Dreams fueled my mind when I was thirteen years old. I dreamed being an author. I dreamed of being seen. I dreamed of being heard. My dreams compelled me to live a life with meaning and a purpose. I wanted to exist.
In college, I wanted to expand my experience; I always knew that there was something more beyond the books and outside the classroom. I had thought I needed to go to Salve Regina University in Rhode Island to find that something more, but now I felt like those opportunities were waiting for me at Suffolk County Community College. I followed my intuition.
My ambition to become the leader that I always knew I could be emerged during my time at Suffolk. A few weeks in the beginning of my third semester, a classmate in my biology class asked me if I wanted to go to the Natural Science and Discovery Club club’s meeting. It was the first meeting of the semester, and the club was holding elections. I had no intention to run at all until my classmate said to me, “Let’s run together: president and vice president.” I wasn’t sure, but I was tickled with the idea being president of a club. I had never held an official position for anything before. When we were learning about the Egyptian hierarchy in 6th grade, I had picked the folded piece of paper from the basket that said “pharaoh.” That moment was the closest I had come to a leadership position—standing in front of our hierarchy line!
My classmate and I both put our names in the running. I was last to give my speech—if you want to a call 30-second improvisation a “speech”—as to why I would make a good president for the club. I won the position, and my classmate won the vice president position. My first leadership position!
As president, I worked alongside and communicated with the club advisor and co-advisor; I organized, planned, managed, and arranged activities for the club—a bake sale, guest speakers, a trip to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; I ran club meetings where I informed club members of upcoming events and listened to their suggestions and ideas. By the end of the spring semester, I was nominated by the club advisor for outstanding leadership and was given this award at the SCCC’s Student Leadership Banquet. I was recognized. I was proud and thrilled.
After that semester, I was like a child before Christmas, picking gifts out of a magazine: “I want that one, and I want this one, and that one, and this one…” I had that same spirit of exuberance as I took on multiple leadership positions: “I want to do this! I want to do that!”
The following academic year, I became the Public Relations officer for the Honors Club. I got involved with Student Government and served on different student led committees. Then, the English Department offered me the position of Chief Editor of the campus literary magazine, Cassandra. I was pleased that my service in previous positions had caught their eye; I felt like I had a clear purpose in the campus community. I served for two years as Chief Editor.
As faculty got to know me through my leadership positions and attending events on campus, one of my English professors told me that the department was looking to bring Sigma Kappa Delta, The National English Honor Society, to the Grant Campus of SCCC. The Ammerman Campus in Selden already had this honor society. I was excited and wanted to be involved and do whatever I could to make this happen. I worked closely with three other students who were as motivated and passionate and the English Department Chair. After a semester of getting the work done to officially found the society, I served as Vice President, hosting events—readings, guest writer appearances, writing workshops—and collaborating with my fellow officers on advertising and planning.
My connections at SCCC grew as I got to know the student activities and leadership director, Lisa Hamilton, and the staff in the office. With their support and openness, I brought in guests to speak on different topics, such as remembering Nelson Mandela and National Women’s Month. I gave speeches and readings of my creative writing. Through the Student Activities Office, I became a Peer Mentor, serving SCCC as a student representative and leader for those who were beginning their college career at SCCC at open houses and in freshman or transfer classes. I told them about all that the college has to offer, giving advice and leading campus tours.
As a Peer Mentor, I wanted to reassure that Suffolk County Community College is the best place for students to get their start in their college career. SCCC had done so much for me as a student that I wanted to give back. I found students and faculty who valued education and who honed in our capabilities to make a difference and become tomorrow’s future leaders. We worked together. We encouraged and supported one another. Faculty encouraged and supported us—supported me and willing to do whatever they could did help me. I was listened too. I was seen. I was elevated and not because of the awards I received.
My ambitions for leadership had been waiting to be released since at least high school, but Suffolk gave me the opportunities I needed to prove my instincts right. By finding success in these roles—by contributing to my community—I felt like I’d started to achieve my goals: to have a voice, to be seen, and to make an impact.