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Our Stories, Our Voices, Our Community

Fall 2015




Photo by Robert Cole

Healthy Living

Alumni advice



Newsletter Our stories, our voices, our community

Lehman College, CUNY

Letter from the Director ………………….…………… 3

S.E.E.K. Director Annette Hernández, PhD Editors Miamichelle Abad Sherley Boursiquot Julie Sriken

Reporters/Writers Miamichelle Abad

SEEK is a finalist for top award..………… 4 Giving back with 12

Healthy Eating...……………………………..………………… 14

Sherley Boursiquot Wayne Nesmith Julie Sriken

Medical School with VICTOR…………………….……….page 9

Layout Julie Sriken

Get your LEARN on! 18

Photographers Robert Cole Contact Us (718) 960-7979

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the various authors in this publication do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the S.E.E.K. Program or official policies of S.E.E.K.

Working hard with MICHAEL……..…….……… 20 Alumni

advice…………………………..… 24

Sports………………………..……………………………..……… 28

Cover Photo: Robert Cole  Makeup & Wardrobe: Michael Saldana Location: Lehman College Music Building

Letter from the Director Dear SEEK community, It is my pleasure to introduce the first issue of the SEEK newsletter for the 2015-2016 academic year. Whether you are starting your college career or in the middle of a professional career, I hope you find information, inspiration and special memories in this issue and those to come. To foster a sense of camaraderie and support, we invite you to use the newsletter to share your experiences and accomplishments.

Photo by Robert Cole

Hence, our tagline is

“Our stories, our voices, our community.” The concept of community is integral to the beginnings of the Percy Ellis Sutton SEEK Program in City University of New York (CUNY) which will celebrate its 50th anniversary during the academic year 2015 -2016. Recognizing the racial and economic disparities in college attendance, activist educators and legislators created a program to encourage future scholars from low income communities to enroll and attend college, but most importantly, making sure that students graduate. This was the beginning of the SEEK program as we know it today: SEEK invests in the future of New York City by supporting NYC residents with high potential from low income families. As a result, our students go on to graduate and establish careers, whereby they inspire, mentor and support others in our community. Within these pages, we want to showcase the SEEK community; we highlight the skills and the accomplishments of our student scholars and share advice from our alumni. We also welcome your ideas for articles, submissions for publication or even joining in our newsletter committee. For now, I hope you will enjoy our fall newsletter and share it among your family and friends. Regards, Annette Hernández SEEK Program Director

SEEK PROGRAM IN TOP 5 By Sherley Boursiquot

WASHINGTON, D.C.—September 22, 2015—Dr. Annette Hernández, Director of Lehman’s Percy Ellis Sutton SEEK program received a certificate on behalf of the SEEK Program after being nominated for the nationally prestigious ¡Excelencia! in Education 2015 Examples of Excelencia Award. ¡Excelencia! in Educationis a nonprofit organization that recognizes programs dedicated to Latino success in higher education. Lehman’s SEEK Program remained one of the top 5 finalists after running up against over 250 nominees from programs in 30 states, including Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Other baccalaureate programs that were also recognized during the ¡Excelencia! in Education 2015 awards ceremony are as follows: Latino Initiative Program (Utah Valley University), Mathematics Intensive Summer Session (California State University), and Sam Houston Establishing Leadership In and Through Education--SH ELITE (Sam Houston State University). However, this year, Lehman College’s SEEK Program was the only CUNY program that had received this special recognition. Photo by Rodney Choice “This program has been in existence for almost 50 years; it is a recognition of all the teamwork that has taken place right here at Lehman College and the students who are part of the SEEK Program,” said Hernández.

Hernández, who has been working for SEEK for 12 years, could not be happier that all of the hard work has finally paid off. She indicated that it was the first time Lehman College’s SEEK Program has ever been recognized in this manner. When asked what did she and the staff do differently to come this far, Hernández said, “We have done many things. In addition to having a wonderful staff, we are constantly trying to improve the Program’s services, and implement new ideas that can benefit our SEEK students.” At Lehman, the SEEK Program, which stands for Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge, provides its students—high school graduates—who are in need of academic and financial support, with specialized advisement and counseling, tutoring, supplemental instruction, and financial assistance. SEEK is celebrating 50 years at The City University of New York in spring 2016, and according to Hernández, this award is a testament to her belief that New York legislators created one of the “best programs” in this state. □

Photos by Robert Cole

By Sherley Boursiquot

In summer 2015 the SEEK Program decided to

turn it up a notch and do something totally different for our incoming freshmen. We decided to have a SEEK talent show — our very first time hosting an event of this caliber. Thankfully, it was a success!

The event brought many students together which gave them an opportunity to share their wonderful talents with their fellow summer classmates. Many artistic skills were showcased such as: singing, rapping, poetry, and drumming. We had it all— we even had a brown belt student perform karate!


The talent show was not only about students expressing Ms. Holloway-Pinnock, Shakieva Harris, Pamela Pena, Massiel Diaz, Danny themselves but more Benalcazar, Michelle Polanco, Roshani Bohara and Mr. Luna so to unify the Lehman College SEEK community, especially SEEK students and SEEK staff. Seek Got Talent, as mentioned earlier, was something that hasn’t been implemented in years prior. Ordinarily, before incoming freshmen begin the Fall semester, SEEK provides them with multiple summer courses so that they can have a head start by the time they enter the new academic year. We would then reward them with fun activities such as scavenger hunts, but nothing beats our first SEEK talent show. See for yourself! Check out the recap video on the following page. Moreover, SEEK counselor, Pedro Luna, says, “The primary purpose of the summer program is to enhance students' critical thinking skills in the areas of English language, math and science. Students also learn how to take full advantages of the various support available to them through SEEK and Lehman College at large.” Since the first year of Seek talent show was successful, we do plan on having it again, and Luna couldn’t agree more. He stressed that it is essential to continue to “create opportunities for students to share their unique talents with others.”

Indeed it is. □

See our performers in action. Click to see video.

What a perfect way to end the summer, right? If this past summer was

Sizzling HOT we can’t wait for next summer!

By Julie Sriken Photos by Robert Cole

How one SEEK Alumnus conquered the MCAT and got into medical school

It’s a beautiful spring day and the Lehman College campus is lush with thick grass and blooming flowers. Under the warmth of the afternoon sun, SEEK Counselor, Robert Cole, takes us on a walk around the quad in search of the perfect spots to take some pictures. In between shots, Victor Nnah tells me about his upcoming move to Tennessee, where he will begin medical training. Nnah exudes calmness even as he is about to embark on a life-changing move next week. “I’m excited to get my medical degree but I’m sad to be leaving my friends and family,” he says. Nnah, who is part of the Fall 2015 entering class at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, will have to locate housing, adjust to a new city, make new friends and keep up in his medical studies. As challenging as this all sounds, Nnah wouldn’t have it any other way. “At the end of the day, this is something I need to do,” he says, “I want to help the underserved. I’m interested in cardiology, but I’m keeping my mind open at this point.”

“I want to help the underserved.”

This desire to help the underserved was inspired

by Nnah’s observations in Nigeria, where he lived until the age of ten. “In my village, if someone needed to get medical care, they had to go to the city which was 15-20 miles away, and I thought it shouldn’t be that way. No matter how people are living, they should be able to get care in their neighborhood, in their communities,” he said. “The top issues back home [in Nigeria] were lack of access to health care, hospitals and quality care.” Nnah left Nigeria and moved to the Bronx at age ten. “I came with my family: three brothers, one sister and my parents. We came for a better opportunity – education and economic opportunities,” he said. Eight years later, he was ready for college and sought a school where he could take advantage of the educational opportunities in the United States. Remembering his first impression of Lehman College and of the SEEK program, he says, “When I visited the campus I felt comfortable and I met people like Pedro [Luna], who made me feel welcome and supported, so I felt I would succeed in this environment.” It was this support that ultimately helped Nnah make progress toward his dream of becoming a doctor. “SEEK has been behind my back supporting me the whole time. Having the right mentor around, having someone to talk to really helped a lot. SEEK also helped me out when I was studying for the MCAT and helped pay for the MCAT prep course. Even when I needed a job on campus SEEK help,”Nnah remembers. SEEK director, Dr. Hernandez, also referred Nnah to the Learning Center where he was hired as a tutor for several challenging courses including principles of biology, human biology, general chemistry and organic chemistry. Moreover, being involved with SEEK was critical for Nnah because he went through a period of self-doubt and confusion following his graduation from Lehman College in 2011. After receiving his multidisciplinary B.S. in Anthropology / Biology / Chemistry, Nnah studied and took the MCAT but wasn’t able to get the requisite score for medical school. “I gave it all I had and I wasn’t getting the scores I needed. I thought ‘maybe I should change my career goals. Maybe medical school isn’t the right place for me.’ I would go to Pedro who would encourage me to be persistent.” With this encouragement, he reached out to medical students for advice and revised his test-taking strategy over the following three years. Now, having successfully earned the scores needed for medical school, Nnah describes the change in his approach to the MCAT: “The MCAT is not about knowledge. It’s about skill. You have to develop a skill for this taking this particular test.” These skills included understanding the format of the test, the types of questions and developing test-taking speed. With the grueling MCAT exam behind him, Nnah is ecstatic about starting medical school and his future medical career. “My initial plan is to come back to New York but I might like it in Tennessee,” he said with a smile and a shrug. ”Whether I begin practicing medicine in a big city or small town, it doesn’t really matter. I just want to help underserved areas gain access to physicians,” Nnah noted. However, Nnah gave most of the credit of his starting success to the mentors from the SEEK department, and prescribed the following advice to SEEK students in hopes that what he shares, will be greatly considered: “Have the right mentor when you’re going through hard times. Believe in yourself – It will happen. Everything comes down to having the right mentorship.” □

Keeping up with Ms. Maldonado

Photo by Robert Cole

By Miamichelle Abad


enise Maldonado, class of 2016, shares with us her dreams for a career in service of

others throughout her stay in Lehman college. SEEK: How has the SEEK program helped you during your time at Lehman College? DMaldonado: Since coming into Lehman, SEEK has helped me feel much more at ease as a student. I was nervous at first, but keeping regular visits with my counselor has helped me feel more focused and excited to learn.

SEEK: How did being from a low-income household influence your view of success? DMaldonado: I am from a low-income household and am doing very well in school, so I believe in my heart that others like me can also do well and graduate. People from neighborhoods like mine most likely have experienced hardships. If you want to make a difference for yourself and make it into the middle class, you have to use your mind and determination to get there. It’s hard but nothing is impossible. I want to show people that individuals, such as myself, who were brought up in the projects, on welfare, and in an environment prone to drugs and violence, are more than that environment. We can make positive changes in the world. It takes a lot of resolve and careful decision-making; I used to hang out with people who began using drugs at a very young age and knew that if I hung around them, they’d drag me into it. So I had to choose very early on to go against the flow of the life around me. I had to help myself first. Also, in my career, I want to help people become better and do better for themselves, help them see their potential and gain a sense of self-efficacy. SEEK: Are you part of any clubs/organizations on campus? What’s your favorite memory of campus life? DMaldonado: I am part of XAE (Chi Alpha Epsilon): the S.E.E.K honor society, and the Golden Key honor society. My favorite memory of campus life was the leadership center, because I have learned to be a leader in my community and make positive contributions to people's daily lives. The leadership center helped me become more open to new experiences, people, and ways of thinking within everyday life. It also has helped me understand that, I can help people in my community and at school by volunteering and giving advice. SEEK: What are some of your career goals? DMaldonado: I am a social work major, and I plan on attending grad school, but won’t apply immediately. I want to get some experience within the area of social work first. I would like to explore clinical work and possibly work with head-start children and families or look into mental health and/or therapy. I want to be able to gradually help people and be there for them and their families. I want to work with youth, possibly adults also. SEEK: What advice would you give incoming students to Lehman College? DMaldonado: I would tell students to have an open mind when coming here. There are so many majors to explore, so you don’t have to rush to choose a major. Take your time and find something you’d love that can turned into a career, not just a job. □

Denise poses with fellow XAE members Rehab, Andrea and Gawa (l. to r.) on SEEK Honors Day, May 2015.



By Miamichelle Abad

Preface In addition to managing academic stress, SEEK students have to navigate the unpredictable world of health and medicine. We live in a country suffering from preventable diseases and are presented with a myriad of ointments, supplements and concoctions aimed at treating these diseases. The advice we get from doctors, friends, news reports and articles may contradict each other. Despite mixed signals, it’s possible to lead a practical, healthy lifestyle which can be a challenge to most college students since we’re always busy with work and school. The following pages will delve into ways in which we can shape our own health path, without the added weight of junk science!

The Game Plan Despite the confusing assortment of health information such as news reports tarnishing the golden image of milk or Dr. Oz’s elaborate, but good willed health tips, there is still hope. Two members of the Lehman College community bring their expertise to the plate. Visiting dietician, Mary Ellen Dorfman, recently visited Lehman College to hold brief nutrition sessions for students. She defined healthy eating as,

“A. you have to eat enough, enough, B. control portions and C. eat more fruits and vegetables.” vegetables.”



According to, half of our plate should be fruits and vegetables and half of our grains should be whole. The site has tips for maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. For on-the-go students, hit the gym with friends, join an intramural team, and take the stairs instead of the elevator next time. Executive chef on campus, Hector Morales, has played a proactive role in student health through food. Morales was responsible for many changes—sending out daily menu emails and offering healthier choices—at the school’s cafeteria. He’s noticed that Lehman students mostly eat chicken, fish, salads and lots of sandwiches, which is why he plans on expanding the menu to include ethnic, vegan, and gluten free options. Morales’ go to healthy meal is steamed vegetables, but he notes that submerging it in water takes away the nutritional value, so always steam rather than boil to retain the vitamins. Another problem we face is huge portion sizes. Dorfman clarified that portion sizes are based on height, gender and muscle mass. has a calorie calculator that can help estimate the amount of calories you need in a day according to your weight and height. At, the recommended calories are 2,000 for women and 2,400 calories for men ages 19-30. Despite her job title, Dorfman keeps it simple, when it comes to counting calories she simply doesn’t do it, because “it’s about how you feel.” Just remember her wise words “overcompensation happens when we hardly eat” so don’t try a trendy diet just do what works for you, one step at a time. □

Conflicting information: old standbys may not be accurate

Got Milk? Revisiting the Cow By Miamichelle Abad

Example: In fall 2014, Fox News and Time magazine reported that there is controversy surrounding America’s classic beverage, milk. For decades we’ve been told to drink milk three times a day to build strong bones and prevent diseases like osteoporosis, but that could change. A new study, facilitated by Swedish researchers, claims that drinking the daily amount of milk can “double women’s risk of dying in 20 years.” The main culprit was identified as the sugar D-galactose. This sugar is said to “increase oxidative stress” and when tested on certain animals it can decrease their lifespan. Time magazine added that Dgalactose can speed up the aging process and even lead to more bone fractures in women. This article is a prime example of how research may contradict long-standing nutrition advice. Although the findings appear bleak, there’s no need to boycott milk just yet. The authors and researchers of reveal that the study was observational and “not meant to draw causal conclusions.” Nevertheless, follow up studies have to be done to produce more conclusive data.

Conflicting information: who is the proper authority figure? Example: Oprah’s favorite doctor, Dr. Mehemet Oz, has inadvertently played a part in the miscommunication of health tips. As a medical powerhouse on daytime television, Dr. Oz offers a daily dose of hope and inspiration to his audience. However, he has a tendency to heighten the level of his show by introducing “breakthrough” findings and “radical” weight loss plans. There’s no doubt that he’s a fully qualified medical professional, but when he suggests that there’s a “miracle” weight loss product that can be a cure all, it can conflict conventional methods. In “The Operator”, New Yorker writer Michael Specter, provides an in-depth account of Dr. Oz. The profile talks about the many tests and studies Dr. Oz has conducted on his show, citing the levels of arsenic in apple juice and following a report that claims genetically modified foods “can damage your health and even cause cancer.” Specter notes, “Oz has been criticized by scientists for relying on flimsy or incomplete data and wielding his vast influence in ways that threaten the health of anyone who watches the show.” Ironically, the report on the risks of GMO foods was deemed inaccurate by various researchers, but Dr. Oz didn’t update the audience. In line with that argument, dietician Mary Ellen Dorfman revealed that “Organic foods are not regulated by the government (FDA)”, a revelation that can surprise health nuts. He was recently under fire about a certain weight loss supplement, the green coffee bean extract. An ABC news article by Shushannah Walshe, highlights the discontent of Senator McCaskill who questioned Oz’s reason behind advocating the product saying, “it’s something that you can buy and it’s something that gives people false hope.” Amid the backlash, Dr. Oz added, “I recognize that often times they don’t have the scientific muster to present as fact. But, I give my audience the advice I give my family all the time.” Dietician Mary Ellen Dorfman offers a more practical and affordable way to safely improve your health by saying “cooking your own food is more economical and you know what goes in it.” By Miamichelle Abad

e B o t d o o G o To True

Have No Fear, SEEK Tutors

By Sherley Boursiquot

Welcome SEEK students! As we start off this new fall semester (2015), the SEEK program is urging all SEEK students to take advantage of the SEEK Learning Center in order to get a head start on a successful academic year. The SEEK Learning Center (located in the Old Gym building Room 212), is a place where students, like yourself, can schedule appointments for tutoring on a variety of subjects you may have issues with or subjects you wish to excel in more. The SEEK Learning Center Academic Support Manager, Walter Valero, says, “We want to give students the tools and habits to develop skills they need to become productive and successful college students.” But, before you walk through that door, here are three things you need to know about the SEEK Learning Center:

1. There are up to 30 part time tutors—many of them have already obtained a Bachelor's or a Master's degree. So don’t fret, you are in great hands! In addition, there are tutors who are also current Lehman college students, who have excelled in their studies. Students interested in becoming a SEEK tutor, must have a minimum GPA of a 3.0, and must have an A in the subject that they are tutoring; for math and science, the two traditional difficult subjects, a minimum of a B+ is required. 2. Among the subjects that are covered include: Reading, Writing, Humanities, Social Science, Math, and Science. SEEK Learning Center even offers special workshops in math and science: supplemental instruction (SI) which gives students the opportunity to compare notes, discuss readings, develop organizational tools, and predict test items. To be sure, the service offered to the SEEK Learning Center will improve students academic performances. 3. Other services include: one-on-one tutoring; students will get the full and in-depth attention that he or she needs, as well as group tutoring, which allows students the opportunity to collaborate and learn in groups. The SEEK learning center is open Mon-Fri from 9am-5pm. Stop by at your convenience for assistance during these hours.

Now, that you have an idea of what to expect, do not hesitate to go to the SEEK Learning Center main office at the Old Gym, Room 212 to schedule an appointment. Remember the earlier, the better. You wouldn’t want to wait in the middle of the fall semester to seek assistance. Take advantage now! Another word of advice: always show up to your appointments on time. If you know that you’ll be late or you won’t be coming in, call the SEEK Learning Center and/or your tutor. Tutors are always ready to support and help you be successful at Lehman College. For an updated tutor directory, please visit the SEEK Learning Center or call (718)-9607705. □

Photo by Robert Cole SEEK tutor Gabriella explains the finer points of chemistry

Wishing you a great Fall 2015 term! □

Rumble In the Bronx By Wayne Nesmith & Julie Sriken Photos by Robert Cole

“Fighting,” Michael Saldana said with a sheepish grin. “Yeah I was fighting in the first or second grade, so that’s when my family decided to put me in Catholic school.” He continued, “It was the best decision ever because I didn’t feel like I had to come to school and hit somebody to get them off my back.” Despite his penchant for rumbling in the Bronx, Michael has since learned to channel his drive differently. He graduated with numerous honors in May 2015 including: summa cum laude, Presidential Scholar, departmental honors in Economics and Business, Chi Alpha Epsilon (XAE) National Honors Society, Delta Psi chapter, Golden Key International Honors Society, Phi Beta Kappa, Chi Chapter and SEEK honors for the highest GPA for the senior grade level.

Originally from the Bronx, Saldana grew up with his parents, his siblings: two brothers and a sister, as well as his maternal grandmother. The “younger” version of Saldana used to fight and party all the time, in

Photo by : Robert Cole

comparison to the mature and studious Saldana . “I believe that I lived my first 40 years within my first 20. So when I got into college it was just business. I got it out of my system. I already felt like I was 27 - 28,” Saldana said. “I had a lot of family trouble when I was younger. It was due to the people I used to hang around with. I started hanging around with an older crowd, and I was the youngest.” Saldana noted that a lot of his friends from back then, did and sold drugs, and some even killed people too. Though, Saldana never got involved with drugs, he felt that they had always accepted him for who he was. “They are still my best friends, but some of them have passed away, and they were less than 30 of age.” He added, “ You learn a lot from watching, and they always say that smart people always learn from their mistakes and wise people learn from everybody else’s mistakes. They kind of saved my life.”

“Work hard, never give up on your dreams”

Reflecting on what drew him to fighting, Saldana said, “No one ever used to directly mess with me. I used to defend everybody else if I was cool with them. As you get older, you learn that there are certain causes worth fighting for, and you start to realize that not everyone is your friend.” But the urge to fight never left Saldana. “I got into Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) two to three years ago – I actually got into it because I used to get into trouble when I was younger. You know a lot of people that have seen me [street] fight said, ‘you know Michael, you’re really good, you should get into MMA.’” After years of MMA, not only is Saldana is in great shape, but he knows how to channel in his emotions better— after all, his main reason for taking part in MMA, was so that it can help him “unleash everything” that he has inside. Mixed Martial Arts is Saldana’s passion, but he also has a passion for money. Growing up, Saldana’s family did not have a lot of money, so careful budgeting was important in his household. As Saldana got older, he took on more and more responsibility for managing his family’s finances, and discovered not only did

he excel at it, but he also enjoyed doing it too. “I love to count, organize, save and wisely spend money,” he said with a smile. Realizing his talent for dealing with money, Saldana then decided to go off to college to pursue an accounting major. “It’s the groundwork for opening your own business.” He explains, “I always say that if you know what is going in and out of your business, you’ll never be able to get jerked by anybody. I don’t know whether my future business would be a gym or maybe even a fighting gym, but I know I’m going to be really good at it.” Saldana’s family was very supportive of his choice to attend Lehman College, but unfortunately, his grandmother, whom he described as a motherly figure, never lived to see Saldana attend college. “My mother and father, were really proud of me. They each did two years in their respective colleges but then they dropped out because they didn’t have a program like SEEK. We were the first generation who was allowed that privilege, but they were not that fortunate,” he said. Through SEEK, Saldana was able to graduate college without debt. The summer before his senior year, Saldana applied for accounting firms including the prestigious Deloitte and KPMG. Both were impressed by his outstanding resume and extracurricular activities. Saldana eventually chose to work with KPMG stating it was a good fit personality-wise as well as career-wise. “I’ve got my degree, my job, and I can finally take the CPA exam,” he said. Saldana began his new position in October 2015. □

Michael presented the inductees to XAE at SEEK Honors Day 2015

SEEK Grads Share Their Secrets to Success As told to Julie Sriken Photos by Robert Cole

Graduation is a huge accomplishment. This year, Lehman College will bestow the baccalaureate degree on 152 SEEK students. In the following pages, four SEEK students, Ailin Del Rosario, Felix Hilario, Latoya Speller and Iovannia Vasquez, were interviewed right before graduation and they shared their feelings about graduation, discussed their biggest supporters and gave advice for SEEK students who are still working toward their degree.

Ailin Del Rosario

“Never give up�

I can't wait for graduation. I can't believe I made it after so many ups and downs. I attribute this achievement to my mother, my grandma, SEEK members, my high school teacher, college professors, and to my desire to succeed and make my parents proud. I would like to give special thanks to Angelia Holloway-Pinnock, Alex Cruz, Jane Cleland, John Paul and some others that were part of this. One way or the other, they were there for me. They supported me emotionally and academically. They helped me not to give up during difficult times. Thanks to their support, I am graduating. My best advice to a new SEEK student is: to never give up, no matter how hard things get. You are not alone. You should know that SEEK staffs are there to help you and they will do so gladly. They are the best.

Photo by Robert Cole

Graduation feels like moving ahead in a long road to stability. This opens up doors for more opportunities. I had multiple supporters during school. In some small ways or big ways, I took the advice and lessons from these supporters and pushed myself to improve areas where my skills needed development.

Take things a semester at a time. Focus on the immediate future. Sometimes thinking too far ahead can hinder what's right in front of you.

-Felix Hilario

After all of this hard work, we can finally celebrate with graduation. It feels like middle school after a long day of class and the bell finally rings for recess! I will be celebrating my graduation surrounded by my closest friends and family. My uncle has military duty during my graduation, so I will have him in mind during the day. My biggest supporters were my three closest friends and my grandma. My friends were there whenever I had a breakdown from the workload and stress, and my grandma was always there to remind me of my goals and to give me her wise words of wisdom. No matter how tough things get,

keep on keepin' on. You may have a hard time for different reasons such as: commuting, finances, jobs, parents, or family just to name a few, but remind yourself why you are here. At the end of it all, you'll look back and be proud that despite the challenges, you were able to succeed and make your dream a reality.

-Iovannia Vasquez

Latoya Speller

“Be proactive�

Photo by Robert Cole

It is a magnificent feeling to be graduating, and I'm very excited. It was not an easy road to success, but I'm very proud of myself and my achievements. I will celebrate by spending time with my loved ones and friends. We will have lunch together after commencement followed by a party on the beach during Memorial Day weekend. My biggest supporters were my two daughters Zyaira and Janiya. They have supported me from the very beginning and inspired me to continue further. At Lehman College, the Percy Ellis SEEK program and TRIO has supported me tremendously in my academics. I am very thankful and appreciative for SEEK and TRIO, because without their support, my journey at Lehman College, may not have been as easy going and rewarding. I would advise other students to be very proactive in their academic career, and take it very seriously because no one has to support you. However, it is very helpful when you can get the support.

For the Love of the Game By Sherley Boursiquot

NEW YORK, NY – JULY 15, 2015 – The New York Liberty defeated the San Antonio Silver Stars, 84-68, on a sticky Wednesday afternoon at Madison Square Garden in front of 18,617 people, including SEEK students from Lehman College most of whom have never been to a women’s basketball game before. This trip was courtesy of TRiO Pathways to Success, a program helping SEEK students who meet certain income, first-generation and/or disability criteria. The last time the New York Liberty drew a crowd that large was on August 11, 2002 when 19,563 fans came to watch a Liberty game at The Garden against the Charlotte Sting. Photo by Robert Cole

Point Guard Sugar Rodgers, was Liberty’s top performer on Wednesday, and was in the game for 22 minutes. She scored a total of 13 points, 4 rebounds, 5 ast (assists), and 2 stl (steals). “Defense! Defense!” the crowd chanted. Rodgers shoots, and she scores! Swoosh! The crowd went wild yet again, they knew Rodgers had game, and of course, Rodgers did too. While Rodgers was doing everything in her power to stay afloat and keep her head in the game, another player, Candice Wiggins, who is also a guard, was watching the game intently and strategizing ways she can dominate her opponents. Wiggins, who suffered from a concussion on June 30 while playing against Washington Mystics, was on the court for 8 minutes and scored only 2 points in that game. Nevertheless, her first game back playing against the San Antonio Silver Stars, after suffering from a concussion, was a success. Wiggins came back stronger than ever, and ready to win. She played 9 minutes during the fourth quarter: 1 rebound and 1 defensive rebound. th

Wiggins noted that she was overwhelmed with the amount of love the audience had showed on Wednesday, which in the end, boosted her energy even more. “In terms of light and sounds, this is probably the most heightened I have ever played in ever. It was kind of amazing,” she said. When asked about her performance on the court, she said she was really “proud of herself,” even if she came in the game fairly late. “I didn’t really get into the game until the fourth quarter. It is really tough to be ready on the bench for three quarters, sitting there cold while you are watching the game, but you get a lot of opportunities to watch the game. So, I came in there fourth quarter, and my whole focus was ‘What do I need to do to get this team better?’ I kind of saw all of the mistakes that were made. I knew that I was going to avoid all of that, and the biggest thing is just knocking down the shots.”

So what were some of the mistakes Liberty made, one may ask? Well according to Wiggins, “They were playing in the zone defense, so we were not moving the ball right; we were not in the right spots or location. It was very simple. We just needed to have better spacing, just have a little bit more poise and good ball movement.” There were about a dozen SEEK students who came to watch Liberty play, but one seek student in particular, D’NetraCeleste Artis, like Wiggins, also felt that Liberty made a few minor mistakes. “They weren’t taking their time, and not taking it [the game] too seriously,” Artis said. Fortunately, as soon as Wiggins came into the game, things started to change for the better. Though at first, things weren’t going as smoothly. “I had the first three in the corners, I missed it, it was in and out, that was going in, but you have to think like a 50 percent shooter, meaning you missed your first shot, the next shot is going in,” Wiggins said. “You have to have that confidence,” she continued, “so I knew the next one was going to go in. As soon as I came into the game, we started moving the ball around, and bang bang game over.” The New York Liberty won, and of course, the crowd went berserk. Yet, even though Liberty won, Artis couldn’t help but to feel “bad” for women’s basketball overall: “We should give women more credit,” she said. WNBA have 17 home games, and 34 games whereas male players have a total of 82 games and 41 at home; WNBA players have to be at least 22 years of age, a college graduate, (or about to graduate) as opposed to the male players whose age limit is now set to 20 (initially the age limit for male players, was set at 19 prior to the 2006 NBA draft— before League Commissioner Adam Silver came into the picture). Still, male players are only required to spend at least two years in college. As far as popularity goes, men’s college and professional basketball had always been a mainstream sport in the U.S. since the 1940’s, and women have been playing just as long, yet, their fan base falls very short compared to men. To say that there is an imbalance between the two, is an understatement. Seek student, Elijah Gordon, a senior at Lehman College, briefly highlighted the differences between men and women’s basketball based on Wednesday’s game. He says although the game [the New York Liberty vs the San Antonio Silver Stars] was entertaining, “It wasn’t as fast paced as the men’s game and it didn’t have as many explosive plays.” Albeit, he was still impressed with all of the women’s performances. “Pretty high scoring game too so obviously these women can play,” he said. MSG Networks carried 34 Liberty regular season games. On Tuesday, September 29, 2015, The New York Liberty played against The Indiana Fever and lost by 15 points, 66-51; they had the best record during the regular season and were the favorites heading into the Photo by Robert Cole playoffs. Due to this loss they will not head to the WNBA Finals. Nonetheless, The New York Liberty made SEEK proud. □

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Seek Newsletter Fall 2015  

SEEK Got Talent, alumni advice, Michael Saldana, Denise Maldonado, Victor Nnah, Candice Wiggins, healthy eating, SEEK finalist for award

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