Long Island City, NY—June 16, 2014—The LaGuardia Community College Foundation honored Board Director Mark C. Healy ’83, an alumnus and CEO of American StockTransfer and Trust Company (AST), with its 2014 Innovative Leadership Award atits annual reception held at Guastavino’s in Manhattan on June 2. All proceeds from the event will be used to create student scholarships.
“We chose to honor Mark this year because of his dedication to our students, his love for LaGuardia and that he is a living testament to what a LaGuardia alum can achieve,” said Dr. Gail O. Mellow, President of LaGuardia Community College.
To view photos from the event, visit the Foundation’s Flickr page:https://www.flickr.com/photos/lagccalumni/sets/72157645133479353/.
Funds raised from the event count towards the College’s Million Dollar Challenge; LaGuardia Community College Foundation has been challenged to raise $500,000 by June 30, 2014 and when it does, The Selz Foundation will award the College with one million dollars.
Mr. Healy was joined by his wife, Lorraine, his children—Christine, Danielle and Kyle—his mother and mother-in-law; as well as family, friends, staff and colleagues. Faculty, staff, students, friends and supporters of the College, and Directors of the LaGuardia Foundation Board mingled beneath the cavernous arches of Guastavino’s. Towards the end of the cocktail hour, Theater students burst into a spontaneous performance of “96,000” from In the Heights–the popular Broadway musical had been performed at the College just a few weeks prior—flash mob-style. The talented ensemble then led guests up to the second floor, chanting “Million Dollar Challenge, Million Dollar Challenge!”
Former LaGuardia Community College Foundation Board Director and NBC4 Reporter David Ushery emceed the evening’s program. “This is more than just an event for me,” said Mr. Ushery. “It’s especially rewarding to be back here tonight to help the Foundation with its important work and to recognize an alum of LaGuardia who time and time again gives of himself to help LaGuardia in its mission to create a pathway to the middle class for all New Yorkers.”
LaGuardia President Dr. Gail O. Mellow then took to the podium, where she recognized the generosity of donors and sponsors whose contributions helped make the reception possible. She spoke of the difference the generosity of such sponsors as American Stock Transfer and Trust, Water Island Capital, The Selz Foundation, Angie and Michael Yu, Buck Consultants and CUNY, and 28 others will make in the lives of LaGuardia students.
“What brings us together tonight is our honoree, alumnus Mark Healy, who has inspired our students. This is the first time ever that we have honored an alum,” Dr. Mellow told guests.
“Mark is about building community and family: his company is anything but a small family-owned business, but when you speak to his employees and colleagues you get the feeling of intense loyalty and community. It’s his building of community at LaGuardia—bringing together his employees with faculty and students to create rich learning opportunities. Mark has shared his experience and his expertise in our classrooms, and he understands how a LaGuardia education translates to the workplace. He has provided our students with not only internships at his company, but with jobs.”
Presenting the award was Kimberly Morales, a LaGuardia alumna who, after interning at AST, was hired to work in the company’s marketing department.
“Mr. Healy gave me the opportunity to learn what it is I love to do through my internship at AST. He believes that loving what you do, putting it out into the world and connecting with your community are the keys to success. He’s been an amazing role model for LaGuardia students and for me,” said Ms. Morales.
Upon accepting the award—an etched crystal Tiffany & Co. bowl—Mr. Healy spoke with gratitude and humility about how LaGuardia was the first leg of his journey to success.
Mr. Healy told of growing up in Queens, one of five children of a working class widowed mother, and how LaGuardia’s internship education program gave him access to a corporate America career path at a time when he was working as an airport cargo truck driver.
“I met so many people who helped me because of the path LaGuardia put me on; they saw my strengths and helped me develop them: courage, resourcefulness and determination, just like the students at LaGuardia today. Thanks to them and my experiences in the finance industry, I gained a clear vision of what I wanted to do with my life. LaGuardia interns work almost too hard! They have set new highs of productivity at my company. LaGuardia students show, time and again, that there are always options, no matter how old you are. The LaGuardia Challenge story is a simple one: tonight you are either giving or receiving the greatest gift of all, the gift of education. Thank you for this honor,” said Mr. Healy.
“Tonight we’re going to let the scholarship students speak for themselves. They will inspire you,” Mr. Ushery told guests as he welcomed student speakers Rema Marks and Jesus Benitez, who poignantly described how their lives were dramatically changed as a result of the Foundation’s support.
Jesus Benitez, a freshman majoring in Computer Science, told the audience how becoming a father at 17 brought him to LaGuardia, where he not only earned his GED but also enrolled in the CUNY Fatherhood Academy which aims to strengthen fathers and families and promotes responsible fatherhood and economic stability.
“I am grateful to receive the Foundation’s B.I.J. Stamm Scholarship because it allows me to focus on my studies and also to give back by working at the CUNY Fatherhood Academy as a mentor with other students like me who have dreams of making better lives for their families and for themselves. “
The next student speaker was Rema Marks, a Childhood Education major, mother and aspiring teacher who overcame the pressure of her family, the emotional abuse of her husband, financial hurdles that relentlessly burdened her journey, and cancer. The winner of the 2013 Women’s Forum Education Award, which provides $10,000 to mature women of need who have displayed heroic efforts in overcoming adversity, Rema is currently in her final semester, having received over $3,000 in scholarship support from the LaGuardia Community College Foundation to help pay for her education.
“At the beginning of this semester, scheduled to be my last at LaGuardia, I simply could not afford to pay my tuition. Thankfully, the Foundation provided me with emergency funding for textbooks and a Metrocard. I was also awarded a Mary and David Solomon scholarship that bridged my financial gap, allowing me to maintain my 3.7 GPA. My perseverance has paid off. I have been accepted to a prestigious women’s college—Mount Holyoke College—where I will pursue a bachelor’s degree.”
Mr. Ushery returned to the podium to introduce the Parade of Scholars: several members of the Class of 2014 who had been accepted to such four-year institutions as the University of Southern California’s film school, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, NYU, Mount Holyoke and Smith, among others, who joined him onstage.
While enjoying dessert and coffee, guests extolled the determination of LaGuardia students and the exemplary role model they have in Mr. Healy.
“LaGuardia meant a great deal to him,” said Marie DiTucci, Mr. Healy’s mother-in-law. “He wanted to give back and support these students the same way he had been when he was a LaGuardia student.”
“Mark is a true leader with a solid, clear vision,” said Martin Flanigan, a senior executive at AST. “The LaGuardia students we have as interns are hard workers, they look for any opportunity to do more.”
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About the LaGuardia Community College Foundation
The LaGuardia Community College Foundation ensures that ambitious students have the resources they need to receive a college education and improve their families’ lives. More than 70% of LaGuardia students come from homes where the annual family income is under $25,000. Since 2003, Foundation donors have contributed more than $8 million, which has provided scholarships, textbooks, transportation and tutoring for students in need. To learn more visit www.laguardia.edu/Supporters-Friends/Home.
About LaGuardia Community College
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.