Long Island City, NY—In this milestone year marking LaGuardia Community College’s 40th anniversary, the LaGuardia Community College Foundation honored Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, a program committed to helping small businesses in the United States create jobs and economic growth, at its 2012 Innovative Leadership Award Reception. LaGuardia was the first community college in the nation to partner in the program.
Before business leaders, founding and current faculty and staff, students and friends of the College who came together at the Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers, Dr. Gail O. Mellow, President of LaGuardia Community College, went back 40 years when LaGuardia was this “bold experiment” that began in old factory buildings in Long Island City. “And over the years we have experimented with new ways of teaching, challenging ourselves to think differently about how to connect a college education to the economic viability of our neighborhood and our city,” she said.
She went on to say that one of those pioneering and successful experiments is the College’s partnership with the Goldman Sachs Foundation and its 10,000 Small Businesses initiative, a nationwide $500 million investment to help small businesses grow their businesses and create jobs by providing entrepreneurs with a practical business education, access to capital and business support services.
To acknowledge that collaboration, Dr. Mellow presented John F. W. Rogers, Goldman Sachs’s Executive Vice President, Chief of Staff and Secretary to the Board, with the Innovative Leadership Award. The award recognizes leaders and advocates who have made significant contributions to higher education and our community.
Upon accepting the award, Mr. Rogers said, “It should come as no surprise that when Goldman Sachs wanted to invest in small business growth and job creation that we turned to LaGuardia and the experts in this room.”
He went on to say, “As educators, business advisors and technical assistance providers, community colleges have long been on the front line of community and economic development. And LaGuardia is truly the gold standard among community colleges.”
Since 2010, when Goldman Sachs selected LaGuardia to be the first community college in the nation to partner in 10,000 Small Businesses, nearly 150 local small business owners have gone through the comprehensive 100-hour education program.
One of its scholars, Melvin Boone, the Vice President and Managing Partner of Anchor Security & Investigations, described to the guests how the program “transformed” his West Hempstead company and those of the other scholars.
Mr. Boone, who saw a 25% growth in revenue and the creation of 20 new jobs, said that in a very short time Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses taught the scholars how to take their vision and develop it into a growth plan that would take their companies to the next level.
“We are all committed to continuing our success,” he said, “and we are all committed to the collective vision of creating jobs, and driving this economic engine back to where it should be.”
The June 4th awards gala, which capped the College’s yearlong celebration of its 40th Anniversary, also paid tribute to the founding faculty and staff who shaped College’s legacy of innovation and helped build the LaGuardia of today.
To honor this distinguished group, President Mellow presented the founders recognition award to Susan Shenker, the former Dean of External Affairs and widow of President Joseph Shenker, LaGuardia’s founding president, who accepted the honor on behalf of the founders. “We would not be here tonight without the vision and pioneering spirit of the LaGuardia Founders,” President Mellow said, “and Susan Shenker, who will represent the LaGuardia Founders tonight, is one of them.”
In accepting the award, Ms. Shenker said, “It is an honor to accept this award not only on behalf of the founders, but for all the students, faculty and staff who for 40 years have collaborated to keep this college creatively responsive to the needs of the people of this city. At 40, LaGuardia continues to make our city greater by blazing new trails in bold and innovative ways. We founders salute you and say: Keep up the good work.”
A highlight of the event were speeches made by two scholarship recipients, Harmonie Kobanghe and Omid Adabi, who poignantly described how their lives were dramatically changed as a result of the Foundation’s support.
Harmonie, a Liberal Arts Social Science and Humanities major and honor student, said that her dreams of becoming a human rights lawyer were almost dashed when her grandmother, her benefactor, died. Unable to pay her tuition, she was on verge of dropping out when the LaGuardia Foundation helped her secure a Spring into Action scholarship.
“Whenever I reflect on my educational path at LaGuardia,” said Harmonie, “I see that I have only been able to accomplish so much because of the support of people like Foundation donors who believe in my passion.”
Harmonie will be graduating this month, and with the financial support of a Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduates Scholarship, she is planning on transferring to Columbia University or Georgetown where she will study Political Science and Human Rights.
Omid, a physical therapy assistant major and National Institute of Health scholar, will be the third member of his family to graduate from LaGuardia when he earns his degree in December. “LaGuardia is a truly special place for my family,” said Omid, who is planning on working at an orthopedics sports rehabilitation facility while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biology at City College. “It provided us with the unique opportunity to follow our dreams.”
With the support of the Foundation’s American Rising Scholarship, Omid was able to delve into an educational experience that included research in cell biology and an appointment as a director’s intern to the New York Physical Therapy Association.
“It is a profound feeling to wake up every morning knowing that I am not alone in this journey towards making a difference in the world,” he said, “and the scholarship support from the LaGuardia Foundation has demonstrated the confidence that you have in me.”
Speaking for all the scholarship recipients, Omid went on to say, “Standing here among the founders and donors of the College, I want to sincerely thank you for investing in our future and providing us with the precious opportunity to make our dreams a reality.”
The LaGuardia Community College Foundation is mission-driven to raise, manage, invest and distribute funds for the College in support of its immediate and long-term student, academic and facility needs, goals and priorities. Since its inception in 2003, the Foundation has raised $5.1 million and has provided over 3,300 scholarships to help LaGuardia students write their own futures
The Foundation is made up of dedicated business and community leaders who have been instrumental in providing support where it is most needed: offering scholarships to low-income students. The Foundation encourages donors and friends to become involved in many aspects of College activities, including mentoring students, serving on advisory boards, and speaking to student groups about their professions. To learn more, visit: http://www.lagcc.cuny.edu/lagfoundation
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A nationally recognized leader among community colleges, LaGuardia Community College was founded in 1971 as the ultimate experiment in opening the doors of higher education to all, and we proudly carry forward that legacy today. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), LaGuardia educates students through over 50 degree, certificate and continuing education programs. Upon graduation, LaGuardia students’ lives are transformed as family income increases 17%, and students transfer to four-year colleges at three times the national average. At LaGuardia, we imagine new ideas, create new curriculum and pioneer programs to make our community and our country stronger. Visit www.laguardia.edu to learn more.