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  •  New Exhibition at Queens Museum Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Queens Pride Parade
    New Exhibition at Queens Museum Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Queens Pride Parade


    The Lavender Line: Coming Out in Queens: June 10 to July 30, 2017

    Draws from records of City Council Member Daniel Dromm who co-founded Queens Pride, and explores how the 1990 hate crime murder of Julio Rivera impacted the LGBTQ movement in Queens

    —Presented by the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives at
    LaGuardia Community College—


    Queens Museum Exhibition

    A museum visitor examines The Lavender Line: Coming Out in Queens exhibition at the Queens Museum (credit: LaGuardia Community College).


    Queens, NY (June 12, 2017)—Marking the 25th anniversary of the Queens Pride Parade, a new multimedia exhibition at the Queens Museum spotlights the largely unknown history of LGBTQ activism in Queens from the 1990s to the present. The exhibition runs through July 30 and is located in the Museum’s famed Panorama Room. The Lavender Line: Coming Out in Queens, draws largely from the Collection of Queens City Council Member Daniel Dromm, recently acquired by the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives at LaGuardia Community College, which is presenting the exhibit.


    This exhibition curated by LaGuardia commercial photography faculty Thierry Gourjon and Javier Larenas, and by LaGuardia’s Gardiner-Shenker Student Scholars, marks the first-ever showing of materials from the Dromm Collection. The exhibition’s title celebrates lavender as both a symbol of the original gay liberation movement and the color of a line marking the Queens Pride Parade route in Jackson Heights.


    Following a series of anti-gay incidents in the early 1990s, including the brutal murder of Julio Rivera, and controversy over references to same-sex couples in the Children of the Rainbow Curriculum, Dromm and fellow activist Maritza Martinez co-founded the Queens Lesbian & Gay Pride Committee, Inc., known as Queens Pride. One of their first acts was to organize a march to take their advocacy to the streets. The first Queens Pride Parade in 1993 drew 1,000 marchers. Today it’s an annual tradition that attracts crowds of over 40,000, and draws support of politicians and corporate sponsors.


    With both historical and contemporary work, The Lavender Line comprises photographs, flyers, video footage, and audio recollections, illustrating the pride and protests of a community unknown to most New Yorkers. The title celebrates lavender not only as a symbol of the original gay liberation movement but also as the color of the line painted on the Queens Pride Parade route along 37th Avenue, from 89th Street to 75th Street.


    The contemporary photographs in the exhibition by LaGuardia’s Gardiner-Shenker Student Scholars chronicle a range of Queens LGBTQ social organizations and cultural institutions. These include centers that offer social and counseling services as well as bars that function as leisure and entertainment spaces. What results is a representation of struggle and pride that continues today.


    “Queens has its own unique lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) history and people should know about it,” said NYC Council Education Committee Chairperson Daniel Dromm (D - Jackson Heights, Elmhurst). "We didn’t just one day wake up and have same sex marriage. It’s been a long struggle for LGBT acceptance especially in the borough once known for being the home of Archie Bunker. This exhibition highlights a dynamic period in the history of the Queens LGBT rights movement. The anti-gay murder of Julio Rivera and the battle over the Children of the Rainbow Curriculum are Queens’ equivalent of the Stonewall Rebellion.” 


    Through his work on Queens Pride, Dromm came out publicly as gay. Dromm, who at the time was a public school elementary teacher in Queens, was called before a school board disciplinary hearing where he was "ordered never to discuss his homosexuality with his fourth-grade students.” He stood firm and refused to be silenced; this activism helped seed his decision to leave teaching for public office.


    City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer contributed materials from his personal archives to The Lavender Line: Coming Out in Queens. Van Bramer, then a student at St John’s University, drew attention in the 1990s for his activism work encouraging members of the LGBTQ community to stand proud and in public, and for raising awareness of the AIDS epidemic and bias crimes.


    “For far too long, the stories, experiences, trials, and victories of the LGBTQ movement in our country and in Queens have often gone untold,” said Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “The history of the LGBTQ movement in Queens is a deeply human story of ordinary people fighting for the right to openly and freely love without fear. I’m thankful and honored for the opportunity to contribute personal pieces to the new Lavender Line: Coming Out in Queens exhibition at the Queens Museum.”


    "The Queens Museum is very proud to be a part of the celebration of such an important milestone for the history of LGBTQAI advocacy and rights. Our involvement exemplifies our commitment to the communities that find a home here at the Museum, and our desire to address with urgency the factors that threaten freedom and diversity," said Laura Raicovich, Executive Director of the Queens Museum.


    “Most New Yorkers don’t know that Queens was the first outer borough to publicly support gay rights by holding a parade. We developed this exhibition to share the remarkable stories of LGBTQ activism in Queens, which have been largely absent from the historical narrative,” said Richard Lieberman, PhD, professor of history and director of the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives. “It’s an incredible story of activism in the face of tremendous opposition.”


    “This is an important exhibition to both the history of New York City and the story of LGBTQ activism in Queens, and we’re enormously proud of the work of our faculty, staff, and students that went into creating it,” said LaGuardia Community College President Gail O. Mellow. “The opportunity for our students to learn valuable research and curatorial skills, while working on this significant exhibition, is sure to benefit their professional careers. And it showcases our LaGuardia and Wagner Archives, the only archives of its kind to document NYC’s social and political history.”


    Lavender Line Group Shot

    Honored guests at the opening reception for The Lavender Line: Coming Out in Queens on Friday, June 9, 2017 (credit: LaGuardia Community College).


    “The project gave me an excellent opportunity to get to know the Queens LGBTQ community,” said Jham Valenzuela, a LaGuardia student who worked on the exhibition. “And as a gay man, this project was deeply fulfilling to me on a personal level.”


    NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray with Jham Valenzuela

    NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray shakes hands with Jham Valenzuela, one of the LaGuardia Community College Gardiner-Shenker student scholars who worked on the exhibit (credit: LaGuardia Community College).


    “I am proud to have contributed my papers and artifacts from the last 25 years to help create this commemoration. I thank the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives at LaGuardia Community College and the Queens Museum for producing this extremely important display,” added Dromm.


    To capture additional information about the LGBTQ movement in Queens from the 1990s to today, the Queens Memory project at the Queens Library conducted interviews with members of the Queens LGBTQ community and will encourage The Lavender Line: Coming Out in Queens visitors to use their mobile app to contribute their memories. Additionally, an audio booth will be set up at the Museum where visitors can contribute their memories of this period to this archival collection. 


    To supplement the Queens Pride celebrations, the Queens Museum will screen Julio of Jackson Heights, a documentary about Julio Rivera’s murder, on June 18.


    After the conclusion of the exhibition at the Queens Museum, The Lavender Line: Coming Out in Queens will travel to all five CUNY campuses in Queens, dates TBD.


    The exhibition is made possible through generous support from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, and the New York City Council through the office of Daniel Dromm.


    • • • •


    About the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives at LaGuardia Community College
    The LaGuardia and Wagner Archives, established in 1982, serves as a repository for NYC’s social and political history, which includes the largest collection of New York City mayoral papers. Archive records include the personal papers and official documents of Mayors Fiorello H. LaGuardia, Robert F. Wagner, Abraham D. Beame and Edward I. Koch, the records of the New York City Housing Authority, the piano maker Steinway & Sons, The Council of the City of New York and a Queens Local History Collection. Assets from these collections are regularly referenced in news stories, and studied by journalists, policy makers, and other researchers. The Archives regularly produces public programs exploring its collections, including an annual calendar produced in partnership with The New York Times and the City University of New York. Each year, the calendar is devoted to a theme of importance to the Greater New York Metropolitan area. The 2017 calendar is devoted to housing in NYC. Click here to learn more.


    About LaGuardia Community College
    LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, educates more than 50,000 New Yorkers annually through degree, certificate, and continuing education programs. Our guiding principle Dare To Do More reflects our belief in the transformative power of education—not just for individuals, but for our community and our country—creating pathways for achievement and safeguarding the middle class. LaGuardia is a national voice on behalf of community colleges, where half of all US college students study. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), the College reflects the legacy of our namesake, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the former NYC mayor beloved for his championing the underserved. Since our doors opened in 1971, our programs regularly become national models for pushing boundaries to give people of all backgrounds access to a high quality, affordable college education. We invite you to join us in imagining what our students, our community, and our country can become. Visit www.LaGuardia.edu to learn more. Or on Twitter at @LaGuardiaLIC.


    About the Queens Museum
    The Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park features contemporary art, events of hyperlocal and international impact, and educational programs reflecting the diversity of Queens and New York City. Changing exhibitions present the work of emerging and established artists, both local and global, that often explore contemporary social issues, as well as the rich history of its site. In November 2013, the Museum reopened with an expanded footprint of 105,000 square feet, a soaring skylit atrium, a suite of daylight galleries, nine artist studios, and flexible event space. The Museum works outside its walls through engagement initiatives ranging from multilingual outreach and educational opportunities for adult immigrants, to a plethora of community led art and activism projects. The Museum's educational programming connects with schoolchildren, teens, families, seniors as well as those individuals with physical and mental disabilities. The Queens Museum is located on property owned in full by the City of New York, and its operation is made possible in part by public funds provided through the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Visit www.queensmuseum.org. On Twitter at @queensmuseum.


    About the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation
    The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, established in 1987, primarily supports the study of New York State history. Robert David Lion Gardiner was, until his death in August 2004, the 16th Lord of the Manor of Gardiner’s Island, NY. The Gardiner family and their descendants have owned Gardiner’s Island since 1639, obtained as part of a royal grant from King Charles I of England. The Foundation is inspired by Robert David Lion Gardiner’s personal passion for New York history.


    The purpose of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation is:


    • To educate and inform the general public in the State of New York, particularly in the area of the Town of Islip and more generally in Suffolk County, concerning the culture, art and tradition of the locality;
    • To cultivate, foster and promote interest in, and understanding and appreciation of the societal heritage of Town of Islip, particularly during the nineteenth century;
    • To encourage and sponsor the creation and perpetuation by existing and future historical societies of collections and repositories for the deposit, collection and examination of documents and artifacts of various kinds relevant to such heritage and traditions; and
    • To sponsor and encourage the preservation, restoration and exhibition by existing and future historical societies of at least one facility appropriate to such purpose.


    ####


    Exhibition Listing


    The LavenderLine: Coming Out in Queens


    What:  Marking the 25th anniversary of Queens Pride Parade is a new multimedia exhibition at the Queens Museum that spotlights the largely unknown history of LGBTQ activism in Queens from the 1990s to the present.


    The exhibition explores the impact of the 1990 hate crime murder of Julio Rivera, and the blocked “Children of the Rainbow” curriculum, on the LGBTQ movement in Queens. The exhibition draws from records of City Council Member Daniel Dromm who co-founded Queens Pride, and from the personal archives of City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer.


    Why:  While Manhattan is well-recognized as the birthplace of NYC’s LGBTQ movement, the remarkable stories of LGBTQ activism in Queens are largely absent from the historical narrative. It's an incredible story of activism in the face of tremendous opposition, and helped motivate Council Member Danny Dromm's career shift from teaching to public office.


    The New York region has the highest number of people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, nationwide. A recent survey found that nearly 800,000 New Yorkers identify as LGBTQ.


    Who:  Curated by LaGuardia Community College/CUNY commercial photography faculty, as well as by LaGuardia students, the exhibition uses photographs, flyers, video footage, and audio recollections to illuminate the pride and protests of a community unknown to most New Yorkers.


    Coming Out in Queens is made possible through the generous support of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, LaGuardia Community College/CUNY, and the New York City Council, through the office of Daniel Dromm.


    Where:  Queens Museum, Panorama Room

    Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Corona, NY 11368


    When:  June 10 through July 30, during museum hrs: Wednesday—Sunday 11AM-5PM

     Largest Ever Graduating Class of 2017

    LaGuardia Community College Marks Largest-Ever
    Graduating Class of 1,700+!

     

    #BLACKLIVESMATTER Co-Founder Alicia Garza Gave Keynote at
    College’s 45th Commencement!

     

    #LAGCCGrad2017

    Grads


    LONG ISLAND CITY, NY (June 8, 2017)—Earlier today, the largest graduating class in the history of LaGuardia Community College—1,735—celebrated earning their associate’s degrees at the college’s 2017 Commencement. The ceremony, which marked the 45th graduation for the college, a member of the City University of New York (CUNY), had an audience of over 10,000 family members and friends of the graduates, college faculty and staff, CUNY Trustees, elected officials, and invited guests. The event was held at Barclays Center.

     

    “LaGuardia graduates are what our city and nation need to thrive! Because our students overwhelmingly come from low-income, recent immigrant, or other disadvantaged backgrounds, earning their associate’s is an incredible accomplishment,” said LaGuardia Community College President Gail O. Mellow. “And the grit that many have shown—learning English, juggling work, raising young children, and dealing with other obstacles along the way, often with optimism, humor, and perseverance—is sure to serve them well in a senior college or in the job market. These 2017 graduates represent our greatest achievement.”

     

    Co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter and special projects director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Alicia Garza, gave the keynote address. Lorelei Salas, JD, commissioner of NYC’s Department of Consumer Affairs, gave the alumni speech. Commissioner Salas is a 1993 graduate of LaGuardia.

     

    “LaGuardia Community College graduates represent just about every possible background—every color and culture, every faith and walk of life. I was pleased and honored to have delivered the 2017 Commencement keynote today,” said Garza, who will receive the Sydney Peace Prize, Australia’s international peace prize, later this year. “The world needs the best and the brightest thinkers, strategists, and tech gurus, to build the world that we want to see. A world where all lives matter.”

     

    “My presence at today’s graduation is proof that LaGuardia creates opportunities for those with perseverance and intellect,” said Commissioner Salas.

     

    The 2017 Class Speech was given by Remy Patrick Lavilla, age 19, who moved to the United States in 2015 after Typhoon Haiyan devastated his hometown in The Philippines. He received his associate's in accounting; this fall he’ll begin pursuing his bachelor’s in economics at Columbia University. During his time at LaGuardia, he was awarded numerous awards and honors, including ThinkGeek’s National Collegiate Honors Council ThinkGeek Innovation for Tomorrow Award. At LaGuardia, Lavilla was a President’s Society Ambassador, a member of both the Honors Program and Phi Theta Kappa. He managed his many on-campus activities while consistently making the Dean’s List; maintaining a 3.9 GPA.

     

    “I thank the professors at LaGuardia for making learning our passion, for instilling in us the hunger for knowledge, and the passion to learn,” said Lavilla. “Today, we became LaGuardia alums and I encourage my fellow Class 2017 graduates to continue to fight against stereotypes about community college students. We are the ultimate measure of the success of community colleges!”

     

    Among the oldest graduates is Verdia Hart, 72-years-old, a retired African-American woman who’s traveled to NYC from her home in Columbia, South Carolina, to pick up her associate’s degree. After raising her six children, all of whom will be in the audience, and helping with her 12 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, Mrs. Hart is fulfilling her life-long goal of earning her college degree. Next step, a bachelor’s!

     

    According to data about the 2017 graduates from LaGuardia’s registrar office, 48 percent are 25 years old or older, and 60 percent are female. Nearly 50 percent self-identify as Hispanic/Latino. The next largest student demographic is Asian, 23 percent; followed by 16 percent Black/African-American. Fifty-nine percent of graduates live in Queens, while 18 percent live in Brooklyn. The top three majors of the class of 2017 were: Business Administration, Liberal Arts: Social Science & Humanities, and Criminal Justice. To download a print-ready infographic about LaGuardia’s Class of 2017, click here.

     

    Jonathan Morales, one of three LaGuardia honors program students selected for the prestigious and generous Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, which provides up to $40,000 a year towards their bachelor’s, will graduate. He dropped out of high school and worked as a carpenter for several years before finding his way to LaGuardia. This fall he’ll start pursuing his bachelor’s at Stanford University.

     

    Mahmudur Rahman, a Bengali-American from Jamaica, Queens, transferred to LaGuardia after two years at a SUNY college. He earned his associate’s in business administration, and plans to pursue his bachelor’s at Brooklyn College. “LaGuardia created a space where I could take chances exploring what most interests me, and because of LaGuardia’s open access admissions, I’ve met people from all walks of life,” said Rahman, who was a member of the first-ever cohort of President’s Society: Tech, an enrichment program for high-achieving students interested in the tech industry.

     

    The LaGuardia Student Choir performed the Star Spangled Banner, arranged and conducted by LaGuardia Associate Professor of Music and Theater, Lisa DeSpain.

     

    Click here for more information about LaGuardia’s 45th Annual Commencement.

     

    To download a print-ready infographic about LaGuardia’s Class of 2017, click here.

     

    To view/download commencement photos, click here.

     

    ####

     

    LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, educates more than 50,000 New Yorkers annually through degree, certificate, and continuing education programs. Our guiding principle Dare To Do More reflects our belief in the transformative power of education—not just for individuals, but for our community and our country—creating pathways for achievement and safeguarding the middle class. LaGuardia is a national voice on behalf of community colleges, where half of all US college students study. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), the College reflects the legacy of our namesake, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the former NYC mayor beloved for his championing the underserved. Since our doors opened in 1971, our programs regularly become national models for pushing boundaries to give people of all backgrounds access to a high quality, affordable college education. We invite you to join us in imagining what our students, our community, and our country can become. Visit www.LaGuardia.edu to learn more.

     Celebrating 25th Anniversary of Queens Pride Parade; New Exhibit at Queens Museum Through July 30
    Celebrating 25th Anniversary of Queens Pride Parade

    The Lavender Line: Coming Out in Queens


    Queens Museum
    Now until July 30, 2017


    Exhibition Opening At Queens Museum Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Queens Pride Parade
    Queens Pride Parade, 1993
    Photo Credit: Courtesy Daniel Dromm Collection, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives, LaGuardia Community College, CUNY


    What:  The Lavender Line: Coming Out in Queens is a multimedia exhibition at the Queens Museum that marks the 25th anniversary of the Queens Pride Parade, the first LGBTQ-rights parade in one of NYC’s outer boroughs.

    The exhibition showcases historical and contemporary work, which chronicles the largely unknown history of LGBTQ activism in Queens from the 1990s to the present, in particular the impact of the hate crime murder of Julio Rivera, and the rejection of the Children of the Rainbow Curriculum.

    Coming Out in Queens draws from the collection of Queens City Council Member Daniel Dromm, recently acquired by the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives at LaGuardia Community College. City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer and producer-director Richard Shpuntoff contributed materials from their personal archives. 

    Click here to watch a NY1 story about the exhibit.


    Why: While Manhattan is recognized as the birthplace of NYC’s LGBTQ movement, the stories of LGBTQ activism in Queens are largely absent from the historical narrative. It's an incredible story of activism in the face of tremendous opposition, and helped motivate Council Member Dromm's career shift from teaching to public office.


    When: Open to Museum visitors, during regular Queens Museum hours (Wednesday through Sunday 11am-5pm) through July 30, 2017


    Where:
      Queens Museum 
    Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Corona, NY 11368


    *Free Parking On-Site


    Who:
    Hundreds of guests attended the exhibit's opening on June 9, including NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, & featuring City Council Member Daniel Dromm. Additional attendees included:


    - Alan Sack, Julio Rivera’s former partner and longtime friend 
    - Peg Fiore, Julio Rivera’s sister-in-law                       
    - Dr. Gail O. Mellow, President of LaGuardia Community College
    - Curators of the exhibition, LaGuardia faculty Thierry Gourjon and Javier Larenas
    - Two of LaGuardia’s Gardiner-Shenker Student Scholars who worked on the exhibit: Ryan Tiscareno, Photography Scholar Student and Jham Valenzuela, English Scholar Student
    [The additional LaGuardia Community College students who worked on the exhibit were: Allison Minto, Stanley Olivera, Gianni Sanchez, and Paul Yanchyshyn.]
    - Laura Raicovich, Director of the Queens Museum

     ####
     Three Outstanding LaGuardia Students Awarded Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarships

    Three Outstanding LaGuardia Community College Students Awarded Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
    Undergraduate Transfer Scholarships

    Jack-KentFoundation

    Each Will Receive up to $40,000/Yr Towards Their Bachelor’s Degree

     

    Long Island City, NY (May 23, 2017)—Three LaGuardia Community College honors program students, Jonathan Morales, Miguel Castillo, and Konstandinos Gobakis, were among 55 community college students nationwide selected for 2017 Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarships. Each will receive up to $40,000 a year to complete their bachelor’s degree at a four-year college or university.

     

    They were selected from a pool of nearly 3,000 community college students nationwide who applied for the scholarship. LaGuardia Community College is one of only two institutions in the country to have three scholars this year. The scholarship, awarded annually to the nation’s top community college students, covers a significant share of each student’s educational expenses, including tuition, living expenses, books, and required fees necessary to receive a bachelor’s degree. 

     

    Each of the 2017 Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholars have financial need and strong records of academic achievements, leadership skills, awards, extraordinary service to others, and perseverance in the face of adversity.

     

    After earning a bachelor’s degree, each Cooke Scholar may be eligible for a scholarship for graduate school worth up to $50,000 a year for up to four years.

     

    “Having three students be selected for the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship is a testament to the work of these incredible students and to the high-quality education delivered by LaGuardia faculty,” LaGuardia Community College President Gail O. Mellow. “This scholarship represents the national imperative to open up the doors of our nation’s most elite institutions to community college students. We need our nation’s top colleges to reflect our nation’s diversity, and LaGuardia and the nation’s community colleges, are an often ignored pipeline that can bring talented, motivated, and proven students to these institutions.”

     

    “Jonathan, Miguel, and Konstandinos are remarkable for their drive, resilience, and intellectual talents. As well, they benefitted from the dedicated support and guidance of many at LaGuardia to use their time at the college as a foundation and spring-board for success in the next chapter of their academic career” said Karlyn Koh, director of the LaGuardia Honors Program, and professor of English. “The Cooke scholarship application process is a rigorous and multilayered one, not unlike that for admission to selective colleges. Many LaGuardia students have the talent and potential for such academic success. Our three Cooke scholars surely inspire other LaGuardia students to tap into campus resources and maximize their time and the opportunities at LaGuardia to transform their lives, and of those in their family and larger community. ”

     

    Jonathan Morales, age 24, dropped out of high school and earned his high school equivalency diploma to seek work to help his mother—who raised him and his brother as a single mother—with their family’s expenses. After several years working as a carpenter, he decided to go back to school and found his way to LaGuardia, where he excelled both academically and personally. He was selected as a Kaplan Foundation Leadership Program Scholar and worked as an honors peer mentor at LaGuardia, helping to support other students as they navigated college.

     

    “Becoming a Jack Kent Cooke Scholar has given me a new higher-education pathway with significantly fewer financial barriers,” said Morales, a Liberal Arts: Social Science and Humanities major. “This recognition has given me the reassurance that my dreams are worth striving for. I hope my selection for this award will show other LaGuardia students that they too can win a competitive national scholarship, regardless of their cultural background or hardships they've endured.”

     

    Morales was accepted to Brown, Amherst, Michigan, Bard, and a host of other institutions; he has decided to attend Stanford. He plans to pursue a dual-major bachelor’s in English and computer science and intends to earn a doctorate in English. His professional goal is to facilitate the sharing of self-published narratives and news for the Latinx and other marginalized communities through a new social media platform he intends to develop.

     

    Miguel Castillo is a first-generation Mexican-Dominican who was raised by a single mother, and is a Marine Corps veteran who completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan. He has completed research at Columbia University and the Brookhaven National Laboratory and will be at Stanford this summer for a technology and entrepreneurship program. He intends to pursue a dual-major bachelor’s in computer science and electrical engineering.

     

    “Being named a Jack Kent Cooke Scholar has made me dream bigger—beyond even obtaining a bachelor’s degree. In addition to becoming an inventor and an entrepreneur, I want to give back to society in the future,” said Castillo, a Liberal Arts: Math and Science major.

     

    Konstandinos Gobakis began his journey at LaGuardia in College Now. He embraced and excelled in opportunities he found at LaGuardia, especially the Peer Activist Learning Community. He has been accepted to Swarthmore College, where he plans to earn his bachelor’s in computer science and humanities.

     

    “I am extremely thankful to have received this Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarship,” said Gobakis, a Liberal Arts: Math and Science major. “It has opened new doors for me."

     

    The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship is the nation’s largest private scholarship for students transferring from community colleges to four-year institutions. Including the 2017 winners, eight LaGuardia Community College students have received this distinguished award to date.

     

    Harmonie Kobanghe, a 2012 Jack Kent Cooke Scholar and LaGuardia Community College alumna, received a Jack Kent Cooke graduate scholarship ($50,000/year) earlier this year and will pursue graduate studies at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs. She earned her bachelor’s from Georgetown University. Her career goal is to fight for global human rights.

     

    • • • •


    The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
    is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. Since 2000, the foundation has provided over $152 million in scholarships to nearly 2,200 students from 8th grade through graduate school, along with comprehensive counseling and other support services. The foundation has also awarded over $90 million in grants to organizations that serve such students. www.jkcf.org

     

    LaGuardia Community College, located in Long Island City, Queens, educates more than 50,000 New Yorkers annually through degree, certificate, and continuing education programs. Our guiding principle Dare To Do More reflects our belief in the transformative power of education—not just for individuals, but for our community and our country—creating pathways for achievement and safeguarding the middle class. LaGuardia is a national voice on behalf of community colleges, where half of all US college students study. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), the College reflects the legacy of our namesake, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the former NYC mayor beloved for his championing the underserved. Since our doors opened in 1971, our programs regularly become national models for pushing boundaries to give people of all backgrounds access to a high quality, affordable college education. We invite you to join us in imagining what our students, our community, and our country can become. Visit www.LaGuardia.edu to learn more.


    ####
     LaGuardia Community College Celebrates Opening Of Expanded Library
    LaGuardia Community College Celebrates Opening Of Expanded Library


    60 Percent Increase of Previous Space; Includes Modern Upgrades for LaGuardia’s 50,000 Students, 3,000 Faculty & Staff, and LIC Community

    LaGuardia Community College Celebrates Opening Of Expanded Library


    Long Island City, NY (May 12, 2017)—LaGuardia Community College yesterday celebrated the completion of a major expansion of the college’s library to nearly 60,000 sq. ft.—a 60 percent increase of the previous space. Highlights include open areas where students can study and collaborate, new state-of-the-art computing capabilities, and large windows to draw in natural light and welcome the Queens community to the college—in a modern, comfortable space designed with input from LaGuardia students, faculty, and staff.


    With an annual attendance of more than 650,000 people, the library is the most heavily utilized space on campus. It serves the college’s 20,000 degree-seeking and 30,000 non-credit students, and 3,000 faculty and staff. As well, visitors from Queens and beyond regularly access the library.


    CUNY Vice Chancellor for Facilities Planning, Construction and Management Judith Bergtraum, CUNY Director of Design, Construction & Management Robert Lemieux, LaGuardia Community College President Gail O. Mellow, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, New York State Senator Michael Gianaris, and City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, attended a ribbon-cutting to mark the opening of the newly expanded library. Staff representing Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan attended on her behalf. Click here for photos of the event, which also included LaGuardia faculty, staff, alumni, and students.


    Chancellor James B. Milliken
    said the upgraded LaGuardia library was a critical investment reflecting the University’s goals of increasing access, improving preparation, retention and graduation rates, and expanding online programs. “In the 21st century,” he said, “modern libraries—with welcoming study spaces, state-of-the-art technology, and well-stocked with books and e-books—are essential for study and research, and transformative for students.”


    “This library expansion is long-overdue for our exceptionally hard-working students, who are striving to make better lives for them and their families,” said LaGuardia President Gail O. Mellow. “Our student population is largely low-income, new immigrant, or otherwise disadvantaged—many face numerous challenges on their way to a college degree, from financial burdens, juggling work (often more than one job), raising children, and other responsibilities—and they deserve and need a convenient, comfortable, modern space where they can grab time to study and reflect.”


    “As well, with new floor-to-ceiling windows facing the intersection of Thomson Ave., Queens Boulevard, and Van Dam Street, the design of the library expansion symbolizes the openness of our college as a place where people of any background can pursue their higher education goals. We welcome all of Queens to the college, and want them to know that the LaGuardia Library is here for them as well,” said Dr. Mellow.


    Western Queens Elected Officials Celebrate the Library Expansion


    “The transformation of LaGuardia Community College’s library will enhance its reputation for high-quality and affordable college education that produces job-ready graduates with respected academic credentials,” said Queens Borough President Katz. “This modern and expanded library will serve as a top-notch education resource for LaGuardia students for decades to come.”


    “I was thrilled to join President Gail O. Mellow, LaGuardia students, faculty, and staff to cut the ribbon on the beautifully renovated and expanded library at LaGuardia Community College,” said City Council Majority Leader Van Bramer. “This library will bring new group study rooms, more seating, improved natural lighting, and resources that over 650,000 students will take advantage of each year. I’m proud to have allocated funding to transform this library into a modern space for research and collaboration that will prepare the next generation of leaders.”


    “Expanding LaGuardia Community College library helps our students commit to excellence and contributes to their success,” said Senator Gianaris. “It is more important than ever to invest in education and bring additional resources and opportunities to our colleges. I am proud to celebrate this library expansion with LaGuardia Community College.”


    “The library is the focal point for the entire college, with over 650,000 annual visits by students, making it the most heavily used part of the LaGuardia Community College campus,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “By expanding and modernizing the library, LaGuardia is offering students the hi-tech library they need. Under the far-sighted leadership of LaGuardia President Gail Mellow, this new and improved library will help LaGuardia’s diverse student body get a great start in building successful futures.”


    “The expansion of the library at LaGuardia Community College will be a great asset and investment to the many students, teachers and faculty who work and attend this wonderful institution” said Assemblywoman Nolan. “I would like to thank President Gail O. Mellow and everyone at LaGuardia for making this project possible.”


    More about the Library Expansion


    “At last, our world-class students have a world-class library,” said Scott White, LaGuardia Chief Librarian. “We’re thrilled that we’re now able to provide patrons with more efficient access to research materials, and improved collaborative study spaces.”


    Additional features include a 75 percent increase in library seating (from 420 to 732 seats) with new high-tech group study rooms, modern reading rooms, individual study spaces, and public computers—all with IT and audio-visual capabilities. It provides a new home for the college’s Media Services, where students may borrow laptop computers and access other services, and adds much-needed office space for library faculty and staff.


    The expansion is centered on a reorganization and enlargement of the library’s second floor—with upgraded furniture, painting, and new flooring, and a new staircase and expanded elevator service connecting it to the library’s first floor.


    The second phase of the library renovation will upgrade the first floor to match improvements made to the second floor. Planning for this phase is underway, and is expected to take two years. Click here for more information about the library renovation.


    Community visitors with a valid ID may enter the library during college hours and access reference materials on-site. Faculty, staff, and students with a valid LaGuardia ID may borrow materials from the library.


    Click here for more information about the LaGuardia Community College Library.


    • • • •


    LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, educates more than 50,000 New Yorkers annually through degree, certificate, and continuing education programs. Our guiding principle Dare to Do More reflects our belief in the transformative power of education—not just for individuals, but for our community and our country—creating pathways for achievement and safeguarding the middle class. LaGuardia is a national voice on behalf of community colleges, where half of all US college students study. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), the College reflects the legacy of our namesake, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the former NYC mayor beloved for his championing the underserved. Since our doors opened in 1971, our programs regularly become national models for pushing boundaries to give people of all backgrounds access to a high quality, affordable college education. We invite you to join us in imagining what our students, our community, and our country can become. Visit www.LaGuardia.edu to learn more.


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     LaGuardia Marks 3rd Graduation Of Medical Billing Program With Weill Cornell Medicine
    LaGuardia Marks 3rd Graduation Of Medical Billing Program With Weill Cornell Medicine

    LaGuardia Marks 3rd Graduation Of Medical Billing Program With Weill Cornell Medicine


    Long Island City, NY (April 28, 2017)—The highly successful initiative to train motivated New Yorkers for medical billing positions, conducted in partnership with Weill Cornell Medicine and the New York Alliance for Careers in Healthcare (NYACH),has graduated its third class of 21 students at LaGuardia Community College. Through a partnership with the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS), the five-month Medical Billing Training Program is offered tuition-free, and graduates superbly trained candidates for entry-level positions starting at $35,000-$45,000. The program has quickly built a successful pool of early-career professionals, with nearly 80 percent of students from the first two cohorts hired within three months of graduation—30 by Weill Cornell Medicine, seven by Mount Sinai, and several others by individual physician practices and other area hospitals. 


    “With its proven track record, our Medical Billing Training Program is providing students the opportunity to acquire in-demand skills sought by healthcare providers, without accruing student loan debt for tuition,” said LaGuardia Community College President Gail O. Mellow. “This training allows our students to secure jobs that enable them to build better lives for themselves, their families and New Yorkers.”


    “By working together with our industry partners, we’re curating training programs that put New Yorkers on track to lucrative careers,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Small Business Services. “The graduating participants will join the ranks of fellow graduates that have accepted positions at some of the city’s top tier medical institutions. I look forward to the continued success of this cohort.”


    The program started in 2015 as a result of the Harvard Business School Club of New York’s “Skills Gap Initiative” to address a need for skilled, motivated workers for this growing niche in the healthcare industry. To read more about the Skills Gap Project and its work on the Medical Billing Training Program, click here.


    “Our partnership tackled the challenge to train people so well that they do not need prior work experience to perform at the highest level, advance their careers, and completely satisfy their employers,” said Barry Puritz, co-chair of the team of Harvard B-School alumni that initiated the partnership between LaGuardia and Weill Cornell Medicine. “With careful attention to building a multi-faceted, results-oriented course offering, we have redefined the paradigm for successful entry level employment in non-clinical healthcare.”


    Medical billing positions, along with many other mid-skills jobs, often go unfilled because applicants lack essential training. The curriculum involves 267-hours of training, and students graduate with technical skills, an understanding of healthcare finance, workplace professionalism and job readiness training.


    “The collaboration between Weill Cornell Medicine and LaGuardia Community College has been very fruitful,” said Susan Shevlin, director of talent acquisition and on boarding at Weill Cornell Medicine. “We’ve appreciated having an expanded pool of well-trained applicants for our medical billing positions, which is essential to our operation. And because of the program’s vigorous training, those we have hired have been able to enter their positions nearly seamlessly.”


    Reflecting the high-demand for well-trained medical billing candidates, the program has drawn interest from other area hospital systems as well. Northwell Health and Columbia University Medical Center also have participated in coaching events and instruction.


    Based on word of mouth and media coverage of the first two graduations, more than 1,000 people applied for the 21 openings in the third cohort, which boasted a 100 percent retention rate; each of the 21 students who started the program in November 2016 have completed the program and graduated.


    The average age of students in the third cohort is 33 (range: 21-49). Twelve of the 21 students were born outside of the United States, from Antigua, Bangladesh, Dominican Republic, Egypt, India, Jamaica, Philippines, Poland, and Romania.


    The concept has the potential to be replicated for larger impact.


    To read about the first cohort of the Medical Billing Training Program, click here; to read about the second cohort, click here.


    For more information about this program or hiring its graduates, contact Barry Puritz at the Harvard Business School Club of New York at bpuritz@gmail.com or (917) 453-0311.


    • • • •


    LaGuardia Community College
    located in Long Island City, Queens, educates more than 50,000 New Yorkers annually through degree, certificate, and continuing education programs. Our guiding principle Dare To Do More reflects our belief in the transformative power of education—not just for individuals, but for our community and our country—creating pathways for achievement and safeguarding the middle class. LaGuardia is a national voice on behalf of community colleges, where half of all US college students study. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), the College reflects the legacy of our namesake, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the former NYC mayor beloved for his championing the underserved. Since our doors opened in 1971, our programs regularly become national models for pushing boundaries to give people of all backgrounds access to a high quality, affordable college education. We invite you to join us in imagining what our students, our community, and our country can become. Visit www.LaGuardia.edu to learn more.


    ####
     Annual Black Lives Matter Summit Held Earlier this Month
    Annual Black Lives Matter Summit Held Earlier this Month

    Black Lives Matter Summit


    Long Island City, NY (April 26, 2017)—Nationally-recognized civil right activist, Tamika Mallory, was the keynote speakers at the third annual LaGuardia Community College Black Lives Matter Summit on April 20. More than 21 percent of LaGuardia’s student body identify as black/African-American.


    The summit was focused on Intersectionality, Black Women, Islam & Resistance Movements. Accordingly, Ms. Mallory spoke about systematic issues of persistent racial and gender inequality and injustice in employment, housing, and a wide range of other aspects of life faced by people of color, and the resulting serious apprehensions for members of the Black/African-American community.


    To view photos from the event, click here.


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     Gov. Cuomo Signs Historic Excelsior Scholarship at LaGuardia, with Special Guest Hillary Clinton

    Gov. Cuomo Signs Historic Excelsior Scholarship at LaGuardia,
    with Special Guest Hillary Clinton

    Gov. Cuomo- Free Tuition

    The April 12th ceremonial signing of the New York State Excelsior Scholarship to make earning an associate's or bachelor's degree at a public college or university tuition-free for families making less than $125,000 was attended by (clockwise from top left): William C. Thompson Jr., chairman of the CUNY Board of Trustees; New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Hochul; LaGuardia Community College President Gail O. Mellow; Jham Valenzuela, LaGuardia Community College nursing student; New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo; and, Secretary Hillary R. Clinton. Photo credit: LaGuardia Community College. 

    Please click here to view/download additional photos taken by LaGuardia Community College.

    Or to view/download photos taken by the Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, please click here.


    On April 12, 2017, Governor Cuomo, joined by Hillary Clinton, held an event at LaGuardia Community College to celebrate the inclusion of the Excelsior Scholarship program, to make attending a two- or four-year public college in New York State free for families making $125,000 or less, in the 2017-18 State Budget.

    Statement on Free Tuition for Public Colleges from Dr. Gail O. Mellow, President of LaGuardia Community College/CUNY

    Three months ago Governor Cuomo proposed, at LaGuardia Community College, a bold and visionary idea: free tuition for students attending one of New York’s public colleges. We’ve now arrived at a historic moment with the legislature’s approval of the Governor’s plan.

    The Excelsior Scholarship recognizes that in today’s world it’s not enough to have a high school degree. People need a college degree to secure a well-paying job.

    For our students, many of whom are low-income and first generation college students, the Excelsior Scholarship offers much hope and motivation. Our students will be able to work less and study more.

    Tuition-Free

    Images courtesy of Governor Cuomo's office



    New York should be proud to be the first in the nation to secure free tuition. But, we will certainly not be the last. States across the nation are sure to follow Governor Cuomo’s approach as they see it act as a catalyst for not only getting students to attend and complete college, but also as an important lever to stimulate the state’s economy.

    Dr. Gail O. Mellow
    President, LaGuardia Community College/CUNY

    Related Links:

    New York Daily News: Hillary Clinton joins Gov. Cuomo at ceremonial bill signing of N.Y.’s new free tuition program

    Washington Free Beacon: Cuomo Touts Clinton as Inspiration Behind New York Free-Tuition

    Democrat and ChronicleHillary Clinton joins Cuomo to promote free SUNY tuition

    Washington ExaminerHillary Clinton urges students and businesses to move to New York

    Albany Times Union: In joint appearance, Cuomo, Clinton hail free college tuition

    NY1: Hillary Clinton Lauds Passing of Free Tuition College Plan in New York

    Queens Patch: College Free Tuition: Hillary Clinton Joins Gov. Cuomo For Signing Ceremony

    QNS.com: Governor Cuomo and Hillary Clinton visit Long Island City to enact tuition-free state college law

    Associated Press/ ABC News: Clinton lauds free NY tuition plan as a progressive first

    Yahoo! News: Clinton Joins Cuomo for Tuition-Free College Bill Signing Ceremony

    The Hill: Clinton: 'We don’t need to be building walls'

    Newsday: Clinton joins Cuomo to announce NY's free college tuition

    dnainfo.com: Hillary Clinton Joins Gov. Cuomo to Sign Free College Tuition Bill Into Law

    New York Post: Hillary Clinton touts free tuition program alongside Cuomo

    Poughkeepsie Journal: Hillary Clinton joins Cuomo to promote free SUNY tuition

    New York Times: New York’s Free-Tuition Program Will Help Traditional, but Not Typical, Students

     


     Excelsior! New York State Has Adopted Free-Tuition at CUNY & SUNY for Families Making $125,000 or Less
    Excelsior!
    New York State Has Adopted Free-Tuition at CUNY & SUNY for Families Making $125,000 or Less


    Long Island City, NY (April 2017)— Earlier this year, Governor Andrew Cuomo, joined by US Senator Bernie Sanders, came to LaGuardia Community College to announce his Excelsior Scholarship proposal to make attending a two- or four-year CUNY or SUNY college tuition–free for families earning less than $125,000.


    Over the weekend, the New York State legislature made history when they approved funding for Excelsior in the 2017-18 state budget.


    In a recent article about Excelsior in Inside Higher Ed, LaGuardia President Gail O. Mellow hailed it as an “extraordinary” program that has the potential to “change the college-going culture by taking tuition off the table."


    She predicted that the new policy “would lead to dramatic shifts in college attendance in the state,” and could “… attract many more students to community college.”


    To read more about the Excelsior Scholarship, which Dr. Mellow has called a national resetting of the minimal education standards for our youth—including a review of its features and requirements, click here to read the Inside Higher Ed article that features President Mellow.


    Related Links:


    ####
     The New York Times' Features LaGuardia Student & Struggles with Homelessness Among College Students
    The New York Times' Features LaGuardia Student & Struggles with Homelessness Among College Students


    Long Island City, NY (April 2017)—LaGuardia Community College is mentioned in two articles in the New York Times’ April 9, 2017 Education Life section. The first features a LaGuardia student, Preston Roberson-Charles, who lived in New York City’s shelter system for two years while going to school. The second reports on the pervasive issues of poverty, homelessness, and housing insecurity among U.S. college students.


    These and other New York Times articles that have featured LaGuardia Community College can be found on the LaGuardia in The Times webpage.


    A Journey From ‘Real World’ to Homeless Shelter — and College

    Preston Roberson-Charles is studying economics at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, Queens. Well spoken and charming, he wears gray Warby Parker glasses and keeps his jeans fashionably rolled at the ankle. Not exactly the stereotype of a homeless person. But for two years, until last December, he lived in New York City’s shelter system, hostels and on friends’ couches.

    Read full article: A Journey From ‘Real World’ to Homeless Shelter — and College


    Behind the Problem of Student Homelessness

    It’s difficult to know exactly how many students are homeless, or are dangling dangerously close to it, in part because of the enormous stigma surrounding the issue. But new research shows how pervasive a problem it is — and one that some educators believe is growing… when a student ends up homeless, it can be exceedingly difficult to stay in school and thus break the cycle of poverty… The average family income of students at LaGuardia Community College, part of the City University of New York, is $26,000, according to Gail O. Mellow, its president, who says that helping students navigate the issues surrounding such poverty is central to keeping them in school. At LaGuardia, students have access to a food pantry and help applying for public benefits like food stamps, among other services. “We’re not a social service agency; we want to educate students,” Dr. [Gail O.] Mellow, [president of LaGuardia Community College] said. “But in order to do that, they can’t be hungry and they can’t be homeless.”

    Read full article: Behind the Problem of Student Homelessness


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