Ines Anous

An interview with Ines Anous was conducted on March 25, 2021 in New York, NY, by Jahkwan Taillefer for the Becoming the Change Interview Project.

Ines Anous has lived a life laden with the expectations of others, primarily her parents, and oftentimes witnessed similar pressures in the lives of the students she works with. While initially Ines felt compelled by the desire to meet those expectations, eventually she decided to forge her own path in accordance with her own goals and advises others in similar situations to learn to manage the expectations of their surroundings, like she has, and have the courage to follow their passions. Listen to Ines share the strategies she used to make her parents at peace with her career choices and why she thinks it is essential to allow ourselves the time to explore what we want during our studies and beyond.

Mahameda Begum

An interview with Mahameda Begum was conducted on March 22, 2021, in New York, NY, by Ines Anous for the Becoming the Change Interview Project.

Mahameda Begum is a former student of the Accelerated Studies in the Associate Programs (ASAP) at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) and is currently pursuing her studies at City College. She worked as an ASAP Supplemental Instruction (SI) Leader providing support in math. Mahameda was born and raised in Bangladesh. In November 2015, Mahameda moved with her family to New York City. In this interview, she reflects on the importance of women’s education and her aspirations of becoming a math teacher.

Ines Anous

My name is Ines Anous, and I am a College Assistant at the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC). I graduated from BMCC with an associate degree in criminal justice in Fall 2018 and then I transferred to John Jay College of Criminal Justice where I earned my bachelor’s degree in philosophy in Spring 2020.

I believe that life is a journey of exploration and we are constantly learning new things about ourselves. When I was a student, I was not afraid of exploring different majors before I decided to pursue philosophy. Now that I am ready to start a full time job, I am embracing the different opportunities that come my way to discover where I belong. Starting in July 2021, I will be teaching in an elementary school. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, cleaning and organizing my apartment.

Interviewee, Interviewer, Project Coordinator & Website Editor

Mahameda Begum

Hello, My name is Mahameda Begum! I’ve been tutoring for several years, now specializing in Math. I am a senior student at The City College of New York, (CUNY), majoring in applied mathematics and minoring in economics. I graduated from Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) with an associate degree of science in mathematics.

One of the goals that I set for myself is to become a math teacher. Some people find mathematics challenging, but to me, it is fun and rewarding. I want to contribute to society by applying the skills I have acquired in the field of mathematics to help others who are not as passionate about math as I am.


Shemaine James

My name is Shemaine James. I am 27 years old. I am a psychology major at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) and will be graduating in the Fall of 2021. I am a part of Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) program and as of April 18, 2021, I was inducted into the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS). Besides being a full-time student at BMCC, I am an active member of the Science Club and the Sisterhood Society Club that is facilitated by the Women’s Resource Center.

In my spare time, I enjoy watching documentaries about esoteric knowledge, philosophical concepts and history. I also like to watch anime and sketch comedies. I am a single mother of two young boys who are four and five years old. They mean everything to me and have motivated me to pursue my degree so that I can make a better living for them and myself.

After completing my degree, my plan is to attend a four-year college and obtain a bachelor’s degree with a major in psychology and a minor in philosophy. My dream is to become a clinician and bring awareness to mental health in marginalized communities. I would also like to bring awareness to minorities being the most affected by mental illness and help alleviate the stigmas associated with this form of illness.


Ryan Lopez

My name is Ryan Lopez. I am an ethnic studies major at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC). I am also an elite athlete competing for the USA boxing team and have trained and competed in other combat sports such as wrestling, Muay Thai, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as well.

I work as a lifeguard and swim instructor in Brooklyn. I am a very motivated and dedicated individual. I’m chasing all-time highs inspired by all-time lows. My lows were very low. I grew up at the bottom. I had zero self-esteem, zero self-worth, no hope, and no plans for the future.

My goal was literally to become a big-time gangsta like Paulie from GoodFellas. I wanted the respect and status the guys I looked up to had. That was what I was surrounded by in the streets for many years. Gang members were my role models.


Khadiza Nesa

My name is Khadiza Nesa and I am a Computer Information Systems major at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC). I am also a trainee with a Software Development track in the Year Up Program. I will graduate in spring 2021. Besides working in computer science, I like to draw and read sci-fi and history books.

I am currently also working on my public speaking skills to become a better speaker. I believe public speaking is one of the most important skills to have as it helps you become confident, gain knowledge, increase your network, feel comfortable in a new environment, and succeed in professional life. People who are afraid of public speaking should work on their speaking skills whenever they get a chance because one day or another everyone in her or his life has to learn and apply this skill.


Opeoluwa Olaniyan

My name is Opeoluwa Olaniyan, I am an English Tutor for Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP)  and also the Vice President of the ASAP Premedical Society at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC). I graduated from BMCC in June 2019 with an associate degree in science, and I am currently at Hunter College with a biological science major. I also have a passion for music. I believe that change isn’t something that happens after the first try. In order to make a change or be the change we want to see, we have to first believe in ourselves and persevere always.

Interviewee & Interviewer

Lala Ouedraogo

My name is Lala Ouedraogo. I am a former student of Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) and I graduated in spring 2020 with an associate degree in engineering science. I live in Texas where I pursue my bachelor’s degree with a major in petroleum engineering, and a minor in computer science. A fun fact about me is that I love to cook and I am a good cook when it comes to African food.

I work as a math tutor for Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP). Math is a fun and interesting subject and I do believe that everyone should love it.


Diya Qazeili Moushahwar

I am an educator, student, and community organizer. I am a proud Arab-American from Detroit, Michigan and I currently live in Washington Heights, the neighborhood I have called home for more than six years. I am a Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) alumna and GUIDE Scholar at New York University (NYU) Gallatin developing a concentration entitled Science, Medicine, and Empire as well as minoring in Disability Studies.

In addition to tutoring for ASAP at BMCC, I am a 2021 Global Human Rights Fellow, focusing on the right to health for Palestinians, and a co-founder of Disability Collective. I also teach middle schoolers and organize with the Justice Center en el Barrio in uptown Manhattan. After graduating, I hope to continue to promote liberatory pedagogy, healthcare, and justice for all oppressed peoples.

Interviewee & Interviewer