by Gary Axelbank (original article posted on thisistheBronX.info)
January 9, 2018
Talk to Metropolitan College students on the Bronx campus on East 149th Street and you’ll hear them rave about their Campus Director Joshua Perez.
“Josh is a wonderful campus director,” said MBA student Leticia Cunningham, who doesn’t hesitate to address the top administrator by his first name. “He’s relatable. Anything you go to him with, he helps and if he doesn’t have the resources, he’ll get them for you.”
“He’s always concerned about our well-being,” echoed classmate Dorca Hernandez.
The comfort level the students have with Mr. Perez stems from a very obvious fact: he comes from where they come from – the Bronx.
“I feel have a good grasp on what the people in the community need and what can help them get to where they want to go,” he said in an office interview on a weekday afternoon. “I’m a good example for them because I’m from here. I went to school here. I grew up in bad areas and good areas. It wasn’t easy, but I know what helped me get out of it.”
Inspired by a step-father who broadened his sense of outlook beyond just the classroom, Perez has moved from Bronx place to place: Simpson Street, Prospect Avenue, Co-op City, and to Castle Hill, where he now lives.
This sense of the borough that raised him is in perfect sync with the MCNY community commitment that brings groups and events to the campus on a regular basis. While the Bronx Borough President, the Mayor’s office, and the Governor’s Citizen Preparedness Program have all held events at Metropolitan, the College’s welcoming hand to Bronx not-for-profits is crucial.
“It’s incredible,” said Karali Ptizele, Program Director of the New Teacher Center that had 60 people at MCNY this week for a workshop on best practices in parent engagement for School Districts 7 and 9.
“We’re a non-profit and so we have to have a tight margin in the expense of our training and to have this space to serve schools and teachers across the Bronx really is a big help,” she said.
“My goal is to make this campus the epicenter of the community, whether they’re coming in to become educated or take a training,” Mr. Perez said. “When the school was founded by Audrey Cohen it was to empower women with the skills to go out into the community and become change agents. When I took this job four years ago I took this to heart, especially since I was born and raised in the community.”
Perez attended St. Raymond’s and Lehman High Schools in the Bronx and after getting his Bachelor’s and Masters degrees, ‘Josh’ found his way to his current position at MCNY, which he says, is home.
“Sometimes I feel like that young man who comes to my office is acting just like me when I was younger,” he concluded, “and I don’t want him to make the same mistakes that I did. It’s those teaching moments when you see those eyes open up and you go, ‘he’s got it now, he gets it.’”