CUNY colleges offer a wealth of rigorous, innovative and life-changing academic opportunities, sparking an enrollment surge to 274,000 in 2014-15 and attracting so many motivated, high-achieving students that every year they garner not just a few but a raft of top national honors. For 2015, CUNY boasts 17 Fulbright Scholarships awarded to students for study and teaching abroad; other prestigious awards recently received by CUNY students include Truman, Goldwater and Rhodes scholarships and Math for America and National Science Foundation Graduate Research fellowships. Uncompromising in its mission of excellence and opportunity, CUNY provides an extensive array of challenging academic offerings, from traditional liberal arts programs to the Macaulay Honors College, from high-level scientific research with faculty mentors to initiatives to boost college readiness and keep students on track to a degree. Academic value: It’s the leading reason why CUNY is New York’s top higher-education destination.

SEAN THATCHER

HIS STORY

Thatcher (College of Staten Island ’17) and a classmate discovered unexpected geological structures in exposed Palisades rock at a New Jersey construction site his class visited because it was wheelchair accessible – a must for Thatcher, who is paraplegic. “I don’t let the wheelchair slow me down,” says Thatcher, a biology major interested in natural development and protection of coastal areas.

AWARDS

2015 Goldwater Scholarship, 2015 CUNY Pipeline Fellowship

GOAL

To develop expertise in protecting and enhancing coastal ecosystems, which face damage from human activity, climate change and storms.

ILANA GELB

HER STORY

Gelb (CUNY B.A. and Baruch College ’16) connects her self-created major in violence, conflict and development to her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor who, accompanied by Gelb and her mother, toured for six years speaking about the horrors of ethnic cleansing and genocide. Passionate about human rights, sustainable development and violence prevention, Gelb plans to spend Fall 2015 in India studying Hindi, working with a nonprofit fighting sexual exploitation of women and girls, and researching human trafficking and prostitution.

AWARD

2015 U.S. State Department Critical Language Scholarship

GOAL

To continue her work to prevent genocide and gender-based violence.