We Celebrate Black History Month 2009
York College President Marcia V. Keizs Speaks
Who have been the most influential mentors in your life?
My English teachers were inspirational, wise and brilliant. I remember the people around me at 12 and my family and school provided influential role models. I loved English, literature and poetry. In the 50s and 60s, teaching was a noble profession and there were teachers in my family. So the values learned at home prepared me for the profession.
What would you describe as a turning point in your life?
My decision to come to New York to pursue my education was a turning point in my life. The opportunity to return to Canada was there. But I felt that life in Toronto was culturally too narrow. And, of course, I could have gone home to Jamaica. But I made a conscious decision to come to New York. I wanted to be closer to what was happening here at the time. I wanted to be connected to a larger cultural community.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced? How have you resolved them?
Having made the decision to live in New York, I was scared of New York once I got here. I couldn’t understand what people were saying. There was so much noise. The intensity of it. The volume of information you had to take in. However I got into the freedom it allowed and the independence it provided. I came to accept the challenges of geography and the people. I came to realize at one point that this is quite a place.
What are some of the accomplishments you’re proudest of?
I think of two right away. Finishing my doctorate and maintaining solid family relationships. My core family is still my core family.
What advice would you give to young people today?
Be as honest as you can be about whatever you’re doing. Don’t do the expedient thing. And get the best education you can get. #