2013 Bronx Community College Leadership Team Member
I’m not what you would call a traditional student. I dropped out high school because of a growing scene of violence. But I did not give up on my education and obtained my GED in 2005. For the next six years I worked odd and dead end jobs with no future in sight. I decide a return to college was necessary for my life to move forward and have meaning.
The thought of going back was scary. I had not been in a school setting in six years, and technically hadn’t completed even a single year of high school. My fears were all too quickly brought to fruition when I took the CUNY placement exam. I failed the math placement. After a summer course I failed my retake. As they say third time is the charm and I passed by one point.
While I was ecstatic to have passed and finally able to start my college career fresh, that sense of fear and dread loomed back over me. It was a nagging thought about going back to college. Like I said, I am not the traditional student. I was 23 at the time, and hadn’t truly been in an academic setting in over six years. I thought I was too old, that I was not smart enough. I would be surrounded by spring chickens fresh out of high school who knew everything, and I would be the foolish old dinosaur in the classroom. It was around this time that I was accepted into the ASAP program.
I was told I would be put into a cohort with incoming freshmen and we would be taking classes together our first semester. This cohort scheduling was supposed to build a foundation of support during my ASAP experience by connecting me with my peers. If that wasn’t enough I had to attend an orientation for three days with them before school started. “Great, time for them to meet the dinosaur,” I remember thinking to myself. How could they give me any level of support, let alone be my peers. Much to my surprise when I showed up that gloomy rainy morning, I did not see a bunch of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed children. There were faces of all kinds. There were faces of all ages. In fact one of the other students called me a spring chicken, go figure.
Jumping forward in time to now, I realize that ASAP is an every-kind-of-student program. The environment they provided us through our weekly seminars, adviser meetings and cohort placement, fostered a safe, accepting place for us to have both academic and social success. I am an ASAP leadership team member with two other students from my cohort. Both are younger than me and both with their own road to college just as unique and eventful as mine. I received advice from older students in the cohort who shared their experiences with me and kept fresh and was updated by the younger students who are just starting to explore the world. I have made many friends in ASAP, and on more than one occasion it has been this family-like support that has kept me going, that has given me the motivation and confidence to make it to my graduation.