CSI Student Glad Uko-Ima

When Glad Uko-Ima arrived in the United States in 2007, she was determined to succeed in her endeavors in a new country.  Her first step was to get her high school equivalency diploma.

Now, through the assistance of the College of Staten Island’s (CSI) Office of Continuing Education and Professional Development and with that still driving determination, Uko-Ima has not only received her equivalency diploma, but she also looks forward to matriculating as an undergraduate student at CSI in the fall.  A recipient of the prestigious Peter Jennings Scholarship, she plans to major in Psychology.

Uko-Ima began at CSI in 2009 in the Adult Learning Center (ALC).  She earned her high school equivalency diploma after passing the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (formerly the GED) and then went on to the CUNY Start Program. She passed the math assessment test in May after much determination.

“It was very hard, but all the professors and staff in Continuing Education were so wonderful!  They always said ‘you can make it, you are smart!’ They kept me going because I knew that somebody believed in me,” said Uko-Ima.

Director of Pre-College Programs Donna Grant, who recommended Uko-Ima for the Scholarship, commended the student on her “persistence and motivation.”

“She persisted for many years and was able to pass. She’s motivated to do well in college and is a very diligent and enthusiastic learner. Her sheer determination and perseverance were factors in her nomination,” noted Grant.

Uko-Ima was awarded a Peter Jennings Laurel Award Scholarship, which provides $2000 to offset tuition costs.  The Scholarship is awarded to students across CUNY who have received high school equivalency diplomas.  As the late Peter Jennings received his high school equivalency before going on to fortune and fame, his widow, Kayce Freed Jennings, set up the fund in his honor.

The awards are presented at a ceremony at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Glad Uko-Ima and Kayce Freed Jennings

Office of Continuing Education and Professional Development Executive Director Chris Cruz Cullari said he is “inspired” by the programs in the Continuing Education portfolio that help adult learners succeed in higher education and beyond.

“It is inspiring to see a hard-working and deeply intelligent student like Glad receive this award and move from a high school equivalency program to CUNY Start and now college matriculation.  Our programs provide access to higher education and an opportunity for students to build a better life for themselves and their families, as well as strengthen their communities,” commented Cruz Cullari, noting that there are 700 students served by the ALC and 450 by the CUNY Start Program, which provides remediation in reading, writing, and math for students who want to matriculate at CSI but failed the CUNY Assessment Exams.

The Office serves over 6,000 students annually in the areas of pre-college programs, adult learning programs for 1199 Union members, workforce development, and community enrichment such as the Options Program and the Melissa Riggio Higher Education program for students with developmental disabilities.

“I’m very grateful to the College, and I am excited to continue this journey. The people at CSI helped me move forward by constantly encouraging me, and I am thrilled to continue my education here,” said Uko-Ima, who plans to become a family counselor.