E. J. Lee

Lee ASAP Awards Ceremony Speech

April 20, 2009

My name is E.J. Lee. I am a sophomore at LaGuardia and in the ASAP program. I am a Liberal Arts: Philosophy major, and I've actually had a variety of advisors whom I would like to thank before I begin: Delle-Ann, who is longer with us, Ingrid, my interim advisor, NJeri, my current advisor. Thank you, advisors, for being there for me. Now I'd like to start with how I came to be a part of the program.

At first, a few months after I was accepted to LaGuardia, I received a letter in the mail inviting me to an ASAP information session. I ignored that letter and the other letters that came almost weekly. Then the phone calls started; they called at least once a day, always inviting me to the information sessions. I thought I was going to go crazy with the calls. I'm pretty sure it drove my mom crazy; she probably thought I'd gotten myself into trouble again. I ignored all the calls and letters.

Then I ended up having to go to an information session because LaGuardia wouldn't let me register for classes. Actually, I ended up going because I wanted to avoid lines and running back and forth between different offices, and I was told that ASAP would prevent me from running myself ragged regarding administrative stuff. And let me just say, it was the best decision of my life.

As a high school dropout and a GED recipient, I had over a year break between high school and college. ASAP made the transition so much easier by providing, in my humble opinion, necessary services, and very much-appreciated amenities.

First and foremost is the academic advisement. It is mandatory and only twice a month, usually under 30 minutes per appointment. I believe that because it's mandatory, it's more helpful than anything because all of my questions are answered. During the appointment, my advisor and I are able to work on any issues I may have. All in all, it is a nice time to get some weight off my shoulders. I receive personal attention, compassion, assistance and nothing but support from my advisors.

Then, of course, is the textbook service: the free textbooks. This is very important because textbooks are very important in a college career. A student may not need a calculator, a computer, or even a pen, but textbooks are definitely needed. And they're free! That's at least $300 every semester that we don't need to pay for, whether by working extra hours for the money or borrowing money from family or friends. It's a headache that gets quickly averted.

ASAP offers job placement and assistance. Randy, our new career specialist, can help us with finding a job, creating and improving on our resumes, learning interview skills and tactics, etc. Although I personally don't need it, it's certainly an option to go to Randy and get help finding a job. And I think having options is always nice.

ASAP provides us students with various amenities, such as the 10 free monthly-unlimited MetroCards (valued at $81 each) throughout the year. ASAP also offers enriching activities and events. For instance, ASAP arranged a trip for businessmajors to tour the Bloomberg HQ at 59th St and Lexington Ave in Manhattan that I had the privilege to attend. That trip was very informative; it really was an eye opener into the world of business. The trip was also very satisfying; there was free food.

There are also many events that ASAP holds on campus, such as ASAP Café and ASAP Family Day. The Family Day is not only an opportunity to get to know other faculty, staff and students, but it offers free food--which is excellent, especially between classes!

A major part of ASAP is the required block schedule. This is not only good because it prevents headaches with registering for classes, but also because it is an opportunity to make friends--real friends, not someone who becomes "another face in the crowd" or "just another face to say ‘hi' to in the halls" once the semester is over. It is with a fellow ASAP cohort that I started to take advantage of the many leadership opportunities in the school. What started with going to the Leadership and Diversity Program with Joicy ended up with me joining the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and running for office, along with two fellow ASAP cohorts who were also running, which led to me being the current Vice President of Recruitment and Retention. The two fellow ASAP cohorts are Theodore, the Vice President of Programming and Events and Geizel, the Communications Officer. But actually, it's because of the required block schedules that my entire life changed.

When I first started here at LaGCC and in the ASAP program, I was a business major. All of the business majors were required to take an Ethics and Moral Issues course. At first, I didn't want to take it but since I had to, I did. I fell in love with it. And as the semester progressed, I would tutor my peers in the subject on the weekends and sometimes after class. I soon fell in love with being able to help students by helping them to understand the material.

So after many weeks of deep contemplation, I changed my major to philosophy and decided to take my education to the highest level (Ph.D.) in order to become a philosophy professor. That decision made me join the Academic Peer Instruction program to become a tutor in the subject of Ethics. It also made me join the Army Reserves Officer Training Corps (or ROTC) to help pay for graduate school.

My entire life plan changed in a matter of a few months. From AS to a BS or an MBA to a 9-5 numbers crunching desk job, it has become AA to BA to the Army to the MA then PhD to philosophy professor imparting wisdom to knowledge-thirsty minds. This new life plan, to me, is more exciting and fulfilling than the old plan.

To sum up, ASAP really does work for students. It works to the point where your entire life changes... look at me. But let me just say, without ASAP, my college career could have been very different. I would've been clueless, lost and maybe not as academically focused because I would have been concentrating so hard on how to pay for school. But because of the friendly and wise advisors, caring and supportive peers, financial support that ASAP offers, I am able to take full advantage of a wonderful and ingenious opportunity. I have to thank Mayor Bloomberg, CUNY, LaGCC, the advisors, the faculty, my peers and cohorts, and everyone else that makes ASAP what it is. I am very happy and grateful to be a part of such a great program. Thank you.


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