Civic Involvement Wins “Myself Third” Scholarships To CUNY For 25 High School Leaders

Twenty-five outstanding high school graduating seniors, chosen for their extraordinary civic involvement, will receive $2,000 “Myself Third” Spirit of New York Scholarships on Wednesday, June 19 in a 7 p.m. ceremony at Baruch College’s Newman Conference Center, 151 East 25th Street in Manhattan.

The scholarship program was established this year in tribute to the altruism of 9-11 rescue workers. It honors high school graduating seniors whose individual acts of concern and solidarity inspire pride, citizenship and a sense of community. The scholarships are funded through a grant from Robert Friedman, a City College alumnus and member of the Chancellor’s Business Leadership Council.

“One of the most important lessons Americans learned from the horrific events of September 11th was the responsibility we have to each other,” said Mr. Friedman. “The heroic efforts of rescue workers and others who responded so selflessly recall the special qualities that make our country great. The “Myself Third” scholarship program has been established to honor this altruism and to inspire young people to cultivate and practice the qualities of tolerance, responsibility and compassion we have all witnessed.”

Mr. Friedman, a founding member of the CUNY Chancellor=s Business Leadership Council, had a 30-year career as a partner at Goldman Sachs, including serving as Chief Financial Officer and as a member of its Management Committee, and now serves as limited partner. For the past eight years he has been a general partner and a founder of Sage Capital Management.

Demonstrating commitment to higher education in his own life, Mr. Friedman, a CUNY alumnus, graduated from City College in 1962 with a BEE and from Baruch College in 1967 with an MBA. He has just completed a Master of Arts in American Studies from Columbia University.

To be eligible for the scholarships, students must have participated in the CUNY-Board of Education “College Now” program that is offered in 200 high schools, be nominated by their school, and plan to attend a CUNY College. Students were chosen based on their grades, extra-curricular activities, work and volunteer experiences. All students were required to write an essay on civic responsibility.

Excerpts From Students’ Winning Essays

Nusrat Alam, a student at Francis Lewis High school, a member of the Future Leaders Club, who has cared for patients in nursing homes and raised funds for the March of Dimes, wrote, “As a child, growing up in my family, I have always been surrounded by politics. My father, a pioneer of the Southeast Asian community, has always been active…Two years ago, my dad took me with him to the Democratic Convention of 2000…For the first time, I really listened and became ‘enlightened.’…It wasn’t until the Presidential Election of 2000 that I realized that every vote did count. I had friends over the age of 18 or parents of my friends that I knew didn’t vote. That enraged me.

“By 2001, I was ready. I convinced some parents and friends of mine to go out and vote. That was not nearly enough. I put together a group of around 20 friends to come help me, prior to and on election day…We went around several neighborhoods, telling people to go out and vote.” Now working part time for a City Councilman, she has decided to pursue politics and law as a career.

Landa Alhanshaly, a student at Richmond Hill High School, who tutors in religious school and works on the school newspaper, has found another way to be involved. “When I often spoke to teachers, though timidly, of the things that bothered me (I had developed a keen sense of injustice from the very real injustices that I have suffered) I was giving my classmates a voice. Far from complaining, as some more active people might relegate it to, I was fulfilling my very simple right and obligation. I have found that little, random acts that I have performed, or see others perform, such as explaining a concept to someone struggling with it, are very significant. I finally realize that civic responsibility…is a two-part process. First, there is the essential voice, not the complaining, and then there is the action—that is, the fliers, the petitions and the service.”

Melissa Hernandez is a student at The High School for Arts and Business, a member of the school leadership class, of the yearbook committee, the Brooklyn Queens Forensic League and Future Business Leaders of America, who participated in the March of Dimes 10-mile Walk America and volunteers at her church assisting parish leaders in the development of activities and events. She writes “Civic Responsibility can be defined as the rules you abide by as a citizen of the United States…The civic portion of this is also to do things for the good of society and for those around you for the betterment of your community or country.”

College Now, the collaborative CUNY-Board of Education program offers opportunities to students in 200 of New York City’s public high schools. In 2001-2002, more than 30,000 students are enrolled in either college credit or non-credit courses and workshops. Courses and workshops are offered at the high schools and at the colleges. Although most students are in the eleventh and twelfth grades, pilot programs this year enrolled almost 4,000 ninth and tenth graders in an enriched instructional program.

The scholarship winners, their high school and the CUNY college they will attend in the fall are:

Nusrat Alam Francis Lewis High School, John Jay College of Criminal Justice;
Landa Alhanshaly, Richmond Hill High School, Queens College;
Mary-Grace Attanasia, New Dorp High School, John Jay College;
Tameka Blake, Adlai E. Stevenson High School, Hunter College;
Deanna Bowman, Landmark School, City College of New York;
Nicole Canal, Forest Hills High School, Baruch College;
Christina Carpenter, High School of Humanities, Hunter College;
Michael Chuang, Stuyvesant High School, City College of New York;
Yesenia Garcia, Norman Thomas High School, Hunter College;
Erik Gilroy, John Bowne High School, Queens College;
Tami Giordano, Tottenville High School, John Jay College of Criminal Justice;
Melissa Hernandez, High School for Arts and Business, College of Staten Island;
Aasiya Islam, Canarsie High School, City College;
Jillian Jacobs, Tottenville High School; College of Staten Island
Sara Khayat, Brooklyn International High School, Hunter College;
Nasheba Kitchener, South Shore High School, Baruch College;
Lawrence Lee, Brooklyn Technical High School, Hunter College;
Sofiya Masterov, Fort Hamilton High School, Baruch College;
Yelena Olevskaia, Fort Hamilton High School, Brooklyn College;
Karina Ortega, Newcomers School, Queens College;
Jessica Rivera, Robert F. Kennedy High School, Queens College;
Nita Sajnani, High School for Arts and Business, Baruch College
Laura Troiano, New Dorp High School, Hunter College;
Faina Vinokur, Edward R. Murrow High School, Baruch College;
Kareem Walters, William E. Grady Vocational High School, New York City Technical College.