Welcome to New York City A.K.A the Big Apple home to The City University of New York (CUNY) — the largest urban public university system and third largest public university system in the United States of America. Since its inception years ago, CUNY has always been about striving to meet the ever-increasing demand of all New Yorkers, especially the underprivileged need for excellent education. According to CUNY’s mission, “The University’s 21st-century mission remains true to its founding principles of academic excellence, scholarship and opportunity for all. CUNY boasts 13 Nobel laureates and the tradition of high academic achievement continues as our students win prestigious scholarships. In recent years, the University has produced 70 Fulbright scholars, 70 National Science Foundation fellows, 10 Truman scholars and seven Rhodes scholars.” Click here for more information on CUNY.
Enough about the mission and history of CUNY, below are the five ways African students can do to take advantage of what CUNY has to offer.
Pick the Right School: CUNY is comprised of 25 colleges ranging from community colleges to graduate colleges. The schools are unique in their own ways and they offer unique specializations. For instance, John Jay College is recognized as the best school for criminal justice and everything social justice while Baruch College is recognized as the best school for Business and ever So, it is up to you to find a school that is best for you or that fits you best.
Study Hard: It is understood that there is no easy way out that is if you are interested in obtaining good grades and better education. So, get your books and make time for serious study. Remember, what you put in is what you get. Although it may be tough to focus on the study at the beginning (at was for me), you just need to make a deliberate decision to focus on doing well. However, please find some time to relax and have fun with your colleagues.
Get involved: Get yourself involved in campus life. Being involved is one of the best way to find your way around and make new friends who can help you not only navigate your courses but save money as well. For instance, during my years as the president of the African Association, we organized an informal mentoring and book-lending program, which many of the new members used to learn about the courses, professors and most importantly some saved money by borrowing old books from new colleagues. In other words, it is crucial to build a new team, a team of like-minded people who can support you through your educational journey. This is a two Way Street so please remember to help others as well. Additionally, take on leadership role in your new community. This includes but not limited to the volunteering to help in events on campus, joining the student government, clubs and others.
Take advantage of everything: get to know as many people as possible and take advantage of the opportunities as they become available. The rich diversity on campus is yours to explore and make it yours. Diversity comes with communities to meet new people, ideas and do not be afraid to embrace the opportunities. Networking will also help you after college. Briefly, look at the entire process as one huge opportunity to seize.
Apply to all grants and scholarships: Although the CUNY system does not have many resources in comparison to other well-funded universities, there are always scholarship, fellowship and paid internship opportunities for students to apply. So, do not be complacent with the financial package apply for scholarships as long as you meet the minimum requirements. Sadly, from my observation during my tenure in the CUNY system, some students make the time to apply to these opportunities so only few students end up getting them. Please do not limit yourself, just apply!
In the video below, I discussed the five ways to take advantage of the opportunities CUNY has to offer.
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Blue wave or not, Charles Fall, first generation American of Guinean immigrants winning New York State Assembly seat (for district) is a welcoming and an inspiring news to the growing African population in New York, especially the young ones who may be interested in joining politics.
Tuesday night, as journalists and political pundits analyzed and discussed the substance of the elections, some African immigrants across New York but mainly around Staten Island gathered at the democratic victory party to cheer the young, brilliant and energetic Charles Fall as he delivered his victory speech. In his speech, he pledged to advocate for the people of his district and he also acknowledged the role his parents played in inspiring him to serve. Although I couldn’t be there in person, I was there in spirit and fortunate enough to watch it via Facebook live.
Charles is a 29 year old who can serves as inspiration for many African immigrants in New York. He obtained his Masters in Public Administration from Pace University in New York and a Bachelor of Arts from Southwestern College in Kansas. He is married with a daughter. Not to delve into his credentials and biography too much, as most of the information are available on his website.
My social media feeds and timelines have never been this lit with go out and vote calls, especially from the African immigrants community since the 2008 elections, which brought in President Obama the first black president. Initially, I thought maybe the community has African candidates running. But, I came to find out that only one first generation African immigrant of Guinean origin is running for a seat in New York State Assembly. However, with little inquires, it became cleared that the go out to vote calls present the community way of speaking out for what is right and readiness to get more involved in the domestic politics of their adopted country. For many immigrants, it seems like today’s voting is beyond exercising one’s civil duty but rather a vivid reminder as to why America should love again.
To put it mildly, the current administration has exhibited its willingness to push for policies that directly or indirectly negatively impact thousands of immigrants while creating hostile environment. Arguably, many of my friends believe that the president recent threat to end birthright citizenship in the United States is not only unprecedented and racist it is a direct attack against core values of this country, which foster room for discrimination and hate against immigrant communities. To make matter worse, the administration inability to control the rise in xenophobic, racist, sexist and bigotry attacks against minority groups, especially the brown and black immigrants has energized many who are qualified to rise and exercise their fundamental and constitution right to vote. Immigrants understand that citizens are the highest decision makers in a truly democratic country like the United States. As a result, they have resolved to finding clever ways to get people out to vote for love against fear and hate that have been propagated during the past few months leading to the elections.
However, I cannot conclude that all the immigrants who voted today voted for the democratic candidates or against republican candidates or even if their votes made significant difference. Nonetheless, in the grand scheme of things, it is significant that the African immigrant communities in New York and around America are becoming actively involved in fighting for their interests. The notion that ‘we are visitors who can only be concerned about politics in our various African countries and have no interest in American politics is gradually fading off.’ America is our adopted home so it is time for us to add value to her political landscape as we have done in her educational and economical.
As you head out to go cast your vote today, please consider the impact of your decision on the future generation. Hence, your choice should reflect your integrity level. Integrity matters in public service so vote wisely!
In the not so distance past, America has used her moral authority to serve humanity and bring about peace and security through cooperation not alienation. However, with the rise of populism globally, it is imperative today to instill integrity in our children through education and one of our most cherished freedoms, such as the right to vote. So, selecting a great public servant is one of the best ways to do your part in teaching our next generation about integrity. We don’t know what the future holds but one thing that is certain is that one of the best ways to counter dangerous populism, corruption, unethical use of technology, business and political practices is by training the young generation integrity. Curriculums and actions that are created with the purpose of promoting integrity end up fostering essential skills and igniting the process of learning in the young minds.
As an aspiring and emerging community leader, I place a significant value on integrity. I believe that integrity should be essential in any meaningful undertaking that has the ability to empower one to alter oneself and his or her environment or the world. As saying goes, education is the key. But, education without integrity is a waste of time that is unrecoverable. More like building a house without a solid foundation. A great education must be embedded with integrity. An education that values integrity enables young people to respect and tolerate each other’s views while expressing their unique experiences and views. In other words, integrity encourages learning and it makes learning fun for the young minds, as they are not afraid to convey their thoughts in a respectable manner.