December 15, 2008 | General
Three Lehman students – Jo-Ann Winter, Dennis Kim, and Keith Lewis – have been selected to participate in CUNY’s new Leadership Academy. The Academy is part of CUNY Vice Chancellor for Student Development Garrie Moore’s vision to create a campus-wide institution aimed at creating and empowering future leaders.
Executive Director of the Academy Joe-Joe McManus launched the program less than a year ago. “We have been locating students that are already strong leaders, often in their communities – this is not a program for beginners,” he said. The Academy received 150 nominations from individual colleges, but only twenty-eight students were selected. Next year, students will be able to apply to the program directly.
“It’s so exciting,” Winter commented. “There are many intangible benefits to being in this program, like meeting people and networking my resume, and getting to travel – they’re sending me to London or Israel.”
A senior in the Macaulay Honors College, Winter is originally from Surinam, a former Dutch colony, and emigrated to the U.S. at age twelve. At home she speaks Dutch with her family. She says her experience at Lehman has been very enriching – a few semesters of Spanish have made her fluent in the language, and her participation as a member and president of the National Association of Black Accountants has nurtured her leadership qualities.
Originally from South Korea, Kim emigrated to Bergen County, New Jersey, with his family when he was six years old. His early years were spent in a suburban immigrant community, and as he grew older, Kim says he wanted to widen his horizons and experience other cultures and situations.
A political science major, Kim is interested in learning about power-politics in society – why some socioeconomic groups are favored more than others, how race and class interrelate in the struggle for power, and how he could make a difference. In the classroom, he says he’s experienced many “a-ha” moments simply by asking questions. “Try cornering your professors into a Socratic dialogue or visiting them during hours. There are no stupid questions if your intent is to learn,” he explains.
After earning his undergraduate degree, Kim plans to enter law school. Since his senior year in high school, he has spent his summers interning as a legal assistant at a general practice law firm and has worked on a variety of cases, including real estate and trademark and immigration law.
Lewis, who was born in Harlem, attended Brooklyn Technical High School and was admitted to Cornell University, but soon found that it was not the right place for him and returned to New York after a year. After working as an actor and then moving to the Bronx to care for his ailing grandmother, he knew it was time for him to go back to school. Lehman was close by, and he knew he couldn’t lose with a CUNY school. He started part-time for a few semesters and now attends classes full-time.
Having already acquired good math and entrepreneurial skills, Lewis chose a major in business administration with a marketing specialization, and a minor in computer information systems. He plans to work with inner-city teenagers, primarily young artists, with the goal of creating an institution that will serve young people through leadership training and artistic management.
“I’m having the time of my life,” he says about his Lehman experience. “There is a sense of community, you get support from everyone – professors, administrators, and fellow students. They embrace you for your strengths and encourage you to reach high. There are incredible opportunities here.”
As part of their participation in the program, Lewis and his cohorts must work together to design a community service project with an academic component. The group is considering everything from environmental justice in the South Bronx to advocacy for the disabled at the CUNY campuses, from the rise of homelessness to the viability of abstinence – only sex education curricula in New York City public schools. Their intent is to make a noticeable impact for the residents of New York City and hope to create a project that the next group of Academy students will be interested in continuing.
– This article was written by Tasneem Dewji, a transfer student at Lehman College and an intern in the Office of Media Relations and Publications.