Earning acceptance into college is a source of joy to thousands of students and their families. For many, this phenomenon has become a cultural rite of passage to endless opportunities. However, many first-generation and minoritized students don’t possess the skills and tools necessary to access or complete their collegiate journey. In New York City, this is a common narrative among countless high school graduates seeking higher education at SUNY. And while the SUNY Welcome Center in New York City acts as the “front door” for prospective students, family members, high school and agency counselors in the city and its surrounding communities, the transition to college can still present challenges.
Fortunately, SUNY has created a way to make this a seamless transition. This past June, two SUNY employees, Meylin Andares, Director of Enrollment Management and Student Success, and Mark Sanders, Assistant Director of Enrollment Management and Student Success, partnered with College Bound Initiative (CBI) for their 2nd Annual SUNY & CBI Senior Send-off. This event welcomed SUNY accepted high school seniors from CBI’s 34 partnering high schools throughout New York City to the SUNY Global Center.
The purpose of this event is to equip underrepresented and minority students with a mindset that will help them succeed during their first year of college. The event helps students understand the positive effects of belonging to a community, the value of a SUNY education, and lauds their decision to pursue higher education at a SUNY school.
This year’s Senior Send-Off event was bigger and better than the first one. Students were captivated by and took advantage of activities, guest and keynote speakers, SUNY admission representatives, current college students, SUNY alumni, panel discussions, and student success resources. SUNY campuses present at the event included Alfred State College, Binghamton University, The College at Brockport, SUNY Cortland, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Oneonta, and SUNY Oswego, as well as the SUNY Welcome Center.
One participant stated, “I cannot look at barriers the same anymore. Now, I view barriers as challenges that I can overcome. I can’t wait to start my first-year at a SUNY college!” Another attendee reflected on how great the speakers at the event were and how much wisdom they shared, “Getting to see people of color succeed that aren’t just TV actors or famous for something but actually in real life, that’s rare for me. I got to see and meet some really cool heroes. They just inspired me to continue to wear my cape proudly and to create my own narratives.”
Additionally, the program has been extended with six other community-based organization partners and their cohort of high school seniors. Next year, the program will increase its outreach to organizations supporting underrepresented students planning to attend SUNY Institutions in the fall, which is great news.
So if you’re a prospective student in NYC or the surrounding area, keep an eye out for the SUNY & CBI Senior Send-off next summer and make sure to attend!
Julie is a Communications Assistant at SUNY System Administration.