Students from the Manhattan and Brooklyn locations of Year Up recently visited BMCC for a College and Career Day.
Year Up is a one-year, intensive training program that provides urban young adults ages 18 to 24, with technical and professional skills, college credits, an educational stipend and even a corporate internship.
A national program, Year Up NYC welcomed its first class of students in September 2006, aiding students from across the five boroughs.
Year Up classes consist of a diverse group of students who wish to pursue careers in technology and possess the motivation to improve their lives.
The aim of College and Career Day was to introduce Year Up students to BMCC and encourage them to apply. They were treated to lunch, a visit from BMCC President Antonio Pérez, a Panel Discussion with Year Up alumni who are current BMCC Students, panel discussions about scholarships, potential majors and more.
The 130 Year Up students who visited the BMCC campus are from “Class 10,” which means they are the tenth group of students to enroll in the program. They are slated to graduate from Year Up next year.
The importance of goals
Pérez told the Year Up students about his own college experiences. He grew up in the Bronx and worked as a check sorter, dreaming about attending a 4-year college. After getting rejected from many local colleges, he was accepted to a small Quaker school in Iowa.
“I heard crickets,” he joked about leaving city life behind for the quiet suburbs. He eventually transferred to SUNY Oneonta, met his (future) wife there, and promised himself he would be a Dean of students by age 30, which he accomplished at age 29.
“You have to have a plan in life. Mine was going to college, getting my degree, becoming a college Dean, and eventually a college President," he said. “Look at me, the kid who didn’t get into City College who eventually earned his Masters and his Doctorate. Having a life plan gives you that inner feeling of accomplishment.”
Marva Craig, Vice President of Student Affairs, told the students, who were dressed in professional attire, that BMCC provides strong support through mentoring and tutoring.
A “college of choice”
“We'd love a partnership between BMCC and Year Up,” said Karen Fleshman, Director of Policy and Grants for Year Up NYC. “BMCC is by far the college of choice among Year Up graduates because it offers great value, embraces people from a wide variety of backgrounds, prepares them for a wide variety of careers, and offers strong support services.”
According to Fleshman, the Year Up staff received “tremendous, positive feedback” from the Year Up students about the activities BMCC organized for them.
“Each student had a different favorite aspect, but I think the part they all enjoyed the most was seeing how college is accessible to them and that with planning and hard work, they can go anywhere with a BMCC education,” she said. “One Year Up student said to me, ‘I never really understood why I might need college, but after today, I see why, and I see that it might be possible for me.
Panelists encourage enrollment at BMCC
To help personalize the event, a panel of four Year Up alumni who graduated from BMCC or currently attend BMCC answered questions.
Panelist Reinette Ross is a BMCC student, majoring in Business Administration, as is Anna Dotel.
Luis Tejada graduated from BMCC in 2008 and moved on to CUNY Baruch; he has worked in finance for the past few years.
The fourth panelist, Kareem Thompson, majored in Business Management at BMCC and plans to enroll at CUNY Baruch this fall. The panelists strongly encouraged the Year Up students to graduate from Year Up and remain in school, reminding them that BMCC offers weekend and evening classes.
Fleshman informed the Year Up students that not every BMCC student attended college right after high school—many took a few years off to work, raise a family, travel or wait until they felt “ready.”
If a partnership materializes between BMCC and Year Up; Year Up students will be able to transfer some of their classroom credits into BMCC, should they opt to enroll.
“Year Up has an impressive track record, with 84 percent of its graduates either employed in high demand jobs or enrolled in college,” said John Montanez, Dean of Grants and Research Administration at BMCC, who helped facilitate the Year Up NYC visit with Michael Hutmaker, Dean of Student Affairs.
“The relationship between BMCC and Year Up has the potential to be a perfect partnership that builds on each institution’s strengths.”