Alumni Now

BMCC alumni are a source of inspiration for today’s college students. Many have continued with their higher education, begun careers in healthcare or finance, or established themselves as artists, writers, entrepreneurs and community leaders. Meet some of BMCC’s exceptional Alumni Now!

Johann Smith ’20

Johann Smith enrolled at BMCC in 2017 after more than a decade traversing the world playing professional soccer. “In addition to mourning my sports career when it ended, I was trying to figure out my life’s purpose and whether or not I should go to college,” said Smith. A history buff, he began to have multiple conversations with friends and family and eventually landed at Capital Community College near his hometown in Connecticut. But Smith wasn’t satisfied in a smaller city. “New York City has always been my dream city, so I literally looked up the largest community college there and BMCC was the first place that popped up,” he said. Fast forward to 2022 and Smith, now 34, is an undergraduate transfer student at Stanford University who got his start at BMCC. “The professors at BMCC care deeply about their students,” he said. Smith cited History Professor Erik Freas who encouraged him to look at the world and history differently, from multiple viewpoints and perspectives. In 2020, Smith was named a BMCC Kaplan Scholar and he says, the program was instrumental in his successful transfer process. Smith eventually plans to apply to medical school. “I’ve lived one life already; I’ve lived one dream,” he told an interviewer at the Stanford Report. “And now I’m here to realize another.”

Jennifer Cachola

Jennifer Cachola ’14

Jennifer Cachola (Communication Studies, ’14), a Community College Transfer Opportunity (CCTOP) scholar, went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Media Culture and Communication at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. From there she earned a Master of Arts in Youth Studies at the CUNY School of Professional Studies. Ms. Cachola, recognized as an Honors student for her high GPA and academic achievement at BMCC, was a customer service supervisor within the retail industry before joining BMCC in 2016 as an academic advisor, providing educational and transfer guidance to more than 500 students per semester, as well a monitoring a caseload up to 250 students.

Xiangli Huang

Xiangli Huang ’16

Xiangli Huang (Accounting, ’16) was a member of the Accounting Club and an IRS Certified Tax Preparer through BMCC’s connection with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) at the Food Bank of New York. Mr. Huang earned both a B.A. in Accounting in 2018 and Master’s in Accounting in 2020 at Queens College, CUNY, where he worked up to 30 hours a week while attending classes, just as he had done at BMCC — all the while maintaining a 3.8 GPA and making the Dean’s List four semesters in a row. He passed all four parts of the CPA exam and held an internship at Wallace Lau CPA. Another internship, at PricewaterhouseCoopers, led to Mr. Huang’s current position at the firm as an associate in the Asset Wealth Management department, where his focus is partnership compliance regarding income allocations and more.

Romario R. Ricketts

Romario R. Ricketts ’18

Romario R. Ricketts (Communication Studies, ’18), was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and National Society of Leadership and Success at BMCC, where he made the Dean’s List with a 3.93 GPA and garnered an NYC City Council Citation. In 2020, Mr. Ricketts graduated with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in English Professional Writing through the Macaulay Honors College at Lehman College, CUNY. He works as a media assistant, leading press outreach for census and redistricting, at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, where he served earlier as a communications intern. Mr. Ricketts also gained experience as an account coordinator for national issue advocacy at Berlinrosen, and was a communications intern at the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President and American Civil Liberties Union.

Niala

Juliana Campos Hu ’19

Juliana Campos Hu (Public Heath, ’19), expects to complete a Master of Public Health (MPH) in community health with a specialization in maternal, child, reproductive and sexual health at the CUNY School of Public Health & Health Policy in 2023. Ms. Campos Hu grew up in Brazil, and earned a bachelor’s degree in Portuguese and English translation and interpretation at the University Nove de Julho in Sao Paulo. After moving to New York, she worked as a nanny while completing her associate degree. “My coursework at BMCC made me confident I was equipped with enough theoretical and practical tools to join the workforce right after graduation,” says Ms. Campos Hu, who held an internship at New York Presbyterian Hospital in 2019, where she screened patients for health-related social needs. Next, she joined the staff at the AIDS Center of Queens County (ACQC); first in the role of health educator and now as a youth program supervisor.

Charles Reid

Charles Reid ’19

Charles Reid (Economics, ’19), moved to New York from Jamaica in 2015 and is enrolled in the dual bachelor’s/master’s degree program in Economics at CUNY’s City College of New York (CCNY). In Summer 2021, he completed a remote fellowship through CCNY’s Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership. At BMCC, he joined the 2018 studentteam that won first place in the Maiden Lane division of the New York Federal Reserve Bank College Fed Challenge. BMCC Professors Sangeeta Bishop, Aldo F. Balardini and others offered critical insight into economics, he says, and thanks the Academic Transfer and Advisement Center that guided his transfer to a baccalaureate program.

Carla Franchesca Robles

Carla Franchesca Robles ’16

Carla Franchesca Robles (Video Arts and Technology, ‘16), held an internship at BMCC that led to her role as production facilitator at MNN El Barrio Firehouse Community Media Center, providing public access television. Ms. Robles earned a BFA in Film and Video at City College of New York, CUNY and founded the production company Rayoelú Films. Her work includes Buhoneros (Street Vendors), a 10-minute documentary on the challenges faced by New York City street vendors, most of whom are immigrants of color. “That documentary was born in a class at BMCC,” says Ms. Robles. “Professor Anastassios Rigopoulos was an inspiration for me. From pre- to post-production, he helped me out.”

Jamel Holmes

Jamel Holmes ’12

Jamel Holmes (Early Childhood Education, ‘12) teaches sixth grade special education at East Bronx Academy for the Future. During the pandemic lockdown, he raised funds for over 360 care packages of snacks, art supplies, hand sanitizer and more, then personally delivered them to his homebound students. Mr. Holmes completed a Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies at City College of New York, CUNY, and two master’s degrees from Lehman College, CUNY; one in Special Education and another in Educational Leadership. An aspiring school principal, Mr. Holmes says his mentors include BMCC Professor Jean-Yves Plaisir, “who made me realize how important it was that children see more men of color leading their classes.”

Samuel Adédèjì

Samuel Adédèjì ’10

Samuel Adédèjì (Science, ’10), a member of the Honor Society for Black Student Scholars at BMCC, earned a duel Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Biology at SUNY Stony Brook. An internship at Bellevue Hospital led to his role as manager of surgery and sub-specialties clinics, helping ensure that eligible patient eligible gain coverage through New York State of Health insurance plans. Among the BMCC faculty who stand out for Mr. Adédèjì are Chemistry Professor Thomas DeRosa and Organic Chemistry Professor Bramadeo Dewprashad. Having worked in the Career Center, he also thanks Driada Rivas, Melba Olmeda-Amaro, Malkam Dior, Kimberly Chu and others for helping his smooth transition to Stony Brook University.”

Kwame Amin

Kwame Amin ’10

Kwame Amin (Science, ’10) works as a physician’s assistant providing emergency care at a clinic in Manhattan. He earned Bachelor of Science in Physician’s Assistant Studies at York College, CUNY, where he ran for class president on the platform “fighting for everyone.” Having grown up in Trinidad without electricity and running water, “I got from there to here, and I said that I would fight to make sure my classmates got what they needed, too.” After completing his MBA in Strategic Healthcare Management, Mr. Amin plans to improve health care access, starting with community health centers that focus on “the whole patient—mental and spiritual health, as well as fitness.”

Brian Olsen ’05

Brian Olsen (Science, ’05), moved to New York in 2001 from a small desert town in Arizona and earned a GED diploma. Science Professors Bramadeo Dewprashad and Shanti Rywkin are among those who guided his efforts at BMCC, where he says, “there’s an extra effort to help students over the finish line.” Mr. Olsen earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry at Hunter College, CUNY and is completing a doctorate in biochemistry at The Graduate Center, CUNY.  He teaches in the Department of Biology and Chemistry at the County College of Morris, in New Jersey, and in 2020, published as lead author, research findings on Coronavirus targets in the Journal of Computer-Aided Molecular Design.

Nurse

Brenda Lagares ’19

In Spring 2021, Brenda Lagares (Nursing, ’19) served as lead quality nurse at a COVID-19 testing facility in Rockland county. “I was responsible for seeing that all nurses adhere to protocol and perform their duties safely,” said Ms. Lagares, who was BMCC Student Nurse Association President from 2017 to 2019, won the 2018 BMCC Annual Research Symposium (BARS) award and joined a lab team at Rockefeller University led by BMCC Science Professor Jose Fernandez Romero. “BMCC afforded me the opportunity to pursue my interest in science, specifically virology — all while pursuing a degree in nursing,” says Ms. Lagares. “If you’re willing to put in the work, great results can happen.”

Michael D. Hattem ’09

Former BMCC Foundation Scholar Michael Hattem earned a B.A. in History through the CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies (CUNY BA) program, with BMCC and then City College of New York (CCNY/CUNY) as his home schools. Now completing a doctoral program in American history at Yale University,he has won almost a dozen historical research fellowships from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the New-York Historical Society and others. Hattem co-founded the popular history blog, The Junto, and is a producer and co-creator of the history podcast, The JuntoCast. “Without BMCC having been there to give me my first opportunity, none of those things would have been possible,” says Hattem, who came to BMCC at age 31, relying on public assistance and what he describes as “menial” jobs. He thank mentors such as BMCC Professor Jacob Kramer for helping him start his academic path.

Brittany N. Holland ’12

Substance abuse counselor Brittany N. Holland (Human Services, ’12), earned a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) with Honors at Lehman College, CUNY in 2014, and then a Master of Social Work (MSW) at Adelphi University in 2015. In June 2016, she became a Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor Trainee (CASAC-T) and joined the staff at Success Counseling Services, an outpatient treatment center in the Bronx.

Saint Hung ’05

Entrepreneur Saint Hung (Business Administration, ’05) is the Chief Executive Officer of Universal Processing, a financial technology startup he founded in 2009 andwhich has grown to serve more than 5,000 clients and generate $1.5 billion in managed revenue. While a student at BMCC, Mr. Hung was an Honors student and award-winning member of the Phi Theta Kappa All-USA academic team. He went on to earn a Bachelor’s of Applied Science in Economics at Columbia University, and remains a friend to BMCC by providing internships and participating in career fairs.

Elizabeth Simmons Cary ’95

Elizabeth Simmons Cary (Medical Record Technology, ’95), made the Dean’s List several times before graduating from BMCC and going on to earn her Bachelor of Science degree in Health Administration from State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate, Brooklyn in 1999. Currently retired from working as a Health Information Administrator, she teaches at the New York Career Institute.

Orian Christine Osorio, ’11

Orian Christine Osorio enrolled at BMCC 1988, then “due to my mother’s illness, starting a family and moving, my education was placed on the back burner,” she says. In 2009, she returned to BMCC, where she was a member of the Latino Honor Society, and completed an Associate in Human Services degree. She next earned a Bachelor’s in Social Work degree at Lehman College, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude and earned an NYC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) certification for completing a James Satterwhite Academy Professional Development internship. She went on to earn a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from New York University and works today as a social worker at Rockland Psychiatric Center in theirQuality Assurance Department, helping to development policies and procedures, and prepare for Joint Commission visits to the facility.

Daryl Griffin ‘14

Daryl Griffin earned an associate degree in criminal justice at BMCC in 2014, after serving as a team leader in a U.S. Marines infantry unit that was twice deployed to Iraq. While a student at BMCC, he maintained straight As and was active in the Alumni Club, serving as its treasurer and then president. He mentored other student veterans through PROVE, the Project for Return and Opportunity in Veterans Education at BMCC, and helped them access Veterans Administration benefits through the BMCC Veterans Resource Center. Today, he is a Senior Academic Advisor with the Veteran Services program at LaGuardia Community College.

Preke Radoina (Praq Rado) ‘14

Praq Rado made the Dean’s List three times before graduating from BMCC in 2014 with an associate degree in Communication Media Studies. He is now working toward a bachelor’s degree in Marketing the Arts at Baruch College, while continuing to develop his career as an actor and producer through Dreaming Film Production, a company he founded with director Lee Percy. Rado’s current project is a film that focuses on undocumented college students, a subject close to his heart as Rado himself fled his country of origin, Albania, as a child and has struggled with his immigration status since that time.

Theresa Clark Messer ’02

Theresa Clark Messer (Accounting, ’82) served as Director of Finance for the National Basketball Players Association for 18 years. She began her career at Peat Marwick & Mitchell, now KPMG, where she obtained her Certified Public Accountant license. After earning her Associate in Accounting degree at BMCC, Messer earned a Bachelors degree in Business Administration from Pace University, and a Masters degree in Business Administration from Long Island University. A member of the BMCC Foundation Board, Messer is Chair of the BMCC Alumni Committee.

Jessica Frey ’06

Jessica Frey (Theatre, ’06) is now playing the role of Margaret Dashwood in the critically acclaimed production of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, adapted for the stage by Kate Hamill and playing now through November 20, 2016 at Bedlam. She earned a BFA in Acting at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University (NYU) in 2008. In addition to acting, she stays busy teaching in the Atlantic Acting School, takes part in a sketch group called Uncle Function, and does monologue and on-camera coaching for aspiring actors.

Ami Efrati ’15

Ami Efrati graduated from BMCC with an Associate in Arts in Business Administration in 2015. He was a recipient of the Academic Excellence in Business Administration award, conferred at the 2015 BMCC Honors Convocation, as well as a member of the Dean’s List and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. While at BMCC, Mr. Efrati also volunteered with New York Cares. He is now enrolled at Baruch College, CUNY, working toward his bachelor’s degree in accounting through evening classes while serving as President of Entrepreneur Properties. In that capacity, he identifies and procures commercial real estate investments for buyers and sellers in New York City, New York State, and abroad.

Joel Barker ’06

BMCC Professor Joel Barker earned an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Accounting degree at BMCC before transferring to Queens College, CUNY, where he earned a B.A. In Accounting and Economics, and a Master of Science (M.S.) in Accounting. Professor Barker is also a New York State-licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and before joining the faculty at BMCC, he gained professional experience in public accounting with a focus on audits and taxes. His research efforts, which he shares with students, focus on Individual Taxation and Tax Policies.

David Steingard (attended ’93-’95)

David Steingard is the co-founder and CEO of Laughing Man Coffee & Tea and Director of the Laughing Man Foundation. He left his work as a criminal prosecutor in Brooklyn to start Laughing Man Coffee & Tea with actor Hugh Jackman. They share the vision that business can be a vehicle for positive change and Laughing Man Coffee & Tea is a model. David was CEO of Creative Exposure, a small business marketing firm, and CEO of CompuTech Edge, a technology company for public schools.

Orville Ingram ’03

Mr. Ingram, who earned his associate degree in Communication and Media Studies, was president of the Student Government Association and an Out in Two scholar at BMCC. Today, Mr. Ingram is Assistant Principal of the Bronx Lab School, an NYC Department of Education high school serving grades 9-12.


October 14, 2014

 

Praq’s Dream

A BMCC student stars in a movie about his life—and the struggles he faced as an undocumented immigrant.

July 14, 2014

 

Getting Down to Business

Thathsara Palliyaguru will major in business at Baruch College, and apply the experience she gained at BMCC.

August 14, 2013

 

From GED to MD

For alumni Nigel Knox, hard work and supportive friends led to a residency in anesthesiology.


July 31, 2013

 

The River Next Door

Alumni Richard Toussaint’s sketch of a bike path eventually led to creation of Harlem River Park.


July 23, 2013

 

Finding the Right Path

Alumna Alexa Pomales goes from student teacher to assistant director at Rockefeller University’s Child and Family Center.


June 27, 2013

 

The Complex Path to Justice

Alumna Sanja Chastain, now a forensic psychologist, enters law school.