YUNXI HU: Cohort 9 ASAP Graduate
MAJOR: Business Administration
TRANSFERRED TO: Columbia University
Good afternoon everyone, my name is Vance. I remember the time before I came to college. I was a first generation of immigrant who was working in the service industry. I hated my job, not because of the job itself but because I had not found my passion. The only thing I could look forward to would be tomorrow, but tomorrow would be just like today, and the next day still. More importantly, I could not give more to the world around me. I know many of you might had experienced the same feeling before college. I also know we were all here for a reason, for a change in our lives to win, to succeed and to reach our potential. ASAP has been helping us to explore our potentials, to dare to do more in order to afford our dreams. The future may seem challenging and full of uncertainties, but we have done a great job in the first step. College is hard, but we are graduating from LaGuardia with a decent transcript. Now we are standing here and what we can look forward to is a tomorrow that will be brand new, with potentials.
There are things that seemed small, but changed my life. ASAP is one of them. During my first semester at LaGuardia, I excelled beyond my expectation academically, getting A’s in every course. Yet, despite academics and the new friends I met, I still lacked a sense of belonging. I felt invisible in the college. I was always an outsider. At the second semester I joined ASAP. I talked to my academic advisor, Aura, and told her that I wanted to integrate myself more into this school through college leadership programs, which was not really related to my academics. She seemed excited to see that I was ambitious and told me immediately that there an election going on the College Senate. She and Caroline helped me to submit my application at the same day. That was when I realized ASAP is not just about Metro cards and textbook money. ASAP showed me care, they are proud of my desire to succeed, and they urged me to explore my potentials.
I remember something Caroline said when she saw me and a few other ASAP students at the first meeting of the College Senate. She said she was proud, and she did it for the love. At the College Senate I was surprised to see that students could get involved in the decision-making process of their school, which I did not see in high school. I discovered a whole new world besides course work. I proposed for Wi-Fi access by multiple devices on campus because I wanted to acquire more benefits for my peers at LaGuardia, after I saw programs like ASAP had been seeking benefits for me. It was the first time I felt valuable in here and was pleased to call New York my second home. My major was business administration, but when I transfer my major will be economics in a policy concentration because my experience at LaGuardia helped me to discover my passion in policy. ASAP was not the only program that helped me get to this point, but it was the first one who showed me welcome and love.
The economy out there is still tough. Although I know that I am going on to a four year college, I still have no idea what my future will be like, just like many of you. Just like a year and a half ago, I had no idea how my education at LaGuardia would be like. So, I figured graduating from here proves one thing: we have the ability to reach our goals and all we have to do is keep going. Whether you will continue your education or start working, make sure that is what you really want, but not what seems easier or safer. ASAP required us to take more classes, to graduate sooner and to obtain a high GPA was not because they wanted to make our lives harder but because they wanted to make sure that by the time we make it here today, we would be a lot stronger and would be ready to deal with more future challenges than others do. As we transfer to our senior college, or as we start to enter the workplace, there will be not less, but only more programs like ASAP to help us overcome obstacles along the way to success. With our experience with ASAP in mind, we should be more proactive looking for those opportunities in the future. I wish you all the best!
ANGELIQUE BARRETO: Cohort 7 ASAP Graduate
MAJOR: Liberal Arts: Social Sciences and Humanities
TRANSFERRED TO: SUNY New Paltz
Hello, my name is Angelique and this semester I will be departing LaGuardia and continuing my educational journey elsewhere. I had begun my time here at LaGuardia in the fall 2013. Although it was not my plan to begin at LaGuardia, I was dedicated to soaking in all that I could from the college experience. The beginning of my journey in LAGCC was a harsh one. The campus is fairly large and I had no knowledge of what to expect in college, since I am a first-generation college student. I felt alone in a crowded space (which you would might know as the E building Atrium).
Luckily my AP English teacher in high school had spoken to me about ASAP and all the benefits of the program, and I became proactive about getting myself in the program. Steve, my advisor, is not only a knowledgeable advisor but also someone who recognized all of my major accomplishments. He would always be the first to call me when a new opportunity arose, but most importantly he contributed to my overall academic growth. It is because of Steve that I have become a spokesperson for ASAP in high schools here in NYC, that I have applied for various scholarships and been able to perform amazingly during my time here at LaGuardia. Steve is like the cheerleader every student needs in order to feel like they are on the right path. Steve defines what it means to have a passionate advisor who truly desires that all of their students not only to succeed, but thrive in life and are able to market themselves well to colleges and possible employers. I doubted my potential as a student and thought maybe college was not right for me, but because of the ASAP community I have been able to thrive.
ASAP and the family that I formed there have been a tremendous source of inspiration and motivation and helped me to move past my academic limits. Because of ASAP, I finally understand what it means to step out of my comfort zone and achieve higher than my original goals. This reminds me of the quote by Confucius, “The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential... these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” In other words, ASAP allows students like myself to explore their interests and try something new because ASAP understands that some students may have passions that have not been ignited and they have the ability to allow those students to see that they can go beyond their limits. ASAP is where I realized that I should strive for personal excellence in all that I do, in and out of the classroom.
My college journey here at LAGCC was not always an easy one. I started off enjoying all my classes and college seemed to be a sweet stroll in the park at first, and then suddenly I had to withdraw because I was in a work accident. For a year, I did not receive any form of academic education and it was in those months that it hit me how hard it would be to navigate life without a valued education. I worked a full time job, working 40+ hours, but the checks had become meaningless. No amount of money would satisfy the desire for knowledge that I had building up inside of my mind. I began to really understand that if I went back to school I would be given respect in terms of being an educated young person, and of Hispanic descent at that. I would also have skills no one could rip away from me. There is one quote from Nelson Mandela that I read during those months repetitively, and it would always cross my mind when college seemed like it was getting nothing but tougher. “Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that a son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, and that a child of farm workers can become the president of a nation.” This quote stuck in my mind and it motivated me even more to get back into the ASAP program. Steve was there for me and more than willing to guide me back on track and provide me with all the information I needed to remain up to date on campus happenings. I finally had the will, the desire and the passion to fulfill my educational goal of becoming not only a sociologist working in a non-for-profit organization, but perhaps a college professor.
My parents had to limit their educations, they didn’t get the chance I have to pursue their academic goals. My father who had to give up school as early as the fifth grade for family reasons, and my mother had to give up on her dream of studying political science and becoming a lawyer when she had to drop out of BMCC for financial reasons. I am proud of myself. I am proud to be able to be where I am today. Proud to be talking to you about the power of education. I hope that each and every one of you take the knowledge and concrete foundation you are building here in the walls of LaGuardia to all corners of the world, whether you decide to pursue your education further, enter the workforce, the military or even start your own business. Remember that ASAP is a family, a family that has always believed in you and the power of education. Remember that the moment you graduate from this amazing college, you will be a voice for ASAP and a power of example for all of the individuals who do not believe they could overcome adversity in their life and earn themselves an education. You are the best you there is. No one can compete with you. The only person you are in competition with is your former self. So as an ASAP graduate, I ask you to give CUNY, give ASAP and yourself, the chance to make you a believer in the power of an educated mind.
KAROL ORTIZ: Cohort 8 ASAP Graduate
MAJOR: Liberal Arts: Social Sciences and Humanities
TRANSFERRED TO: Hunter College
Persistence. It is a word that has stuck with me for a long time. Merriam-Webster defines it as “the quality that allows someone to continue doing something or trying to do something even though it is difficult or opposed by other people.” Even though I have always had a good understanding of what the word means, I never had the word involved in my everyday life until one day when my old advisor David used it to describe me as we were saying our last goodbyes. Since then, the word has stuck with me, not because I’d like to think highly of myself in what I have achieved up to this point, but because it is a word that I believe describes every successful person.
My road through LaGuardia Community College was not an easy road to travel on. From the very start of it, I had to deal with the fact that I had two remedial math classes that were hanging over my shoulders. These classes were symbolic to me, not because they a sign that my math skills were not up to the level that was required, but because it was a reminder of the struggles and lack of effort that I experienced while I was in high school. The remedial classes were a reminder to me that my past actions could affect me in the future—something that I regretted a lot while I was in those classes. Many of us students, or people in general, have probably felt that way at some point in our lives. That feeling of regret—of not doing more to help our own cause.
It’s a sad feeling, especially when you feel that you are all alone. However, as I look at this room today, I can safely say that I was never alone because ASAP was always there with me. Even though I did not know it at the time, when I went to that information session about the program back in 2014, I was getting introduced to a program that would help guide me through my community college journey.
Even though they don’t like to admit it, the faculty of ASAP is what makes this program so great. Their eagerness to always help and find solutions to problems that we students might have is something that I always took note of—whether it be when I had an appointment with my advisor Matthew, or when I was simply sitting in the office watching the entire staff work with the students. Our director Ramon and the rest of the staff like to say that the program’s success comes because of the students’ success, but whether it be because they are too humble to realize it or just don’t see it, it helps to be in a program that is always worried about our success.
I’ve always said that the reason I joined ASAP was because of the advising that they provided for each student. While the free Metro cards and textbooks were nice additives (something that attracts a lot of the students that join), to me the most important perk of the program is student advising because it’s something that can go a long way for a student. I can remember many times when I would go to either David’s office or Matthew’s office to talk about some of the problems that I would be having with school, and they seemed to always know what to say to me. I soon came to realize that I was working side by side with them, pushing forward towards my ultimate goal of graduating from LaGuardia and moving on to bigger and better things. That teamwork is in my opinion is “X-factor” of the program- the ability for students and staffs to work together for the common goal of seeing us graduate.
As I look back at my time in ASAP, the one thing that always stood out to me about the student body was that no matter how different our lives may have been outside of the school, each of us had the same goal. And it isn’t just the fact that we all wanted to graduate. It’s the fact that we all wanted to become better versions of ourselves, and many of us achieved that through the guidance of ASAP. In my time in ASAP, I became a more focused student, always striving to get the highest grade possible in each of my classes. Ultimately, ASAP made me realize that in order to find success, one has to be focused and, once again, persistent in what it is that they want. The road that is community college is not an easy one for anyone. But if a person has the will to push through all the bumps that they may come across as they travel, and they have the kind of support staff that makes it possible for that travel a bit easier, then in many ways people can come out of it on top.