On April 21, a reception was held in the Shirley Fiterman Art Center to celebrate the new partnership between BMCC/CUNY and Year Up, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the opportunity divide for young adults ages 18 to 24.
The BMCC Year Up program is an intensive, one-year experience for students earning an associate degree while completing internships at some of the largest U.S. corporations. During the first semester of the BMCC Year Up Program, students become part of a Year Up cohort, and take courses together in Business Management or Accounting. In their second semester, they spend 35 hours a week at a professional internship while continuing to take courses, with their cohort, towards their degree.
Professor Jason Gallagher teaches English 101 to the current BMCC Year Up cohort and attended the reception. “The Year Up students come to us having been selected for this program, and they constantly reach for individuality in their approach to classwork,” he said. “I have one student who is so incredibly professional, every time he sees me, he shakes my hand.”
Mary Padula, a professor of Business Management who has taught for 38 years said, “Teaching the Year Up cohort has been the best semester I’ve ever had. The students have a deep commitment to their education and their careers, and they hold each other up; they constantly check in with each other.”
BMCC Year Up students were invited to attend the reception through an essay application process and were on hand at the reception in business attire, to greet guests and talk about their experience.
Alisa Seewald, Year Up Site Director at BMCC, welcomed the audience and introduced BMCC President Antonio Perez, who spoke of the importance of internships in opening doors to community college students. Gerald Chertavian, Year Up Founder and CEO, also spoke. “The most important institutions in the United States today are our community colleges,” he said. “It is in these four walls, that global competitiveness will be won.”
Brandon Richardson, BMCC Year Up student, described his experience with the program. “I’ve repeatedly been encouraged to go outside my comfort zone,” he said, adding that in addition to helping him become a better student, the BMCC Year Up program has taught him practical skills: “I’ve already learned the 'do’s and don’ts' of professional dress, time management skills, and how to send a professional email.”
Colleen Taylor, an Executive Vice President with Capital One and friend of Year Up, said that the program provides “real jobs, real success. Corporations are looking for interns with stick-to-it-ive-ness and who will come into the corporate environment ready to make a difference to both themselves and the company where they are working.” Founder Chertavian closed the event. “Everyone in this room is part of the change we see through Year Up,” he said. “It heals and strengthens our communities, and our companies.”