for the set up and break down. The school we used only supplied the dental exam rooms. Thanks to Regional Health Command Central, the unit I was representing there, we were able to help all those children. That experience really showed me the kind of work I wanted to pursue. And when I decided to take up a second major in the Colin Powell School, I knew the exact route I wanted to take. Coming from a country like Venezuela and seeing how much it has changed in the last two decades, a place where my parents and I left the rest of our family, then going so close to home to help others during a difficult time, tugged at my heartstrings. That was the kind of work I wanted to be involved in. It’s interesting how things work out because that same year, the humanitarian minor became available, and I decided to go into the major and pursue political science and dedicate my time to it. To do work in the intersectionality between dentistry and politics would be a dream. This field of work is super important and highly political.

Where are you at in your career? How has it unfolded? And how has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?

I am looking for an internship where I can best use the tools I’ve picked up along my journey, but that hasn’t happened yet. For the last few months, I’ve been working part-time in Midtown at a dental clinic where I’ve been keeping my dental assistant skills alive. They say if you don’t use it, you lose it. However, I would like to branch off into an internship at an NGO or a for-profit firm where I can explore or be exposed to the public health sector, maybe one with humanitarian efforts. 

At CCNY I am a senior, planning to graduate in the fall. So far, actively, my career is just being a student and leading the Pre-Dental Honorary Society as President. We have a tough job. Getting students to participate and join the club has been challenging. Competing for students’ attention with there being so many amazing clubs in the schools. I think the last club leaders were great and they tried hard to revamp the club, but the pandemic happened, and it made clubs that rely on in-person interaction have to think outside the box and find new ways to reach students, for us that was hard. 

Post-graduation I plan on taking the DAT exam, applying to Dental School and if dental school doesn’t come to fruition as quickly as I'd like, then the backup plan is to go for my Master’s in Public Health or MPH as most people call it. Very simple.

Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your career or time at City College that you would like to talk about?

Yes, I don’t think anyone could ever forget the pandemic. We weren’t physically here but it was a time of sympathy and a time when we were somehow in it together. That’s the power of NYC I think, all individuals yet sharing the same frame of mind to make it or break it. 

Secondly, a great memory has been meeting everyone I have so far through PDHS. The Dental Honorary Society has allowed for us, the e-board members, to share our own experiences and guide certain students, especially the freshmen. We take it so seriously because some of us didn’t have that and I hope more students come and meet us because it’s never too late to change your mind and pursue something you’re scared about because you don’t know how to get there but you just know you want it! It’s something I can relate to so much. And that has truly been what’s kept us so motivated.

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

No journey or route you take in college has to be linear and there isn’t a credit wasted. I’ve recently met a couple of transfer students who felt like because they’re a sophomore and have been on one track for a while that they have to complete it just because they’ve given it their all so far. Well, that’s not necessarily wrong but it isn’t correct either. You can be a multidimensional person, and in the workforce all the skills you bring to the table matter. Just think about why you started in that path to begin with and why now you decided to change, and you’ll realize that the older degree you were pursuing has provided you with a skill that will become necessary in the next one, even if it’s the skill of confidence to speak in front of a room full of people or work in a group setting. These things are not skills everyone possesses and who wouldn’t want to hire an individual who does. 

How would you describe CPS in three words?

Caring, Devoted and Diverse.
 

Tue, 15 Nov 2022 11:48:52 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/25464
From Mauritius to Harlem to Oxford https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/mauritius-harlem-oxford


Humaira HansrodFrom Mauritius to Harlem to Oxford: the Story of Colin Powell Fellow Humaira Hansrod

Born in Mauritius, Humaira Hansrod moved to New York City with her family at a young age. In the midst of such a big change, she welcomed the diversity of the city and the opportunities it offered her to learn about cultures, people, and local and global issues. It was precisely its richly diverse student body that drew Humaira to City College, where she was offered a spot in the Macaulay Honors College. She started as a pre-med student but decided to declare a double major in Economics and Political Science.

“I have long been committed to understanding the causes of poverty and identifying solutions to some of the most pressing issues people face often as a result of poverty,” said Hansrod. “I believe in my responsibility to help shape a different and better world and future.”

Driven by this purpose, Hansrod became a Colin Powell Fellow. After graduation, she won a Fulbright scholarship and is now completing a PhD in International Development at Oxford. She advises future students to reach out to advisors and professors at the Colin Powell School early and often for advice and guidance.
 
Tell us about your background - what’s your story?

I was born in Mauritius, a small tropical island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. After primary school, I moved with my parents to Queens, New York. The diversity of NYC baffled me—it was the first time I had ever been in a place where there were people from almost any corner of the world. But being in a diverse place like NYC was also exhilarating, because it encouraged me to learn about cultures, people, and local and global issues. This upbringing deeply shaped my worldview and helped me find my own story.

Why did you choose CCNY? What brought you to City College?

How I ended up at CCNY was the result of a combination of events. I received a full scholarship, and also the college was not too far from home, which for someone who had never before ventured far meant that I could step out into the world at a slower pace while trying to find my footing and identity as an individual. I knew CCNY was the right place for me when I attended a freshman orientation the summer before starting my undergrad and saw the diversity around me. It was only after leaving CCNY that I realized how much having people who share similar backgrounds and experiences—as minorities and immigrants—was important for me to personally thrive at CCNY.

What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?

I have long been committed to understanding the causes of poverty and identifying solutions to some of the most pressing issues people face often as a result of poverty. Whether those issues are in job markets, health, education, environment, and so on, I believe in my responsibility to help shape a different and better world and future. My double majors in Economics and Political Science at CCNY provided me with the tools and foundational knowledge to pursue this purpose.  

Briefly, how has your career unfolded? How did City College and/or the Colin Powell School help you to get where you are at in your career?

Like so many new college students, I started out in the premed program because I wanted to go to medical school later. I was however enrolled in the Economics department because that is what I wanted to major in. Somehow, I knew Economics would be my path because I dropped out of the premed program in the first semester. I was part of the Macaulay Honors College, which to me meant there was an added pressure to maintain a high GPA to remain in the program. But without Macaulay, I would not have been able to even afford college. When I applied to the Colin Powell Fellowship Program in my sophomore year, it was because I knew from former Powell fellows that this program would help me better understand how public policy matters. As it turned out, the Powell Program was foundational to not only helping me get a grasp of the significance of public policy but providing me with further financial support and guidance to pursue my own path. 

Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your career or time at City College that you would like to talk about?

I used to love going to see Robin Villa, the former director of the Honors Program, to talk about how classes were going and get advice on what to do. Jennifer Lutton was always available to have a quick look at any written piece of an application. Linda Carlson convinced me that I was good enough to apply to national fellowships, and she was the backbone as I applied to and landed a Fulbright research fellowship upon graduating. I am now completing a PhD in International Development at the University of Oxford. Kevin Foster and Daniel DiSalvo, then chairs of the Economics and Political Science Departments, were always there to give me advice and support. While at CCNY, I was part of the Model United Nations course, which I stayed on for four years in various capacities. In Model UN, I was able to channel my passion for international affairs, learn about global issues, and meet people with similar and varied interests from all over the world at conferences. And without the support of Dr. Marina Fernando, former director of the International Studies program, I would have given up very early on Model UN. I also participated in a number of study abroad programs—in Jordan, Morocco, and Egypt—learning Arabic and doing internships. I think it is very important as college students to use this college experience—whether it is studying abroad, learning a new language, doing internships, taking a variety of classes—to build a worldview that aligns with what we want to pursue professionally and personally. My experience at CCNY helped me build that worldview.

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

Take a variety of classes and widen your horizon. You might end up pursuing a field you never thought about because you did not know you would like it. Do an internship and study abroad. Most of us at CCNY (myself included) do not come from privileged backgrounds, or even have close relatives who can advise us on career paths. This is why it is important to ask the people at CCNY for guidance. The professors and mentors I have had at CCNY and the Colin Powell program are the most committed people I have met in higher education—they have a vision for a better society, and because of that they want to see you succeed. Ask for help from your advisors. There may be opportunities you don’t know about that could be the ticket to a breakthrough for you. 

How would you describe CPS in three words?

Life-changing, dedicated, expansive.
 

Tue, 15 Nov 2022 11:45:24 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/25463
Compassion and Connection Are More Important than Questionnaires https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/compassion-and-connection-are-more-important-questionnaires

 

Justine FleischnerCompassion and Connection Are More Important than Questionnaires: Alumna Justine Fleischner on the Heart of Violent Conflict 

Justine Fleischner (Class of ‘08) is a writer, researcher, and weapons expert with over a decade of experience working in countries affected by armed conflict, and she currently serves as vice president of the Afghan Peace Watch. In this interview, she offers lucid anecdotes and key insights from her professional journey. As a student majoring in international studies at CCNY, she found her passion for public service and global human rights while working with a group of women dedicated to ending modern day slavery. She became a Colin Powell Community Engagement Fellow and a Josh and Judy Weston Public Service Scholar and began her career at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC. She has worked in Sierra Leone, the Congo, Afghanistan, and other countries in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Throughout her journey, a running theme has been the centrality of human connection in the understanding of armed conflict. She encourages current and future students to never say “no” to an opportunity to develop professionally and explore their passions.
 
Please share a little about your background. What’s your story?

I am originally from the Bronx and both of my parents were New York City public school teachers. My mom was an elementary school special education teacher and later administrator in the Bronx, and my dad was a middle school math teacher in Washington Heights. He also taught at the Fieldston Enrichment Program (FEP). I attended elementary school in the Bronx and went to middle school and high school in Westchester. After graduating from high school, I took a year off to pursue my passion for horses, but quickly realized I wanted to finish my education and travel, which is something I never got to do as a kid. 

What brought you to City College?

I came to City College with broad academic interests and really wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue a career as a veterinarian or a lawyer. I ultimately joined the International Studies Department due to the diverse interdisciplinary course offerings. It was a small department led by Dr. Marina Fernando and I personally benefited a great deal from her close mentorship, guidance, and support. I was a strong student, but still deeply committed to riding and training horses, and so I really needed a bit of a push to focus on my academics. Dr. Fernando pushed me to think more deeply about my role in the world and how I could be of service to others. It was a turning point for me and that’s when the doors really started to open at City College.

Talk about what you are passionate about. What drove you to choose the path you chose at CCNY?

In seeking greater meaning and public service, I became inspired by a group of young female activists working to fight against modern day slavery. They were not much older than I was at the time, and I was deeply inspired by their powerful stories and call to action. I set up a student group on campus and joined a fundraising team called Dreams of Freedom. We raised over $10,000 at a fundraising event downtown and I traveled with the team to India and Nepal that winter to deliver the funds in person and spend weeks volunteering with the women and girls in the shelters. We painted murals, undertook repairs, and bought supplies. We ate meals together, sang, and danced to Bollywood tunes. It was a life changing experience for me and the first time I was confronted face-to-face with such extreme poverty, insecurity, and criminality in all its complexity so far away from home. Some of the girls were as young as six years old when they had been trafficked. My eyes were open and there was no turning back. 

How has your career unfolded, and how did CCNY help you along the way?

My time at City College and the Colin Powell School provided me with the experiences and skills necessary to land a highly coveted internship position at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC, immediately after graduation. In addition to my work with Dreams of Freedom, I was offered two incredibly unique opportunities to travel to Sierra Leone and Rwanda as a junior and senior while at City College which gave me a huge advantage at CSIS. In 2007, I traveled to Sierra Leone as part of a small group of City College students to undertake an internship with an access to justice project. I traveled all over the country by bus, truck, and motorcycle spending weeks in local offices during the rainy season to code handwritten legal case files. I was also given the chance to act as an observer for the first post-conflict presidential elections at a polling station in Freetown. I hailed a taxi on the streets at 5 am and the taxi driver refused to allow me to pay for my trip. He was so excited for the elections and walked with me all the way to the door of the polling station since the street was flooded out. I’ll never forget his kindness. The polling station was packed, and the election led to a peaceful transition of power from one political party to another. Being able to draw on such experiences from such a young age really helped shape my career as a researcher in that I understood very early on the power of connecting with people and being a good listener — and not making any assumptions. This approach has shaped my career from Sudan and South Sudan to Afghanistan and Somalia. 

What are your future plans or aspirations?

I am currently working on a book based on my experiences inside the security sector in Afghanistan during the period when the US and NATO forces were withdrawing following the signing of the US-Taliban agreement in February 2020. I had unprecedented access throughout this period due to my work documenting weapons alongside the security forces, and so I witnessed first-hand the decline that took place, not just in the final months, but over the last few years. My final embed was in the western city of Herat in July, just weeks before the collapse and mass civilian evacuation that made international headlines. Since then, the Taliban have returned to power with devastating effect for women’s rights, ethnic and religious minorities, and renewed risks of regional and transnational terrorist threats. There are so many lingering issues that are simply being ignored right now due to competing global interests and little creative thinking on ways to support non-violent resistance in Afghanistan.

In my current role as Vice President of APW, I seek to support an incredibly talented team of young Afghan activists, journalists, and civil society leaders to closely monitor and track the situation on the ground in order to better advise and inform policy making. We continue to advocate for more effective pressure on the Taliban to address issues around inclusivity, human rights, women’s rights, economic development, and the transparent distribution of humanitarian aid. 

Please share a significant memory and/or accomplishment from your time at CCNY.

I’m very proud of all the experiences I gained while I was at City College, but I’m particularly proud of the senior thesis research I did in Rwanda on the role of women in the country’s post-conflict transition. Looking back, that was really the start of my career as a professional researcher and allowed me to learn in an environment where I could make mistakes and receive a lot of support. In 2008, I traveled to Kigali to live with an incredibly inspiring woman, Anne Gahongayire. She entered Kigali immediately after the genocide and played a central role in her country’s recovery. She was serving as the Secretary General of the Supreme Court at the time and was well placed to introduce me to other incredible women leaders, including female Members of Parliament (MPs), lawyers, judges, teachers, and ambassadors. I’ll never forget one interview I did with MP and women’s rights activist Judith Kanakuze. She had spearheaded legislation in the Rwandan Parliament against sexual and gender-based violence, which was rife during the genocide and needed strong laws to address. She saw that I was a bit nervous and having trouble spelling the long Rwandan names, so she got up from where she was sitting and came and sat down right next to me to help me with the spellings in my notebook. She was so kind and humble yet had broken through so many glass ceilings in Rwanda, just like Anne. When I left Rwanda that summer, I cried at the airport as I said goodbye to Anne, as she had become my family. These early experiences taught me that care, compassion, and connection are always more important than preconceived surveys or questionnaires when you truly seek to understand what is at the heart of conflict and violence. 

What advice do you have for current and future students?

Never say no to an opportunity when it’s offered to you! Be adventurous and take risks early in your education and career in order to identify your passions and interests.

How would you describe CPS in three words?

Service, Inclusive, Egalitarian 


 

Tue, 18 Oct 2022 10:29:30 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/25316
For Inspiration, Look to Your Own Story https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/inspiration-look-your-own-story

 

Cris MercadoFor Inspiration, Look to Your Own Story: Cris Mercado’s Winding Path to Social Entrepreneurship

Immigrant. Scholar. Social Entrepreneur. Immigration rights activist. CPS-CCNY alumnus. Cris Mercado’s career has been anything but linear. He came to CCNY after being denied a scholarship to study engineering at NYU because of his undocumented status. Through an on-campus research opportunity he demonstrated his academic skills and earned the top fellowship for CUNY’s PhD Program in Criminal justice, only to pivot and create his own consulting firm with seed capital provided by CCNY’s Zahn Center for Innovation. Mercado credits CCNY for providing him with not only ongoing support but also a sense of home. He advises future students to find inspiration from within themselves and to develop habits rather than aim for goals, principles that have guided his path. Cris remains involved in immigration advocacy and seeks lasting ways to support undocumented students and alumni at CCNY.  

Please share a little about your background — what’s your story? And what brought you to CCNY?

Just like a lot of CCNY students, I am of immigrant heritage. I was born in the Philippines. When I was a child, we settled in the Hollis and Jamaica area of Queens. I ended up going to junior high school a couple of towns away in Bayside and ultimately ended up at Benjamin Cardozo High School. Going to City College wasn’t my original intention. I was accepted to NYU/Stevens Institute of Technology Dual Degree program in Materials Science & Chemical Engineering. But it was around June of my graduating year, and they told me that since I didn't have a green card — because I was undocumented — my scholarship & grant money was taken away. So while my friends were going away to their colleges, I actually had no school to go to, even though I had a 92 GPA and took all the required AP’s. I went to a CUNY central office in Times Square and found out about City College, where it was possible for undocumented students to be accepted and find opportunities. I came to CCNY and became a Psychology major because it was too late to get into the engineering program and because I loved taking Advanced Placement Psychology in high school. Sometimes when you have no other choice, the best decisions happen.

Can you tell us more about your time in City College? Your interactions with faculty, with other students? Did you face any challenges? What kind of support did you receive from the community on campus?

Growing up in Queens, I lived in a low income area, mostly black and brown people, but I went to schools that were predominantly white and Asian. So when I got to City College, it was different from the high school community, but it reminded me of where I lived. It was familiar, but also different. And then interacting with a large Dominican community was great for me to practice my Spanish. 

The psych department provided a lot of support. One of the professors, Dr. Lynch, a stats professor, guided me towards the stats content in the research methodology. And he knew I had an aptitude for it. And he helped me by writing a recommendation for the BA-MA program in Psych, which led me to a higher level of graduate classes even though I was still an undergrad. I remember taking psychopharmacology. Knowing that I could handle graduate material, even though I was just barely halfway done through undergrad, gave me a lot of confidence to think bigger. I got one of the CCNY research fellowships and received support from Peter Fraenkel, a psychology professor, who helped me in many ways including with interview preparation.

With the support and opportunities I received at CCNY, I was able to graduate debt-free, even as an undocumented student. All of that support, both academically and financially, I am super thankful for the CCNY community.

We are interested in knowing more about your journey. You went from a BA in psychology and then were a PhD candidate. And now you're a founder of your own company, GrantAnswers. How do you think CCNY or CPS helped you to get where you are at in your career?

My career has not been linear, but it has been fulfilling in great part due to CCNY. Just knowing that I wasn't supposed to go to CCNY gave me a little extra sense of motivation to prove myself. First on the academic side, I briefly joined the BA/MA Psych program, and that gave me access to graduate classes like Psychopharmacology as a Junior. Then I got a CCNY Fellowship that got me involved in research with Dr. Peter Fraenkel. The Fellowship led me to a scholarship and ultimately graduate school. At age 21, I was awarded the top fellowship at the CUNY Graduate Center for the PhD Program in Criminal Justice. I was the baby in my program. Because of my status, I didn't have significant work experience. And I was in classrooms with Assistant District Attorneys and FBI agents and that access would not have been possible without all the four years prior at CCNY. And I think what prepared me for doctoral study was the research foundation that started at CCNY where I was able to do research with my mentor professor in the psych department where I got a great stats background. And that's what catapulted me to a PhD study at such a young age and that I can hold my own with established professionals.
 
However, you know, life gets in the way and I had some serious family health issues that I had to help out with. And I was just short of my dissertation so I didn't finish my PhD and I left with a master's. But I started thinking, even if I do get a PhD, I still didn't have the status to actually do anything with it. I can't teach at a university. So, I'm going to have to come up with another way. And that way for me was entrepreneurship. And I started thinking about it in 2013 and came to a point where I told myself that I have to stop thinking about it and just jump in. 

I formed my company GrantAnswers (a data, strategy and product consulting firm for social impact) in July of 2013. And for the first four months, I made $0. I didn't take a business class at CCNY. I had no entrepreneurs in my family. And I had to learn on my own. So, I did some learning. Got my first big break, signed a contract with the New York City Department of Education. And it was about college access. So, I actually helped some students get into CUNY. And that experience is actually based off of the work I did when I was an undergrad and in grad school at CCNY in the Upward Bound program, where I helped hundreds of underrepresented students ascend to top colleges and earn $1.5 million in scholarships and grants. So, I knew I had the skill set. And I used that skill set for the launch of my business. 

Then, in 2014, I learned about the Zahn Center. And I said to myself, “let me give it a shot.” I went through their bootcamp, and I ended up getting one of their social entrepreneurship prizes. Fast forward, nine years later, my company consistently earns six figures, not in just revenues, but in profits as well. And, my company was on a Forbes list and combined with my immigrant story, both have catapulted me a lot of visibility. 

None of that happens without this combination of my immigrant story and the entrepreneurship training that I got through the Zahn Center, and also the underlying foundation of research and academia, both as an undergrad at CCNY and then later on at the grad center.

Do you have any significant memories from your time at CPS? 

Graduation. And it took a long time for me to actually appreciate this. And I was just going through the motions, I knew this wasn't my only degree, but to have my family there, and to graduate from college debt free. To be the first in my family to graduate with a US degree. That was a big moment. My first work experience was on campus, it was helping high school students through the CCNY Upward Bound Program to get the same scholarships and opportunities that were kind of taken away from me. And I'm still in touch with them to this day, they have amazing careers. Because we met on campus, I won’t ever forget those moments where I was helping them with their college essays. And I think the most recent big memory was the New York Times. When they asked me, I insisted that at least part of the shoot was on campus. It was a beautiful photo. Bringing somebody else along who was supportive to me at CCNY in that photoshoot was great. 

Why do you stay involved? What is it about City College that makes you want to stay involved?

It's home. I've done everything imaginable on campus. I slept on campus, I've made lifelong friends on campus. Some of my favorite moments, and some of the most disappointing and traumatic moments took place on campus. I went to campus to kind of decompress. For me, the City College campus would always be home. And that's why I wanted to stay involved. And when I meet, I do some tech training, as part of my company's work with other organizations. And some of them are from City College, I can't escape it. I was helping them get their tech jobs and they're doing great work. It is a constant reminder that there's so much talent. And I'm not sure that they get access to all the opportunities, or I'm not sure that corporations give them a fair shot. Because, you know, it's a public institution. So, I just want people to know that there's some amazingly talented people here. I just don't think they get a fair shot. I'd love to help students and recent alumni with their career paths, as well as find a lasting way to support immigrant students on campus.

How would you describe CPS in three words? 
 
A Leadership-fostering community. There is something about going through CPS that maximizes its students’ potential for leadership. And for me, again, I only see it in hindsight, that training that I got from the Psych Department and the support I received provided me with the foundations and to be the leader I am today.

What kind of advice would you want to give to current or future students?

I have a list. I was trying to figure out which one would be the best.

Chris’s Advice List
Inspiration starts within, so stop looking to influencers and celebrities. Instead, look at your own stories for inspiration.
There is no right or wrong. There's only risk-reward.
There's nothing more inspirational than a deadline.
Forget goals. Instead, develop great habits.
On average, you'll live till 80, so slow down sometimes.
Develop authentic relationships, not transactional ones.

The biggest general one is I think we need to stop looking outside of ourselves for inspiration. Let's start with our own journeys, and our own accomplishments, and fully value that. And sometimes you do need people that help point it out for you. But let's start with that. After that, once you get a hold of how powerful you really are, stop thinking in terms of fixed rights or wrongs. The pathways that we have are not necessarily right and not necessarily wrong. But if people think in terms of risk and reward, they can have better outcomes. And we could also feel better about our outcomes, whether or not they're a full success or partial failure. And, as an example of that, if I had only thought in terms of right and wrong, then because I didn't become an engineer, I would have regarded myself as a failure. But because I thought about it in terms of risks and rewards, I had nothing left to lose, because I didn't have access to employment. All I saw was reward. So why not jump in? And then the third piece of advice is, once you start thinking about risk and rewards, the tendency is for people to think: “Oh, I'm gonna set these goals now, right?” But, goals are actually limiting. Because sometimes we're just not exposed to enough of an experience to see what's possible. So for me, I didn't know entrepreneurship was a viable thing for me until I had to do it. So, I ended up focusing on the habits of doing the research and data analyses,  pivoting and getting user feedback, all of those became habits. That's helpful for me as an entrepreneur and as a human being that interacts with others and wants to build relationships. For me, it's habits over goals. By focusing on habits, I apply them to all the opportunities that are available to me. Those habits put you in places that goal setting could not have foreseen. 

Can you tell us about your activism in the immigration rights movement?

Activism really stemmed from that feeling of having no other choice. Being on campus allowed me to meet other undocumented people. And I started to feel like I wasn't alone in that situation. But at the same time, I had maybe grown more angry and tired at the time, about the situation. At the time, President Obama had passed DACA. But that didn't encompass everyone. And a lot of people felt left out. And that felt like the last hope for a lot of people. So, unintentionally, it gave voice to the people who were left out. And, again, I felt like I had nothing left to lose, it's no accident that at the same time that I was trying to start up a company, I started getting involved in immigrant rights, because I just got fed up. And I connected with the New York Immigration Coalition early on. And there was someone who worked at the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs, who knew of my story and encouraged me to continue sharing. And then, I got access to an organization called Forward Us, which was started by tech leaders like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, and I ended up becoming one of their ambassadors and Innovation Council members. And through that, more opportunities came. I was on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, and I participated in many documentaries, and I got asked to speak around many colleges to reach out to immigrant communities, and to speak with campus leaders and business leaders about what kind of  policies can be enacted. And, right now, it is still my fight, even though I'm not part of the undocumented group anymore. It feels like there's a lack of progress in preserving DACA or extending it to others. And, I've been telling my undocumented friends to do what they can, right now, to maximize their economic opportunities. So that's my main message to folks. It’s not a pleasant message. But I wish that someone was more direct with me about immigration status when I was younger, and I could have dealt with it a little bit more head on. So, activism is part of  my overall story.
 
Please name all the fellowships you had.

Here they are:
MAGNET Fellowship, CUNY Graduate Center (Top university-wide prize for new Ph.D. candidates)
Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, City College of New York 
Washington D.C. Chapter CCNY Alumni Scholarship
CCNY Undergraduate Fellowship & Graduate Scholarship

What is your current position or job?

Founder & CEO, GrantAnswers

Tue, 20 Sep 2022 09:27:14 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/25202
Class of 2023 Valedictorian Jennifer Garcia https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/class-2023-valedictorian-jennifer-garcia

 

“No Hay Que Llegar Primero, Pero Hay Que Saber Llegar” - Jennifer Garcia Forges Her Path as a Journalist

 

Class of 2023 Valedictorian Jennifer Garcia

Jennifer Garcia, a first-generation Mexican-American who was born and raised in Brooklyn, discovered City College after taking a gap year. She made a leap of faith, transferring from architecture to business and journalism. The Colin Powell School allowed her to level up her career aspirations and accomplish more than she thought possible, thanks to its diverse range of programs, internships, and fellowship opportunities. Jennifer was in the inaugural cohort of NBCU Academy Fellows, which exposed her to journalism and connected her to her dream internship. As a rising senior, she is steadily building her network and acquiring new skills as a confident multimedia journalist — “and it’s only up from here!”

Please share a little about your background — what’s your story? 

My name is Jennifer Garcia, born and raised in Brooklyn, and I am a first-generation Mexican-American. For a long time, I felt constrained by the hyphen that described parts of my identity. Being first-generation there were a lot of things I had to figure out on my own, especially when applying to college. As a Mexican-American, I felt that my background was used against me a lot, especially in terms of academic achievements. Sometimes no matter how hard I worked, my achievements were always reduced down to “affirmative action.” I started my career in architecture, being an architecture major my last two years at Brooklyn Technical High School and was accepted at the University of Illinois school of architecture. I interned at great firms such as FXFOWLE and the New York City School Construction Authority. I enjoyed my time in architecture, but always felt something was missing. I took a gap year and decided to reflect on the things that brought me joy. I loved architecture as a creative outlet and I’m good at math, but I couldn’t see myself constrained to a desk doing math for the majority of my day. I transferred to City College because I still wasn’t sure where my career path was taking me. There is a joke that those who quit architecture end up becoming business majors, so I rolled with it, especially because I hoped to get some form of financial literacy that I lacked when racking up my student loans. My first semester on campus was Fall 2019, and then the pandemic shut everything down. I’ve always loved writing and was taking the introduction journalism classes, but I was always told that journalism was not a worthwhile profession. During the pandemic I decided to minor in journalism and find a way to be able to channel my love for writing as a creative outlet to inform people. 
 
Why did you choose CCNY? What brought you to CPS?

Having gone to a specialized high school, there was a notion that we should strive for Ivy League and private schools and there was definitely a stigma against CUNY and SUNY schools. I came to believe that these were schools one “settled for.” After taking my gap year and doing more research, I found that City College is a Hispanic Serving Institution and I learned about the history of the school as an educational place for all. I was still unsure about what new career prospect to pursue, but I knew that the Colin Powell School would help me judge all my options and then get me on the career track where I wanted to be.  

What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?

My passion behind my studies is to use what I have learned to help others. I’ve always said that at the end of the day, I hope to be a person who gives more than I take. I hope to one day be able to use my skills and knowledge to help the community, be it through informing people with the news or helping people become more financially literate and open up conversations in public service.

Where are you at in your career? How has it unfolded? And how has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?

In terms of my career path, I would say I am farther than I thought I’d be. Making the scary decision to jump from architecture to business/journalism, I thought I would still be struggling to get exposure in the field of journalism. The Colin Powell School helped significantly, not only with advocating for the NBCU Academy Fellowship, but with the amazing staff overseeing it. Professor Nevins-Taylor and Fellowships Director Debbie Cheng are always looking out for us with the incredible workshops and sending internship and scholarship opportunities our way. I always figured I wouldn’t get my first journalism exposure until after graduation, but I have been steadily building my network and have been learning new skills everyday. When I began my career change in 2020 I would have considered myself lucky to have one article published on the school paper, but I am proud to say that I have multiple publications on the HarlemView website and have contributed to multiple pieces with CNBC. I feel confident to say I am a multimedia journalist, and it’s only up from here!
 
What are your plans post graduation?

I’m still debating between grad school or joining the workforce full-time. On the one hand, it is a dream of mine to become the first person in my family to get a master’s degree, but on the other hand, I know from conversations with experienced journalists that a masters degree in journalism is not entirely necessary. I know that there is still much to learn, so I am keeping an open mind.

What is your biggest accomplishment from your time at CCNY?

One of my biggest accomplishments during my time at City College was being a part of the inaugural cohort of NBCU Academy Fellows. It was an incredible honor to be a part of the first group to kick off the fellowship, but also to have been chosen to be a part of it amongst all the applicants. Having focused most of my academic career on architecture, I felt that I was behind where I should be, but being accepted into the fellowship made me feel justified that everything I was doing to catch up was paying off. A career accomplishment I am also proud of, is getting my internship with CNBC en Español. After getting some rejections, it was insane getting the call that I had been chosen to intern with CNBC and the support I got from Professor Nevins-Taylor, Debbie Cheng, Professor Petersen, and even Dean Rich was so heartfelt. I never thought I would be able to say I was an intern with NBC, let alone as my first internship.

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

I have three main points of advice. First, I’d advise current or future students to make the most out of their time at City College and take advantage of all the available opportunities. When I think about other schools I could’ve transferred to, I know that I would not have had the opportunities that I have now, such as the NBCU Academy, and I would not have had this amazing support system of professors and Colin Powell staff. Next, I’d advise not to be scared to ask questions. It can feel daunting to feel lost and that you don’t have the answers or information you need, but there are staff and mentors available to point you in the right direction. Finally, I would also say to please keep in mind that rarely is anyone’s path linear — just take me for example. It is ok if you are not achieving your goals at the same pace as everyone else. Everyone works differently. In Spanish we say “No hay que llegar primero, pero hay que saber llegar.” You don’t have to get there first, you just have to know how to get there.

How would you describe CPS in three words?

OPPORTUNITY
GROWTH
INSPIRATION
 
 

Tue, 20 Sep 2022 09:17:52 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/25201
Rise Up! Never Give Up in Pursuit of Your Dreams, https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/rise-never-give-pursuit-your-dreams

 

AnthonyRise Up! Never Give Up in Pursuit of Your Dreams, Says CCNY Alum Anthony Cole

“Sometimes we want to give up and run / we got to keep holding on / rise up; never let them get you down — never let them.” These lyrics open Anthony Cole’s recent hit single and capture an essential lesson he hopes current and future CCNY students will embrace: to never stop cultivating the talents and other super powers that make you unique. An immigrant from Trinidad and Tobago, Cole is now a Senior Program Manager at Amazon Music and also serves as the president of the Amazon Black Employee Network HQ chapter affinity group, where he champions diversity, equity and inclusion. He came to CCNY for its engineering school and served in the CCNY chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. Cole later chose to major in Business Management and embrace his talent as an artist. He sought and benefited from numerous mentors, as he encourages all students to do, and now gives back by mentoring students himself.

Please share a little about your background. What led you to choose City College?
 
I am originally from the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago. I moved to Brooklyn, New York when I was 15 with my mom and brother. I was interested in becoming a scientist growing up as a kid and did really well in my science classes. I heard that City College had an amazing engineering program so I thought it would be a great opportunity to pursue engineering. Later, after taking a few business classes I realized that I had an affinity for business and decided to major in business management. 

How has your career unfolded? How did CCNY help you to get where you are?

The career office at City College was instrumental in setting me up for success in my career. The first real corporate work experience I developed was via an internship I landed through City College’s Career Office. I remember in my sophomore year going up to the office and telling Mrs. Sophia Demetriou that I wanted an internship. She provided the options that were available. I ultimately landed a paid internship with the MTA in their Capital Program Management Office. The Career Office also helped me to find my first career mentor, who remains as one of my closest and most influential mentors to date. 

Please share a significant memory or accomplishment from your time at CCNY.

City College was a place in which I was able to uncover the talent that I had by exploring my many interests as a student and switching majors. One of my most fond memories was serving as Senator for the National Society of Black Engineers CCNY board, in which our mission was to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community. I also was a two-time finalist for CCNY Idol, which planted the seed for me to tap into my artistic talent and interest in music. It really was a place in which I felt comfortable to explore the many layers of interests I had as an individual.

How have you been involved with City College since your graduation? Why do you stay involved?

I continue to be a mentor to other students as I think it is very important to give back. I know the impact of having folks as mentors and sponsors early in my career that helped me to develop as a professional, especially as a young Black male. So I think it is important to provide similar guidance and support where I can. 

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

Believe in your dreams and be comfortable owning and leaning into what makes you unique as an individual. Do not let fear or doubt stop you from manifesting your true potential. Know what your super powers are and use them at your disposal. We will have many failures in life but it is important that we rise again and overcome them.

You can watch Anthony's Official Music Video for Rise Up below.

Mon, 29 Aug 2022 14:58:39 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/25090
Focus on the Journey as well as the Destination https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/focus-journey-well-destination
 

Chen LiFocus on the Journey as well as the Destination: Chen Li’s Passion for the Scientific Study of Human Behavior

Chen Li pondered life’s biggest questions from an early age, questioning everything from current events to her school’s curriculum. An AP Psychology course in high school sparked her passion for using science to study the mind in order to shed light on human behavior. Attracted by the Colin Powell School’s strong Psychology Department as well as CCNY’s beautiful campus and affordability, Li excelled as a researcher and participated in a neuroscience research partnership between CCNY and the University of Rochester, the same university where she plans to begin her PhD in Psychology in the fall. She urges current and future students to take advantage of the opportunity while in college to try out new things, fail, and explore new directions.

Please share a little about where you are from and what is your background.

In Chinese, the word for America (美国) literally translates to “beautiful country.” And this beautiful country was the entirety of my parent’s dream. They immigrated to America in 1997 with hopes to start a new life, and had me in 2001. Born and raised in Brooklyn, I grew up being constantly reminded of how lucky I was to be here and to have access to education. Neither one of my parents went to school, and they both regretted not having an education, so education was taken very seriously at home. I went to public school my entire life, and even graduated from the largest high school in NYC. 

What brought you to City College?

A big part of me wanted to go away for college, so I could have the cliché college experience. But with financial concerns playing a key factor in my college decision, I knew my parents couldn’t afford to send me to a private institution. As a result, I mainly applied to programs and schools that would allow me to graduate debt-free, and I stumbled across Macaulay Honors. When I was touring several CUNY campuses to help finalize my decision of which campus I would attend, I immediately fell in love with CCNY’s campus. It felt like a typical college campus despite being nested inside of the world’s busiest city. And after learning how diverse the psychology program is at CCNY, I knew I had to come. At the time I wanted to major in psychology, but wasn’t exactly sure which path to pursue. Knowing that CCNY offered a range of programs and classes, I figured what better place could I be at when trying the many different routes a psychology major had to offer. 

What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?

Growing up, my favorite word was why. There was never a day where I didn’t question the things I learned in school, major events happening in the news, or my mom’s sudden decision to go out for dinner instead of eating in. As I got older, I realized that I was actually interested in the fundamental questions of life. But I also knew that I wanted to potentially answer these questions through science. After taking AP Psychology, I quickly realized that studying psychology would allow me to do both. Psychology allows one to address some of the fundamental questions of life through the study of human interaction and behavior. And specifically, cognitive neuroscience allows one to discover the biological foundation of the most complex organ in a human body that controls all human behavior: the brain. 

How has your career unfolded, and how has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?

Although I did just recently graduate, my career is definitely still unfolding. It was only recently when I finally figured out what I wanted to do post-graduation, and I only have the Colin Powell School to thank. CPS allowed me to find a group of supportive professors and staff who helped guide me on my journey to finding the right path, gain hands-on laboratory experience in cognitive neuroscience research, study a side passion I had in Economics, and graduate in 3 years. I also participated in NeuroCity, a 10 weeks intensive research program CCNY has with the University of Rochester. 

Would you like to share your biggest accomplishment or greatest memory from your time at CCNY?

Yes! I am extremely grateful to announce that I will be starting my PhD in neuroscience this January. 

Also definitely one of my biggest accomplishments was presenting the work I had done during my 10 weeks at the University of Rochester. Although I have been doing research since 2020, I never got the chance to present my work or attend a conference because of the pandemic. So being able to attend a poster conference, talk about my work and network with fellow researchers in the same field for the first time was definitely an achievement I am extremely proud of. 

What advice do you have for current and future students at CCNY?

Remember that degrees provide credentials, not practical knowledge. Your ultimate goal should not just be getting that degree. Instead, focus on the journey getting there, and make the most out of it. Take advantage of the many opportunities available at CCNY, because there are so many! And as cliché as it may sound, don’t ever stop trying. If something doesn’t work out, that’s fine. Try something else. College should be your safe haven to try, so take advantage of it. Once you get thrown into the real world, your chances of freely trying will be limited. And finally, always remember that success is a process, never an event. You’re bound to make mistakes, so don’t beat yourself up when it happens. Accept them, and channel your energy to what you’ll do next. In the end, that’s what’s going to really matter. 


 

Mon, 29 Aug 2022 14:28:38 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/25089
Don’t Be Afraid of the Pivot https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/dont-be-afraid-pivot

Destini HornbuckleDestini Hornbuckle (MPA ‘21) grew up with a love for education, writing, and family. She developed a strong commitment to social action and participated in mock trial and leadership programs focused on criminal justice reform. She initially saw herself pursuing a career in law, but she pivoted when she realized she wanted to be more directly involved in creating policy. Based on advice from mentors and her own research about the field, Hornbuckle joined the MPA Program at CCNY, where she was selected as a Changemaker Fellow, and she now works as a Senior Policy Analyst at the NYC Mayor’s Office. Hornbuckle encourages students to not be afraid to ask for guidance, seize good opportunities, or to explore a new direction in their careers. 

Please share a little about where you’re from and your background.

I'm from Yonkers, born and raised! I grew up going to Yonkers Public Schools and was raised by a single mother and my older sister. As a young person, I was very shy, but ambitious and curious. I loved school; it was my outlet and where I thrived. It was the one place where I was the center of attention and the first place I could see the fruits of my labor in real time. It was also where I gained my love for writing. In high school, I was on the mock trial team, where I got to see law and policy work firsthand for the first time.

I come from a huge, family-oriented, loving Black American family. Both of my grandfathers are from West Virginia, and both of my grandmothers are from Yonkers, NY. I believe that my foundation plays a major role in my success as a professional but also as an individual, friend, partner, daughter, sister, and aunt. 

What brought you to City College?

When looking for MPA programs I wanted something that would be cost-efficient, effective in teaching me what I needed to know to succeed in the public sphere, and that would offer opportunities for growth and knowledge outside of the classroom. CCNY's MPA program checked off all the boxes for me and was easily accessible. 

What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?

Growing up I had dreams of being an attorney, but as I got closer to entering law school I realized that I cared more about creating policy than enforcing policies that I may not agree with. I was doing the Beyond the Bars Fellowship and became friends with a woman who was 20+ years my senior and had a JD, MPA, and MSW. When I told her my thoughts she mentioned the MPA and said it would be a perfect fit. I looked into it and saw that many people whose careers I'd admired also had an MPA. It opened my eyes to what was possible for me.

My passion is to be a changemaker in the policy space and eventually a policy maker. I understand that the best way to make change is to work on things that directly affect people. For me, the MPA made this more and more real.

How has your career unfolded, and how has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?

The Colin Powell School has been an amazing resource for me, from the staff who supported me throughout and after graduate school to the professors who connected me to professional opportunities and helped me learn and grow in their classes. 

The MPA program and coursework also gave me the opportunity to think, explore and discover what exactly I wanted to do in the big world of policy. Additionally, I was selected as an MPA Changemaker Fellow, which supported me as I developed a financial literacy curriculum called FiLit to be piloted in Bronx high schools through a smartphone app.   

I am now in a role that fits exactly what I wanted for myself: Senior Policy Analyst at the New York City Mayor’s Office of Operations. 

Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your career or time at City College that you would like to talk about?

During my time at City College, I made lifelong friends and amazing connections and gained confidence in my work. As a recent graduate, I hold those things nearest to me because that's been what has gotten me to a place where I'm able to do the work that I've dreamed of.

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

First, take advantage of every opportunity. Too often opportunities are presented to us and we question or second-guess ourselves. Overthinking can lead to talking yourself out of a good opportunity. School is the perfect place to take risks! Everyone in the environment is focused on learning and growth. You have nothing to lose, nothing if you fail, but everything to gain if you succeed.  

Second, don't be afraid to ask questions. In an educational environment questions are typically encouraged. When someone says "reach out to me anytime," they made the offer, so do it! And follow up! You made it to this space, and the people here are invested in your growth, so you should be too. 

Finally, don’t be afraid of the pivot. Especially as a student or recent grad, you don't need to have everything figured out today. Learn, grow and GO - it's okay to explore new places and opportunities.
 

Tue, 19 Jul 2022 12:29:17 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/24936
A Passion for Public Economics https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/passion-public-economics

Cassidy DrummondBorn and raised in Manhattan, Cassidy Drummond completed her bachelor’s degree in Minnesota and then returned to New York City to join the MA Economics program at the Colin Powell School. Sparked by her experience advocating for a minimum wage hike for on-campus workers at the University of Minnesota, Drummond discovered her passion for labor rights and chose CCNY's program because of its public economics concentration. In her first semester as a graduate student, she found a community and a support system in her peers and professors, excelled in the foundational courses that she had struggled with as an undergraduate, and landed a job as a research assistant to support her studies. Drummond is the first in her family to pursue graduate school, and she encourages her peers to take classes that interest them and to be engaged: "Be confident in yourself. It will be stressful, but as long as you study, pay attention in class, take notes, and ask questions, everything will work out." 
 
Where are you from? Tell us a little about your background.

I was born and raised in Manhattan, New York and grew up on the upper west side with my mom and two sisters. When I left for college, my mom moved up to Harlem. I graduated from The Beacon School in 2016 and went to college at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. I was pretty sure I wanted to live in New York, but I felt the need to go explore something different. Minnesota was great for college, but I decided to come back to New York. I now live in Astoria. 

I come from a single-parent home, and my mom is from Australia and didn't go to college. So, it was definitely a challenge to navigate the application processes in undergrad and graduate school. Only my older sister has gone to college, but I'm the first in my family to have gone to grad school. Also, it’s new territory to balance family expectations and my full-time job with school.

What brought you to City College? 

I graduated in May of 2020 with a BA in Economics & Political Science with minors in Global Studies & Philosophy. After graduation, the job market was not thriving and so I was trying to figure out my next steps. I worked on a congressional campaign in Illinois. I loved my coworkers, including one individual who was getting their Masters in Labor Studies. After hearing more about it, I decided to apply to the MA Labor Studies program at CUNY School of Labor & Urban Studies (SLU), which I attended for one semester in fall 2021. While I absolutely loved my professors, I realized throughout the semester that I missed math - something I never would have expected to say - and that to really make an impact within the labor movement or to work in public policy, it would be more helpful to have an economics degree. After doing some research, I chose to apply to the MA Economics program at CCNY because it offers a concentration in public economics. 

What motivates you to work for labor rights and to focus on public economics?

In my undergrad, after my sophomore year, I decided to get involved with the University's student government after I became aware that the on-campus minimum wage was less than the city which we resided in (Minneapolis and St. Paul). Given that the University of Minnesota was established before the state, the university has to follow the state minimum wage and not the minimum wage of the city of Minneapolis. Not only was this frustrating for me as an out-of-state student trying to pay their way through college, but I thought it was extremely exploitative of campus workers overall, including many international students who were mostly unable to work off-campus. Our campaign was disrupted by the pandemic, but the passion I felt for economic justice stuck with me and piqued my interest in labor rights.

How have CCNY and the Colin Powell School supported you so far? 

In addition to having a public and labor economics focus, the Economics Department has given me the opportunity to work as a research assistant to Professor Yochanan Shachmurove. Professor Shachmurove asked me what my motivations and goals were, and working with him has given me insight into what the academic route looks like and how to submit research papers to journals. Gaining research experience has been a goal of mine for a long time, and CCNY helped me reach it.  

Coming from a big school where I did my undergrad in Minnesota, I have been overjoyed to be at CCNY, which feels tighter-knit. I didn’t know anyone at CCNY when I started, but from the very first week of classes, my anxieties were soothed away; all of my professors were understanding, open to questions, and clearly provided steps to succeed in their courses. In addition, a lot of my peers had been in classes previously together, and gladly welcomed and included me in their study groups. So having that community aspect was fantastic. It was something I hadn't experienced in Minnesota, so it was nice to feel so welcomed and supported. 

Please share a significant memory or accomplishment from your time at CCNY.

In undergrad, I struggled in my economics courses. I did not do well in the foundational courses and spent a lot of time struggling. During my first semester here at CCNY, through the support of my peers and having great professors, I have done well and gotten As in my foundational courses. In my undergraduate studies, I lacked passionate professors who were really committed to students. Here at the Colin Powell School, Professor Nagler is one of the best professors I've ever had, very inspired and motivated, which helped me learn. 

What kind of advice would you give to current or future students?

Pursue classes that interest you. Be open in class. It is definitely nerve wracking to turn to the person next to you and start a conversation. Of course, I felt nervous doing it but I just went for it and it ended up being the best outcome that I expected. Be confident in yourself that things will work out. Economics and math are not easy. It will be stressful but it will work out as long as you study, pay attention in class, take notes and ask questions. When people told me in undergrad, I was like ok but then when I got to grad school, I said to myself that I was going to be that person that I will ask all the questions that I have. And be really engaged, it will make your experience much more rewarding. 

Tue, 19 Jul 2022 12:00:35 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/24935
A Window to the Past https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/robert-feders-first-semester-ccny-was-spring-1947


FedersRobert Feder’s first semester at CCNY was spring 1947.

He met Marjorie Feder in the fall of 1948, while she was a senior at Bronx Science (he was also a Science graduate — they are, in fact, the first Bronx Science couple ever to marry!).

This letter was from fall of 1949, when Marjorie (17) went to Bard. Bob would turn 19 at the end of November.

In one letter, he described the schedule that he was planning to take:

Registration is close and I’m quite worried about it. I’ll be carrying 19-1/2 credits which is way over par and taking Art, English, History, Latin, Public Speaking, Spanish, Linguistics (a new & very fascinating course), either Psychology or Physics (probably the first) and gym. 

It represents 27 class hours a week and at least two days a week without a lunch hour—but like a beaver my darling, your idiot looks forward with anticipation to the work. I’m going to get a straight A average this year or bust. 

A few letters later, he describes the process:

Reading about your registration procedures just sharpens and focuses the CCNY system more in my mind. I got to school about 9:45 AM and proceeded to Dean Gotschall’s to get permission to take 19-1/2 credits which will establish me at the end of this term as a full upper junior. I had to wait over an hour to see him and as I had to report at 11:00 I was rather impatient by the time I was ushered into his office. He got my record and began to comment favorably upon it. He proceeded to ask me what I wanted and when I told him he asked me why. That was a little difficult without bringing you into it but I finally succeeded. He then sat me down and lectured me for about ten minutes on the value of leisure and contemplation as opposed to education under pressure. He stressed the view of a broad and intensive analysis of what one does as a basic need to a good education.

I agreed with him of course, but I also pointed out the fact that trying to help get yourself to school and through, coming from a home of modest circumstances as I do is not exactly conducive to the luxury of leisure and studious contemplation and review. He was impressed when I pointed out that I had made the record he admired while working every evening —or playing [foot]ball—and that now I had more free time to devote to studies. He (reluctantly still, I’m afraid) approved my application in the form of a note (enclosed) and sent me to register. Darling, till you’ve undergone a CCNY registration you’ll never really appreciate Dante. It is without doubt the most nerve wracking experience a person can undergo in the educational world. You receive a numbered registration card, a schedule of recitations, and a few worksheets. Waiting for your number to come up while classes close all about is the hellish part. In the smoke-filled atmosphere of the room you sit and die a thousand deaths as the men file out of the tally room closing more and more sections each time. 

It gets so (especially if you have to wait over an hour which is common) that you begin to shout at the poor innocents —who, after all, are only performing their diabolical work in the line of duty. “Go away,” “No, No, No,” “I’ll kill you” and far more vulgar and primitive epithets, determined by the female content of the room.

You aren’t safe till you leave the tally room. First an advisor must approve your program, no. of credits, choice of hours etc., etc. After that you go down a list of talliers who check to see that your classes are all open, and finally your card is stamped “tallied.”

At any point along the way a class may close on you. As a matter of fact one blew up in my face just a second before the stamp was to mark the cards, but fortunately it was Public Speaking which I was easily able to transfer to other days at the same hours. 

From this point registration is almost over. You fill out a few cards, and for all practical purposes you’re through, unless they cancel a section completely, in which case you’re really through!! (Program enclosed.)

I’m awfully glad it’s all over and very thankful that it came out as well as it did. 


 

Tue, 28 Jun 2022 00:05:13 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/24904
Max Garcia: Combining Theatre and Political Science to Educate and Engage the Community https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/max-garcia-combining-theatre-and-political-science-educate-and-engage

 

Max GarciaMax Garcia started college thinking he would become a lawyer, but he found his passion in using the performing arts to educate his Washington Heights and Bronx communities about their history and the issues affecting their lives. Garcia was a member of the inaugural cohort of the Colin Powell School’s Racial Justice Fellows. He also won an acting award from the Theatre Department, served as president of the Dominican Students Association, and served on the Black Students Council, all while working as a research assistant. Garcia encourages students to be patient with themselves, search for their passions, and push themselves to open up and connect with people they meet in college. “Being surrounded by so many intelligent students of color in a school with a history of activism is a really affirming experience,” Garcia says, reflecting on his time at City College. 

Let’s start with a little about your background. Where are you from?

I was born in Washington Heights to Dominican immigrants. My ancestry on my father’s side is a little murky because of the history of violence and censorship on the island, so we’ll get back to that after I find a way to exactly confirm my paternal grandparents’ ethnicity. I identify as an Afro-Latin man, and I’ve lived in the Bronx my entire life, growing up around all the distinct cultures found in the borough. 

Tell us about your path to City College. What brought you here?

I went to school at the High School for Environmental Science prior to arriving at City College. The summer prior to entering City College, I won a moot court competition for high school students at New York Law School, after which I was awarded an internship with the Safe Passage Project where I worked closely with lawyers who were representing undocumented minors free of charge. I worked mainly as a translator for clients who didn’t speak English and translating some documents when necessary. It was an experience that definitely helped shape me early on and made me think about going to college to become a lawyer.

Honestly, I knew that I didn’t want to go away for school, and my family didn’t have the money for me to go to a huge private institution. Some of these schools were charging more in tuition for a semester than my family makes in a whole year, and I knew I didn’t want to put that economic burden of debt on myself and my family. So when I was voicing these concerns to my college advisor, she immediately recommended City College to me, stating that I could both get an amazing education from the institution while also being able to graduate debt free. As soon as she told me that, I was sold.  

What motivated you to choose political science as your major?

My purpose for getting into political science as a major was so I could better understand why the world around me is the way it is, in terms of policy. Growing up Uptown, in communal places such as barbershops, parks, and even churches, I would always hear the older folk talking about issues that plagued our community: “the schools are underfunded,” or “the rent is going up, and we’re getting pushed out,” or “the police are too aggressive”. Everybody agreed that these were real problems, but nobody could agree on why they were happening. I chose to study political science so I would be able to know where all these things were originating, so I could in turn explain it to my community so we could make informed decisions on how to address these issues. 

How has your career unfolded, and how has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?

My career is still unfolding, I’d say. You see, I hope to make a career out of directing, screenwriting, acting, as well as a couple other creative ventures. Now I know you’re probably thinking, what does that have to do with political science? How does that tie in? Somewhere along the line, I figured out that I had a talent for acting and storytelling that could be married to my passion for Political Science and History. If I could drop what I’ve learned during my time at school into a script for example, I now have an opportunity to reach more members of my community at once in a show, as opposed to teaching lectures and reaching forty, maybe fifty people at a time. I’m currently very deep in the development of a show I’m directing, writing, and acting in called “Uptown” which basically breaks down how members of all the different groups of the African Diaspora interact in Uptown, New York City. 

A major way City College has helped me in this aspect is that most of the actors cast in the show are current or former City College students I’ve met during my time here. City College has proven to be a great place for me to network with like-minded individuals who I probably never would have had the opportunity to meet outside of school. And lastly, building off of that, just the community and atmosphere of City College as a whole has definitely helped shape me into who I am today. Being surrounded by so many intelligent students of color in a school with a history of activism is a really affirming experience.

What memories or accomplishments from your time at the Colin Powell School would you like to share?

I was a member of the inaugural cohort of Racial Justice Fellows, which was a great experience for me because the workshops were super informative and I love to learn. The guidance provided by the fellowship leaders was amazing in terms of creating a safe space for students of color. Meanwhile, I was awarded the Bernie West Award for Excellence in Performance by the Theatre Department for my performance in the lead role in a production of “Anna in the Tropics”. And I’m currently the President of the Dominican Students Association, which has been a great experience for me getting to uplift Dominican culture on campus. It has truly been an honor. Also, I can’t let this moment pass without speaking about my time at the Dominican Studies Institute, where I started as a volunteer and now work as a staff member. The amount I’ve learned from everybody there is truly incredible. I often reflect on the fact that I’m practically getting paid to learn about my history and culture on a level that not many people have the opportunity to, and for that I’m duly thankful. Last but certainly not least, I also sit on the Black Student Council together with other leaders of Black clubs on campus. The Council truly does great work in terms of all our clubs giving each other mutual support trying to revitalize Black student life on campus again after the pandemic shutdown.

What advice do you have for current or future students?

To current or future City College students: it’s all right not to have everything figured out. When I got to City College, I thought I was going to be a lawyer. Three years later I have found my calling in a creative space. Be patient with yourself, give yourself the space and time to figure out where your passions lie. What are you passionate about? Don’t choose a career or major based on what someone in your life wants you to do, or what you think will make you the most money. Put all that aside for a moment and truly ask yourself the question: What makes you happy? What do you love to do? I promise you, once you give yourself that space everything’s going to open up, and you’re going to see things start to fall into place. Also, find your tribe — network, y’all. Actually talk to people when classes let out. Some of my closest collaborators and friends today I met simply by saying hi before or after class. Go to clubs, another great place to meet people. It’s a commuter school, you’re gonna find people from all over on campus with life experiences both very similar to and very different from yourself. Take advantage of your community, make friends, make connections, build your tribe, and I’ma say this again: be patient with yourself, find your passion, and y’all will be alright.
 

Mon, 27 Jun 2022 23:16:27 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/24903
Never-Ending Curiosity https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/never-ending-curiosity

 

Diego Mendoza’Never-Ending Curiosity: Diego Mendoza’s Journey from DR to Washington Heights to Washington, DC

After experiencing firsthand the heartbreaking cutbacks to academic and extracurricular programs at his high school, Diego Mendoza developed an insatiable curiosity about the politics and policies that lead to these changes. Attracted by CCNY’s affordability, he joined the Colin Powell School determined to make his mother proud and to build a career in public service. He participated in the Semester in DC program and studied abroad for eight months in France. These experiences helped him land a job in the New York State Executive Chamber after graduation. Mendoza encourages future students, even those with limited spare time, to explore the fellowship, internship, study abroad, and other programs available at CCNY and apply for these opportunities early in their college journey.

Please share a little about your background. 

I was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in 1993. My mother and I migrated to NYC when I was six years old. We lived in the Bronx for a few years and then permanently moved to Washington Heights, 158th St. 

What drove you to come to City College and study public policy?
 
Nothing drove me more towards an education than to make my mother and family proud. She worked hard as a single mother in a new country. I wanted to show her that her efforts were not only recognized by me but would lead to great things.

What drove me to choose the major that I did was my never-ending curiosity about politics. I can trace this back to my experience in public school during a time of swift and aggressive defunding of school programs. I attended Louis D Brandeis high school down by 84th Street in Manhattan. During my junior year, I took my first music class. I played the Alto-Saxophone and was quite good. So good in fact, the teacher pulled me aside after class one day and asked me if I would be interested in advanced band class the following year. Perhaps three weeks later, the same teacher pulled me aside after class and informed me the music program had been the first program to be cut out of the budget for next year. I was heartbroken, and this got me thinking about what kind of policies lead up to this. My high school ended up getting closed and separated into four different schools just one year after my graduation. This experience sparked a deep curiosity about public policy and politics.

How has your career unfolded, and how did the Colin Powell School help you along the way? 

After several months of interviewing that began in October of 2021, I was offered a position at the Executive Chamber of NY. (This is the Governor's Office of New York State). The Colin Powell School was instrumental to my success. I participated in the Semester in DC program where I got to network with some of the most important people in Washington, DC today. During this time, I got the opportunity to speak to people like Antony Blinken, former Vice President Joe Biden, who was running for president at the time, and lastly the man himself, Colin Powell. Moreover, I got to participate in a foreign exchange program and was fortunate enough to spend eight months in Reims, France. I believe these doors to success could only be opened at a marvelous school like CCNY. I will be forever grateful to this institution. 

What was your most significant accomplishment or memory from your time at CCNY?

I think my most memorable accomplishment was attending the Semester in DC program. Living in DC, networking with the greatest minds in the country while making life-long friendships was priceless and something I'll carry with me for the rest of my life. Living in France for eight months was a very close second. 

How have you been involved with City College since your graduation? What motivates you to stay involved?
 
Since my graduation I've tried my best to keep in touch with former professors and faculty. Dean Andrew Rich has been the biggest reason for me to return and help in any way I can. Dean Rich accepted me into the Semester in DC program and from there my life changed forever. The biggest take away from my interactions with him was the motto of "paying it forward". He is big on that, and I try every day to keep that spirit alive. Any time I come across a particular opportunity I reach out to him first for his advice. For example, the day after I accepted my position with the Executive Chamber, I got a call from a Congressional office I was interviewing with. They called after I sent an email about accepting another offer and asked if I knew anyone who would be interested in the position. I immediately forwarded the details to Dean Rich because I don't know anyone who is a better judge of character.

Do you have any advice for future students?

Do your very best to explore the tools and resources available at CCNY. I understand college life is different for every student and after-school responsibilities will vary from student to student. But if you find yourself with a few hours to spare, please visit the career center, the Colin Powell School’s Office of Student Success, and the Study Abroad Office. Figure out what programs are available, and apply! College life passes by faster than you think, and I want everyone to experience as much of it as possible.
 

Tue, 07 Jun 2022 13:20:34 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/24835
Discovering the Value in Untold Stories https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/discovering-value-untold-stories

 

Sal-AbigailDiscovering the Value in Untold Stories: Abigail Raghunath’s Commitment to Justice for Marginalized Communities

 

Abigail Raghunath’s studies were inspired by her experiences in foster care, her brother’s incarceration, and her family’s immigrant struggles. She chose to study at CCNY as she saw herself in the stories of alumni like Colin Powell and William H. Greene. She majored in Political Science and International Studies. She was awarded the 2021 CCNY Humanitarian Award for her community impact, which included coaching her Mock Trial team, mentoring for the Black Male Initiative, founding the city’s first South-Asian sorority, and working with youth in churches and local schools. Abigail’s European Parliament internship inspired her to further understand the refugee crisis. Subsequently, she participated in research that investigated the transfer of international medical licenses to the US for refugees. In 2020-21, Abigail was awarded the S. Jay Levy Fellowship and completed several internships in public service. Currently, she is an assistant to the Global NGO Executive Committee’s President Patrick Sciarratta and works for NYS Senator Julia Salazar on prison reform policy. Abigail will spend this summer supporting community development and gender equity projects in Siem Reap, Cambodia. In the fall, she will pursue her Master in International Affairs degree at Columbia’s School of International Affairs, where she will explore the impact of public policy on survivors of gender-based violence.

Please share a little about your background. 

I am what they call a “New Yorker” because I was a foster child to immigrant parents from Guyana in New York before arriving at City College. I lived in each borough at least one point in my life, and that is where I learned to appreciate the values of diversity. When I was 14, I was finally released into my mother’s care, where we resided in the Bronx. Shortly after, I entered high school at A. Philip Randolph Campus High School on City College’s Campus.

What brought you to City College?

Five years ago, I was a high school student across the street from City College, and my sister was a student here. I would come to campus to help her care for her young child as she took classes. During this time, I witnessed the strong relationships and support system that she built with her peers and faculty. I was surprised to see that even though she was a student here, the people at City College treated her like family. I also spent time listening to her friends talk about significant problems and exchange ideas on how they can change the world one day. In moments like these, I saw myself reflected in the diverse students at City College.

What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY?

City College has enabled me to cultivate a passion for change and mobilizing voices that have been ignored. The support from my City College family pushed me to pursue opportunities that I would typically shy away from. In my first year, I was able to mentor my peers and tutor youth in my community through City College. These experiences taught me that providing access and resources for people can significantly impact their lives and choices. As I continued throughout City College, I had support from my professors to apply for research and advocacy internships to assist refugees receiving professional licensures in the host country under an adjunct professor at Yale University. Through this internship, I learned that there was value in the untold stories of refugees. So, I decided to enroll in the Gender Violence in War and Peace course with Katherina Stefanos. This is where I decided that I would apply for graduate school and study how gender violence impacts the voices of people, especially women. This class changed my perspective on the connection between race, socio-economic class, state terror, gender violence, and political violence.

How has the Colin Powell School helped you on your career path?

City College and the Colin Powell School have helped me navigate my future. After graduation, I will be attending Columbia University to attain my Master in International Affairs, concentrating on International Security Policy and volunteering in Siem Reap, Cambodia, to help with educational development for women. However, four years ago, I did not see myself doing this. I entered college thinking I would receive a BA in Political Science and International Studies and attend law school after graduation. But, after receiving the S Jay Levy Fellowship and completing an internship at a law firm, I realized that I wanted a path where I felt like I was doing something I loved and making a difference in the world. This shift in career choices made me nervous; however, after receiving an email from Professor Braveboy-Wagner with advice on my career path, I found a lot of comfort and confidence that moving into international relations and security was for me. I was prompted to apply for three internships: Research for Refugees under an adjunct professor at Yale, US State Senator Julia Salazar’s Office, and the Global NGO Executive Committee — through City College. These internships allowed me to further develop my passion for mobilizing the voices of those around me that did not have one.

Would you like to share a significant memory or accomplishment from your time at CCNY?

I have many unforgettable memories here at City College, but my fondest memory would be the day I won the Humanitarian Award at City College in 2021. I remember receiving an email about the award, but I had no idea how I received the award. Prof. Braveboy-Wagner began reading her speech about me a few days later, and I was utterly stunned. I remember telling my mom, “Is this actually real?” This was a big moment for two reasons. First, I never thought the things I did, such as mentoring with CUNY Black Male Initiative, tutoring for City Tutors, teaching Sunday School in my community, and my other internships mattered to anyone or made a difference. That day I realized that I was wrong, it did matter, and people watched. Secondly, that speech meant a lot to me because she was someone I admired and saw similarities with my background. After all, we are both Caribbean women.

What advice do you have for current and future students?

My advice is to not be afraid to break out of your shell. City College is where we learn from our mistakes and grow in a safe space. It is a space that accepts all people regardless of their skin color, ethnicity, religion, orientation, class, and income. We all come here to learn and empower both ourselves and our communities. So, do not be afraid to go during office hours, randomly say hello to a classmate, join a club, or even start your own organization here. City College is where we begin our journey into the world as future leaders.

What does it mean to you to be selected as a salutatorian?

Being the Colin Powell School’s salutatorian gives hope to my community. I come from a background where most people do not go to college or are even given the privilege to attend college because either they do not make it to the age of eighteen or they must provide for their families by working. So, I have the privilege to overcome these adversities and set an example for other youth in my community. This means showing them our past does not define our future. We can be successful and prevail against the odds.
 

Tue, 10 May 2022 12:48:19 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/24757
Explore Who You Are and Talk to Everyone https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/explore-who-you-are-and-talk-everyone

 

Sal-TeresaExplore Who You Are and Talk to Everyone Says Salutatorian Teresa Mettela, Now a Reporter on Capitol Hill


 Salutatorian Teresa Mettela was the first in her family to be born in the United States, after her parents emigrated from South India. Metella was raised in Flushing, Queens where she gained a deep-rooted sense of community and leadership. She developed her commitment to local activism through her work as a journalist for the Queens Daily Eagle and the Queens Courier. During her time as a freelance reporter, she covered pressing national issues such as the reopening after the COVID-19 shutdown, the rise in AAPI hate crimes, and awareness efforts for the 2020 Census. At CCNY, Teresa built her skillset as a writer by studying a broad range of disciplines, including international studies, sociology, gender studies, philosophy, and economics. During her junior year, she conducted an independent journalism study that focused on humans at the center of migration and was featured by the HarlemView, an online publication featuring work by CUNY students. She interned for The Nation and is currently working with The Wall Street Journal as a politics reporter on Capitol Hill, where she has written about Ukraine, public sector unions, and government transparency. She is also part of Colin Powell’s NBCU Academy Fellowship Program, where she continues to build her skillset as a dynamic storyteller and multimedia journalist.
 
Please share a little about your background. Where are you from? 
 
I was born and raised in Flushing, Queens and have lived there for 18 years before moving to the suburbs. I went to public schools all my life and have come to appreciate their grit, their diversity, and their free breakfast. Growing up, I was constantly scribbling story ideas and poetry in the margins of my composition books. Much like other teenage girls in middle school, I became engrossed with the Hunger Games Trilogy. In my spare time, with the (misguided) encouragement of my best friend, I started writing Hunger Games fanfiction online. It was my escapist fantasy – a Narnia-esque world where I was a celebrated writer with fans leaving me comments demanding chapter after chapter. But being raised as a child of immigrants, there was always a certain pressure to become one of the Top Three: a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. In high school, I struggled through AP Calculus and soared in AP English Language (which should’ve clued me in). Slowly and reluctantly, I found myself in spaces that challenged me as a writer. In high school, I was part of a program called Girls Write Now where I met my first writing mentor, Christy. She was the push that swung my pendulum into the humanities world.    
 
What brought you to City College?
 
For most of my life, I have been fortunate enough to seek guidance from my older sister. When I made my decision to enroll as an undergraduate student at CCNY, she was starting her senior year there. The comfort of having my older sibling around, in addition to my scholarship from the Macaulay Honors Program, ultimately brought me to City College.  
 
What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?
 
In a society where journalists are constantly under attack and news is deemed “the enemy of the people,” my passion for dynamic storytelling only grew stronger. As someone who values objectivity and unbiased news, I saw how the media was increasingly becoming a spectacle in the United States. Certain news channels and media outlets are riddled with fake news – it was getting harder and harder to find accurate reporting. At City College, I took classes like Writing & Reporting and Introduction to Media Studies which provided a foundation for my journalism career, but I also took Race & Media and Transnational Feminisms which ensured that my reporting was inclusive and intersectional. I made sure to not only connect with students and staff from the Journalism Department, but also the Departments of Sociology, Philosophy, and Gender Studies. The flexibility I had at CCNY helped me engage with a myriad of classes, which diversified and informed my perspective as a journalist. 
 
Tell us about your career path. How has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way? 
 
While taking journalism classes at the Colin Powell school, I met a lot of mentors who have provided me with immense support and guidance. It was only after a trip to NBC Studios with Professor Gary Pierre-Pierre that I worked up the courage to email the editor of the Queens Daily Eagle and ask to freelance with his team. The former editor, David Brand, took a chance on me. I continued to report local news in Queens for the next couple of years. It was this experience that taught me the ins and outs of journalism. I reported daily, wrote and rewrote, and built lasting relationships with the people in my community. In my junior year, I connected with Professor Nevins-Taylor who saw my potential as a student journalist. She gave me the opportunity to partake in an independent study where I studied immigration patterns in the US and published an article with a student-run publication, the HarlemView. Later, I was accepted to a fellowship with The Nation, where I did a contrast piece that highlighted resources for DACA recipients in NYC. The Colin Powell School creates an environment for students that welcomes diversity, innovation, and success; I would not be where I am today without the support of my professors and fellow students. I am most thankful for the community of writers at the Colin Powell School who build each other up and push each other to achieve greatness.
 
What memories or accomplishments would you like to share from your time at CCNY?
 
The opportunities, fellowships, and experiences that City College offers are nothing short of irreplaceable. With the coronavirus pandemic, I wasn’t able to study abroad like I originally planned to in my senior year. However, through Colin Powell’s fellowship programs, I was able to spend my last semester in Washington, DC, studying public policy and journalism. Through this fellowship, I applied to The Wall Street Journal’s reporting internship and went through a rigorous application process. In the month before my move from NYC to DC, I got an offer from the Journal. Now, I’m living on Capitol Hill covering the Congress almost everyday. Within four weeks, I have already interviewed multiple Congress members, reported on pressing national news, and gotten rejected by Senator Bernie Sanders. I credit all of this invaluable experience to the exposure and the encouragement I received from my mentors at CCNY, especially Professor Nevins-Taylor. Currently, I have three bylines with the Journal and working on my fourth! 
 
Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?
 
It’s okay to not know what you’re doing at first. I wish someone had told me that. College is when you figure out who you are, what you like, what you hate, and where the good library spots are (I’m not kidding). If you’re just beginning your college experience, try to really think about what you expect from your future life and/or career. I started my college career as an undecided major and I do not regret it one bit. I switched my major at least three times before finally landing on International Studies. So, take that pottery class you've been eyeing. Talk to everyone – the scary professor, the Linguistics major, the kid in the back of the class. I guarantee you that there’s something to learn from everyone here, especially at CUNY. The college experience is truly what you make of it and it can pass you by if you remain complacent. As students, it’s your responsibility to seek out, take, and even create opportunities if you can.  
 
What does it mean to you to have been selected as a CPS salutatorian?
 
I am truly honored to have been selected as a CPS salutatorian. The Colin Powell School is a transformative school that has molded my narrative tremendously. I began with only ideas of what I wanted to do, but I’m leaving knowing that I’ve achieved so much in only four years. To be selected as a CPS salutatorian is a reminder to everyone at Colin Powell that you can achieve your wildest dreams here. Moving forward, I will carry the same sense of gratitude and principle into all the spaces I enter, whether that be in my personal or professional endeavors. This distinction is really an homage to the school and all it has to offer. 
 

Tue, 10 May 2022 12:45:27 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/24756
You Belong, Your Story Matters, and the World Needs You: https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/you-belong-your-story-matters-and-world-needs-you

 

Sal-DanielleYou Belong, Your Story Matters, and the World Needs You: Danielle Evans on Her Journey to Eradicate Educational Inequality

Danielle Evans, a native of the South Bronx, will graduate with a bachelor of arts degree in sociology. Evans first visited the CCNY campus when her son performed in the Langston Hughes Choral Speaking Festival at Aaron Davis Hall in 2018. She was inspired by the campus and the diverse community of City College and knew it was the place to expand how she thought about the world. Evans is committed to combating educational inequality that results from the systemic inequities in our city. As a mother of two and a former public school student herself, she is motivated by her direct experiences with the longstanding disparities in NYC’s public school system. As a sociology major, Evans explored the many interacting and mutually reinforcing aspects of education inequality. With support from the CCNY Scholarships Office and the Colin Powell School, she became a Truman Scholar finalist and continues to pursue her career aspirations while working as a policy support specialist with the NYC Department of Education. After graduating, Evans will attend Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education to pursue a master’s degree in education leadership in the fall. 
 
Please tell us a little about your background. 
 
I am an African American woman born and raised in the South Bronx with my grandmother and siblings. Before attending CCNY, I worked in early childhood education at a Head Start program in the Bronx. This is where my interest in education began. Through my union at the job, I was able to obtain my Associate's Degree. My two children inspire me to improve myself and my community. As my children entered public school, I began to volunteer with the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and the School Leadership Team (SLT) to contribute to the school community. This engagement motivated me to contribute more, on a larger scale.
 
What brought you to City College?

I first visited CCNY when my son performed in the Langston Hughes Choral Speaking Festival at Aaron Davis Hall in 2018. I fell in love with the campus and had never experienced such diversity in any school building before. I was attracted to the Colin Powell School’s MPA program with a social justice lens because it is imperative that I examine the issues around education inequality from a sociological perspective.  I remember how diverse the student population was when I visited and I knew this was exactly where I wanted to continue my education.
 
What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?
 
I have seen every public school I attend close due to poor performance. This coupled with the ongoing dissatisfaction with my children’s former school opportunities encouraged me to examine the longstanding inequities in a public school system that has historically and continuously underserved students of color. After attending Community Education Council meetings, I met parents across NYC with nearly identical problems at schools in Black neighborhoods. I learned that the problems that manifest in our schools reflect the systemic inequalities of our city. I returned to school, determined to prevent educational inequalities from becoming an inter-generational problem. It was imperative that I examine the issues around education inequality from a sociological perspective.
 
How has your career unfolded, and how has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way? 
 
The Colin Powell School helped me align my passion and career goals with my current life. I am now a policy support specialist with the Division of Early Childhood at the NYC DOE doing exactly what I am passionate about, education policy. I would have never applied to a position like this without the mentorship of people like Ms. Lutton, Dean Rich, Professor Dordick, and Professor Tucker.
 
Please share a significant memory or accomplishment from your time at CCNY.
 
Becoming a Truman finalist here is definitely one of the highlights of my experience. The application required enough work to be almost the equivalent of a course in itself, but the process of introspection was transformational for me. The support from the department, professors, and alumni helped translate my aspirations into reality and make me believe in myself enough to put my best foot forward. 
 
Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?
 
There is no linear path or age limit to success, to finding your purpose, or to discovering the things that excite you in life. Also, never forget that you belong in every classroom and every door you walk into because your story matters and the world needs you. 
 
What does it mean to have been selected as a CPS salutatorian?
 
To be selected as a CPS salutatorian is truly a top honor. I am a reflection of the dedication and influence of the CPS community. I now leave well equipped to transcend in my career and inspire others along the way.
 

Tue, 10 May 2022 11:11:39 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/24753
Combining Psychology and Biology to Build a Career in Neuroscience Research  https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/combining-psychology-and-biology-build-career-neuroscience-research

 

Sal-AlyssaAlyssa DeStefano: Combining Psychology and Biology to Build a Career in Neuroscience Research 

Salutatorian Alyssa Destefano will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and a minor in biology. She began her studies as a pre-med major but changed her focus to research after realizing she felt deeply passionate about neuroscience, inspired in part by her brother, who was born with a rare neurodevelopmental disorder. Over the past three years of interning at the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities (IBR), DeStefano developed an interest in conducting research with infants at risk for developmental delays. This research inspired her Psychology Honors Thesis, which was funded by the 2021 CCNY Opportunities in Research and Creative Arts (ORCA) Fellowship. Through her coursework at CCNY, DeStefano continued to develop her passion for neuroscience and sought out more related research experiences. Outside of the classroom, she has also volunteered with El Centro del Inmigrante and Project Hospitality. After graduating, DeStefano will attend the Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience PhD Program at the CUNY Graduate Center. She hopes to develop neuroimaging strategies for earlier identification of Autism Spectrum Disorder in infants. Her career goal is to conduct developmental neuroscience research assessing the neural mechanisms underlying developmental disorders.

Please tell us a little about your background. Where are you from?

I am a Staten Islander who was born in Brooklyn, which is the typical origin story for Staten Islanders. I am a mix of Italian, Puerto Rican, Irish, and French Canadian.  I’ve always enjoyed seeking out diversity in thought and culture (especially food). I also have always felt strongly about public service. This sense of service pushed me to volunteer throughout high school, and I graduated with the President’s Gold Award for Volunteer Service, which was a real honor for me. I continued this work in college and, during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, in a food pantry with El Centro del Inmigrante.

What brought you to City College?

When choosing a college, I wanted a university that would allow me to explore my identity and academic aspirations while participating in a diverse community. I chose CCNY for the rigorous academic curriculum offered and the diverse community of students, staff, and faculty.   

What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?

I am very lucky to have an older brother who is blind with a neurodevelopmental disability. He is a constant source of inspiration for me. Even as a young girl, I was eager to learn about his neurodevelopmental disability and excited about how I would improve the quality of life for those with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Studying psychology at CCNY was an obvious choice for me. 

How has your career unfolded, and how did the Colin Powell School help you along the way? 

I originally was a pre-med student when I began CCNY. I really enjoyed my psychology courses and began interning at an infant development lab at the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities the summer following my freshman year. I’ve continued working in this lab since and am now working on my Psychology Honors Thesis with Professor Sarah O’Neill. I received grant funding from CCNY’s Opportunities in Research and Creative Arts (ORCA program) over the summer of 2021 for my thesis. 

After taking neuroscience classes with Professor Jon Horvitz, I knew neuroscience was my passion. I became excited about the translational aspect of applying neuroscience to study neurodevelopmental disabilities. In the second semester of my junior year, I began working more closely with Dr. O’Neill and the Attention and Neuropsychological Development (ATT&ND) lab and sought out a neuropsychology research position at Hunter College with Dr. Tracy Dennis. Because of these experiences and my professors’ encouragement, I felt ready to apply to PhD programs in neuroscience and psychology. I will attend the CUNY Graduate Center Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience PhD program in the fall and work with Dr. Kristina Denisova, who studies infants at risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder using neuroimaging and neurocognitive measures. I am excited for what the future holds.
 
Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your career or time at City College that you would like to talk about?

Submitting my Psychology Honors thesis proposal was a big deal for me. I began my thesis in the spring semester of 2021, which marked one year in the pandemic. At the time, I was taking care of my brother while my parents worked. I am proud of myself for accomplishing that milestone in a time when everything else around me felt as though it was falling apart. My work kept me grounded throughout the pandemic, and I am so thankful to have had such supportive professors and classmates.  

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

My best advice would be to channel your perseverance. Find what you’re passionate about and go for it, even if it seems impossible. Talk to your professors and advisors about your passions and ask for their advice. Seek out related experiences and let your enthusiasm show all the time. As Roald Dahl once said, “If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it, and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good.”
 

Tue, 10 May 2022 11:10:03 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/24752
From Guyana to NYC to Tennessee: Lorianne Mitchell’s Journey to Becoming a College Professor https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/guyana-nyc-tennessee-lorraine-mitchells-journey-becoming-college-professor

 

Lorraine MitchellFrom Guyana to NYC to Tennessee: Lorianne Mitchell’s Journey to Becoming a College Professor

Whether she was helping friends resolve conflicts, being absorbed in reading her mother’s Psychology textbook, or people-watching in downtown Manhattan, Lorianne Mitchell knew from a young age that human relations fascinated her. This motivated her to join the Psychology Department at CCNY. As an immigrant from Guyana with two siblings also in college, Mitchell worked hard and took the most credits she could each semester. After graduating from CCNY, Mitchell earned her PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and became an Associate Professor of Management at East Tennessee State University. Reflecting on her time at CCNY, Mitchell expressed her gratitude for Professor Vivien Tartter, who demanded her strongest effort and offered her the most thorough feedback: “Professor Tartter’s class was instrumental in preparing me to go from undergrad to PhD. I am forever grateful for her tutelage and support,” Mitchell said.

Tell me more about your background. Where are you from? 

I immigrated with my family from Guyana in South America, a couple of days after my eleventh birthday, and it was cold. We came from two degrees below the Equator to the coldest day in the Northeastern part of the United States in December. We moved: it was my mom, my brother, my sister, and I, the middle child. My mom’s mom and sister sponsored us to come to the US. We were following the American Dream, pursuing all of the opportunities that are available in the United States. We moved to Coney Island, and it was ten of us in a three-bedroom apartment. We lived there and then we moved to East New York after that, and we continued going to school in Coney Island, taking the bus and train back and forth. 

I went to a magnet junior high school in Coney Island. There were seventy students selected to be in that program, and we had different schedules than the other students. You’d come into school early and take classes all day long, and we’d have professors coming to give us classes or we’d even leave school early to go take classes at the community college. By the time we got to our junior and senior years in high school, we were taking AP-level courses. It was an intensive program but I think it prepared me for college better, as compared to the other students in my school. 

My brother is a year ahead of me, so he went to college the year right before me. Because his college education cost my mom so much, I didn’t have as many options as he did. He was able to go away to college, and in our culture, women don’t leave their homes until they’re married. So I mostly looked and applied to schools in New York since my mom could not afford to pay for us both to go to college at the same time. I got some financial aid, which covered my tuition and I was able to get into the Psychology program at CCNY. 

What motivated you to study Psychology?

I’ve always known I have a helper personality, I don’t know if it’s the middle child syndrome or what it could be. My personality has always been, whether it be on the block with my friends or someone gets into trouble, someone gets hurt, I’m the one that’s mending them. Friends always knew they could come to my house after school for a snack, and I would feed them. I remember in junior high school, we had a mock court system, and I chose to be a defense attorney because I wanted to defend the helpless or the kids who got in trouble. I always tried to find a way to get them out of trouble, whether it was lunch duty or something like that. I found myself always trying to find a way to make someone else’s life easier. So at one point, people thought I was going to be a doctor because I was always patching people back up. But that was not my interest. 

My mom was also in school at one point, and she had been a teacher in Guyana, and one of her required readings was in a Psychology textbook. I had always had a passion for reading, and I just started reading her textbook. It was so interesting to me, and that was when I knew that I wanted to do something in Psychology because the mind was fascinating. I’m a natural social scientist; I can sit for hours at the Met Cloisters or the Flatiron District and people-watch. I’m a natural observer of people and I think I have a very good intuition when it comes to people. That to me was the beginning of wanting to explore human behavior.

Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments about your time at CCNY?  

I remember how hard I worked to earn my degree. My advisors told me to take four classes, but I took 18-21 credits per semester, trying to get ahead. My brother, sister, and I were all in college at the same time. My mother was just above the poverty line, and could not qualify for government housing or any of those things, and she wasn’t getting any aid from my dad. So it was my mother working two to three different jobs, trying to make sure that her children had the best opportunity possible. We barely saw her because, by the time we woke up, she was already at work, she’d cook and leave food, but she was gone. I couldn’t take classes over the summer because I had to work 40 hours plus a week. Any break we had from classes, I was working: spring break, fall break, any break we had, it was work, work, work. 

I also fondly remember my extracurricular activities because I enjoyed singing and being a part of the gospel choir. I was a soprano. I remember singing the National Anthem in front of Hillary Clinton, which was a pretty memorable moment. I distinctly remember being a part of the Italian-American Club because I had studied Italian since junior high school. I remember the Jewish Studies program since I grew up a Seventh Day Adventist, and I took a lot of courses in Jewish Studies. I enjoyed the readings and learning the history of Jewish people and how they came to this country, how much they suffered, and the parallels between African Americans and Jews. I fondly recall tutoring with the SEEK Center, as well as being part of the Miss City College Pageant. I remember sitting out on the Quad with other students.

Tell me more about working with Professor Vivien Tartter, as you had mentioned doing research and some writing for her. 

I asked around, between talking to Psychology students and professors, and asking, “Who was the toughest professor?” I figured I learned best under those circumstances; my dad was militant and my mother was an educator, so we learned in tough environments. I needed a lot of structure and I needed a lot of almost boot camp style learning to do research. I thought Professor Tartter would give me the structure I needed to prepare myself for graduate-level research. 

One of my jobs over winter break was selling knives for Cutco. While selling knives, I had cut off the tip of one of my fingers, and I still have the scar and the tip eventually grew back. This led me to research this company, and I stumbled across the phrase Industrial-Organizational Psychology, so then I researched that. I kept coming across different terms and ideas, and this led me to realize that all of these programs would require me to do research, and so I had to prove to them that I could do that, or they wouldn’t even want to talk to me. 

I got into Professor Tartter’s class and I noticed that even if I was doing well, I still got feedback. It wasn’t, “This is your grade, good job, wonder!” I even had kept the papers up until this day, and I showed them to her and I said, “Honestly, this was the beginning of me showing how capable I am of writing, how capable I am at thinking and putting my thoughts together coherently.” Those papers were the catalyst for so many other papers. It wasn’t about the content, because the content was about ensuring there were parenting classes to prevent child abuse. It had nothing to do with my career path, but it had to do with the way of thinking and putting things together, that I wanted to remember and I’d go back and read those papers. Professor Tartter said, “I don’t give out As, and if you got an A, you were pretty good!” Then number three, the fact that even with an A, there was copious amounts of feedback on how I could even better myself in the process. I always read the feedback, I always read it, and took to heart what she said so I could better myself for the next one. For the most part, I’ve kept some stuff from graduate school and notes, but I’ve only kept two papers from Professor Tartter. 

How has your career unfolded, and how did the Colin Powell School help you along the way?

After CCNY, I had my graduate advisor tell me that one of my professors had taken the train downtown and given my letter of recommendation in person. That to me was pretty significant because no other professors had done that. 

For me, CCNY didn’t just prepare me academically, it gave me confidence in my skill level to be able to do the work I needed to do. One of my jobs was working in the career center, and through the career center, I was able to get a number of internships, which I needed immediately. I was able to get an internship with the city of New York, working in the personnel department. I was able to get an internship with the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, working with their employment arm. I wanted enough experience to show that I understood employment and HR, and those types of environments. CCNY was not only able to provide those working opportunities, whether they were paid or unpaid, but those opportunities also showed my graduate programs that I was serious about this and I knew what the work would entail. It helped me to be an attractive applicant for the PhD program.     

Have you been involved in the CCNY community since you graduated?

Yes, I came back after the pandemic and some personal health issues, as students had been reaching out to me and telling me about the positive impact I had on them. This was also a time in my career after teaching, which I’ve been doing for 20 years now. When you start to see the impact of your work, of your life’s work, it’s more fulfilling than anything else. This made me want to reach back to the people who had an impact, and who I vividly remember, and share this feeling of fulfillment, gratitude, and impact. So hopefully Professor Tartter was able to feel that in my reaching out to her. She was gracious enough to meet with me.  

Do you have any advice you’d like to give to current or future students at CPS or CCNY?

Absolutely! I say, experience the breadth of college, this is what I tell my students now. Sometimes we get so tunnel-visioned, and I’ve seen at open houses, students come in with a plan and what they want to study and what they want to do after, and I’m amazed that they have this plan. But I remind them that their brains aren’t done growing, so you never know what can trigger something that will take you to a place where you can truly be fulfilled. CCNY offers so many different activities, majors and classes students can take. For instance, I took a speech class because I needed an extra credit to make up 21 credits. So I took this speech class that really taught me how to better overcome a stutter and two how to overcome my West Indian/New York accent, how to code-switch between friends and family, and a more professional setting. A theater class I took taught me mindfulness and meditation which I still use to this day. It was about going into yourself and reflecting. It’s the little things and classes that help you become a well-rounded individual, which if you did not want, you could just go to a technical school. But if you’re going to a liberal arts institution, you’re trying to emerge as a well-rounded person, and to me, CCNY gives you the ability and option to become that well-rounded person, and not just focus on getting a job. CCNY helps people become fully actualized individuals, who can present and be more than just an employee to the world. 
 

Mon, 11 Apr 2022 14:12:09 -0400 colin powell school https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/24663
Relationships Are a Support System: Amagla Atoumou Journey to Becoming a Racial Justice Fellow and a Social Worker https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/relationships-are-support-system-amagla-atoumou-journey-becoming-racial

 

Amagla AtoumouRelationships Are a Support System: Amagla Atoumou Journey to Becoming a Racial Justice Fellow and a Social Worker

After immigrating from Côte d'Ivoire as a child, struggling to adapt to her new surroundings, and experiencing homelessness in high school, Amagla Atoumou was keenly aware of the importance of understanding social systems and how they affect the most marginalized communities. She declared a double major and double minor in the social sciences to get a broad, interdisciplinary understanding of the issues that had affected her life and the lives of so many others. She became a Racial Justice Fellow and formed close professional relationships with her fellow students as well as her professors and advisors. Building such relationships is an essential part of college education, which she advises future students to take seriously. A recent graduate from the Colin Powell School, Atoumou aspires to become a social worker to serve the communities most affected by public policies. Read the full interview.

Please share a little about your background.

I was born in Ivory Coast and migrated to the United States at the age of six. It took a lot of effort on my part, as it did on the part of most immigrant children, to learn English fast enough to keep up with my schoolwork and interact with my peers, but with the help of my mother and teachers, I was able to excel. I attended a high school that emphasized the significance of community service and included it in our curriculum, which aided me in discovering my passion for helping others. I took courses on intersectionality and constitutional law during my junior year of high school and fell in love with them, so I chose to major in social sciences in college. My high school experience wasn't easy because I was homeless for virtually the whole four years, but with the help of compassionate teachers, I was able to get the resources I needed outside school hours to finish my assignments as well as the resources I needed to apply to colleges.

What brought you to City College?

I decided to pursue my undergraduate education at City College because of the wide range of programs offered, as well as the numerous opportunities and support provided to students. I was able to focus on a variety of disciplines to gain critical knowledge and awareness of the world we live in, analyze different ideas, innovate, and understand how various institutions shape individuals.

What impassions you and gives you purpose?

Because I enjoy working with marginalized communities and believe that well-run municipalities are the cornerstone of thriving communities, I chose to pursue a double major in political science and international relations, as well as a double minor in sociology and public policy. I believe that in order for me to directly serve those who are affected by legislation and policies, I must first understand them.

How has the Colin Powell School helped you advance in your career?

The Colin Powell School at City College connected me with advisors and individuals like Deborah Cheng, who was my mentor in the Racial Justice Fellows Program, who helped me gain access to internships and opportunities to enhance my skills, which led me to go out of my way to land a position as a development and fundraising intern at kindness.org. Then I continued my passion for serving others by pursuing a career in the field of social work, working as a peer youth advocate at a nonprofit organization. I hope to obtain a master's degree in social work and continue to build and restore communities.
 
What is a significant memory you’d like to share about your time at CCNY?

Among my fondest memories from my time at City College are the bonds I was able to form with my cohorts while participating in the Colin Powell School's Racial Justice Fellows Program. We were able to form bonds during the beginning of a difficult period in this country when we were unable to interact directly with one another due to Covid-19. Most of us are still in contact with one another and we still support each other through our endeavors.

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

My single piece of advice is to form relationships with your professors, classmates, and other students you encounter on campus. These relationships will enhance your professional development and provide you with a support system throughout your career.
 

Mon, 11 Apr 2022 14:05:35 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/24662
​​​​​​​“There is no limit to what you can achieve in your career and in life” https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/there-no-limit-what-you-can-achieve-your-career-and-life


“There is no limit to what you can achieve in your career and in life” — the Importance of Education to Rudy Rianom 

Rudy Rianom
Rudy Rianom originally came to NYC from Indonesia with his family, as his father had been assigned to the Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the United Nations. Rianom’s father always emphasized the importance of working hard to earn a degree, so Rianom decided to come to CCNY for its robust and rigorous Economics program. While at CCNY, Rianom took courses in Economics and Finance, but he especially remembers a course on Entrepreneurial Economics. “Students created a business idea and wrote a business plan which outlines the steps from product inception to execution,” Rianom said. This course came in handy later when Rianom went on to open restaurants and pursue other ventures parallel to his career in global finance.

Please tell us about your early life. Where are you from?

I was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, and I am the oldest of three children. My family and I moved from Jakarta to New York City at the beginning of my senior year in high school. My father was a diplomat assigned to the Permanent Mission of Indonesia at the United Nations. After four years, my father returned to Indonesia and my younger brother and I stayed in New York to complete our college degrees. My father was later selected to represent Indonesia as their Ambassador to countries such as Austria, Venezuela and Turkey.

Since we were young, my father always taught us the importance and value of a college education and obtaining a degree. He often told us stories of himself growing up in poverty and only through perseverance, determination, and hard work was he able to complete his college degree, which changed the course of his life.

My father always reminded his children that a college degree will open windows of opportunity and he truly believes that there is no limit to what you can achieve in your career and in life. Those words continue to resonate in my head today and I embed the same principles in my own children. I would not have been successful in my career had I not applied these principles. 

What led you to study Economics at City College? 

I was very interested in business, the connectivity of the global economies and the world’s financial markets. And I wanted to graduate without incurring any debt. I chose City College instead of a private college because it was a reputable institution that offered a challenging academic program and an affordable tuition. Additionally, a few of my close friends went to City College.  

How was your time as a student in the Economics program?  

I started my own company when I was in the undergraduate program at City College. Operating a company gave me a new perspective and outlook. Meanwhile, I took economics and finance classes. The economics program was robust and rigorous, and there were a number of excellent professors who taught concurrently at Columbia University, University Of Pennsylvania, London School of Economics, and Yale. After completing my BA, I enrolled in the MA program at City College. The department has since expanded its program to include Business Administration and Management, Finance and Economics which is exciting. There is also a BA/MA program which did not exist when I attended City College. I’m proud to see such advancement in the school’s program and the variety of courses currently being offered to students. 

How has the Colin Powell School helped you on your career path? 

City College provided me with the fundamental skills to think strategically, analytically and creatively. As an example, some of the economics and finance courses I took during graduate and undergraduate studies provided me with the fundamentals of how the economy and financial markets operate. Some of the courses delved into the characteristics and analytics of specific financial products such as equities, fixed income, financial derivatives and foreign exchange/currency markets. 

I began focusing on building my career path when I was still a student. In my final semester at CCNY, I attended a career fair, submitted my resume, and networked with several financial companies. Shortly after graduation, while traveling overseas to visit my family, I received a call to interview for a position at a top-tier financial institution. I had to cut my vacation short in order to attend the interview. After multiple rigorous interviews, I was eventually offered a position at the company. From there, I continued to advance by setting up short term goals and targets of where I wanted to be from a title and salary perspective. At every firm that I was hired at, I always gave them 110% effort and learned as much as I could from the experience. Before I even realized it, my career progressed from an analyst level position to holding senior level positions at various firms.

Please share a significant memory and an accomplishment from your time at CCNY.

I have many fond memories of my time at City College. I remember eating lunch with friends in the NAC cafeteria, spending late nights in the NAC library studying for final exams, and meeting many wonderful professors. 

One of the best courses I took was Entrepreneurial Economics, where students created a business plan from product inception to execution. I hope that this class is still offered today. It provided me with the fundamentals of starting my own company, and since graduation, I’ve successfully established several partnerships, ventures and a restaurant outside of my career.   

I was able to pay for the majority of my master’s program by taking advantage of available resources such as the work/study programs, which allow graduate students the opportunity to work part-time and receive a stipend for tuition. I also became a graduate assistant. I was placed at York College as a database analyst, and it was a wonderful experience. 
 
How have you been involved with City College since your graduation? Why do you stay involved?

I have kept in touch with City College through the Alumni Association. Also, I recently reconnected with my former professor, Kevin Foster, through Linkedin. Professor Foster invited me to speak to his class about my career journey since graduating. I also invited one of my colleagues from another division to provide an overview of how foreign exchange and currency markets operate. The students were very receptive. We gave a brief overview of global markets and talked about the various divisions of investment banking, how to apply to internships, and how some of the topics they were learning in class actually apply in real life and play a significant role in the investor’s or firm’s decision-making process. I was very happy when the students stayed after class to ask very good questions. I’m really glad that the students felt the presentation was helpful in navigating their own career paths.  

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

My advice to students is to stay positive, focus on completing their undergraduate degree. Make the effort to apply to an internship program for the summer of their Junior and Senior year to gain valuable work experience. Utilize the various resources available at the college such as the career services department and fellowship programs. Apply for an internship through social media platforms such as Linkedin. 

Many financial and consulting companies currently offer internship programs that are available to rising juniors and seniors and will typically recruit those who have completed these programs. While the competition is tough for some of these programs, don’t give up! Keep trying. Network with alumni of the school, attend resume writing workshops, and brush up on your interview skills. Some of these resources may already be available through the career services area of the college.
 

Mon, 21 Mar 2022 23:26:31 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/24567
Set Goals, Find Mentorship, and Work Hard https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/set-goals-find-mentorship-and-work-hard


Set Goals, Find Mentorship, and Work Hard: How Xhulio Myftari Became a Volleyball Star and Parlayed His Internship into a Job

Xhulio

Many in the CCNY community have heard of Xhulio Myftari, the volleyball star who led our team to its highest ranking in years. Few know that with the help of the Colin Powell School’s mentorship and internship programs, Myftari also succeeded in completing an internship at a leading global financial services firm and landing a full-time job offer upon graduation. Originally from Albania, Myftari will graduate this June with a degree in civil engineering and a minor in economics, a path he chose in part due to his concern with the underdeveloped infrastructure and lack of services in Albania and other Global South countries. In this interview, Myftari describes his successful strategy: identify clear goals, take advantage of the opportunities available to you, and “then study and work harder than anybody else.”

Tell us a little about your background. 
 
I am originally from Albania and moved here right after I finished high school. Back home I was attending high school and at the same time I was playing volleyball. I had represented my city team and the national team of Albania in many different tournaments nationally, internationally, and globally, including the World Cup qualifications. Volleyball was my priority, but once we moved to the United States, I realized I could not do much with volleyball. Therefore, I thought about what is the next best thing for me, and I decided to focus more on my studies. 

What brought you to City College?

After deciding to pursue a college degree, I started by learning English, then I finished my Associate of Science in Civil Engineering at LaGuardia Community College. I wanted to continue to earn a bachelor’s degree, and I had heard that City College has one of the best programs when it comes to civil engineering. To me it was a no brainer to continue with my studies at City College which was very close to my family, affordable, and a great education. Now I am about to finish my studies at CCNY with my Bachelor of Engineering degree, with a minor in economics at the Colin Powell School. 

What led you to choose to study civil engineering and economics? 

I always wanted to help people in need. Often, people born and raised in the US are not aware of all the advantages and benefits that they have. I come from Albania, and although it is a country located in Europe, it is considered a third world country. I have seen people that do not have access to the basic needs of a human being. I have seen people and villages that do not have clean water, electricity or even internet, and I always wanted to create projects for them so they have easier access to those things in the most cost-effective way. That is one of the reasons I always wanted to be a civil engineer to create a product or a system for those people in need.  

Tell us about your career path. How has CCNY helped you along the way? 

I have had a very interesting journey at City College so far. At the Grove School of Engineering, I learned some lifelong skills that I will use in my professional career, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, personal discipline, and attention to detail. Through the Colin Powell School I was able to get a great internship with Santander Bank in Corporate and Investment Banking. I was able to intern with one of the best teams in the U.S when it comes to renewable energy. Also through the Colin Powell School, I was part of the JP Morgan Mentorship program. I was assigned a mentor and we met weekly and talked about life, school, career goals, and the industry that I was getting myself into. He answered my questions, addressed my concerns, and made me feel more confident about myself. 

With the skills I’ve gotten from the Grove School of Engineering, combined with the mentorship and opportunities provided by the Colin Powell School, I was able to convert the internship into a full-time job offer at Santander Bank starting in August. I am very happy and proud that I went through City College, and I appreciate the opportunities that I was able to take advantage of. I could not think of a better way to start my career. 

What is your most significant accomplishment at City College? 

Playing for the CCNY Volleyball team was one of the best experiences that has happened to me. I lead the whole NCAA Division III in kills per set, points per set and aces per set, while leading the Beavers to the No. 2 seed in the CUNYAC Championship which was the highest position in the postseason tournament since 2002. Also, I was able to be the first CCNY player to earn the Player of the Year honor in 16 years. I cannot wait for the 2022 season to start. 

Do you have any advice for current or future students?

Take advantage of the opportunities that the school offers, as I was able to get the internship with Santander and then convert that experience to a full-time job offer. If I did it, anyone can do it. 
Set a schedule and a goal. This will help you to have a clearer focus in your journey. You will be more efficient and motivated. Then study and work harder than anybody else. 

Mon, 21 Mar 2022 23:20:10 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/24566
“It's Okay to Not Have Your Life Planned Out” https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/its-okay-not-have-your-life-planned-out

 

Cris Rick“It's Okay to Not Have Your Life Planned Out” — Former Colin Powell Graduate Fellow Christopher Rick on his Circuitous Path to Academia

 

CCNY was “the place that put big ideas into my head,” says Christopher Rick, a graduate of the MA Program in Economics who is now finishing a PhD at Syracuse and will soon begin a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard. A self-described “boring, suburban kid from Maryland,” Rick was drawn by the rush of city life and the beautiful architecture of CCNY and Harlem. In the Colin Powell School, he found his passion for learning to use public policy to improve society for its most marginalized groups. He taught as a TA in CCNY’s microeconomics course and completed a thesis on gentrification and public housing in NYC, while receiving support from the Colin Powell School Graduate Fellowship. This experience with research and teaching at the university level cemented his decision to pursue a career in academia. Read the full interview.

 

Where are you from? 

I grew up in Maryland and worked in the DC area before moving to NYC. I was a boring, suburban kid so city life, and NYC in particular, always seemed appealing. Eventually, I made the move to the city without too much of a plan.

 

How did you decide to do a master’s degree at CCNY?

I was working as a transportation research analyst and thinking about getting a master's degree to learn new skills and advance at work. My undergraduate degree was in economics and I enjoyed it, so I figured it was natural to learn more economics. I know this will sound silly, but I walked around campus one day and loved it. The history and architecture and Harlem neighborhood felt right. I started part-time in Fall 2013 and figured I could take a course or two and if it didn't work out, that would be that. But I was hooked.

 

What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?

I'm a curious person, so I always want to figure out why things are the way they are — and how public policy can improve the world, and cities in particular. The courses and experiences gave me the skills and tools to analyze urban and social problems and phenomena with the aim of making society a better place, especially for historically marginalized groups. Society gave me a lot of privilege and I want to use that to help improve others’ lives.

 

How did you decide to pursue a career in academia?

I learned a lot about research at City College, from folks like Marta Bengoa and Kevin Foster. I had never seriously considered a career in academia, but I saw what they did and thought, "I want to do that, too!" Prof. Bengoa was my master's advisor and gave me great feedback on my master's thesis and we later published an extended version of the paper in the Eastern Economic Journal. City College gave me a great glimpse into life in academia that showed me it was the career I wanted.

 

What was your most significant accomplishment or memory at CCNY? 

My most significant experience was the time I spent teaching and being a teaching assistant for ECO 10250 - Principles of Microeconomics. I was lucky to TA for five semesters and solo-teach my own class two semesters. I had amazing classrooms full of kids that wanted to learn — and tolerated my terrible jokes, too. Many of my students were immigrants or experiencing poverty and it always felt great to know I was helping someone that was working hard to improve their life. I always wanted to do whatever I could to help those students, or strivers, because I knew how much work they were putting in.

 

How have you been involved with City College since your graduation?

First, I try to be a resource for current students, either in the MA or BA/MA program, that are considering applying for master’s or PhD programs. I've talked to a half-dozen or so students about their goals, how grad school can (or can't) help them meet those goals, and answer any questions they have. Second, I try to donate when I can. I'm still in grad school so I can't donate as much as I'd like, but I think it's important to remember where you came from, so I try to support the Colin Powell School financially, just a little bit if I can.

I stay involved as best I can because I know I wouldn't be finishing a PhD this semester and heading to a Postdoc at Harvard if I hadn't started at City College. It was the place that put these big ideas in my head that drove me to where I am today. If I can help a current student think about those ideas, then it's well worth it for me.

 

Do you have any advice for current or future students?

It's okay to not have your life planned out in high school or in college. It drove my parents crazy, but I think that made it even more fun for me. I took a circuitous path to City College and NYC, then Syracuse, and now onto Harvard, and I am better off for it.
 

Tue, 01 Mar 2022 12:24:27 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/24443
“The Past Is History; Ask for Help and Move Forward” https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/past-history-ask-help-and-move-forward

 

Ran Liu“The Past Is History; Ask for Help and Move Forward” — Ran Liu’s Quest to Earn a PhD in Psychology

Ran Liu came to City College with the encouragement of her high school counselor in Michigan, a New Yorker who knew about the CCNY Psychology Department’s strong reputation. Liu’s interest in Psychology began when she was a high school student, and since then she has been steadfastly committed to building a career in Psychology, in spite of the hardship and discouragement brought by the pandemic. At the Colin Powell School, she has developed her knowledge and skill by excelling as a summa cum laude scholar, working as a research assistant with the support of several faculty members in the Psychology Department, and participating in scholarship and internship programs. She encourages all students to actively seek opportunities, ask for help when they need it, do what they love, and remain focused on their goals. 


Please tell us about your background and how you landed at CCNY. 

I am an international student from China. My family supported me to come to the United States when I was going to high school. I was in Michigan for three years for high school. I decided to pursue a career in Psychology when I was in my senior year in high school. My high school counselor, who was from New York, recommended that I apply to the City College of New York. During spring break of my senior year, my good friend and I flew to New York and visited the CCNY campus. When we were sitting in front of the beautiful Shepard hall, I decided to come to City College. Then, I moved to New York by myself to attend CCNY. 


What do you hope to accomplish as a Psychology major, and how has the Colin Powell School helped you to pursue your goals? 

I am planning to pursue a PhD in Psychology. The Colin Powell School has helped me along the way by providing opportunities to develop my knowledge of Psychology and my research skills. I did not know much about the subject of Psychology when I first came to college. I took Dr. Robert Melara's Intro to Psychology class in my first semester, and the class itself did very well to introduce me to the Psychology world. After finishing that class, I got to be a research assistant working in Dr. Melara's Attention Lab while doing a counseling internship on the side. After my junior year, I found myself more interested in doing research. Then, I got to design my own independent projects. I learned to write protocols, submit applications, launch studies, write reports, and make presentations. Additionally, thanks to all the amazing opportunities at Colin Powell School, I got to take part in different programs which all helped me to continuously refine my research skills. 

After I graduate, I plan to set aside about one year to do research in cognitive/clinical psychology. I will continue working with two of the faculty members in the Psychology Department to continue refining my research writing skills and prepare for the PhD. I am very thankful that the two professors are always supportive of my learning journey. 

I am following this path because this is what I enjoy doing and it is helpful to be engaged continuously in the field that you are interested in. Although at times you may not think it is important, it is always helpful to know that there is so much more you can learn from others at all times. 


Would you like to share a significant memory or accomplishment from your time at CCNY? 

During the lockdown period, I got into the City College Fellow program and received funding for doing research. It was a great accomplishment. It encouraged me to continue pursuing a career in research when I was discouraged from studying, like many other students at that time. In the following year, I was able to participate in the ORCA program, where I get to interact with other scholars from school in person and talk about our research projects, after a year of online learning. I am very grateful to have all of those supports from the school and my mentor, knowing that they are still there to help me grow, even when things are uncertain. 


Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

Don't be afraid to ask for opportunities at Colin Powell School. There are so many things you can do and there will always be a lot of support. Take advantage of this, and be encouraged to learn. 

Don't be scared to make mistakes. The Colin Powell School is a very friendly learning environment. If you are stuck on what you are doing, find someone who can help. It is okay to ask questions. We are not all knowledgeable about everything. 

The past is history, be strong and move forward. We live in a challenging time where sometimes you might get lost and don't know what to do. If that happens, it's ok. There's always a way out of the difficult situation; back to advice #2, find someone to help you move forward. 
 

Tue, 01 Mar 2022 12:21:14 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/24442
Understand the System in Order to Change It https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/understand-system-order-change-it

 

HassanUnderstand the System in Order to Change It: Hassan Fayyaz on His Journey from Pakistan to Economics Major at CCNY

 

Growing up in Pakistan, Hassan Fayyaz became keenly aware of socio-economic inequality and the immense value of education as a way to pursue one’s dreams. After his family moved to the US, he observed the nuances of inequality both between and within the industrialized countries and the countries of the Global South. After exploring biology and computer engineering as possible majors, Fayyaz took a course in microeconomics that spoke to his interest in the origins of inequality. As a student of Economics, he aims to understand our capitalist system in order to change it and bring about equality. Fayyaz is an achiever who has sought and benefitted from numerous mentoring, internship, and scholarship opportunities available at CCNY, and he urges future students to apply for such programs early on in their college journeys. 
 
 

Tell us your story. What is your background? 

For me, life began when I entered this world crying at my uncle's hospital. I grew up in Gujranwala, a small town in Pakistan. My dad was a landlord, and my mother a teacher. I remember my childhood as a golden period of my life far from the edge, having nothing to worry about. 

My parents wanted the best life for me, so they put me in a private school named Beaconhouse School System. This school is one of the most expensive in Pakistan since it is one of the oldest international standard schools. However, as I was living in a country struggling with the literacy rate, attending a private school was a huge privilege for me, and I will be forever thankful to my parents for this. I give the credit for everything I am today to my parents and my teachers, who taught me to believe in my dreams and be confident to pursue them no matter what.

Life is a thrilling roller coaster ride and very unpredictable. Because of their passion for pursuing their dreams and living a better life, my family decided to move to America. Living in a third-world country can be very different than most people imagine. My father knew Pakistan would not provide us with the opportunities we wanted in life. America has one of the best systems for higher education, so he chose America. Life in America is a world apart from Pakistan. I love how diverse it is and how I can interact with people from all walks of life. I have made amazing friends, experienced different cultures, and tried new foods. After having great support from my teachers at Valley Stream North High School, I was able to get into The City College of New York. 

 

What brought you to City College?

CCNY became a dream college after my elder brother Ahsan Fayyaz got into the Grove School of Engineering. After his admission to this school, I became curious and started my research to find out what this college offers. After visiting the college campus as a high school senior, I decided to apply. I always dreamed of attending college in Manhattan. CCNY appealed to me the most because of its prestige, beautiful historical campus, history of being the oldest CUNY school, and reasonable tuition fee. To get into this school, I worked hard and received more than 15 certificates, a 4.0 GPA, and a gold medal in economics. I am grateful to attend CCNY, and even If I could go back in time, I would still make the same decision to attend CCNY.

 

Why did you choose to study Economics?

I was born in a country where I saw people struggling financially. In Pakistan, for most of the population, life is about survival. Though there are some exceptionally well-off people, that is not the case for everyone. When I arrived in the US, it was different than I expected, different than the Hollywood movies and TV shows. I saw income inequality here, too. The gap is huge in the United States, if we look at the statistics. The country's economic condition does offer some hardworking individuals the opportunity to achieve their dreams and reach their goals, but not everyone has that privilege in life. I realized that in this financial marathon of life, the race is unfair, and not everyone gets the same opportunities regardless of their hard work as some have inherited wealth and others haven't. 

My motivation behind pursuing economics was to learn and understand how the economic system works in a capitalist society, with the hope and goal to invent a system that brings income equality. Even if that does not seem ideal because many would argue that it would take away the incentive to work hard, we at least must provide everyone the fundamental right to live and experience this world by providing them with the necessities of life. Life is a one-time opportunity, and I believe it should not just be about survival; it should be an opportunity to experience, learn, grow, love, and build beautiful memories throughout the journey. There are many other reasons why I am pursuing economics, but this reason stood out to me the most. The subject also offers excellent opportunities to learn how to manage your finances and teach you essential skills that can help you get some of the most exciting jobs.

 

Tell us about the process of choosing your career path. How did you find help and guidance along the way? How has the Colin Powell School helped you on your career path? 

Even though I liked Economics in high school, I thought I wanted to be a doctor. Coming to college in my first year, I pursued biology as a major and was not satisfied with my decision and started researching other career opportunities. Then, my brother Ahsan who is pursuing Computer Science at the Grove School of Engineering, motivated me to try programming in 2019. My experience with programming was excellent, and I learned invaluable skills. I wrote a beginner guide on Python and made a Tic Tac Toe game from scratch using Python, Anaconda Navigator, and Jupyter Notebook. I loved what I did and decided to apply to Grove School of Engineering. 

What changed my mind was Professor Ernesto Garcia's microeconomics class. I realized that I liked economics more than any other subject. I reached out to the Chair of the Economics & Business department, Professor Matthew Nagler, and asked him about the possibilities and career options for economics majors. He briefly explained everything, and I decided to pursue Economics as a major. Huge credit goes to Professor Matthew Nagler, as he was kind and helpful. Before meeting him, I was unsure about my career goals, but with his help in providing me with knowledge, my path became crystal clear. 

Although it was a rough journey, I am glad I made the right decision and chose a career path that I like. Throughout my journey as a student, I have gained internship and work experience at more than ten companies, including companies like Citibank, UPS, Henry Schein, Catholic Health, and many more. In addition, I also did some volunteer activities, which include tutoring, mentoring, producing short films, and participating in JP Morgan's Mentoring Program.
Currently, I am an Adjunct Lecturer at CCNY, an incoming summer analyst at JP Morgan Chase, and the President of the CCNY's Sports Marketing Club, Beaver Nation Network.


I also met some of the kindest, most knowledgeable, and helpful faculty members and created lifelong friendships. I will never forget my time at CCNY and the knowledge I have gained over the years. In simple words, my most significant achievement is that this school has made me tough and unbeatable not only academically but in practical life. It has made me believe in myself and supported me in all possible ways to help me reach my goals. In addition, CCNY's Economics and Business department has some of the best faculty members.

I have received two scholarship awards (David Berks Fellowship Award & Lawrence C. Kastin Scholarship). Outside of school, the knowledge learned and the projects completed at CCNY have helped me get some of the finest opportunities in the industry. I have worked with Executive Directors, Business Partners, Consultants, Analysts, Professors, Bankers, and many more talented professionals.

This school has helped me create all these possibilities, and these experiences have shaped my current self. 

 

Do you have any advice for current or future students?

My advice to first-year college students would be to discover the campus resources and meet people from all backgrounds. Then, take the first year to explore all the opportunities within the school, build your resume, and secure an internship in your desired field because this will put you on the right track to achieve your career goals and provide you with an exciting and memorable experience. Do projects in your field of interest to build your resume. That will help you get internships, which will lead to jobs. Also, meet new people and learn from your professors. Make your network strong because there is more to college than just attending class and getting high grades. Learning from people from all backgrounds is a huge privilege that City College offers, and we must not miss this opportunity!
 

Tue, 01 Mar 2022 12:17:28 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/24441
Fulvio Dobrich, Class of 1971 Alumnus, Leaves a Lasting Legacy with New Americans Scholars Program https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/fulvio-dobrich-class-1971-alumnus-leaves-lasting-legacy-new-americans

 

Fulvio with FellowsFulvio Dobrich, Class of 1971 Alumnus, Leaves a Lasting Legacy with New Americans Scholars Program 
 

“I only met Fulvio for a brief moment; however, in that moment I saw the kindness in him, and that he truly cared about the students he was supporting. I will always remember him for giving me this opportunity to work towards my goals, but above all, for being an amazing person.”

— Alexander Pichol, Colin Powell Undergraduate Fellow 2021-2022



“Meeting Mr. Dobrich, along with some other students from my fellowship cohort, was one of the most memorable experiences of my Fall '21 semester. We had a night of great conversations over dinner, where we learned about Mr. Dobrich's City College journey and subsequent career. Hearing his story was incredibly inspiring, as his immigrant experience reflected our own. Mr. Dobrich deeply cared about all the fellows and asked us if meetings like the one we were having would prove beneficial for future cohorts: we all said ‘yes’ in a heartbeat! Though he is no longer here with us, all of us look forward to carrying on his legacy of perseverance and service.”

— Aryaana Khan, Colin Powell Undergraduate Fellow 2021-2022



“Fulvio Dobrich's passing deeply saddens me, and my heart goes out to his family. I remember meeting Fulvio Dobrich for the first time in 2021 during a small dinner with other Dobrich New Americans fellows under the Colin Powell School. I addressed him as ‘Mr. Dobrich,’ to which he corrected me, saying, ‘Please, call me Fulvio.’ So, I will humbly address him as Fulvio. During the dinner, Fulvio eagerly listened to us introduce ourselves and talk about our passions and interests. I observed as he nodded his head and even gestured for some to speak up louder. Fulvio was fully engaged in hearing our stories and uplifting our voices. He encouraged me to continue pursuing law school, saying that as a lawyer, I can create the change I aspire to see. I am motivated to continue his legacy and am thankful for all the opportunities he created for other fellows and me. As I continue in life, I will forever be grateful that I had the chance to meet Fulvio and carry out my dreams made possible by Fulvio's support.”

— Nija Daniels, Colin Powell Undergraduate Fellow 2021-2022



“Five years ago I was home insecure, food insecure, and was on the verge of dropping out from undergraduate with no hope or financial aid due to my immigration status. Mr. Dobrich's generosity and love for City College, by his contributions to the Colin Powell Fellowship, gave me a way out and placed me on a path to college graduation with the merit scholarship I received. CCNY will always hold a dear place in my heart, it's where I was intellectually challenged by peers, organized students to secure increased funding to CUNY colleges, met my best friend who is now my wife. Thanks to Mr. Dobrich, his fellow CCNY graduate worked at the Mayor's office as an NYC Urban Fellow and is a Schwarzman Scholar earning his Master's degree on a full-ride scholarship in China. CCNY and alumni like Mr. Dobrich, will have left behind a legacy of hope in a deeply unequal and unfair world where disparities seem so deeply trenched. “

— Haris Khan, Colin Powell Undergraduate Fellow 2017-2019
 


“My condolences to the Dobrich family on the untimely loss of Mr. Dobrich.  It was through the generous support of Mr. Dobrich and his family that I was able to learn more about the political process and to further my understanding of healthcare policy. I continue to utilize the skills and knowledge learned through the New Americans Scholar program to improve the care of my patients.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to expand my medical education beyond the confines of the traditional medical curriculum and may you rest in peace.”

— Sebastian Rubino, Dobrich New American Scholar 2008-2010

Tue, 01 Mar 2022 12:08:13 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/24440
Serigne Cheikh Kara Cisse, Colin Powell School Alumnus and Staff Member, Selected to Become Military Intelligence Officer https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/serigne-cheikh-kara-cisse-colin-powell-school-alumnus-and-staff-member

 

CisseSerigne Cheikh Kara Cisse, Colin Powell School Alumnus and Staff Member, Selected to Become Military Intelligence Officer


The Colin Powell School extends our warmest congratulations to Serigne Cheikh Kara Cisse for being selected to serve as a Military Intelligence Officer in the US Army. Cisse has been a dedicated administrator in the Dean’s Office since 2017. A native of Senegal, Cisse joined the Colin Powell School community as a student, earning his bachelor’s degree in international relations and economics and his master’s degree in international affairs. He also served as a squad leader in the CCNY Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). Cisse recently appeared on the Today Show with other students to commemorate General Colin Powell’s life and legacy. Cisse was selected for the Military Intelligence Officer role along with fellow Colin Powell School graduate and ROTC member Roman Voytovych.

What has been your path in ROTC, including your new assignment? 
 
Being a Cadet in the U.S Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) is a quest of leadership skills and knowledge. I initially joined the CUNY ROTC Program in 2014 until 2016. Then I moved on to get my Bachelors at Colin Powell School and then my Masters in 2019. Following the slaying of my cousin on October 16, 2019, I decided to go to Army Boot camp at Fort Jackson, SC and then return to CUNY ROTC at CCNY as a Reservist Soldier. I joined the Military service to both carry over the legacy of my slain cousin and be part of something bigger than me, which is serving my community.
 
Following successful training at Advanced Camp at Fort Knox, KY last Summer 2021, the Army Leadership has decided to send me as a Second Lieutenant on an Active Duty position as a Commissioned Officer for the Military Intelligence (MI) Corps with Branch Detail in Chemical, Biological, Radiologic and Nuclear warfare. 
 
You are an  immigrant to the United States. Where did you come from originally? What brought you to NYC? How did you find your way CCNY?
 
Being an immigrant to the United States was the greatest opportunity for me. I came from Senegal, West Africa where I was born and raised. I came  to  the United States for better professional opportunities. I served other immigrants, members of the African community based at 116th Street, New York City. Then I decided to attend Colin Powell School City College of New York to further my  academic journey and better myself. Without regrets, I enjoyed every single bit of support and care I received from the Colin Powell School Staff and Leadership
 
How meaningful is this promotion to you? What does it mean for you, your family, your career?

On the Soldier side, this is a great accomplishment. Being commissioned by the United States Congress and President of The United States of America is the heaviest mandate for an immigrant, turned into a US. citizen. It is a big role of leading America's best Sons and Daughters who  chose to set themselves on harm's way  to defend and support American values, Freedom and Honor as well as the United States Constitution. Personally, it feels like following the great steps of my slain cousin, whose military career impacted positively the life of many service members in the Minnesota National Guard. In addition to my commission in the highly selected Military Intelligence community, I received the Armed Forces Bank Award at the 5th Regiment Advanced Camp graduation, Fort Knox, Kentucky, on July 19, 2021. I earned this award for best demonstrating respect for other cultures and people by effectively using the training scenarios to demonstrate a mastery of cross-cultural competencies  and warfare as they relate to a complex environment.
 
How has your experience been at the Colin Powell School? How meaningful is it, as army officers, to be at a school named for General Colin Powell?

As “luck tends to come to people who are prepared” (General Colin Powell), I was ranked nationally 156 out of 3800 future Officers of the United States Army and awarded National Distinguished Military  Graduate, one the highest appreciation to Cadets in the Reserve Officers Training Corps. I must confess that  General Colin Powell’s efforts to bring the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC)  back to the CCNY campus in  2014 was one of the biggest public service achievements to hundreds of families and the uniformed services. From the US Homeland all the way to Germany and Kuwait, Army Officers graduates  from the CUNY Army ROTC Program are leading the best of America’s Sons and Daughters to mitigate terrorist threats and defend our Nation and Allied Nations’ safety and freedom.  The Colin Powell School has proudly represented New York and Harlem on the stage of the United States Commissioning Board for FY2022. 


To the late General Colin Powell, I want to send this message: 

Yes Sir, Leaders never die,
Yes, Sir, Leaders eat last, 
Yes, Sir, Leaders’ actions live forever and pave the way to a collective success.
Rest up Sir, Junior Officers will have your Legacy protected and carried forward!!!!!! 
Following your steps, leads to success and leadership. 
HOAH - ARMY PRIDE. 

 

Tue, 08 Feb 2022 11:53:42 -0500 Colin Powell Scool https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/24365
“Facing and Overcoming Challenges Leads to Growth” https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/facing-and-overcoming-challenges-leads-growth

 

Alexander Honor“Facing and Overcoming Challenges Leads to Growth”

- Alexander Honor, Aspiring Psychotherapist, Receives Scholarship to Further His Studies

Alexander Honor, a senior in the Psychology Department at the Colin Powell School, is this year’s recipient of the Dr. Marilyn Seskin Scholarship. This funding for this award comes from a gift to CCNY from the late Dr. Seskin, who graduated from the CCNY Psychology Department in 1970 and remained a firm believer in the college’s mission of supporting first-generation college students. In this interview, Honor discusses his struggle to stay focused in high school and find a sense of direction. He eventually found a therapist who understood his needs and helped him get his footing. Ever since, he has excelled in college and aspires to get a PhD and become a therapist himself in order to help others the way his therapist helped him.

Please share your story. Where are you from?

I was born in Manhattan and lived in Carroll Gardens until I was seven, when my family moved to Hastings on Hudson (Westchester) to seek better special education for my younger brother who has Down Syndrome. Living in Westchester was quite the jarring shift which led to me struggling in school and developing bad habits that persisted throughout high school. My lacking grades and limited college prospects served as a wake up call for me to improve and seek to create an environment where I could thrive. I attended Iona College, in New Rochelle, for two years. While at Iona I made many good friends, but I felt that I wasn’t being challenged. I believe that facing and overcoming challenges leads to growth and a lack of challenge leads to complacency and a loss of passion, thus I decided to transfer.
 
What brought you to City College?
 
I was drawn to City College for many reasons, including the stellar reputation of the Psychology Department, the diversity of the campus, and its location in what I believe to be the greatest city in the world. I’m majoring in Psychology and double minoring in Sociology as well as Management and Administration to both broaden my horizons and gain a holistic understanding of the mind and how people interact. 

What motivated you to study Psychology?

Growing up, I often felt lost and in need of guidance and a non-judgmental outlet. Over the years I tried meeting with multiple psychologists in an attempt to gain some clarity about why I was feeling the way I was and how I could make positive changes and lay a foundation for success. Although it took a few attempts, I eventually found a psychologist who suited me. He inspired me to pursue psychology so I could help other people as he had helped me. 
 
Tell us about your career aspirations and how CCNY has helped you on your path.

My career aspirations include pursuing a master's degree and a PsyD with the eventual goal of having my own private practice specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy. I have been a full-time student in the Psychology Department during the pandemic, and I was able to participate in a summer lab under the supervision of Dr. Melara and Ran Liu which was an incredibly insightful experience. Also, I was recently awarded the Dr. Marilyn Seskin Scholarship. It is an incredible honor to be given this award. These past couple of years have been incredibly difficult for me, and my love for psychology and my drive to grow and excel, as both a student and an individual, have continued to motivate me to do my best. I plan to use the scholarship funds to continue my educational journey and eventually be in a position to pay it forward and inspire future generations of scholars. While sometimes it seems like the future can be filled with uncertainty, I’m sure that regardless of what it brings, the lessons I have learned at CCNY will prepare me for it and allow me to pursue my goals.

What is your proudest accomplishment and most significant memory as a CCNY student? 

I’m incredibly proud of my current GPA given the stark contrast between it and my high-school academics. My most significant memories revolve around the wide variety of people I have met and befriended. I really enjoy the vast array of differing opinions and perspectives. 
  
Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

I think the most important piece of advice I could give is to pick classes that interest you and show your engagement. If you aren’t interested in the material, it is much easier to let things slip through the cracks. If you can’t find a class that interests you, at least look for a professor who is compatible with your learning style. Be sure to speak up at least once per class and try to form a positive impression, and even lasting relationship, with your professors, as they are fantastic resources. 
 

Mon, 07 Feb 2022 21:56:27 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/24363
“The Things that Scare Me are What I Need to Focus on” https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/things-scare-me-are-what-i-need-focus

 

Naomi Moskowitz“The Things that Scare Me are What I Need to Focus on”

- MPA Student Naomi Moskowitz on Her Struggle to Rebuild Her Life

“There is beauty in change,” says Naomi Moskowitz, a student in the Master in Public Administration (MPA) program. “If something is not working for you, then figure out a way to change it.” After being raised in an orthodox religious community that severely limited women’s education and opportunities, Moskowitz made the decision to leave and forge a new life. In this interview, she tells her story of working full-time and caring for her children while pursuing a college education, revealing her identity as a queer woman, and building a new community. In the course of her struggle, Moskowitz experienced first-hand the frustrations of navigating social systems of support. She now works in a nonprofit that helps people who are leaving orthodox communities and rebuilding their lives. 

Please share a little about your background. What is your story?

I grew up in an ultra-orthodox religious community in Long Beach, New York. In my community of origin, gender roles were very rigid. I went to an all-girls’ school, an all-girls’ summer camp, and any after school activities I attended were also only amongst other girls and led by women. I was raised with a primary understanding that my goal in life would be to raise children and support a husband. Very little emphasis was put on education for women. Right after high school, I was in an arranged marriage. I did not start my own life until I was 28, when I got divorced. It was the first time I had to think about my own identity. As a single mother of three children, I needed to figure out how I was going to support myself and who I was in this world. Although the world seemed huge, scary, and there were so many unknowns, I knew that at my core, I wanted to get an education. 

As the primary caregiver for my children, I was working full-time and trying to rebuild a life for us. In my journey of self-discovery, I had come out as a queer woman and had been forced out of the religious community, the only world I had ever known. I lost most of my support system. Aside from working full-time, supporting my children, and establishing a sense of community for us, I started taking undergraduate classes online at night. One at a time. It was all I could manage amidst starting a new life for myself.

What brought you to City College?

Because I grew up in an insular bubble it was very important to me to be in a diverse environment where I can continue to expose myself to people of different worldviews. I have a lot of life to catch up on, not just educationally speaking. However, as I continue to further my education, I specifically chose City College because I wanted to be in the city, where diversity is valued and can thrive. I am still learning how to navigate the world from a different set of eyes than the ones I was raised with. The more I expose myself to people with different perspectives, the more I can learn and grow, and I am excited that City College can offer that. 
 
What is the passion or purpose that drives you? 

I have been through a lot of struggles in my life. It has been a continuous uphill battle to navigate the various support systems that my children and I have needed. I fought for custody of my children for two and half years. I navigated the public school system and fought for special accommodations for my child with learning disabilities. I fought with our health insurance companies for approval of a medication for one of my children. It felt like a series of constant battles. Yet through it all, I persevered and felt like I was one of the lucky ones. A lot of people are shut out of these systems entirely and left without opportunity. The lack of equity across the board as to who gets access to what is shockingly unfair. The world is a hard place to live in, and because I learned how to advocate for myself, for my kids, and for friends, I want to be a part of trying to make it easier to navigate for others. 
 
Tell us about the work that you do and how your education at CCNY is helping you to move forward.

I currently work as the Director of Economic Empowerment for Footsteps. We are a nonprofit organization that helps people who are transitioning out of ultra-Orthodox Jewish Communities and integrating into secular society. I help people access educational support: applying for college, scholarships, housing, and career services, etc. Our organization also provides a lot of support in mental health, community-building, and financial stability. Every day I work with people who are trying to rebuild their lives. Leaving everything they knew behind, recognizing that their previous life did not fit for them, and figuring out how to start over. 

I think there is real beauty in change; if something is not working for you, then figure out a way to change it. I feel honored and privileged to be a part of an organization that supported me through my journey and to now give back. It is really powerful and inspiring for me to see the tenacity and grit of the members of my community, and to watch and help them rebuild the lives they want for themselves. 

I have been very fortunate in my career. I managed to be able to build a lot of professional experience for myself without education. I gained a lot of skills through being at the right place at the right time and working hard, despite not always having the background and credentials to support it. I have been doing my best to catch up. It took me ten years to put myself through undergraduate school. When I finally finished, it felt surreal that I had finally accomplished this monumental goal I had set my mind and heart on.  

Even still, I knew I wanted to continue my education. Since I had a background working in the nonprofit sector, I was looking for a program that would help solidify the educational component of what I was already doing. The Colin Powell School and the MPA program are very much aligned with my work and views of public service. It will give me the educational backbone I have been missing.

Would you like to share a significant memory or special accomplishment?

In my first semester as an MPA student, it was my first time stepping into a real college classroom, and I was scared. I had no traditional secular classroom school experience before coming to City College. The program where I did my undergraduate degree was all online. My biggest fear was the quant class. The last time I did anything math related was 20 years ago in high school. I learned along the way that the things that scare me are the things that I need to focus on. I didn't even know what the word “quant” meant before I started the class and yet, I got an A+! I worked extremely hard, I went to every tutoring session, and I asked a lot of questions. I am very proud of doing really well in a class that terrified me. 
Do you have advice for current or future students?

One thing I have found along my journey is that there are always people who want to help. There is no reason to do things alone. Even if you do not have a supportive family or community, there are still always spaces to seek support. Look for them, take advantage of them. Also, when you get tired, rest. There is always another mountain to climb and you cannot do that when you are depleted. I think it is important to really acknowledge when you need a break. I took two leaves of absence throughout my undergraduate journey because I was fighting for custody of my kids in court and I was struggling with my mental health. I learned to take a break and then to keep going. You do not have to finish the whole thing in one go. Just try to take the next step.
 

Mon, 07 Feb 2022 21:48:48 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/24362
“Never Forget Your Roots” — Student Government President Andrew Salmieri https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/never-forget-your-roots-student-government-president-andrew-salmieri

 

Andrew Salmeiri“Never Forget Your Roots” — Student Government President Andrew Salmieri Reflects on His Path as a Student Leader 

 


Andrew Salmieri, a third-generation Italian-American from Brooklyn and current senior at the Colin Powell School, rose from senator to vice president to president of the student government at CCNY. In this interview, he recalls the tightly-knit family relations, the gifted and talented programs, and the Catholic school teachings that laid the foundation of his worldview, which is oriented toward service and social justice. Specifically, Salmieri discusses the impact of his volunteer work abroad on his consciousness of global issues and his ability to communicate across cultures. Finally, he recounts his proudest accomplishment as a student leader: helping to pass the credit/no-credit grading policy on behalf of students struggling to pursue an education amidst the pandemic in fall 2020. 
 
Tell us your story. Where are you from, and what has brought you to where you are today? 
 
I am from Bath Beach, a small working-class neighborhood in southwest Brooklyn. I am a third-generation Italian-American and grew up in a very close knit circle of family and friends. As an elementary student, I was in New York City’s Gifted and Talented Program at P.S. 99. As a middle school student, I attended I.S. 239 as part of their Athletics Talent program. Finally, when it came time to choose a high school, I received a scholarship and attended Xavier High School. Here, I was immersed in Catholic social teaching and an intensive liberal arts education. I also had the opportunity to volunteer and serve communities in Maryland, Tennessee, and Ecuador during my summer breaks. These four years molded me as an individual and solidified my egalitarian outlook on life.
 
What brought you to City College?
 
There are a number of things that brought me to City College: the great location, the storied history of achievements and advocacy, and its abundance of opportunities. However, chief amongst those is the Colin Powell School. This school caught my eye as a truly gifted institution where I would be able to immerse myself in the social sciences.
 
What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?
 
I am pursuing a B.A. in International Studies (International Relations concentration), with a minor in public policy. My studies and relevant experiences have allowed me to become an extremely open and compassionate person, capable of communication and understanding. I am fascinated with different types of cultures, whether it be my own or that of a different part of the world. My travels to Canada, Mexico, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, and France have been a part of that fascination and interest in different cultures and if life permits it, I plan to do more traveling as I get older. My interests include global affairs, economics, politics, and geography, and I have been able to delve into these interests at City College. I feel that these interests, along with the aforementioned interest in culture, help me to see the world in a more complete, interconnected way while seeing the beauty, history, and diversity in each individual.
 
How has your career unfolded, and how has the Colin Powell School helped you on your path?
 
Getting involved with student government allowed me to truly blossom at City College. I started out as senator and rose to become vice president of Student Affairs and currently president. It has allowed me to grow as a communicator, listener, and advocate. Beyond that, the Colin Powell School has given me the opportunity to participate in the Climate Policy Fellows and Honors Program in Legal Studies. I am receiving training and professional guidance in the realm of policy and law. I have been able to analyze the local and global intersections of human identity. Through these studies I have become a passionate writer and informed citizen. And they motivated me to want to continue my education and fight for justice. That is why I plan on pursuing a Master of Urban Planning degree at Hunter College after I conclude my exceptional career at City College. I hope to aid in molding NYC into an equitable and climate-friendly city of the future.
 
Please share a significant memory or accomplishment from your time at CCNY.
 
The most memorable accomplishment I have at City College is when I was USG VP of Student Affairs during the 2020-21 academic year. The entire Senate and Cabinet of student government, former USG President Shza Zaki, and I were tasked with advocating on behalf of the students for a credit/no credit policy for Fall 2020. The Cabinet and I were in charge of creating a well-rounded resolution for student government to pass as well as attending meetings with the faculty to discuss particulars and voice student interests. With our powerful ambition and effective rallying of colleagues and constituents, the resolution was passed and implemented by the college for the Fall 2020 semester.
 
Do you have any advice for current or future students?
 
While studying should always be an integral part of your academic life, I think there are more deeply-rooted foundations that students should tap into as they go about their daily life. That means showing gratitude to your family, friends, and people who have helped you get to where you are now, treating everyone you meet kindly, giving back to your community, and never forgetting your roots. I believe that having a solid base from where your outlook on life flows from is immensely helpful in helping you face the challenges of everyday life.
 

Tue, 18 Jan 2022 15:39:27 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/24206
“Do Internships!” - Michael Cruz https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/do-internships-south-bronx-native-michael-cruz-tells-his-story-returning

 

Michael Cruz“Do Internships!” - South Bronx Native Michael Cruz Tells His Story of Returning to College and Building a Career in the Foreign Service  

 
 
“You are unique, and you are the only one who can tell your own story,” says Michael Cruz, a Colin Powell School alum who recently won the Charles B. Rangel Fellowship in International Affairs, a prestigious award for aspiring foreign service officers at the US State Department. A native of the South Bronx and child of Puerto Rican parents, Cruz developed a keen interest in international affairs and aspired to serve in the Peace Corps and join the US Foreign Service. At the Colin Powell School, he became a Partners for Change Fellow, Honors Program in Legal Studies Fellow, and CUNY Malave Fellow. He studied abroad in Brazil and Korea and completed an internship in Washington, DC with support from CCNY. He encourages students to talk to advisors and do internships that will help them gain skills and experience to advance their careers. 


 
Questions for Colin Powell School Alumni Profile


 Please tell us a little about your background. 
 
I am a Native New Yorker, born to Puerto Rican parents (born on the island) near CCNY at St. Luke's hospital and raised in the Highbridge section of the Bronx, located in New York's 15th congressional district (the poorest congressional district in the US). I am a non-traditional student, who went to CUNY-Hostos at age 29 after a couple of failed attempts at higher education. I remember being in an administrative position, where I saw no real prospects for the future, and I began to look for opportunities to work abroad. I discovered the Peace Corps but learned that most of the opportunities required a bachelor's degree, which motivated me to go back to school.  
 
What brought you to City College?
 
I studied abroad with students from CCNY in Brazil, and they spoke highly of the quality of their education. I wanted to be in Harlem right across the bridge from Hostos since I love New York City. I was interested in the scholarships and fellowships at CCNY as well. Specifically, I was interested in joining the Honors Program in Legal Studies and majoring in political science. 
 
What was your passion or purpose in choosing your major and your career path?
 
I originally thought I wanted to pursue a law degree after graduating CCNY, but after participating in legal internships and taking international studies/comparative politics courses I realized I was more interested in US foreign policy and in pursuing a career in the Foreign Service. I have a longstanding interest in international affairs. In addition to studying in Brazil, I participated in a service-learning opportunity in the Dominican Republic (working on an urban farming initiative) the summer before officially starting at CCNY.
 
How has your career unfolded, and how has the Colin Powell School helped you on your path? 
 
Being accepted in the Colin Powell School’s Partners for Change Fellowship led me to obtain a scholarship from the Korea Foundation (along with funding from the City College Foundation and the CUNY Research Foundation). I studied at EWHA International Summer College and completed two 4-week courses: Introduction to Korean and the International Relations of North Korea and the other Northeast Asian countries. This was my first experience outside of the Western Hemisphere. The following summer I completed an internship in Washington, DC working with refugees with the help of a stipend from the Skadden, Arps Honors Program in Legal Studies in the Colin Powell School and housing at George Washington University funded by the CCNY’s Rangel Center. That fall, I interned for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's office as an Immigration and International Affairs Intern. Then, after my final senior semester and walking for my graduation at the Colin Powell School, I studied abroad in a CCNY summer program in Brazil and completed an international relations course entitled “Brazil in a Global Context” and produced a 10-page research paper about Brazilian Foreign Policy and Brazil’s role in UN peacekeeping operations. All of these wonderful experiences in the international relations/foreign affairs realm helped set me on the path to serving in the Peace Corps, working at AmeriCorps HQ, and now onto the Foreign Service upon completion of my graduate studies.
 
Please share a significant memory or accomplishment from your time at CCNY.
 
My study abroad/service-learning experiences were very beneficial. Additionally, as a senator in the Undergraduate Student Government, I enjoyed advocating for students’ stories and met some of my greatest colleagues. As a fellow in the Honors Program in Legal Studies, I made strong and long-lasting friendships.
 
My favorite and most influential classes were with Professor Elizabeth Nelson (Theories and Explanations of International Relations, International Law, and Human Rights), now President Vincent Boudreau (World Politics), and Professor/IR Director Jean Krasno (Peacekeeping and Negotiations and Brazil in a Global Context).
 
CCNY hosted three Diplomats-in-Residence from the US State Department who helped guide me, in particular Usha Pitts, who encouraged me to apply to the Peace Corps and the Charles B. Rangel Graduate Fellowship.
 
While at CCNY, I was also a CUNY Malave Fellow, through which I obtained a paid internship at CUNY Citizenship Now!, and a delegate for CUNY’s University Student Senate. I was nominated to apply for the Truman Fellowship, which connected me to Jennifer Lutton, Coordinator of National Scholarships/Fellowships, who became a trusted advisor and mentor and assisted with my Rangel Fellowship application, as well.
 
Johanna Ureña, the former International Studies Program Coordinator (now the Project Manager, Student Affairs and Enrollment Management) also encouraged me to audit a graduate course at CCNY, “Rethinking U.S. Foreign Aid” and has been very supportive since graduating CCNY.
 
Do you have any advice for current or future students?
 
Participate in an internship! I repeat: participate in an internship! It will help you obtain some hands-on experience to apply many of the theories learned in the classroom early on in your professional development. Good grades are important, but when the time comes to apply for a job, employers are going to want to see some work experience on your resume. Also, remember that any leadership or peer mentoring opportunity at CCNY translates into transferable skills in the workplace that you must be sure to highlight as you market yourself to prospective employers. Apply to fellowships and scholarships even if you don’t necessarily feel you are qualified, don’t sell yourself short, you are unique and you are the only one that can tell your story.
 

Tue, 18 Jan 2022 15:33:53 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/24205
Alejandro Espinosa on Overcoming Autism and Finding a Path into Public Service at the Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/alejandro-espinosa-overcoming-autism-and-finding-path

 
Alejandro Alejandro Espinosa on Overcoming Autism and Finding a Path into Public Service at the Colin Powell School


Alejandro Espinosa first visited the City College campus as a five-year-old learning to ride a bike with his uncle. Little did he know that he would later become a Climate Policy Fellow in the Colin Powell School and be featured on the Today Show reflecting about General Powell’s impact on students like him. As a child and adolescent, Espinosa faced the challenge of being on the autism spectrum. As the child of Mexican immigrants, he also needed ESL support. Unsupportive primary and middle schools nearly derailed his education, but he persisted with staunch support from his mother and family. He is now preparing to graduate from CCNY with a bachelor’s degree in political science.


 
Please tell me a little about your background. What brought you to City College?
 
I come from a family of Mexican immigrants, and I grew up in New York City. I have known about CCNY’s presence since I was five years old. My uncle used to live next to the firehouse on West 139th Street and he and I would often visit City College to learn how to ride bikes. I would often visit him and notice a nice campus right across from Amsterdam Ave and thought that it would be a dream to attend here. I learned afterward about what it meant to work to reach the milestones that were to come. My mom thought at first that City College was a mansion where rich people live, given its unique architecture. In Mexico, she is always used to walls dividing rich and poor residents in the same neighborhood. 
 
You mentioned that you have learned what it means to struggle to achieve milestones. Tell me more about that. 
   
I have faced and overcome several hurdles in my life, starting very early on. My main hurdle was different than the major hurdles that people often face based on immigration status and racial barriers. It involved suffering from autism in the first years of my life, where time and time again until middle school, the leader of the school would come up to my mother and ask her to take me to an institution where it was just for people with mental problems, because the school couldn’t handle it. My mom, with an immigrant background, didn't know how the system worked but thought for a bit until someone went to her and said, "Your son is extremely intelligent and will do great things. Be with him to ensure that he will develop just fine." This statement saved my life. Who knows what would have happened to me thereafter. 
 
Another hurdle was when the middle school assistant principal told my mother I needed to go to another Middle School because I needed ESL services. As my mom successfully lobbied to keep me in my middle school, I transferred classes twice in the 6th grade. The effects of this devastating circumstance hindered my ability to make friends, keep up the academic excellence and enjoy the normal middle school experience. 
 
Not until I was accepted into high school did circumstances hit a positive turn. With academic excellence reaching normal levels, I was thrilled that I could finally turn a blind eye to things. Even so, I endured a huge disparity of social skills between me and my generation, as the two monstrous circumstances caused this to happen. 
 
The other big obstacle was our income inequality that has gotten worse since the early 1980s. 
 
What brought you to City College, and how did you choose your major? 
 
With the academic credentials, I wanted to come here, along with other colleges throughout the state. As the decisions came, my decision narrowed between City and Queens College and chose City College by a narrow margin. I came to City College thinking I was going to major in Math and minor in Secondary Education. My journey from there has changed in ways I could've never imagined. I declared a history major and education minor, then dropped that and settled on political science.  
 
How have CCNY and the Colin Powell School helped you on your career path? 
 
I was very proud when I was accepted into the Climate Policy Fellowship at the Colin Powell School. This fellowship has allowed me to grow the number of connections and outreach I'm able to do. I question myself, is this the end of the social skills inequality I have with my generation? This remains to be seen but future projections say yes! 
 
And as we all heard about the devastating news about the death of a great leader and statesman who became the first African American secretary of state, it broke my heart profoundly because I never shook hands with him. I thought that I wanted to fulfill much of his legacy in the policy world that I'm about to enter. It was an honor to be selected to be on the Today Show to talk about General Powell’s legacy. I did not expect this coming, as I knew I wanted to represent the Colin Powell School to the public well. And as the interview was released to the public, I received high praise from most people that I knew.
 
At CCNY I have been able to choose the academic path and the career path that I want to complete, and none stood in my way. I've been extraordinarily happy to be in an educational institution that takes public service extremely seriously and enjoyable. 
 
What are your reflections now that you’re finishing your time as an undergraduate at CCNY?
 
City College was more than a great choice; it is my second home. I still look at my admissions acceptance letter every once in a while, and I will never forget the day I was accepted. It has been over 39 months that I’ve been present here at City College. As my undergrad journey begins to reach the beginning of the end, my dream of attending City College since the age of five has been complete. Looking back, I see that this journey has been incredible to the fullest. With academic life both during in person and virtual, and now hybrid, my happy ever after is present with me, here in the finest and greatest institution. My life here was at its finest, just as in high school, even during the pandemic. As I move forward on my path, I hope to represent City College to the best of my ability. 
 

Tue, 14 Dec 2021 09:00:28 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/24053
Senior Aryanna Khan’s Journey from the Front Lines of the Climate Crisis to the COP26 in Glasgow https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/senior-aryanna-khans-journey-front-lines-climate-crisis-cop26-glasgow

 
Aryaana KhanSenior Aryanna Khan’s Journey from the Front Lines of the Climate Crisis to the COP26 in Glasgow


As a child growing up in Bangladesh, Aryanna Khan often had to miss weeks of school due to flooding exacerbated by the climate crisis. With an intuitive understanding that climate change is both an environmental and a social issue, she chose to study both biology and sociology at CCNY. She was selected to join the inaugural cohort of Climate Policy Fellows at the Colin Powell School and recently participated in the Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, where she was present both inside the summit and outside in the protests calling for a bolder response to the climate crisis. She encourages students not to allow self-defeating doubts to discourage them from pursuing opportunities such as fellowships and internships.     
 
Please tell us about your background and how you became an environmental advocate.  
 
I moved to New York City nine years ago from one of the most vulnerable and impacted countries of climate change: Bangladesh. Due to rising sea levels, Bangladesh endured annual, erratic floods, causing me to miss school for weeks at a time. For my little brother, who was born prematurely with a heart defect, the doctors said the air outside was too dangerous for him to breathe. In 2012, when subways in New York City got boarded up for Hurricane Sandy, I was reminded nostalgically of missing school back in Bangladesh. Until I joined a non-profit organization called Global Kids in 2014, I did not have the language to process how climate change affected everything, from my education to my little brother’s health. Shortly after, I did a fellowship with another organization called Action for the Climate Emergency (ACE), which snowballed into all the environmental and advocacy work I do now. 
 
What brought you to City College? 
 
City College was an affordable haven with strong STEM programs and a revolutionary history that spoke to the kind of community I was hoping to cultivate during my time in college. It was my top “close-to-home” school as I was already residing in New York City with my family.
 
What led you to choose to focus on environmental advocacy?
 
After processing my childhood in both Bangladesh and New York, I knew with certainty that I wanted to work at the intersections of science, environmental inequity, and climate change. This led to me pursuing a Bachelor of Science (B.S) in Biology with a minor in Sociology. While strengthening my scientific background, I also applied to the Climate Policy Fellowship and Colin Powell Fellowship to learn about policy solutions to our overwhelming climate problems. 
 
How have CCNY and the Colin Powell School helped you on your academic and career path? 
 
City College has allowed me to grow strong scientific roots while the Colin Powell School has facilitated a formal education in policy. During my time here, I have been able to intern at a climate philanthropy organization called ClimateWorks, get support for my work at a local community garden, and continue the work that I was already doing with Action for the Climate Emergency (ACE). As an undergraduate senior right now, all the support I have received at City College and the Colin Powell School has allowed me to feel prepared enough to apply to PhD programs in Earth & Environmental Sciences. 
 
Please share a significant memory or accomplishment from your time at CCNY. 
 
Recently, I attended the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland—  with Action for the Climate Emergency (ACE). It was my first time at a Conference of the Parties (COP), which was definitely a bittersweet experience (here are some of my reflections). While at COP, I was also featured on The View for my organizing work around climate change. 
 
Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students? 
 
Upon entering City College, I was unaware of the fellowships being offered by the Colin Powell School; in fact, I waited to apply to the Climate Policy Fellowship until a few hours before its deadline because I was sure I would not get in with my GPA at the time. But I want to emphasize to my past self — as well as all current and future students — the importance of simply saying yes to opportunities, even amidst our self-doubt. If I had actually convinced myself to miss the deadline for the Climate Policy Fellowship, I would not have been a part of its incredible, inaugural cohort! 
 

Tue, 14 Dec 2021 08:55:16 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/24052
Exploring the Other Side of Economics: How Lesly Calle Discovered the Solidarity Economy as a Path to Reduce Social Inequality  https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/exploring-other-side-economics-how-lesly-calle-discovered-solidarity-economy

 
Lesly CalleExploring the Other Side of Economics: How Lesly Calle Discovered the Solidarity Economy as a Path to Reduce Social Inequality 

Senior Lesly Calle started at CCNY as a Chemistry major. As Calle’s awareness of social inequality grew, she switched her major to economics and international studies. She has dedicated herself to studying economic democracy, worker ownership, and community wealth-building as methods of eradicating inequality by deeply transforming our social and economic institutions. This led her to become both a Climate Policy Fellow and Racial Justice Fellow in the Colin Powell School. She encourages students to apply for a fellowship or other opportunity even if it seems impossible. Doing so “may just be your opportunity to kickstart your journey into something you are deeply passionate about,” she says.

Please tell us about your background and how your story influences your current path. 

I was born and raised in New York City but my family is originally from Ecuador. My parents decided to immigrate to the United States to provide for their family and with the hope of finding better opportunities for me that were not available to them in Ecuador. Immigration, as a result, plays a major role in my identity. As a child of immigrants, I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the families that laid the foundation for the generations to come. The decision my parents made allowed me to pursue higher education and to have greater agency over my career exploration throughout college. I carry their legacy and hope to represent their strength in character to take on new challenges. 

What brought you to City College? 

CCNY and the Macaulay Honors college opened doors for me to pursue a college education at a time when the financial constraints of doing so seemed too difficult to overcome. I came to CCNY in pursuit of an education opportunity, and to the many people who helped make that a reality for me I am deeply grateful. The support system I have received from the City College of New York, the Macaulay Honors College, and the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership have been instrumental in my career exploration and my subsequent immersion into economic and social justice. 

What drove you to choose your path as a social justice leader?

Early in my undergraduate experience, I decided to pursue economics as my major of study. What many do not know about me is that my original plan was to head into the STEM field as a Chemistry major. After my first semester at CCNY, however, exposure to the interdisciplinary nature of my curriculum in the social sciences helped me explore the many ways in which inequality is present in our society. This experience influenced my decision to pursue economics as a way to learn about the drivers of social inequality. 

Very soon I realized that much of what I was learning focused on economic theories through the perspective of a capitalist framework. My first semester at CCNY helped me build this foundational understanding of economics, but it was not until late in my undergraduate career that I was introduced to the potential of economics in advancing our democracy. I stepped outside of my major and immersed myself into the subject of international studies to explore alternative forms of economic thinking and through this search, one of my professors introduced me to the concept of solidarity economy. 

How have CCNY and the Colin Powell School helped you on your career path? 

I am a senior Macaulay Honors student at the City College of New York pursuing a double major in Economics and International Studies. I extended my graduation to pursue a graduate-level certificate at the School of Labor and Urban Studies. The certificate is titled Workplace Democracy and Community Ownership and consists of 4 graduate-level courses that explore the topics of democratic management, cooperative ownership, and economic democracy.

I take with me many memories of my time at the City College of New York and one of those is being a part of the inaugural class of Climate Policy Fellows at Colin Powell School. At a time of deep awakening to social, economic, racial, and environmental justice, being a part of this fellowship gave me insight into the power we all have to come together to work towards change in our society. As a fellow, I was able to connect with passionate, visionary, and hard-working peers that inspire me through their work and commitment. Through this experience, I had the unexpected opportunity to intern at The World Resources Institute on energy justice and carbon pricing research. 

Being a part of the network of the Colin Powell School led me to an internship in communications and research for the Community and Worker Ownership Project at the School of Labor and Urban Studies. As an intern, I enrolled in a class on Economic Democracy where I learned about cooperative economics and participatory democracy. In this regard, the Colin Powell School offered me a chance to dive deep into the groundbreaking work that faculty and students are advancing at the School of Labor and Urban Studies. This was yet another pivotal moment in my education that allowed me to become immersed in a curriculum focused on labor justice, economic democracy, the solidarity economy, and worker cooperatives. I was learning about the other side of the spectrum in the field of economics that helped connect my interest in social, economic, and environmental justice work. 

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

I encourage students reading this to take a chance and apply to a program, fellowship, or volunteer opportunity that you might not otherwise consider possible for yourself. That may just be your opportunity to kickstart your journey into something you are deeply passionate about. Take the opportunities that come your way and in gratitude share what you learn with those coming behind you. I encourage you to take on opportunities even if they seem difficult because it is from those experiences that you might learn about your potential and drive. Acceptance into the Climate Policy Fellowship encouraged me to apply to other fellowships that have played important roles in shaping my career interests and one example is the Racial Justice Fellows program. This fellowship allowed me to land an opportunity with The Drivers Cooperative, a new rideshare alternative in the city of New York owned and democratically run by drivers. My time with The Drivers Cooperative has given me the first hand experience to learn about the operations of a worker cooperative and its connection within the solidarity economy to advance workplace democracy for drivers. 
  
 

Tue, 14 Dec 2021 08:46:33 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/24051
Reflective Paper of General Powell impact on my life https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/reflective-paper-general-powell-impact-my-life

 

Cisse - Gen PowellReflective Paper of General Powell impact on my life 


My name is Serigne Cheikh Modou Kara CISSE and I am currently a Graduate Student in Economics at Colin Powell School - City College. I graduated with my Master’s Degree in International Affairs at City College of New York on June 03, 2019, the last day when I had a final handshake and last selfie with General Colin Powell. I also spent my undergraduate life at City College majoring in International Studies (with concentration in International Relations) and Economics (with concentration in Financial Economics). 

I came to the United States of America as an African immigrant from Senegal with a basic knowledge of English, now turned into a US. citizen.  In Senegal, I studied Diplomacy before travelling to China (two times), Ethiopia, South Africa and Turkey to further my research and experience in International Relations through internships and fellowships.  I speak fluent English, French and other African dialects and understand Spanish and Mandarin.

I’m working currently as College Assistant at the Dean’s of Colin Powell School- City College of New York since August 2018 after serving as First Secretary at Consulate General of Senegal in New York until July 2018 and in-charge of administrative matters. 
     
Late General  Colin Powell has been tremendously inspiring to my life in general, and specifically to my commitment to serve an enlisted soldier first on November 2019, and then a Commissioned Officer in Military Intelligence with Branch Detail and a Chemical Officer, starting June 01, 2022. 
Indeed,  “if you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.”(General Colin Powell). This statement resonated in my  ears every time I committed to Army missions or evaluations. 

In fact, I attended Army Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individualized Training at Fort Jackson in 2020 and last Summer 2021, I attended Air Assault School at Fort  Campbell and got injured. Through tough moments of recovery, I reflected on all hardships General Powell has been through following the War in Iraq by reading daily one of his quotes. I drew a quenching motivation out of it and followed my instinct to workout harder than  ever, three times a day, with a lot of running, pullups and pushups in order to master  a high level of fitness before attending Advanced Camp at Fort Knox, KY.  

On June 07,  2021, I reported to Fort Knox as a Cadet, assigned to the 5th regiment for Advanced Camp. During two months, we went through physical fitness evaluations, range cards, combat operations and Army tactics that serve to ensure the defense of the United States’ homeland and the safety of our fellow citizens. I was awarded the Armed Forces Bank Award, reflecting on skillful warriors who demonstrated knowledge of multicultural war environments with respect to cultures and religions”      

As “luck tends to come to people who are prepared. (General Colin Powell), I was ranked nationally 156 out of 3800 future Officers of the United States Army and awarded National Distinguished Military  Graduate, one the highest appreciation to Cadets in the Reserve Officers Training Corps. The Army Leadership has decided to send me as a Second Lieutenant on an Active Duty position as a Commissioned Officer for the Military Intelligence (MI)Corps. 

I am lucky to attend both to Colin Powell School and to CUNY ARMY ROTC, as this achievement helps to bring closure to my  family as well. My brother Abdoualye Nene Cisse was an Military Intelligence enlisted soldier and was brutally murdered on october 16, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He served in the Army National Guard of Minnesota until his death.  Following that incident that completely changed my life and my family members’ ones, I joined the ranks to serve his legacy. My brother died as an MI soldier and a new chapter has been opened in my life as a MI Officer, thanks to General Powell’s support to the ROTC reinstallation on CCNY Campus. 

Only Cadets in my CUNY ARMY program, who are also students at Colin Powell School have been commissioned  in the prestigious MI corps this year. Referring to his famous quote in which he stated“If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude”. The Colin Powell School has proudly represented New York and  Harlem on the stage of the United States Commissioning Board for FY2022.

I must confess that  Colin Powell’ efforts to bring back in  2014  the Reserve Officers Training Corps on CCNY Campus were one of the biggest public service achievements to hundreds of families and the uniformed services. From the US Homeland all the way to Germany and Kuwait, Officer graduates  from the CUNY Army ROTC Program are leading the best of America’s Sons and Daughters to mitigate terrorist threats and defend our Nation and Allied Nations safety and freedom.  


Thanks again General Powell for all your insightful inspiration to give back to the Community. Thank you for helping serve the purpose and legacy of my Slain brother, by leading America’s best sons and daughters and serving the United States Army. 

Yes Sir, Leaders never die,
Yes, Sir, Leaders eat last, 
Yes, Sir, Leaders’ actions live forever and pave the way to a collective success.
Rest up Sir, Junior Officers will have your Legacy protected and carried forward!!!!!! 
Following your steps, leads to success and leadership 
HOOOOOAAAAHAAHHHHHHHH
 
Thu, 09 Dec 2021 13:37:37 -0500 Serigne Cheikh Modou Kara Cisse https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/24046
How Remote Teaching Spurred Adaptation and Innovation: Reflections from Professor Mehdi Samimi   https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/how-remote-teaching-spurred-adaptation-and-innovation-reflections-professor

 

Mehdi SamimiHow Remote Teaching Spurred Adaptation and Innovation: Reflections from Professor Mehdi Samimi  


Professor Mehdi Samimi joined the Colin Powell School’s Economics and Business Department in the middle of the pandemic when all classes were being conducted online. Here, Samimi shares his reflections on his first full year of remote teaching:
 
Teaching online was initially challenging for me for several reasons such as not knowing the audience, lack of online teaching experience, lack of direct immediate feedback from the audience, and technological difficulties. On the other hand, necessity is an important driver of creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. I was able to overcome some of the challenges and in some cases even found some advantages in online education. 
 
Here are the challenges I had in more detail:
 
Lack of familiarity with the audience: My only in-person contact with Colin Powell School students prior to teaching was my campus visit in Dec 2019 in which I met a few students and heard their concerns. While the meeting became an important source of information for me, it was far less than what I needed to know my audience and be able to teach and learn from them. I had taught students at Iowa State University and that experience was extremely helpful, but significant differences exist between students at different schools and in different regions. As we often do when we lack information on something, we relied on heuristics and other alternative approaches. For example, I designed assignments to be a medium to get to know my students better in addition to serving the normal purposes of assignments. When I teach mission and vision in my principles of management course, I ask students to write a personal mission statement. When I teach personality and work attitudes, I tell students to take a personality assessment test, report the results, and discuss the jobs they have had in the past and what they would prefer to do in the future.
Lack of online teaching experience: When I started my job at CCNY, I had only half of one semester of experience of online teaching. While the goal of online and in-person teaching is the same, the means of reaching the goal are fundamentally different. One thing that helped me in this matter was to hold weekly meetings with a few other senior professors in our department to share experiences and to remind each other that we were not alone. 
Lack of direct, immediate feedback from audience: Teaching (especially when it comes to social sciences) happens through a two-sided interaction. Such interactions are based on feedback that each side gets from the other side. I adjust my teaching based on reactions I get and see in the audience. Additionally, my brain works better in bringing relevant examples when I am in a dialogue with others than when I am the solo speaker. Therefore it was a big challenge to not have the normal channels of feedback from students. To confront this challenge, I added more class activities, break-out rooms, and question and answers in online sessions.
 
 
 

Mon, 15 Nov 2021 16:51:49 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/23958
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help: Alumna Melissa Olivar on Her Path as a Burgeoning Expert on Environmental Justice  https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/dont-be-afraid-ask-help-alumna-melissa-olivar-her-path-burgeoning-expert

 

Melissa OlivarDon’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help: Alumna Melissa Olivar on Her Path as a Burgeoning Expert on Environmental Justice 
 

After witnessing first-hand the mistreatment experienced by her mother and other Mexican immigrants who work hard doing essential work for little pay, Melissa Olivar was determined to earn a Bachelor’s Degree and make a better life for herself and her family. Having a natural inclination toward science, she started as a chemistry major but later switched to sociology and international studies. At the Colin Powell School she became a Koch Fellow and Climate Policy Fellow and studied abroad in Costa Rica. Through these programs, she received guidance and support that helped her complete internships that focused on the intersection of environmental sustainability and social justice. She is now pursuing a master’s degree and aims to earn a doctorate and dedicate her career to advancing knowledge in environmental sustainability and helping other students like herself to pursue their passions. 
 

Please share a little about your background and what brought you to City College.

I am a first generation college student and the daughter of Mexican immigrants. My parents have taught me how to chase my dreams and maintain humility along the way, and to have strength and perseverance in the face of challenges. I have seen and experienced the challenges that undocumented immigrants face in the United States, including the lack of respect immigrants receive in the workplace. Undocumented immigrants are often underpaid and work long hours. I used to help clean houses with my mother and saw how she was unfairly treated. I learned that employers often have little hope for the children of immigrants; they think immigrant children will end up taking the same trajectories as their parents, so they subject them to the same unequal treatment. This experience motivated me to pursue a higher degree so that I can be able to provide a better life for myself and family. Once I entered college, I was motivated to break this idea and use my academic talents to obtain my Bachelors Degree. Initially, I came to City College because I knew it would be affordable. I planned to study Chemistry and become a pharmacologist. I knew that CCNY had a phenomenal science department and I was eager to be part of it. I later changed my major to a double major in Sociology and International Studies, with a minor in Human Rights Studies. 
 

What motivated you to change your major and dedicate yourself to social change?
 
My goal is to become an educator and help students, specifically low income students find their passions while in college. I want to give students the tools to become agents of change in their own communities. Moreover, I want to increase the representation of women of color in academia. I have noticed the minimal representation of minorities in universities and would like to change that. I am currently enrolled in a two year Master’s Program at St. John’s University. I am majoring in Environmental Sustainability and Decision Making. Moreover, I accepted a graduate assistantship position where I will be leading discussions on social justice in areas such as the environment. After completing my master’s degree I plan to pursue a PhD in Latin American Studies. I would like to conduct research that helps affect policy changes, environmental change, and activism for poor, minority communities. I hope that through my work I can inspire other people of my background to pursue their dreams just like my advisors, teachers, mentors and family have done with me.
 

How did the Colin Powell School help you to pursue your goals?
 
My education at City College helped me immensely when it came to ensuring that I was given internship experience where I researched and presented projects and papers that discussed racial equality and the environment. I was able to intern in wonderful organizations and institutions such as Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Fort Greene Park Conservancy, and Columbia University. I was an Edward I. Koch Fellow and I later received the Colin Powell School Climate Policy Fellowship, both of which gave me valuable guidance and support. I also had the opportunity to study abroad in Costa Rica in 2019 and take a biology course. It was the first time that I fully understood the impact of interdisciplinary research when it came to connecting the physical sciences to the social sciences.
 

How have you been involved with the City College community since graduating?
 
I am a part of a support team with the Climate Policy Fellows program, working alongside Trevor Houser. As the school gradually opens back up, I would love to attend in person alumni events at the Colin Powell School to talk with current students about my experience at the college and in graduate school.
 

What advice do you have for current and future students?
 
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and ask questions. Often students are under the impression that they are bothering faculty, but in reality professors are excited and have valuable resources for their students. I emphasize this point because it took me until my junior year to really become comfortable asking questions, and I wish that I had done it sooner.
 

Mon, 15 Nov 2021 16:51:35 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/23959
Spielman Research Lab, Legacy of Harold M. Spielman (Class of ‘50), Facilitates Award-Winning Research on Social Inequality https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/spielman-research-lab-legacy-harold-m-spielman-class-50-facilitates-award

 

Harold SpielmanSpielman Research Lab, Legacy of Harold M. Spielman (Class of ‘50), Facilitates Award-Winning Research on Social Inequality


 By Adriana Espinosa, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Director of the Spielman Research Lab
 
The Spielman Social Sciences Research Lab was established by a generous donation by Mr. Harold Spielman in 2013. The mission of the Spielman Lab, as envisioned by Mr. Spielman, is to support Social Science researchers at the Colin Powell School as well as recruit and train the next generation of Social Science researchers. Located on the 7th floor of the North Academic Center, the Spielman lab fulfils this mission by providing faculty, students, and research staff of The Colin Powell School with technology, software, and dedicated space to generate new research ideas and gather and analyze data. The Spielman lab has provided junior faculty as well as many undergraduate and graduate students with research opportunities that have resulted in award-winning thesis projects and presentations at national academic conferences. Similarly, by licensing software programs for the collection and analysis of data (e.g., Qualtrics, MPlus, MAXQDA Analytics Pro), students, faculty, and research staff of the Colin Powell School have been able to gather and analyze new data for their projects, including evaluations of student services and programs. True to Mr. Harold Spielman’s vision, the Spielman lab has led to the creation of research projects that tackle persistent social issues such as disparities in health, racial discrimination, and social inequality. I have used the lab’s facilities and resources for my own work since joining the Department of Psychology in 2014, and was appointed Director of the Spielman lab in June 2019. Without a doubt, Mr. Spielman’s generous gift has created a resource that has had a tremendously positive impact on my work, the work of my peers, and too many students to enumerate. I am truly honored to be affiliated with the Spielman Lab. 

Mon, 15 Nov 2021 16:46:53 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/23957
With Faith in Yourself, You Can Make the Impossible Possible: Keyla Pereira on Her College Journey Amidst the Pandemic https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/faith-yourself-you-can-make-impossible-possible-keyla-pereira-her-college

 

KeylaWith Faith in Yourself, You Can Make the Impossible Possible: Keyla Pereira on Her College Journey Amidst the Pandemic

Keyla Pereira is a senior majoring in Economics with a minor in Business Administration. In this interview, Pereira discusses her experience with daunting transitions: assimilating as an immigrant from Ecuador in a new high school in New York City, deciding to stay in the city for college, changing to a different major at a different CUNY campus, making the best of remote learning after the pandemic thwarted her study abroad plans, and finally exploring the field of business intelligence in her internship. Pereira encourages students to consider the many different professional paths available to them no matter what major they choose and to gain professional experience to help them chart their path forward. Most of all: students should believe in themselves and keep a positive mindset, she says.  

Please tell us a little about your background.

I was born in Ecuador and came to the United States in 2013, completing my high school career in Brooklyn as an ESL student. Coming to the United States, leaving behind family for the possibility of experiencing the American dream, transitioning into a new school, I was unaccustomed to the new environment and everything felt unfamiliar to me. In my classes I encountered many other students who had just arrived in this country in a similar situation, with no clue of what our next steps in life should be or how to find our direction to make our own pursuit in life. 

What brought you to City College?

In my senior year of high school, I decided to stay in the city and attend a CUNY school. My guidance counselor suggested that I apply to other colleges outside of New York, so I could get an amazing college experience, but I told him that I want to stay here. Why would I go somewhere else when people from other states dream of coming to study in NYC? At least this was and is my perspective. Also, CUNY allowed me to share my day with friends while commuting to and from home and seeing my family at the end of the day, eating and enjoying time with them. CUNY offers a wide variety of programs, and you can also meet a variety of nice people along the way. These are the reasons that kept me in the city.
 
I attended Lehman College in the pre-engineering program for three semesters with the intention of pursuing Civil Engineering. Yet, my interest in the major changed because I found my passion in economics. I was curious about what peoples’ needs and wants are in society. In December 2019 I decided to transfer to City College to be part of the economics program. 
 
My advisor at CCNY encouraged me to study abroad, and I was so eager to apply, but my plans took a big turn. I never expected a pandemic in my first semester after just transferring to a new school. I could not study abroad or apply for programs and internships, and all of my classes have been online. 

What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?

It has always been important for me to be open to different paths. I always remember one professor when I started my college career telling us how diverse an industry can be. By this I mean if you obtain a nursing degree it does not necessarily mean you have to get a job in a hospital. You can go and explore more options, for instance research or becoming a travel nurse. We can apply what we learn in a variety of ways. This is why I put an emphasis on getting professional experience, or any related experiences in fact. Experience feeds one's curiosity and little by little we are able to solve problems and build our hard skills.
 
I am also for self-teaching, inspiring yourself to learn with what you got. Learning at home during the pandemic has helped me evaluate my purpose in life and connect with my drive to consistently grow in multiple aptitudes. It's never too late to master new skills and be the best version of yourself. Even when I doubt my potential, I try to overcome myriad obstacles and I push myself because overcoming them is solely up to me.

How has the Colin Powell School assisted you on your college journey? 

My transition to a different major at a different college was daunting. However, by taking advantage of the career development programs the school has to offer, I have been able to ensure that economics was the right choice and test out specific interests. I have participated in City Tutors, a mentoring program, as well as other ways the college supports students, including clubs, mentorship, fellowships, and internships. These have helped me to know that I made the best decision and to feel at peace with myself. At this point in our lives, every choice is made by us. 

Please share a significant memory and/or accomplishment from your time at CCNY. 

One of my professors sent out an email for those interested in doing a business intelligence internship with NY Foundling. I applied and was accepted to intern at the company. I am grateful for this internship because I got a piece of real-world application about what people do in the industry and what their working environment is like. It was quite a different and valuable experience to be a part of the NY Foundling team. As a business intelligence intern, I was required to attend daily stand-ups where I got the chance to listen to the different projects the company has been working on. I was able to work closely with Celonis software to identify, analyze, and execute data mining and cooperate with other interns to interpret data for 650 entries. After working with the cases, we presented the analysis report to 20 staff in the company in order to get feedback. Getting this internship has served me to narrow down my interests and I am excited to continue to grow. 

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

Stop complaining and start doing something about it. Do not stress out if you don’t have a plan. Great things are coming for you, and in the most unexpected moment you will get a great opportunity in your life. Sometimes we lose motivation and direction in our life, but with a little faith in ourselves we can make the impossible possible because if not us, then who? Make the most of what you have even in uncertainty!
 

Mon, 20 Sep 2021 23:54:14 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/23666
Make Connections and Research Opportunities: Amanur Rahman on how Study Abroad and the JP Morgan Mentorship Program Changed His Life https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/make-connections-and-research-opportunities-amanur-rahman-how-study-abroad
 
Amanur
Make Connections and Research Opportunities: Amanur Rahman on how Study Abroad and the JP Morgan Mentorship Program Changed His Life

Born in Bangladesh, Amanur Rahman migrated to the United States in 2010 and became the first in his family to graduate from college when he earned a degree in Economics at City College. With assistance from the SEEK program and the CUNY Chancellor Scholarship, Rahman had a transformative study abroad experience in Europe that helped him gain clarity on his career path. He then became a fellow of Project BASTA, a program for first-generation college students, and received mentorship from Liz Weikes, a seasoned finance professional through the Colin Powell School’s mentorship program in partnership with JP Morgan Chase. These opportunities helped Rahman get his start in the finance industry, where he is now building a career as a Portfolio Management Analyst at Hall Capital Partners. 

Please tell us a little about your background and where you’re from.

I was born in Bangladesh and immigrated to the US in 2010. We are a family of six, and I am the second oldest among my three brothers. We lived in Queens until 2014 and then moved to our current neighborhood in the Bronx. I am a first-generation college student and was the first in my family to obtain a college degree.

What brought you to City College?

City College's history and its reputation attracted me the most. Someone told me that CCNY was a poor man's Harvard and I, coming from a low-income family, felt connected to the college. Additionally, when I first visited the campus, I fell in love with how beautiful the campus was. I jokingly would tell my friends that I picked City College because the campus looked like the colleges from the movies.

What led you to choose the economics major at City College? 

I started college not knowing what I genuinely wanted to pursue, and I was lost. After taking a few economics classes, I developed a passion for learning how the world works and how everything was explained through simple economic models like supply and demand. As I moved to higher-level courses in the program, my interest evolved to finance and investing. I was lucky to have some of the most caring finance professors at City College who pushed me to go beyond what I thought was my limit.


 Talk about your career path. How has the Colin Powell School helped you in your career?

The first real sense of success came when I received the CUNY Chancellor Scholarship and an additional scholarship from the SEEK program to study abroad. I was accepted to an Amsterdam-based Entrepreneurship program. The study abroad program was a pivotal moment in my life. It boosted my confidence. The experience was once-in-a-lifetime. I got to test experiential start-up ideas with students from different countries, and my group's pitch was awarded the best start-up pitch in the program. I extended my stay by traveling around Europe after the conclusion of the program. When I came back to City College for the fall semester, I had a new sense of clarity about what I needed to do to be successful. 

I sought the help of the career office, and I was able to obtain an accounting internship in the summer of 2019. In the same year, the Colin Powell School matched me with an alumnus who served as a mentor and helped me plan and prepare for life after graduation. I also started building relationships with Colin Powell School professors who helped me tremendously. Just when I had lost hope for a summer internship in 2020 due to the pandemic, a professor emailed me about a virtual InTURNship program with Fiducient Advisors that helped me gain exposure to the industry I wanted to be in. Another professor recommended me for a scholarship that allowed me to participate in the Harvard Business School CORe Program in the same summer. In that same year, I was accepted to ProjectBasta, a fellowship that helps to prepare first-generation college students to land a job after graduation. Recently I received an offer from Hall Capital Partners to join as a Portfolio Management Analyst from their NY office.

Please share a significant memory or accomplishment from your time at City College.

I am thankful for the overall experience at City College and proud of the end result. I struggled a lot throughout my college life in balancing a job, full-time course load, internships, job search, and maintaining a social life. In the summer of 2019, I was working part-time at my regular job, taking a summer class, and working at an internship at the same time. Experiences like that helped me develop grit and made me who I am today. I am also proud to see many of my peers from Colin Powell School, with whom I shared many of the struggles, land amazing jobs right after college. 

How did you become a part of the JP Morgan mentoring program ?

I remember attending an info session that Colin Powell School hosted with JPM, where I was informed about the mentorship program. As a rising senior who is pursuing opportunities in the finance world, I knew I needed help and guidance to get my foot in the door. Therefore I decided to apply for the program.

Tell us about how you and your mentor worked together?

I was delighted to be mentored by Liz Weikes, who is a leader in the industry where I wanted to be. We met regularly every other week for the mentorship program. She shared how she got into finance and provided her insight about how I can get my foot in the door. For a while, I was giving up and desperately wanted any job that I could get. She helped me realize where I should focus on, encouraged me, and motivated me throughout my job search journey. She also advised me on how to present myself in some of the toughest interviews. She connected me to one of her team members to help me build a network. Right before graduation, I suddenly got multiple job offers, and she helped me figure out which of those jobs would be better for a long-term career trajectory. She knew I enjoyed reading finance news about the market, so she got me a complimentary Barrons account. We also discussed my life story and life goals.  

How did your mentor influence your career path?

The mentorship program helped me stay on course. There was a moment during my job search where I wanted to pivot and look for jobs outside of investment management/wealth management. Because of the mentorship program, I stayed the course of my job search journey, faced a lot of letdowns, close calls, and in the end, I persevered. It took a village to get me where I am today, and the mentorship program was a big part of it.

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

The worst mistake I made in college was not exploring what the college has to offer and not asking for help. Colin Powell School offers so many fellowships and scholarships that can be life-changing for many students. Also, CUNY and its partners have resources that many students can utilize. It’s good to do well in classes, but I think it's more important to make connections while in college with peers, professors, and getting yourself in front of various opportunities that the school has to offer. The sooner you start making connections and researching opportunities the better prepared you are before you graduate. Also, be open to exploring your interest or a subject that has nothing to do with what you are majoring in. You never know what you will take out of it.
 

Mon, 20 Sep 2021 22:38:38 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/23665
Collective Transformation to Fulfill CCNY’s Historic Mission: Professor Chen on Becoming Sociology Department Chair https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/collective-transformation-fulfill-ccnys-historic-mission-professor-chen

 

Katherine ChenCollective Transformation to Fulfill CCNY’s Historic Mission: Professor Chen on Becoming Sociology Department Chair


 
Can you share a little about your background and how you made the decision to go into academia? 
 
As an organizational researcher, I specialize in studying how innovative democratic organizations can transform people’s relationships and help a broader range of stakeholders to collectively pursue their interests. This question was sparked by my own experiences with organizations that were too bureaucratic and hierarchical. I also was troubled by how university courses only taught conventional ways of running firms, voluntary associations, schools, and other institutions. I began to understand that people need real-world examples of what inclusive and meaningful forms of organizing look like. Learning about these organizational practices could inspire people to create futures that are more sustainable and equitable.
 
I’ve published widely on this research, including an award-winning book Enabling Creative Chaos: The Organization Behind the Burning Man Event. I also recently co-edited Organizational Imaginaries: Tempering Capitalism and Tending to Communities through Cooperatives and Collectivist Democracy, a collection of studies of worker cooperatives and other alternative organizations in several countries including the UK, France, Argentina, and Brazil. My most recent project examines a New York alternative school that has pioneered self-directed education and other democratic practices. This school has spread such practices across its international network of affiliates while remaining deeply rooted in its local community. In addition to observing and participating in democratic organizations, I have also studied how organizations more generally help people navigate complex markets, including when they choose health insurance providers or decide on options in school-choice districts. 
 
Prior to joining CCNY, I earned my PhD in sociology at Harvard University and bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Stanford University.  As a graduate student, I wasn’t sure whether I should go into academia, given how challenging of a career path is involved. Despite the difficulties, I can’t imagine a life without active research. Especially now, societies need more ways of imagining better possible worlds and bringing about these potential futures. By researching and teaching on these topics, scholars such as myself are able to inspire our society’s future leaders to think creatively and wisely about possibilities.  
 
Why did you decide to take on the challenges of being department chair, and what are your priorities? 
 
Serving as chair of the sociology department is another way that I can practice what I research – collective transformation. Organizational research has shown how diversity on teams makes them more creative and inclusive in their thinking, and as academia diversifies, I think we’re also becoming better able to address pressing social problems with greater sensitivity to stakeholders. In part, this involves recognizing and revaluing the often “invisible” work performed by various groups and individuals. For example, this past week I ran into Freddie Mendez, a former student who graduated from CCNY as a sociology major. He just finished his master’s degree in library sciences and will be transferring from his job at the Washington Heights public library to the Midtown public library. In part, his job entails helping patrons get accurate information, including on available social services and connecting with the appropriate agencies – critically important connective work, now that we are slowly emerging from the pandemic. Many of our undergraduates currently work in or go on to work in underserved communities – everything from mentoring high school and college students, to assisting with enrichment programs for people with autism, to advocating for parents and their children in schools. Such work is crucial to sustaining societies. Sociology degrees help students develop a deeper understanding of societal issues and gain the critical and research tools they need to work toward rectifying them.
 
My priorities as chair are to help our department grow in ways consistent with CCNY’s unique role within the community, as a linchpin, historied institution that fosters economic mobility.  
Our faculty have a wealth of expertise on topics of great societal importance: ranging from housing policy and environmental issues, to the well-being of local and ethnic communities in the US and elsewhere. Through the courses, research opportunities, and mentoring that our faculty provide, we give students the training and knowledge they need to generate positive social change. Since our students are embedded in local communities – for instance, most live in NYC households, rather than dorms, and many also work in the NYC area – they are already well-positioned to make a broader societal impact, such as by connecting the people in their neighborhoods and organizations with resources and opportunities.  
 
As a department, we do face challenges that alumni and other supporters could help with. We need people who can help mentor our undergraduates, many of whom are immigrants and first-generation college-goers who must navigate between their own needs and those of their families and communities. We also need donations to help fill resource gaps that have opened up in recent years. For instance, several of our faculty have retired or have left to continue their careers at other universities. We also lost our senior-most faculty member to COVID back in March 2020, an especially shocking loss. Our students and their households continue to be severely impacted by the pandemic, both in terms of its health consequences and its economic fallout. Donations would go far in supporting our students – from paying for necessary programs to helping us establish a faculty line in our department. Like many institutions in the wake of this pandemic, we’re aiming to rebuild, but we hope to do so in ways that strengthen relationships with local communities – including our beloved alumni. With your help, we can ensure that our next generation of graduates can act as the leaders they’re meant to be. 

Mon, 30 Aug 2021 18:48:00 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/23540
A New Strategic Direction: Punit Arora on Becoming the New Economics Department Chair https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/new-strategic-direction-punit-arora-becoming-new-economics-department-chair

 

Punit AroraA New Strategic Direction: Punit Arora on Becoming the New Economics Department Chair


 
Can you share a little about your background and how you made the decision to go into academia?
 
Truth be told, it was an accidental decision to get into academia. I never imagined I would be an academic! After several high profile, high-pressure jobs with the Indian government, I decided I needed a break. I wanted to experience a new culture and came to the US for a masters program. That one-year break ended up becoming a PhD. More importantly, I fell in love both literally and metaphorically in my personal and professional lives. What could be better than creating and disseminating new knowledge (and getting paid for it)?
 
Why did you decide to take on the challenges of being department chair, and what are your priorities?
 
I felt our department (EcoBiz) needed a change in its strategic direction. To stay relevant in the changing higher education landscape, we need a greater focus on interdisciplinary entrepreneurship and business education. It also fits in well with my background (business, entrepreneurship and government), so I felt the timing was right for me to step up to the plate and take up the challenge head on. I was also encouraged by several colleagues, who felt the same way. 
 

Mon, 30 Aug 2021 18:46:12 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/23539
Stepping Up to the International Stage: Professor Yochanan Shachmurove on Becoming Director of the MA Economics Program https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/stepping-international-stage-professor-yochanan-shachmurove-becoming

 

YochananStepping Up to the International Stage: Professor Yochanan Shachmurove on Becoming Director of the MA Economics Program

 

Can you share a little about your background and how you decided to go into academia?

I was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, went to Tel Aviv University with a BA in Economics and an MBA in Finance and Operations Research. I was accepted to a few universities for PhD programs, including the University of Chicago and the University of Minnesota. Due to the better financial offer, I decided to go to the University of Minnesota. There, I wrote my dissertation titled: "A Rational Expectations Equilibrium Model of Capital Accumulation Under Uncertainty," under the supervision of Nobel Laureate Professor Thomas J. Sargent (Chairman), Professor Neil Wallace, Nobel Laureate Professor Christopher Sims, Nobel Laureate Professor Edward C. Prescott, and Professor Symord Geisser from the Department of Statistics. Having the opportunity to work alongside and be educated by such a group of brilliant minds and talented individuals, certainly opened my eyes to the world of groundbreaking economic thinkers whose work has had an immense, pioneering impact on the field. Along the years, I have met and cooperated with other Nobel laureates in economics, who now I consider as friends who I can call and consult with frequently.

Indeed, I enjoyed my studies at Tel Aviv University which at the time was the hallmark of economic research, with my university teacher suggesting I pursue an academic career. Fundamentally, I think that at the time I graduated with a BA, it was evident that Israel, or to a greater extent the world, should rely more on human skills emphasizing the power of the mind, rather than only centering around military might. My drive is rooted in this interplay of the ever-evolving global stage to look at financial issues and macro – monetary policies, naturally advancing my career in the field of economics.

 

Why did you decide to take on the challenges of being the MA director, and what are your priorities?

We cannot move forward without acknowledging the former MA Director, Professor Prabal De's achievements. Without his hard work, diligence, and leadership, we would not see the MA program in its current profitable state. 

Once Professor Prabal De decided to step down from his role as director, I realized the time had come for me to step in, contributing more to the Department of Economics and Business, with maybe a smaller number of academic papers. Moreover, I gained an immense understanding about efficiently organizing and managing large groups from diverse backgrounds from my years in high school, the army, and academia.

My priorities are to contribute to the quality of the program and add an international dimension and perspective. As a member of the Executive Committee of the Graduate School of The City University of New York, I would like to strengthen the relationship with our MA students, the PhD students, and faculty members, hopefully leading a few of our MA students to pursue an academic career. I also would like to see our MA students get jobs at the Federal Reserve System, in particular the New York Fed and other of its branches, the State Department, as well as international economic institutions, such as the World Bank, The International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, and the United Nations. I would also like to see our MA students enrolled in Law Schools and pursuing Certified Public Accounting degrees. 

As I have done since arriving at City College, I will use my extensive network of national and international universities to improve the visibility of the MA program at CCNY. My experience of more than a quarter century at the University of Pennsylvania and more recently at New York University should propel us to achieve new heights.

 

 

Mon, 30 Aug 2021 18:44:17 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/23538
Guiding Psychology Students During the Pandemic: Tiffany Floyd on Becoming Director of Master in Mental Health Counseling MA Program in 2021 https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/guiding-psychology-students-during-pandemic-tiffany-floyd-becoming-director

 

TiffanyGuiding Psychology Students During the Pandemic: Tiffany Floyd on Becoming Director of Master in Mental Health Counseling MA Program in 2021


 
Professor Tiffany Floyd, an expert in reducing gender-based health disparities, became the director of the Masters Program in Mental Health Counseling (MHC) earlier this year. Professor Floyd is a clinical psychologist whose research and clinical work focus on reducing health disparities. Her specific areas of interest include mood disorders, women’s health, behavior change, and prevention/risk reduction. After receiving her PhD from Temple University, Floyd completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York, where she developed several grant-funded projects aimed at reducing cancer risk among low income and/or racial and ethnic minority females. At CCNY she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in personality science and group dynamics/group counseling and provides clinical supervision to graduate students.

What unique challenges did you face as you assumed leadership of the MHC program in the middle of the ongoing pandemic? 

One of my top priorities has been to ensure that our students have the information, resources, and support they need to navigate this unusual time. This pertains not only to CCNY-specific factors, but also to the various professional training requirements associated with their path towards licensure. As a result, it has been extremely important for me to stay abreast of various factors affecting their requisite education and training, and to make sure that they have accurate and up-to-date information to support them in completing their degree. Hosting regular program-wide town hall meetings, enhanced oversight of clinical internships, and implementing new systems for connecting with students are just a few of the tools that have been introduced during this period, and that will remain key features of the program. After a year with so much uncertainty, it is important to provide students with as much clarity and guidance as we can. Above all, I want students to know that they are not alone. We are here to help them successfully negotiate the various demands of this unique period of time.

Where do you see the MHC program going in the future? 

I am very excited about the future of the MHC program. I see it expanding in both size and strength in the years to come, beginning with growing the number of program faculty and increasing our admission capacity by at least 50%. We are also eager to add CACREP (Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs) accreditation to the list of attributes that attract so many students to the program each year. Adopting CACREP’s nationally-recognized set of standards will make it even easier for our graduates to transfer their professional license across state lines, making it yet another major draw for the program.

The need for quality mental health care has risen dramatically in the past year, making the MHC program’s role in producing well-trained, highly effective counselors more vital and salient than ever. It is extremely gratifying to know that our program contributes to the body of professionals equipped to meet the mental healthcare needs of diverse communities.

As a clinical psychologist with a focus on health disparities, I am deeply committed to the MHC program’s mission to increase diversity among mental health counselors working in the community. I am excited about the opportunity to further this mission in the years to come.
 

Mon, 30 Aug 2021 18:41:15 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/23537
“Be Generous with the Time You Give Students”: Professor Rajan Menon, Dedicated Teacher and Prolific Scholar, Retires  https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/be-generous-time-you-give-students-professor-rajan-menon-dedicated-teacher

Rajan Menon“Be Generous with the Time You Give Students”: Professor Rajan Menon, Dedicated Teacher and Prolific Scholar, Retires 


 
Professor Rajan Menon, the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Chair in Political Science at the Colin Powell School, retires this fall after more than ten years at CCNY. A native of Kerala, India, Professor Menon grew up in New York City and Wichita, Kansas. He is a prolific author, whose research focuses on American domestic and national security policy, globalization, and the politics of Asia, Russia, and the post-Soviet states. During his time at CCNY, he dedicated generous amounts of time and energy to students and published widely in both academic and mainstream publications. In a recent interview, he talked about his love for the life of a scholar and his close productive relationships with fellow faculty across disciplines at CCNY. Professor Menon previously taught at Lehigh University, Columbia University, and Vanderbilt University and has held fellowships and other positions at the New America Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the National Bureau for Asian Research. He also served as Special Assistant for Arms Control and National Security to Congressman Stephen J. Solarz (D-NY).

Tell us a little about you: where did you grow up?

I was born in Kerala, a tiny sliver of a state at the tip of India's southwestern coast. It’s an unusual place in many respects, certainly for a country in what is now called “the Global South.” It has a literacy rate of over 90%; a life expectancy rate that compares favorably with Europe's; an excellent public health system; and beautiful Hindu temples, mosques, and synagogues (and the food is spectacular). Kerala, in Hindu families anyway, is also a matrilineal society, and one wonderful consequence of that has been that women are well represented in politics and professions. Kerala's Communist party—which made a priority of land reform, progressive taxation, education, public health, and educating people about contraception—deserves considerable credit for the low levels of poverty in the state. One drawback has been that Kerala loses too many highly trained people because the state doesn’t have a lot of industry (though it has spectacular beaches and seafood) and so they go elsewhere in large numbers. As an aside: many less-well-educated Kerala Muslims, having worked for years in the Persian Gulf, return flush with cash, and that has had interesting, and to my mind largely positive, effects on social hierarchies and wealth distribution. 

What were some early experiences that influenced the direction your life/career took?

The earliest influence was that my mother and I left India in 1958 and I have spent 80% of my life in the United States. I grew up in New York City and Wichita, Kansas (quite a contrast), but I was sent back to a boarding school for some years. I received a superb education there, but British-style boarding schools are tough places and not for the faint of heart. You see sides of human nature you shouldn’t, especially as a child. It never once occurred to me to send either of my daughters to one.

How did you become interested in the field you pursued?

Most of my family, certainly on my father’s side, are in the Indian foreign service, and we jokingly refer to it as the family business. But it’s not a business I particularly cared for (the reasons are too complicated to do justice to here), having come to know it very well. So academia enabled me to escape the family business (to which I am temperamentally unsuited in any event) and to enter one that had three big attractions for me: first, you don’t have to be someone’s son or grandson to succeed and can make your own way (or not). Second: you actually get paid to read, write, teach, and watch young people grow, change, and succeed. What a deal! Third: you have no “boss” and you have enormous freedom to work on what you want, as opposed to what someone else (an ambassador perhaps) tells you to work on. I’ve always believed that I have the best job in the world and have never seriously thought of taking another, though I have been offered the opportunity. I did spend one year in government, enough to learn that it was not for me.  I should add that I would never have made a go of it as an academic but for the example, inspiration, and assistance of outstanding professors in graduate school.

What brought you to City College?

To be honest, I wanted to make life simpler. I had lived in New York and commuted to Pennsylvania to teach (at Lehigh University) for twenty-five years.  I am not enamored of cars and driving, and there are only so many books-on-tape (that’s what they were back in the day) you can go through before you’ve had enough. Then came smart phones and the horrible effects it had on the way people drive. So commuting became deadly as well as dangerous. I was very happy at Lehigh, but when an opportunity to teach at City College came along, I took it without hesitation. It has been one of the best professional decisions I've made. This is an extraordinary place, not only because of its storied history and beautiful campus—well, there’s the NAC but if you work in it, as I do, you don’t have to look at it—but also on account of its exceptional faculty and students. I have met some truly outstanding scholars here. As for the students, when someone from another university asks about them, I say this: “I have never taught at a school where I am in awe of the students." What our students achieve despite the hardships many endure, and the comes-with-birth advantages they lack, is extraordinary. It has been a privilege to witness their successes.  I also joined a department that's not just collegial but also knitted together by friendships. When we have had occasion to hire, we have hired well, and the caliber of the department’s scholars, notably the younger ones, is as good as at any other university. 

How long have you taught at CCNY?
 
I joined in 2010, left for a year and returned to Lehigh (CUNY’s bureaucracy made me crazy) but missed it very much and came back in 2012. I have never regretted that decision. City College is not flush with resources but it does exceptional things despite that disadvantage, and it has a mission that's more important now than ever perhaps.

How has the experience of working at CCNY changed/evolved over the years?
 
I’ve gotten much more involved in faculty governance than I’d planned or wanted to. If you have a wonderful job but find that the place where you work could be improved, you have three choices: to say that improving it is not your problem, to complain endlessly and make yourself and others miserable, or to pitch in and try, in small ways, to make things better. I chose the third path.

Please share an accomplishment that you consider particularly significant in your intellectual life at CCNY?

I’ll take the liberty of sharing two. One is getting to know and working closely with a number of faculty in other divisions besides my own. A good many of my closest friends at CCNY are in the sciences, humanities, and arts. I have learned a great deal from them. As for personal accomplishments, I’ve written two additional books since joining CCNY and am working on a third. My freelance writing for newspapers and magazines has increased in volume and exposed me to a new world.

What advice would you give to students currently at CCNY?

Study what interests you and resist the trend that’s turning our nation’s universities into venues for vocational training. This is the last chance you’ll have to read widely and acquire an education that enables you to explore several different disciplines. Pay attention to your writing and learn to write in a manner that makes your readers want to read on. Learn a new language or improve your facility in the ones you know. 

What advice would you give a faculty member just starting their career?

Success (however you define it) in academia will require working long hours and often seven days a week. But remember that you’re doing what you love. If you don’t think you are, you should reconsider your choice of career. I’d add that teaching, or writing for that matter, never gets easier and once you think you can coast you’re no longer a good teacher. Be generous with the time you give students. They will never forget it and your advice and interest in them can make a big difference in their lives. 
 

Mon, 30 Aug 2021 18:38:17 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/23536
Take Time to Learn the History of the College: Professor Bill Crain, Advocate of Free Speech and Open Admissions, Retires https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/take-time-learn-history-college-professor-bill-crain-advocate-free-speech

Bill Crane

Take Time to Learn the History of the College: Professor Bill Crain, Advocate of Free Speech and Open Admissions, Retires

 

Professor Bill Crain is retiring after 51 years at City College. A native of Los Angeles, CA, Professor Crain is a developmental psychologist by training, whose work focuses on how children's minds and personalities evolve. He wrote Theories of Development: Concepts and Applications, which is now in its sixth edition. He is a much-loved teacher, and Professor Crain has been a staunch advocate for open admissions and free speech at CCNY. He has organized against tuition hikes and standardized entrance exams, and he urges new faculty and students to learn about the college’s history and its role in promoting equality of opportunity. Along with his wife, Dr. Ellen Crain, Professor Crain runs Safe Haven Farm Sanctuary in Dutchess County, NY, which provides a safe home for farm animals rescued from abuse and neglect. Here, he discusses his background and career:

I grew up in East Los Angeles until I was 11 years old. Then our family moved to Anaheim, where I graduated from high school in 1961.  

During my high school days, McCarthyism was still going strong in Anaheim and its neighboring Orange County towns. For example, the school bussed us to attend a Christian Anti-Communism rally.  As a participant in the California Boys’ State program, I spoke out against efforts to restrain free thought, and I got into mild trouble with the American Legion. As the graduation valedictorian, I repeated the need for the free expression of ideas.

My father was a clinical psychologist who worked in Los Angeles’ Juvenile Hall and in the California Youth Authority.  He sparked my initial interest in psychology. I attended Harvard University as an undergraduate and studied with several professors who strengthened my interest. These included Erik Erikson, Robert White, and George Goethals.

I received a PhD from the Committee on Human Development at the University of Chicago in 1969. I then took a clinical psychology internship at the University of Illinois Neuropsychiatric Institute.

I had a longstanding wish to become a teacher, and I decided to take a job offer from CCNY because of its reputation as a great teaching college. I came in 1970 and have been here for 51 years. 

When I first came to campus, most of the students were white. As the new Open Admissions policy was implemented, the ethnic composition of the student body changed. My classes have always been exciting, and I have had many terrific students. I believe CCNY continues to be a terrific place to teach. Colleagues tell me that our undergraduates are much more interesting and outspoken than those at Ivy League colleges. 

During my first years on campus, I had only a vague notion of CCNY’s historic importance.  I didn’t appreciate how it had opened opportunities for New Yorkers regardless of their income or cultural background.  I gained insight into the need for such opportunities when CUNY imposed tuition hikes, banned remedial classes at the senior colleges, and installed standardized tests that disproportionately closed doors to students of color.  I then became a staunch advocate of Open Admissions and an opponent of biased tests. I have been arrested for acts of civil disobedience in efforts to keep college access as open as possible.  

One of my proudest intellectual accomplishments is my textbook, Theories of Development: Concepts and Applications, now in its 6th edition. I wrote it to help teach my undergraduate child development classes, and many former students have told me that it gave them an understanding of how development can proceed from people’s spontaneous interests and passions.

My main advice to students is to pay attention to grades, but don’t become obsessed with them. More important is your love of learning. Let yourself become excited by ideas.

My main advice to a new faculty member is take a little time to learn about the history of the college. You will realize that you are teaching at a place that has played a central role in promoting equality of opportunity in the United States. 
 

Mon, 30 Aug 2021 18:19:37 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/23535
Aneesah Saeed: Listening to Her Calling as an International Social Justice Leader https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/aneesah-saeed-listening-her-calling-international-social-justice-leader

 

Val AneesahAneesah Saeed: Listening to Her Calling as an International Social Justice Leader


 Aneesah Saeed started college as a pre-med major, but she soon discovered that medicine was not her calling. Driven by recurring memories of child poverty and exploitation that she had witnessed as a girl in Pakistan, she joined the International Studies program at the Colin Powell School. She developed a keen interest in User Experience/User Interface design and became passionate about finding ways to use technology to better address global issues. In this interview, she tells of her upbringing as a biracial Pakistani-Italian American. She discusses how, as a student, she has found mentors, pushed herself to develop new technical skills and leadership competencies, and joined student government and other programs to build a career in public service. 
 
Please share a little about where you’re from and your background. 
 
Born in Queens, New York, I am a biracial Caucasian/South-Asian American (my mother is Italian and my father is Pakistani). Growing up, I had been exposed to Eastern and Western cultures due to my heritage. Since my youth, witnessing my parents' hard work ethic and their support and focus on my education has been a driving force for me to learn and excel, in pursuit of obtaining a successful career. My mother, in particular, placed me in competitive sports from a young age, such as gymnastics, and swimming. This led me to become the National Swim Champion for the province of Punjab, Pakistan in 2013. For most women at the time, such sports in Pakistan were considered taboo. After returning from Pakistan for high school, I was involved in the Model UN club where I attended numerous conferences and obtained awards like ‘Honorable Mention’ and ‘Best Delegate.’ The culmination of my youth experiences gave me the drive to excel academically, enabling me to attend Columbia University’s High School Immersion Program for Literature and graduate from high school a year early with AP credits.
 
What brought you to City College?
 
For my freshman year, I attended SUNY Geneseo as a Biology major. After finishing the year, I realized that the pre-med track was not my calling and my passion was more geared toward International Studies. When searching for programs, I found that the Colin Powell School at the City College of New York had a remarkable International Studies program with a great reputation. I chose to transfer to CCNY specifically because of its diversity with students from a variety of different backgrounds, cultures, and a distinguished faculty, with all the great exposure New York City has to offer.
 
What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?
 
My perspective on life changed after living in Pakistan from the age of 9 to 13. I vividly remember seeing children begging in the streets for scraps, employed as factory workers, or working as servants. Due to the caste system, it is near impossible for children in this situation to obtain an education and build a better life for themselves. From those visions, I knew that I wanted to major in International Studies to learn about why conflicts take place and how to analyze political, social, economic, and cultural issues. This field was my destiny to raise awareness and be a part of the solution to improve the harsh conditions under which impoverished families live. As an individual who strives to promote justice and equality, the International Studies major has taught me about why conflicts occur and how some nations are able to advance while others are stuck in a poverty trap.
 
In March of 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic changed our lives. I was amazed by how students and faculty quickly adapted to new online learning platforms. Due to this unprecedented event, I learned about User Experience Design as the pandemic sparked my interest in researching how human-centered technologies are created. I enrolled in Applied Statistics with Professor Sophia Barrett and asked if I could take her Python fieldwork class to learn technological skill sets. Soon after, I discovered an unconventional approach on how to solve problems and improve people’s lives by intersecting International Studies, Public Policy, and Psychology with the field of User Experience and User Interface (UX/UI) Design. I realized these fields complement each other in interesting and significant ways. They focus on problem-solving, adapting to the ever-changing needs of people, thus improving people's lives. My intrigue in learning how to create accessible interfaces sparked my interest and decision to enroll in Columbia University’s six-month UX/UI Boot Camp in November of 2020. 
 
How has your career unfolded, and how has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way?
 
I am grateful to attend an institution that offers numerous opportunities, resources, fellowships, and scholarships for students at the Colin Powell School and beyond. I am an S Jay Levy and Edward I. Koch Fellow Alumna. In the S Jay Levy fellowship, with the help of Program Officer Lavie Margolin and guidance from my mentor, Chukwudi Onike, a graduate of the MPA Program at CCNY, I obtained a summer internship in May of 2021 with the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, a non-profit that works with member organizations such as UNICEF to raise awareness and set standards to protect children from violence and exploitation. I then learned that the organization was undergoing a website redesign. Many global humanitarian workers with limited English proficiency were unable to comprehend documents in their mother tongue. With my knowledge of UX/UI and my International Studies background, I presented a powerpoint to stakeholders, showing how my skill sets and understanding of the field would make me an asset. This resulted in them procuring my talents to redesign their website. When the internship finished, I got accepted to the Edward I. Koch Fellowship in August of 2021 to continue working on this project. These opportunities led to me be hired by the Alliance as a UX/UI Accessibility Specialist where I continue to work to this day! Thanks to the mentorship, opportunities, and resources offered by the Colin Powell School, I will be attending a Masters Program in Integrated Design and Media at New York University (NYU) this fall.
 
Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your career or time at City College that you would like to talk about?
 
In order to improve my leadership abilities, which is a necessary skill set for this field, I joined the Undergraduate Student Government a few weeks after starting my sophomore year as a transfer student to advocate on behalf of students at City College. I then ran for Secretary in my Junior year and I am humbled and honored to serve as the current President of the Organization. In addition, I co-started the United Nations Association Chapter to educate students on major accomplishments of the United Nations and recommend how other students can get involved. These experiences have not only strengthened my skill sets in leadership, collaborating, and policymaking but also taught me how to be an active listener and improve my emotional intelligence. I also had an incredible opportunity to study the Arabic language in Amman, Jordan last winter. Being an International Studies student, I believe it is important to learn other languages, cultures, and traditions. After returning from my study abroad, I finished taking all Arabic language courses offered at City College and was awarded a Certificate of Achievement from the Classical and Modern Languages Literature Department. I’d also like to give a sincere thank you to Dr. Sarah Muir and Dr. Irina Silber from the Department of Anthropology, Gender Studies, and International Studies for granting me the International Studies Service Award.
 
Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students? 
 
To future and current students at the City College of New York, I would first recommend that you follow your heart and passion by choosing a major that excites you and one that you can see yourself doing in the future. Utilize all the resources available to you as a CCNY student. Check your citymail often, meet with your advisors frequently, and familiarize yourself with the new Office of Student Success team at the Colin Powell School! They offer numerous resources to find internships, receive mentorship, and assist with navigating your pathway throughout your undergraduate education. Use your time wisely and start developing a network by getting to know your professors and creating a Linkedin to form a professional online presence. This is important as it will help you receive letters of recommendation, independent studies, referrals, job/research offers, and guidance. Opportunities will only come if you actively seek them. In addition, keep in mind that the learning will never end! I encourage you all to supplement your learnings from college with outside resources to acquire further skill sets and keep pushing yourself to obtain a successful career. I wish you all the best of luck in all your future endeavors and I am positive that with hard work, dedication, commitment, and patience, you will make your mark on the world!
 
What does it mean to you to have been selected as CPS Valedictorian?
 
I am honored to have been selected as Valedictorian of the Colin Powell School! This means so much to me as I was able to excel academically and find my passion because of the education and guidance I received from the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership. I am eternally grateful for all the experiences, knowledge, and endless opportunities I have gained at the Colin Powell School. During the interview for Valedictorian, I mentioned that there are four reasons why I would like to be awarded:
 
For my fellow students, who have jumped through numerous obstacles to graduate and deserve to be congratulated.
For my mother, who has sacrificed so much for me to obtain a quality education.
For General Colin Powell, our institution's namesake, who has forever changed the face of public service leadership and provided so much to the Colin Powell School.
For the faculty and administration, who have been our support system and play a vital role in driving us students toward upward mobility. 
 
I look forward to touching on these points during my speech at our first in-person commencement in two years. Being selected as Valedictorian has shown me that dreams do come true and you are capable of achieving anything as long as you are determined, passionate, and motivated.

 

Tue, 20 Jul 2021 01:17:26 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/23429
Marrying Film and Activism: Savannah Washington on Her Path as a Film Director and the Making of “Playing Frisbee in North Korea”  https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/marrying-film-and-activism-savannah-washington-her-path-film-director-and

 

Savannah WashingtonMarrying Film and Activism: Savannah Washington on Her Path as a Film Director and the Making of “Playing Frisbee in North Korea” 

After growing up in Detroit, Savannah Washington came to New York to combine her love of film, creative writing, and theater with her love of social activism. She became a Colin Powell Graduate Fellow in 2010 and learned about the conflict and human rights conditions on the Korean Peninsula. With close mentorship and financial support from the Colin Powell Center, Washington traveled to Korea and produced a cinema verite documentary film titled "Playing Frisbee in North Korea.” Originally intended as a short film to raise funds for the World Food Program in North Korea, the film became a full-length feature documentary and has influenced audiences at film festivals around the world. Watch the film’s trailer.


Please share with us a little of your story and background. 


I was born in Detroit. After graduating from Michigan State University with a degree in communications and creative writing, I began teaching business subjects in post-secondary schools. In the late 1980s I moved to Los Angeles, California where I started a bookkeeping service for boutique talent agencies. 
 
In the 1990s I left Los Angeles and became an Associate Professor at San Diego Community College District from 1998-2005, where I taught technology. I had acted in high school, college, and community theater and had done quite a bit of creative writing and wanted to return to my first love, writing and theater, so I began taking film production classes, which married my love of writing with production and directing. Later I came to New York after being accepted in the New York University production certificate program. 


What brought you to City College?


I wanted to pursue a Master’s Degree in Film & Video. I was looking for a good M.F.A. program to further my education and solidify my career path in film. After researching schools, City College topped the list.  It was a film program that was well-rated and also affordable. I didn’t want to graduate $150,000 in debt but wanted to be in a solid program. That turned out to be City College.  


What passion or purpose drives your work? 

 
Using my filmmaking work for activism had always been something that I wanted to do but didn’t know how to do effectively. I had done some community activism when I lived in San Diego, but wanted to devote more of my life to using my work for activism to affect public policy. In my first year in graduate school, I saw the posting for the Colin Powell Center fellowships that would help teach us public policy and how to advocate to affect change. That posting changed my life. 


How has your career unfolded, and how has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way? 


In 2010 I was the first film major to become a Colin Powell graduate fellow. Vince Boudreau, then a professor, was my mentor. As a fellow I attended the Korea Peninsula Reunification Conference that General Powell and the Powell Center convened, and I learned about the conditions the North Korean people were experiencing: famine, malnutrition, and human rights violations. At the time, the World Food Program was seeking money for food aid to North Korea for lactating mothers and children under two, without much success internationally. I asked if a short film on the issue would help raise awareness, and they said yes. Vince supported the idea from the beginning and later granted the film $25,000 in seed money from a grant given to the Center by a friend of General Powell. That allowed me to travel to the Korean peninsula and film verite footage from inside N. Korea, as well as interviews with North Korean refugees, aid workers, scholars, and experts on the topic. The documentary provides an authentic, on-the- ground perspective of the lives, struggles, and humanity of the people of North Korea.

What started as a short film became a feature length film (86 minutes) entitled Playing Frisbee in North Korea (www.AardvarkAlleyFilms.com), which has been picked up for distribution by American Public Television World Wide and Kino Lorber Educational and has been in film festivals all over the world. Without the support of the Colin Powell School and my fellowship there, this film would have never happened!
 
Since then my time at City College has come full circle. I am currently a full adjunct professor at Borough of Manhattan Community College. I also teach production classes and an activism class that I developed at The New School.  
 

Tue, 20 Jul 2021 01:07:56 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/23428
Finding Strength in Setbacks, from Hurricane María to Mental Health  https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/finding-strength-setbacks-hurricane-maria-mental-health

 

 

Finding Strength in Setbacks, from Hurricane María to Mental Health 

 

Monica Martinez-Raga

After Hurricane María tore apart her community in Puerto Rico, Mónica Martínez-Raga enrolled at CCNY with tuition support that New York State provided to hurricane victims. In this interview, she tells her story of overcoming personal battles with mental health and self-confidence, falling in love with the study of economics, and taking full advantage of the opportunities available through the Colin Powell School. She emphasizes the importance of showing up to events, learning to network with people in your industry, and learning and growing through mistakes and failures. 

 
Please tell us a little about your background and the early years of your college career.

I was born and raised between San Juan and Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico, where I lived with both my parents and my younger sister. Back then, the only professions that I understood to hold the promise of success were medicine, engineering, or law. By the time I graduated high school, I planned on becoming a doctor. In retrospect, I chose medicine not so much because of any particular love for medical science. I was good at science and was genuinely interested, but frankly it was more for the recognition that came with being a doctor. I was a straight-A student my whole life. My identity was almost dependent on that type of validation, and becoming a doctor just seemed like the most fitting choice for the person I thought I was. 
 
When I started my college career at Cornell University, the situation back home was less than ideal. My family was going through very difficult times, and as the eldest daughter, it took a huge toll on my mental health. I left Puerto Rico thinking I could escape what was going on, but things only got worse. I suffered a significant culture shock. I didn’t get used to living in rural New York with its long and dark winters, nor was I sufficiently motivated with my career choice to find the strength to excel. After my first year, I took a leave of absence. This was a big blow to my self-esteem. Everything I thought I knew about myself was in question. Was I really that smart? Able? Deserving? I didn’t recognize it at the time, but I was severely depressed. And instead of taking a break for myself, I thought I needed to make amends for what I thought was a failure. Immediately that summer and fall, I enrolled at the University of Puerto Rico. I continued the same cycle, completely frustrated as to why I couldn’t concentrate or care. 
 
It wasn’t until January of 2016 that, with the help of my mom, I decided to take a real break. I got my first full-time job at a restaurant in Puerto Rico and started becoming more financially independent. This was a total morale boost. I was gaining a new sense of agency I never knew I needed. I started being more unapologetic about the choices I made and started thinking about what it meant to own my future. During this time, I worked, traveled, and started understanding who I truly was despite all the external validation I had received my entire life. 

Talk about how Hurricane María affected your path to CCNY.

In September 2017, I was visiting my partner in New York City, when Hurricane María hit Puerto Rico. I was living with my father at the time. I could not return home because he didn’t have electrical power for over six months. As we now know, the situation was dire. The restaurant where I worked in San Juan lost its roof and went bankrupt. People were desperately trying to leave the island while the airports were shut down, banks ran out of cash, and multiple municipalities lacked potable water. I was essentially stranded in New York, while my island could not even manage to feed its own inhabitants. Luckily, I had friends who hosted me, which allowed me to take on two jobs while I figured out what to do next. 
 
One afternoon in January 2018, after leaving work, I received an email that completely changed my life. I had been accepted to CCNY. About a month before, I had contacted CUNY because I saw in the local Puerto Rican newspaper that the NY State Government was offering in-state tuition for student refugees of Hurricane María. The number offered was that of an admissions officer at CCNY. With the help of some amazing staff members at the CCNY offices, some of whom had been refugees of natural disasters themselves, I transferred. 
 
Frankly, I did not know much about CCNY before my transfer. However, I quickly learned that its commitment to amplifying access to education and upward mobility to the working class is ingrained in every aspect of the school. I found in CCNY a place that gave me more than a second chance—a community of people that were utterly dedicated to seeing their students flourish. 

Why did you choose to study economics?

Something that has never changed since the time I wanted to be a doctor was that I want to help people. I learned that helping others is not a defined thing that only happens in certain circumstances. It is a way of life. Economics is just that, the study of how people make decisions and what best can be done to improve the quality of life of entire societies. I fell in love with economics. It is not only fascinating to me, but through debate and research, so much can be learned about how we are all interconnected on this planet, especially now during this global pandemic that has shifted economic circumstances for every single country in the world. I also believe in the importance of increasing diversity in the field of economics to improve the assumptions that are formed about our ever-changing and increasingly globalized economy. At the Colin Powell School, this is at the forefront. So many members of the school community are dedicated to increasing the presence of our diverse CCNY student body in our local and federal governments, as well as in non-profit and private corporations. I am privileged to be part of that movement.
 

How has the Colin Powell School helped you in your career?

The doors that opened for me and the mentors I gained at CCNY were opportunities I thought I had completely lost when I left Cornell. The Colin Powell School provided access to experienced college professors, fellowships and internships, industry experts that visited campus, tutoring, clubs, and projects that related to the Harlem/New York City community. As a result, I built my resume essentially from nothing, mostly through participating in any opportunity I had access to. A tip for students: always read your Citymail!
 
In my first year at CCNY, I worked with CUNY Service Corps, tutored on campus and got involved with several clubs. By the following year, I landed a finance internship at IBM with SEO (Sponsors for Educational Opportunities) thanks to CCNY’s career advisory office, CPDI. Following that, I participated in a CUNY-wide fellowship at Centerbridge Partners and completed a summer internship with Standard Chartered Bank which resulted in a full-time offer. Sometimes I can’t believe the progress, but it truly was a combination of initiative from my part (showing up to any event I heard of and talking to anyone that would offer advice) and the network Colin Powell School has built for its students.
 
I appreciated that at CPS you are expected to engage with the community beyond academia; and in a place like CUNY, the possibilities seemed endless. For example, a year after Hurricane María, I was able to return home as part of the CUNY Service Corps that sent hundreds of students to aid with hurricane relief efforts. 
 
Throughout my college career at CCNY, I had a good balance between loving what I studied, finding newfound confidence, being an active member of society, and establishing a healthier mental state, which really grounded me.  After three years at CCNY, I’m proud to have completed a bachelor’s degree in Economics with a minor in French, and I graduated with honors. 


What memories or accomplishments stand out to you from your time at CCNY? 

I would like to share the story of how I landed two internship offers in 2019, because the story highlights the importance of showing up to events and dedicating time to your career path.  
 
Many corporations in the US are realizing the importance of adding more diversity to their staff at a level that reflects the communities they serve. For this reason, in the fall of 2019 (pre-COVID), several banks brought in their top executives to chat with students and advertise their internship programs. I cannot stress this enough—if I hadn’t shown up to those events, I would not be where I am today. Relative to the best possible outcome, it is a small investment on the student’s part. You spend a few hours doing your research about the company, being up to date with news related to your industry, preparing questions and writing new ones from the information given at the events, and talking to the staff. These are people that have taken time out of their day because they want to work with CCNY students, people who otherwise will be inaccessible on the 50th floor of some skyscraper in Midtown. It is so important to show up! 
 
When I first started attending such events, I totally bombed some interactions because I was nervous or unprepared. But those cringeworthy moments were nothing but lessons which allowed me to better manage such interactions in the future. Honestly, if I hadn’t failed several times before, I wouldn’t have learned how to best approach the opportunities I eventually got, which resulted in two internship offers! So, if I can encourage any student, ask well-researched questions and don’t be afraid to talk with industry folk. They are here because they want to get to know us. Oh, and don’t beat yourself up if you mess up, learn and prepare even more for the next one. 


How have you been involved with City College since your graduation? Why do you stay involved?

I’m privileged to serve as a board member of the CCNY Business and Economics Alumni Society, which grants scholarships and manages events that serve business and economics students at CPS. I have also been invited to speak at some events at the Colin Powell School related to offering advice for students, as well as aiding recruiting efforts from my employer on campus. I plan on being involved for the rest of my life because I want to pay forward what CCNY gave to me. For this reason, I am also an avid advocate for increasing funding and accessibility to public colleges around the country and in Puerto Rico.


Do you have any advice for current or future students?

Be kind to yourself. As much as there are many opportunities to succeed in college, there are also many opportunities to fail. And because of this we can become our own worst critics. I say this as someone who has to come to terms with my less-than-linear path to graduation: only you can determine your worth. Not an A, not an F, not a rejection letter, not an empty resume. When I learned this, I realized I deserved second chances, and I stopped opting myself out of opportunities. I learned that my failures were nothing to be ashamed about. On the contrary, now they are essential parts of my story and growth, and they have led me to people and institutions who understand this too. 

Tue, 15 Jun 2021 15:34:09 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/23340
“Surround Yourself with Those Who Share your Passions”: Shilpa Shaju on Her Path to Become an Immigration Attorney https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/surround-yourself-those-who-share-your-passions-shilpa-shaju-her-path-become

​​

 

Shilpa Shaju

 

 

 

 

SHILPA SHAJU,
a Colin Powell School Graduate, Named CCNY Salutatorian

 

 

Where are you from? Please share a little of your story. 

My parents immigrated to the US from Kerala, India. They then settled in Queens, New York and later moved to New Hyde Park on Long Island. I grew up in New Hyde Park and attended middle school and high school there. I would say I grew up in a pretty homogenous town, considering that most of my graduating class was either
South Asian or white. I really only understood what true diversity looked like when I arrived here at CCNY.
 
Growing up, I was an extremely shy kid and was not talkative at all. I categorized public speaking as my worst nightmare to say the least. However, my sister persuaded me to join the Model United Nations club in high school and it truly shaped me into who I am. I found my voice in that classroom and learned about people, places, and issues that were beyond the boundaries of New Hyde Park. I would say my experience as a delegate sparked my interest in the law.
 

2. What brought you to City College?

My family experienced some financial problems at the time I was graduating from high school. There were complications with my father’s job and my mother suffered from a stroke, leaving her unable to work. I knew that I needed to attend an institution that would be affordable and attentive to my aspirations. I realized that the Macaulay Honors College was the perfect fit for me. It allowed me to pursue a degree without financially draining me, and CCNY had all of the programs and classes I needed to pursue a career in law. For instance, I realized the Skadden, Arps Honors Program in Legal Studies would guide me as a first-generation student to law school, a higher education institution often reserved for the privileged.

 

3. What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?

I studied International Studies, Political Science, and Legal Studies during my time here at CCNY. The combination of these perfectly prepared me for a career in immigration law. I first became passionate about immigration law specifically when I started to work at The Law Firm of Moumita Rahman. Mo is my mentor and she walked me through how complicated and at times unfair our current immigration legal system can be. I had the opportunity to interview clients, write briefs and affidavits, and communicate with several immigration agencies. Completing all of these duties
taught me how broken our immigration system is. We demand Violence Against Women’s Act and asylum applicants to recount their stories with such precision and detail, even though they experienced a monstrosity of trauma. We keep children and families in cages. We deport those who have lived and paid taxes in this country for decades. We treat immigrants frankly as criminals. I knew from both my work and academic experiences then that I wanted to become a lawyer. I want to guide immigrants through the daunting legal system and advocate for changing the way the
immigration process works.
 

4. How did City College and the Colin Powell School help you in your career?

The Colin Powell School has been crucial to my prospective career in law. The support that I have received as a Skadden Scholar cannot be fully captured. The Skadden program gave me the opportunity to attend free LSAT classes, receive one-on-one advising for all of my law school materials, and take classes that prepared me for my career. I can wholeheartedly say that I would not have been accepted to UC Hastings Law School without the support of the faculty, like Professor Light and Ms. Mona Schnitzler.

5. Please tell us about a significant memory or accomplishment from your time at City College.

I consider the Macaulay Pre-Law club to be my most memorable accomplishment for the greater CUNY student body. I served as president for almost two years and in that time my board and I were able to exponentially increase our membership. This meant that more CUNY students had access to lawyer alumni, LSAT resources, and a space to collaborate and learn about the law. The club further has a history of inactiveness and I am proud to pass on a robust and very enthusiastic organization to the new leaders.

6. Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

Take a personal day here and there. It is better to rest than fail from overexertion.
 
Understand that it is more than perfectly normal to initially be uncertain what you want to study. It is okay to change your major. It is okay to switch your career path.
 
Study what you want to. The input of others can only get you so far.
 
Participate in clubs to surround yourself with those who share your passions.
 
Find a mentor in the field that you are interested in. They will open doors for you that you probably do not even know of.
 
Connect with your professors. They are there to help you.
 
Connect with your peers! They are your network!
 
Do not compare yourself to your peers. You are yourself, something no one can be. You earned your spot here at CCNY just like everyone else.

Tue, 18 May 2021 12:06:39 -0400 colin powell school https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/23200
Beyond the Syllabus and the Textbook: Sangida Akter on Intellectual Agency and Validating Students’ Life Experiences https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/beyond-syllabus-and-textbook-sangida-akter-intellectual-agency-and

 

 

 

Sangida Akter

 

 

 

 

 

Sangida Akter
2021 Salutatorian for Colin Powell School

 

 
 1. Where are you from and what is your background? Please share your story from the
period before you arrived at CCNY.

My parents are originally from Bangladesh. I was born in Los Angeles, then moved to Queens, NYC where I have spent most of my life. However, for a period of years I did live in Saudi Arabia and often visit Bangladesh. In that way, I feel like I have a foot in both hemispheres. This is probably why the influence of cultural identity and beliefs in psychological research has captured my interest so extensively. 
 

2. What brought you to City College?

The close-knit structure of the CCNY Honors Program brought me to CCNY. I wanted to make sure that in the midst of such a beautiful but large campus community, I didn’t feel lost. The small cohort of students and caring advisors in the honors program have been instrumental to the motivation I needed to set various goals for myself during my time at CCNY. Additionally, I knew that I wanted to be a social science major and the Colin Powell School felt the most academically diverse place to be studying social science.

3. What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?

At City College, I have been passionate about understanding the complex mental health needs of marginalized communities and the barriers they face in accessing affordable, culturally competent mental health care. My passion is fueled my upbringing in the Bengali-American and Muslim-American communities where I first had the chance to glimpse how painful mental health experiences of children of immigrants can be when they have to navigate stigma, invalidation, limited access to resources, and fears about having to uphold a positive image of their minority communities at the risk of suffering in silence. The experiences of my community pushed me to dedicate my career to finding solutions through research and clinical care that ease their pain. While mental health challenges come announced and unwanted, they do not have to define a person for life. 

4. Briefly, how has your career unfolded? How did City College and/or the Colin Powell School help you to get where you are at in your career? 

Through my studies in sociology at the Colin Powell School, I acquired the vocabulary to connect individual struggles to the societal institutions that shape collective experiences. Through my studies in psychology, I learned about how socio-political experiences intersect with the developmental to create unique stressors in the lives of individual human beings. At every step of learning, my professors challenged me to be mindful of inclusion, equity, and accessibility and find the voices that weren’t traditionally represented in the discourse. 
 
My simple desire to be a mental health professional when I first entered college became transformed into a recognition of how complex the mental health needs of South Asian and Muslim American communities are. I now know that it is not enough to de-stigmatize mental health or to diversify clinician populations. Diverse communities deserve to learn about and embrace mental well-being through the linguistic concepts, experiences, and coping strategies already present within their cultural and religious traditions. Furthermore, individuals have a right to affordable mental health care and clinicians who understand how multiple minority identities can create risk and foster resiliency. 
 
It is only because of the continuous stress the Colin Powell School placed on approaching academia with compassion and recognizing the dignity of the communities we hope to serve, that my professional goals were nurtured and able to evolve into more meaningful pursuits. 
 

5. Please share a significant memory or accomplishment from your time at City College.

One experience has been volunteering as a research assistant in Dr. Melara’s Gabor Lab in the Psychology Department. It’s where I first met like-minded peers and friends who also wanted to pursue a graduate degree in psychology. In between collecting data for our research and discussing journal articles, my peers and I spent a lot of time talking about the challenges we were encountering, the personal experiences that fueled our academic goals, and the aspirations we had. Through that comradery, I learned how to be disciplined, persistent, and strategic about my academic and professional goals. It was also the first time I had the opportunity to view myself not merely as a student absorbing and reflecting on already established concepts, but rather as an independent thinker who wanted to contribute knowledge to the field in the future. The Gabor Lab challenged me to think at a higher level and hone research skills that later became essential to the undergraduate thesis I had the opportunity to complete, Muslim American College Students’ Beliefs About Mental Illness and Treatment.
 

6. Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

Don’t let the limits of a syllabus or textbook define what learning can look like. We each carry with us experiences that generate our own set of intellectual curiosities that we should feel emboldened to bring up in the classroom and in our coursework. By asking new and different questions, we add complexity and richness to our learning and allow it to be fueled by personal values and motivations. And that is when I believe we do our best work.

 

Mon, 17 May 2021 17:14:04 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/23196
Tony Huertas 2021 Salutatorian for Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/enjoy-each-moment-journey-tony-huertas-returns-college-after-35-years-and

 

 

 

Tony Huertas

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tony Huertas
2021 Salutatorian for Colin Powell School

 

 
Where are you from? Please share a little of your story. 

I am a proud student of Puerto Rican descent, born and raised in NYC. I am also a member of the LGBTQ community and I have a disability. I returned to the classroom after a thirty-year absence because I realized that there was more that I wanted to accomplish and there is no expiration date for learning and realizing the dream of graduating from college. As a member of the LGBTQ community sometimes we are precluded from accessing and pursuing certain fields of study or not wanted in certain areas. Prior to my obtaining my Associates Degree and then coming to City College, this framed my ethos on top of having a disability.  Today, many people want to define you for your disability. As a result, we often listen to voices in our heads that say, “your disability and your sexual orientation will limit you or preclude you from becoming the person you want to be or pursuing a certain field.” However, I know now that we are not defined by our disabilities or sexual orientations and we all can have the potential to succeed and to realize the goals that we have.
 
I endeavored to enroll in City College before I became a student here in the fall of 2019. In 2017, I went to the admissions office and told them, “I want to be a student here.” They said that I had been out of school for far too long and that I had to go to community college first and that I needed my prerequisites. It was then that I made up my mind that I was going to attempt to accomplish that goal. I enrolled in Borough of Manhattan Community College, and one and a half years later I graduated and received my Associates Degree. I also used to watch CCNY graduation videos, and I used to say to myself that one day I wanted to be as successful as the students that I saw on those videos. I used to imagine myself walking up the hill on 135th street on graduation day with my graduation gown and cap on and wanting to feel proud of that accomplishment. I did not think I would succeed, but in less than a month I will accomplish that goal as a Salutatorian of the Colin Powell School.
 

2. What brought you to City College?

I came to City College for the opportunity to be enrolled in the Skadden Arps Honors Program in Legal Studies and to learn from professors in the Political Science Department who would prepare me for the future. I wanted to finally realize my dream of becoming an attorney and an advocate working on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community, the marginalized and those that do not have a seat at the table. The Skadden Arps Honors Program has a rich history of preparing students for that purpose and training them for a successful legal career. I knew that this program would prepare me for that endeavor.  Another reason I came to City College was because the faculty of the Colin Powell School prepares students like myself that are interested in social justice to think critically about issues such as racial justice, the environment, and issues such as humanitarian intervention. Professors such as Richard Bernstein, Rajan Menon, and John Krinsky and many others are well known and respected professors in their field. I knew that by enrolling in many of these courses The Colin Powell School would give me the tools that I needed to be a successful advocate on behalf of the community.

 

3. What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?

My goal is to work on behalf of the community I live in. I do not live too far from campus and I see that there is more work to be done in the community. We live in a time when so many people’s voices are drowned out and so many are not being recognized within the community. We also live in a time where there are so many voices that are divisive, and it is incumbent on all of us to be more involved. I would like to be a voice to the voiceless and help those that are marginalized, such as many of those in the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and others. That is my passion. 
 

4. How did City College and the Colin Powell School help you in your career?

All the essay assignments helped me develop my critical thinking skills and my ability to write clearly. Also, I have found community at the Colin Powell School because I have met many students like myself that share many of the same endeavors, interests and passion to help others. All of this has prepared me to pursue my passion to advocate on behalf of the community for social justice and human rights. The continuous events and lectures held at the Colin Powell School have prepared me to be better informed and also laid the groundwork and the foundation for me to serve my community and prepared me to continue my education in graduate school. 

5. Please tell us about a significant memory or accomplishment from your time at City College.

One significant memory is how happy I was to be accepted into the Skadden, Arps Honors Program. In the summer of 2019 when I started the program, I was so happy to meet Dean Andrew Rich, Professor Richard Bernstein, and Director Jennifer Light, who welcomed me into the Colin Powell School. That memory has stuck with me throughout my journey. 
 
Although the Skadden Program was my main reason for coming to CCNY, I found so much more than that. I found professors who are passionate about the subjects that they teach such as sociology, political science, social justice, human rights, and international politics. I also found opportunities. I received, for example, the Herman Badillo Scholarship. I did not expect to get that honor, but it really helped me realize that the Colin Powell School was the exact place that I needed to be to prepare me for the future.

6. Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

The advice I would give to current or future students is that they should take each opportunity offered to them to learn as much as possible during their undergraduate journey at the Colin Powell School. The Colin Powell School will prepare them for success as an undergraduate, for graduate school, and way beyond the walls of the classroom. Besides all the extraordinary course offerings, the Colin Powell School offers the framework for an enriched learning environment, within the classroom by offering countless lectures with men and women in government and in fields that span all of the social sciences. I would also communicate to them that they should take advantage of the ability to be in cohorts like the Skadden Arps Honors Program, The Racial Justice Fellows Program, and the Spring Semester in Washington DC, a program that facilitates students to live, work, and study in the nation's capital. Finally, I would communicate to students to enjoy each and every moment of their journey at the Colin Powell School and to remind them that their undergraduate journey is a long distance marathon and not a sprint and that this journey that they are on has the potential to help them meet and exceed each and every one of their goals.

Mon, 17 May 2021 17:13:25 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/23194
2021 Valedictorian for Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/2021-valedictorian-colin-powell-school

 

 

Aisha Butt

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aisha Fuenzalida Butt 
2021 Valedictorian for Colin Powell School

 

 
 1. Where are you from and what is your background? Please share your story from the
period before you arrived at CCNY.

I am a first-generation college student from a low income family. I grew up in Staten Island in a bilingual, multiethnic Chilean-Pakistani household. I was raised by my single mother and older sister in a family made up solely of resilient women. There was always an abundance of arroz con leche and roti to welcome any company but no guidance to aid me as I navigated higher education. My mother always instilled in me the value of education and inspired me to pursue all my intellectual curiosities. Knowing I always had my family’s support to rely on allowed me to freely explore my various passions and led me to find other circles of community like Sadie Nash Leadership Project and establish the Community Action Team that fostered my growth as an intersectional feminist, environmentalist, and overall scholar.
 

2. What brought you to City College?

Growing up in the very red, conservative borough of Staten Island, I was really drawn to City College for its commitment to inclusion, equity and justice. Staten Island tends to have a rather homogenous demographic, and I yearned to be in an environment that valued diversity and complimented my interests in social justice issues and environmental science. City College’s long history of expanding the intellectual and professional experiences of students of color and its dedication to granting accessibility to students from underrepresented communities is what motivated me to apply and ultimately enroll. When I was younger I didn’t have the opportunity to venture into the city or spend as much time there as I wanted to. I knew in college I wanted to have NYC as my classroom and take advantage of all its wonderful resources like visiting museums and attending various talks. Placed in the heart of Harlem and with a rich legacy of student activism, I felt I would fit right in.

 

3. What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?

During my first semester at City College, I happened to take Intro to Anthropology as part of my general requirements and fell in love with Anthropology. I was exposed to works of literature by black and brown authors that I had never encountered previously, igniting my passion for social, racial and environmental justice. A whole new world opened up for me. The inevitability of climate change intensifying underlying problems such as economic inequality, health disparities, and access to resources in marginalized communities sparked my interest in intersectional environmentalism. There is a violent history of BIPOC communities experiencing environmental racism and those communities face greater dangers today from environmental harms. My home of Staten Island once housed the world's largest landfill, so large it was rumored to be visible from space. The will to better my community, a site for toxic dumping, motivated me to explore both the sociocultural and ecological effects of environmental protections, regulations and policies and environmental devastation on local communities. I believe harmonizing an anthropological lens and perspective with conversations about climate and policy are essential. In the future, I plan to pursue a PhD in Anthropology and hope to work at the intersections of Anthropology, Ecology, Environmental Science and Archaeology to bridge the gap between the hard and social sciences. Using the toolkit I gained from the Colin Powell School and an interdisciplinary approach, I hope to contribute new discoveries and developments to the field of Environmental Anthropology to improve the lives of low-income, geographically endangered communities of color experiencing the destructive effects of climate change.
 

4. Briefly, how has your career unfolded? How did City College and/or the Colin Powell School help you to get where you are at in your career? 

Being a student in the Colin Powell School (CPS) has bestowed me with many enriching opportunities and experiences. As an Anthropology major and Women’s and Gender Studies minor, I have taken classes that have intellectually stimulated and challenged me, studied abroad, participated in various fellowships, and worked with a variety of diverse communities and organizations. As a student in CPS with a primary focus in AGIS, I built my own curriculum and course of study. While my love for Anthropology blossomed, so did my passion for science. I am interested in learning how Anthropology and ecology are intertwined and connected to each other. Using an interdisciplinary approach, I enrolled in courses across disciplines. My coursework has allowed me to integrate sociocultural and biological perspectives when thinking about climate crises. Additionally, I gained vital hands-on field experience working with local communities and wildlife in conservation contexts. As a low-income student, being awarded the Chancellor’s Global Scholarship allowed me to participate in three study abroad programs in Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands, and Australia. Studying abroad allowed me to engage with local and global discourses of race and environmentalism. With support from CPS, my learning approach has extended beyond the traditional settings of a classroom and equipped me with a holistic understanding of how environmentalism and conservation materialize on the ground.
 
As a Mellon Mays and Climate Policy Fellow, I’ve had the pleasure to share spaces with the most talented, intelligent and passionate people I have ever met. I connected with students that shared my passions and we’ve supported one another in our endeavours. The Mellon Mays fellowship provided me the opportunity to develop my own research project and demystified the pathway to getting a PhD. As a Climate Policy fellow, it’s been wonderful engaging with students of different disciplines in conversations about climate and policy. The Colin Powell School has given me so much, most importantly my deep passion for Anthropology, intersectional environmentalism and a commitment to promoting justice, equity and equality for all. I will forever be indebted to my wonderful mentors, the Anthropology department, professors, staff and friends at CCNY who saw potential in me and invested so much of their time and energy to help me succeed. Where I am today and where I will be in the future is a result of their kindness.
 

5. Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your career or time
at City College that you would like to talk about?

Before my time at CCNY, I had never been on a plane. During my sophomore year, I studied marine biology abroad in Costa Rica during the winter semester. Here I made life-lasting friends and memories — I released baby turtles into the ocean, scuba dived and snorkeled with marine life, recorded the biological data for caimans, dived for rays and so much more. While abroad, I also volunteered with various environmental organizations and NGOs observing first-hand the challenges of conservation projects and its effects on local communities. Studying abroad in Costa Rica, unknowingly, greatly impacted my future. It has stuck with me throughout my entire college career. It was the catalyst that inspired me to develop my interdisciplinary independent research project on the social and ecological effects environmental protections and understandings of nature and conservation have on local communities in Costa Rica as a Mellon Mays Undergraduate fellow. Having the opportunity to work with my amazing mentors, Professors Matthew Reilly and Stanley Thangaraj, has been an incredibly rewarding and enriching experience. They inspire me to be a warrior for change, guide me in investigating and cultivating my interests, and encourage me to think critically about the world around me.
 
Being valedictorian of the Colin Powell School is a tremendous honor not only for myself, but for my village of professors, mentors, peers and family that have supported and guided me throughout my undergraduate journey. As the daughter of an immigrant Chilean mother who always wanted to but couldn’t attend college, the desire to uplift my family and compensate my mother for her sacrifices incited my aspiration for academic success. Amidst lacking resources and the various hardships in my path, I am proud of myself for working hard and succeeding academically, while also actively engaging in ample volunteering and community service projects. As valedictorian, I hope to inspire others who look like me and have similar experiences to believe that higher education is not only possible, but you can thrive and excel.
 

6. Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

I believe many students, oftentimes students of color and those coming from marginalized backgrounds, feel this tremendous pressure to “change the world” and to find a career or job that will allow them to do so. While it’s honorable to want to impact and change the world for the better, this is a burdensome task for an individual to take on by themselves. We’re often fed this romanticized blueprint of instant and global ways to change the world. Don’t try to change the world by following what you think is the cookie-cutter conventional way to enact change. You can simply change the world by doing what you’re good at and what you’re passionate about. There’s so many people doing incredible, meaningful, and impactful work and that’s because they find their passion and what speaks to their strengths. So take the time now to explore and cultivate your interests and where you can possibly best contribute your skills because that is a pathway to changing the world. I, myself, have often felt overwhelmed by this weight on my shoulders to “change the world” and questioned whether I’m doing enough. It’s important to remember that for many of us at CCNY, simply attending college and existing in certain spaces is a revolutionary radical act itself! Keep this in mind when you feel you’re not doing enough or you’re not changing things—you are, but may not notice it!  Change isn’t linear and even if you’re not able to evidently see the change, know that it’s adding up long term. It’s a process. It’s vital to work collectively with groups of people who have the same end goals, ambitions and interests as you. By working together with likeminded people who bring diverse strengths to the table, you have a better chance of having a more meaningful impact. Lastly, remember to always thank your support system throughout your journey and to extend your hand backwards to uplift and support others.
 

Mon, 17 May 2021 16:57:46 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/23193
“It Is Ok Not to Know What You Want to Do,” Xin Ying Wu on Discovering Her Path in Public Service https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/it-ok-not-know-what-you-want-do-xin-ying-wu-discovering-her-path-public
 
Xin Ying Wu“It Is Ok Not to Know What You Want to Do,” Xin Ying Wu on Discovering Her Path in Public Service

 

As an undergraduate, Xin Ying Wu studied economics, intending to apply what she learned to her family’s Chinese food restaurant, where she had worked as an adolescent after migrating to the US as a child. Then a chance encounter in the Colin Powell School Fellowships Office - along with deep conversations with colleagues, mentors, and fellow students - led her to discover a passion for public service. She now works in the New York State Assembly and will finish her Master in Public Administration (MPA) degree in June. 


Please tell me a little about your background. What is your story?

My name is Xin Ying Wu. I am a first-generation Chinese-American born in Fujian, China. I immigrated to the United States with my mother in 2005. Our first residence was in Tampa, Florida, where we lived for about eight years before relocating to New York City. My mother co-owned a small Chinese restaurant in Tampa called China Gardens, and it is where I helped out after school and naturally where I got my first job at 14. The restaurant played a huge role in my routine and identity as an adolescent and also helped shape my work ethic as I learned at a very young age that nothing in life is free; you work hard for what you want.  

 
What brought you to City College?

At the time, my family had just relocated to NYC, and my dad opened a restaurant in Queens so I didn’t want to go anywhere too far. With distance and affordability being the top priority, I gravitated towards CUNY. City College stood out to me because it was known for being the “Harvard of the Proletariat,” but what sold me was the campus. From the Gothic-style buildings to the green open space, it was a mesmerizing sight and made the decision to attend easy. 

 
What are you passionate about, and how does that drive what you do? What is the purpose behind your studies and work?

I spoke earlier that the restaurant played a huge role in my life. It is perhaps no surprise that when choosing my major, I wanted to pick something that was flexible, relevant, and practical: something that would help me manage the restaurant. Economics made sense because it was the perfect mix of business management and relevance as what goes on in the economy influences everything in life. 
 
Post-graduation, I stopped working for the restaurant. This is because I had a pivot in my career direction. Although I chose not to apply my knowledge and skills in the field that I originally intended, I did transfer these experiences to my new career focus, public service. Practicality (what can be done?) and service (how can I help?) remain common themes that drive and motivate me as I navigate the new path. 

 
How has the Colin Powell School helped you on your career path?

Upon graduation, I realized that unlike many of my classmates who already had a few internships under their belt or had a pretty good idea of what they were pursuing post-graduation, I felt lost and extremely anxious about graduation because I didn’t know how to apply my degree. 
 
At the time, my resume consisted of only two job roles: waitress and college assistant. The summer before my last semester at City College, I remember chatting with my colleague discussing post-graduation plans. I shared my frustration about not having a plan. Anasa Scott, who was the director of the fellowship program at the time, overheard our conversation and asked me if I was interested in applying for an internship at the Children’s Defense Fund, a nonprofit organization that focuses on education, immigration, and legal rights for children. Eager to strengthen my resume, I told her yes, and I applied for the internship. Little did I know that this exchange would become the spark and the beginning of my public service career. 
 
I graduated in the spring of 2019. After the internship, I took some time to reflect on myself and focus on what I wanted to do. With the encouragement of my colleagues, mentors, and supervisors, I enrolled in the Master in Public Administration (MPA) Program at the Colin Powell School. Two internships and one volunteer service later, I have landed a part-time job with the New York State Assembly, working as a Community Liaison for Assemblywoman Rozic. I am grateful for the staff and faculty at CPS and CCNY because without the opportunities, support, and guidance, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

 
How have you grown personally during your time at CCNY?

My greatest personal growth came from the period of self-reflection at CCNY. Not only was I able to transition into a new career path, but I also acknowledged my flaw of being passive and waiting for things to happen. Now, I am more proactive in seeking out opportunities that contribute to personal and professional growth.

 
Would you like to share a significant memory from your time at CCNY?

There is a significant spot that is very important to me from my time at CCNY, and that is the lounge chairs at the entrance of the Dean’s office. It is where I held conversations with my colleagues about everything under the sun; where my mentors offered advice that sometimes made me cry; where I typed my papers while waiting for evening classes to begin; where I enjoyed snacks and baked goods brought in by our talented deans; where I decided to apply for graduate school; and where I hope to return one day and talk to other students about the path I’ve taken and the decisions I’ve made. There is history and magic in those lounge chairs! The next time you visit the Dean’s office, have a seat, look around, and talk to people in that office. I guarantee you won’t regret it. 

 
What advice do you have for current or future students?

It is okay not to know what you want to do, and it is okay to be lost. Take your time in navigating who you are and what you want to do will unfold naturally. Do your thing, love yourself, take chances. 
 

Tue, 20 Apr 2021 13:44:06 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/23054
Nonya Khedr ‘21 Is on a Mission to End Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/nonya-khedr-class-21-mission-end-female-genital-mutilationcutting-fgmc

 

Nonya KhedrNonya Khedr (Class of ‘21) Is on a Mission to End Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C)

 

Nonya Khedr is an Egyptian immigrant and student of international studies and human rights at the Colin Powell School. As a student she developed a deep commitment to advocating for women and eradicating the practice of Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting (FGM/C) globally. Focusing on this goal, she started an organization called SheFFA with support from the Zahn startup incubator, re-established the United Nations campus chapter, and was both a Colin Powell Fellow and Skadden Scholar. In this interview, Khedr tells about her process of reflecting on her identity as an Egyptian-American, learning about FGM/C and other issues affecting women globally, and finding her passion as a women’s advocate. 
 

Tell me a little about your background. What is your story? 

Most of my eight siblings and I were born in Egypt. My first nine years were spent moving, first to Saudi Arabia, then Jordan, then the United States. My father was born in a large farming family in the suburbs in upper Egypt, where there is a severe lack of government services. Both of my parents were the first in their families to go to college, and both studied translation. My mother worked as a teacher and news reporter until my siblings were born; my father was a professor until he began working for the United Nations, leading our family to move to New York. They relentlessly sought the American Dream so that my siblings and I could thrive in school and develop sustainable, meaningful careers. 

Once we settled in the U.S., I became well-adjusted to American culture and norms. Studying among a diverse group of students at City College has encouraged me to claim my identity as a visible Muslim American woman. I recently began wearing the hijab, which I had not done previously—and I have developed a divine love for my religion.

Egypt as my birthplace is an important part of my identity and holds a rich culture not found elsewhere. My experiences living in both the Middle East and the US have revealed to me the grave imperfections in the areas of women’s rights in both societies. On my visits to Egypt, I realized that my unique standpoint in these two communities enables me to work on women’s economic and human rights with cultural competency. 
 

What led you to study International Studies and Human Rights in the Colin Powell School? 

At the beginning of high school, I realized how important helping people is to me, and this has shaped my direction and choices since then.​ 

On a visit to Egypt when I was 17, my mom and I discussed a cultural practice, Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting (FGM/C), in our Egyptian community, that attempts to reduce a woman’s sexual desire. FGM/C is one of the most oppressive forms of violence in which a girl, between birth and thirteen years old, is physically held down and a part of her external genitalia is removed. In some cases, the clitoris, labia minora, and labia majora are totally removed, then the vagina is stitched shut, leaving one hole for urination and menstruation. My mom attended a ceremony in Egypt where a part of the child’s clitoris was cut off and then tied to the child’s own arm, a tradition that was done to represent to the world this girl had a chaste womanhood. After learning about FGM/C, as one who had been spared from this practice, I developed an urgency, an obligation to use my voice and actions to fight against it. 

At the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), where I began my studies before transferring to CCNY, a particular course helped me develop a better awareness of issues affecting women globally and expand my knowledge about FGM/C by studying the issue in greater depth. I learned that 87% of women in Egypt have undergone mutilation, and the practice is not uncommon in the United States. Indeed, “vacation cutting” occurs when a child is taken out of the U.S. to a family’s country of origin to undergo the process. Over half a million women in the U.S. have undergone or are at risk for FGM/C. 200 million women worldwide have undergone it. Three million more women are put at risk of FGM/C each year. 

I transferred to CCNY planning to study engineering but ended up abandoning that path. I began taking electives, hoping it would lead me to my passion. I developed a strong passion as an advocate for women, a passion to fight for human rights, even if it means standing up to beliefs held by people and communities I am connected to — opposing this practice of FGM/C is not generally accepted. I became deeply committed to dismantling cultural injustices that violate women’s rights. This led me to choose to major in International Studies with a focus on human rights at the Colin Powell School. 
 

How have you pursued your passion for ending FGM/C while at CCNY?

I applied to a business incubator through the Zahn Innovation Center at CCNY with the goal to develop a nonprofit that I created, SheFFA – Shefa means healing in Arabic.“She” stands for woman and “FFA” stands for “For Female Advocacy.” The SheFFA Foundation represents our mission to help prevent FGM/C by conducting educational advocacy workshops. This work has nurtured my passion for human rights, and specifically women’s rights, in developing countries. Through leading SheFFA, I have gained skills in financing, marketing, team management, and building non-profit organizations. At the end of the Incubator, my team received $15,000 to continue advocating against FGM/C and building SheFFA. I wasn’t very interested in business; however, I realized that my dedication to advocating against the practice was greater than me, and I wanted to challenge myself to implement change in our communities. As a result of starting this organization, I feel more committed and empowered to challenge other issues that women and men face today in underdeveloped countries. 
 

Tell me about your career path. How has the Colin Powell School helped you on your path? 

The City College of New York has exposed me to an immense amount of opportunities which I believe have prepared me for postgraduate life. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities I have been exposed to and the endless support I have received from professors, mentors, and the diverse network I have fostered at CCNY. 

With the Zahn Center, I had the opportunity to be a founder and manager of a non-profit organization and feel well prepared to work full-time at an organization. My experience with the Zahn Center nurtured my passion for implementing change and led to my decision to study international studies and legal studies. 

At the Colin Powell School, I received the Community Engagement Fellowship, which supported my work as an advocate for women’s rights and my work spreading awareness about FGM/C. My work with FGM/C helped me learn that ending cultural practices requires work with the community but also must be eradicated through implementing policy. Therefore, I was interested in pursuing a law degree and was accepted into the Skadden, Arps Honors Program in Legal Studies. 

My experience with advocating for women’s rights led me to apply to the CUNY Women’s Public Service Internship with the Edward T. Rogowsky Internship Program In Government and Public Affairs. I interned at New York State Senator Monica R. Martinez’s Office Representing the 3rd District in Long Island. I conducted in-depth research on legislative topics in a fast-paced environment and reported to the Chief of Staff; she used my research to draft new bills. 

In 2021, I was admitted to the Colin Powell School Semester in Washington D.C Program which granted me the opportunity to do an unpaid internship at CARE. In addition to my work with CARE, I was encouraged by one of my mentors to intern at my first campaign with Maya Wiley for New York City Mayor. I hope to see the first woman in the office and admire Maya’s plans for a greater NYC. 

In the future I hope to continue growing SheFFA Foundation and one day work with the United Nations Joint Programme to end FGM/C. 
 

What memories and accomplishments would you like to share from your time at CCNY?

In September 2019, I attended an FGM/C retreat with an organization named Sahiyo. During this retreat, we learned how to create and articulate our stories in order to advocate against the practice. I was grateful for the healing exercises we took part in, such as yoga and meditation, which helped me reconnect with myself and rejuvenate after visiting traumatic experiences. These experiences emphasized the importance of taking time out of my everyday life to take care of my wellbeing in order to strive and grow in my career. A few years later, I am taking better care of myself with prayer, exercise, and downtime; I am now more mindful of how to manage my work and reconnect with my purpose to advocate against FGM/C. The retreat inspired me to keep moving forward with the work I’m doing with my organization, SheFFA. Being a part of an environment full of powerful women and men who are passionate about eradicating FGM/C provided me more inspiration. 

At the Zahn Innovation Center, I have learned how to manage and distribute finances, develop strategic partnerships with national and international aid groups, and developed the skills to coordinate workshops and empower youth. I have expanded on my abilities to conduct intense research, develop curriculums, and support program delivery and event coordination. I managed a team of volunteers and interns, handled logistics, operational, and administrative tasks. The experiences I had at the Zahn Center reached beyond what I could have learned in a classroom setting. I also served as an Entrepreneur in residence at the Zahn Center, advising start-ups working in social change. 

Through my work advocating against FGM/C, I was recognized as a Forbes Under 30 Scholar and also selected to be a Clinton Global University Fellow — learning different skills and forms of leadership to implement back to my non-profit organization. The passion I grew for women’s rights also encouraged me to become more involved in Human rights and therefore prompted me to bring back the United Nations Association Campus Chapter to City College. As president, I am responsible for adjusting programmatic goals and promoting leadership development. Through this chapter, we have organized several speaker events to inspire students to be more involved in social justice. I enjoyed facilitating this chapter and applied to the United Nations Association Emerging Leaders Fellowship. With this fellowship, I am encouraged to create a project that supports the United Nations sustainable development goals. 

Although I was engaged in several programs, internships, and jobs throughout my experience as a college student, I still managed to raise my GPA to a 3.78 and was recognized on the Dean’s list. 
 

Do you have any advice for current or future students? 

I would encourage current and future City College students to make the best of their time at City College and utilize all the resources available for them. I strongly encourage students to get involved in many internships, volunteer opportunities, or clubs on campus. I understand how difficult it is to be very involved on campus and personally, I did not become involved until the second semester of my sophomore year because I was consumed with part-time work at retail jobs. However, my involvement in volunteer, internship, and club opportunities has narrowed down my interests and helped me find my passion. I would also encourage students to build strong connections with their professors and mentors, and seek their professional advice. Lastly, try not to limit yourself, and keep your options open. I think one of the best ways to grow personally and professionally is through the new challenges we take on in our lives.
 

Tue, 20 Apr 2021 13:38:06 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/23053
Colin Powell School Staff Engage in Intentional Group Reflections on Year of Pandemic https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/colin-powell-school-staff-engage-intentional-group-reflections-year-pandemic

 

 

Kendra WrightColin Powell School Staff Engage in Intentional Group Reflections on Year of Pandemic


As the Colin Powell School marked one year of working remotely due to the pandemic, Finance Director Kendra Wright shared her reflections on the unexpected challenges she faced and what she learned in 2020. Her candid reflections inspired others to share their thoughts, as well. Since Kendra’s initiative, the Colin Powell School has set aside time during each week’s staff meeting for two team members to share their reflections on this difficult year. 
 
A moment of reflection on the year 2020. I, like many, saw the beginning of a new decade, 2020, as a jump start to a fresh slate of life. The highest of all, mother nature, had another thing in mind. After moving back from the West Coast in Spring 2019 and getting my feet back familiar with the soil here on the East Coast, hustling to find a job and securing the perfect opportunity in August 2019 that aligned with my future goals, and competing in the fast-moving New York apartment market and going on a limb and saying ‘Yes’ to an apartment in November 2019 that unknowingly would become my safe haven, I’m settled in my new place and ready to explore. Then March 2020 changes the direction of how I thought my story would go.
 
At the start of March 2020, I’m physically on campus working at the Colin Powell School in the Finance department. Students are around and then suddenly they disappear. Friday, March 13, 2020, I’m told to pack everything I need to work remotely, give or take a month or two. I leave from seeing my colleagues each day, students moving about on campus, and my office. I am restricted to a hideout location, my apartment. The pandemic has escalated, everything has shut down, and I am trying to grasp what has happened as things have transpired so quickly.
 
I hear sirens constantly, blaring PSA messages: “Stay Home”, “Keep six feet apart”, “Wear a Mask,” and so on. I’m feeling the pain and hurt of brown people losing their lives for just jogging, or just quietly sleeping in their homes or having a knee placed on their neck. A new foe, “anxiety”, has come to greet me, my worries, fears, and troublesome thoughts. I brainstorm to find the best remedy to ditch this new opponent and to help me handle the uncertainty of the pandemic and the world we live in. My medication is that I turn inward and focus on stillness. Strengthening my mind, body, and soul to higher levels. Consciously evaluating my thoughts, listening to my body and finding productive ways of feeding my soul. I am on a marathon towards healing and peace.
 
2020: you were a transforming year. You increased my appreciation and love for people, enjoying more of my own company with myself, and new levels of patience. The direction that 2020 made my story go in allows for new beginnings, experiences and opportunities that I anxiously wait for. I thank you 2020 for the intangible rewards and gifts you have given me. You were something else and your imprint will be everlasting on the hearts and minds of every living human being on this Earth. Farewell!
 

Mon, 22 Mar 2021 17:35:33 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/22946
Psychology MA Graduate Adam Qureshi: It’s OK to Not Know What You Want to Do https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/psychology-ma-graduate-adam-qureshi-its-ok-not-know-what-you-want-do

 

 

Adam QureshiPsychology MA Graduate Adam Qureshi: It’s OK to Not Know What You Want to Do

Adam Qureshi, an alumnus of the Psychology MA program, is now a data analyst at Rockefeller University. In this interview, he tells about how he discovered his love for statistics, and how faculty at the Colin Powell School helped him make the career-altering realization that he wanted to be a researcher, not a clinician.

Tell me a little about your background. 

I was born and raised on Long Island, NY, and I am half Pakistani and half Greek. Before I came to CCNY, I finished up my undergrad at Penn State and was dead set on becoming a clinical psychologist!

What brought you to City College?

City College was local to me, which was nice because I wanted to come back home and stay home. Additionally, different faculty and people I trusted told me that City College’s psychology program is great because of its faculty. So after some decision-making, I decided to commit to City College and I haven’t regretted it since. 

How did you come to the decision to study Psychology at City College?

I had studied Psychology as an undergrad at Penn State, so it was a subject that I was really invested in. At the time, I wanted to become a therapist and earn a PhD, but my undergraduate GPA wasn’t great, and I felt that I wasn’t ready to go into a Doctoral program just yet, so I went to City College to complete my master’s degree in Psychology and figure out how exactly I wanted to contribute.

How has your career unfolded? How did City College and/or the Colin Powell School help you?

Funnily enough, my career has unfolded not at all how I intended it to. During my graduate career at City College, I figured out that I didn’t actually want to be a therapist. In fact, I figured out that I didn’t know what I wanted to be at all! It sounds scary, but it was actually really freeing. City College helped me realize that. Time and time again different faculty came to me and asked about my career path, and we’d talk about how I wanted to be a clinician. The more I talked about, explored, and learned about that path, the more I realized that it wasn’t what I really wanted to do. 
 
Additionally, City College also helped me realize that I really enjoy scientific research. I realized this thanks to the really fun and invigorating courses in statistics and experimental research that I took at CCNY. So, since I didn’t know what I wanted to do anymore, why not start with what I’ve enjoyed? I now have a job as a data analyst at Rockefeller University and I couldn’t be happier right now! 

Do you have a particular memory or accomplishment that stands out in your mind that you’d like to share?

A lot of my significant memories are conversations with faculty. One memory in particular was a conversation with Dr. Tartter. I had just given a presentation in our graduate experimental class and my presentation had a certain graph in it that she recommended me to do. Afterwards she mentioned how my face lit up during the presentation and she could tell how happy I was to present my findings. It seems mundane on the outside, but at the time it felt really nice to hear, when I was uncertain about so many things.  

How have you been involved with City College since your graduation? Why do you stay involved?

Since I graduated, I’ve tried to keep in touch with professors that I felt had a big impact on me. I am also still involved with PSY215, Applied Statistics. I was a TA for it under Sophie Barrett during my last year of graduate school, which is something that helped me tremendously. It was really great teaching, speaking to the students and helping them in a topic that a lot of people aren’t fans of. Nowadays I still talk with Sophie and the other TAs, and I help them with some aspects of the class like labs and what not. I stay involved because the community around City College is nice, and the school gave me some great opportunities and experiences, so I want to give back. 

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?

The biggest advice I’ll give to students is that if you don’t know what it is you want to do exactly, it’s OK! You don’t need a concrete five or ten year plan. Your interests change, and what you want to do may change as well. Don’t be afraid of thinking outside the box of what you want your career to be. I had a lot of anxiety deciding not to pursue being a clinician anymore because I felt that that was the only pathway I had. You have plenty of pathways, and plenty of avenues to go through. Don’t worry!      
 
A second bit of advice is to find some faculty that you like and latch onto them for your City College career and beyond. The faculty can help you navigate while you’re in school, but also they can be really great resources when all is said and done and you’re out in the real world. 
 

Mon, 22 Mar 2021 17:24:19 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/22945
“Find a Mentor”: Elaine Johnson, Valedictorian and Founder of TheStylishNomads.com, on Her Colin Powell School Journey https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/find-mentor-elaine-johnson-valedictorian-and-founder-thestylishnomadscom-her

 

 

ElaineJohnson“Find a Mentor”: Elaine Johnson, Valedictorian and Founder of TheStylishNomads.com, on Her Colin Powell School Journey

 

After graduating as the valedictorian of the Colin Powell School in 2017, Elaine Johnson went on to found TheStylishNomads.com and is currently pursuing a doctorate in psychology. In this interview, Elaine discusses her youth in Harlem, her participation in CCNY’s SEEK program, and the mentorship she received from professors in the Department of Psychology. 

Where are you from and what is your background? Please share your story.
 
I was born in Harlem, NY and I grew up just ten minutes walking distance from CCNY. My parents owned a Jamaican Restaurant called Sunshine Kitchen on 145th Street and St. Nicholas for many years, so I grew up seeing CCNY students getting on and off the shuttle to go up the hill to Convent as well as serving them food. I studied at the Harlem School of the Arts, at The Talented and Gifted School for Young Scholars, and at the New Explorations into Science Technology and Math High School. I feel really blessed to have been able to receive a well-rounded education in the arts and core curricula. When I wasn’t in New York, I spent my time in Jamaica with my grandmother and other family members, exploring the island and attending summer school. My mother thought that learning and volunteer work should occur year round, so I was also doing some outside activity to supplement my learning during the school year. 
 
What brought you to City College?
 
I decided to go to CCNY primarily because I was accepted as a student in the SEEK (Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge) program. While I did not know much about SEEK at the time, I was sold on the idea of free tutoring and extra monetary support. I had originally wanted to leave Harlem for college but hadn’t been offered much financial aid from the other universities I had been accepted at. In comparison, I would receive full aid from CCNY and would be able to explore New York City as my campus. 
 
Tell me about your passion. What was your purpose in the work you did at CCNY?

My experiences growing up in Harlem and working with youth in the community led me down a path that created a passion for providing resources for underserved populations as well as for exploring psychology as a major. As a teenager, I experienced some of the disadvantages of growing up in a community that lacked many of the resources available in wealthier communities. Many of the young people with whom I grew up turned to drugs and gangs instead of academics. Some of my friends also faced difficult times and challenging situations. Over the years, I observed the various ways that each person dealt with the stress they encountered. I became interested in understanding why some people seemed to be more successful in managing and regulating their emotional reactions to stressful situations than others.
 
How has your career unfolded? How did CCNY help you advance in your career?
 
My career field developed as I worked my way through my classes at City College. I entered as a biology major but after taking Dr. Robert Melara’s introductory course in Psychology, I found that I was more interested in this area and I set up a meeting to speak with him about pursuing psychology as a career. After our first meeting, Dr. Melara became a significant mentor for me. He introduced me to research opportunities and wrote recommendations for me to secure other psychology-based opportunities. As I took higher-level courses and gained more real-world experience during my junior and senior years, I decided that I wanted to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology with the goal of working with children and adolescents and studying the development of resilience and cognition. Additionally, as a SEEK student I was mentored in professional development and was able to secure two fellowships: The Jeannette K Watson Fellowship and Colin Powell Leadership Fellowship. Through SEEK I was also given the opportunity to tutor, teach new student seminars, talk about my goals, and receive unmatched support from my counselors and supervisors. The experiences I received from SEEK enriched my academic and personal development ensuring that my CV was well rounded when I came to applying for clinical psychology programs.
 
Please share any significant memories or accomplishments from your career or time at City College.
 
I hold several memories in my heart that have shaped me into the academic professional I am today. Immediately several impactful meetings with my advisors such as Professor Kennedy, Dr. Melara, Hawai Kwok, Dr. Brownlee, Dr. Oneill, Dr. Washburn, and Dr. Thompson come to my mind. Memories of the rest of my SEEK family, and laughing in classes with friends are also all significant to me. These moments all made CCNY feel like a warm and inclusive environment that I could call home and thus contributed to my success. I feel as though my biggest accomplishments include graduating as the valedictorian of the Colin Powell School and as the Salutatorian of CCNY, studying at the University of Cambridge, travelling through Europe, being accepted to Harvard and Emory University for graduate study and developing a platform and business for young women called The Stylish Nomads. The Stylish Nomads (www.thestylishnomads.com) provides professional development, travel, fashion, and lifestyle content for women who aim to secure career opportunities and develop the life of their dreams. The most fulfilling parts of my career have been the opportunity to create the lifestyle I wanted to live. Through this platform, I have been able to give back and share wisdom with other students at CCNY. 
 
How have you been involved with City College since your graduation?
 
Since my graduation, I have been providing mentorship to younger SEEK students. I recently held a workshop with another student, Erah Ali, to discuss applying to graduate programs. I hope to continue my involvement with CCNY for many years because I feel as though I owe my success to the experiences I had there. I spent many days and nights there studying, building lifelong friendships, stressing over grades, seeing other students succeed, and watching the sunset on the 7th floor roof of the NAC.
 
Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?
 
Find yourself a mentor who will help you on your journey of determining what you want to do in your life and the type of person you want to be. When we enter college, it can be overwhelming especially when you don’t know what path you want to take and you are a first generation college student. The world is at your fingertips but it is not so easy to make big decisions and it is very easy to feel lost. Mentorship has been invaluable to me and I believe it is important to have mentors in all areas of your life. 
 

Mon, 22 Mar 2021 17:16:21 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/22944
Celebrating Psychology Professor Bill King As He Prepares to Retire https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/celebrating-psychology-professor-bill-king-he-prepares-retire

 

 

Prof. Bill KingCelebrating Psychology Professor Bill King As He Prepares to Retire

 

After over half a century at CCNY, Professor Bill King will retire this year. Raised in Newark, New Jersey, he graduated from Rutgers University and the University of Colorado and has been with CCNY since 1967. In this interview he tells about his early education and his circuitous path to the field of psychology, offers highlights of the way CCNY has changed over the decades, and gives advice to future students and faculty. Professor King has served in multiple tenures as department chair, graduate program director, and dedicated advisor to countless students. Bill’s hard work and dedication will be sorely missed. The Colin Powell School wishes to thank Bill for his years or loyal service. 

Tell us a little about you: Where did you grow up?
 
I grew up in Newark, just across the river from Manhattan. I think it was similar to kids growing up in an ethnic enclave in Brooklyn or Queens. In my case it was a Jewish neighborhood; my friends’ parents were first and second generation immigrants from Eastern Europe; many were Holocaust survivors. I think my experience was probably analogous to the background of many of our students. My parents were especially keen on me attending college to get a better life but had very little idea what that meant. Because of that, they had little direct influence on my schooling and not very much schooling themselves. They never checked my homework or put many restrictions on my activities even though they were wonderfully loving parents. Fortunately, my peers were focused on academics to a greater degree and this fact together with a good school system gave me enough background to succeed academically. 
 
What were some early experiences that influenced the direction your life/career took?
 
First, going to college was an ever present thought throughout my childhood. Second, my father bought me a chemistry set when I was eight or nine and I spent many hours trying to create explosives and metal disks in the shape of quarters to use in vending machines. I was not so much interested in the product but more in solving the problem. I did succeed in creating a perfect lead disk the size of a quarter but discovered that it was too heavy to actually work. I was satisfied with a partial success. I would probably have blown myself up with my attempt to manufacture nitroglycerine or real gunpowder but could never get my hands on strong nitric acid for the former or potassium nitrate for the latter.  
 
How did you become interested in the field you pursued?

I went to Rutgers University in Newark taking the bus to school. My choice of college was dictated by the fact that I was admitted and I could earn the tuition and costs by working part time and living at home. My interest in school had shifted from chemistry to biology and because I had no idea that it might be possible to study biology and make a living, I chose dentistry as my goal. This seemed possible because my brother-in-law was a dentist and I figured that I would be able to take many biology classes with that major. In retrospect it is hard to understand that I did not see becoming a biologist as an option, but I didn’t. This helped me understand that unless children see people they actually know and can relate to or identify with succeed in some field, they are not likely to see it as a viable possibility for themselves. I did well my first semester and during my five minute advisory session with a science advisor was told I should switch to pre-med. Not really being interested in dentistry except as a major which would allow me to study biology, I switched. In my sophomore year, I Iost interest in science classes and became very interested in creative writing and drama and with no guidance, cut many of those classes and stopped doing much of the work. Thus, during my junior year I felt I had ruined my chances for medical school and although I loved English I felt I would never be able write well enough to succeed and I knew I couldn’t spell well. In the world before computers and spellcheck, that was no small matter.  My choice of psychology as a major was strongly influenced by my instructors. My introductory psychology class was taught by Dr. Daniel Lerhman, who researched the effect of hormones on behavior and whose lectures were so vivid and well organized that I did not take notes but could remember them perfectly. And, they were rooted in biology. He had Niko Tinbergen, one of the world’s foremost ethologists, give a guest lecture. It was grand. Dr. Lerhman was a graduate of The City College.
 
My instructor for experimental psychology, Dr. Dorothy Dinnerstein, was amazing also and in addition to teaching us how to conduct research from beginning to end, she added a worldview beyond laboratory work. She wrote a fascinating book, The Mermaid and the Minotaur, displaying a breadth of thinking she communicated to her students in addition to the material. Dr. Dinnerstein graduated from Brooklyn College. Thus, I transitioned from an uninspired pre-medical student to a psychology student. I would add that I was also strongly influenced by my classes in abnormal psychology and child psychology with Dr. Mavis Hetherington. We were the first class she taught after getting her doctorate from UC Berkeley, and she showed up for class in an evening gown looking like a movie star. Contrary to stereotype, she became an outstanding nationally known researcher known for her groundbreaking work on the effects of divorce on children.
 
What brought you to City College?
 
We wanted to move back to the New York area to be close to our families.
 
How long have you taught at CCNY?
 
I came to CCNY in 1967 after teaching three years at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. That makes about 53 years not counting this semester as I am on leave. 
 
How has the experience of working at CCNY changed/evolved over the years?
 
I began as a researcher in cognitive development and during the 1970’s earned a post-doctoral certificate in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy from NYU. I then introduced a master’s course in psychotherapy and later an undergraduate class on the same topic. There were turbulent times when students vanished into the underground to protest the war in Vietnam and times when we could see police battling with protesters on the corner of Amsterdam and 135th street. Our students changed regularly depending on which groups most recently immigrated to New York and according to the socio-political forces in the city.  
 
When I stopped active research and completed my postdoctoral studies, I became chair of the Department from 1981 to 1989 and again from 2004 to 2007.  Also, I was director of the general MA Program on and off for a total of 17 years and also directed the Mental Health Counseling Program from 2007 to 2020. My experiences as chair were different from anything I had done before and I appreciated the opportunity to help the faculty and especially the students both undergraduate and graduate.
 
Please share an accomplishment that you consider particularly significant in your intellectual life at CCNY.
 
I can’t point to a single event that stands out, perhaps because I have spent nearly my entire adult life at The College during which time I learned a great many things about myself and others. Learning to be a chair and to deal with and try to resolve or ameliorate conflicts involving every combination of faculty, students, and administrators taught me things I could not have learned otherwise.  Changing from a researcher to a psychotherapist also taught me a great deal. A thought I have often had is that I probably helped more people in very significant ways doing advisement than I did doing psychotherapy.
 
I experienced great satisfaction advising students all along from the very beginning of my time at the college. Not having any advisement as a high school student or early in my undergraduate career and yet succeeding through the good fortune of meeting a few extraordinary professors has motivated me to help students, especially those for whom college is a great unknown and who like me are the first generation in their family to have the opportunity to attend College. 
 
What advice would you give to students currently at CCNY?
 
Try to follow your own true interests if you know them. If you don’t, get help trying to find them. You will have a better chance to fulfill your dreams as well as your parents’ if you do. I don’t know if this is really good advice but it worked for me.
 
What advice would you give a faculty member just starting their career?
 
Whatever you do to succeed, make sure it’s something you really care about or your success will not sustain you.  Also, pass up the cheap publication for something you think really matters even if it lowers your publication count. 
 

Mon, 22 Mar 2021 17:05:39 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/22943
Valuing Non-Traditional Paths: Kelsie O’Leary Brings a Passion for Education from the Classroom to Political Campaigns https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/valuing-non-traditional-paths-kelsie-oleary-brings-passion-education

 

Kelsie OLeary

Valuing Non-Traditional Paths: Kelsie O’Leary Brings a Passion for Education from the Classroom to Political Campaigns


 
Kelsie O’Leary is currently the mobilization director at Brad Hoylman for Borough President, one of several campaign jobs she has dedicated herself to while taking a gap year before finishing her degree in Political Science at the Colin Powell School. With a passion for education, Kelsie is interested in working to elect people who she can trust to prioritize education and work to address inequity in our public schools. This mission has driven Kelsie to work full-time for two campaigns in the last year. She discusses her efforts and how the Colin Powell School’s internship program in Washington, DC helped her land her first policy job. Read the profile. 


Please tell me a little about your background.
 
I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where I attended Columbus City Schools (CCS) my entire life. School was extremely formative for me. In my district, 80% of students qualify for free lunch, and my high school was the most diverse in the state of Ohio with over 40 different nationalities. Not only do I appreciate the cultural perspective and understanding I gained from growing up there, but I recognized inequity very early on, especially inequity in education. 
 
With this experience, I decided to take a gap year after high school and serve with an AmeriCorps program. I moved to Los Angeles, California to work for City Year, an education nonprofit that partners with schools to support students academically, socially, and emotionally. During my first year, I worked with seventh-grade students in English and math. City Year aims to bridge the gap between students' needs and the services that schools can provide — a gap I understood well from attending a City Year school district — and I felt they truly accomplished it. The mentorship and academic intervention provided by City Year corps members made a difference for a lot of our students. I loved the work so much that I decided to take a second gap year to stay in Los Angeles. The students I worked with as seventh graders are graduating high school this spring, and I’m so excited to attend their graduations (even if they’re over Zoom). 
 
What brought you to City College?
 
After Los Angeles, I wanted to live in a new city and ended up at a private university in NYC. I didn’t know a lot about the college application process because my parents didn’t attend traditional four-year schools, so I chose a school I thought had provided the best financial aid. I didn’t tour the school beforehand and didn’t know what to expect from a private school in New York, so for many reasons it was a tough adjustment. When I got to campus, I was struck immediately by the gate that surrounded the entire school, forming a clear divide between the majority white and wealthy university and the surrounding community. That was something I couldn’t reconcile during my time there, so when financial constraints forced me to look for other options, I was ready to leave. That’s when I came across City College, and I’m so grateful I did. 
 
City College felt like home the first time I set foot on campus. I remember my tour guide was an English and Political Science double-major, which felt like a good omen because those were my majors at the time. The campus was beautiful, and it was clear the student body was diverse and real — students who actually had to work while taking classes, who had passions outside of campus, and had experienced more of the real world. My experience at City College thus far has only reinforced the positive impression I had from the beginning. 
 
What are you passionate about, and how does that drive what you do?
 
Education has always been at the core of what I do. As much as I love working with kids, I want to work on reform at a higher level. I realized in L.A. that one way to do this is through policy and legislation, which is why I’m studying Political Science. My long-term goal is to work in a political office or for a policy organization that focuses on education reform. Right now, I’m working to elect people who I trust will prioritize education and work to address inequity in our public schools. 
 
This past year, I found the perfect intersection of my passion for public education and interest in politics on a congressional campaign in New York. In early 2020, I started volunteering for Jamaal Bowman. I initially got involved because of Jamal’s background as a public school principal and quickly found myself taking a lead role on a campaign driven by everyday people. As someone passionate about equitable education policy, having real world educators in Congress is a perspective that I believe is crucial, and I could not be prouder of what our team accomplished. My experience on his campaign led to me having two full-time campaign jobs since, and I plan to finish my degree after this year’s primary election. I know my classes at City College will continue my enthusiasm for politics and inform my future work. 
 
How has the Colin Powell School helped you on your career path?
 
CCNY and the Colin Powell School have been immensely helpful in pursuing my goals! In only my second semester at City, I participated in the Semester in DC program and interned on Capitol Hill with my Democratic senator from Ohio. This was my very first opportunity to work a legislative job and get policy experience, which had been difficult to find before. My job prior to the DC internship was working for a family in the Village doing laundry and making dinner, so I didn’t expect to get a policy-related job so soon, let alone work on Capitol Hill. The program not only helped me get my foot in the door of the political world, but I had an awesome experience living in DC and getting to know my classmates from City College. 
 
Overall, the Colin Powell School has made me feel at home at City College. The administrative staff, fellowship directors, and professors have all supported my personal and professional goals, and helped me make the most of my experience here. I really appreciate their mentorship and guidance.
 
Would you like to share a significant memory from your time at CCNY?
 
My whole experience in the Semester in DC Program was memorable. I attended the first impeachment trial on only the third day of my internship and got to work on COVID relief policies for the first stimulus bill. Through our classes I got to meet extremely impressive political people, several of whom are now Biden Cabinet appointees, and Colin Powell himself!
 
What advice do you have for future students?
 
First, I would tell students not to restrict themselves to the traditional college path. That’s one of the reasons City College is great. There are so many non-traditional students, like parents, veterans, and people older than 22 continuing their education. I took two gap years before college, and now I’m taking a third before my last year of school to work on campaigns. I think nontraditional paths are really valuable, and the experience equips you to be a better student. Whether someone takes time off to work, serve, or for a personal reason, they return to classes with a new perspective and often more commitment to their education. Especially right now, it’s okay if you don’t graduate on time or need to take a break from classes. 
 
Second, take advantage of the Colin Powell School opportunities and staff. If you’re even considering the DC program, apply! If you can, talk to Colin Powell staff like Dean Rich, Debbie Cheng, Akasha Solis and others - they’re all extremely kind and helpful. I wouldn’t have the experiences I did without them!
 

Mon, 01 Mar 2021 12:33:52 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/22796
Decolonizing Museums: Student Catie Hernandez Combines Art and Activism https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/decolonizing-museums-student-catie-hernandez-combines-art-and-activism

 

Catie Hernandez

 

Decolonizing Museums: Student Catie Hernandez Combines Art and Activism


 
Anthropology and Art History major Catie Hernandez is a Macaulay Honors student and Co-President of the Macaulay Feminist Society. In this interview, Catie discusses how CCNY has created the perfect setting for her to combine her love of art and activism, and for her to be able to one day preserve the cultural heritages of traditionally disenfranchised peoples. 

 


 
Please tell me a little about your background.
 
I am from a small Long Island town called Babylon. Despite growing up in an extremely conservative area, I was raised with liberal values and an emphasis on community service. My mom is a first-generation American and my dad is an immigrant from Cuba and an immigration lawyer himself, so I grew up valuing cultural diversity and the expansion of economic opportunity and social programs. From a young age, my parents also were sure to put me in extracurriculars that focused on community building, most notably the Girl Scouts which I continued with throughout high school. Being a scout had a huge influence on my character, as its emphasis on community service and female leadership showed me the importance of local activism and turned me into a lifelong feminist. Feminism then greatly impacted my choice for my Girl Scout Gold Award Project, which I worked on throughout high school and I continue to oversee to this day. For the project, I started a website, www.gscareergirl.com, an educational resource in which I interview women from a variety of careers about how they got to where they are and how they dealt with the struggles they faced. This serves both to educate high school girls on different careers from a woman’s perspective and to foster the idea of female mentorship in the next generation.
 
I also grew up with a deep appreciation for art. My parents constantly took me to museums, which taught me to value them as integral to cultural preservation and public education. In high school, I got an internship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Egyptian Wing, which cemented my desire to work in the museum field someday. However, due to my interest in activism, I spent much of my years in high school and my freshman year of college trying to find a career that merged these two passions.
 
What brought you to City College?
 
When I was applying for the Macaulay Honors program, I had no trouble deciding that CCNY was the right CUNY for me. My dad is a City College alumnus, and as I grew up, he always told me about how the financial aid CCNY gave him is what allowed him to become a lawyer and pursue his passions. City College has an amazing legacy of granting social mobility to its students, which drew me to apply. I also was awed by its history of activism and its historical location of Harlem. Not many colleges get to boast that they are mentioned in Malcolm X’s memoirs or that Ella Fitzgerald played shows just around the corner. Finally, CCNY’s beautiful campus could not be beaten, so it was a very simple choice for me. 
 
What are you passionate about, and how does this drive your studies at CCNY?
 
At City College, I am an Anthropology and Art History major due to my interest in decolonization and anti-racism as they apply to Western museums. Almost all ethnographic art museums throughout the Western world have acquired stolen, looted, or unethically obtained artifacts from colonized cultures around the world. In most cases, those artifacts were presented as “primitive” and used to create exhibits that asserted Western dominance and white supremacy. Currently, there are hundreds of thousands of stolen art pieces that continue to fill museums and their storage spaces, and when they are put on display still uphold racist, colonial narratives. 
 
In my career, I hope to be able to work on fixing these issues through the ideology of museum decolonization. Museum decolonization focuses not only on returning these objects to their original cultures, but also on expanding the cultural perspectives an institution portrays and ending the erasure of women, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community from the dominant cultural narrative. Many museums around the world are beginning to reckon with their legacies of colonialism, and are bringing on Directors of Decolonization to facilitate the repatriation of stolen artifacts, work with cultural groups to broker agreements about the museum’s ethically retaining the objects, and ensure that the museum’s collections are presented in an anti-racist manner. My goal is to become a Decolonization Director. By internally advocating for the return of stolen objects and decolonizing the museum’s narratives, I will be able to aid in the dismantling of white supremacy as well as help in preserving cultural heritage through art, the two things which drive me most.
 
How has your career unfolded, and how has the Colin Powell School helped you along your path?
 
As I mentioned previously, I spent much of my freshman year searching for ways to intersect my interest in social justice initiatives and museum work. Opportunities through both the Colin Powell School and City College have been immensely helpful in that journey. Through my seminars as a Colin Powell Fellow for Leadership and Public Service, I have had the opportunity to do research and presentations on museum work and the colonialism present in Western artistic institutions. Through CUNY’s Cultural Corps program, I was able to get an internship at A.I.R. Gallery, a feminist non-profit gallery dedicated to intersectionality and the end of systemic racism. There, I have had the opportunity to work on creating social media content that highlights diverse people and groups that have typically been left out of historical narratives. 
 
Would you like to share a significant memory from your time at CCNY so far?
 
One of the things I am proudest of is my work to help create events for the Macaulay Green Initiative and the Macaulay Feminist Society. As Outreach Coordinator for the Green Initiative, I planned a Careers in Sustainability panel, which brought in five professionals from diverse careers in sustainability to talk to CUNY students about their experiences and give them advice for their success. As Co-President of Macaulay Feminist Society, I have been able to help plan events like film screenings, political discussions, and panels on reproductive health that educate the CUNY community on feminist issues and promote intersectionality. I love being able to promote social justice initiatives in an approachable and interesting way, so having the opportunity to create events like those is a big source of joy for me.
 
What advice do you have for current students?
 
The most practical piece of advice I could give is to apply, apply, apply! Read your emails from the Colin Powell School and CUNY and make a list of every opportunity you might be suited for and their deadlines. Also be sure to reach out to professors in your major about your career interests, as they likely have connections in your field of interest. Keep a folder on your computer with all of your application answers, as oftentimes you will get asked the same few questions repeatedly and it makes it much easier to apply for a wide variety of opportunities. Have a general cover letter prepared that can be easily edited to be specific to a certain job, and have a few versions of your resume available that are suited to your different interests. Even if you think you might not be the best candidate for something, you’d be surprised how low application rates are for scholarships, fellowships, and internships because so many people doubt themselves. Be confident in yourself and your abilities, and don’t be afraid of rejection. 
 

Mon, 01 Mar 2021 12:25:57 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/22794
Explore as Much as You Can: Riley Tinney’s Path to Stanford Law School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/explore-much-you-can-riley-tinneys-path-stanford-law-school

 

Riley Tinney

Explore as Much as You Can: Riley Tinney’s Path to Stanford Law School


 
Colin Powell School graduate Riley Tinney is currently a law student at Stanford University. In this interview, she discusses her fascination with using economic data to help solve social problems, her participation in student activism, her decision to join the Peace Corps in Nicaragua after graduation, and how CCNY faculty helped her on her path to law school.

 


 
Please tell me a little about your background. 
 
I grew up in Pullman, a small town in eastern Washington State. I was so eager to escape small town life that I spent one semester of high school living with my aunt and uncle in Brooklyn. Luckily, I heard about CCNY from the advisor at my high school in Brooklyn. I loved living in New York City so much that it seemed like a perfect option. I applied while I was back in Washington state and I didn’t even get to visit the campus before deciding to attend, but it was an easy choice. 
 
Why did you choose to study Economics at CCNY?
 
I came to college knowing I was interested in social science, but I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to major in. I took an introductory economics class with Professor Prabal De that I really liked, and he encouraged me to consider it as a major. I specifically loved the data science aspect of economics. I got to take some great econometrics classes and write a thesis about gun violence that taught me so much about social science research.
 
How has your career unfolded, and how did the Colin Powell School help you along the way?
 
City College and the Colin Powell School have opened my eyes to so many incredible opportunities and given me plenty of support. As a junior, I took a class on urban development with Hillary Caldwell. That was an incredible class, and she introduced me to an amazing economic justice non-profit called the New Economy Project. I ended up interning there for a year. Learning about their impact litigation work shaped my decision to go to law school.
 
When I was considering joining the Peace Corps during my senior year, the Colin Powell School helped put me in touch with alumni who had taken that path. Hearing their experiences helped me picture myself in the program. I ended up serving for a year as a health educator in Nicaragua right after college, and I’m so glad I had support from past Volunteers.
 
When I was applying to law school, Professor De told me I should apply to Stanford. Professor Kevin Foster read my personal essay and gave me feedback that helped me completely rewrite it into something much better. I wouldn’t have ended up at Stanford without them!
 
Would you like to share a special memory from your time at CCNY?
 
The most formative thing I did at City College was getting involved with Students for Educational Rights. We organized marches, worked with community groups in Harlem, and made so many truly awesome 10-foot protest banners. I learned so much from organizing with so many inspiring activists, and those experiences have shaped my politics ever since.
 
How have you been involved with City College since your graduation?
 
I’ve mentored current students through the Business Economics Alumni Society. I remember how much I appreciated talking to alumni while I was trying to decide what to do after college, so I enjoy getting to stay involved!
 
Do you have any advice for current or future students?
 
Explore as much as you can! After college you’ll have fewer opportunities to try out different interests just to satisfy your curiosity, and you never know how something will end up being useful. At CCNY, I had a lot of internships and volunteer jobs that were only loosely connected, and when I’m applying for opportunities now I can almost always find some relevant experience. I volunteered on a housing justice hotline during my junior year, before I ever considered being a lawyer, and the experience helped prepare me for an interview for an eviction defense internship.
 
 

Mon, 01 Mar 2021 12:00:06 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/22793
Julian Abreu, Class of ‘00: Value the Role You Play in the Bigger Project https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/julian-abreu-class-00-value-role-you-play-bigger-project

 

Julian Abreu

 

Julian Abreu1.     Please tell me a little about your background. 
I am an immigrant from the Dominican Republic. I moved with my parents and a few of my siblings to Brooklyn, NY when I was 15. I spoke very little English at that time. But with the help and support of my parents, teachers, classmates, and tutors (and working very hard to conjugate the verb “to be” for a few years), I graduated Salutatorian of my high school and enrolled in City College. 

2.     What brought you to City College, and what motivated you to study what you did?
The Engineering and Economics programs at City College were attractive after I graduated high school. Inspired by my father’s entrepreneurial spirit and by my performance in my first calculus class, combined with the desire to be able to make a decent living and be able to support myself, I ended up favoring business. 
 
My dad had always had businesses and managed different personalities. I grew up seeing that dynamic and was always intrigued by the ability of individuals to lead a team to accomplish a common goal. I also liked the challenge of solving problems, and the business and finance industry offers the opportunity to constantly immerse yourself in an analytical process to figure things out. I find this very rewarding. 

 
3.     Briefly, how has your career unfolded, and how did City College help you on your path?

I graduated from City College in 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, Administration, and Management specializing in Finance. I began my career as a Margin Interest Analyst for Lehman Brothers and became a Prime Broker Client Service Representative in 2005. I joined Barclays Capital with the acquisition of Lehman’s North American Prime Broker Business in 2008 and served in different capacities within the team. Currently, I am a Director serving as North American Head of Prime Client Service.
 
I benefited greatly from the insight and guidance provided by the faculty of CCNY.  There were some professors that knew exactly what we needed to do and know in order to become marketable. In particular, there was one young professor, Kevin Foster, who in 1999 understood that emails and the internet were transforming how businesses were operating. Even though this had nothing to do with the subject matter (Labor and Economics), he decided to conduct a paperless class, which meant that everyone had to learn how to create their own webpage, upload homework assignments, and communicate any follow-up questions through email. This was the first time I was exposed in such great detail, to the power of the world wide web. At that moment, I didn’t think much of it, but I soon realized that this was one of the most important things I learned in college. This experience made me realize that being able to adapt and constantly learn new things were going to be key going forward to remain relevant, and as a result, better prepared me to join the labor force.

 
4.     Please share any significant memories or accomplishments from your time at City College. 
Every milestone is memorable in its own way. Getting the Client Service Role was especially significant because at the time, even though I lacked the confidence and was nervous about being able to perform, I realized that Client Service was where I wanted to be. I enjoyed the client interaction and there were so many different aspects of the job, that each day was going to be slightly different. It felt good to earn this next job based on my performance of the previous job. Another memorable day was when I was offered the opportunity to lead the Client Service team. It is a great honor that I don’t take for granted. Another memorable day is January 25, 2021. After three years of actively working towards matching Barclays recruiting needs with City College talent, we have our first CCNY hire. 
 
And of course, I met my wife in the science building during swim team practice.

 
5.     How have you been involved with City College since your graduation? Why do you stay involved was invited to join the City College of New York Business & Economics Alumni Society Board of Directors in 2011 and subsequently served as Treasurer, and have volunteered as a mentor throughout the years. More recently with the support of the Barclays community, we started an annual Day @Barclays Event where 10-15 students have the opportunity to visit the Barclays Building, interact with colleagues, build their network, and hopefully get inspired to start their careers in finance. Since the Day @Barclays event started three years ago, the program has so far resulted in an internship and two hires. 
 
I stay involved because, in the beginning, my success involved a lot of luck. I was at the right place at the right time, but I didn’t know anyone in the industry that could guide me through the job search and hiring process. I had no exposure, and no idea what to expect or the opportunities that working in a bank offered. I realized that my experience could resonate with other CCNY students and that it could show anything is possible if you apply yourself. 
 


6.     Do you have any advice you could give to future and current students?
Specifically, if you are going into the finance industry, learn Excel, but if you can learn a programming language it will make you more marketable.
 
Generally, always try to look at the big picture and understand how your contribution fits with the overall. The part you play or what you do, no matter how “small” it may seem, supports, leads to or contributes to the final product or goal. Apply this concept to your job search process, writing your resume and preparing for interviews. You can be working on a foundation, or you can be part of the team that is building a house.

Mon, 08 Feb 2021 16:31:35 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/22696
Take Advantage of Opportunities: Dharamjeet Singh on His Path to Public Service https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/take-advantage-opportunities-dharamjeet-singh-his-path-public-service

 

Dharamjeet Singh

Dharamjeet Singh1.     Please tell me a little about your background. 
I am from Burma and I immigrated to the United States about 7 years ago. I came here for college. I was able to get permanent residency. I went to school for a bit in California then transferred over to New York. I continued my education with CUNY at BMCC and then transferred to City College. Now I work as a legislative correspondent in the US House of Representatives.

2.     What brought you to City College? 
When I finished my associate’s degree and it was time to transfer, I was surprised to see that there was a school named after Colin Powell and dedicated to civics, public policy, and public service. Even though I grew up in Burma, I had heard of Colin Powell. I knew what he did and his accomplishments and the position he was serving. I remember hearing him speak on the news at night as my dad watched. I could barely understand what he was saying on the news because I was a young kid. When I discovered the Colin Powell School, I was excited that there was a whole school actually dedicated to my line of major. You know, Baruch is known for business, and Hunter is known for nursing, I think. City College though had a whole institution dedicated to my major. That was my main push. 

 
3.     Why did you choose to study what you did at City College?

I actually was a business major first. Then going forward, I started to become more interested in the American government and how the political system works day-to-day. Coming from a country like Burma which is not a democracy — it is very much under authoritarian rule — I found the system here fascinating, so I switched from business to political science. 

As I got more interested in the American government, I started looking into how I can build a career in government. Some people asked me: “What are you going to do with political science? Do you really see yourself getting into government? Is it really for you? Are there people like you in government?” City College helped me overcome these barriers and doubts, and it opened doors for me and showed me how I could find career paths in government. 

As an immigrant, my main goal is to help my community, the Sikh community, to get more people into government so we can help our community move forward and be represented. I think I can count on one hand the amount of people that look like me here on the hill. We are trying to get there one by one. I am thankful for being here in the United States and having the opportunity to get an education and do anything I want.

 
4.     How has City College helped you to get where you are in your career?
The professors at City College dedicate all their time to educating people like me who come here as immigrants. They are our pillars and foundation. To be able to learn from these professors and be under their guidance is a privilege and something I looked forward to every day. Every professor I came across was extremely qualified and very dedicated to their work. It rubs off on you the amount of education they have and the level of attention they pay to you. I would say that they have been my role models. 

The Colin Powell School’s DC program also helped me get here by giving me the opportunity to intern in the US Congress. I could not have done it on my own, because I did not have the funds; I couldn’t afford it. The DC program gave me a scholarship and a place to stay and allowed me this big opportunity. 

I was also able to get a scholarship to study abroad for the summer in the Netherlands. I studied laws and antiquities and criminal justice in Amsterdam, which is located very close to The Hague. It was very beneficial to go see The Hague and speak to people who work in those fields, like judges that work for the International Court of Justice.  Studying abroad inspired me. I never saw myself being able to take part in programs like that, and it gave me the confidence to pursue other programs in college.

 
5.     Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your career or time at City College that you would like to talk about?

I could barely take part in all the benefits and festivities of student life at City College because I was working all the time. I was going to work, then school, then work. This is a reality for many, perhaps most City College students. This distinguishes us from students in private institutions: we are working students. The fact that we can make it while working is something that we should be proud of collectively. 

My greatest memories are from the classroom and listening to the lectures. Some people may be surprised to hear me say this, but it was something I really enjoyed doing and was very passionate about. I was fascinated by listening to people who had accomplished so much in their careers. One of my favorite classes was a course on politics of the Middle East. We did a simulation with students playing the role of leaders of the governments in the region. It actually fascinated me. I was looking at research and reading, and it was a lot of fun. When I spoke to the professor he said “hey, if you’re really having fun with this maybe you should join politics, maybe you should work in government” and I said, “yeah that is exactly what I want.” That was when I started planning and hoping. This class lit a fire in me to go forward with this career path, and I became confident in my abilities. 


6.     Do you have any advice you could give to future and current students?

The advice would be to trust in the institution and the professors that are there to guide you. Trust the process. There are highs and there are lows, but you have to hold yourself up to make sure it all works. It is doable, as City College students we have a lot of challenges. There are students in City College that have more than their fair share of challenges than others. In one of my classes, we did a survey about homelessness at City College and we handed out a few pizzas to anyone who would answer our survey. Once we got the data it was astonishing the number of students who were struggling with homelessness. So I know the challenges that people go through and the troubles that come in our paths. Our institution is a way out from all these things that we are struggling with. Trust the course, be on a path, if you have a passion, pursue it. 

I really want to thank all the professors who work so hard to put out great programs for the students and all the people who have given me advice and suggestions to help me out that made me ready for a career on the hill. I don’t think I can thank them more. 

Mon, 08 Feb 2021 16:04:19 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/22695
Gabriel Reyes Discusses Community Activism and Challenging Himself to Overcome Imposter Syndrome https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/gabriel-reyes
Gabriel Reyes
Tell me about your background. Where are you from? 
 

I am from here. I was born and raised in the Bronx. I’m Puerto Rican and Dominican. My mom was born in PR, my dad in DR. They both came at fairly young ages to the United States. We grew up working class. We never had much but I was always fortunate and blessed to have food, clothing, and all the necessary things while still being able to get quality education at public schools. I attended public schools my whole life in the Bronx. I went to Health Opportunities High School. At that time, I thought I wanted to be in the medical field, either a pediatrician or some type of doctor. I was volunteering and interning by helping elderly people at a nursing home while learning geriatrics skills. I was also on a basketball team in high school for three years. 
 
When I was an upper classman in high school, Bernie Sanders ran for the first time. He inspired me to get into politics. Ever since then I started thinking about the political issues and the injustices he spoke about. What he said made a lot of sense to me, because I also see that there is so much wrong in this country and this world. Ever since then I honestly felt like politics was really what was for me.
 

What brought you to City College?
 

It was the campus and the fact that it was not in the Bronx. I wanted to go away for college, or at least go out of the Bronx. I got into SUNY Brockport upstate but did not get enough financial aid and could not afford the $20,000 in tuition, and loans terrified me. I got into the SEEK program at City College and was very fortunate because the program helped me to afford college. The fact that City College is in Manhattan, that the campus is beautiful, I felt like I was in a university upstate but in the city. And I had also heard that City College had a really good medical program and that it has had a lot of student activism historically. 
 

What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?
 

It has been an interesting transition. As I made my shift from medicine to politics, I started to dig deeper into the issues and felt I had a moral obligation to get into this field. Once you know something you can’t “unknow” it. I felt like I had to make a change. My passion is in politics. My purpose is to learn the ins and outs of American government, the different theories about how people think about politics, and to really understand what I believe and what I value in society and what I fight for.
 
I have two minors, Black Studies and Community Change Studies. For Black Studies, I went to Puerto Rico with CUNY Service Corps to do volunteer work during Summer 2019. This was after Hurricane Maria. We were helping families rebuild their roofs, and we were in the wetlands sustaining the ecosystem. That experience was life-changing. As a Puerto Rican, I had never been to Puerto Rico. It was emotional, mental, and physical for me; it was everything, all the above, a holistic experience. I got more in tune with culture and learned more about Afro-Latinidad and Afro-Latinx history. When I came back, I took my first Black Studies course in Afro-Latinx Literature and I really liked it. That’s what made me decide to minor in Black Studies. I became more interested in racial justice issues. I felt like in the Latinx communities a lot of our parents think there is no African descent in their bloodline, so it is incumbent upon us to understand that we all come from similar backgrounds. The ongoing racial injustice in 2020 and before that was very eye-opening. 
 
The Community Change Studies program helped me get a grassroots perspective of everything. Ultimately, I want the work that I do to come from the bottom up, to be organizing at the community level and dealing with community organizations. Minoring in that program helped me get a better sense of that. It also involves an internship that I will start in the spring with Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition, which will help me get experience organizing. Then I will be able to bring this grassroots lens to the racial justice and political issues that I deal with in the future. I want to do a grassroots racial justice internship in the future because that is where my heart and passion are. I also want it to be more policy-oriented so I can learn how to be more of an advocate while also being grassroots. 
 

How has City College helped you advance toward your goals? 

 
I have been fortunate to be a part of many programs and opportunities that fell into place with perfect timing, one piggybacking on the other. As a freshman I participated in America Needs You, a two-year professional development program that jump-started my experience. The program offered a lot of workshops on skills for the workplace and a mentor who I am still close with. I did my first internship at my local Assemblymember’s office in the Bronx through Caucus Community Scholars and got introduced to local constituency work. Then I joined the life-changing CUNY Service Corps, as I mentioned. Then I applied to the DC program in the fall of 2019 and interned at a nonprofit in DC. This introduced me to the federal level of government and helped me discover that I like being more grassroots and working behind the scenes.
 
In the summer of 2020, I got in the Public Policy and International Affairs program (PPIA), because I was thinking of going to graduate school for public policy. I was going to be in California at UC Berkeley for seven weeks, but then COVID shifted everything online. I was sad but it was still memorable and I learned policy analysis, policy research, and quantitative analysis. Now I am involved with two fellowships, the Racial Justice Fellowship at the Colin Powell School and the S Jay Levy fellowship. Both programs are helping me to do internships this summer.  
 
All these opportunities at the Colin Powell School not only built my network, confidence, and abilities but gave me the experience that I needed to move forward and think of what I want to do in my life and career. I am very grateful for these opportunities. I am supposed to graduate in the fall of 2021. After that I want to gain work experience and then go to graduate school. 
 

What special memories or accomplishments from your time at City College would you  like to share?
 

My experience in Puerto Rico was very personal to me; I had never been there. I became more emotionally and culturally inclined to what it feels like to be Puerto Rican. I was there when Governor Rossello resigned. All the protests over there were going on and I was able to be part of two protests in Viejo San Juan. That was very memorable to me, to be there in such a historic moment. 
 
Being part of the DC program was also a very memorable accomplishment. I faced imposter syndrome before applying. Getting accepted and doing the program made me feel that I am capable of accomplishing everything that I want to do. It boosted my confidence.  
 

Do you have any advice you could give to future and current students?
 

Like I said earlier, I grew up working class. I never had much but I was blessed to have enough. I always felt that I was confident. I just needed the opportunities to reinforce that confidence and my abilities. My main advice to students would be to challenge yourself and be comfortable being uncomfortable. We tend to limit ourselves based on what we can’t do. I think because of where we come from, we don’t have many opportunities as first-generation students, working class students. So when we see an opportunity we may give excuses saying, “but this” or “but that” instead of challenging ourselves. So do not be afraid of going after opportunities. When you are open that is when you really understand what you like and don’t like, what you want and don’t want; it allows you to be more honest and comfortable with yourself and know what your values are and what you want to do. Have the courage to overcome the imposter syndrome that I know we all feel because imposter syndrome is us internalizing the negative aspects of “our backgrounds”. We need to break out from that and be courageous.
 

Tue, 19 Jan 2021 16:36:01 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/22533
Anika Islam on Her Path to Morgan Stanley and Columbia Business School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/profile-anika-islam

Dream Big, Test the Road, Build Relationships, and Adapt: Anika Islam on Her Path to Morgan Stanley and Columbia Business School


Anika

Like many immigrant children, Anika Islam learned to grow up fast. Originally from Bangladesh, Islam was a teenager when her family decided to return to their homeland and she found herself living in New York City on her own. She became an honor student, attending Stuyvesant High School and then the City College Honors Program, all while waiting tables to pay the rent. A curious student of political economy, Islam developed a keen interest in financial regulation and landed an analyst job at Morgan Stanley upon graduation. In this interview, she tells her inspiring story and urges students never to underestimate themselves and to push their own boundaries as they reach for their goals. 


Please tell me about your background. What is your story? 

I was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh and came to New York City when I was 6 years old, and I have been in New York City ever since. In fact, I have lived in every borough except Staten Island!
 
Like many immigrant families, my family struggled to make ends meet. There were so many problems – marital, financial, legal, you name it. My parents were never able to get their footing in this country. When I was 15 years old, my parents separated and, one after the other, returned to Bangladesh. I have been on my own ever since.  
 

What brought you to City College?

I have always valued education. School was my safe haven in an otherwise chaotic and uncertain world. Just to illustrate how much I loved school, I graduated as valedictorian in elementary school, salutatorian in middle school, and was the only person from my middle school to get into Stuyvesant High School, which is a specialized high school in New York City. Despite this, college was never guaranteed. 
 
As a senior in high school, I was going to school during the day and waitressing in the evenings and weekends to pay for the $420/month room I rented in Jamaica, Queens. I budgeted $20-$30 a week for food. I was barely making ends meet. For college to be feasible, I needed a full-tuition scholarship and the flexibility to work part-time. The City College Honors Program came through for me on both fronts. 
 

What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at City College?
 

I did not arrive on campus with a specific career goal. The first few semesters, I let myself take classes that seemed interesting and naturally found myself drawn to the political science and economics departments. Through studying political parties and interest groups, analyzing public policy, and learning about the markets, the bigger picture slowly started making sense to me. I went on to major in political science and double minor in economics and public policy. 
 

How has your career unfolded, and how have City College and the Colin Powell School helped you advance your career? 

Around the end of sophomore year, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, so I applied to and was accepted into the Skadden Arps Honors Program in Legal Studies. Through the program, I was exposed to the world of financial regulation and went on to focus on the Volcker Rule within Dodd-Frank in my coursework. When I realized banks and financial regulators held summer internships for undergraduates, I decided to throw my hat into the ring. 
 
In 2015, I joined Morgan Stanley as a Summer Analyst and have been with the firm ever since. Today, I work in the Regulatory Relations Group and, in my role, I manage a variety of regulatory examinations, including those from the SEC, FINRA, CFTC, CME, and state examiners. This has given me broad exposure to businesses and products within the financial services industry and helped me realize that I want to continue to build a career in this field. Therefore, I decided to go to business school and will be starting the full-time MBA program at Columbia Business School this fall. 
 
I did not know it at the time, but City College was exactly where I needed to be. I was surrounded by people like me – immigrants, people of color, strivers, and dreamers aspiring for a better life. I do not think I would have been as successful without this community. I want to give a special shout out to my Skadden Arps cohort—thanks for getting me through many all-nighters and for continuing to cheer me on to this day. 
 

Would you like to share any special memories or accomplishments from your time at City College or your career?
 

Do not underestimate the seat you’re in. I have always found ways to work on things I care about. I am deeply passionate about diversity and inclusion, so I got myself involved in Morgan Stanley’s diversity and inclusion recruiting and programming. I want to be engaged on topics like climate change and sustainability, so I raised my hand for regulatory work related to climate change risk and ESG investing. With some creativity, your job description can take you further than you think!
 

Do you have any advice for current or future students?
 

First, I want to acknowledge that the world is an unfair playing field. Many of us in the City College community have had to overcome great odds just to be in college and have financial or familial responsibilities alongside being a student. That being said, you owe it to yourself to dream big and take advantage of these years. 
 
You do not have to have it all figured out. When I was college, I was terrified of choosing the wrong path or career. I spent so much time ruminating about my ideal job and thinking about things in the hypothetical. Instead, take your interests for a test drive. Take a class, join a club, or get an internship. As long as you’re regularly exposing yourself to new things and stretching yourself, you are moving forward. 
 
Find your tribe. Time and time again, studies have shown that strong relationships are key to health and happiness. Invest in relationships and take advantage of the diversity at City College. Success does not feel like success if you do not have people to share it with. 
 
Champions adjust. We’re often told to persevere against all odds. Perseverance has its merits, but there is also great power in adjusting your strategy, mindset, goals, etc. as your circumstances change. 
 
Last but not least, start putting money away in a tax advantaged retirement account as soon as possible. The difference between starting in your 20s and starting in your 30s is huge. Google “compound interest” for more information. 

Tue, 19 Jan 2021 15:48:43 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/22531
Professor Schonfeld on Being a Brownsville Native, Becoming a Teacher and Researcher of Work-Related Stress, and Building Life-Long Relationships https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/professor-schonfeld-being-brownsville-native-becoming-teacher-and-researcher
 

Professor Schonfeld

on Being a Brownsville Native, Becoming a Teacher and Researcher of Work-Related Stress, and Building Life-Long Relationships
 

Irvin SchonfeldAfter 35 years of teaching psychology, Professor Irvin Schonfeld announced his retirement in December of 2020. Professor Schonfeld graduated from Brooklyn College, majoring in psychology and mathematics, and became a math teacher in the New York City public school system. He later left teaching to complete a doctorate at the CUNY Graduate Center, combining educational psychology and developmental psychology in his research on children’s mathematical cognition. He developed expertise in the impact of job stressors on the mental health and morale of teachers and the self-employed and came to identify with the emerging field of occupational health psychology. Professor Schonfeld is a member of the doctoral faculty of both CCNY and the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the founding editor of the Newsletter of the Society for Occupational Health Psychology and is co-author of the book, Occupational Health Psychology: Work, Stress, and Health.
 
Where are you from and what is your background?
 
I come from a Jewish family that lived in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn when my dad, a World War II veteran, was discharged from the Army. We moved to a housing project in Flatlands, the least developed section of that borough. At the time we moved in, the housing project was surrounded by meadows, stands of trees, and freshwater swamps. My friends and I spent much of our childhood years in those fields playing baseball and football and in the swamps hunting for tadpoles, frogs, and snakes to bring home as pets. That early experience led to a lifelong interest in science (later at City College I worked with a biology professor on the extent to which some people accept the theory of evolution). I sadly watched all meadows and swamps and, even, a neighborhood farm get developed away.
 
I attended Samuel J. Tilden High School. I was a pretty good athlete, becoming the captain of the school’s track team. I competed in the 400-meter sprint and ran for the varsity cross-country team.
 
I attended Brooklyn College, where I majored in psychology and minored in math. I enjoyed Brooklyn College a great deal. I read the Iliad and the Odyssey, took electives in philosophy and comparative literature, and learned enough French to read novels by Camus and Sartre. Professor Kenneth Bruffee’s elective on essay-writing was, perhaps, the best course I ever took anywhere. We read the great essayists, writers such as Lamb, Milton, and Orwell, and learned to write cogent essays.
 
I got involved in the anti-Vietnam War and Civil Rights Movements. I helped found an underground newspaper. When I was a junior, I got arrested in a demonstration that combined protests related to free speech and the war. That same year, I had a Vietnam-related piece published in a book by George Kennan.
 
After college I got a job as a math teacher for the NYC Board of Education; in the evenings I earned a master’s degree in psychology at the New School for Social Research. After six years, I quit teaching and pursued a doctorate full-time at the CUNY Graduate Center, where I studied a combination of developmental psychology and educational psychology. I also made sure to take many statistics courses in graduate school.
 
What brought you to City College?
 
After I earned my Ph.D., I got a job in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at New York State Psychiatric Institute/Columbia. As I made progress in that job, I felt like Moliere’s Monsieur Jourdan, who was shocked to discover that he was speaking in prose. I was equally shocked to discover that I was doing epidemiologic research in child and adolescent psychiatry. My boss, David Shaffer, persuaded me to apply for a postdoc in epidemiology at Columbia.
 
I had been working on research in cognitive development and childhood and adolescent psychopathology. But during that postdoc, I got to know Bruce Dohrenwend and Bruce Link who had been conducting research on stress. My knowledge of the teaching profession—the school in which I taught was plagued with violence and other problems—led to a new line of research, namely, the problem of job stress in teachers.
 
On the strength of research I conducted in cognitive development and child and adolescent
psychopathology, I got a job in a social science department in the City College School of Education. Once in the SOE, I began to change my research agenda. I obtained grants from the CDC to study the impact of job stress on teachers. While I was there, the SOE reconfigured itself a number of times; I moved from one department to another and to another. Eventually I was able to apply for and get a transfer to the Psychology Department.
 
What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing a career in the field of psychology?
 
My passion is to understand how the stress process unfolds at work. The more we understand about the stress process, the better able we are to intervene to make workplaces less stressful and more healthful. In 2017, the Springer Publishing Company published my book on work, stress, and heath.
 
What has teaching at City College meant to you?
 
Teaching has meant a number of things to me in terms of my goals for students. First, I like introducing students to scientific methodology (e.g., the experiment, quasi-experiment, prospective study, etc.). I would also like students to appreciate what a scientific hypothesis is. What a scientific theory is. How a hypothesis is related to theory. How we go about collecting observations that could demolish a hypothesis or sustain it.
 
Second, I recognize that many students have difficulty writing. While writing is important for individuals who go on to pursue doctorates, most of our psychology undergraduates are not going to pursue a doctorate in psychology. And that is okay. However, being able to write well will help students in many other careers. I feel that I owe it to our students (and to their parents) that when students complete one of my classes they will write better than they wrote when they entered the class.
 
Third, I would like students to further develop their quantitative reasoning skills. Quantitative reasoning is important for doctoral students. It is also important in terms of citizenship. What are the prevalence and incidence rates of depression in the United States? Those kinds of understandings help students appreciate the prevalence and incidence rates of Covid-19 in New York City zip codes. Quantitative reasoning really matters.
 
Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your career that you would like to talk about?
 
My significant memories include having been fortunate enough to conduct research with some terrific people. One of those people is David Shaffer, who had been the chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Columbia. We wrote several papers together but one paper on the impact of neurological soft signs on depression and anxiety in adolescents stands out in my mind. David wrote the intro and discussion. I wrote the method and results. We published it in 1986. It gets cited again and again.
 
Another is my work with two people, the late Ed Farrell, my friend and CCNY colleague and Joe Mazzola, a colleague who is now at Meredith College in North Carolina. Although I am a quantitatively oriented researcher, I developed an appreciation of what qualitative research can do in terms of discovery. I have written separately with Ed and with Joe about the value (and limitations) of qualitative research on job stress.
 
Finally, I have done a great deal of work with Renzo Bianchi. Although Renzo is French, he currently works at the University of Neuchâtel, in the French-speaking region of Switzerland. We have studied the relationship between job-related burnout and depression from different angles. Although this line of research has been controversial, Renzo has made substantial progress in this area. We recently published a new instrument, the Occupational Depression Inventory, which is designed to measure depressive symptoms workers ascribe to their jobs. I greatly enjoy working with him.
 
Do you have any advice you could give students, former students, and colleagues?
 
I am only going to give the readers one piece of advice. One of the best things you can do in college and in life in general is to forge relationships. Those relationships can be with fellow students. They can be with colleagues. They can be with people in your neighborhood. Those relationships don’t have to turn into friendships, but sometimes they do. Friendships are almost always rewarding.
 
It can be helpful to forge relationships with people who are different from you. Of course, the idea of difference applies to people who are of a different gender, race/ethnicity, and age group. Regarding age group, one of my valued friendships is with Cheryl Sims, who was a student in a class I taught. Despite the age differences, I have other friendships with former CCNY students, including Joel Engleman and Nelson Graham.
 
The idea of forging relationships with people different from yourself is broader than you may think. When I was a college student, I took more science and math courses than courses in other subject areas but my college friends included an English major who took a special interest in Walt Whitman and a classics major who read Homer and Virgil in the original. We learned a lot from each other.
 
It is very important in life to forge relationships and, when the circumstances are right, friendships.

 

Mon, 16 Nov 2020 18:21:48 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/22348
Ricardo Anez Carrasquel ‘20 Joins Colin Powell School Team, Works to Launch National Hub of Young Activist Leaders https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/ricardo-anez-carrasquel-20-joins-colin-powell-school-team-works-launch
 
 
Ricardo Anez Carrasquel ‘20

Ricardo Andres
1.     Where are you from and what is your background?
I was born in Caracas, Venezuela. At age 7, I moved with my family to Cheyenne, Wyoming. I always get asked, “why Wyoming?” Like many immigrants, we move to where we have connections. My aunt was our anchor here in the United States and she was living there at the time. I was fortunate to get to travel a lot while growing up in Wyoming. Like most kids and teens that grow up in small towns, I wanted out. I turned 18 in 2012 and that May, I graduated high school. Four months after that, I made my move to New York.
 
2.     What brought you to City College?

I came to City College as a transfer student from Queensborough Community College. I went to QCC right away but then took time off to work and save money to continue my studies. I eventually went back and graduated with my Associates Degree from there in 2016. When I was looking for schools to transfer to, I focused on schools that provided my intended major of “international studies or international affairs or relations.” At the time, I had a professor at QCC that asked the class where we were headed next. When I told her my plans, she strongly encouraged me to go for it, especially in that major, since she also graduated from City College. I was not really looking at any other schools and once I visited the campus, I knew it was the place where I wanted to be. I ended up majoring in International Studies with a concentration in International Relations and a minor in Legal Studies and graduated this past May.
 
3.     What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?

International politics and relations have had their effect on my life since I was very young. Venezuela has had its fair share of international attention over the last 21 years, but moving to the United States I realized how much more complex everything is and what dynamics are at play on the international relations stage. In high school I was in the International Baccalaureate program in which I really tackled history, international relations theory, and other subjects that fueled my passion for it.  Once I got to City College, I realized that I wanted to pursue a minor in Legal Studies as well. During my time at City College, I also was in the CCNY Dream Team. Alongside that experience and the classes I took, I started to really get passionate about social change and justice work. My original plan was to go to law school eventually and then become an attorney that practices international trade law, then further my career in hope of becoming a Foreign Service Officer. While those are still my long-term goals, I currently am starting my career at the intersection of social change and academia.
 
4.     How has City College helped you to get where you are at in your career?
City College has helped me launch my career. I am working in the Dean’s Office at the Colin Powell School as a Special Projects Coordinator. Currently I am working on a new social change initiative, which is a partnership between the Colin Powell School and the CUNY School for Labor and Urban Studies. This project is just getting started, and I am really passionate about supporting the next generation of young leaders that will have a lasting impact on this world. This project aims to do just that in a variety of ways by supporting young people, especially women and people of color throughout their careers in the social justice sector offering the skills, experiences, support, and the network that they need to succeed. While working on this project it has just ignited my passion for helping create transformative lasting social change. I also help in other areas of the Dean’s Office. I often bring my fresh student perspective into conversations. I have been really enjoying working behind the scenes and I must say that here at the Colin Powell School we really do put the students at the center of what we do and try to engage with them as much as possible. This is especially true right now since we are all working from home.
 
5.     Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your career or time at City College that you would like to talk about?
If I have to look back at one of my favorite memories at City College, it has to be my time with the CCNY Dream Team. When I came to City College, I had finally found a space which felt like a community to me. We organized on campus, mobilized to conduct bake sales to help fund our operations but to also support those who needed financial support in renewing their DACA. I was part of the E-board serving as the secretary which really prepared me for the role I have now as well.
 
I am also very proud that I graduated Summa Cum Laude. It wasn’t until my senior year that I went to school full time for both semesters at City College. During my time as a student, I would often work full time, part time, and sometimes overnights to help me pay my way through school, often taking 2-3 classes per semester. Once I was able to apply for the New York Dream Act and receive some form of financial aid, it helped alleviate how many hours I worked during the week and focus on school full time again. It might have taken me longer than I would have liked but I graduated with honors and debt free!
 
6.     Do you have any advice you could give to future and current students?
Reflecting on my time at City College I would like to tell current and future students to not be afraid to take up opportunities that are available to you. There are so many resources and opportunities that the Colin Powell School has for students that are really there to enrich your experience and prepare you for the next chapter: from fellowship opportunities to events to even emergency grants. Getting to know your professors is really a big component of success. I used to be that student, especially when I was working a lot, that would just go into class, do what I had to do and come right back out. I realized that I was not allowing myself to get to know my professors and also my peers. It wasn’t until a professor had approached me about a paper I wrote, wanting me to meet her during her office hours, that this changed. I went into the meeting not knowing what to expect but she let me know that she really enjoyed my paper and started to ask about my future. From that point forward it really led me to approach my professors and even my peers more about advice, if I had any questions about content or career moves. One of them even wrote me a letter of recommendation. That meeting was a turning point for me in my college career. I never really had a professor approach me in that way about my work. There are some really cool faculty and staff here at the Colin Powell School that just know how to push you in a way that gets you to where you need to be or give you that confidence to aim even higher.

 

Mon, 16 Nov 2020 18:15:29 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/22347
“Stop Overthinking Your Qualifications” https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/stop-overthinking-your-qualifications
 
“Stop Overthinking Your Qualifications” - CCNY Senior Ana LuoCai on How Internships Can Shape Your College Experience

Ana LuoCai

Like most students, Ana LuoCai was told that internships are an important part of the college experience, but what sets her apart is just how seriously she took that advice.

Ana, a senior at CCNY in the Macaulay Honors College majoring in political science and public policy, is currently on her seventh internship working as a policy Intern at the Asian American Federation.

An immigrant from Peru, Ana is passionate about promoting civic engagement, expanding voting rights, and making our democracy more inclusive of immigrant communities. She has interned at several organizations working on these issues, including New American Leaders, a nonprofit that helps immigrants run for office; the Brennan Center for Justice, a think tank focused on strengthening our democratic institutions; the 1882 Foundation, which raises awareness about the Chinese Exclusion Laws; and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. Additionally, last summer Ana became a #WePowerNYC ambassador with the NYC Campaign Finance Board, a project aimed at doubling youth voter turnout.

“I know that my desired field is hard to break into without connections,” Ana said. “So I am dedicated to building my network.”

Throughout her time at different internships, Ana has learned that she enjoys meeting new people and experiencing new environments. The experiences have shown her what she likes, doesn’t like, and what work environments she thrives in. In addition to gaining work experience, she has gained confidence and developed a clearer sense of self.

According to Ana, students need space and support to do internships that build their careers. “I don’t like how society prioritizes productivity over all else,” she said. “Students need time to focus on school and on building and maintaining relationships.”

To support her public service work, Ana received the Colin Powell School’s Edward I. Koch Fellowship in Public Service and as well as City College’s S Jay Levy Fellowship for Future Leaders. Both fellowships offer financial support, networking opportunities, and mentorship to students who do internships to advance their careers. She was also a fellow of America Needs You (ANY), a mentorship program that promotes economic mobility for first-generation college students.

Ana’s advice to students is: “Stop overthinking your qualifications and go for what you want! Work hard, build relationships, and take time for you and the ones that you love.”

 

Tue, 27 Oct 2020 13:00:48 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/22243
Colin Powell School faculty member Iris López, director of CCNY Latin American and Latin@ Studies program, quoted in the Refinery29 article https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/colin-powell-school-faculty-member-iris-lopez-director-ccny-latin-american
 
Iris LopezColin Powell School faculty member Iris López,
Director of CCNY Latin American and Latin@ Studies program,
quoted in the Refinery29 article ‘In Puerto Rico, A History of Colonization Led to an Atrocious Lack of Reproductive Freedom

 

When birth control pills hit the U.S. market in 1960, it heralded a new age of sexual autonomy for women. “Freedom in a tablet,” as it’s been called, liberated women from becoming pregnant when they didn't want to and gave them more control over their reproductive choices. But in Puerto Rico, where women were used as subjects for birth control trials and impelled to undergo sterilization, the emancipating drug also carries a history of coercion and is emblematic of Puerto Rican women’s enduring struggle for reproductive freedom.

In Puerto Rico, fertility control developed under colonialism in the early 20th century, after the Caribbean archipelago had been seized by the United States in the Spanish-American War of 1898. During this time, neo-Malthusianism — the belief that poverty stems from the proliferation of the poor — was a popularly held view throughout the West, notably by prominent U.S. officials and intellectuals, who also endorsed pseudo-scientific eugenics theories as a means to guarantee that only able-bodied, rich, white people were encouraged to reproduce. The colonial governments in Puerto Rico and the contiguous U.S. were filled with people who believed these philosophies, and the archipelago was deemed overpopulated, specifically by a citizenry of impoverished and thus “inferior” Black and brown people. To solve the alleged problem, government officials instituted policies that, among other things, reduced births through sterilization.

Read more here
 

Mon, 26 Oct 2020 11:25:03 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/22237
Beyond race: Impacts of non-racial perceived discrimination on health access and outcomes in NYC by Economics Professor Prabal https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/professor-prabal

Prabal Economics Professor Prabal De has just published, “Beyond race: Impacts of non-racial perceived discrimination on health access and outcomes in New York City.” Using a representative dataset from one of the most populous and diverse cities in the US, this research investigates whether individuals report experiencing discrimination while seeking health care not only due to their race/ethnicity, but also because of their other attributes such as age, gender, type of insurance, and immigration status, the latter group being termed collectively as non-racial discrimination. His findings demonstrate that non-racial discrimination was strongly associated with worse health access and outcomes, and such experiences may contribute to health disparities between different socioeconomic groups. You can read the article here.

 

 

 

Mon, 05 Oct 2020 13:48:03 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/21919
“Maintain an Open Mind and an Open Heart” - Dr. Jay-Sheree Allen Discusses Her Journey as a Publicly Engaged Doctor https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/profile-dr-jay-sheree-allen

 


Dr JayColin Powell School graduate and former Colin Powell Fellow Dr. Jay-Sheree Allen ‘11 was recently awarded the Townsend Harris Medal by the Board of Directors of the Alumni Association of the City College of New York. The award recognizes those who have demonstrated outstanding postgraduate achievement in their chosen field. Although she is young, Dr. Jay-Sheree has already made a mark in the medical field, pursuing her goal to focus on underserved communities. 

Dr. Allen, a family medicine physician currently residing in Central Minnesota, has made it a goal to serve underserved populations and to reach millennials both locally and globally. She is the co-host of the podcast, “Race and Medicine”, as well as co-host and creator of the podcast, “Millennial Health”. While a student at CCNY, she founded Women of Excellence, Strength, & Tenacity (WEST), an organization focused on helping young women reach their career goals and highest potential. She has dedicated her time to speaking up for diversity in the medical field. She was named a 40 under 40 Leader in Health by the National Minority Quality Forum and was featured in the book Against All Odds: Celebrating Black Women in Medicine.

 

Where are you from and what is your background?

I was born and raised in Montego Bay on the island of Jamaica. I moved to NYC when I was ten with my father (my mother had moved here earlier). We all were ingrained with the idea of the immigrant dream, to pursue better opportunities and a better life, and my mom was no different. My mother knew that the career options back in Jamaica were limited, so she decided to take the leap of faith to go from Jamaica to New York. She immediately went to Medical School, and even attended WCC. I then ended up moving in with her in Mt. Vernon and eventually attending New Rochelle high school.


What was your concentration at the Colin Powell School? Can you tell us a little more about your passion and purpose behind originally pursuing this concentration?

I was a Psychology major at City College, which I absolutely loved. I knew I was definitely Pre-Med. I originally started at NYU, but we were new immigrants and didn’t have the funds for me to stay at NYU. So I transferred to CCNY, because I really needed my education to be affordable and I also wanted a better commute for myself. City definitely has the best reputation for Pre-Med students, and I’m proud to say that our psychology program is great as well. 

From a young age, I knew I wanted to do medicine, but I also was interested in learning about human behavior. I was fascinated by the “why”, as to why people do the things they do, and even how their life events have changed the way they look at the world. 
The Colin Powell Fellowship eventually came into the mix, because first of all, I’m Jamaican and so is Colin Powell, so every Jamaican family loves him. I was also fascinated by some of the lectures that were being held on campus, and the guests that they’d bring. I really wanted to be a part of that, and I was super interested in what the policies are that drive our country. 

The Colin Powell Fellowship did a great job of exposing us to the underworld of policy and advocacy. I originally applied for Sophie Davis and got rejected, but in hindsight I am grateful for that, because had I gone to Sophie I wouldn’t have been able to explore other majors and Psych. I’m thankful, because through CCNY, I was able to go to Tanzania for a program where the cohort of students was about 4-5, and we were all in the sciences. We worked with the Ministry of Education in a girls empowerment science camp, and taught biology and chemistry courses to prepare these girls for careers as future scientists and to help debunk cultural gender stereotyped roles. 


Tell us about your founding of the podcast, “Millennial Health”.

Millennials are now the largest living adult generation in the United States, as of last year. As a primary care physician, I started to recognize that I wasn’t seeing a lot of us in the clinic for primary care and preventive health care issues. We would only go in to the doctor because our job required a physical, or because something became so distressing that it was overwhelming our capacity to function. Millennials weren't going to the doctor for regular checkups, but then they’d have strokes and heart attacks, which don’t come about overnight. These issues started years ago, and it’s important to recognize that we as millennials are currently in those years. Our behaviors, our actions, our diets, our exercise all determine our future health outcomes. So I wanted to set us up for a stronger and healthier future. I do understand not wanting to come into the clinic, because going to the doctor can be a whole day affair with both wait time and paperwork. I created the podcast to reach a larger audience, and reach my patients where they are. 


Could you tell us about being a co-host for the podcast, “Race and Medicine”?

“Race and Medicine” is something I created as part of a Hippo Education series of continuing medical education podcasts for nurses or practitioners as part of my work with a company called Primary Care Reviews and Perspectives. It is all about bringing information to practicing medics. Since the world erupted with the murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, combined with the stress of the pandemic, everyone’s been on edge. I thought to myself, “How can I add my voice to this movement, and bring in my support?” And I really wanted to go to the protests, but I work in a small rural town. I recall being at a staff meeting one day, and someone mentioned the protestors quarantining. I felt very self-conscious going to the protest, especially with the virus and with how small our town is. I recognized that I hadn’t seen any programs on race and how it impacts medicine. We talk about cardiovascular disease, effects of COVID, and maternal health care, but I wanted to go deeper into it. I worked with Primary Care Reviews so that we could become more mindful and adopt better practices for our patients. It was my way of adding my voice to this global movement, and it’s been a joy thus far. And of course we get backlash, but it is important to keep going. Developing a series to educate fellow physicians on how medicine and racism intersect, and combating negative stereotypes, are all things I enjoy about this podcast. 


What can you tell us about your current role as a National Health Service Corps Scholar currently practicing in a critical access hospital in Central Minnesota? 

I signed up for this program when I was at Meharry Medical College which is a historically Black medical college. Growing up, I’ve always had a commitment to an urban underserved population. Being at CCNY, in Harlem, and then with my time at Jacobi Hospital, I was always exposed to medicine in underserved urban communities. Since I knew that this is what I wanted to do, it was definitely a change of plans once I went to residency at the Mayo Clinic. 

My dean in medical school was the one who encouraged me to broaden my horizons, challenge myself to work in a different atmosphere, and learn about rural medicine. The communities I was exposed to were migrant families, factory workers, and farmers, and it was a totally different population than what I was exposed to previously. So I figured why not take this opportunity which is a three-year commitment in a different atmosphere? That’s how I ended up taking this job in Central Minnesota. I see a lot of Latinx communities (meat-packing workers, factory employees), people disproportionately affected by COVID, even multi-generational families in one home. I have even gained access to providing health services for poor, white, rural farmer families. What I’ve enjoyed about this experience is that it has exposed me to groups of people I never would have had the chance to interact with normally.


What advice would you give students and alumni who are also looking to pursue these sorts of opportunities and this sort of employment?

I would recommend as you’re going through college and graduate school to keep an open mind. Don’t box yourself in. Don’t come in and say, “I’m only interested in doing this, so I’m only going to focus on these lectures”, because you will be so surprised at how things change down the line. Similar to how I was so focused on the “urban population” but ended up in a more rural area, you never know where your plans can take you. Definitely take full advantage of what the Colin Powell Fellowships Office has to offer. Maintain an open mind and an open heart through the process of your education. 
 

Mon, 05 Oct 2020 13:08:44 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/21918
From CCNY to West Point: Captain Don Gomez https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/profile-captain-gomez
 

Gomez

U.S. Army Captain Don Gomez is a 2010 graduate of the Colin Powell School and currently a professor of Arabic at West Point. A soldier since 2001, Don left the Army for a period in 2006 to attend college. While at City College he was a Colin Powell Fellow and won a Truman Scholarship. Since earning a BA in International Studies from City College in 2010 and an MA in Near and Middle Eastern Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London) in 2011, he has gone on to do extraordinary service as an Army officer. 

Where are you from and what is your background?

My family is from New York City. I was born in Texas when my parents moved there for a couple of years. We moved back to New York when I was two years old. I was raised in New York and went to NYC public schools in Queens before I joined the Army in 2001.


What brought you to City College?

Three things brought me to City College: the International Studies program, the Colin Powell Center (as it was known then), and City’s reputation as a diverse school that welcomes everyone and punches above its weight academically. I came to City as a transfer student. I was transitioning out of the Army at the time and attending community college in North Carolina. I knew I wanted to come back to New York City to go to college, but I really didn’t know where I wanted to go. When I started doing my research, it became clear that City College was the only school that made sense for me. As I learned more about City College and its history, I became focused on going there – even though it would mean a two-hour commute from my parents’ house in Queens.


What was your concentration at City College, and what was your passion or purpose behind pursuing this concentration?

I majored in International Studies and took as many classes as I could on the Middle East and Arabic. I left the military with a desire to learn more about the Middle East as a direct result of my experience serving as an infantryman in Iraq. It was frustrating to be in a country where I didn’t understand the culture and couldn’t speak the language. City College also offered a great International Studies program that allowed me to develop a strong base while pursuing coursework that interested me. Through programs at City, I was able to study abroad in both Morocco and Egypt, greatly enhancing my understanding of the cultures and peoples of the Middle East.


How would you say City College has helped you to get to where you want to be professionally?

I owe my professional success to the faculty, staff, and students at City College. Of course, the academic instruction was terrific and prepared me for a career that continues to challenge me intellectually. However, the thing I remember most about City College is the mentorship I received from staff and faculty as I navigated my time there. I aggressively sought out mentors at City College as I was still adjusting to life as a student after recently returning from the Army. Across the college, I was encouraged to try new things, branch out, and generally “get out of my comfort zone”. The friends and diverse experiences I had at City College better prepared me for continued public service in the Army as an officer and leader, and especially now as a college instructor.


What can you tell us about your role at the U.S. Military Academy and about your time as a Colin Powell Fellow and Truman Scholarship awardee?

Currently, I am an Arabic instructor at the United States Military Academy at West Point. I teach the first year of Arabic to Cadets who will go on to become future officers in the United States Army. It is definitely strange to think back over ten years ago that I was sitting in a small classroom in the NAC, struggling to speak a little Arabic. Now I’m teaching it. I am incredibly proud to be a Colin Powell Fellow. It was the first challenging academic fellowship that I applied for and I felt incredibly nervous and undeserving – I was not a very good high school student and I never thought of myself as the type of person who would be involved in academic pursuits. But I’m glad I did, because my experience as a fellow helped shape the rest of my time at City College and beyond. It was through the Colin Powell Fellowship that I was introduced to the Truman Scholarship and the staff and faculty assisted me in putting together my application. I spent countless nights preparing my application and speaking with faculty about the process. I never considered graduate study until then. After I graduated from City College in 2010, I went to London to pursue an MA in Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).


What advice would you give future and current students who are also looking to pursue these sorts of opportunities and experiences?

CCNY is a unique college with a special mission. I would encourage students at City to not simply show up for class to satisfy degree requirements. There is so much opportunity through actively seeking out mentors, projects, clubs, and friends that can have life-changing implications. If I remember correctly, Gen. Colin Powell himself started his military career by a chance encounter at City College – he happened to walk past the ROTC office and was curious! Those chance encounters coupled with hard work over time can light up a career.

Mon, 05 Oct 2020 13:00:02 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/21916
Ariana Smith, Recent Graduate of MIA/JD Program, Becomes ED at Lawyer’s Committee on Nuclear Policy https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/ariana-smith-recent-graduate-miajd-program-becomes-ed-lawyers-committee

AriannaAfter exploring editorial and culinary careers, Ariana Smith found her passion for international humanitarian law and human rights and enrolled in the joint program in law and international affairs offered by the Colin Powell School and CUNY Law. A course on nuclear policy taught by Dr. Jean Krasno, the program director, led Ariana to complete an internship in nuclear policy advocacy. Smith graduated in 2020 and recently became executive director of the Lawyer’s Committee on Nuclear Policy, which strives for a world free of nuclear weapons.


 
Where are you from and what is your background? 

I’m originally from Vienna, Virginia, just outside of Washington D.C. I moved to New York City in 2008, though, and this has been home ever since! I explored a few different career paths—including magazine editorial work and cooking/baking (I worked and studied at the International Culinary Center for a few years)—all while knowing that I wanted to center my life’s work on social justice and influencing change in some way. I’d volunteered on various initiatives through my church and other local groups over the years; ultimately, though, I realized that to pursue the social and political change I was passionate about, a law degree would be too useful to pass up. I returned to school to become a lawyer focused on international human rights and humanitarian law.

 
What brought you to City College and the Colin Powell School?

I was in the inaugural dual-degree J.D./M.A. in International Affairs program at the Colin Powell School. I learned of the program my first week of law school at CUNY Law program and knew it would be a perfect fit, as I had planned to focus on international law.

 
What was your concentration at the Colin Powell School, what was your passion or purpose behind pursuing this concentration? 

As a dual-degree student, my full-time term at the Colin Powell School was limited to one year, and my core courses were selected based on the program. Some of the electives I chose that were particularly interesting and valuable to me, though, included Nuclear Security and Non-proliferation, Terrorism and International Relations, and Brazil in a Global Context. The Nuclear Security course propelled me to my current career path.

 
How would you say the Colin Powell School has helped you to get to where you want to be professionally? 

The Colin Powell School was integral to my current career trajectory. I chose Dr. Jean Krasno’s inimitable Nuclear Security and Non-proliferation course my fall semester based on intrigue alone. Studying the development of nuclear energy, the violent colonialism underlying nuclear weapons testing, and the rationale behind misguided and risky deterrence policies drove me to pursue further opportunities to research and strategize against the nuclear iteration of the omnipresent military-industrial complex. Not only was this course instrumental along my professional path, but Dr. Krasno’s investment in her students and willingness to make connections for us were as well. Dr. Krasno introduced me both to a lawyer mentor with international experience and to an earlier graduate of the master’s program working in nuclear abolition advocacy.

 
What can you tell us about your new role as Executive Director of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy and about your internship with the Committee in the fall of 2018? 

I sought my internship with the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy shortly after I finished Dr. Krasno’s Nuclear Security course at CCNY. I connected with John Burroughs, the executive director of over 20 years, through another friend and mentor, Camille Massey, at the Sorensen Center for International Peace and Justice. I wanted to explore the legal side of nuclear security issues and how we can wield the law to achieve nuclear disarmament and abolition. I was grateful to spend the fall of 2018 researching the legality of threats of nuclear force, culminating in a paper published by LCNP and an invitation to speak on a panel about the right to life and nuclear weapons. During my internship, I also spent time monitoring the First Committee sessions at the UN and writing for Reaching Critical Will, the disarmament programme of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
 
After my internship I kept in touch with LCNP, which is how I ended up ultimately pursuing the executive director role when it opened earlier this year. As ED of our small organization, I manage all programmatic aspects of LCNP as well as all administrative and organizational tasks. A sampling of my responsibilities includes monitoring, reporting on, and advocating to the United Nations, including the General Assembly, First Committee, and various treaty bodies as well as human rights mechanisms. My role also doubles as the Director for the UN Office of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms. On the national level, I also manage congressional and presidential policy advocacy. And, of course, I head-up all our fundraising efforts as well.
 
As LCNP is a mighty organization with a history of significant accomplishments, I certainly have big shoes to fill and much to learn along the way, and I am humbled and grateful to lead the organization into the future. During my tenure, I hope, among other things, to highlight the intrinsic connection between nuclear weapons and fundamental human rights violations.

 
What advice would you give future and current students who are also looking to pursue these sorts of opportunities and experiences?

The core of my advice is to practice proactive persistence (alliteration unintended). High engagement in class discussions is not to be overrated! Take advantage of the small class sizes at CCNY, the brilliant faculty, and a diverse student base. You’ll get out what you put in both in terms of class preparation and participation. Make relationships with your student colleagues and maintain them with your professors as well—these relationships are inherently valuable and can also be quite productive when it comes to making the right connections or receiving helpful advice and/or recommendations.
 
Also, when it comes to pursuing internships and jobs post-graduation, remember that you are good enough. Imposter syndrome may be hard to shake (I speak to myself here, too!), but I often recall Michelle Obama’s quote, revealing the “secret” to feeling worthy of a seat at the table when it may feel like others are smarter or more competent. She said: “I have been at probably every powerful table that you can think of, I have worked at nonprofits, I have been at foundations, I have worked in corporations, served on corporate boards, I have been at G-summits, I have sat in at the U.N.: They are not that smart.”

 

Mon, 14 Sep 2020 20:36:28 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/21767
“Go for it!” Melodie Perez Embraces the Opportunity to Mentor and Pursue Her Dream of Becoming a Psychologist https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/go-it-melodie-perez-embraces-opportunity-mentor-and-pursue-her-dream

Clinical psychology student Melodie Perez is making the most of her academic endeavors. Serving as both a statistics peer coach and a student advisor, Melodie is taking advantage of opportunities that have introduced her to the world of counseling. “It allows me to connect with individuals to not just listen, but also help them relieve their distress and dissatisfaction,” says Melodie. Melodie hopes to build on these opportunities to achieve her goal of becoming a psychologist.  

Where are you from and what is your background?   

I was born and raised in Harlem. My father is Dominican, and my mother is German and Swedish, but unfortunately, I can only speak English. I was homeschooled from preschool through high school because my parents believed that they could provide me with a better education than most public schools. As I look back on the experience, I am extremely thankful that my parents were able to commit so much time and energy into giving me the best education they believed possible. 

What brought you to City College and the Colin Powell School? 

Ever since I took a College Now course during high school, I realized that psychology was something that greatly interested me. The concepts and information that I learned genuinely excited me, so it didn’t feel like a task to sit down and study. Coming from a family on the lower end of the socioeconomic status, I chose CUNY because it is the most affordable, and I chose the Colin Powell School within City College because it offers one of the best psychology programs within CUNY. Also, I was living only three blocks from the campus which was extremely convenient for those eight o’clock AM classes!

What is your concentration at the Colin Powell School, and what is your passion or purpose behind pursuing this concentration?

My concentration at the Colin Powell School is clinical psychology and I am currently pursuing my BA/MA through the CASAC [Credentialed Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor Trainee] program. I have always enjoyed talking to others in order to understand their decisions, emotions, beliefs, and behaviors. Because of this, I believe that clinical psychology is the perfect match. It allows me to connect with individuals to not just listen, but also help them relieve their distress and dissatisfaction. 

How would you say the Colin Powell School is helping you to get to where you want to be in the future?

The Colin Powell School has provided so many amazing resources to aid my education and future goals. These include amazing advisors who are genuinely passionate about my success and enhancing my experiences, tutoring opportunities when I am having trouble with a particular class, and the Career and Professional Development Institute which has guided me in finding internships and job opportunities that are in line with my educational interests and academic pursuits. 

What can you tell us about any internships, fellowships, or unique experiences you have had during your time at the Colin Powell School? 

One of the opportunities that I have greatly enjoyed while at City College is working as a statistics tutor, peer coach, and student advisor in the Psychology Department under the supervision of Sophia Barrett and Professor Brett Silverstein. These opportunities have been very beneficial in enhancing my relationships with professors and communication with fellow students. These opportunities have also introduced me to the world of counseling as I must listen to the problems of those who come to seek my help and find a solution to their problem.

What advice would you give future and current students who are also looking to pursue these sorts of opportunities and experiences?

One piece of advice that I would give students who are looking to pursue similar opportunities is to go for it! Stop putting it off and being shy. Your professors aren’t monsters: speak to them and find out about opportunities that they may know about. It won’t just look good on your resume; you’ll also enjoy it!

Mon, 14 Sep 2020 20:28:05 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/21766
Colin Powell School Graduate Helps Harlem Youth Develop Reading Skills https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/colin-powell-school-graduate-helps-harlem-youth-develop-reading-skills

Charity Reeves

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colin Powell School graduate and former Community Engagement Fellow Charity Reeves recently participated as a panelist for our alumni chat on Child and Youth Development careers. Charity has dedicated her time to reconstructing tools and methods for teacher-parent relationships while also focusing on youth education. While a Community Engagement Fellow, she created her own youth development program, "Harlem Reading Project", now "Mighty Readers", which facilitates harmonious relationships between teachers and parents while building up the reading skills of youth. In response to the pandemic, the project has migrated online, and Charity has been working with her local community network and parents to instill a more effective approach to managing and understanding Google Classrooms. Charity's experiences at the Colin Powell School as a Community Engagement Fellow enabled her to fulfill her passion to serve marginalized communities while focusing on childhood education.

Where are you from and what is your background?

I am originally from the Virgin Islands, St Thomas and it is awesome there! I moved to NYC when I was 12 or 13 and I honestly can say I still hate NYC. When you go from an island to NYC there’s just no getting used to it. The summers are too hot and the winters are too cold. But there really is nowhere else like it. It’s so convenient, you can eat anywhere you’d like, there are so many opportunities for advancement. It’s really about: how hard are you willing to work?

I initially thought I would be an artist, and I applied to LaGuardia. It was so heartbreaking, I did an on-site drawing test and bombed it. I went to Talent Unlimited high school, the cousin of LaGuardia, for singing. I then fell into teenage things and my life changed. During my senior year, I met this guy who became my boyfriend and at the time I didn’t take college very seriously. I got into Norfolk University, and I needed to send $500 to secure my spot, but at that point I had spent all my money on prom. I missed the opportunity to go, and then I found out I was pregnant, and it threw a total monkey wrench into my plans. My mentality changed completely, my main focus was I needed to grind and work hard for my daughter.

When I first applied for City College, I got rejected. It sparked something in me where I felt dedicated to go to CCNY and get in. I started with BMCC, and they tore into me and put me in remedial everything. I thought I was so set with everything and they really just offered as much constructive criticism as possible. BMCC whipped me into shape, managing my schedule, attending classes, re-doing high school. I got my grades up to 3.0, and then finally got into City College. My son was a City College student, too—at the Early Childhood Education Center.

I started volunteering at my local church. These elementary students and middle-school students were hanging out until around midnight. We as a collective began to play games with the kids. That’s where my passion for young people started. Eventually, the kids started asking for help with their homework, and that’s when we realized the kids couldn’t read. We started going to their Parent Teacher Conferences. The principal asked what I was doing there, and I said I had come since the student’s mother didn’t. The principal said the mom never attended the meetings, which I understand because their parents were overwhelmed. So I started going to the meetings, and talking to the parents of the kids to help navigate their learning and reading processes.
 

What brought you to City College and the Colin Powell School?

I started in education, thinking that was the right path for me, but then realized that I didn’t want to be a teacher. I ended up taking a course on the sociology of education. I wanted to understand the family dynamic, and the learning of a child. I love CCNY because I could pick and choose what I wanted to learn about to help me in helping children. So I would learn these things at CCNY and bring them back to the afterschool program. My research project was based on the “Jam Kids”, and we would make cute little videos. I was very intentional: I didn’t want it to be a church program, I wanted it to be inclusive to all no matter what race or gender. We got people to fund the program, and it was amazing that we could build a team together just from what I learned at CCNY. It has just been such an amazing journey.

 

What was your concentration at the Colin Powell School, what is your passion or purpose behind pursuing this concentration?

It was initially Psychology, then it was Sociology which showed me the way the environment shapes the person you are. Psychology is the individual and the world, and Sociology is just the world and how it affects the person. That’s what I wanted to understand about the person: what they are learning on the street that’s shaping them into who they’re becoming. I wanted to learn how I could integrate more helpful tools for their growth. In the Sociology department, Professor Gwen Dordick is absolutely amazing, I love her! She was that professor who drove it home for me. She’s just so rounded in so many areas, and she encourages you to think. I feel like she was the first professor as a Sociology professor to make the students leave those emotions at the door, and to leave those stereotypes and biases when looking at the world.

And with Sociology, a lot of people can get stuck in their own personal biases and find it hard not to bring how we were socialized. She really blew my mind and allowed us to see how our own biases can really cloud our judgment. That helped to push what I was doing, because initially I was blown away at how little reading skills these kids had, and I immediately began to wonder how I could help. Then I started talking to teachers, parents, and the DOE. I got numbers, and it showed how low socioeconomic communities struggle, because the correlation between the environments they’re in and schools they’re in contribute to education levels, and it’s all layered. But if I really want to tackle the problems, then I need to go with the facts, not the emotions side of it. We have to observe the way we view things.
 


How would you say the Colin Powell School has helped you to get where you want to be?

The teachers I engage with really care. I’ve gone to school before and you can be in a class and leave and get no experience. But with every class in the Colin Powell School, I left impacted, and my life was changed in some way. My thinking and mindset was changed. These professors are invested in what they teach and help us understand. Even with research, you need to gain the skills to know how to conduct research and embrace it passionately. Through the Community Engagement Fellowship, I began to really structure out my program and fire out the networking structure, so that the idea permeated from the teachers, to the programs, to the offices. There’s a prideful sense to the Colin Powell School, we’re not just making students, we’re making the future. It’s super down to earth, and even when our Fellowship cohort went to DC last year, that mentality was prevalent in our group. It’s not just small talk, it’s always deeper issues. My biggest regret is that I waited until the last year to join these programs!


 
What can you tell us about your employment with Harlem Reading Project?

When it was time for me to choose a community research project, I remembered a key factor, which is that parents are exhausted and tired. But there’s still work that parents have to do so that they can be a partner with their schools. I had this mission statement set, because I had my kids able to read by the time they were three. So when my kids went to public school they were already above a level. I was reading to my kids every night and would have their siblings read to them as well. So when I saw Community Engagement, I thought it’d be the perfect time to test the program.

I went to Theatre Chairman Rod Barren, and I spoke to him about my idea. He said they had an entire class that was for teachers to go to classes to speak with students. Harlem Reading Project could be my project, so I told them about my Fellowship project, and the book I wanted to use. They created this entire curriculum, and I took it to a school and pitched it to the principal, and he was like, “This is amazing” and he knew of the Colin Powell Fellowship, and asked me “You’re a part of this?”

The Theatre program came in to act out the program curriculum I had set, and then Dean Rich set me up with an intern, Arlind Kacarani, who is now a Koch Fellow alum. Mighty Readers, and the Harlem Reading Project is still a partnership with the school and Theatre program. Parent engagement and community engagement is still a massive focus for me, it’s all about community needs and us serving to build a stronger community.

 

What are some plans to navigate around COVID?

Virtual learning was awful. But being a parent and having done virtual learning, I can see why it’s tough for parents who already feel that the teachers are responsible for teaching kids to read. So now the parents are drowning and feeling confused by Google Classroom, which is the main structure that the DOE is using. I know how to use Google Classroom, so I’m working on a workshop to help parents with tools and methods to understand Google Classroom. I want to help them navigate the application, and it’s great because parents can check to see if their kids submitted their homework. Another thing I’m currently working on is social-emotional learning so that the parents and teachers can work together hand in hand. I am working on a format schedule for parents to learn how to balance these things.

 

What advice would you give students and alumni who are also looking to pursue these sorts of opportunities and this sort of employment?

Utilize your networks, especially through CCNY. With City College it was rare for me to find a professor who didn’t care. They are so passionate about what they do, and whatever major you’re in is a massive network with the professors and that community. Even when I went to the Theatre department, they were so excited and helpful. The highlight for me was getting a meeting with President Boudreau. I showed him the layout of my project, and at the time I was already working at PS 194. Immediately, President Boudreau started giving me guidance, and was telling me how he knows a Senator who’s excited about education reform. We spoke about metrics. He helped me structure my entire program. The networking at CCNY is crazy; you just have to talk to people.

Whenever I struggle, I go back to CCNY for help. Before I even had a full-fledged program, people were fully invested. Being a Community Engagement Fellow was life-changing. A major event was Service Day, PS 194 was so thankful for the Fellows coming for Service Day to play and hang out with the kids. The superintendent was so excited, and they had this idea that seeing these CCNY students could push these young kids into someday even attending CCNY. I felt like CCNY is a bridge between the communities and it truly was so special to be a part of that, and to continue to help these communities.

 

Wed, 26 Aug 2020 15:52:27 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/21662
Alumnus Jose Lopez-Hernandez Fights for Immigrants' Rights https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/alumnus-jose-lopez-hernandez-fights-immigrants-rights

Jose Lopez HernandezColin Powell School graduate Jose Lopez-Hernandez recently celebrated his two-year anniversary working with the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights. A beneficiary of DACA, Jose knows first-hand about the struggles immigrants face on their paths towards lawful residency. As a CCNY student, Jose spent a semester in DC interning for Congressman Adriano Espaillat and proved himself to be a strong advocate for immigrants. Through his time working in the Congressman’s office and with the Democratic Governors Association, Jose developed a network of contacts that helped him to be hired by the NMCIR and continue his work to serve immigrant communities. Jose’s experiences provided by his time at the Colin Powell School have helped him to achieve a rewarding career that is vital to his community.

 

Where are you from and what is your background?

I was born in Mexico City, Mexico. At the age of 5, I was brought to the U.S., along with my younger sister, by our mother to live in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., a small city upstate where my Dad had been working to provide for us back in Mexico. Although I was only 5 years old and not aware of everything, it was still a challenge to adapt to a new way of life; one where I would have to learn a new language and culture and also later realize how my immigration status would limit my opportunities. Growing up in upstate NY further showed me first-hand how few resources there were for aspiring first-generation college students like me; the majority of college information sessions were in English, which only made it more challenging for my parents to understand the process. At the time, no state financial aid was available to undocumented students, and my immigration status prevented me from being eligible for College credit classes while in high school. It wasn’t until the summer of 2012 that former President Obama issued his executive order that established DACA. Through DACA, I was able to obtain an Employment Authorization Document that allowed me to legally work, get a driver’s license, and feel a sense of relief. It is because of my experiences and hardships as a first-generation college student that I knew I wanted to make a difference in my community.

What brought you to City College and the Colin Powell School?

After getting my Associates Degree from Dutchess Community College, I knew I wanted to continue my education in New York City, more specifically at CUNY. My original interest was to do architecture, and City College was the only CUNY campus to offer that program, but after much thought, I decided that my passion was greater for the social sciences. I loved the CCNY campus and its variety of programs and activities, and I therefore applied to the International Studies program at the Colin Powell School.

What did you study at the Colin Powell School?

I majored in International Studies with a concentration in International Relations and a minor in Public Policy. I pursued this because I wanted to get a well-rounded education to pursue a career in government and nonprofit work. I was also particularly interested in learning about world politics to get a good sense of why things are the way they are. Public policy allowed me to learn about the importance of policy making and its challenges, specifically in the U.S. I was always interested in learning about why the U.S.’s immigration system was broken, why DACA recipients like me did not have a path to Citizenship.

The Colin Powell School pushed me to think outside the box. The majority of my professors were helpful and willing to go out of their way to help me. One professor in particular, Dr. Leslie Paik from the Sociology department, pushed me to apply to the Semester in DC program. I remember being concerned that my immigration status would not allow me to apply or that I would be in jeopardy of deportation by being in D.C. and so close to federal agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security. The coursework is rigorous and gets you to be a critical thinker. The Colin Powell School as a whole has given me the confidence to believe in my potential.

What can you tell us about your participation in the Semester in DC in 2018 and your internship with Congressman Espaillat?

The Semester in DC program was life-changing to say the least. The way the program is set up allowed me to fully immerse myself in my classes, my internships, and the DC experience. By housing with classmates in the same program, we were able to be each other’s support system, learn from each other, and have similar schedules where we could enjoy museums and other activities together. We had exceptional speakers come to our classes and share their experiences and give us career advice. While in DC, I had the chance to intern at both Congressman Espaillat’s Office and at the Democratic Governors Association. I would spend more time at the Congressman’s Office because I was needed for more projects that included speaking in Spanish. It was important to me to intern for Congressman Espaillat because he too was undocumented at one point. He was a strong advocate for DACA and immigrants as a whole. During my internship, I was able to attend congressional briefings and write memos for his staff. I even had the opportunity to write a brief statement for the Congressman to read on the House floor.

What can you tell us about your employment with the executive director of the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights (NMCIR) and how you successfully procured the position?

One of the things I learned in DC was the importance of networking, and I did just that to land my current job at NMCIR. After graduating, I reached out to Congressman Espaillat’s chief of staff, who is based in Harlem-Washington Heights, to see if she could connect me with an organization in upper Manhattan. She immediately put me in touch with the executive director at NMCIR who was looking for an administrative assistant, and within two weeks I was hired. 

At NMCIR, I have seen how community-based organizations are a lifeline for underrepresented individuals. COVID-19 has only reinforced this notion - it is organizations like NMCIR that are on the frontlines providing vital legal services, food assistance, and when available, cash assistance. Through my role, I provide direct support to the legal department and also assist the general operations of the organization. I continue to learn about immigration law and how a reform is overdue to provide undocumented families, not just DREAMers, a path towards lawful status. I also had the opportunity this past November to participate in a press conference with Congressman Espaillat and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer to speak in support of DACA when the Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments on the case.

What advice would you give students and alumni who are also looking to pursue opportunities at a nonprofit organization?

I would say that the hard work in the nonprofit sector is worth it and rewarding. Nonprofits serve the most marginalized people in our communities, and you will find that you can make a difference in people's lives through this vital work. These experiences tend to be life-changing and allow you to see first-hand what the actual needs of communities are. There are many organizations throughout the five boroughs and beyond, in all types of fields, that are always looking for volunteers or interns, and I strongly believe this type of work can give students a solid foundation and long-lasting learning experiences that can be carried onto any career.

 

Mon, 27 Jul 2020 15:18:53 -0400 Colin Powel School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/21506
Business and Economics Alumni of CCNY Remembers Lecturer Len Trugman https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/business-and-economics-alumni-ccny-remembers-lecturer-len-trugman

Business and Economics Alumni of CCNY Remembers Lecturer Len Trugman

Len Trugman was a family first guy; you knew about that from the moment you walked into his classroom. He loved to show photos of his grandchildren discuss the accomplishments of his children. To some he was Professor, to others Sir, to me he was Truggy.  

When I signed up for Principles of Management with Truggy, it was just another class. Over the semester back in 2010, he was kind enough to let me get to know him.  He was full of truths about life. I remember one day while eating lunch with him in the CCNY cafeteria, I asked him about team leadership, his answer went back to his first love, his family.  He told me “When you lead a team, any team, anywhere, treat your team like your family”.  That is something that stuck with me.  As President of Business and Economics Alumni, I do not treat the board like family, they are my family.  

A year later in Operations and Production Management, he taught me everything I needed to know about cost, efficiency, quality, and inventory.  He said, “they’re all important, but the only one worth increasing costs for is improving quality”. Over another lunchtime conversation about the quality, he stopped for a second and told me “People can increase quality in a major way for free, but it means increasing the quality of who they are as people, leaders, and managers.  To do so means relying on family and those you care about, to be honest with you”.  What Truggy said that day is something I always carry with me and will never forget.  

It is those two lessons and many others that I pass on to students, employees, and most of all family.  I pass them on because they came from a source full of experience. Truggy received his BME from CCNY in 1960, later earned a Ph.D. in engineering, then went back to school and earned an MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson in 1975.  He was also CEO of Del Global Technologies.  He was a lecturer from 2001 – 2017.  He also had 2 patents.  

I would always joke with him that when it came to Operations Management, as long as he was around, I would always be second best. Truggy may no longer be with us but I still have a long way to go to get to that level. I am certain though that I will pass on lessons I have learned from him for decades to come.
    
 F.  Charles Ranieri – Class of 2013
 President of Business and Economics Alumni

 

Mr. Trugman was a dedicated professor who the best interests of his students in mind.  He was always available to give advice and to promote real world applications of that advice. He filled us with joy with his stories about his work experience and constantly brought up his utmost joy, his family. One of the best memories I have of him was when he started the class by going over a business article written by his son from the morning paper that day. This brought him so much joy. My heart goes out to his whole family.  We will miss you, Mr. Trugman. Thank you. Rest in peace.

Rosanlis Bido – Class of 2017
Vice President of Business and Economics Aluimni


It is with a heavy heart that I have learned about the passing of Professor Trugman. He was truly a great educator and a man of unique wisdom; he will be greatly missed.

Berrin Altan – Class of 2007
Board Member, Business and Economics Alumni


Trugman, AKA the Brooklyn boy. He made everyone feel very comfortable with his calm voice, hilarious jokes, and family stories. He used all of that to merge management and life lessons in an unforgettable way. Thank you Professor Trugman for your many years of service and experience that you were always happy to pass on to others. You will be greatly missed and will be forever in our hearts. May you Rest in Peace.

Shamima Akhter – Class of 2015
Board Member Elect – Business and Economics Alumni

 

Thu, 04 Jun 2020 12:40:33 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/21323
Congratulations to our Class of 2020 Valedictorian and Salutatorians! https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/congratulations-our-class-2020-valedictorian-and-salutatorians

Congratulations to our Class of 2020 Valedictorian and Salutatorians


 

The Colin Powell School for Civic and Global leadership is pleased to announce the 2020 Valedictorian and Salutatorians for the Class of 2020.

 
Valedictorian: Randall Conway

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Randall Conway is a Political Science major whose research interests focus on realism in international politics. After growing up in Connecticut, Randall enlisted in the Air Force at age 17. He spent six years (2007-2013) in Bioenvironmental Engineering stationed at Kirtland AFB. During that time, he also deployed to Iraq as a Third Country National (TCN) escort where he was able to speak to workers from throughout the Middle East. This sparked his interest in international politics because he wanted a deeper understanding of why the US invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. After his time in the military, Randall worked in retail and as a civilian in the Department of Defense before beginning college at Central Connecticut State University. In Autumn 2018, he transferred to City College. Spurred on by the works of John Mearsheimer, Kenneth Waltz, as well as many others, Randall developed a keen interest in why states go to war, form alliances, and behave as they do in the international environment. In addition to his interest in international politics, Randall enjoys arguing domestic policy with his fellow “political nerd” friends, reading philosophy, cycling, and music. Before deciding to study political science, he entertained the idea of being a composer and music theorist and he still frequently visits Lincoln Center to see performances by the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera. He is headed to the University of Chicago to pursue a PhD in the fall.


 
Salutatorian: Saudia Baksh

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Saudia Baksh is a Macaulay Honors College student, and she will be graduating with a BS in Psychology. Saudia’s path to City College was inspired by her longing to experience all that a vibrantly diverse and innovative urban campus has to offer. A native of Long Island, her daily commute helped her embrace a metropolitan perspective and adopt a greater sense of community. She has served as a board member for the City Honors Illustrious Mentor Program, where she aids underclassmen in maximizing personal and professional goals through a course of study. Saudia has volunteered and interned with various organizations that support the needs of youth with developmental disabilities. Her work with this population has inspired her to research the phenotype of adult-onset ADHD for her honors thesis within the Colin Powell School. She is driven to advocate for change within the education system by widening the availability of psychological testing in underserved areas. In the fall, Saudia will be entering a School Psychology graduate program at Teachers College, Columbia University.

 
Salutatorian: Amanda Khellawon

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Amanda Khellawon is a Bronx resident and a Business and Economics major. Amanda was born in Guyana and migrated to the United States with her mother in 2014. “Adapting to a new environment was never an easy task,” Amanda writes, “but it was indeed an experience that taught me so many intangibles.” Amanda credits her mother with supporting her so that she can pursue her education. With her mother focusing on work, Amanda became the primary decision maker in family affairs, a development that she has found at times overwhelming, but also one that has taught her many invaluable lessons at a young age. Before college, Amanda dreamed of becoming a lawyer, and entered CCNY expecting to study political science. But through her course work in the Colin Powell School, she discovered a passion for the finance field, with a particular interest in investment. Amanda has been selected to be a summer intern at Deerfield Management, a biotechnology private equity firm, after which she hopes to work full-time at a corporate or an investment firm while she hones in on a specialized field to pursue in graduate school.

 
Salutatorian: Amelia Smyth

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Amelia Smyth is a Long Island native who was originally dra