Fatima Ali '09
Queensborough Community College ASAP '09
Queens College '11
Intern at SAYA!, South Asian Youth Action
What were your early impressions of ASAP, and how did they change over time?
Community colleges are often stigmatized as not being as supportive and productive as four-year colleges. I must admit that prior to attending Queensborough Community College and partaking in the ASAP program, I, too, feared that I would not receive an adequate education. Additionally, I thought ASAP was a program that would simply provide financial assistance and not much more. This was, indeed, an unfair judgment, and both Queensborough and ASAP proved me wrong. Over time I saw firsthand that the faculty and those associated with ASAP worked just as hard as (if not harder than) those of other institutions. They sought to make sure their students received the best. While community college may not be for everyone, I am grateful for the significant experiences I have had with both Queensborough and ASAP.
What was the most rewarding thing about being an ASAP student?
The most gratifying aspect of being an ASAP student was knowing that I was a part of something much larger than myself. I began my short but influential time with ASAP when it was merely a pilot program. I believe that my peers and I were able to contribute to its successful growth. More notably, the program also worked in shaping our lives. Two years certainly passed by quickly. Yet years from now, when I reminisce on my college experiences, no matter how many universities I may choose to attend later in life, Queensborough Community College and ASAP will always come first. For this, they hold a special place in my memories and heart.
What, in your opinion, makes ASAP unique?
Dedication and attentiveness on the part of the ASAP community allows this program to flourish. The ASAP staff take their students' progress as their top priority. Their concern and care encourages a supportive and welcoming environment. Moreover, their desire to provide the best opportunities also helps in fostering growth for each individual student.
Looking back, how do you think that ASAP impacted your life?
I have often remarked that ASAP has and will continue to act as a stepping-stone toward my future successes. The notion is that stepping stones all work together, similar to a puzzle piece. Without one part, the outcome is not the same. The guidance and assistance offered by ASAP eliminated the profound fear that is commonly experienced when first entering college. This paved the way for a fulfilling college experience.
What is one of the most memorable moments you had as an ASAP student?
While ASAP chose to both educate and entertain students with stimulating trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Broadway performances, etc., none of these activities compared to simply speaking with my advisor, Danielle Izzo. My friends and I would often visit her on our breaks and discuss the highlights and downfalls of our week, share stories about our families, and so on and so forth. This subtle form of sharing and venting was rather enjoyable and helped in relieving stress. Instead of disliking long breaks throughout the day, I, as well as others, looked forward to meeting with her and with one another. More importantly, my peers and I discovered a friend in our advisor, someone that I am pleased to say we are still in contact with to this very day.
Another treasured memory, one that I could never overlook when asked this particular question, relates to the Service Learning Project conducted by ASAP. I was given the opportunity to work with children of the Saratoga Family Inn. I, along with other ASAP members, prepared events for the youth in which we introduced them to the college experience. Several of these children, who come from underprivileged homes, believed they would be unable to attend college in the future. No child should ever feel they are incapable of higher education. Fortunately, their short time with Queensborough and ASAP presented them with a window of opportunities. This project granted ASAP students the chance to give back to others. Ultimately, this demonstrates that ASAP not only helps their own students, but others as well.
What are your career goals and/or future plans?
My passion is English and therefore I plan to pursue a career as a professor of English literature. I hope to attain a master’s and eventually a doctoral degree in English literature. I find literature, as well as writing, to be very expressive and I would love to explore and share with others the countless great works that exist. I would also like to educate others on how to convey their thoughts through writing, as I find that it is an easier method of expression for me.
Other than English, I also take a profound interest in community studies. For example, efforts such as those taken by South Asian Youth Action and similar organizations that are dedicated to helping individuals succeed, despite any obstacles related to such factors as race. This may become a side project of mine later in life or it may eventually lead me to also pursue another degree—possibly sociology?