Colin Powell School Students Blog https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/ en 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
“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
​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
“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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
“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
“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
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

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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
Justice for Palestine and Beyond: Hebh Jamal on the Power of Student Activism https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/justice-palestine-and-beyond-hebh-jamal-power-student-activism

 

 

 

 

Hebh Jamal

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 time for students across the country. So with other students, I helped organize a major student walkout in 2017 as a response to issues that affected us. I think that period of my life was so crucial to why I wanted to pursue activism and advocacy. I saw how it changed conversations simply when people organized, and organized together.

2. What brought you to City College?

I did not want to go to a school that wasn’t diverse. I think that was one of my main concerns, repeating the isolating experience that I felt in high school. Thankfully, City College is one of the most diverse colleges in the country, and I benefited from being around so many different types of people.

 

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

Palestine was my passion. More generally, tackling issues such as state-sanctioned violence and colonialism. As a Palestinian, it was really in college that I got a more holistic understanding of what it means to be Palestinian in the diaspora. To be told I am a foreigner even though my family did not leave their land on their own accord. It was a goal of mine to combat this violent narrative, a narrative that erases my identity and my people’s history. I was the president of CCNY’s Students for Justice in Palestine, and I think we did exactly what the title of the club entails — we fought for justice. 

4. How did City College and the Colin Powell School help you in your career?

I think my career at CCNY helped me become a more rounded person. It taught me to be hyper critical and to never be complacent in what I think I know. Currently I live in Germany, and want to spend the rest of my education pursuing a PhD that expands on the things I did at CCNY. 

5. Please tell us about a significant memory or accomplishment from your time at City College.

I am really proud of the Arthur Tiedman Undergraduate History Paper award. I was told by a colleague one time that I was not a good history student, that I did not think about causation of historical time periods in a critical way. Very shortly after, I won this award for a paper about how a lot of the enlightenment was influenced by Islam and Muslims. So yeah, that felt nice. 

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

Enjoy your time at CCNY. It’s probably one of the best memories you will make. 

Tue, 18 May 2021 12:03:04 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/23199
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
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
“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
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
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

randall conway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

amelia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amelia Smyth is a Long Island native who was originally drawn to the Colin Powell School because of its location in New York City and its diverse student body. At City College, Amelia is an International Studies, Economics, and Jewish Studies triple major. She is a recipient of the United Nations Association Emerging Leaders Fellowship and is currently a Jeannette K. Watson Fellow. Over the course of her Watson Fellowship, Amelia has had the opportunity to learn about socioeconomic inequalities in New York City during an internship at TransitCenter and later, peacebuilding and international development while interning at The Fund for Peace in Washington DC. In addition, her passion for empowering vulnerable groups and strengthening fragile nations led her to study indigenous rights and the Spanish language in Guatemala and learn about international development and the politics of the European Union during a semester abroad in Spain. After graduation, Amelia will be completing her Jeannette K. Watson fellowship with one final internship. She is beyond grateful for the support she has received at CCNY, both in the Colin Powell School and in the Jewish Studies Department and looks forward to putting what she has learned at City College into practice within the international development sphere.

Mon, 11 May 2020 21:54:11 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/21166
Message from Dean Andrew Rich, March 18, 2020 https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/message-dean-andrew-rich-march-18-2020

Dear Colin Powell School Students,

I write to share updates and to encourage you to stay in close touch with us at the Colin Powell School via email, phone, and social media as we adjust to social distancing. This has been a difficult week, and we are living through a period of tremendous uncertainty. As we prepare to resume classes remotely tomorrow, our first priority is the health and safety of students, staff and faculty. Toward that end, we have spent the past week retooling courses and adjusting operations. We look forward to being back underway with instruction—albeit remotely—tomorrow.

Some updates:

  1. Classes resume tomorrow: Thursday, March 19th. You should hear from your instructors about how classes will proceed, what platforms will be used, and how the syllabus will be adjusted. These messages will mostly likely go to your CCNY email address, so please be sure you are checking that every day. If you are unsure about how a class will “meet,” reach out to your instructors. If questions remain, you can check with department chairs and program directors, or with advisers or those of us in the dean’s office. Retooling classes quickly to teach online is not easy, and there will be bumps in the road in the coming days. It is crucial that we communicate. As you have questions, be in touch for answers.  
     
  2. Advisers are available to you. The Colin Powell School Advising Office is up and running online. For those of you majoring in Colin Powell School programs who are in need of advice or consultation on current classes or about registration decisions for the fall, please be in touch with one of our advisers over email. They are available for email and phone consultations: Scarlett Farray, Maria Moran, Herbert Seignoret, and Aldonsa Tejada. Departmental advisers are also available via email; consult department website for more information on that.
     
  3. Learn Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and Zoom. Instructors will use a variety of technology platforms for classes, but it looks like most are going to use Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and Zoom. I encourage you to watch these short videos for guidance on how to use each: Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and Zoom. There’s a lot more guidance available online for both platforms—poke around on YouTube.
     
  4. Free internet available for students. Several internet service providers are offering free wifi and other accommodations to facilitate distance learning. Check here for specific guidance. In addition, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint and Comcast have announced additional services, including the removal of data caps and waiver of late fees. Check with your individual carrier for details on what’s available.
     
  5. Peer mentoring and stress management. We are moving quickly to expand our peer mentoring program, whereby you can work with trained graduate students on stress management and self-care. You can sign up to participate in peer mentoring here, or you can send an email to peernavigationccny@gmail.com . Peer mentoring is confidential. It is very hard to navigate all of the changes in our world right now. We all need to help one another. Please ask for help as you need it.
     
  6. Follow us on social media. The Colin Powell School will be more active than ever on social media. We will share important updates there, and we will just stay in touch—with stories, opportunities, and profiles. Since we can’t be in person-to-person contact, social media becomes all the more important. Please follow us @cpowellschool on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and/or Facebook.

Official updates and announcements about CCNY’s response to COVID-19 and changes to college life come from President Boudreau and other senior administrators. This is a very fluid situation, and the College is making decisions that result in additional guidance. Keep an eye on your CCNY email account for these updates, and you can review these announcements on the CCNY website here.

Please take good care of yourselves. Stay healthy. And don’t hesitate to be in touch with questions.

Andy Rich

Wed, 18 Mar 2020 10:25:32 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/20788
MPA Student Selected for BEQ Magazine 40 LGBTQ Leaders Under 40 List https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/mpa-student-selected-beq-magazine-40-lgbtq-leaders-under-40-list

For most of her young professional life, Kalima Mckenzie-Simms has dedicated herself to helping schools become safer places for LGBTQ youth.

Under her leadership, the PFLAG Safe Schools Program has more than tripled its presence in New York City schools. The program counters homophobia, transphobia, and bullying; gives LGBTQ students the support they often lack at home; and educates school communities about sexual orientation and gender identity.

In recognition of her tireless and passionate work, Mckenzie-Simms was selected to be part of the 2020 Cohort of 40 LGBTQ Leaders Under 40, an annual list published by Business Equality (BEQ) Magazine.

PFLAG is one of the oldest national, member-based organizations advancing LGBTQ rights. Mckenzie-Simms rose from being a beneficiary of PFLAG’s programs to interning and eventually managing one of its most influential programs.

She is now a graduate student in the Colin Powell School’s Master’s in Public Administration Program and plans to continue expanding her life-long work for LGBTQ rights after graduation.

Read the BEQ profile here. 

Tue, 04 Feb 2020 13:00:00 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/20518
Unity, Humility, and Powerful Storytelling: Stanley Azuakola Discusses the Keys to Making Global Change https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/unity-humility-and-powerful-storytelling-stanley-azuakola-discusses-keys


Stanley Azuakola is an international student currently earning his Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) degree at City College. He was recently selected to join the British Council’s Future Leaders Connect, a network of emerging social leaders from around the globe. Before coming to study in the US, Azuakola was politically engaged in his home country, creating new online platforms to improve civic dialogue and participation. In this interview, Azuakola discusses his path to the Colin Powell School, his activism, and his recent experience with the British Council in London.


Please tell me a little about your background and how it influenced your consciousness of social issues. 

I am from Nigeria. I am the second of four in my family. I was born in Port Harcourt in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region where most of the country’s oil exploration takes place. Yet, the region remains underdeveloped and bears the environmental consequences of oil extraction. In a particular community, a United Nations assessment found a few years ago that drinking water is contaminated with benzene that was more than 900 times above recommended levels. While residents suffer in sickness and poverty, the government and international oil companies make massive profits and look the other way. That tragedy was one of my earliest motivations for choosing a career in public service.

What brought you to City College and the Colin Powell School?

I considered several options when I decided to do an MPA in the United States. What came through for me in my research and conversations was that City College provided the most opportunities and tools for its students to make social impact, compared to the other places I considered. An MPA degree for me was more than just preparing for a career in public service. I wanted a place where I was confident of receiving the best support and training to be able to use evidence to make the greatest impact on Nigeria and in my world. I believe public policy has the power to change things, to change the world, but without the right framework or skillset, one would be bound to repeat the mistakes of the past. Of all my options, City College and the Colin Powell School looked like the most valuable for me - in terms of how it prepared its students, the quality of the faculty, the practical learning that takes place within and outside its walls, the cost of the program compared to the value it provides, as well as the diversity of the staff and student population.

What motivates you to dedicate your career to public service?

Nigeria has the highest number of extremely poor people in the world. Up to 90 million people in the country survive on less than $1.90 daily. These friends, family, and neighbors are unable to afford basic human needs like food, sanitation facilities, and shelter. Those are the people I care about. That is why I want to be in public service. I am interested in economic policy – especially on issues around poverty and inequality. Currently, I am doing research on those in the fringes of society in New York and Lagos (Nigeria). The two cities are similar. Heavily populated commercial cities with high levels of inequality. I focus on how the poor survive in those cities, and what sort of transformational solutions can be gleaned directly from poor people living in either society that would be useful for the other.

Tell me about your path and the work you did before coming to the Colin Powell School.

My undergraduate degree was in Electrical Engineering at the University of Benin in Nigeria, but I did not practice as an engineer. I worked for a few years after graduation in the media across print, broadcast, and online platforms. A few years ago, I founded and edited Nigeria’s first online newspaper dedicated solely to politics and policy. I worked briefly in government – first in a presidential council on the ease of doing business, and later as an adviser to the Minister of Trade and Investment. 

Last year I founded Civic Monitor just before Nigeria’s general elections. My team designed a voter-knowledge platform called Know-Your-Candidates (KYC). It was a web application which provided the positions of Nigeria’s presidential candidates concerning the top issues for voters before the elections. A voter could go on the site and choose an issue along with a candidate, and the platform presented the positions of that candidate compared to the others. Thanks to support from Facebook and other organizations, KYC reached millions of Nigerians before the elections and helped citizens compare candidates on the issues so that they could make informed choices on election day.

How would you say the Colin Powell School is helping you to get where you want to be?

One of the most important things I have learned, which I am already applying to the way I think about my work and policy problems, has been a framework on ‘transformation vs. reformation’. It is an important framework which has impacted the way I think about issues. Too often we fail to look at root causes in our attempts to solve societal problems. We choose the quick fixes and easy solutions, but they do not create lasting or inclusive change if we do not try to transform the conditions that led to the problem in the first place. Something else which has been such a huge benefit for me has been the diversity of the Colin Powell School and City College in general. I know this sounds intangible but trust me when I say that the different perspectives that I hear at City College consistently provide me with ideas and teachable moments. It is priceless.

Can you tell us more about the Future Leaders Connect event and how it helped prepare you for the future?

The Future Leaders Connect program is a network of emerging policy leaders from about 15 countries, including the United States. Once you are part of the network, you are part of it for life. The most beneficial aspect for me has been developing connections with other policy leaders doing amazing work in their various countries. It is inspiring to meet and learn so much from people doing what I consider to be important work in their countries, changing lives, and tackling big issues. 

The event for new members of the Future Leaders Connect network, which I attended last month, happens once a year in London. We met with the Speaker of the British House of Commons, lawmakers, heads of nonprofits, social entrepreneurs, and international development organizations. We discussed some of the biggest policy challenges facing some of our countries and the world today. We also spent a few days at the Churchill College of the University of Cambridge, where we took part in an advanced policy and leadership program and refined and sharpened our policy action plans for the change we want to make. 

What advice would you offer students and alumni who want to make social change? 

I believe that we need good allies, more humility, and great narratives. We need humility because the crises we face are so massive that any victory achieved by anyone is almost certainly not going to be enough. We need humility to recognize our limitations, celebrate victories, but be raring to go again. Humility also helps us appreciate the hard work others are doing, without having airs about the superiority of our own work. We are all in this together. And that is why having and cultivating good allies is powerful. We cannot solve the issues our world faces in isolation. Climate change, the wave of migration, poverty, inequality, healthcare, and terrorism – all these issues will require allies joining hands. Allies could be classmates, colleagues or even countries.

Lastly, change makers must tell true stories. We have to identify stories, master and share them. Policies flow from the stories we tell. If your narrative is that the poor are lazy freeloaders, you would cut safety nets. If your narrative is that healthcare is a civil right, you would push for universal healthcare. It all begins with a story. Change agents, I believe, must master storytelling – their own stories and those of the communities they serve.   

Thank you, Stanley Azuakola, for sharing your perspective with us.  

Mon, 16 Dec 2019 15:56:10 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/20049
“You Miss 100% of the Shots You Don’t Take” https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/you-miss-100-shots-you-dont-take


MPA Student Elvin Garcia was selected as one of only three recipients of the notable Open Society Foundations Presidential Fellowship


Can you tell us about yourself, where are you from and what brought you to the Colin Powell School? 

I was born in Brooklyn and raised in the Bronx. My parents are from the Dominican Republic. Like many Dominican families, we started in Washington Heights and there my mom, a single mom, raised me and my two siblings. We then settled into the West Bronx, in the Soundview area shortly after. I was a public school kid, K-12. My oldest sister is a CCNY alum from her undergraduate days. 

What brought me to CCNY was that I had a life-changing, career-changing chapter after three and a half years at City Hall. I ran for City Council in my local neighborhood, and I lost. It’s definitely harder than it looks with all the experience I had. Being a candidate as opposed to working on campaigns is tough and there are a lot of things that made the outcome what it was, but I learned a lot. 

I thought to myself, I hustled a lot in my twenties, I made pretty impressive steps in my career, so I took some much needed time off. I healed my wounds and now that I’m in my 30’s, I wanted to go back to school and I thought, why not? I wanted to formalize a lot of my practical skills in government and public service--the things I had learned through experience rather than academically. Coming to CCNY is probably the best decision that I made in my life. For one thing, I know my sister got her education here, so that was never an issue for me. I knew that I wanted something affordable and something local and the MPA program had spoken to what I had already been working on. So it was almost a perfect match. It was based in Harlem, not too far away to be back in an academic setting. I love being a student again. 

What is your concentration and what programs have you participated in while at the Colin Powell School?

I applied to the New York Life Graduate Fellows Program this year and received it. I am focusing on addressing the lack of civic engagement. What are the common themes on how we can get more people civically engaged? My pitch to the community was surrounding the 2020 census. I want to identify census data and voter data that will show how many people with lower income filled out the census data compared to higher-income people, and compare that to voting behavior between the two groups. Lower-income people have to go out to voter sites that require a lot more and there are a lot of obstacles in their way, like voter apathy. Those two things are parallel in what gets people up and going. If down the line, New York offered vote by mail, that would alleviate a lot of problems for low-income families to vote. We already have proof that they have filled out the census at a higher rate than they actually vote. I also plan on taking a deeper dive into why people really do not get engaged. Is it a lack of civics in schools, is it the political culture in certain communities, lack of choices, or something else? 

What originally sparked your interest in the Open Society Foundations? 

OSF is among the largest funders of civil rights organizations in the country and, as someone who has worked in spaces trying to create change from the government side, from the activism side, I have found myself very curious about how philanthropy has played a role in effecting change and supporting organizations that are on the ground, doing the work at an international scale. Having worked in the largest city in the country, worked with some heads of state on some issues, met people while working on the Obama campaign, but never really worked on that level, that scale really attracts me. I am also interested in how to build coalitions and achieve a certain goal at an international organization, something that is brand new to me. Knowing the mission, background and goals of Patrick Gaspard [the President of OSF] himself, is someone I relate to as an organizer and George Soros as well. His philosophy around the transparency of government and human rights, and how I can play a role in that, sounded really interesting and exciting. It also felt like a really opportune time, given my experiences and where I’m at as a grad student, I felt like this was exactly where I needed to be, and it just fit like a glove.

What do you hope to bring or get out of this experience?

I hope to learn a lot. The outgoing fellows have explained that this new class’s experience will be different from theirs, because this time it will be a two-year fellowship, full time in the Executive Office of the President, working under his leadership. And there will be a new policy unit within that office, so we will be working directly on the policy priorities at the highest level within the OSF on an international scale. It’s exciting and even in my courses here, we have talked about the role of nonprofits and NGOs and the pros and cons of philanthropic organizations, which operates where government fails to act or is too rough or too corrupt or too rigid and slow. I want to come into everything with an open mind. The previous fellows have really opened up conversations on where things could be improved, where there could be some blind spots that have been overlooked, and I plan to take all of their information with me.

What advice can you give to students?

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. I had a great professor who coached me through this, and she was right about a lot. A lot of past OSF fellows have come from the Ivy leagues, like Yale and Columbia. This personal achievement is as much of a big deal to CUNY, City College and the Colin Powell School as it is for me, and I am very cognizant of that. I will definitely be on my “A” game to leave a positive mark and show that CUNY and the MPA program specifically can produce the kind of students that can perform on par with anyone else. I think at the end of the two years after I’ve given it my all and leave my impression, if they give one slot to a CUNY student every year, then I have really accomplished something. This entire process isn’t just about me. My professor was really supportive of everything from the very first step, coaching me through it and helping me to recognize things that I have done that I didn’t think about.  

What do you think is special and unique about the Colin Powell School?  

The Colin Powell School offers a world-class essential skills curriculum as a catalyst for leadership development and professional growth. The unique, very small student-faculty ratio allows for tailored career development support services. Finally, the scale and scope of knowledge among the faculty and administrative staff speak to the values of professional excellence and local-to-global social impact that make the Colin Powell School truly special.

Read more about the Open Society Foundations

Mon, 23 Sep 2019 13:00:00 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/19938
The Inaugural Cohort of the Climate Policy Fellows Program https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/inaugural-cohort-climate-policy-fellows-program

The Climate Policy Fellows Program is designed to support CCNY undergraduate students from the sciences, social sciences, architecture and engineering degree programs with training, professional development, and internship opportunities that link climate-related science, engineering and economics to public policy. Fellows will participate in two intensive three-day workshops led by a range of senior national and international climate policy leaders. The workshops will prepare fellows to understand how science, engineering, and economics research affects public policy, and how policy-making shapes these fields of research.

Climate Policy Fellows
Climate Policy Fellows
Climate Policy Fellows
Climate Policy Fellows
Thu, 19 Sep 2019 13:00:00 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/20110
Boudreau Fellows Apply Financial Economics to the Public Good https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/boudreau-fellows-apply-financial-economics-public-good

The Boudreau Fellows Program honors the Colin Powell School’s inaugural dean, Vince Boudreau. Boudreau Fellows are supported with mentoring, advising and opportunities to engage in special projects, as well as assistance in finding professionally relevant internships in between their two years of support.

Boudreau Fellows are eligible for two years of scholarship support ($5000/year). The second installment of the scholarship is contingent on being in good standing, both academically and within the fellows program.
 

Rainuk Ahmed (pictured above) is a junior studying Economics at the Colin Powell School with a focus in finance. In his Sophomore year, he was part of the Partners for Change Fellowship, researching college access. Rainuk grew up in Qatar. His academic interests are in understanding economics from a micro and macro perspective and utilizing that information in financial decision-making. He is a sports fanatic and a petrol-head. He was brought up by a caring and pragmatic father and a strong and hardworking mother, so he has no excuses to fail. He will persevere to make them proud.

Sabrina Mohammed (pictured below) is a rising junior at the Colin Powell School and Macaulay Honors College at CCNY. She is majoring in economics with a concentration in financial economics. Sabrina is a second-generation Trinidadian-American and who resides in Queens, New York. She’s passionate about her studies, making the Dean’s List each year. When she’s not studying or doing work, you can find her dancing and choreographing with her Bollywood fusion team, City Chaahat. She also enjoys traveling and playing her guitar from time to time. After college, Sabrina would like to go into investment banking.

Wed, 28 Aug 2019 13:00:00 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/20052
Meet the Inaugural Stuart Bernstein Scholars in International Studies https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/meet-inaugural-stuart-bernstein-scholars-international-studies

Thanks to the generosity of former Ambassador Stuart Bernstein, the Colin Powell School launches this fall the Stuart Bernstein Scholarship in International Studies. The inaugural recipients are Nailah Garard and Keith Mulet, both International Studies students. Garard is a senior who is double-majoring in International Studies and Anthropology. She is active in the Politics of Sexual Violence Initiative at the Colin Powell School. Mulet is a first-generation Guatemalan-American also in his senior year majoring in International Studies with a dual BA/MA degree in History as well. He received an award for Best Essay on Women’s History and Feminist Theory while at CCNY and was inducted into the Golden Key International Honor Society. The scholarship provides Garard and Mulet each with $2,500 to support their studies this academic year. 

Nailah Garard is a senior in the Colin Powell School and Macaulay Honors College at City College of New York. She is double majoring in International Studies and Anthropology with a focus on global and local ways to address criminal and health justice. She is earning a pre-law/legal studies degree under the Skadden Arps Honors program with aspirations to work as a public defender. Currently, she is interning at the New York City Comptroller’s office writing policy and legislative background for the 2019 New York City Agency Annual Report Card on minority and women-owned businesses. She is a scholar-activist and researcher for Beyond Identity under the Politics of Sexual Violence initiative where she specializes in black feminist theory, incarceration and gender violence. As a Partners for Change Fellowship recipient, she researched student trauma and student perceptions of health wellness resources available on campus. Her developing political work includes polemics, poetry and visual media to raise sociopolitical consciousness and engage community. On campus, she serves as the City College Chapter Representative for the Roosevelt Institute, Community Service Chair for the National Council of Negro Women, and a peer mentor.

Keith Mulet is a first-generation Guatemalan-American in his final year at the Colin Powell School. As an International Studies undergraduate major, he has paired his education with a dual-BA/MA degree in History in order to gain greater context for understanding International Relations theory and humanitarian policy. While at City College, he has been awarded the Best Essay on Women’s History and Feminist Theory, inducted into the Golden Key International Honour Society, and invited to the National Society of Leadership and Success. As both a native New Yorker and a product of economic displacement in response to the Guatemalan civil war, Keith is passionate about addressing the conditions that drive modern-day displacement, the criminalization of migrants, and the shifting paradigms of race rhetoric employed in political, journalistic and legal discourse. His activism has been featured in the TimesLedger newspaper, The Advocate magazine and in Here! TV’s movie documentary “Here with Pride.” Keith has worked for several local, national and international mission-driven organizations in a wide variety of contexts. His professional experience includes working with child and family service accrediting bodies, LGBTQ youth centers, The Hague international adoption agencies, and, most recently, as an animal welfarist. Inspired by his transnational roots, his work in social advocacy and his scholarly research in migration and race, Keith plans to continue his studies by way of Columbia University’s Master of Science program in Nonprofit Management. He aspires to continue leading the invaluable impact of nonprofit organizations on at-risk communities. Upon graduation from City College, Keith Mulet will be the first in his family to hold a graduate degree.

Wed, 28 Aug 2019 13:00:00 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/20109
Colin Powell School 2019 Valedictorian and Salutatorians https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/colin-powell-school-2019-valedictorian-and-salutatorians

The Colin Powell School for Civic and Global leadership is pleased to announce the 2019 Valedictorian and Salutatorians for the 2019 Colin Powell School commencement.

Valedictorian: Oneika Pryce

Oneika Pryce is a native New Yorker and the daughter of Jamaican-immigrants. Her work ethic and passion for serving vulnerable populations stem from watching her parents work tirelessly to provide for her and her siblings despite having limited resources. At the Colin Powell School, Oneika has majored in International Studies with a concentration in Development and a minor in French. She is focused on understanding the cultures, histories, and languages of different nations.

While at CCNY, Oneika has served as a Colin Powell School Partners for Change Fellow, bringing awareness to food insecurity on campus. She has participated in the Colin Powell School’s Semester in Washington DC Program interning at the National Disability Rights Network, where she researched the intersection of disability, human trafficking, and emergency preparedness. She has also interned with the New York Public Interest Research Group, supporting campaigns that have raised awareness for higher education affordability. Oneika was awarded the U.S. State Department’s Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship to study abroad in Senegal in January 2019.

Currently, Oneika is a Robina Franklin Williams Intern at the Council on Foreign Relations working on creating an online modular program to teach the fundamentals of foreign policy. After graduation, Oneika plans to focus her career on international relations, with the goal of building more community and cross-cultural understanding among different populations. She is grateful for her time at CCNY and is excited to put the civic and global leadership skills that she learned while at the Colin Powell School to work tackling systemic global problems in the years ahead.

 

Salutatorian: David Dam

David Dam’s desire for new experiences brought him to the Colin Powell School from Austin, Texas, his hometown. David has served as a Colin Powell Graduate Fellow, focusing on drug pricing disparities in poorer neighborhoods in New York City and is the recipient of the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship. He will graduate with a BA and MA in Economics along with a minor in Public Policy.

David’s interests in economic research and social change are fueled by the diversity of his classmates and by discussions with professors. After graduation, David will travel to Delhi, India, for an internship with the Brookings Institution India Center for five weeks before returning to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York as a full-time research analyst.

 

Salutatorian: Bryan Guichardo

Bryan Guichardo, a native of the Bronx, is an Anthropology and Black Studies double major. He is the recipient of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, the Lawrence M. Hyman Scholarship, the William Hallett Greene Award, the St. Clair Drake Award, the Audre Lorde Award, and is a Spring 2019 inductee of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society.

Bryan is the President and former Treasurer of the Anthropology Student Association and has worked part-time as a direct support professional helping individuals with physical or intellectual disabilities become better integrated into their communities. He has also been a research assistant with the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute.

In his free time, Bryan enjoys dining out, traveling, rollerblading, and reading about the African Diaspora. He will be entering the Ph.D. program in History at the CUNY Graduate Center in Fall 2019.

Mon, 13 May 2019 13:00:00 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/20108
Connecting Our Struggles: Sophomore Hebh Jamal on Student Leadership and Activism https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/connecting-our-struggles-sophomore-hebh-jamal-student-leadership-and

At the age of fifteen Hebh Jamal became a well-known advocate for education reform, especially for tackling Islamophobia in New York City’s public schools, for which she was featured in the New York Times. In 2017, she organized a citywide student walkout to protest Trump’s travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries. She also co-created the first-ever Citywide Youth Council on School Integration run by IntegrateNYC.  As a Colin Powell School sophomore with a double major in Political Science and History, she serves as the vice president of Students for Justice in Palestine and the youth director of Muslim American Society of New York. She recently gave a TEDxCUNY talk about what fuels her passion for activism. She found a moment to sit down with us to discuss her path and future plans as a civic leader.   

What brought you to the Colin Powell School at City College?

In addition to being accepted to the Colin Powell School, I got into the New School, which is a smaller, private college but is predominantly white and not very diverse. I chose the Powell School because I wanted a more diverse experience. I knew how diverse City College was, and I also knew how politically conscious the students were. I always heard that City College was the pinnacle of activism in New York City. And also, no debt sounded great.

In 2017, you were featured in Teen Vogue for your activism. Could you tell us more about that? 

I was in Teen Vogue because of my student activism. In 2017, I organized a citywide high school walkout, where between 1,000-2,000 students from all across the city were essentially protesting the Trump election, although it was much more than that. The event was trying to point out that student empowerment is incredibly important and everything that happens politically also affects students, in some cases more than other parts of society.

We are called “kids” when we use our voice to enact change, but we’re not kids when we take out a loan that resembles a mortgage in order to go to college. We deserve a platform that elevates our ideas.

What sparked your interest in activism?

In my sophomore year of high school, I read a lot of books on many different topics, and it started to shape my worldview. My history teacher, in his lecture on the Enlightenment, urged us to explore the question, "What does it mean to be human?" and taught us to connect what was happening in Ferguson, MO with things that were happening during the Haitian revolution. We learned about the interconnectedness of what it meant to be a human and how common our humanity was. My interest in activism stemmed from exploring that and realizing that conflicts that happen to people are not as unique as we think. There are very similar roots that connect modern-day conflicts such as the protests in Ferguson, the military occupation of Palestinians in Gaza and the cause of the Haitian revolution. To me, colonialism, imperialism, and the rhetoric of self-determination and freedom are all words that are common to us, but we often don’t realize those pursuits are universal.

What activist work are you currently engaged in?

Today my efforts are a little bit more disjointed, because I see all causes as connected, as I mentioned. I am on the board of an organization that I helped start called Integrate New York City, which aims to specifically tackle segregation within New York City schools. New York has some of the most segregated high school systems in the country. IntegrateNYC was entirely student-built and is now one of the leading advocacy groups in the state for education reform.  I'm also the Youth Director for an organization called Muslim American Society. I'm also the Vice President of Students for Justice in Palestine at City College. I helped organize a rally in Times Square where we had 4,000 people in attendance, and I went to DC to help lobby for legislation that impacts Palestinian human rights. 

Although I do tend to be active around a multitude of issues (be it Palestine, education, or Islamophobia), I’m currently focusing on self-development by reading and learning more. I now realize that I can’t continue my activist work without taking a pause to read and learn. We all need to be open to change in our perspective--and to learn more to be able to enact change. 

What are the pivotal changes that you wish to see while you are a student and in the future?

Currently, I'm exploring the question of whether activism and change are things you can build, or do they just happen sporadically? Every activist's dream is to build something sustainable, right? Something that I want to do here is try to have people understand that being political isn't something that has to be a choice. A lot of our students here are minority students, right? Some of us take the apolitical attitude, not understanding that our mere existence is political in itself. I think, for me, using my highly politicized identity, I want to try to at least talk about the ideas that I constantly think about. I have to say it is hard to vocalize some of these things, just because intellectual discourse on activism, in particular, is rare to find. I am trying to create more spaces for that.

What is your concentration, and why did you choose it?

I am a history and political science double major. I was really interested in political theory and the political climate of the world today, but you can't really get a full understanding of the political climate without looking at various historical time periods and connecting what happened in the past to what's happening today. People often have historical amnesia, where things that happened are specifically unique to that time period. I think that there are connections you can make, broad lessons you can learn by studying history. I also just love reading and writing.   

Where do you hope your current experiences will take you once you complete your degree?

I really want to go into academia. I really like to read. I like writing. I'm exploring intellectual discourse, but I don't want to be disconnected from my community and the issues that affect it. A lot of times, we become super theoretical and rhetorical, instead of focusing on what's really happening. I want to be able to use experiences to potentially become a professor and writer, and use those things together to help communities that are most impacted by injustice.

In closing, your TedXCUNY talk is April 5th. How do you feel about it? What are you going to talk about? 

The biggest challenge I am dealing with right now is finding something that's worth saying that's original, writing something that is authentic and personal, that can also be connected. But going into it, I'm excited about it and I guess this is me before officially having a final product. I hope I'm able to connect my disjointed mind and prepare a coherent speech.

Mon, 29 Apr 2019 13:59:00 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/20050
“I Advocate for Unheard Communities” - Colin Powell Senior Ayyad Algabyali’s Journey From Grassroots Leadership to Public Service https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/i-advocate-unheard-communities-colin-powell-senior-ayyad-algabyalis-journey

As commencement approaches, there are consistent talks surrounding “what’s next’ for many of our graduates. We caught up with graduating senior Ayyad Alyabyali  who is obtaining a double major in International Studies and Political Science and a minor in History to highlight his current experience as a Yemeni-American community advocate to launch a career in government. 


Algabyali is currently the Director of Advocacy at the Yemeni American Merchants Association, a nonprofit organization registered in New York, where he serves as the organization’s principal spokesperson in local, state, and federal government and implements strategies to raise awareness about issues of key importance to the community. 

Yemeni-American bodega owners stepped into the political spotlight in 2017 with a citywide bodega strike to protest the Trump Administration’s travel ban. They recently pledged to stop selling the New York Post to protest what advocates say is its incitement of Islamophobic sentiment. 

Algabyali has helped lead these efforts and is currently advocating for the No Ban Act before the US Congress, which would override President Trump’s executive order prohibiting travelers from several majority-Muslim nations. 

The importance of this work extends beyond the Yemeni-American community, according to Algabyali: 

“I advocate on behalf of unheard communities because I believe it is our duty as citizens of this great nation to live up to our promised democratic values: liberty and freedom, as well as diversity and equality."

“I aspire to advocate for people of all backgrounds to exchange ideas, seek common ground, and build intercultural bridges throughout our community,” he added.”

While at the Colin Powell School, Algabyali has completed internships with former New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, Congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York’s District 10, and The US Embassy in Saudi Arabia. 

Algabyali is also a recipient of the Colin Powell School’s Edward I. Koch Fellowship in Public Service, which provides funding and mentorship to students who dedicate more than 200 hours to unpaid community service.   

“I am very grateful to the Colin Powell School Fellowships Office, which has overwhelmed me with mentorship and empowered me mentally, financially, and educationally,” he said.

“I chose the Powell School because I’m passionate about learning effective ways to promote collaborations among diverse groups, build coalitions, and find fair solutions to common issues facing the global community,” said Algabyali.

In addition to his busy workload as a student, Powell Fellow, and young professional, Algabyali is a recipient of the competitive Gilman International Scholarship. In this role, he is hosting a series of lectures at The Renaissance Charter High School for Innovation, teaching high school students about the importance of civic engagement while also inviting Diplomats, Congressional Staffers, and city government officials as guest speakers. 

He plans to continue his commitment to service after he walks the stage at the 2019 Spring graduation. 

“My name, ‘Ayyad’, means ‘one who leads’ in Arabic,” he said. “As a leader, I will always be interested in identifying ways to harness diversity for the public good.”

Mon, 29 Apr 2019 13:00:00 -0400 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/19953
EcoBiz Student Brandon Aristy Lands Major Dow Jones Internship https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/colinpowellschool/blog/ecobiz-student-brandon-aristy-lands-major-dow-jones-internship

Colin Powell School EcoBiz student Brandon Aristy was one of the few to be selected for the Dow Jones Summer Advertising Sales internship. Through his time at the Colin Powell School over the past 3 years Brandon has shown that with hard work, determination and connections with faculty and staff, he was able to secure this amazing opportunity. 

“The faculty and students in the Colin Powell School helped me grow as an individual. If it were not for the countless advising appointments, tutoring sessions, and priceless conversations I had with my peers, I would not be the person I am today. I have learned, it is not about how much you know, but your ability to connect everything you've learned together. I expect to leverage what I learned in my innovative Internet Marketing course into the Marketing role at Dow Jones with the use of data analytics, consumer psychology, and empathy. Everything that I learned in my Leadership course and Internet Marketing course prepared me for this opportunity. In the end, it comes down to what my adviser in the Colin Powell School told me, "Do not let your major dictate who you are".” 

The Dow Jones Advertising Sales Internship is a 10-week, hands-on immersive program that seeks to enhance the professional development, networking skills, and audience development with students. The program is aimed to shape and transpire great sales talent within those that are selected. It completes this task by providing students with experience working with a talented sales team in the media industry on all platforms. Interns are expected to learn the ins and outs of how to manage the sales process, building long-term client relationships, and gaining an in-depth understanding of Dow Jones, their clients and the industry. 

Brandon stated that a lot of what he has learned at the Colin Powell School will allow him to excel in this program and we believe it will as well. He is a clear example that what you learn is important but also, how you are able to utilize what you’ve learned and being able to apply those teachings to real world experiences are just as important. Congratulations on this amazing achievement, Brandon. 

Wed, 27 Feb 2019 13:00:00 -0500 Colin Powell School https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/node/20111