Mathew Cullen: Stay Positive and Eat Ice Cream!

Mathew Cullen is a CCTOP scholar who transferred from Westchester Community College into NYU Steinhardt’s program in Nutrition and Dietetics.  He’s also a member of NYU’s graduating class of 2018!  Since enrolling at NYU, he feels he has been able to meet amazing and influential people from all over the world.  Mathew has also found great communities at NYU during his time here while also reaping academic benefits that will help him reach his goals.  

Photo of Mathew Cullen

One of Mathew’s professional goals is to become a registered dietitian and receive his Certified Dietitian Nutritionist (CDN) credential.  In addition to the health factors related to nutrition, Mathew also has an interest in the culture around food and food fads like New York City’s eclectic fusion cuisines and coffee fanatics.  Ultimately, he wants to focus on long-term geriatric care within the medical nutrition field.

Mathew is involved in several extracurricular activities at NYU.  He is a member of club EAT, a club that builds community between nutrition, dietetics, and food studies students at NYU.  Some events include film screenings, cooking demos, and career development. Mathew is also part of the Men’s Group at NYU’s LGBTQ Student Center.  Within both of these communities, Mathew feels grateful for the “truly amazing and influential people from backgrounds across the world” who he has met.  

Mathew values the importance of finding your own community within the larger NYU community.  When asked what advice he would offer to new CCTOP students at NYU, he recommends staying positive, taking a deep breath when needed, and eating ice cream!  He is a true nutrition student!

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CCTOP Alumni Spotlight: Madeline Abreu

Madeline Abreu is currently a Master’s student in NYU’s Silver School of Social Work.  She transferred to NYU through CCTOP from Bronx Community College and was a member of CUNY’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP).  As a social worker, Madeline hopes to support people similar to the ways she was supported as a student at BCC and NYU.  Photo of Madeline Abreu

In Madeline’s college journey, there are three specific people who she feels have impacted her trajectory.  One person is her academic advisor at ASAP, Jessica Cabrera.  ASAP’s mission is to support students holistically to ensure they earn their Associate’s degree in three years or less, and Jessica Cabrera always kept Madeline grounded, reminding her she was able to do whatever she wanted.  Her Phi Theta Kappa advisor Yvonne Erazo and CCTOP Director Jackie McPhillips have also been sources of inspiration and support for Madeline.

Madeline’s goal as a social worker is to help students from her community transition and acclimate to college.  She wants to “be a liaison and advocate for students who may not know how to navigate the system in higher education.”  In the same way that Madeline’s advisors and mentors helped remind her that she is capable of accomplishing her goals, Madeline wants to help other students believe that attaining a degree in higher education is possible!

Overall, attending NYU has been a monumental accomplishment for Madeline.  Her success here has shown her that she is capable of much more than she ever thought possible.  Her next big goal is to complete a bicycle tour (long distance cycling) this summer from the Bronx, New York to Orlando, Florida!  CCTOP wishes her luck and a safe journey!

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Amanda Yodice: Don’t Sweat the Small Things

I recently had the chance to learn about Amanda Yodice’s experience as a CCTOP student at NYU.  Amanda transferred into Steinhardt’s program in Media, Culture, and Communication from Suffolk County Community College and graduated in 2016!  She recently joined the Havas Formula consumer team as a public relations Account Executive.  Amanda speaks candidly about how NYU prepared her for this role and any challenges she encountered as a transfer student.  

Photo of Amanda Yodice

Amanda loves working in public relations precisely because it is face-paced.  There is never a slow day and she gets to be creative through storytelling, sharing important news about her clients.  Amanda knows that her internship experiences in college definitely helped her figure out the industry she wanted to work in.  Amanda recommends that students try to explore different types of internships as often as possible. You can confirm a passion or at least learn that a particular field just isn’t a good fit!  

Another memorable experience for Amanda was participating in the Global Leadership Summit in 2015 at NYU’s Abu Dhabi campus.  The topic of the summit dealt with the importance of ethics in leadership  Not only was the program informative, Amanda got to meet fellow students from NYU’s schools in Shanghai and Abu Dhabi!  Amanda knew many students who knew of the summit but did not apply for it because they didn’t feel qualified. To that Amanda responds, “Always apply to everything you want!”  

When Amanda first transitioned to NYU, she experienced feelings of inadequacy.  Eventually, she learned that these feelings came from her own insecurities and she reminded herself everyday that she was just as deserving as her classmates to be at NYU no matter her origins.  The best piece of advice Amanda can offer to a current CCTOP student is to not worry about the little things. The number one question she gets asked in interviews is, “How did you handle something that went wrong at your previous job?”  From Amanda’s point of view, employers care more about how you overcome obstacles instead of how you revel in your successes. “School and life are going to throw you curve balls… you’ll still be successful if you can bounce back.”

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CCTOP Alumni Spotlight: Johnny Lozada

Johnny Lozada graduated from NYU’s program in applied psychology in 2015 after transferring from LaGuardia Community College. Since leaving NYU, Johnny has done some meaningful work at CUNY’s Fatherhood Academy and Quest to Learn. He now works as an academic advisor for Lehman College’s Adult Degree Program in the Bronx! One of the things Johnny enjoys most about his role as an advisor is that he gets to work with students that he has a lot in common with. He recognizes that he was on the other side of the desk not so long ago and this drives a lot of the passion he brings to the work.

Photo of Johnny Lozada

NYU prepared Johnny for his current position through courses like group dynamics and research methods. He knows that these courses gave him knowledge and skills that he applies to his everyday duties as an advisor like participating in public speaking events and 1-on-1 advising with students. Johnny’s favorite memory at NYU was being chosen to present at the Applied Psychology department’s research conference. It was the culmination of two semesters or hard work where many students got the chance to be acknowledged for their contributions to the field!

One challenge that Johnny faced as a transfer student at NYU was that he felt he had to re-learn how to be a student. NYU has quite a few differences from community colleges so Johnny knew that he had to adapt in order to be as successful as he was at LGCC. Although the experience was daunting, he is grateful because it prepared him for what employers now expect from him.

We are glad that Johnny was able to thrive at NYU and is now willing to share his successes with everyone at CCTOP! If he could give advice to a current CCTOP student, Johnny would tell you to “take a second to take it all in once in a while. You are part of the vibrant NYU community. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity… drink it in!”

 

 

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Emine Lihari: Actualizing Your Dreams

From a young age, Emine knew she wanted to be a child psychiatrist.  This is partly because she grew up with a family member who had mental disabilities, leading to her developing an interest in the mental health field.  Emine recently took a big step towards reaching this goal as she is a new CCTOP scholar in NYU Steinhardt’s program in applied psychology!  Here at CCTOP, we know Emine will be successful based on the diligence and hard work she puts into accomplishing her goals.  

Photo of Emine Lihari

At Kingsborough Community College, Emine majored in mental health.  In these courses, she learned her specific interests were in childhood trauma and also met Professor Susan Ednie who played a large role in motivating and encouraging Emine.  One of the ways that Professor Ednie made a positive impression on Emine is the way she always responded to student questions enthusiastically and never dismissed someone’s opinion.  

Professor Ednie is also the person that introduced Emine to CCTOP and nominated her for the scholarship!  She was able to help Emine keep this goal in mind as she continued her studies at KBCC and eventually transferred.  When considering how Professor Ednie impacted Emine, she pointed out that “she believed in me without any doubts, and that really built the courage in me.”  Emine took that courage and motivation she built up at KBCC and successfully transferred to NYU!  

In terms of the transfer application process, Emine offers some words of wisdom that future students may want to consider:  the process can be simple as long as you complete it in a timely manner.  Some of the ways Emine tackled to application was by completing it in small steps.  First, completing the basic family and demographic information.  After that, she gave herself two weeks to write, review, and edit her essays.  During that time, she also requested official documents be sent to receiving institutions.  Any students in the middle of the transfer application process should definitely find a way to complete their application in small doses! 

Everyone at CCTOP is excited to see how Emine grows at NYU and looks forward to all her future accomplishments!  Please be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for further updates on our students’ successes!  

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CCTOP Alumni Spotlight: Catherine Martinez

CCTOP is proud to put the spotlight on the work of CCTOP alumna Catherine Martinez ‘17!  One of Catherine’s current projects is creating online makeup tutorials in sign language.  Her tutorials have received recent critical acclaim from media outlets like People, Today, and Refinery29!  I had the chance to learn more about Catherine’s inspiration behind making her makeup tutorials and the role that NYU played in shaping her experiences.  Don’t forget to checkout her YouTube channel to stay up do date on her work!

Photo of Catherine Martinez

Through Catherine’s experience, she’s learned that many people find video tutorials very useful, but they are often missing closed captioning that creates a barrier for people who are deaf or hearing impaired.  Catherine created her channel specifically to fill this gap and help facilitate the connection between this population and video tutorials in a way that makes people feel happy, comfortable, and welcome.  

Some of Catherine’s American sign language professors were helpful in shaping her idea of tutorials in sign language in addition to helping her feel comfortable communicating in that language.  She also feels that Dr. Kelly Bridges helped her develop a passion for anatomy and physiology.  In the future, Catherine plans on pursuing a career in Audiology and is currently applying to graduate audiology programs.  Everyone at NYU Steinhardt and CCTOP is extremely proud of Catherine’s great work and we wish her luck in all future endeavours!  

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Kari-Noor Thompson: Seizing Opportunities

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Kari-Noor Thompson is a CCTOP student in NYU’s educational theatre program.  He transferred to NYU from BMCC and aspires to teach theatre education in the Middle East, in urban communities, and prisons.  One of the first pieces of advice Kari-Noor would give to a new CCTOP student is to “take advantage of all possible opportunities that present themselves to you.”  He has certainly followed his own advice and made the most out of what NYU has to offer!  

In addition to majoring in educational theatre, Kari-Noor is minoring in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies.  In fact, he just returned from studying abroad in Abu Dhabi, and one of Kari-Noor’s favorite things about NYU is the substantial amount of study abroad opportunities .  Studying abroad in Abu Dhabi, he was given the opportunity to travel to some of the other Emirates and Oman, experiencing different traditional Arab dishes and forming friendships with other NYU students across NYU’s global network.  He enjoys being allowed to immerse himself in a culture that can be different from his own and meet new people.  

Photo of Kari-Noor Thompson

Kari-Noor and friend celebrating United Arab Emirates national day on the NYU Abu Dhabi campus.

Kari-Noor also recognizes that NYU has some of the best professors and staff for educational theatre in the world, so the educational theatre office is another one of his favorite things about NYU.  Educational theatre courses are unique and Kari-Noor feels that it is one of the only places on campus where he can unpack complex emotions and even turn sadness into happiness.   The Center for Multicultural Education and Programming (CMEP) has also been an important space for Kari-Noor.  CMEP provides Kari-Noor a safe space to further discuss issues pertaining to social justice and leadership, allowing him to further explore his identity.  

Another piece of advice Kari-Noor would give to new CCTOP students is to not be afraid or ashamed of asking for help.  While at BMCC, Kari-Noor received help from everyone on the campus, from head administrators to students, and even security guards.  He also believes each one of these individuals who helped him contributed to his success.  Many people helped Kari-Noor grow not only as a student or only as an artist but as a human being as well.  The most important piece of advice he would offer to new students is to have fun!  Sometimes college can be an overwhelming place, but it can also be one of the most formative experiences of your life.  

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Luz Cepeda: Aquí Estamos Representando

Photo of Luz Cepeda

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.  

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“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.  

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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.

Photo of Amber Fulton

“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!  

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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.

Beverly Terry Artwork

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!

Photo of Beverly Terry

“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

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