Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) welcomed 35 students to the Out in Two scholarship program during the Fall 2016 induction ceremony and luncheon October 18 in Theater II at 199 Chambers Street.
The scholarship, founded by BMCC President Antonio Pérez, provides tuition scholarships as well as individualized academic counseling. It also requires that the scholars participate in community service activities on and off campus, according to Program Coordinator Jonathan Matamoros.
More than 90 percent of BMCC’s Out in Two scholars graduate in two years and go on to four-year colleges, a much higher rate than the national average.
The growth of Out in Two has been made possible by generous donations from the BMCC Foundation, the Derfner Foundation and the Meringoff Family Foundation. Stuart Post, Executive Director at the Meringoff Family Foundation, was a special guest at the event.
During the afternoon recognition ceremony, President Pérez welcomed the audience, including students’ families, friends and significant others.
“Individuals who have received this scholarship have gone on to graduate at the highest levels in the college and transfer to some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the nation,” said Pérez.
BMCC Vice President for Student Affairs Marva Craig told the new cohort of Out in Two scholars that BMCC administration, staff and faculty were proud of what they achieve.
Craig encouraged the new scholars to reach out to at least one other BMCC student who is not part of the program, and mentor them throughout the academic year.
She also advised the group to always stay in touch with counselors and staff at BMCC.
“Do not wait until the last moment,” Craig said. “We’re here in the winter, we’re here in the summer and we really want you to take advantage of the opportunities here.”
BMCC Dean of Academic Programs Erwin J. Wong told the audience that everything administration, staff and faculty do is for the students.
“We want to make sure you succeed, that we prepare you not only for this college, but also, for starting your career or transferring to a senior institution. We want to make sure that you will, in fact, graduate in two years,” said Wong.
Featured Out in Two Alumni speaker John Fernandes, now a corporate manager at Modell’s Sporting Goods, talked to the group about his experience as an Out in Two peer counselor. “I was working with a student who four years earlier had arrived in New York City as a refugee from Rwanda,” he said. “My experience put life in perspective and helped me develop as a person.”
A highlight of the event came when President Pérez, Vice President for Enrollment Management Diane Walleser and Vice President Marva Craig recognized each student, presenting them with their certificate of recognition, a model check and hugs, respectively.
Among this year’s inductees were Merle Cato and Lawal Abubakar, both Computer Information Systems majors.
Abubakar came to New York City from Ghana two years ago and says he hopes to someday become a web programmer. “My passion is product and consumer web marketing,” he said. Future web designer Cato moved to New York City from Grenada in 2013 and appreciates the diversity at BMCC. “You never feel out of place here,” she said.
Out in Two scholar Sitri Aquino, who grew up in the Dominican Republic, is majoring in Sociology. Eventually, she hopes to be a social worker and impact public policy; specifically, reforms in the prison system.
Inductee Yaakov (Jacob) Brezak, who moved to New York City from Jerusalem in 2012, grew up in an Orthodox Jewish community. His only education before starting BMCC was religion-based. His twin brother, who also recently moved to New York City, was there to support his brother’s accomplishment.
“I was homeless when I first got to the city. In 2015, I studied and finally passed my GED and later applied at BMCC. I’m in my second semester now,” said Brezak, who hopes to eventually study psychology.
The Fall 2016 Out in Two cohort includes:
Lawal Abubakar, Jeremy Albino, Sitri Aquino, Fazly Azzam, Gumps Junior Bazile, Michelle Black, Yaakov Brezak, Diagna Camilo, Merle Cato, Yun Chen, Tiffany Collette, Joshua Daly, Tanubrata Dey, Robert Garcia, Corie Hahn, Shineui Hwang, Mehdi Lahlou Charki, Paulina Malinowska, Sylwia Miazga, Bilal Munaf, Ritienne Muscat, Sofia Mvokany, Aliaifler Parra, Saurav Paul, Una Radakovic, Kiara Reyes Arias, Flany Sanogo, Bhawna Seth, Anastasiya Shemuda, Ian Souza, Gabriella Uwadiegwu, Alejandro Valdes, Dalia Zahger and Jessenia Zambrano.