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  Public Employee Press

PEP Feb 2014 Table of Contents
  La Voz

Public Employee Press

Dreams come true
Union college, union grads


Local 372 member and School Aide Carmen Cintron set a positive example for her son, Louis, when she registered at the the DC 37 college campus to complete her degree while she worked full-time at Stuyvesant High School.

Astronomical tuition prices prevent many nontraditional students from returning to the classroom and getting college degrees. In a recent survey, 71 percent of adults gave high costs as their reason for not pursuing a college education.

But union members like School Aide Carmen Cintron and Public Health Advisor Michael Williams used their DC 37 education benefit and enrolled at the DC 37 Campus of the College of New Rochelle.

"I got a college education for a lot less," explained Cintron, who graduated in 2011 and works at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan. "That's why I love this union; we have fantastic benefits."

Cintron, who grew up in Brooklyn, had always wanted to pursue a college degree. She also wanted to prove a point to her son, Louis, who skipped college and went to work when he finished high school.

"I wanted to set an example for him, to show him that if I can do it, he can too," said Cintron. Determined to get her degree and prove her point, she registered at CNR.

Local 768 member Michael Williams graduated from CNR in 2012 and is already busy working on a master's degree at the college.

Ready for the next step

"It was scary and those research papers were killers," she admitted. "English class was the toughest, but I worked very hard." Finding the time to study, read and write her papers was a challenge. But it was worth the effort, when she saw how proud her husband and son were at her graduation ceremony.

"They were a little misty-eyed," said Cintron. Her son got the message and is now majoring in art and design at a local college. And the quest for education continues for Cintron, who recently became a Local 372 shop steward and now plans to go on for her master's degree in labor studies.

Local 768 member Michael Williams always aspired to get a college education and earn his degree as he traveled the city for more than a decade as a Public Health Advisor, educating New Yorkers about tuberculosis.

With his son grown and more time available, Williams decided to take the plunge and enrolled at CNR. His evenings became busy with reading assignments, research papers and deadlines to meet. In the mornings on the train to work he read his textbooks instead of the newspaper. At the library he hit the books with study partners from his classes.

His most difficult subject was math, but he developed a strategy: "I had to change my attitude, so I decided to make math my friend," said Williams, who is also a talented singer. The strategy worked and in 2012 he graduated from CNR. Having a supportive network of friends and family was also essential, he told PEP. Williams is now working on his master's degree in counseling, which the union campus also offers.

"Carmen and Michael are very special people," said CNR Campus Director Dr. Stephen Greenfeld. "We're very proud of both of them."

Information sessions for members

Would you like to know more?

Every Monday evening CNR holds information sessions for members on the second floor of the DC 37 building at 125 Barclay St. in lower Manhattan. CNR staff are available to answer any questions about admission requirements, academic issues and financial aid. No appointment is necessary, but bringing a copy of your high school diploma or GED is recommended.

Cintron offered advice to other union members who are ambivalent about pursuing their college dreams: "Don't think about it too much," she recommended. "Jump in feet first."

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