Student Stories

January 30, 2024

  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,… Read More »


December 05, 2023

  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… Read More »


October 17, 2023

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… Read More »


September 19, 2023

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… Read More »


August 29, 2023

  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… Read More »


June 06, 2023

  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,… Read More »


April 18, 2023

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.… Read More »


April 18, 2023

  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… Read More »


April 18, 2023

  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… Read More »


April 18, 2023

  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… Read More »


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Last Updated: 01/31/2020 15:52