Luz Cepeda: Aquí Estamos Representando

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Luz Cepeda about her goals and what motivates her to stay on the path to success.  Something I found captivating about Luz is that she describes herself as a fighter.  She has fought to give herself a high quality education at NYU and continues to fight for equal access to a strong high school education for all students.  Luz attended a public high school in the Bronx and did not have the same resources many of her peers at NYU had when they were in high school.  Luz’s experiences in an under-resourced high school and being raised by a single mother have made her more passionate about the people she advocates for and their rights to a great education.  

Luz is currently a CCTOP scholar majoring in education studies at NYU and is also an alumnus of Guttman Community College.  Luz thoroughly enjoys all the courses she takes within her education major and always appreciates being introduced to different perspectives on education.  During her first semester at NYU, she met two role models that have made an impact on her.  Dr. Stella M. Flores investigates the effects of state and federal policies on college access and completion rates for low-income and underrepresented populations, and Dr. Carol Anne Spreen’s research centers on political and sociocultural studies of educational change.  Luz is not sure exactly how she wants to tackle the education system, but she knows she wants to improve the education system similar to Dr. Flores and Dr. Spreen.  

“Aquí estamos representando. Ya estamos más cerca de los que pensamos!” – Luz Cepeda

Luz is also grateful to the people who supported her during her time at Guttman Community College like her Career Strategist Alison and her professor Marcia Edwards.  These are two people that believed in Luz even when she did not believe in herself.  They encouraged Luz to challenge herself and take the step towards applying to NYU.  Ultimately, Luz’s choice to attend NYU has also influenced her career goals.  If she could give advice to a new CCTOP student, Luz wants others to know that NYU is a place where you can explore your identity and figure out what you really want in life.  Even though it might be overwhelming at first, you should fight to take advantage of every moment and opportunity.  

Amber Fulton:  A Leader by Example

One of the most pressing issues in the education field in recent years has been addressing the learning gap.  The learning gap corresponds to the idea that education in the United States is unequal.  By the time students graduate from high school, many haven’t met their expected reading or math levels; further, these disparities are exacerbated by other factors like socioeconomic status, race, gender, and more.  Several institutions and organizations around the world are working to decrease the learning gap.  One CCTOP student at Steinhardt in particular is committed to this mission.  

Amber Fulton recently transferred to NYU from LaGuardia Community College and is majoring in Childhood Education and Special Education.  One of Amber’s most important goals is to be part of the change that the education system in the United States needs to see.  Her experience at NYU has been a surreal experience.  College in general always felt out of reach for Amber as a first generation student coming from a working class family.  Amber already feels that the transition to NYU is inspiring her even more to reach her goals.

“Literally everyone that surrounds me are all role models.  Being one of the oldest people, if not the oldest in my cohort, and seeing younger students with the passion and determination that I believe is required to be the type of educator to make these changes is very inspiring, and it also gives me hope for the future.” – Amber Fulton

Amber knows full well the power that an individual can have on someone’s educational trajectory.  At LaGuardia Community College, she felt that her professors prepared her academically and even went the extra mile to share opportunities that helped her create the network she needed.  Amber did not believe that NYU was in her reach until the right people came into her life at LaGuardia.  Amber hopes to one day use her own success story as a community college transfer student to inspire her future elementary school students.  She wants her future students to have curious and open minds and to believe that anything is possible!  

Beverly Terry: The Soul of My Artwork

Artist, student, traveler.  These are just a few words that describe Beverly Terry, an alumna of BMCC and Vassar’s summer academic program.  Soon, Beverly will also be an alumna of NYU’s Bachelor’s program in Studio Art.   At NYU, Beverly has been able to study several different art mediums like Film, printmaking, and sculpture that has enabled her to see the world through new eyes.  Beverly describes her passions as lying within the soul of her artwork.

Now that Beverly has nearly completed her undergraduate studies, the course that has been most memorable to her is her senior studio class.  All art students in senior studio are given their own studio space to create different art works.  Beverly felt that she met many seasoned and emerging artists through this course who helped her grow as an artist.  Each week students critiqued each other’s work and discussed their practices.  Even if someone didn’t agree with what another artist was making, Beverly remembers that others still offered advice to help the artist reach their goal.

Art work by Beverly Terry

Some artists that Beverly has profound respect for are Jean Michel Basquiat, Kiki Smith, and Gordon Parks.  Although Beverly takes these artists’ work ethic as an example for herself, she has no desire to emulate their work.  Beverly’s inspiration for her own work is drawn from various avenues of emotional energy.  Her favorite mediums are film, photography, and mixed media.

Beverly didn’t always believe in her work, but both professors Veronica Alfano and Thaddeus Radell appreciated and supported her work when she was at BMCC.  The affirmations and guidance she received from these professors helped build Beverly’s academic confidence and this extended into her time at NYU.  Beverly has gone further than she ever believed she could and is still going!  She is currently studying abroad in Berlin, Germany and CCTOP is excited to celebrate her graduation this December!

“CCTOP is a godsend to potential students that emerge from backgrounds of modest means with big academic dreams.  The program helps students materialize dreams they thought could never be, regardless of age, sex, race, and social status.  I will be forever in gratitude for the wonderful program.  New York University is an amazing institution for everyone and not just the financially privileged.  Their financial support and counselling has enabled me and thousands of others the opportunities we thought weren’t possible at this academic level.  I have met several artists/professors such as Kiki Smith, Valerie Hammond, Noel Anderson, and Ian Cooper that have made lasting impressions on me and my work that I will never forget.  Thank you.”  – Beverly Terry

Bethanie Railling: A CCTOP Research Project

CCTOP is proud to put the spotlight on the great work of current student Bethanie Railling!  Bethanie transferred to NYU from BMCC and is majoring in Applied Psychology with honors.  She is currently working on a research project that has been inspired by her own experiences as a transfer student at NYU.  Bethanie is interested in studying the experiences of community college students at four-year institutions because she found her own transition difficult when trying to relate to her peers as a low-income student.  

Bethanie’s love for research grew deeper when she took a research methods course with Dr. Erin Godfrey.  Bethanie is now working under the mentorship of Dr. Godfrey and Chrissy Campo for this project.  In the future, Bethanie plans to pursue a degree in higher education policy, specifically working with universities and their community college transfer students to address the gaps that could contribute to attrition and poor academic success.  She hopes to use her research findings to help support the transitions of future students in the CCTOP program and other transfer students at large.  

If you’re currently a CCTOP student, you should contribute your experiences to this important research project!  See a message from Bethanie below:  

Hello! My name is Bethanie Railling and I am an undergraduate student in the Department of Applied Psychology at Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. I am currently conducting an honors research project on community-college transfer students at NYU. Under the direction of Dr. Erin Godfrey, I plan to investigate the transfer process from community college to NYU.  

This study seeks to examine specifically CCTOP students’ experiences at NYU. This study has been approved by the NYU IRB and CCTOP director. This study will ask questions about classroom comfort, peer academic support, student-faculty relationship quality, and feelings of belonging at NYU. Additionally, we will ask a few questions about your emotional well-being and academics. All survey responses will be anonymous.  Your response to these questions will help support the transition of future transfer students.

This study is a two-part survey, distributed at two time points.  All survey responses will be anonymous and your responses will not be linked to any identifiable information.  The first survey should take no longer than 15- 20 minutes to complete and is attached here:

At the end of the first survey, you will be directed to another link to enter your email address for a chance to win one of five $50 Amazon gift cards. We will not be able to link your email address to your survey responses and your email will only be used to enter your in the raffle and notify you about whether you won.

The second survey will be emailed to you in January 2018 and should only take about 1-3 minutes to complete. At the end of the second survey, you will be directed to another page to enter your email again for another change to win one of five $10 Amazon gift cards.


Feel free to contact me at anytime with any questions or concerns at (231) 740-0106 or


Thank you for your time,

Bethanie Railling

Candidate for B.S. in Applied Psychology, 2018

A Smooth Transfer to NYU

One of the most important aspects of the transfer process is planning.  In fact, studies have shown that community college students who transfer to a 4-year university with clear goals and a specific major earn their Bachelor’s degrees at higher and faster rates.  This blog post is dedicated to prospective CCTOP students who might want assurance that they’re taking the right steps to a smooth transfer to NYU.  


As I mentioned earlier, planning is an essential component to the transfer process because you want to make sure the courses you take at your community college will contribute to your Bachelor’s degree.  In most cases, an Associate’s degree in Liberal Arts can set you up to transfer as many credits as possible into your 4-year university.  This is because Liberal Arts programs will cover many general education requirements that are the bulk of courses many students take during their first two years at a 4-year university.  This can vary depending on your specific major so it’s always important to check the specifics.  

For students applying from one of CCTOP’s partner community colleges, we can help you plan your coursework to make sure you’re taking appropriate courses for your Bachelor’s degree!  Email us your unofficial transcript and let us know the major you are interested in.  You can send this over as early as your first semester in your community college.  The earlier you begin planning, the better!  

One final note on planning coursework.  The courses that are requirements for your Bachelor’s major should mostly be taken at the 4-year university you plan to attend.  For example, many students who major in Nutrition at their community college and earn 68 credits may not be able to transfer all of those credits to NYU’s food studies major.  In fact, it’s possible that 40 or less of those credits will transfer to the university.  Taking those major requirements at NYU is what makes your degree uniquely NYU.  This goes back to the idea of thinking of your time at community college as similar to the first two years of classes for students at 4-year universities.  Planning these courses correctly and earning as many transferrable credits as possible is also cost-effective.  


Even though CCTOP offers a generous scholarship, NYU is expensive.  Students need to transfer a minimum of 48 credits to be eligible receive their CCTOP scholarship, but they are able to transfer a maximum of 72 credits to NYU Steinhardt.  We recommend that students get as close to 72 transferrable credits as possible before transferring to NYU. The cost at a community college is significantly less expensive than at NYU, so the more courses that you transfer into NYU, the more money you will save.  

Another resource available to community college students is Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the official honor society for community colleges.  Membership into PTK can qualify you for many other scholarships down the line in your educational journey.  At NYU specifically, PTK members with GPAs of 3.8 or higher at their community colleges are eligible for an additional $2,500 per year.  With that, it is important to study hard and earn strong grades in your courses.  Other scholarships specific to community college students can be found here.  

The tips on this blog post are targeted towards prospective CCTOP students. Other schools that you are considering transferring to have different transfer policies and scholarship opportunities so it is important to consider your options! If you have any questions, please comment below or email us at  

Good luck!  


CCTOP Alumni Spotlight: Jennifer Cachola

Enormous amounts of pressure are placed on individuals to know what their passions are.  As soon as children are able to speak, someone is asking what they want to be when they grow up.  Even before children are born, parents have aspirations for how their child will contribute to the world.  Thus, people spend their lives trying to find their passions, but somehow, it is often your passions that end up finding you.

This is most certainly the case for Jennifer Cachola, an alumna of NYU, BMCC, and CCTOP.  As a graduate of NYU Steinhardt’s program in Media, Culture, and Communication, Cachola intended to pursue a career in advertising or post-production after graduating from NYU.  Instead, Cachola found a hidden passion in advising and higher education as she helped other students from BMCC through the transfer process while she was in her first semester as an undergraduate in NYU’s CCTOP.

“When I was helping my fellow classmates transfer to NYU and answer any questions they may have had during the process, I realized I want to help future generations by providing guidance for them and connect them to the necessary resources in order to eventually achieve what they want out of their education: success!” – Jennifer Cachola, NYU ‘16

Instead of working in media as she initially expected, Cachola now works as an academic advisor at BMCC’s Academic Advisement & Transfer Center.  One of her primary responsibilities is serving as the BMCC advisor liaison to CCTOP.  Cachola helps connect students at BMCC to different opportunities and transfer programs around the state of New York.  In terms of her current role, Cachola feels like “I have found my calling by providing guidance to students in order to achieve their goals towards their career path.  It is not an easy task especially when we [advisors] don’t always have all the answers, but as long as we can direct them and let students know that these goals are attainable and there are people who will help along the way, I know I am making a difference.”  Cachola is currently searching for a graduate program that best suits her and that will help evolve her ultimate career goal, which is to continue in higher education.  The CCTOP and NYU community are proud of Cachola’s work and wish her luck in all her future endeavors!

Get to Know David!

Hi!  I’m David Barrera, the new graduate intern at CCTOP!  One of my biggest projects as the new intern is managing CCTOP’s social media presence.  This blog is here for current CCTOP students, alumni, and prospective students.  I’ll be posting about your amazing accomplishments and will also send out helpful reminders for important deadlines.  With that said, all blog posts will be broadcast on our Facebook page so be sure to follow us!

I’m excited to be enrolled in Steinhardt’s program in Higher Education and Student Affairs and to be working with CCTOP!  My goal in this program is to learn how to best support and be a resource for students from underrepresented communities. I’m a big believer in the idea that education is a form of social justice, and I developed a strong sense of how systems of inequality operate in the US after graduating from Brown University with degrees in biology and ethnic studies.

More about me… I grew up in Texas, but I do not own a pair of cowboy boots.  Somehow that surprises a lot of people. Some of my favorite tv shows are Broad City, The Walking Dead, and Scandal.  Last thing, I’ve lived in New York for almost 3 years now, and during that time I developed a deep passion for improv comedy.  If anyone is interested in learning more about the improv scene in New York, please reach out to me!  I LOVE this stuff and seriously never stop talking about it.  

Looking forward to meeting you!


CCTOP Alumni Spotlight: Jemair Lewis

CCTOP would like to introduce our very first “CCTOP Alumni Spotlight” series. CCTOP students come from a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and possess knowledge in different areas of interest. Our first alumni spotlight is Jemair Lewis, NYU Steinhardt Class of 2015, and now a student in NYU’s Master’s Counseling for Mental Health and Wellness program.

CCTOP Graduate Intern, Kevin Franco, spoke with Jemair about her successes and her CCTOP experience.


B.A. Applied Psychology, May 2015

M.A. Counseling for Mental Health & Wellness, May 2018

Community College Attended: Hostos Community College

“This journey is bigger than me. That’s my success story so far and the rest remains unwritten.”


Kevin: So Jemair, what does success mean to you?

Jemair: For me, success is not a destination, but a journey. It’s an ongoing process and I believe as long as you are being proactive and taking steps forward, no matter how small, you are on your way. However, I do not dwell on the idea of being successful out of fear of becoming complacent. Success is something I am striving towards whether through personal and professional goals each and every day. And I have learned that such success is interdependent of one another. Essentially, I see myself as my biggest competition and always feel there is something I can improve upon. Success is a feeling for me, not a title, position or a degree. Currently, I am successful not only because of my accomplishments, but also because of the awesome and supportive people I have around me.

Kevin:  I really like how you say that success is a “feeling…not a title, position, or a degree.” Keeping that notion in mind, how was your CCTOP experience?

       “It is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”                                                            

Jemair: Being a part of CCTOP has afforded me the opportunity to attend what has been my dream school since I was I was a freshman in high school. When I was applying to transfer to NYU from Hostos Community College, I did not know much about CCTOP and my career advisor was the one who brought it to my attention. I was elated to find out I had been accepted to NYU and was also a recipient of the CCTOP scholarship. Upon getting to NYU, I was worried about finding a community in which I could felt I belonged to within such a big school. CCTOP was that small and close-knit community I needed. The great thing about CCTOP is that it is offered to students in certain programs, so it makes it more likely that you will find other students who are also a part of CCTOP. I had new student orientation with a few other CCTOP students in my cohort and we immediately began to bond over the fact that we were transfer students from community colleges around the city. Most of us were also commuter students, so we related that way as well. I had a department advisor, but I took advantage of the fact that CCTOP was another support system to help me stay on track with my classes. So, I did just that and regularly made appointments with the director of CCTOP. Finding people I could connect with based on the fact that I came from a CUNY school was one aspect I really enjoyed. I cherished these connections and friendships throughout my undergrad career at NYU and continue to do so to this day. I also enjoyed listening to the diversified experiences and opinions of my classmates from all over the world. I felt fortunate to be surrounded by people who were inquisitive about everything life had to offer, whether I agreed with these opinions or not. I quickly learned it’s okay to ask questions, to explore and challenge concepts that have been ingrained in us since childhood because this is how our minds expand and ultimately, how my own opinions and beliefs evolved during my time at NYU. Moreover, celebrating our 2-year journey as CCTOP students during graduation celebration was one of the best feelings I have ever experienced, and I will hold onto that feeling of solidarity and accomplishment forever.

Kevin: That is really powerful, Jemair. It seems that CCTOP played a pivotal role in your NYU experience. Any advice you would like to give to current CCTOP students?

Jemair: Be open. Be open to meeting new people, going to new places (study abroad if possible) and of course learning new things from not only your professors and mentors, but from your peers as well. One essential thing that I took away from my undergraduate experience at NYU is the diversified opinions. It was always great to hear the opinions of my peers, because it challenged me to be more self-aware and self-reflective, which ultimately, inspired progression in my critical thinking skills and, overall, personal growth. I would also advise new or current students to utilize the resources they have available to them both on campus and beyond. Be curious! Participate in CCTOP events, spread the word about the program and connect with your peers within and outside of the program. The bigger the support system, the better. Lastly, remember that these connections that you make now can continue beyond graduation as you start or continue in your field of choice, so definitely take advantage of networking opportunities at NYU.

Kevin:  This is all great advice and it’s great that you were able to stay connected at NYU through your graduate studies. To my knowledge, you are also busy as  a Student Tutor for 1st graders at NYU America Reads/Counts.  I also understand that you’re planning to study abroad in Shanghai, China. Looking back at everything, how does success look to you now?

Jemair: I think my idea of success has evolved in the way that I now know it is defined on an individual basis and not based on what society tells you it is. Most importantly, I try not to give anyone else the power to decide whether I am successful at something or not, instead I create what makes me successful at something each day, even celebrating small victories. I have my doubts like any other person, but one thing I never doubted was how far I could get as it relates to my education and my career. I am right where I imagined I would be and have exceeded the expectations I had for myself along the way. Growing up as an introverted person, my main goal was to help people and only through life experiences was I able to recognize my gifts, talents, and potential in contributing to the mental health field as a counselor. Imagine how scary the thought could be for an introverted person to step outside of themselves and be in constant communication with clients and colleagues. This idea was initially nerve-wracking to me, but my passion for helping and reaching out to others through this specific modality of counseling trumps all those fears. This journey is bigger than me. That’s my success story so far and the rest remains unwritten. Ultimately, it’s also important to recognize that we are the experts of our own narratives. The best part about writing your own life story is that you hold the pen and, therefore, decide what success means for you.

Thank you Jemair for taking the time to talk to us. If anyone would like to reach out to Jemair, she is willing to chat and she is, fortunately, “still around!” If you are a CCTOP alumni or current CCTOP student and would like to share your story, please reach out to us. We would love to hear your story.

Welcome Back Returning and New CCTOP Students!

After a much needed break, I hope all of you are ready to begin this new year & semester with a fresh start. We are all excited to continue on supporting you this semester and into the 2017-2018 academic year. For some of you, this is your first or second semester of being a CCTOP student or perhaps it is your last. Either way, we are excited to spearhead more CCTOP related events– this year is the year of the “YOU.”

  • YOUR needs as a student

  • YOUR needs as either a New Yorker or NY transplant

  • YOUR summer plans

  • YOUR social life

  • YOUR mental health

  • YOUR life aspirations

  • YOU!

Here at CCTOP, we are preparing to  promote community among CCTOP students, as well as support you on your educational journey. Personally, I also want to be of extra help to you!  My drop-in hours are as follow. Feel free to stop by to introduce yourself, talk over some of your plans for the Spring, catch up, or go get a boba! Getting coffee is so 2016.

Kevin’s Spring 2017 Drop-In Hours:

Mondays: 2-4pm  and Wednesdays 10am-12pm

(subject to change due to transfer fairs, meetings, etc.)


As you continue on your journey at NYU, seeking help or attending events that will nourish YOUR needs can become overwhelming. Here is a breakdown of some (not all!) transfer related events/resources happening in the first few weeks of school:

Keep an eye on your email inbox for a CCTOP Cross-Divisional Welcome!  We’re planning this for the first week of February!

This semester we have a couple of CCTOP events that we would like to inform you all about. We also would like you all to meet new CCTOP students as well as catch-up with each other.


NYU Transfer Student Outing: Ice Skating @ Central Park

Thursday, January 18, 2007

6:30pm, Meet at SRC Lounge, Kimmel Suite 210

Grab your sweaters and coats and join us for an evening of skating and fun! Skating admission is $9.50, and skate rental is $5.00 or if you have them bring yours. This outing will introduce you to New York City as well as to your fellow transfer students. You must provide your own metrocard ($4 round-trip)

NYU Transfer Student Association Meeting: Q&A Session

Thursday, January 18, 2007

12:30-2:00pm, Kimmel 905

Join us for Transfer Student Association first meeting of the spring semester, where current transfer students will answer any questions you might have as you transition to NYU. They will share advice they wish they’d when they first transferred to NYU, and of course, there will be FREE FOOD!

You can review the complete Spring  Welcome Week Schedule here.

Chinese New Year Parade

The Chinese New Year Parade takes place in Chinatown, on February 5, 2017. Revelers start to gather at noon before the processions officially begins at 1pm. The New Year’s Day Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural festival, which takes places at Sara Roosevelt Park, is on January 28, 2017.

NYC Restaurant Week

Every summer and winter, NYC Restaurant Week returns with dining deals at restaurants all across New York. From trendy newcomers to top-notch hotel restaurants to some of the city’s best fine-dining restaurants, the three-week event draws bargain-hunting New York diners to try out and revisit old favorites serving cheap eats.The winter session will run from Monday, January 23, 2017, through Friday, February 10, 2017. Reservations open Monday, January 9, 2017.

***The Skirball Box Office sells AMC ($10.50) & Regal ($9) movie tickets!***



Toolkits @ NYU

Toolkits, which are 1 to 4 session skills workshops on issues ranging from Time Management to Mindfulness for Addictions, are currently up and running. Students are advised to sign up by calling 212-998-4780. They can also drop in on the day of the toolkit, yet advance sign-up is recommended to confirm that day’s toolkit is running.

  • Identity & Society: a positive space for students to process and think about various aspects and intersections of their identities, in the context personal experiences, world events and our ever-changing society

  • Adulting’: Navigating the Uncertainties of Post-Grad Life: for undergraduate students to explore and process feelings around entering into ‘life after graduation’.

  • Trans and GNC Process Group: process group for undergrad and grad students who are trans and/or gender non conforming/gender queer to discuss issues pertaining to identity and community, school and society

Please note: all groups require students to meet with a clinician for a brief screening meeting to see if the group is a good fit for them. Students may call 212-998-4780 for more information on scheduling a screening.

***All toolkits and groups are free of charge.***

Mindful NYU

Offers free yoga, meditation & more!  You can see their full list of offerings here.

These are just a few resources NYU has to offer – if there is something you’re looking for please reach out!  We all look forward to seeing you at the CCTOP Welcome and Mixer in February. In the meantime, stop by to say in the 2nd Floor of Pless Hall!


Meet Kevin Franco, CCTOP Graduate Intern!

Hello CCTOPers!

I am excited to start this new professional and educational journey with you all. I was born in Los Angeles and raised in the San Fernando Valley, California (20 minutes from LA; 40-60 minutes with traffic). I graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Sociology. From there, I began working in the college access and success sector, assisting a spectrum of students in their pursuit of a Bachelors degree. I am now enrolled in Steinhardt’s Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) M.A. program.

My passion/interests in higher education consist of social justice pedagogy/approaches in regards to equity and inclusion at an institutional level. Through the M.A. program, I hope to acquire the skills to learn how to restructure systemic issues to better support underrepresented students (i.e. minority students, transfer students, etc). To me, education has been a transformative tool for myself because it has taught me to love myself, understand the complexities of my salient identities, and most importantly, find my passions.  If you ever want to chat about these areas, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

On a personal note, I am a big ‘foodie’ –I like to try different cuisines around the city (I do try to keep it inexpensive! After all, I am on a student budget!). If you know of a good ramen or Thai restaurant, please let me know (I like my ramen broth salty)! Music festivals are also of interest to me. I also love to relax by binging on a good Netflix/Hulu show during the weekend. I believe in the value of building positive, genuine connections with individuals, and I make the best effort to embody that value in all the spaces I am in. In other words, stop by the office if you are nearby. As you continue on your own educational journey, I hope to be of assistance and/or of guidance to you all. I look forward to meeting each one of you.