In 1994, when she ventured into the tough streets of Brooklyn, camera in hand, Regina Monfort did not realize she was beginning a nine-year odyssey into the intimate lives of the kids bound to the streets. When she concluded the project, the kids were grown or lost, though all were changed, including her. But her […]
Reflecting on my rite of passage at LaGuardia always brings back a feeling of nostalgia. From the moment I entered Long Island City, its diverse culture relished in the air with native tongues spoken in Arabic, Chinese, Korean, and Spanish. I can vividly recall commuting from East New York, Brooklyn to Court Square in the early morning. While the streets were asleep, I was awake, and determined to finish what I was forced to abandon five years before. When an opportunity to return to school arrived, I knew I had to rise to the occasion. In early July, I gathered up all of my necessary documents, and went to THe City University of New York office, located at 205 E 42nd Street New York, NY 10017. Subsequently I was informed by the CUNY advisor that I would receive an email from them, and from the school of my preference.
Days passed, autumn began to loom, and I anxiously awaited a response from CUNY or LaGuardia Community College. I received no answer–not a single email from either source. It seemed as if I had come up short. During the eight-week waiting period I sent emails to the Assistant Director of Recruitment, made weekly calls to CUNY regarding the status of my application, prepared my FAFSA, and visited the campus. Finally my cries were answered in the fall 2013 semester only weeks before classes were to commence. After I met with the Assistant Director of Recruitment, Renee L. Daniels, I was enrolled, and soon after, I began my education at LaGuardia and graduated.
As a student at LaGuardia I maintained a competitive G.P.A. and I focused on the sciences. This allowed me to venture into highly prestigious opportunities. In May of last year I was selected for a seat as a Barnard ICP Science Program participant. The cooperative “friendly,” yet competitive environment was run like a laboratory experiment without a control, but one where we were the subjects. A set schedule was prepared for the ICP program filled with field trips, study group exercises, writing, tutoring, academic counseling, and recitation meetings Monday through Friday and Sunday nights. A skyline view of the campus complimented the residential stay in the 6th floor dorms of Elliot Hall, and was a pleasure to wake up to– the sun set, the night fell, and purple clouds reigned over a pitch black 119th St and Claremont Avenue. Night turned into midnight, and midnight birthed a new day. The night hour was “crunch time,” and we became nocturnal. Adrenaline was our sleep, and we moved through the duration of the program according to strict deadlines. Weekly exams were given and papers were simultaneously due for both courses, which equaled a total of two papers and two exams per week. Anything was fair game. For five weeks the sixteen of us ate, fellowshipped, learned, travelled, sacrificed, and celebrated together. Each individual brought unique experiences to the community and came from different walks of life.
Another chapter of my life has been lived here at LaGuardia. It has indeed been a page turner and one that has allowed me to grow socially, and academically, in a challenging yet rewarding endeavor. The opportunity to matriculate at LaGuardia gave me new resources that would otherwise have been unavailable to me. My courses and professors were a pleasure and hugely impacted my development and level of achievement. In fact, I enjoyed the rigorous courses over the facile ones because they always made me make use of practicality to master the concept, and to comprehend the theory behind it. My instructors worked strenuously and wanted to be there to teach. The consequences of their actions yielded a wiser, more ready, ambitious me. In the end these were the tools I needed to graduate and I worked with them until I constructed a foundation. That foundation is now an asset that will continue to grow with me as the years pass.