Student Stories

June 15, 2021
    Finding Strength in Setbacks, from Hurricane María to Mental Health    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… Read More »


June 15, 2021
    “I want to make us proud of who we are” — Rose Crisostomo Cabrera on Service and Career-Building at the Colin Powell School     Rose Crisostomo Cabrera grew up in Washington Heights and Inwood after migrating with her mother from the Dominican Republic. A first-generation college student, Rose developed an interest in economics and finance and was elected as a student senator. While seizing opportunities to intern and build her career in finance, Rose has also been dedicated to supporting her fellow students to realize their own potential.     Please share a little about… Read More »


May 18, 2021
​​           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… Read More »


May 18, 2021
                    Hebh Jamal 2021 Salutatorian for Colin Powell School     Where are you from? Please share a little of your story.  I come from immigrant Palestinian parents who landed in the Bronx, which is where I have lived my whole life. Before I arrived at City College, I spent a majority of my high school years tackling school segregation and education inequalities. I went to a majority white high school where microaggressions and subtle racism were the norm. It was also during the time Trump got elected as president and it was a turbulent and political… Read More »


May 17, 2021
                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… Read More »


May 17, 2021
                  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… Read More »


May 17, 2021
                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… Read More »


April 20, 2021
  “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… Read More »


April 20, 2021
  Nonya 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… Read More »


January 19, 2021
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… Read More »


Subscribe to Colin Powell School Students Blog