On February 28, three Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) students — Lisibeth Payano, a senator in the Student Government Association (SGA); Jason Silva, SGA President, and Kevin Zambranov, a Liberal Arts major — took a trip to Albany to meet with state legislators to discuss CUNY budget priorities and BMCC programs, goals and successes.
The activity was part of the BMCC Civic Participation and Leadership program, a new initiative created through the BMCC Academy of Leadership & Service, which is managed by the Office of Student Activities.
The three students were accompanied by Douglas Israel, BMCC Director of Government Relations, and Melissa Aponte, BMCC Assistant Director of Student Activities.
“The students served as compelling and articulate ambassadors for BMCC,” Israel said. “They helped highlight the importance of New York State investment in CUNY and BMCC’s role in preparing students for success in college and their careers.”
“We are all very excited by the prospect of engaging students in civic processes and helping them articulate their stories to make a positive impact on the greater college community,” said Aponte.
"It was quite an experience. I feel like we made an impact as we shared our personal stories as students," said Kevin Zambranov. "I think it made the assemblymembers and senator more aware of the dimensions of students on our campus. I want to be a lawyer eventually, so learning about legislation and interacting with these elected officials gave me an idea of how the law works, and I think we helped them see the impact of their decisions on our lives as students."
Lisibeth Payano said the trip to Albany "was tremendous and gave me a taste of what it means to be a political advocate. Lobbying is a sort of art form that I aspire to pursue after this trip. After meeting, specifically, with Assemblymember Glick, I understood the amount of hard work and passion it takes to fight for projects they want to see succeed."
Jason Silva says that advocating for BMCC students "and expressing how policies on a state level effect our college was an experience that not many people have. Everyone we spoke with was very receptive and aware of the situations we addressed. I feel our voices made a difference and it feels great to have been representing BMCC."
“The visits have a two-fold benefit,” said Israel. “They help support BMCC and CUNY’s state budget priorities and also provide students with an invaluable opportunity to learn about the legislative process and as well as career pathways in government and advocacy.”