In 2008, Audrey Arpelleh (who goes by the name ‘Vanessa’) came to study in the United States.
Arpelleh grew up in West Africa’s Ivory Coast, and family members encouraged her to pursue a higher education in states.
With little knowledge of the English language, Aprelleh struggled to assimilate into American culture. She moved in with an aunt, who, knowing Arpelleh wanted a college degree, recommended the Manhattan Educational Opportunity Center’s (MEOC) programs and services.
In spring 2009, Arpelleh enrolled in the MEOC College Prep program. “I needed help taking the CUNY Assessment test,” she recalls.
Arpelleh excelled in math, and it’s still one of her favorite subjects. However, “I found it difficult to read a simple paragraph. I was trying, but my English was far from perfect,” she says. “Thankfully, the MEOC College Prep program truly improved my writing and reading skills.”
Transition into BMCC
Shortly after taking the MEOC placement test, Arpelleh received an acceptance letter from BMCC. She majored in Business Administration and cites math professor Yevgeniy Milman as her faculty mentor.
“He made time for his students after class, and wrote me a college reccomendation” she says, adding that what she loves the most about math is that, unlike English, “it’s a universal language.”
Eric Neutuch, MEOC Coordinator, Strategic College Initiatives, says that Arpelleh’s “initiative, ability to ask questions and positive attitude are all qualities that contributed to her success at MEOC and BMCC,” adding that she’s also "very friendly."
“Eric helped me complete financial aid forms and research available scholarships," says Arpelleh. "He also helped me adjust to life at BMCC."
Graduation and moving on
On June 1, 2012, Arpelleh donned a cap and gown, and walked across the stage at commencement. Now an official BMCC graduate, she admits, “I was not planning to attend graduation, but I really enjoyed it. I was proud of myself and thought, 'Vanessa, you deserve this!'”
This fall, Arpelleh will attend Binghamton University, where she plans to major in accounting and pursue her bachelor’s degree.
But, don’t worry—this hard-working scholar, who went “all the way” through BMCC by taking summer and winter sessions so she could graduate within two years—won’t neglect her social life.
“I’ll travel, have fun with my friends, and land a well-paying job right after I graduate from Binghamton,” she says with a smile.
Manhattan Equal Opportunity Center (MEOC) was established in 1966 by the State University of New York as the Urban Center in Manhattan, as a result of an act of the New York State Legislature. The MEOC is administered by Borough of Manhattan Community College and is part of a system of educational enterprises that serve eligible adult learners.
EDITOR's NOTE: The original version of this article appeared in the MEOC newsletter.