CCNY Awards Nine President’s Community Scholarships

CCNY President Lisa S. Coico with seven of the 2013 President’s Community Scholarship recipients. Standing (from left): Yaminel Calvo, Zalika Barnes, and Thomas Brown. Front row: Luis Puntiel, Sharendalle Suarez Murga, Dr. Coico, Erika Zhicay and Ines Alejandro.

High-Achieving Students From Upper Manhattan and Bronx Receive Free Education

Ines Alejandro arrived from Mexico with her parents at age three and grew up in Harlem dreaming of a medical career. Thanks to a City College of New York President’s Community scholarship, the 17-year-old freshman has taken the first big step toward fulfilling her dream.

A biology major, she is one of nine high-achieving students from upper Manhattan and the Bronx receiving a free education at CCNY as Community Scholars. The cohort includes three other recipients, like Ines from immigrant families, who came to the United States speaking little or no English.

CCNY President Lisa S. Coico introduced the scholarships in fall 2010 to strengthen the bond between the institution and the surrounding community. Scholars are selected strictly on academic merit. To date, 35 students have received scholarships.

The oldest of five children, Ines graduated from Community Health Academy of the Heights this summer. Without the scholarship she wouldn’t have been able to afford college, she said. “It’s of invaluable help because my parents don’t have a lot of money.” Her father works in construction and her mother is a homemaker.
Welcoming Ines and her fellow Scholars to CCNY, President Coico called them an exceptional addition to the student body.

“Each of the 2013 President’s Community Scholars represents our neighboring communities and what better way to build upon the mission of City College than by supporting the area’s brightest and most promising students,” said President Coico.

Brief bios of the 2013 CCNY President’s Community Scholars follow:

Ines Alejandro
Born in Oaxaca, Mexico, Ines came to the United States at age three and lives in Harlem. She graduated from Community Health Academy of the Heights, where she made the honor roll for community service. Ines volunteered in a rehab center in Harlem. The biology major is the first person in her immigrant family to attend college, and her goal is to study medicine.

Zalika Barnes
Zalika was Valedictorian of the Frederick Douglass Academy Class of 2013. She has declared biology as her major because she’s “interested in the sciences of the body” and wants to study medicine. A Harlem native, Zalika said it would have been very difficult for her to attend college if not for the scholarship. “So, I’m extremely grateful to CCNY and President Coico for the support,” she added.

Thomas Brown
Thomas is one of three Community Scholars from Frederick Douglass Academy this year. The award is a source of immense pride for his parents, both Howard University alumni, who have inspired Thomas and his twin brother, Jonathan, to study hard and pursue higher education. “The scholarship makes it easier. It would be a struggle without it,” said Mr. Brown. His family, which resides in Harlem, has a lot to cheer about this fall. While Thomas settles in at CCNY, brother Jonathan is a freshman at The Johns Hopkins University, also on a scholarship.

Yaminel Calvo
Yaminel spoke no English when she arrived in New York from the Dominican Republic at age ten. Eight years later, she has perfected the language. A graduate of the City College Academy of the Arts in Washington Heights, she is now a freshman psychology major at CCNY. Prominent in theatre at the Academy, Yaminel plans a long stay at CCNY through graduate school. After that, she hopes to embark on a career as a guidance counselor or prison psychologist. “Thanks to the scholarship, I don’t have to worry about financial problems,” said the Washington Heights resident, whose mother is a single parent.

Louis Hernandez
A graduate of A. Philip Campus Randolph High School on the City College campus, Louis’ commute from his Bronx home to CCNY, where he plans to major in electrical engineering, will follow the same route. At A. Philip Randolph, he won a Latino Scholarship for academic achievement. “This scholarship from City College means an opportunity to go to college. It would have been very difficult to attend otherwise,” he pointed out.

Luis Puntiel
Luis graduated from the City College Academy of the Arts and received a scholarship for excellence in math and science there. A math major at CCNY, he was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to the United States with his family at age eight. The Washington Heights resident is the first of his family to attend college in the United States. Like his fellow recipients, Luis underscored the fact that the scholarship had eased what would have been a serious financial burden in attending college.

Sharendalle Suarez Murga
A Washington Heights product, Sharendalle graduated from the City College Academy of the Arts. She is a theatre major with a minor in psychology. Her goal is to pursue an acting career. “I feel honored to receive this scholarship. It is another way to help me pay for college because my mom is a single parent,” she said.

Michael Turay
A Bronx native and resident, Michael attended Frederick Douglass Academy, where as a standout midfielder, he helped the school clinch the 2013 Public Schools Athletic League Lacrosse championship. In addition, he served as sports editor of the school paper, the “North Star.” He remains undecided on his major but will pursue a liberal arts degree. He also plans to try out for the CCNY men’s basketball team. He values the scholarship award and what it means to attend City College. “It’s a huge weight off my parents’ shoulders, financially,” he noted, adding “It’s a tremendous honor to attend an institution with such rich history at such a low fee. Few from the inner city get this opportunity.”

Erika Zhicay
Like City College Academy of the Arts classmates Yaminel Calvo and Luis Puntiel, Erika arrived in the United States speaking no English. She was seven when her family came to New York from Ecuador. Just over a decade later, Erika is the first in her family to attend college. She is determined to be a role model to her nine-year-old brother and six-year-old sister because, she said: “they look up to me and this scholarship helps so much.” Without it, the Washington Heights resident added, it would have been very difficult to attend college. Erika is contemplating a career as an art therapist and clinical psychologist.

The President’s Community Scholars Program is made possible by generous support from the following donors: Maurice and Lilian Barbash; Rudolph C. Brancati and Eugene F. Brancati, Jr.; Hugh F. Butts and family; Bernell K. Grier; Arthur J. Levin; Shade K. Little; Edward Mapp; Martin Schwartz; Ivan E. Stux; the estate of Else S. Rohner; the estate of Esther C. Wheeler, and the Sy and Ginny Levy Family Fund of the Minneapolis Foundation; Vera B. McKie; Marshall Rose; William Welk; Edward P. Henry; Del Rene Goldsmith; Ronnyjane Goldsmith and Howard K. Welsh.

About The City College of New York
Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. More than 16,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture; the School of Education; the Grove School of Engineering; the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, and the Colin L. Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership.

Set on a striking, 35-acre hilltop campus in upper Manhattan, CCNY has produced more Nobel laureates than any other public institution in the United States. The College has been touted as one of America’s Top Colleges by Forbes, one of the Best Colleges in the United States as well as one of the Best Value Colleges by the Princeton Review, and ranks among U.S. News’ top regional universities.


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