Meet Members of the Class of 2019!
MCC's newest graduates are poised to make an impact. Learn how these graduates will be applying their MCC education to the local workforce and to advanced studies at area colleges.The success of our graduates keeps MCC inspiring every day. #MonroeCC19
Christian Guity was eager to make the leap from high school to college and build a better life for himself. But after his freshman year, he was discouraged that his collegiate experience fell short of his expectations. Determined to earn a degree, he focused on overcoming academic and personal hurdles first.
In 2016, after a semester off from college, Christian enrolled in MCC. “I looked online for schools in the upstate New York area and saw that MCC was one of the top-rated schools in the country,” he said. “I came to MCC with a different mindset. I came to the realization of what I needed to do to push forward.”
Christian was soon connected to MCC’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). The program combines access, academic support and supplemental financial assistance to make higher education possible for students.
MCC and EOP paved the way for his personal growth and success: He discovered his calling in human services, competed in MCC’s 2017 Otis Young Motivational Speak-off, and served as president of the Black Student Union at the Downtown Campus in 2018-19.
“Throughout my life there was never a father figure to pass down wisdom to me,” said 22-year-old Christian, who lost his parents at a young age and was raised by his aunt. “I feel that I need to dedicate my life to giving back and making sure I’m there for people.”
Christian said he is grateful to his “many amazing teachers who see a light in me and want the best for me.”
On Saturday, when he receives his human services degree, his biggest supporter—sister and MCC student Stephanie Guilin—will be cheering him on. Raised by aunts in separate homes after their parents’ deaths, Christian and Stephanie have vowed to always be there for each other.
Christian hopes to transfer to University at Buffalo in fall 2019; his sister plans to join him the following semester.
When Tatyana Davis graduates from MCC on Saturday, June 1, her three children will be watching. A single mother and former home health aide, Tatyana knows earning a college degree is what she needs to do to provide a better life for herself and her children.
Finding affordable child care was key to Tatyana’s ability to attend MCC. Once her daughters became school-aged, Tatyana patiently waited for an opening for subsidized child care at MCC’s Richard M. Guon Child Care Center for her six-month-old son. “Until that got approved, there was no way for me to go to school,” Tatyana says. “I literally had to wait for my opportunity. The hardest thing was to wait and not give up hope.”
The Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program grant gave Tatyana, the opportunity to attend MCC. “The CCAMPIS grant helped determine whether I have a high school degree or an associate degree—between the two there’s a huge difference in earning power.”
Tatyana balances the needs of her family with her studies. “Every moment I have free, I am studying,” she says. “I budget every penny. When I don’t have money to buy lunch, I skip it to give my kids dinner.” The campus food pantry has helped. “I only took what I needed,” says Tatyana, realizing other students relied on the resource too.
With an associate in applied science degree in health information technology in hand, Tatyana is ready to start her career and has started interviewing with local employers. She chose the health information technology field because if offers many options for local employment and career advancement. “This program offers so many opportunities to grow. My degree will also open the door to management roles in the future.” Once her career is underway, Tatyana plans to pursue advanced degrees.
“I want to show my children that no matter what life gives you, you are the author of your life,” Tatyana says. “I have three people watching me. They have learned if opportunity presents itself to you, take it. Don’t waste it.”
Like an old friend, MCC has been there for Adam Pfund at two important turning points in his life.
The first was in 2006 when he returned to college to earn his first degree with tuition support and encouragement from his employer. Adam studied mechanical technology part time, worked full time and graduated in 2010.
The second was after he lost his job as a process control technician six years later. Taking advantage of Trade Adjustment Assistance benefits, Adam returned to MCC in 2017 to pursue a precision machining degree.
By then, he had 12 years of hands-on experience in the factory, where he saw firsthand the various impressive projects available to coworkers with machining skills. “It’s amazing what you can do in machining. As soon as I got back to school, I looked at my education as my job,” said Adam, 38, who was named to the dean’s list every semester for the past two years.
He credits the faculty at MCC’s Applied Technologies Center for helping him get one step closer to his dream career. “They have genuine field experience. They’re very willing to share personal stories and experiences they’ve had that illustrate real-world situations you might get into as a machinist. They don’t want to see you fail.”
On Saturday, Adam will walk across the stage and proudly accept his degree. He will then need to decide which of the many Greater Rochester employment opportunities to pursue. “Now I’m able to go back out in the job market, be paid a little more than I was before, and be a little more stable in my job situation. I can set longer-term goals.”
Adam then paused, as he thought of his two children ages 4 and 8, and said, “I can start planning for their MCC education.”
On June 1, Miguel Rosario will be the first person in his family to graduate from college. A scholarship helped him achieve his goal of earning an MCC associate degree in computer science.
“I love technology and have such a huge passion for it,” says Miguel who previously graduated from Eastridge Senior High School in East Irondequoit. “I thought it would be a thrill to go to school not only for the things I like, but … to become a person who can help others with technological issues.”
Miguel was determined to attend MCC. Receiving a Farash Foundation First in Family Scholarship, administered through the MCC Foundation, enabled him to fully embrace his coursework and other learning opportunities once he arrived on campus. “I tried to not let anything stand between myself and college.”
A self-described hands-on learner, Miguel is considering taking more classes at MCC before transferring to Rochester Institute of Technology. “With every new skill I gain and with every new trait I learn, I will not only better myself but society itself.”
Miguel thanks MCC and especially the Farash Foundation and MCC Foundation, for “funding his college adventure” and making his college dreams come true. He is excited to begin this new chapter.
Christina Inya doesn’t sugarcoat it: she didn’t want to come to MCC. Several high school friends were headed off to begin college just down the thruway in Buffalo. Her heart was set on joining them, but Christina didn’t get accepted. “I was devastated,” she says. “but now I think coming to MCC was the best decision I ever could have made.”
She didn’t join any clubs at first. She didn’t talk much in her classes either. “I spent a lot of time in the library,” says Christina. “I came here and went home – I just really dug into my studies.” Her focus paid off. At the end of her first semester, Christina earned a 4.0.
Around that time, she decided that maybe – just maybe – she could pull her head out of the books just a little. She joined MCC’s Alpha Theta Iota chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK) and started attending their meetings. “I wasn’t a leader or anything yet,” she said. “But they began to remember me – they definitely knew my name.”
With some encouragement from her advisors, Christina, a liberal arts major and SUNY Chancellor’s Award recipient, became increasingly involved and was elected co-president of MCC’s PTK chapter. The experience changed her outlook. “I’ve realized that you get out of anything what you put in,” she says. “There’s no reason to be scared to put yourself out there. Good or bad, you’re always going to learn.”
While tremendously grateful of the support she’s received from MCC’s professors, advisors and counselors, Christina points to her parents as having the most profound impact on her life. Her father, Professor Christopher Inya, a faculty member in MCC’s Business Administration and Economics Department, and mother, Katherine came to this country from Nigeria in the 1980s. “I think the older I get, the more I appreciate what tremendous challenges they overcame to settle here,” she says. “If they could do that, I should be able to do anything.”
On Saturday, Christina will be awarded her liberal arts degree. In the fall, she’ll head to the University of Rochester where she plans to focus on preventative medicine.
Drop the name “Mo” around MCC’s Louis S. and Molly B. Wolk Center for Excellence in Nursing and chances are students and faculty will smile, acknowledging him as one of the most respected members of the Class of 2019.
After working for Lifetime Assistance for nearly a decade, Mohamed “Mo” Elkhidir came to MCC wanting to make a difference in people’s lives. He enrolled in the nursing program.
At first, his immediate family resisted the idea because nursing is a non-traditional career for men. The eldest of seven siblings originally from the Republic of Sudan, Mo consistently strives to set a positive example for his family. Persuading them was one of several challenges Mo overcame on his way to earning his associate in applied science degree in nursing this spring.
MCC Foundation scholarships helped him “bridge the gap” and relieved some of the financial stress that comes with supporting a large family while pursuing a degree. Taking classes when English is not your first language offered its own set of challenges. “It’s really hard when you don’t know the language.” Mo admits. “It didn’t crush me. It motivated me even more.”
As a tutor in the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP), Mo helped other students pass their prerequisite courses. He was also a member of the Men’s Nursing League.
“I love nursing. It’s a close-contact career that I love,” Mo says. “The level of care we provide patients is really satisfying.”
In April, Mo set another impressive example for his family and peers. He was one of eight outstanding students across New York state to receive a Vanguard Award at a ceremony in Albany. The award recognizes success in career technical education programs that are not traditional for their gender.
At the June 3 nursing pinning ceremony, Mo plans to thank many people. His CSTEP mentors and the Department of Nursing faculty and staff all played a significant role in his success.
Mo says he sees “success everywhere” at MCC—from the Wolk Center for Excellence in Nursing to his clinical assignments throughout the community. The next chapter of his success story will continue at the University of Rochester Medical Center’s neurosurgery unit where he will begin his career as a registered nurse. His long-term goal is to become a nurse practitioner and a clinical nurse educator.