Berekely College

Berkeley College Vice President, Career Services, Teaches High School Students the Benefits of Creating a LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn is a tool for professional networking that is not often used by high school students. Amy Soricelli, Berkeley College Vice President, Career Services, wants to change that.

“LinkedIn is the beginning of the networking process and ideally students should start using it in high school and enhance their profiles as their education progresses,” said Soricelli. “Most of the time students come to Berkeley College with no idea how to use LinkedIn. In fact, only 9% of high school students use LinkedIn, but it’s a great way for students to stand out from their peers and set themselves up for career success.”

Soricelli is a LinkedIn expert, with more than 27,000 connections. As the Vice President overseeing Career Services at Berkeley College, LinkedIn is integrated into the department’s strategy for job placement of students and alumni. All Berkeley College alumni are encouraged to utilize LinkedIn to network with employers and other alumni because professional networking is an important component of obtaining a job.

High School Students Can Benefit from LinkedIn Profiles
Soricelli recently hosted a virtual LinkedIn workshop for more than 20 high school students who attend the NEST+m School on the Lower East Side of Manhattan via Zoom on December 16, 2020. The LinkedIn expert shared tips for setting up a LinkedIn profile and described some of the benefits for setting up a profile as a high school student. College admissions representatives, professors, and scholarship search committees are all likely to use LinkedIn. High school students can utilize the platform to network with professional or academic connections, and find internships or jobs.

As the world continues to operate in a remote environment as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Soricelli notes that it is important to help students explore new ways for building professional connections. “LinkedIn has become a more prevalent and useful resource due to remote learning. We want to help high school students who might be struggling in a remote environment to connect them with college recruiters and potential employers. With the lack of in-person contact, LinkedIn is an extra way to keep students connected,” said Soricelli.

Bryant & Stratton

If Bryant & Stratton alumnus Kevin Meaker looks sort of familiar, there’s a good reason.

Twenty years ago the business administration student was featured in the school’s advertising campaign and his face adorned the side of a city bus in Syracuse.
You also might recognize him as a council member for the town of Clay, outside of Syracuse.

Or maybe you just know him as a former classmate who never misses his beloved Bobcats on the basketball court and is proud to say his life was changed by his time at Bryant & Stratton College.

“If it wasn’t for Bryant & Stratton College I don’t think I’d be doing what I do right now,” he said. “Bryant & Stratton College gave me that opportunity to be able to go to school in the evenings. The instructors were reasonable with deadlines and they understood I was a single dad working full time.” “They gave me the opportunity to make something of myself. I don’t know if I would have done it without Bryant & Stratton College,” Meaker said.

Twenty years ago Meaker calls his story one that is very true for a lot of folks. He was a 24-ish, single guy, living life who unexpectedly and suddenly had full custody of his 9-month-old son. As a property manager at a midsize apartment complex near Syracuse, he didn’t have much time to spare in his days.

Meaker said Bryant & Stratton College helped make the most of the time he had. The student loan process was made simple with the school’s help, he said and classes were held in the evenings when he could be available. And when life intervened, it was still okay.

“The instructors weren’t pushy. They understood if my son was sick I had to stay home. I was still able to earn a paycheck because of Bryant & Stratton College and graduate with honors,” he said.
Meaker began his academic career in paralegal studies and soon switched to business administration, earning his associate’s degree. After graduation he opened his own real estate property management company which has continued to grow and prosper since. In 2017 he ran for public office in the town of Clay.

He said his political run was inspired by his desire to make a difference for “regular people.”

“I wanted people within our town to be able to go to local government and feel they were heard. I’m that regular person they can come to,” he said. “Being in the property management industry, I have dealt with owners worth $5 million and people who can’t afford their rent. I understand all walks of life and can really help people with what they need.”

Meaker is up for re-election next year and is considering whether to run again for the council seat or seek the next level of office. Serving locally was a stepping stone to learn the political process he said. Ultimately, he hopes to run for the New York state senate seat or the governor’s office.

And that baby who was there every step of his dad’s way? He is now 20, and is a self-employed, successful barber. Meaker is hopeful he will choose Bryant & Stratton College for his educational journey too. Even so, the pair root on the Bobcats and Meaker dreams of the team becoming a Division I, II or III school.

Every day, whether as an alumnus in the stands, as a politician on the campaign trail, or a dad guiding his own son, Meaker said he will celebrate his experience with Bryant & Stratton College.
“It is always on my resume. I’m very proud of it,” he said.

College of Westchester

Left to right: Jada Henderson and Jessica Perilla

Career Readiness during a Pandemic-Alumni helping students gain internship experience 

Preparing our students for the workforce during a pandemic is not easy. As the coronavirus outbreak affected our area, and our college transitioned to remote learning, the Career Services office quickly realized that we had to seek out remote internship opportunities for our students. We reached out to our employer partners to see if they would offer remote learning opportunities to our students. 

The first person to respond was Jessica Perilla, CEO & Founder of JPD Studio Inc., and alumni of The College of Westchester. She worked closely with our Career Services office to define the remote internship program and set up parameters.  A BS-Interactive Digital Media Marketing student, Jada Henderson, was presented with the opportunity to complete her internship with Jessica remotely. Jes guided Jada in developing her new personal brand identity and logo design, in addition to website redesign, graphic design and social media related duties. Jada learned how to use several new apps and tools, such as Whimsical, Squarespace, Photoshop Gifs, Illustrator, Slack and Trello.

At the midpoint, Jessica and Jada spent time evaluating the goals they set, the progress of those goals and any possible changes that needed to be done. Jes shared their progress with the Career Services Office, stating that “Jada has been so wonderful to work with, we were also excited to hear how much she's gained and have a lot more planned for her.” 

Jada really enjoyed her internship experience. She felt the internship “helped my logo design to look more professional and strong on its own. I know that I will have more experience in certain fields that I do want to pursue as a career, such as web design, marketing, etc. After this, my portfolio will have more projects to showcase my strong points, talents, and show that I am skillful in more areas than just illustration.” 

Through this internship opportunity, Jada was able to gain a deeper understanding of branding, typography and logo design. By the culmination of her internship, Jada demonstrated Career Readiness, the requisite competencies that prepare college graduates for a successful transition into the workplace. By sharpening her critical thinking/problem solving, communication, and collaboration skills Jada is more marketable to prospective employers.  

 Five Towns College

Five Towns College Prepares Students for Success

Briyahna Rice is a May 2020 graduate who earned a Bachelor of Science degree (B.S.) in Mass Communication at Five Towns College. Looking back over her time spent as a student, some personal goals she achieved while attending included understanding how important it was to manage her time and learning to be patient with herself if she didn’t achieve something the first time around. These were two basic lessons that prepared her for success.

While a student, Briyahna’s first internship was a contributing writer for Step Up Magazine, producing an article a week for their Lifestyle Column. From there, she was a contributing writer for The Quad Magazine, writing more college centric articles by and for up and coming university students.

In response to the question about what some of the obstacles were that she overcame while at Five Towns College, advised, “figuring out where I fit in with people who may have been more experienced and more confident than I was. My experience at FTC has equipped me with the skills I didn't think I needed in order to get the jobs I didn't think I'd get." That was interesting to hear from such an accomplished graduate but is likely a familiar statement by young students just getting started.

Five Towns College helps students from underserved communities achieve their educational goals by furnishing them with the tools they need to be successful. Five Towns College participates in the NYS Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP). Each HEOP institution must ensure that their students are provided with sufficient academic support services, tuition assistance, supplemental financial assistance, and full need packaging to enable them to successfully complete the institutional components required for graduation. Briyahna is a shining star and classic example representing a successful HEOP student at Five Towns College during her four years here.

Five Towns College also offers a Career Access Prep Program. This program is a collaboration between the Student Access Office and the Career Services Center that assists students with professional development and preparedness for the workforce. Briyahna took advantage of this opportunity. She was also a peer tutor helping others in her program, Mass Communication. She was a Writer/Reporter for the FTC newspaper, The Record Online, and she worked for the college radio station, WFTU. As a quintessential Five Towns College student, Briyahna did it all!

Currently, Briyahna serves as a Public Relations Assistant for the Huntington Arts Council in Huntington, Long Island. Having obtained this position during the Fall 2020, the College is especially proud to hear about her accomplishments and happy to share her success story with others.

Jamestown Business College 

Yanira Castellano JBC resized

“We all know that education, more than anything else, improves our chances of building better lives” (Nelson Mandela). When I read this quote I saw my journey in it. I knew it was something Nelson experienced because you can't talk about something if you have not walked through it yourself. It wouldn't make much of an impact!  This quote defines my journey and I want to tell you a little bit more about that in the next few lines.

Hi, my name is Yanira Castellano.  I am 34 years old, and I have 3 beautiful children. My daughter Ajiah is 19, my son Gammi is 9, and my son Alex is 7. You're probably wondering “Why is she mentioning her children”? I really just want to know about her success at college. Because you have to understand the beginning to comprehend the end.  My children kept me going. To break generational curses and limitations that had my family living in poverty for generations.  My mother grew up in Puerto Rico as a farm worker with little option to go to school. My Grandma had 15 children to tend to so education was not first on the list. Eventually, my mom moved to Jamestown, New York and met my father and tried her best to give us a better life. There was just one problem: she was illiterate, in both languages. I grew up on welfare and social security checks. That's all I knew and that's what I repeated. At least for a while, until one day I went to my job (notice I said job, not career), and my current boss mentioned the opportunity that Jamestown Business College (JBC) was offering. To be honest I did not believe in myself enough at that time to even start going to school, but my boss did; and I think that was enough motivation for me to start. 

Jamestown Business College changed my life in so many ways. The education and soft skills I learned was what I needed to continue to move forward. My mindset, my self-worth, and my knowledge completely changed. JBC has a way of pulling all of those areas together and helping form your character. I first gained my certificate as a medical assistant and later on went back to achieve my associates degree. I had my first career opportunity as a Bilingual Life Skills Educator through Chautauqua Striders, a nonprofit organization. I worked for Jamestown Public Schools and had lunch groups with students ages K-12 for three years.  Then I became the Mentoring Coordinator at Jamestown High School through the same nonprofit organization for another three years. 

Today, I am a case manager at the TEAM program, which is through another nonprofit organization (YWCA), working with teen moms. The requirements for this position was a bachelor’s degree in social work, but I was offered this position.  Even though my degree was in business administration, I had so much experience with students that when I interviewed for the case management position, a phone call was made internally to change the requirements because they loved my interview and saw my potential. This is all thanks to Jamestown Business College for preparing me and sending me into the world with the correct changes that I needed to succeed. I appreciate what they have done for me. The bilingual advancement award and their at home atmosphere helped me achieve what I never thought possible. My daughter is on her way to becoming a Criminal Profiler and it's all thanks to breaking repeated failures and getting an education.  I was able to change my future and the futures of my children. I will always be so grateful for this opportunity of building a better life.

LIM College



LIM College had its first virtual “Entrepreneurship Week” recently with a series of online panels for students to partake in. Entrepreneurship is a big focus for the school, which will be offering an Entrepreneurship Minor for the first time, beginning Fall 2021, with an Entrepreneurship Club coming in Spring 2021.

For last week’s panel, topics included Side Hustle to Successful Business, Finance Focus, Diversity, Equity& Inclusion, and Pivoting in the Time of COVID-19; all of which we checked out and learned a lot from.
The panel was moderated by Bianca Caampued, the co-founder of Small Girls PR and an LIM alumna and Fashion Industry Advisory Board member. Caampued led a conversation with LIM alumnus and adjunct faculty member Baylen Edwards-Miller and LIM alumnus Anthony Nota, Founders of IHKWIP, Erica Lavelanet, founder of Baba, LIM alumna, Megan Shekleton, founder of Moxxie Made, and Onikah Asamoa-Caesar, founder of Fulton Street Books in Tulsa Oklahoma.

Here are some highlights from their enlightening conversation.

Onikah Asamoa-Caesar: “The richest place in the world is the graveyard because so many people left this world with hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled. Do what you love, and the money will come. That approach is what I have followed, and it has led me on an adventure.”
Erica Lavelanet: “There is work to be done at your doorstep…within your family, and your communities. Really focus and show up on that one-on-one level. The most important thing to start is to start small and then you can eventually branch out.”

Megan Shekleton: “I wish I could tell you that the second I thought of Moxxie Made that I leaned into the idea, but it actually took me four years to work up the courage to jump in and dive into entrepreneurship because the fear of failure and rejection and all of those things really held me back. To all of the students who are here tonight, if you are sitting on an idea, I just want to encourage you to take on step in the direction. I promise you that when you lean into what you are really compelled to do, there is a wider possibility for your life that is a lot more fulfilling. It’s definitely challenging, but it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

Baylen Edwards-Miller: “I was furloughed from my job [this year]. I didn’t even know what the word furlough was. Instead of binge watching Netflix for a week, we thought this is now the perfect time to actually pull the trigger. It’s very difficult to purse outside interests when you are working full-time and do have to worry about making ends meet.”

Monroe College 


Kevon Weekes
Kevon came to Monroe College with big dreams to and incredible determination. Ever-focused, she earned her degree and graduated at just 19 years old. Her goal was to go to law school. Lacking the financial resources to pursue law school immediately following Monroe, she went to work in a law firm as a Legal Assistant. Over time, she worked her way up and made some great connections through networking. When it was time to start her law school journey, she reached back to her professor/mentor at Monroe for help. Kevon was accepted to several strong schools, ultimately opting to attend an evening program as it would allow her to continue working and supporting herself. We are incredibly proud to share that Kevon just passed the New York State Bar Exam and is eagerly looking forward to starting her career as Assistant Corporation Counsel at the New York City Law Department.


Yulini Persaud
Yulani will forever hold a special place in the academic history of Monroe. She was the first student to successfully complete the B.S. in Computer Networks and Cybersecurity degree program launched in late 2017. Yulini began her journey at Monroe following her graduation from Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School in Queens, NY. She had participated in dual enrollment and other college credit programs during high school. As a result, she arrived with significant college credits already earned. Before graduating from Monroe at 19 years old with a 4.0 GPA, she was a very active member of the College’s Honors program. She was also one of only 20 students across the country to secure a spot in Carnegie Mellon University’s “Summer Security Intensive IT Lab”, earning straight As in Master’s-level courses. In 2018, she was accepted to the MS in Cybersecurity program at Fordham College with a “full ride” tuition scholarship and a research assistant position. Where is she today? Back at Monroe where she now stands at the front of the (virtual) classroom as an adjunct professor educating our School of Information Technology students who are eager to follow in her very successful footsteps. 

Plaza College

Starting an Externship During a Pandemic

Leidy is currently in her last semester of the Medical Assisting Program!

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, I began my externship at an Urgent Care. It was a new experience for me, especially with learning about all the new precautions, personal protective equipment, and safety measures used t
o treat patients. I was able to build amazing relationships with the healthcare providers and coworkers at my site. I felt prepared with the clinical skills I learned in my classes. Being able to help and communicate with patients, during these hard times, reminded me why I chose to become a medical assistant and I know I made the right choice!” 



30-Year-Old PA Native Did Animation On Some Of Your Favorite Pixar Movies

MontaQue Run grew up watching Disney Pixar's animated films. But never did the 30-year-old Bucks County native think he'd help create one. Particularly, one that meant something to him. Run worked on the animation for Pixar's latest animated film, "Soul" -- the animation studio's rst-ever movie to feature an African-American lead.

Ruffin secured an internship with Disney's Pixar during his senior year of college at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He later moved to Montreal, where he worked for the Moving Picture Company.
Since returning to Pixar full-time in 2015, Ruffin has contributed to "Finding Dory," "Incredibles 2," "Toy Story 4" and more.
Working on "Soul" was different for Ruffin, who connected on a personal level.
In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, he noted that the African-American lead character was what stood out most to him.

Ruffin similarly related to the protagonist's journey to find purpose, along with the film's exploration of destiny, he said.
Ruffin -- of Oakland, CA, says his work on "Soul" was a collaborative effort of acting out scenes then transposing them.
Each day, he and other animators would watch their work on a big screen with the director, Ruffin told the Inquirer. After that, it was "refinement, refinement, refinement," he said.
Released Christmas Day on Disney+, "Soul" is a comedy-drama that follows middle school teacher Joe Gardner on a mission to reunite his soul and body after they are accidentally separated, right in time for his big break as a jazz musician.

Jamie, Foxx, Tina Fey and Questlove are just some of the voices in "Soul," which premiered at the London Film Festival last October.
Ruffin told the Inquirer he hopes that when people see "Soul," they leave with the understanding that each person is a gift with something to give, and we can all learn from one another.
In an interview earlier this year with Pixar, Ruffin said Black History teaches him the "unwavering power of love, and the strength that comes with it.
"It’s important for me to always keep in mind and heart those who’ve come before me, and the sacrifices they have made. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for those who believed in a brighter, better future."

Swedish Institute

January 2021 Student Spotlight: Samantha Hawkins - Swedish Institute Clinical and Administrative Medical Assisting

At Swedish Institute, our mission is to educate students to become skilled, ethical, culturally competent and compassionate massage therapists, nurses, and allied health professionals serving the diverse communities of the Greater New York Metropolitan Area.  We are always amazed at the dedication and determination that our students exhibit, particularly when faced with obstacles and challenges that arise unexpectedly.  We share their stories to inspire and motivate other current and prospective students who may themselves feel uncertain or overwhelmed at times.  

This month's featured student is Samantha Hawkins from our Clinical and Administrative Medical Assisting program.  Samantha, 24 years old, was born and raised in the Bronx, where she currently lives with her fiancée and two daughters (ages 2 and 6 months).  Samantha lost her job in March due to COVID.  Although she was 5 months pregnant at the time, she made the decision to enroll in college at Swedish Institute so that she could achieve her goal of working in a hospital to have a stable career.    

I have always wanted to help people and I felt being in the medical field was the best way to do that,” explains Samantha.  "I had applied to Swedish Institute back in the beginning of 2020 and was going to start going to school in April but then I found out I was pregnant with my second child and felt discouraged. Something in me thought that I wouldn’t be able to handle school, work and a new baby.

In March, when we went on shutdown, I lost my job due to COVID.  It upset me because not only did I back out of school but I was jobless. I fell into a dark place for a while until one day I said to myself, 'I'm never going to achieve anything or provide for my family by moping around.' I made the decision to start school even though I knew it was going to be difficult because this is something I had put off for too long."

Unemployed, pregnant, and knowing she was scheduled to be induced two days after the start of the summer quarter, Samantha still started classes in the spring as she had originally planned to.  

"Samantha captured my attention when I first saw her in July 2020," explains Dr. Sharmalan Sathiyaseelan, Program Director for the Clinical and Medical Administrative Assistant program. "While in class she mentioned that she was almost full-term pregnant with her second baby.  Then just few days later, while we were in the middle of the quarter, she logged into class holding a baby, and calmly mentioned she just delivered a day before!  She was so focused with classes and to complete the program that she didn't take any time off post-natal."

Samantha explains that is has not been easy juggling school while being unemployed and taking care of her family, but she is determined to push through the obstacles. 

"It has been a challenge to go to school and raise two kids. There were times when I felt like giving up and times where I felt overwhelmed. I’ve had sleepless nights due to caring for a newborn and although I was exhausted, I still pushed myself to get up and attend my morning classes."

Last month, right at the beginning of the holiday season, Samantha was hired for a job working as a patient care representative at CityMD.  Dr. Sathiyaseelan adjusted her class schedule to allow her to work during the day to support her family while attending classes in the evening.  Samantha just began her winter quarter classes and will be graduating from Swedish Institute next April.

"Despite the hardship, she has maintained impressive academic results these last 2 quarters," says Dr. Sathiyaseelan. "I believe with this type determination, she can achieve her goals to further her education in the medical field. Swedish Institute is preparing her to achieve her goals!"

Samantha concludes, "I am truly grateful that I am a student at Swedish Institute.  It's given me the ability to have courage and to believe in myself and the things I am capable of. I am going to continue to push myself to graduate and become a Certified Medical Assistant."