The Broad is Back!

August 1, 2013

And Sometimes the News is Good

I work for the largest urban university in the United States, the City University of New York.  I know that it’s world-renown because I’ve lived all over the world, and people every where I go know it.  We are leaders in research and scholarship, but most times all the glory goes to the senior colleges and the Graduate Center.

But today I was just reminded of how great our community colleges are.

Today’s blog is  inspired by some former students. I’m so proud of them that I need to share.  I’m no longer at Hostos Community College in the Bronx, but I’m still part of the family.  And a small group of students in the Hostos Repertory Company are bringing the play  Rough Magic to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, a major coup for any college group. But for Hostos, it’s even more. The college doesn’t have a theater department, the group doesn’t have a manager, it rehearses in a classroom, and shoestring is probably overstating the budget.

What they do have, though, is the support of their professors, members of the administration, and each other. And most important, each one of them has realized the magic of believing in self.

I know I believe in my students. I really do think they are worthy of success. I admire them enormously for the drive that gets them to college in spite of so many obstacles. I currently teach at an urban community college where the demographic is rather different from the demographic at many four year public schools. The average age of our students is higher and many of them have been knocked around a bit before they find our doors.

I truly love working for a public university because in so many ways, public colleges, and especially the community colleges, embody the American Dream for me.  For me, the American Dream is the freedom to be all you can be, without family position, tradition, class, creed, race or gender holding you back.  Community colleges, and then later the four year public colleges truly do even the playing field for hundreds of thousands of students each year.

Today I’m full of pride: for my former students, for my former college and for my university.

Many politicians treat community colleges poorly. Believe me, our budgets are constantly being slashed. Half the time at work, I’m reminded of the saying from St. Francis of Assisi: “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”  I see my fellow professors doing the impossible every day.  I see my students doing it, too.

So sometimes the news is good.  And I’m more than happy to share it.



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