I really learned how to multi-task as an Out in Two scholar. You do have to push yourself, but if you stay positive and focused, you’ll truly benefit from the program.
New York, NY (Vocus) July 1, 2010
Even though community colleges are called, “2-year schools,” a majority of their students do not graduate within two years, oftentimes due to work conflicts, family commitments, and financial issues.
Ten years ago, The New York Times cited statistics and statements from former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who vouched that only a small percentage of CUNY students graduated in two years.
Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) President Antonio Pérez wrote a response letter to the Times, vowing to increase the two-year graduation statistics. With help from Dr. Marva Craig, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dr. Sadie Bragg, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, in 1999, Pérez initiated Out in Two, an academic scholarship program designed to help students graduate within two consecutive years.
According to Allana Hankey-Thomas, coordinator of the Out in Two scholarship program, within the past 10 years, 90 percent of students accepted into the program honored their commitment to graduate within two years. Accepted scholars receive $1,400 for three consecutive semesters as well $550 for the completion of summer semester courses. They also receive priority registration but must maintain a 3.0 average, complete 12 degree credits each semester, volunteer their time in programs at the college, and sign a “contract” that will make sure they adhere to program guidelines.
Students also have the opportunity to join the Out in Two Club, which sponsors CUNY college visits, CUNY transfer workshops, and tours of CUNY colleges.
At the 10-year Out in Two alumni reunion, held on-campus, the scholars who graduated this semester, including valedictorian Leslie-Ann Reid-Bacchus, mingled and reunited with each other, as well as faculty and staff.
Jason Kwok (’10) is currently studying film at Hunter College. “I knew I had to come to this reunion because I missed my Out in Two friends,” he said. He calls the program “challenging.”
“It was especially hard taking summer classes when sometimes you just didn’t want to, but I’m proud of myself for keeping my commitment,” he said.
His friend, alum Dominique Edwards (’10) will enroll at Hunter College this fall as an English major. “The program kept me so motivated and I feel very prepared for Hunter,” she says. “I really learned how to multi-task as an Out in Two scholar. You do have to push yourself, but if you stay positive and focused, you’ll truly benefit from the program.”
Edwards says Out in Two kept her “disciplined and dedicated—traits I need for the future.”
BMCC President Antonio Pérez spoke at the reunion. “Many students would like to graduate in two years, but can’t. I told The New York Times, let’s remove the barriers and let those students who want to graduate in two years know they can get the financial and educational support they need to do it,” he said. “We will remove the obstacles, and if they want to do it, we’ll find the resources to make it happen.”
Dr. Sadie Bragg said that starting Out in Two was “one of President Pérez’s best visions.” She told the alumni: “You have proven his theory you can finish a 2-year school college in two years. Thank you for making his dream—our dream—come true.”
At the reunion, alumni were given BMCC pins, participated in a raffle, were treated to live entertainment and a formal dinner, and watched a slideshow for a trip down memory lane.
Out in Two scholars do more than just maintain their grades and pledge to graduate early. They also give back—both on and off campus. They help facilitate Freshman Assembly, work as note-takers in the BMCC Office of Disability Services, volunteer at the New York Food Bank and with Big Brothers; Big Sisters, and more.
The scholars also operate as a club, where they meet to discuss the program, coursework, college applications and upcoming volunteer events. “The scholars feel a sense of belonging through Out in Two. They tell each other, ‘We have to do this together’,” says Hankey-Thomas.
Hankey-Thomas calls Out in Two scholars “passionate.” “I know of one scholar who stayed at the library all night with another scholar, helping her with her college applications. The student said to the other, ‘I am not leaving your side until you finish your applications; even if we’re here all night.’ That’s a type of peer support you can’t find just anywhere.”
Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) enrolls over 22,000 degree-seeking and 10,000 Continuing Education students a year. The largest community college in The City University of New York (CUNY) system, BMCC has students from more than 155 countries, and awards associates degrees in over 27 fields.
Contact: Rachel Sokol