No other learning organization creates a wider scope of opportunity for New Yorkers every year than York College. One of the eleven senior colleges of the City University of New York (CUNY), York occupies 50 acres in the heart of Jamaica, Queens. The school’s student population mirrors the rich ethnic diversity of the surrounding community. Today, York students come from more than 100 countries and speak more than 50 languages.
According to York president Dr. Marcia Keizs, it is this diversity that drives the programs, operations, and environment, that make this institution so unique.
“This college was built on the premise of serving the urban core community. You’ll find a continual theme here—a shared goal—in that we try to level the playing field and give every student the opportunity to excel.
“Our goal is to truly make York a transformative urban institution and cultural hub.”
It is a goal that is being realized in its student population every day.
“Our graduates and their subsequent careers and successes are very reflective of our values here at York. Many have chosen social professions—educators, lawyers, and physicians—in order to ‘pay forward’ the opportunities they’ve been afforded. Many take a personal interest in our students, offering internships or mentoring to give them the real-world understanding and skills they’ll need to compete. Others have contributed over a half million dollars in sacrificial donations to help students with things they often can’t afford, like medical school entrance exams.
“Our mission is to everyone a chance to succeed. And our strong alumni network donates time, talent and capital to advance that mission.”
Foundation for Success
York College is the only CUNY senior college in Queens offering baccalaureate degrees in nursing, aviation management, pharmaceutical science, information systems, and physician assistant studies, as well as a BS/MS in occupational therapy. The school offers more than 40 majors, with programs in health, business, and psychology being the most popular.
York also benefits from partnerships that enhance the classroom experiences. For example, the Northeast Regional Office of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) has its investigation center offices and state-of-the-art laboratory on campus. The FDA/York College partnership offers students and faculty the unique opportunity to engage in joint collaborative activities, such as sponsored research, fellowship, and internship programs.
Another unique partnership is reflected in York’s Aviation Institute. Working with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and several major airlines, the Aviation Institute helps students of the School of Business and Information Systems step into roles in an industry historically out of reach for diverse students.
Corporations also take part in programs that provide insight into concepts like networking that students of color often overlook as part of preparation for a career. And graduates who now work in a wide range of disciplines and industries find ways to help students “fine tune” their personal presentations in order to succeed. One alumnus, for example, mentors students in the art of the lunch meeting and other scenarios that they may encounter in a work environment.
“Many of the skills students learn at York can’t be learned in books,” said Keizs. “Our students are extremely well prepared. Once they get into their careers, our students must compete against graduates from America’s top colleges; we have seen them do just as well.”
Helping to Build a Legacy
York College is on a clear path of growth, and generating support for its operations, financial aid, and talent acquisition initiatives is always among its priorities. In November, the school announced the addition of three new members to the York College Board of Directors: Michele Chow-Tai, Hank Sheinkopf, and Edson Edwards.
Sheinkopf and Chow-Tai are no strangers to York College. Both are alumni and, like many current students, faced many challenges on the road to their careers. Their for the York experience, as well as their expertise in their respective fields, make them ideally suited for these important roles.
Michele Chow-Tai, recently elected Foundation Chair, earned a Bachelor of Science from York College in The City University of New York and holds credentials in business administration and finance. She is an institutional relationship manager at TIAA-CREF, a leading financial services organization. In the position, she helps to design and manage financial services and retirement plans for colleges and universities, helping them to drive successful outcomes for their employees.
“As a proud alumnus of York College, I cannot wait to begin my new role,” said Chow-Tai. “York has given me many opportunities and opened so many doors. I am proud to be named Foundation Chair and be given this chance to give back to my alma mater.”
Hank Sheinkopf, CNN correspondent and former Clinton advisor, graduated from York College in 1973. Already an active alumnus, Sheinkopf has helped raise funds for York’s political science scholarship that bears his name. His comprehensive understanding of the political process makes his presence on the York Board a tremendous asset to the CUNY institution.
“York College opens the doors of opportunity for thousands of New Yorkers,” said Sheinkopf. “The Board’s job is to keep it that way, and I intend to help in every way so that it can.”
The third new member of the board, Edson Edwards, serves as Internal Actuary and investment analyst at the Federal Reserve Office of Employee Benefits, and brings his knowledge in investment strategies for pension plans, an expertise that is invaluable to the college. Unlike Sheinkopf and Chow-Tai, Edwards is not a York College alumnus, but found the opportunity resonated with him for many reasons.
“Like many of these students, I am among the first generation in my family to attend college. Programs similar to those sponsored by the Foundation made it possible for me to do so. I understand many of the challenges these students face to get the level of education they need in order to succeed.
“I am humbled by the opportunity to join the York College Board of Directors,” said Edwards. “Moving forward, I am committed to building York’s ability to sustain financial security. Together, we will continue to open doors for the next generation of achievers.”
York diversity at a glance
Students at York College enjoy a dynamic and supportive environment where they can collaborate with faculty and academic peers whose backgrounds are distinctly different from their own. Located in the Queens borough of New York City, the student population represents 100 countries and speaks 50 languages. Only six percent of the student population is white non-Hispanic. Because many York students hold jobs or support families while attending school, the average student may take longer than the traditional four years to earn his or her degree. More than half of those attending are first generation college students, making York a truly transformative force in the community.