Are you taking the best of your two-year college experience or are you taking for granted this opportunity? In this episode, Iqra Sheik, from the OpenLab team, interviews Deborah Adekoya, a liberal arts major and an example of someone that takes advantage of the resources and opportunities that BMCC offers.
Debby’s experience puts some light on BMCC strengths in helping students create community, as well as in what ways it can improve.
Check out more information about the places and resources that Debby recommends in her interview:
Debby is also a podcast producer. Check out her work on the links below:
WELCOME TO STUDENT VOICES, A PODCAST THAT PRESENTS INSPIRING STORIES OF BMCC STUDENTS. THIS SEASON, WE ARE LAUNCHING A SERIES OF INTERVIEWS ABOUT THE CHALLENGES IN DEVELOPING A SENSE OF BELONGING AND CREATING A COMMUNITY AS A BMCC STUDENT. IN THIS EPISODE, IQRA SHEIK, FROM THE OPENLAB TEAM, INTERVIEWS DEBBY, A LIBERAL ARTS MAJOR AND AN EXAMPLE OF SOMEONE THAT TAKES ADVANTAGE OF THE RESOURCES AND OPPORTUNITIES THAT BMCC OFFERS.
IN THIS INTERVIEW, DEBBY’S EXPERIENCE PUTS SOME LIGHT ON BMCC STRENGTHS IN HELPING STUDENTS CREATE COMMUNITY, AS WELL AS IN WHAT WAYS IT CAN IMPROVE.
LET’S LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW.
Iqra: Hi…hello everyone. My name is Iqra Sheikh and I am the Student Outreach COllege assistant for OpenLab and today I have Debby with me and I’ll give her the time to introduce herself.
Debby: Hi everybody my name is Debby. I’m a liberal arts student at BMCC. I’ll be graduating this semester and I’m also a senator on the student government board.
Iqra: Cool. Graduating soon. Are you excited for that?
Debby: Yup…um… kind of excited but kind of not excited because I have to leave BMCC and it’s like such a great community and now it feels like I have to start all over again
Iqra: Yup…Are you going to stay in CUNY or do SUNY?
Debby: I’m going to try…both
Iqra: or private?
Debby: I don’t know for sure but I’m applying to both and then I’ll see it.
Iqra: Ok, cool. All right, so I’m going to get started with the questions that we ask our students when they participate in this podcast. So the first being, why bmcc? Why did you choose to come here?
Debby: Okay, so one of the reasons why I pick BMCC is the commute. This commute is the easiest commute to my house considering I live far, far away, in Far Rockaway. I just have to take the A train and that’s way easier than like buses or other types of trains. You know people take 2 trains and 3 trains and that’s too much, just take the A train. But also BMCC had a great website that I looked at. They had a lot of student activities which I was interested in being part of and that’s what contributed to be picking BMCC.
FAR ROCKAWAY IS FAR. WE CAN ESTIMATE THAT DEBBY TAKES AT LEAST 1 HOUR AND 20 MINUTES TO GET TO BMCC. HOWEVER, TAKING ONLY ONE TRAIN IS A RELIEF. FORTUNATELY, BMCC HAS MANY TRAINS NEARBY. DEBBY’S COMMENT ABOUT COMMUTING IS RELEVANT BECAUSE STUDENTS CAN LOSE PRECIOUS TIME THAT COULD BE USED FOR STUDYING, PRACTICING LEISURE ACTIVITIES, RESTING, AND CREATING CONNECTIONS.
Iqra: I know you said this earlier but um…do you feel a sense of community here or a belgoning? Which you mentioned that you know, because you do have that it’s going to be hard to transfer or to you know continue your education knowing that you have to recreate this community again. So I guess what we can do is talk about how you made the community
Debby: The main way that I made my community here at BMCC is through clubs and going to events and meeting people. Like, every Wednesday they have club hours from 2-4. So I would just be everywhere. I would be at UMLA one Wednesday, the other Wednesday I would be at Conexiones and the other Wednesday I would be like everywhere. So just umm…just like being involved in the BMCC events and BMCC community that really helped me build a lot of the community and relationships that I have now. Also, umm…you know, sometimes people just think of BMCC and they’re like it’s a community college. I’m just going to come to class and come home…come to class and go home. But I’m like a totally different person. I like to come to class and stick around and see what’s going on because they don’t just have events on Wednesday. They have one right now. So…
Iqra: Oh yeah right. And there’s an Aids event and a Black History month too.
Debby: Yup and the BSU club is also down there too. So they have a lot of stuff going on in the week so I like to be around and get to know what’s going on.
Iqra: Yeah, which makes sense because that is how you are able to meet people. Is there anything about BMCC that you wish was different? Or are you content with everything? And if you’re content with everything, what is that everything?
Debby: So…In a way I am like happy with how BMCC is right now. It’s not perfect, perfect but the way it is right now like umm…all the resources that they offer like from the advocacy and resource center and the food they give every Monday and Thursday that they give… and…umm all the Scholarship Office, Counseling Center, Career Center, all those other resources…I feel like they are very useful and BMCC tries to make all your resources known to students…so even if you don’t attend all the events, you still kind of have a idea of what BMCC has to offer and I really like that about this school. To improve, I would say that the students need to be more involved. You know, BMCC is having all these events but most of the time the turn up is not that great. And to me, I don’t know why cause events are great. There’s food, drinks and vibes there but the students don’t show up to the events and I think that’s where we need to improve on.
Iqra: Like how to um…create that accessible voice to students, how to market basically better?
Debby: Yeah, ummm, marketing better and also just like encouraging students to get involved in their school. Just cause it’s a community school, doesn’t mean there is no such thing as a student life. Just because it’s a community school, it doesn’t mean you shouldnt be involved in student clubs. You know ummm…a lot of people just think that “oh i’m just here for like two years…I don’t have to be involved” but that’s completely false. Like, you want to leave here with memories with connections. You want to leave here with like great stuff that you can say happened coz you were at BMCC.
DEBBY POINTS OUT AN INTERESTING CORRELATION BETWEEN THE TWO-YEAR COLLEGE EXPERIENCE AND THE EFFORT IN CREATING CONNECTIONS. SHE ASSUMES THAT THE STIGMA AGAINST COMMUNITY COLLEGES LEADS STUDENTS TO TAKE FOR GRANTED THEIR TIME AT BMCC, WHICH IN HER PERSPECTIVE, OFFERS GREAT OPPORTUNITIES.
Iqra: To me It…I remember watching a tiktok and the person was like, talking about Winter and they were like…sometimes we purposely cancel plans on Winter because we hate the weather. But that’s half of our lives gone.
Iqra: Yea gone and not … not putting effort into it or meeting people…yeah although grades and your jobs are important, but what’s also super crucial…not just in college but in this world is to experience things and meet people which I guess can help if you’re in college because of networking. Like all of the jobs I have had is because I purposely told myself to meet people, go talk to people. And, yea…I feel like I need to start doing that myself because sometimes I can get into that umm…that lens of things where I’m like “no I don’t want to do it.” But sometimes you do. You need to meet people. Hum, yeah. This is some helpful advice. The last question would be, if there is any advice that you can give to incoming students or students considering BMCC, what’s something you would tell them?
Debby: So my advice to incoming BMCC students is… I think I have two actually. First of all, this is like a main thing people don’t know most of the time…but as a student I feel like they should know it. Never buy your textbooks before the class starts.
Iqra: yea because you might drop it or swap.
Debby: Yup and sometimes the professors doesn’t even need it. It’s a whole vibe.
Iqra: Yeah cause they already have it printed out for you
Debby: Exactly. And they have it on the Blackboard…and I’ve spent so much money buying the textbooks. So, never buy your textbook before class starts.
Debby: And the second one is always try to get involved in your school community even though you’re shy, even though you feel like you don’t have friends there…You’re going to make friends when you go there! Just try and get involved no matter which way you can get involved. Just you know, try. Every semester at least attend three events…or maybe three is too much so at least go to two. But you know at least go to something every semester you know?
Iqra: Awesome. Well I think this is all for this episode…umm So i wanna say thank you. Thanks for meeting with me again.
Debby: Thanks for having me.
IN THIS INTERVIEW, DEBBY GAVE VALUABLE ADVICE, SPECIALLY FOR STUDENTS THAT ARE, FOR WHATEVER REASON, DISCOURAGED AND NOT TAKING ADVANTAGE OF ALL THE RESOURCES THAT BMCC OFFERS. SHE ALSO HIGHLIGHTED HOW IMPORTANT IT IS JUST TO BE PRESENT, TALK TO PEOPLE, AND NOT TAKE FOR GRANTED THE OPPORTUNITIES. IN TWO YEARS, STUDENTS CAN BUILD VALUABLE KNOWLEDGE AND CONNECTIONS. AS A RESULT, DOORS WILL OPEN FOR THEM. IT’S JUST A MATTER OF ATTITUDE.
AT THE SAME TIME, SHE POINTS OUT THAT BMCC NEEDS TO IMPROVE ITS COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES AND CREATE A MORE ACCESSIBLE VOICE FOR STUDENTS.
THIS EPISODE IS PART OF OUR PODCAST SERIES ABOUT THE CHALLENGES IN DEVELOPING A SENSE OF BELONGING AND CREATING A COMMUNITY AS A BMCC STUDENT. THANK YOU FOR LISTENING TO THIS INTERVIEW, AND PLEASE SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH US. YOU ARE ALSO INVITED TO SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES HERE. YOUR VOICE IS IMPORTANT.
I AM RAQUEL NERIS FROM THE OPENLAB TEAM, AND I WILL SEE YOU IN THE NEXT EPISODE OF THE STUDENT VOICES PODCAST.