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May 2002
Future CUNY Facility on Governors Island Announced by Governor and Mayor.
Student Media Conference Addresses "Attack Mentality" after 9/11
Baruch Orients City Council Freshmen
Turning "D"s into Degrees: A CUNY Student Tells How
Life Resumes 500 Feet from Ground Zero
A Diaspora of CUNY Students into Halls of Power
A View to a Krill: Antarctic Expedition by College of Staten Island Scientists
The City University Attracts Talent from Near and Far
CUNY, PSC Announce Agreement on a New Contract
Chancellor Goldstein Initiates New Efficiencies, Greater Student Access to Learning Technology
Pulitzer Prize to Louis Menand
Executive Leadership Program Inaugurated
First Betty Shabazz Chair Appointed at Medgar Evers College
City University Retains New Fundraising Consultant
Former Congressman Dellums to Speak on AIDS at CCNY
City Tech Scholarship For All Four Seasons
Major CCNY Grant for Remote Sensing

Student Development, Enrollment Conference by Mayor

ReBuilding New York

New City College Biomedical Engineering Department

"Trailer Heroes" of BMCC Build at CCNY

A Life of Laura Bridgman—Disabled Pioneer in Education

Exotic Bird Alights at The Graduate Center

 
 

Turning "D"s into Degrees: A CUNY Student Tells How

Rajen Persaud is the first to admit he was not a very good student in high school. "Intellectual embarrassment—that’s like one of the worst things that can happen to you in life. You are sitting in class and the teacher asks a question, then points to you. And you don’t know the answer!"

Persaud’s cluelessness in his Bryant High School classes in Long Island City made him a model "D" student. "I failed a ton of classes. . .that's why I didn't want to go on to college. I just didn’t want to fail again."

He then reminisces about interesting walks he took with his cousin Eric through some of the city’s most blighted neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. “This is what happens when you don’t have an education,” he told Persaud. Then Eric suggested he try coming to his school, Kingsborough Community College.

"So I signed up, did the liberal arts thing, and took a ton of remedial courses." With his cousin’s help, Persaud began to do something unheard of: "I just paid attention. I just did what I was supposed to do in high school: paid attention, went to class, did my homework." Then the Guyana native, who came to the U.S. at the age of eight, decided to "do" Baruch College, which he found very user-friendly. "It was like going down South to a family reunion. Everybody was ready to help. Baruch really does provide a homey environment. Even if you are from out of town you can connect with someone at CUNY."

Persaud’s experience inspired him so much that he decided to write a book that would help other students make the most of their college experience. "In about four or five months I had a complete, edited manuscript." Making It Through College: Your Passport to the Information Age appeared earlier this year and has already been given out to freshmen at their orientation at Baruch. It’s also been ordered for students at Bronx and Borough of Manhattan Community Colleges.

Lest there be any doubt that the book’s 260 pages and 42 chapters are written from a student perspective, Persaud’s preface begins: “America’s youth are adrift in an educational sea of adult cynicism. We teach them the value of academic attainment then we cut funding to basic educational programs.”

Persaud has organized his book in sections on Things to Know (among them “Losing Your Ethnicity” and “Choosing Classes”), Cautions (on such topics as “Bigotry and Intolerance, ” “Sexual Harassment,” and “Counseling”), The College Game (“Changing Majors and Transferring” and “Paying for College,” for example), and Taking Responsibility (which tackles such topics as “Exams” and “Classroom Etiquette”). Persaud ends with several chapters on Keeping Your Sanity.

Making It Through College is not lacking in humor. It comes with a “Warning” to “Keep Well in Reach of Children.” The last of his acknowledgments is “to Moms, hey thanks for that whole birth thing, babe!” The sub-head for a chapter on Time Management reads, “Time flies when you are wasting it.” On the very last page, to inspire even the most laggard of potential college students, Persaud’s high school transcript is arrayed in full gory detail.

The humor is no accident. Since graduating in 1992 with a B.A. in Political Science, Persaud has earned some of his keep in stand-up comedy (it also paid off some of his Baruch tuition). Though now involved in the writing, producing, and directing of films, he is still planning to hit the books again—law books.

Persaud’s stylish, desktop-published book makes clear his entrepreneurial knack (it has its own website: www.makingitthroughcollege.com). On the back cover Persaud defines the word universally despised at CUNY—attrition—with a shrewd acrostic that explains why he turned author:

Absence of
Thorough
Timely
Realistic
Information
To
Inspire
Or
Nurture

Speaking generally about Making It, Persaud says he hopes readers “will get out of it the fact that they can be and do anything they want. It may sound trite, but it’s just that simple. . .CUNY is a huge, huge collective of colleges that can take you anywhere you want to go. By all means, come to CUNY, do your thing.” Then the author shrewdly adds, “and get my book to help you out!”

Author Rajen Persaud in mid-routine at Caroline's, the New York comedy club.