Whoever said, “You can’t have it all,” hasn’t met Angela Hines. “I never really thought of it in those terms,” she says. “But I just knew that if I kept moving forward one step at a time, eventually I’d reach my goal.”
Having just graduated from CUNY Law School, Hines will be admitted to the bar in January, fulfilling a lifelong dream. Her professional life as an attorney will cap a career trajectory that includes earning her bachelor’s degree in law and paralegal studies at New York City College of Technology (City Tech), working at various jobs, including spending months as a bus driver at JFK International Airport, and successfully completing her studies at CUNY Law School.
These accomplishments are all the sweeter because during this time Hines struggled as a single mom to bring up a family of five — that’s right, five children! Three were born while she was an undergraduate at City Tech and two while she was working as a paralegal before attending law school.
“Growing up African American in a low-income Queens housing project, I realized early on that getting an education would be my only way out. Often, luck was not on my side,” she explains. “My Mom died the day before I was to take my placement test for college.” Taking out loans became a way of life for her, a strategy she says she looks at as an investment, “even though I feel like I’ll be paying back forever.”
It’s clear that Hines has imbued her children with her love for education. Today, they are all well on their way. Her 19-year-old is a sophomore at Virginia State; her 17-year-old attends the School of Art and Design; her 14-year-old is studying at Taft, a boarding school in Connecticut; and her seven- and eight-year-olds are both enrolled in the Gifted and Talented program at P.S. 106, their neighborhood elementary school in Far Rockaway, Queens.
“My kids struggled along with me,” she explains. “I realized that I had to stay focused. And I always knew that if I succeeded, they would succeed. It was that simple.”
Succeeding, for her, always also had something to do with helping others. As a resident of Far Rockaway, for example, Hines became familiar with the difficult life situations of immigrants. She translated that knowledge into becoming the chief administrator of City Tech’s Immigration Clinic for the past four years.
“The clients love her,” says Concetta Mennella, chair of City Tech’s Department of Law and Paralegal Studies, explaining that Hines’s main duties involved supervising work-study students and volunteers. “She’s accomplished wonderful things — like working doggedly to overcome obstacles faced by people whose citizenship applications were first denied by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.”
Hines, who happily states that she married her longtime boyfriend in 2006, says that she plans to devote her legal career to working in the public interest. “Her story is an inspiring example of how an individual can break out of a cramped environment, make positive life decisions, tackle the challenges of earning a bachelor’s degree, move on to complete law school, pass the bar and finally enter a career with the goal of serving the community,” Professor Mennella says.
“Through it all, being a mom didn’t stand in the way of her career moves. And her educational and vocational journey didn’t interfere with her determination to nurture her family. Angela did it all. She’s one of our great against-the-odds success stories,” Mennella says.
New York City College of Technology (City Tech) of The City University of New York is the largest public college of technology in New York State. The College enrolls more than 13,500 students in 57 baccalaureate, associate and specialized certificate programs. Another 15,000 students enroll annually in adult education and workforce development programs, many of which lead to licensure and certification. Located at 300 Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn, City Tech is at the MetroTech Center academic and commercial complex, convenient to public transportation.
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