(L-R) Bronx MCNY Director Joshua Perez, and students Mayra Bonilla, and Christine Perez reminisce about the first day they met (photo by Diego Barcacel Pena)

by Diego Barcacel (The original story can be found on thisistheBronx.info)

Four women who got their Associate degrees just before the former Technical Career Institutes (TCI)  suddenly closed in the Fall of 2017, are now right on track to getting Bachelor’s Degrees in Health Administrative Management at Metropolitan College of New York (MCNY).  After that’s done, they’re each considering studying for a Master’s in Emergency Management at MCNY.

While Mayra Bonilla, Christine Perez, Flordeliz Nuñez, and Veronica Cubano said they felt lost, cheated, and frustrated with TCI’s abrupt closure, because of their determination to achieve in higher education and desire to create better lives for their families, they shopped around for other places to learn.  That’s when they met Joshua Perez, the director of MCNY’s Bronx campus.  The four women, three of whom are mothers and one who is a grandmother, were welcomed at MCNY with open arms.  “I like to help people who I can relate to so I took it upon myself to lend them an ear,” he said.

But there was a problem.  The ‘four musketeers’, as they call themselves, found that other colleges wouldn’t let the women transfer all their credits from TCI. But after long negotiations, the women were finally able to get all their credits transferred to MCNY.  That was key.

“Josh definitely helped us negotiate,” said Christine Perez, a 33-year-old mother of one who, when she’s not in school works at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s in Manhattan. “We were in his office for eight hours and we did not leave until we got all our credits, which ultimately we did.”

Christine Perez’s TCI graduation cap displays her mentality to life and education, as her son, Alexander, graduates the same day from preschool in 2017 (photo by Christine Perez)

Once they were admitted into Metropolitan, the women had to adapt to a new type of learning because while TCI focused on technical education, MCNY has a different approach that emphasizes students’ writing skills and a hands-on approach to studying business.  They had to learn how to create what they call ‘Constructive Action Documents’ (CA’s), which are small theses that students complete each semester on different themes to prepare them with an action plan after graduation.

“It’s a living thesis,” said Joshua Perez. “It’s the main foundation of this school.  It falls into the center of education, where all their classes come together.”

“The first semester was rough for us because it was all about writing,” said Christine Perez. “It was nothing but writing CAs, how to run a business and learning the history of your CA.”

Mayra Bonilla and Christine Perez in midst of a nod agreeing to never give up (photo by Diego Barcacel Pena)

In addition, each of these women have children and other personal commitments, but they have kept a “stick-together mentality” that’s created a meaningful support system.

Bonilla, a 42-year-old mother of three who does a work study for the School for Business at MCNY’s Manhattan campus, said her classmates provide just that –  support.

“These are my girls,” she said, “and a professor here, Dr. [Abbie] Claveo, told me to never think that I was by myself and to always have those people who you can count on, who you can call whenever you need them.”

“We are able to encourage each other,” said Christine Perez. “Never give up, we’ve been in this together, we’re going to finish it together!”