OP-ED: A Message For Southeast Queens

BY DR. MARCIA KEIZS

Dear Southeast Jamaica Queens Community:

A recent New York Times article highlighted the impact of America’s working class colleges – those colleges like York College, CUNY, which have provided high-quality, accessible education to thousands of students. The article referred to them as “deeply impressive institutions that continue to push many Americans into the middle class and beyond….”

York College has been a fixture in Jamaica, Queens for 50 years. The college’s student body mirrors the community’s rich diversity; currently 44 percent of students are African-American, 27 percent Asian, 22 percent Latino and 7 percent Caucasian. And many of these students are “first-generation students,” the first in their families to pursue a college degree. These students can encounter numerous challenges, such as inadequate academic preparation, family responsibilities and inadequate finances. These obstacles can make it especially difficult to assimilate and succeed in the college environment. York College, with its expanded enrollment, stands above other institutions in embracing these students and supporting their success. Here, they are nurtured in an atmosphere of high expectations and they graduate well prepared for graduate study and/or the workforce.

The Student Loan Report website recently commended York College for also being one of the country’s top institutions for graduating students debt free. York placed in the top 10 among 300 public and private colleges across the country whose graduates had the lowest student debt.

York College is committed to offering its students an exceptional education free from excessive financial hardships and long-term indebtedness. The ability to offer needs-based scholarships and other support to deserving students is essential to recruiting and retaining high-caliber students – students who are committed to academic pursuits and who desire to excel. This support allows these students to be actively engaged in the learning process without the added pressure of burdensome debt. This, in turn, greatly increases their chances of long-term success in the academic setting and beyond.

However, we cannot honor this commitment alone – we must rely on the generosity of our friends in the community and beyond. Proceeds from the upcoming 50th Anniversary Gala on May 10, 2017 will fund needs-based scholarships and other support for York College students. I hope you will take this opportunity to stand with us in furthering the important work of this great institution. For more information, please contact Institutional Advancement at (718) 262-5193.

Marcia V. Keizs has been the President of York College for 12 years.

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