Ivana Lazaroska



Bronx Community College ASAP '13

I grew up in Ohrid, Macedonia, a small country in southeastern Europe. A couple of years after I finished high school I moved to NYC. At the beginning I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and by the time I made a decision to go to college I had already lost my legal status. I spent four years as an immigrant working to pay off my legal fees and regain my legal status. At the end of 2010 I got my Green Card and that same day I applied to CUNY.


I wasn’t aware of ASAP until they called me to schedule an interview with me. And even after the interview I was a bit skeptical about the program. Free MetroCards, free books, and tuition waivers? For someone like me, who was dependent on a weekly paycheck, ASAP felt like winning the lottery. I began my first semester in the fall of 2011, as part of Cohort 5.


During these past two years I’ve realized that what ASAP provides helps me tremendously, and there is no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t have been able to go through this educational journey without it. The ASAP staff is always there to remind me, guide me, help me stay on track, and, most importantly, support me.  I get to share my ideas, fears, accomplishments, and ups and downs with the students from Cohort 5. Everyone has essentially become like an extended family. 


The biggest reason that I was able to go to Cambodia and spend a month working at an orphanage and exploring the country was ASAP and the Michael Steuerman Legacy Fund Scholarship. I was able to work and save money to pay for my overpriced airfare, but also donate money to the orphanage—money which if not for ASAP I would’ve had to spend on tuition and books.


And last but not least, the only reason why I will manage to graduate in two years is because I was able to take winter classes that ASAP paid for.


The fact that I had ASAP’s support is what gave me the opportunity to grow and explore but stay focused at the same time. The workshops, advisement and many unique opportunities helped me find my way as a student, but more importantly as a person. I will be forever in debt for the opportunity that I was given to be part of ASAP.


My next stop is City College where I plan to get my BA in political science and public policy, and eventually my masters in international relations. And whether I decide to do something domestically or internationally, my goal is make a positive impact in one way or another. After all, as Charles Bukowski said, “you begin saving the world by saving one man at a time; all else is grandiose romanticism or politics.”



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