Family, friends, corporate sponsors and mentors filled Theater 2 at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) Tribeca Performing Arts Center on February 6 for the Class 22 graduation ceremony of the nonprofit workforce development program Year Up.
Of the 109 students in the Year Up New York graduating cohort, 25 were from BMCC, including two students who were recognized with special awards and recognition: BMCC student Adama Fall won the Dave Retik award for Excellence and Erismelca Jorge won the William Lehman Resilience Award. Also, the ceremony’s graduate speaker was BMCC student Yusef Stevens.
BMCC is the only college in the CUNY system that has a partnership with Year Up and an active cohort based on campus. Year Up plans to expand the BMCC program to serve 160 students annually by 2020.
Small cohorts build student success
“Students are more likely to be successful in cohort models such as Year Up, and they are an important component at BMCC,” says BMCC Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Karrin E. Wilks.
Year Up, which has cohorts in 16 cities across the United States, is an intensive one-year training program that provides low-income young adults, ages 18 to 24, with hands-on skills development, college coursework, corporate internships, counseling and other support. Students who complete the first six months of the program earn a six-month internship at one of the organization’s corporate partners.
“Year Up is life changing. It gives young adults tremendous learning and career opportunities they might not otherwise have,” said Todd Jenkins, Site Director of the BMCC Year Up program. The program helps close opportunity gaps and many graduates gain a solid idea of what career field they want to pursue, he says.
Getting a foot in the door
BMCC Business Management major and Year Up graduate Troy Witter said his internship in the auditing division at finance firm Alliance Bernstein LP gave him insight into the corporate world.
“I inspected reports to make sure they are accurate and if I came across a discrepancy, I flagged it so other members of the team could rectify it,” said Witter, who plans to graduate from BMCC in 2019.
Stephanie Merola, a BMCC Business Management major who moved to New York City from Italy five years ago, says that before joining Year Up, she worked on the prep line at a restaurant kitchen. After six months in the Year Up program, she landed an internship at Goldman Sachs in the Technology division.
“At first I couldn’t understand what was going on in company meetings, but my mentor coached me along and I left the experience hoping to someday work at the firm,” said Merola, who added she was excited to participate in the night’s ceremony.
Congratulations to the graduates
In his speech during the event, Year Up New York Executive Director John Galante said he is inspired by the drive and potential exhibited by the students in the program.
“We will close this opportunity divide together,” said Galante. “ I hope that as you walk across that stage tonight, you’ll think about how your drive got you to where you are today. I hope that as you make your way into corporate America, you will lift while you climb, so that others can follow you.”
Congratulations to the entire BMCC Year Up cohort: Brionie Mclaughlin, Stephania Merola, Tenzin Tsomo, Adama Fall, Eli Castillo, Shantell Frazer, Adama Ndiaye, Samima Begum, Trechia Burrell, Christopher Esquivel, Kayla Miranda, Niurka Tavarez, Octavia Pringle, Cristian Grande, Joana Guerrero, Mariam Asfaw, Shakia Harrison, William Thomas, Haley Francis, Nazma Mannan, Yusef Stevens, Christopher Sejur, Erismelca Jorge, Sharifa Jacob, Troy Witter.