SCHOOL OF IMMIGRANTS:
CUNY Offers Varied Services
Visitors wait to speak with the professionals at QCC’s International Student Affairs office. Tribune photos by Ira Cohe
By Michael Rehak
For those looking to live out the American dream, a great jumping off point is often one of the City University of New York campuses. But what is offered at some these schools is much more than a higher education degree.
Both Queensborough and LaGuardia Community Colleges offer a number of services for immigrants that will help them get through those first few years living in this country – and might even help them pursue a four-year degree.
Queensborough has officer of International Affairs in two locations – one, the QCC International Student Affairs and Center for Immigration, is located in the Library Building, Room 431, on the Bayside campus. It can be reached at (718) 631-6611 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri.
There is a second center at the Flushing Immigration Center, 39-07 Prince St.
With two locations it’s not tough t get an appointment. Visitors are offered free, confidential legal advice on applications for permanent residency, political asylum, appeals to immigration, H1 visas, citizenship applications, information for U.S. passport applications, change of status and advice on any other aspect that relates to immigration issues.
“A lot of people who go through these programs end up studying at Queensborough,” said QCC Director of Marketing and Education Susan Curtis. She added that almost half of the current student population is foreign born.
Although the Center does not represent anyone in court, visitors will be made aware of laws and their legal rights. If needed, the Center’s staff will refer individuals to the appropriate resources. Vanessa Faddoul, an experienced immigration lawyer, is part of the expert staff on hand at the school.
Once each semester, QCC also plays host to citizenship swearing in ceremonies held at the Bayside campus, where nearly 400 candidates officially become Americans.
At LaGuardia community College, low income residents are able to take free English classes and job training programs, along with case management services and career counseling through the Division of Adult and Continuing Education, housed at 29-10 Thomson Ave., Building C, Room 250. Call (718) 482-5460 for more information.
With six different programs, LaGuardia is able to help immigrants improve their English speaking skills through the English and Civics Program by covering a variety of topics from government and history to community resources and workers’ rights. Students will have the opportunity to attend class trips, visit senior centers, listen to guest speakers and study other focuses that assimilate immigrants in this country.
Other programs include English for Workers, which not only teaches the English language, but also offers its students career-planning techniques. In this program, students identify their strengths and weaknesses and what they will need to overcome in the workforce.
The Family Literacy Program is designed for parents whose children are enrolled in elementary and secondary schools. Here, parents will get the lowdown of the city’s often complicated public school system.
Other programs include job-training courses, which prepare students for various industries, including food service, retail, health and hospitality. The CUNY Plus Immersion Program is designed to build a foundation of English language and computer literacy. Here, students will learn how to write resumes, attend workshops and counseling sessions.
To learn more about CUNY’s opportunities and program for immigrants, go to www.cuny.edu.