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Volume 5, Issue 2 May 14, 2018

First Year Experience

We salute and thank our outgoing President, Dr. Thompson

This issue honors MCNY community leaders! 

Dr. Doru Tsaganea

Kenny Dickens

Amy Cruz

Georgette Gyles

Xavier Porter

First Year Students

 Faisal Omi &

Ismayil Jumshudov

And more…

After 10 years in office, President Thompson will complete his term as MCNY’s 5th president at the end of June 2018. Dr. Thompson’s service has been an inspiration and has helped build the solid foundation that the college enjoys today. Alumni and Mentor Coordinator Whitney Cooper sat down with President Thompson to chat about his reflections on his time at MCNY and his next steps. As you approach the end of your tenure, I’m wondering what you think it takes to be a good college president. You really have to be available both physically and psychologically 24/7. And that involves some sacrifice of your personal life. Not all the time—it’s not the kind of job where I devote every waking hour of every week to it—but there's hardly a five- or ten-minute period when in some way or another I'm not thinking about some aspect of the College. So in that sense, you lose a little bit of yourself, but the College gains. There are probably two other major sacrifices. One is that I am a scientist by training. I have maintained a relationship with the American Museum of Natural History up on Central Park West. I keep a little informal workspace there to work on my insect collection, but I haven't had much time to devote to science for the last twenty years. For instance, there have been opportunities to participate in biological expeditions that I couldn't take up because I just couldn't tear myself away from the job here. I would say that in my life I've had three things which have been really important to me. One has been my scientific work. Secondly, there has been a social justice thread to my life, which has played out in my life in higher education. And I have seen my role in higher education as coming out of being a product of the 1960s—that sort of ongoing commitment to work on the progressive side of things in the American context. And then finally my family. The other thing that I've sacrificed is time with my grandchildren, one grandson who is going to be four in August and another grandson is going to be a one-year-old on July 4th. They live way out in California, so I only get to see them a few times a year. So there has been some sacrifice in that I would have liked to spend more time my grandkids as they've been growing up. And I guess if you asked my wife, she'd probably say I worked too late too many nights. What was it like being a student in the 1960s? Well, unlike most of our students, I was a traditional student in that I came out of high school and went to a residential college in the fall of 1965. And I was then in college and graduate school until December of 1974. Those years happened to coincide more or less exactly with the Vietnam War. I guess there were four major things going on in the 1960s. One was the Vietnam War and the antiwar movement that evolved in response to it. This period also marked the high point in the civil rights movement. Another was a movement for women's equality, and the last was a broader more diffuse sort of cultural change movement. Maybe people think of it as a time for hippies, but it was much deeper than that. This was a period of real upheaval - from the heart. I graduated from college in June of 1969 and I was immediately eligible to be drafted to serve in the Vietnam War, and I had no intention of supporting the war by voluntarily serving. I ended up getting a deferment for legitimate medical reasons. So I was very involved in the student antiwar movement both as an undergraduate and as a graduate student. Those were really tumultuous and interesting times to be a student. These experiences really changed the trajectory of my life.

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What are your fondest memories here at MCNY? Certainly the openings of the new campuses were incredible high points. And commencements are always wonderful. I'll do my 11th and last commencement on June 16th this year. I will have done the presidency for ten years as of May 3rd, but I'm doing two more months, which encompasses another commencement, which I'm very glad to do. They are always significant high points for me and for the life of our community. What do college presidents do when they retire? [Hearty laugh] Well, college presidents do quite a variety of things after they retire! In my case, I'm not moving to another job. I do not expect to ever work permanently full-time again in my life. I am 70 years old, and I think it's a good moment to really have time that I assign myself. That is a key thing that I'm looking forward to in retirement. The biggest part of my time will be devoted to being a scientist again. I will run my professional life as a scientist from the American Museum of Natural History working on a volunteer basis. There is a long and wonderful tradition of people working in museums well into their old age. I hope to be able to work there for at least another 10 and possibly even 20 years. A second leg would be spending more time with those grandchildren. Another area in which I’d like to keep some involvement is higher education policy. I think there are a couple of avenues that might give me a way to do some writing and maybe some consulting in the area of higher education. So much of our curriculum centers on leadership and community transformation. What have you personally learned about leadership and community transformation? I believe most people, most of the time, want to serve their communities well. The job of leaders is to help them find the ways and the means. I’ve tried hard to listen to the dreams and concerns of students, faculty, and staff and to channel those ideas in productive ways. My own contribution has been to think about the big picture while maintaining a hand in many details, to combine idealism with practical solutions. What advice would you give to your successor, Dr. Passaro? Dr. Passaro brings a wealth of experience and a deep commitment to our mission. She will lead us in the midst of new opportunities and challenges, some of which we can’t imagine. My only advice is to continue to find strength and direction in our historical mission. Also—and she doesn’t need my advice on this—to take inspiration from the perseverance and success of our students, many of whom make heroic efforts to achieve their personal goals in the face of adversity. We thank Dr. Thompson for his ten years of service, commitment to furthering the ideals of Audrey Cohen and her collaborators, and for positioning MCNY for futures success. We wish him well on his next adventures! Look for the full interview with Dr. Thompson on the MCNY website’s Presidential Transition page!

MCNY looks forward to welcoming our 6th President, Dr. Joanne Passaro in July 2018. Dr. Passaro will be returning to her native New York City from Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin, where, since 2007, she has served as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.


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There is no shortage of “Passion for Giving Back” when it comes to change agent Xavier Porter. Xavier earned his BPS in Human Services and his MPA in Public Affairs at MCNY and is currently a Care Coordinator at ICL Mental Healthcare where he assists people with mental illness, homelessness, and substance use to manage their lives. However, that’s not all … on the glamorous side of giving back, Porter is Public Relations Manager to PK Kersey’s non-profit organization That Suits You where he oversees marketing and community engagement. That Suits You provides services for young men and others who are in need of skills to attain employment. For example, they provide interview attire, which is donated by individuals, corporate sponsors and celebrities.

MCNY gave me a foundation, a clear path and the knowledge, on how to address the needs of the community and how to work more efficiently to get results,” says Xavier Porter and, with a hearty laugh he adds, “Attaining my MPA has opened my heart, mind, and belief that I can accomplish anything in this world. You have to respect me now because I cannot only call you out on your (you know what) - I can also prove it! “Having a big heart and a passion to give back is hereditary,” says Porter, “My father was an amazing man and my best friend. I learned about ‘being a man’ early in life. My dad took care of everyone. He had the biggest heart and always made sure that everyone around him was loved and respected. If I can become half the man that he was, I will be all right!” Xavier has far surpassed that halfway point. Recently, his story was featured in the book, Suited for Success, which highlights the journey to success of 24 inspirational men. Among those 24 is also, MCNY Alum and MPA Professor, Larry Scott Blackmon who was professor and mentor to Porter. #myMCNY Alumni are at the heart of our community!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018 Monday, May 7, 2018 College follow Wednesday schedule First day of classes Wednesday, July 4, 2018 Saturday, May 12, 2018 Last day to add/drop a class Independence Day (college closed) Monday, May 28, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 Memorial Day (college closed) Last day to withdraw for Summer semester Saturday, June 16, 2018 Wednesday August 15, 2018 Commencement Last day of classes Monday, June 18 - Saturday, June 30, 2018 Mid-semester assessment Pro Tip: See MCNY Mentors Monday, June 25, 2018 for killer time management Last day for student to submit work from Spring tools & strategies 2018 Incomplete


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We caught up with recent Alumni Kenny Dickens at the Bronx campus where he was mentoring a current MCNY student. What has the MCNY community been like for you? I felt I had a family at MCNY with my fellow students - like a real kinship. I felt accepted when I disclosed my lifestyle and other aspects of myself. From the beginning I knew my cohort and I were in it together and had to lean on one another to make it through. People may not realize how important it is to connect with LGBTQ peers. We need support from one another, and it is powerful to connect in an academic setting as we re-write our stories together. Kenny Dickens, BPS 2017

How do you imagine positioning yourself with your mentor experience, Bachelor’s degree and future CASAC certification to advocate for the needs of the LGBTQ community?

I’ve been reading lately about working with non-compliant clients. Often people are mandated to get help with their substance abuse or want it, but have a hard time due to psychological set-backs. We have to figure out how to meet people where they’re at. I learned about Emotional Intelligence from MCNY’s former Master Mentor, Dr. Anisia Quiñones. A lot of it has to do with empathy. They may get stuck in a place and not progress, but we have to remain supportive; this is one I know now more than form of harm reduction. There are not enough providers who are part ever that I can accomplish of the LGBTQ community who can relate to clients and help them move through really hard times. This was the whole purpose of my going to what I put my mind to. college. The community is suffering – and has been for years. MCNY trains and empowers change-makers. What does that mean to you now that you’ve graduated? When I first came, I was afraid because of my dyslexia, thinking I could never pass my classes. My own readiness allowed me to prioritize in order to really focus on my studies. Now that I have experience showing up for the challenging work, I know more than ever that I can accomplish what I put my mind to. I know that if I identify an issue in my community or workplace, I feel confident to take on that change process. I mean, look, I did EIGHT Plans of Actions in my CAs! Some were successful and some were not. And that is ok because the point is learning about the whole process from start to finish. I am poised to do great work in my community.


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Hailing from the Bronx, Amy is a Freshman Business Student. She is a proud single mother of 3, and describes herself as ambitious, diligent, and patient. Read more in this interview with fellow student, Shaira Leguillou.

What do you like so far about MCNY? I like the classes I took, the people I got to meet, the events I attended, and the environment I was surrounded by. This is what makes MCNY so unique. I also enjoy that the school is so purpose-driven. I felt especially empowered by my critical thinking class. Our professor was such an inspiration and she provoked us to dream big! What are you looking forward to regarding your college experience? I am really looking forward to the growth I will make intellectually, mentally, and professionally. What have been some unexpected skills you’ve needed to develop as a college student? Why? A quality I needed to develop and apply was time management! Since I am a single mother who works, trying to balance home, work, and school can become challenging. Without time management it becomes difficult to keep up and stay productive. Beyond time management, what do you think it takes to succeed at college? I worked hard this Purpose despite all the obstacles I faced, and I managed to earn a 3.83 GPA. Not bad for being out of school for almost 20 years! Professionally, I am doing well and applying a lot of the critical thinking skills I've learned from MCNY. To reach my goals every semester, I know that I have to keep growing the qualities of commitment, perseverance, and discipline. What is your great motivation in life? The greatest significant motivation in my life is my children. They are the reason I get up every day and chase after my dreams. I want to be able to leave my children with a legacy. They have been inspired by my return to school and all the sacrifice I've put into achieving my academic goals. I've also exemplified to them that it's never too late to pursue your dream. Its seems like there’s no stopping you! Where you see yourself in five years? I see myself starting my own non-for-profit organization in the performing arts for inner city youth.

A note from Shaira:

Interview by Shaira Leguillou, Healthcare Systems Management student

Amy is an empowered Latina! I feel connected with her because we both are single mothers raising three children and working hard, in spite of difficulties and earning a good GPA. It’s not easy. What a gift when we can meet someone who is in the same place as we are someone who not only gives us motivation but is also an example to other single parents that everything is possible. You only need the desire, discipline, and determination to reach your goals. NEVER EVER GIVE UP!!


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Empowering Women in Business

Yoga! Pizza & Game Night

MPA Alumni Mixer

Loving Me First – Alt. Valentine’s Day MCNY Short Film Fe



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The Welfare to Careers Project (WTCP) is a successful career-focused program which provides comprehensive support services to enable low-income and underserved people to achieve economic selfsufficiency. The Program is directed by Rae Mack who has been instrumental in recruiting new students to MCNY through various external outreach methods. Mr. Ahmed Wing, the Program’s Student Service Coordinator, adds valuable insight through his interaction and service to students with administrative or personal guidance. MCNY alumnus Ray McMillian has returned to our Manhattan campus in the role of Job Developer. Ray assists job seekers in developing resumes, building strong LinkedIn profiles as a personal branding tool, and interviewing skills. Higher education is an effective way to move individuals from dependence on public programs to sustainable careers. Since its inception in 2002, 174 of our students have graduated with Bachelor’s degrees and 16 students have graduated with Associate’s degrees. In 2017, 24 students graduated with a Bachelor’s degree with the majority working and/or attending graduate school.

The Welfare to Careers Program links college education to work experience and career training to permanently lift its participants out of poverty and into sustainable careers.

The mission of the Welfare to Careers Project is to provide nontraditional parents with a college education, career coaching and the comprehensive support services necessary to ensure their academic success as well the attainment of a fulfilling and economically stable career. Ray McMillian contributed this piece. Ray graduated with his BBA in Business with honors at MCNY in 2014 and just completed his MBA in International Business at Long Island University. He’s also an alumni mentor! Welcome back, Ray! Ahmed Wing, Rae Mack and Ray McMillian

The Welfare to Careers Program is a beautiful extension of the commitment Audrey Cohen and her collaborators held for transforming lives and communities through education. Get to know our timeline!


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In January 2018 MCNY BPS graduate Georgette Gyles took the leap to begin her Master’s in Education, Dual Childhood/Special Education. Read more about how she got there in this interview by her graduating peer, Camesha Jones. When and why were you drawn to wanting to be an educator? One of the main reasons I decided to leave my previous job as a Social Worker was that I realized many of my clients were struggling academically due to the lack of educational support and resources they encountered when they began school. It made me realize that disabled and low-functioning children really need specialized support to help them gain academic, social and soft skills. This is the role of a teacher – to give young students these very basic foundations. Students need a warm support in the early stages of development so they can become great citizens in their communities. As an African American woman, it is so important for me to help students who face challenges and need to learn differently than their peers. For me it is about helping the individual as well as the family and community. What advice would you give undergraduate students at MCNY? Obtaining my undergraduate degree made me realize the importance of time management skills, organizational and study skills. My advice is to work with your professors -- this will help you build a trusting relationship with them. Once a relationship is established, be engaged in class by taking good notes, doing thorough research, and completing the work on time. If you wait until the last minute, the chances are that you will not be able to complete the assignments and may fail. It is so important to focus on developing yourself as a strong, well-rounded individual that can grow from your college experience. Some say that taking leaps of faith is often important for adult learners. Has that been the case for you? I remember walking into the MCNY Bronx campus nervous and confused. I had a lot of obligations that I had to take care of and I didn’t want to sacrifice my job for an entire year. The program would require me to conduct student teaching four days a week and night classes until 9:30pm at the Manhattan campus. As a single mother my first thought was making sure my children are looked after when I would be in school. It could have been easy for me to say no and walk out of that door, but I decided to take a leap of faith instead of quitting. I am glad I didn’t give up on my dream; I truly want to make a difference in our communities and in the Interview by Camesha Jones, lives of our vulnerable young people. The Program is allowing me to find June 2018 MSED graduate. myself and work with students who need me. Congratulations!

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We recently caught up with Dr. Tsaganea, full-time faculty in the Audrey Cohen School for Human Services & Education. Q: Dr. Tsaganea, you have the reputation among first year students for being a passionate instructor, committed to breaking down math phobias. Why do you think early Purpose classes are so important for new undergraduate students? A: It is imperative that students have an understanding of Purpose Centered Education early on because their entire program will be based on this. Early Purpose courses are also important because they focus on more general topics and offer an introduction to the information and skills that will be built upon in later Purposes.

Q: Given all of your experience at MCNY, what advice would you give to First Year students? A: Attend all classes, be attentive and participate. Express your opinions and ask difficult questions - it’s how everyone learns! Lastly, always do your homework. This is an essential component of the educational process and not doing it considerably impacts your ability to understand successive topics.

Express your opinions and ask difficult questions - it’s how everyone learns!

Q: Is it true you have 2 PhDs?! What are your areas of scholarly interest?

A: Yes, I hold one PhD in Advanced Mathematical Modelling in Economics and the other in International Relations. In my research, I focus on International Security and International Economics. I am interested in the study of the relationship between national power and economic structure, as well as in the application of Mathematical Theory of Entropy in analyzing the structure of international system and assessing international tension.

Q: And along with being a scholar you’re an educator. What inspires you as an educator? A: The youth and promise of my students. The greatest benefits of being a professor is working with young people every day and having the opportunity to continuously adapt my mentality and value systems to those of newer generations of students.

Q: What are some of your other areas of interest and how have they enriched your life? A: I am very interested in photography, painting, and classical music. I’ve also always enjoyed traveling. I’ve found that the rigorous rationality required by my research in Mathematical Modeling and Quantitative Analysis is pleasantly complemented by the unbounded fantasy allowed by the practice of painting, drawing, and art photography. Seeing the world and learning all that I can from my travels has been an interest of mine ever since I was young.

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"Dance". Original oil on canvas, 24x39 inches


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Every May the library celebrates May Day - May 1st, also known as International Workers Day - with a special display celebrating and exploring the Labor Movement, workers’ rights, collective empowerment and power of protest. The labor movement seeks to provide a platform for working people to organize and bargain collectively. While we have the labor movement to thank for the very notion of a “weekend,” an 8 hour work day and the (increasingly precarious) notion of worker protections and benefits, it also has a complex history and an uncertain future. In tracing the history of labor we see a history of social justice movements, and we bump into complicated questions about capitalism, race, gender, economic justice and more. And thus, there are a lot of books on the topic! Here are two that we are spotlighting this month but come to the library explore them all! Rank & File: Personal Histories by Working-Class Organizers by Alice and Staughton Lynd. Dig into the history of the labor movement in America with this long-out-of-print oral history classic, telling the stories of working-class organizers who occupied factories, held strikes, walkouts, and found all sorts of other ways to boldly fight for workers’ rights. New Labor in New York: Precarious Workers and the Future of the Labor Movement explores the future of the labor movement. Written by graduate students at the CUNY Graduate Center, the chapters profile worker centers, grassroots organizing movements of street vendors, restaurant workers, supermarket workers, taxi-drivers and more.

Did you know that MCNY was originally founded as an employment agency for lowincome women? The dignity of labor, the rights of workers, questions of economic and community empowerment are core to who we are. Pro Tip: Check out the “LIB GUIDES” on Library website. These have specialized resources on specific topics! And there’s a cool one on Labor Movements. There’s oral history collections, government stats on labor and workers , loads of information on Unions and Worker Centers and more! May 14, 2018


How well you do in your classes can affect your eligibility for financial aid in future semesters . SAP = Satisfactory Academic Progress the federal requirement that students make real and measurable progress toward their degree in order to be eligible to receive federal aid.

MCNY’s Student Success Program assists all undergraduate students to stay on track with their studies. All undergraduate students welcome. Inquire with Parker Pracjek,, ext 2806

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Grammarly is an online grammar and spelling checker that improves communication by helping users find and correct writing mistakes. Grammarly@EDU is free for MCNY students and faculty

Take 15-20 minutes to advance your learning for free!

Go to

Student Lingo Webinars (website + seminar) are interactive tools to enhance or help you brush up on your skills in various areas and subjects. You can take them on any device, at any time—for free.

Click “sign up” and use your institutional email address (

Workshops Available:

Check your MCNY email to confirm sign-up

 Pre-Writing Techniques: Planning & Idea Development

To access the tool:

Upload drafts of your writing assignments to Grammarly@EDU to receive immediate instructional feedback on over 100 points of grammar and double-check if all sources are properly cited!

 Drafting Introductions, Body Paragraphs & Conclusions  The Revision Process: How to Proofread & Edit Your Writing  Reading Comprehension Strategies  Information Literacy: How to Master College Research  Understanding & Avoiding Plagiarism

See an LEC Writing Specialist for questions or support! May 14, 2018


FYE Newsletter Summer 18, vol 5 issue 2  

MCNY's First Year Experience Newsletter showcases faculty, staff, student leaders, campus activities and ways to connect to the college comm...

FYE Newsletter Summer 18, vol 5 issue 2  

MCNY's First Year Experience Newsletter showcases faculty, staff, student leaders, campus activities and ways to connect to the college comm...