Student, Faculty, and Alumni Stories

  A First-Generation American Passionate About Public Service: The Story of Olakunle Atanda (‘14) Olakunle is a first-generation American of Nigerian descent. He was born in Brooklyn but spent most of his formative years in Lagos, Africa’s most populous city. Growing up in a developing economy, he witnessed searing poverty, inequality, and political instability. This experience not only revealed to him the indispensable role of public policy in creating measures of support and opportunity for people but also seeded his passion for public service. After… Read More »


  Where are you from and what is your background story? Please share your details from the period before you arrived at CCNY. I am originally from Tallahassee, Florida. When my parents were married they moved to Florida from New York (my dad by way of Nigeria, my mom by way of a Caribbean-American family rooted in Crown Heights). I am the youngest of three, but to some, I give off only-child energy because of the age difference between my brother, sister, and me (6 and 12 years each, respectively). My parents divorced when I was in 6th grade and I ended… Read More »


  Dean Rich in conversation with President Boudreau on the 10 Year Anniversary of the Colin Powell School   Dean Rich This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Colin Powell School, and I want to invite you to take a step back and reflect on the founding of the School. Take us back if you will: Colin Powell graduated in 1958; what got him reengaged at the College?   President Boudreau I had been the director of the Colin Powell Center for only a few months and was told that the way to change the profile of the Colin Powell Center was… Read More »


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… Read More »


  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… Read More »


  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… Read More »


  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… Read More »


  “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,… Read More »


  The core of what makes us human: Psychology Professor Laura Brandt’s commitment to researching substance use disorders Please share something about your personal and professional background, and what brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School. I am from Germany and lived in Austria for about 13 years before coming to New York, and my journey here was and is a winding road with many bumps and curves. While I knew that I wanted to become a researcher relatively early on during my graduate studies and my interest in addiction developed soon after, I… Read More »


  “Pursue your passions and goals, shoot your shot and don't count yourself out”: The Journey of former D.C. Fellow Jason Santiago ‘20 and his path to self-discovery  Jason Santiago is a second-generation Bronxite and a proud product of the Caribbean Diaspora from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. A passion for giving back to his community along with first-hand experience with struggles of food insecurity, housing instability, and environmental and economic racism motivated Jason to pursue his education at Bronx Community College. There, his… Read More »


Last Updated: 01/15/2020 15:46