President’s Weekly Messages to Students
What I know for sure
Friday, October 8, 2021
Dear KCC Students,
I can hardly believe that 31 years ago, I graduated from Rutgers University! This past weekend I had the opportunity to go back there. Although I visited the campus 15 years ago, this time was extra special, because I was being inducted into the Rutgers University African American Alliance Hall of Fame and the best part is that I got to see and spend time with a few of my college besties.
Our reminiscing about our time at Rutgers literally led to a trip down memory lane. We walked around New Brunswick late that night and the next day, marveling at how many things had changed, (there’s a Starbucks on campus! a plaza dedicated to Paul Robeson one of Rutgers most outstanding alumni! and there were no Grease Trucks in sight, which meant no gyros for us at 11pm). There were also many things that are exactly as we left them (the store on George St. where I would go to get my pictures developed is still standing; students still walk to and fro on College Avenue; and the bus we would take to other campuses is still running).
My friend Wendy and I left New Brunswick and headed to Piscataway to Livingston College (now Campus) where we lived. We were surprised to see all the new buildings and spaces, but we were ecstatic to find some things just as we found them 35 years ago. Our dorm (House 31) was still standing strong. We managed to talk our way inside and into the lounge on the first floor were we first met all those years ago for our first House meeting and where we would watch the Dominos delivery man sprint across the quad so he could delivery our pizza in under 30 minutes (or else it was free). We even made our way to our old dorm rooms, but since no one was there, we took pictures in front of the door and in the hallway. We went to the old dining hall, the library, my old Africana Studies department (I had so many fond memories of visiting my professors during their office hours) and the student center.
With each of my steps the memories came flooding back. I remember my 17 year-old self, walking in these spaces, heading to class and laughing with my friends. I remember the first time I saw a sorority step show and that time I got an F on a paper and was ranting so loudly on the way back to my room, that Wendy heard me from her dorm room. I remember many, many, many times when we pulled all-nighters to write and type papers that were due the next day (because we’re master procrastinators), (this happened a lot by the way). I remember trekking up the hill one winter to Beck Hall and I couldn’t figure out why someone would come this far to dump a bag of ice. It didn’t occur to me until some years later that it was ice from a small pond that was freezing (I was from the islands, how was I supposed to know?).
As I reflect on my years at Rutgers, and all the years that followed, there are a few things that although I didn’t know then, I know now for sure. And I want to share them with you, here goes:
You will experience good days and bad days, but keep working toward completing what you started because when I tell you that commencement day will be your best day, it will be the best.day.ever!
College is not only about earning a degree, you will gain lifelong friends. But to do so, you have to do more than just keep your head in the books. Head out to a student event (virtually or in person), join a club or become a part of the student government association. At college there is a friend for everyone. Trust me on this.
Remember, your professors were once college students too. They are experts in their fields and they challenge you because they know that you have what it takes and more. And they are here to mentor and teach you.
Everyone--- and I mean everyone at the college is invested in your success and is here for you. The public safety and custodial staff are invested in keeping you safe; our cafeteria crew wants to make sure you have food to keep you going; our building and grounds staff are here to keep the campus beautiful for you (we have the best campus in CUNY you know) secretaries and office workers are here to answer your questions and make sure you have all the information you need; advisors are here to help you stay on track; and counselors are here for you to talk to.
Know that failing a test, or doing poorly in a class does not mean you should give up. It means that you need to work harder. Instead of studying and reading for an hour, find more time in your schedule to study longer. It means going for tutoring, finding a study buddy, or reaching out to your professor for clarification on something you may have missed or did not understand completely. Don’t wait until the last minute to do so, I learned the hard way that procrastination is not a great virtue.
And last and most importantly, given all that you have experienced these past 19 months, and what you may have experienced personally, you may be questioning your purpose and whether or not you are in the right place. During my college years, I had these same questions. I had times where I doubted myself. I questioned if I was cut out for college and if I was in the right place. But as I look back, I know that I was. Every success, every setback, everything that I experienced, prepared me for who I am and where I am today. My message to you KCC students is that you are being prepared for something even greater than you have imagined for yourself. (Read that again) Know that you are in the right place at the right time. Any setbacks you might experience are preparing you for an incredible comeback and the ultimate step up. We can’t wait to see all that you will become and all that you will do because what I know for sure is that you are exactly where you need to be.
Stay safe, mask up and have a great weekend.