At a time when most were taking part in holiday festivities, a group of dedicated John Jay students were hitting the books over Winter Session. This year, 1,900 students were enrolled in a wide variety of courses, marking a 5% increase since last year.
Dalyz Aguilar, a senior majoring in English, enjoyed reading the romance novels of Marie de France and the works of Chrétien de Troyes in Professor Toy-Fung Tung’s course Topics in Medieval Literature. “The way Professor Tung explained the material gave me a different kind of context for approaching these works,” she said. “You can begin to understand them through the eyes of the people in that period.”
Aguilar, who aspires to teach English at the university level and who also works with the College’s nationally recognized literary magazine J Journal, has taken classes that span several genres and time periods, including one of her favorites on the Harlem Renaissance. “Classes like these help give you a full background of literature, and can help you in relation to other classes. As an English major, the more you take, the more you not only satisfy your own interest, but the more it gives you a window into other texts,” she said.
Like Aguilar, Stephanie Calderon has been finding her coursework during Winter Session enriching. Calderon, a junior studying English and Latin American Studies, enrolled in Professor Adrian Bordoni’s class Latina/o Struggles, a course that allowed students to engage with important justice issues, both on campus and more broadly. “There were times we just asked each other questions and spoke openly about the political climate and the struggles that some of us as Latino students have gone through,” she said. “Professor Bordoni made it so that there was honesty between us.”
For the past couple of years, Calderon has been working with undocumented students and allies as a peer success coach with Adelante!, an initiative to support and develop the leadership skills of Latina/o students on campus. In addition to her activism on campus, Calderon increases awareness about immigration through her involvement with the John Jay Sentinel, a journalistic platform that allows students to partake in healthy debate. “At John Jay, there can be huge divisions between students,” she said. “But no matter what, people’s opinions are respected.”
Just like in the spring and fall semesters, courses were also offered online. In Professor Felice Shoot’s Gender and Work Life, students looked at how gender and other identities intersect with employment and expectations at work. Karina Aquino, a senior majoring in Forensic Psychology who has enjoyed taking Professor Shoot’s classes before, says that one of the benefits of taking an online course is the robust participation among students. “The online format gives students a variety of ways to express themselves and helps foster discussion,” she said. “People who might be too shy to speak up in person can post in the forum instead.”
Aquino, who provides counseling through the College’s Peer Counseling Program, says that helping John Jay students through academic and mental health issues has inspired her to one day operate her own private counseling practice.
For Aguilar, the fact that students from various fields of study were enrolled in Winter Session isn’t surprising. “In general, John Jay is so welcoming,” she said. “It’s inclusive for all.”