Bronx, NY – Bronx Community College (BCC) Student Volunteers working with the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) Campus Chapter are making a difference. They are bringing prom dreams closer to some 100 students at a high school on the campus by offering new and gently-used dresses. What started out as a few prom dresses hanging in an office on the BCC campus has turned into a boutique of hopes and dreams for many young ladies because of generous donations from both individuals and businesses wanting to make a difference.
“This is very exciting says Jennifer Khan,” a student at University Heights High School who was intently searching for a dress. “It makes me a little anxious because I’m wondering if I’ll find a dress that’s my size,” says Khan as she looked through and selected dresses from racks, briefly holding dresses against her, looking in a mirror and measuring each for size for its look .
In a mere month and a half, more than 123 new and gently-used dresses (and still counting), along with shoes, handbags and costume jewelry, have been donated to Project Prom. Silk and sequins now fill what used to be the bland, cement cinderblock NYPIRG office. The New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) is the state’s largest student-directed, not-for-profit group that focuses on consumer, environmental and government reform.
Three weeks ago, Jennifer Khan learned about the donated dresses from her University Heights high school counselor, Janitizia O’Niel. On her lunch hour, Jennifer walked the 50 yards on the campus to the office in an adjacent building to where the dresses are displayed. She found a long black dress with sequins that was close to her dream.
While many girls attending New York’s high schools spend hours flipping through magazines and trying on an endless supply of designer gowns in search of the perfect prom dress, others calculate how many hours they’ll have to work at their minimum wage jobs in order to simply attend the event.
Education is paramount at Bronx Community College, but students volunteering in Project Prom also understand the importance and deep sentimentality that comes from attending a high school senior prom.
It’s a night of remembrance, a final celebration for a class that made it to the end. BCC students believe every student should have the opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments by attending their senior prom without the burden of a costly dress.
“This is phenomenal,” says BCC Student Cadet Bajra, a BCC Human Services Major. “I wish somebody had offered me this opportunity when I graduated from Christopher Columbus High School. These dresses are in tip-top shop – excellent condition. When I went to my prom, I had to pay $400 for my dress, shoes and accessories.”
Jeni Asaba, BCC NYPIRG Chapter Project Director explored the idea with University Heights Guidance Counselor, Janitizia O’Niel who gave a strong and definite YES to the idea. O’Niel said that many girls don’t go to proms each year because they can’t afford a dress.
Jeni and her team of BCC volunteers of the NYPIRG chapter sat for hours making posters describing the event. “Clean out your closets and help make someone’s prom dream come true,” they read. Posters were distributed around the campus, an ad was placed in the school newspaper, another ad was posted on www.Craigslist.com and word of mouth spread. Donations began coming in.
Many donations arrived from Bronx residents. The NYPIRG Chapter received dresses from Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, upstate New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. With the assistance of Website Blink New York Inc., additional donations came from Family Circle Magazine, Jane Magazine, Ladies Home Journal and Celebrity Style Magazine, to name a few.
The response has been so overwhelming that the students at BCC now have enough dresses for the girls at Fannie Lou Hammer High School and Pulse High School, both located in the Bronx.
For more information, please call Jeni Asaba, BCC NYPIRG Project Coordinator, (718) 289-5409. NYPIRG chapters are located on 21 college campuses across the state where full-time staff along with a large core of student volunteers work on projects that both support NYPIRG’s statewide agenda as well as numerous local issues.
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Bronx Community College (BCC) of The City University of New York celebrates its 50th anniversary of service to students in New York City in 2007. Over the past five years, enrollment has increased 20 per cent to an 8,900 student body, reflecting the reliance of the surrounding communities on it as a pathway to a better life.
BCC students from over 109 nations receive an excellent preparation to go on to four-year colleges or to advance into successful vocational careers. Programs offered at BCC include Digital Arts, Computer Information Systems, Education Associate, Nursing, Nuclear Medicine Technology, RadiologicTechnology, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Technology, Electronic Engineering Technology, Marketing, Accounting, Human Services, Media Technology and Paralegal Studies.
The College is home to initiatives not commonly associated with two-year institutions, such as the Center for Sustainable Energy, which promotes the use of renewable and efficient energy technologies in urban communities. The National Center for Educational Alliances (NCEA) is currently collaborating with South African Further Education and Training Colleges and universities to create linkages between these institutions. NCEA also coordinates the College’s international initiatives and the annual International Education Week
The Center has also facilitated a campus-wide effort to create BCC’s Center for Tolerance and Understanding. The Center for Teaching Excellence offers faculty development to promote student achievement and to stimulate discussions to keep the teaching and learning process vital and dynamic. Take a look at BCC’s website at www.bcc.cuny.edu