Brooklyn, NY — “Volunteering has become part of my DNA,” says New York City College of Technology (City Tech) senior Patricia Persaud. “I take what I learn from each project and apply it to the next one.”
Persaud, a communications design major, has done more volunteering in the past couple of years than most people do in a lifetime. She has made it her job and duty to help others on and off campus. “Volunteering is a great way of being part of something bigger than you,” she says.
At the moment, she is working on a bone marrow drive with Save a Life Foundation and is involved as a part-time youth advocate with Project Reach, a social justice initiative for children and adults located in Chinatown. Participating in The City University of New York’s CUNY Corps, a “leadership through service” project that is part of the Malave Leadership Academy, she traveled to Syracuse during Spring break to work with Habitat for Humanity.
Right after Hurricane Sandy, Persaud was like a whirlwind, helping some of the hardest hit communities in the city. As part of CUNY Corps, she worked on the emergency reconstruction of Bailey Pond Park in Queens and the cleanup of Far Rockaway, canvassed Red Hook residents and staffed the Red Cross emergency evacuation center at John Jay College.
Surrounded by the storm’s misery and wading in water, Persaud, whose parents are from Guyana, said she realized how fortunate she is. “It made me gracious, and I wanted to come back the next day.”
In addition to her Sandy work, she helped organize a NYPIRG clothing drive and donated her hair to Beautiful Lengths so it could be made into wigs for children who have cancer. She has also volunteered for CUNY Citizenship Now! events, helping immigrants navigate the road to citizenship.
Persaud was honored recently at the 42nd Annual Conference of the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators in Albany. At a luncheon sponsored by CUNY, Senior Vice Chancellor Jay Hershenson commended her for “really stepping up to give back to her community in need.”
The next day, she and another CUNY student were invited to a luncheon at Gracie Mansion with Governor Cuomo, at which they were among the attendees at a private viewing of the original Emancipation Proclamation document. During this event, former Mayor Dinkins was honored with a replica of it. “Governor Cuomo shook my hand and thanked me for my support and volunteer efforts in general and in helping Sandy victims in particular,” explained Persaud, who was also introduced to New York City Council Speaker and Mayoral Candidate Christine Quinn.
“I’ve always been involved with community-based organizations in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan,” she explains. “These organizations, which often are struggling to survive, empower people. They change lives, and I find it so rewarding to be a part of them.”
On campus, in addition to working on the bone marrow drive, Persaud helps out with blood drives and other events and festivities that occur throughout the academic year, including the de-stress and apple festivals. She also has a paid internship with the City Tech Faculty Commons, a center for teaching, learning, scholarship and service that coordinates all professional development, grants and assessment activities of the College’s faculty. She is a member of the center’s design team and handles graphic design projects.
“City Tech’s Office of Student Life and Development was a big door opener for me,” Persaud says. “The staff has been very supportive of all I’ve been doing and tells me about upcoming leadership conferences they think I might like to attend. The first one I went to changed me; I became even more determined to help others.”
With all this activity, Persaud, who lives in Jamaica, Queens, has found the time to take six classes this semester. A lot of the advertising she creates for her coursework is geared to non-profit “clients.” She plans to go on for a master’s degree in higher education or public administration. Her lifelong dream is to start her own youth-based organization.
“I want to help ensure that programs that build character are still around,” she explains. “Technology is well and good, but I hate seeing kids just sitting around and playing video games. There are so many more constructive things they can do with their time.” Count on Persaud to be a role model for those alternatives.
New York City College of Technology (City Tech) of The City University of New York (CUNY) is the largest public college of technology in New York State. Located at 300 Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn, the College enrolls more than 16,000 students in 65 baccalaureate, associate and specialized certificate programs.