CUNY IN THE NEWS
Bronx Community College Presents Awards to Stellar Grads: Administrator, Scientist and Nurse
Community colleges get a bum rap. Some say their graduates do not excel and are not high achievers.
The contrary was true at the Bronx Community College Foundation Gala. Two award recipients Dr. Monica Sweeney, Assistant Commissioner for the Bureau of HIV/Aids Prevention, and Jay Hershenson, Senior Vice Chancellor of CUNY were BCC alums.
Mr. Hershenson was being honored especially for his role in securing funding for the new $102 million North Instructional Building and Library. In presenting the award Walter Marin, Chairman of the Bronx Community College Foundation, described Mr. Hershenson as the “Derek Jeter of CUNY.” He knows how to work the political system; he got the Salk Scholarship for students continuing for medical degrees. In a video presentation, Hon. Jose Peralta, NY State Assemblyman, said “Jay guided me through student government; after student government he guided me through the Assembly.”
In accepting his award, Mr. Hershenson said “I started as an evening student at a CUNY community college; I had to work during the day. When students come to me and ask me if they should work, I say ‘If you’re born rich then you don’t have to work, if you’re not born rich then you do.’ I know firsthand how community colleges transform lives.”
Groundbreaking for the new building was the theme of the evening. The principal architect for the new building is Robert A.M. Stern, Dean of the Yale School of Architecture. At the groundbreaking, he said, “Our double height reading room that looks south and north will make everybody feel that they are part of a community of scholars. Being in the library won’t be like sitting at home.”
Dr. Carolyn G. Williams, BCC’s President, pointed out that BCC has over 9500 students and, in a refreshing interlude before the Bronx Botanical Garden‘s formal dinner service, the Bronco Cheerleaders, did their B-C-C (woo!) J-A-Y (woo!) thing.
Honoree Dr. Monica Sweeney served two terms on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/Aids and authored “Condom Sense: A Guide to Sexual Survival in the New Millennium.” In accepting her award, she noted that both of her parents had died when she was very young and that “BCC played a role in me getting to where I am. The Professors were more than just the persons who taught you in the classroom.” She underscored the meaning of the word “community” in Bronx Community College, pointing out that she still maintained friendships with people she met there. Quoting CUNY Chancellor Goldstein’s remark made earlier in the evening, that “education saves lives” she said “I’m a physician but education saves more lives than giving people a health insurance card. BCC saved my life.”
The crowd reserved its standing ovation for Dr. Alice Fuller, recipient of the BCC Lifetime Leadership Award. At BCC for 42 of its 52 years, Dr. Fuller said, “I stay because I love it and I’m not planning on retiring.” She pointed out that Monica Sweeney forgot to mention in her remarks that she first graduated from the nursing program. Dr. Fuller said, “I’ve served under five presidents. I’m a professor, I’m a dean, but I’m a nurse first.” People in the crowd nodded approvingly and were heard saying, “Now, she’s the real deal.”
As other program participants, including NY1 News’ Dominic Carter, and Chemistry Prof. Vicki Flaris spoke about programs such as an upcoming medical mission to Jamaica many descriptors came to mind. Excellence and stellar achievers were among them.#