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Reporting for CUNYfirst Duty

Danny F. Ambrose, BMCC’s Student Life Specialist.
Danny F. Ambrose, BMCC’s Student Life Specialist.
September 20, 2011

It’s heeeere.

You’ve seen the posters, flyers, emails and Web site updates announcing the new, innovative technology that will replace the Panther system. CUNYfirst has arrived.

With CUNYfirst, every single BMCC student will be able to take care of campus needs online, on their own time. Through a streamlined system, students can change their address, pay bills related to CUNY, look up their grades, and most importantly, register for classes, drop a class, or see if a desired class is filled to capacity.

And, since CUNYfirst will be implemented CUNY-wide, students who graduate from BMCC and transition into another CUNY college—such as Queens College for example—will be able to look up their personal information—grades, course credits, and so forth—from their former days at BMCC.

“When CUNYfirst is up and running, all of our processes, policies, data and procedures, will exist on a common platform,” says Howard Entin, BMCC’s Director of Financial Aid.

Questions and answers

The current Panther system will be phased out, and, according to Entin, the new CUNYfirst will “go live starting in mid-to-late November and students will use it to register for their Spring 2012 courses.” 

The University-wide platform is user-friendly, and has undergone testing by various CUNY staffers, students and faculty members.

However, because it’s new and still unfamiliar to BMCC students, a helpful group of CUNYfirst Ambassadors have dedicated their time and energy to learn the ins and outs of CUNYfirst. These BMCC students will be available on-campus to help others use the system.

“The CUNYfirst Ambassadors will be holding several events on campus to promote CUNYfirst and help students claim their accounts,” says Danny F. Ambrose, BMCC’s Student Life Specialist. “The dates will be announced soon. In the interim, students may stop by the Office of Student Affairs (S343) should they have questions or need help claiming their account.”

This summer, Ambrose and approximately 20 CUNYfirst Ambassadors discussed various ways to train the BMCC community. Marketing plans have also been discussed.

The “sandbox”

Recently, Ambrose, along with John Ray, CUNYfirst Communications Manager, and Lark Sweetland, a CUNYfirst Trainer, met with the Ambassadors at a room in the Murray Building. Sweetland showed all the volunteers how CUNYfirst works, preparing them for helping others.

According to Ray, CUNYfirst helps students view the basic information they need to further succeed as college students. He called CUNYfirst a “sandbox” in which the Ambassadors were allowed to play; familiarizing themselves with the technology. They learned how to set up a CUNYfirst password, claim their accounts, and so forth.

Once successfully logged into CUNYfirst via passwords, a menu screen called “The Student Center” allows students to obtain their financial aid information, academic information including the name of their advisor, and more—all through a single entry point.

CUNYfirst will also provide students with the time of day in which they are slated to register for courses, and a section called “My Planner” allows students to browse a course catalog.

“My favorite feature is that you can register online for classes at a different CUNY campus, but at the same time be enrolled at the college you are currently attending,” said CUNYfirst Ambassador Gounita Singh, who decided to volunteer as a means of giving back to the college.

The great “potential”

“All 24 CUNY institutions will collaborate on enhancing the system using the feedback from their students and faculty, adding new features and improving the existing ones,” says Ambassador Tim Kamaldinov. “I hope it will help make the transfer between colleges much smoother. The registration for the classes has already become more convenient for the home college. So, the integration of all colleges into one system is a necessary step towards further development. CUNYfirst has great potential and that’s why I decided to sign up as CUNYfirst Ambassador.”

Sweetland encouraged volunteers to use their official BMCC email addresses—and tell others to do the same. “If you don’t check your college email accounts, there’s a huge chance you’ll miss important CUNYfirst and BMCC news,” she says.

CUNYfirst Ambassador Kimberlee Gonzalez is looking forward to teaching the application to her peers. She likes that with CUNYfirst, you don’t have to open numerous Web sites to navigate through courses.

“We’re a family here, and family always helps family out,” she says. “That’s what makes BMCC so different from other colleges. I love to volunteer at BMCC; it gives you a real purpose in life.”

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