HIGHER ED TODAY
I never tire of hearing — or telling — CUNY
success stories. They are the stories of students
from all backgrounds and so many places, with
all kinds of experiences and aspirations. They’ve
worked hard to get to college, and many will be
the first in their family to earn a degree. They
are passionate and perseverant. And they benefit
from the many CUNY programs that support
their success, prepare them for careers and propel
them to achieve their ambitions and dreams.
The journey of Hunter College student
Montserrat Lopez is very much a story of CUNY
success. Monti, as she’s known, was 5 when she
arrived in Queens from Mexico with her family.
She grew up with dreams of college that she eventually
realized would be hard to achieve as an
undocumented immigrant. Most dauntingly, she
didn’t qualify for the federal financial aid that
most low-income students depend on to attend college.
But now, Monti is a senior political science
major with plans for law school and a passion for
immigrant labor advocacy fueled by the indignities
and abuses she’s seen her parents endure in
TIMESLEDGER | QNS.COM | NOV. 19 - NOV. 25, 2021 21
their restaurant jobs.
Monti is on the way to realizing her dreams
in good part because of the support and inspiration
she’s gotten at CUNY. Much of that support
has come from programs that are sustained by
the generosity of private donors who believe in
CUNY’s mission. Monti is a recipient of Hunter’s
Eva Kastan Grove Scholarship, which provides
tuition funding, mentorship and other support to
immigrant students and others in need who are
committed to public service and human rights.
And she’s found a strong sense of community as
a student scholar at Hunter’s renowned Roosevelt
House Public Policy Institute. “Having that many
people by my side means that I have a community
behind me,” Monti says. “To me, it’s a sign that
the college cares about its students, and it’s trying
its best to provide all the opportunities that it
can to its students.”
A Little Gift Goes a Long Way
November 30 is GivingTuesday, the annual
global campaign to inspire people to do good and
give well. Each year since 2016, we’ve designated
it CUNYTuesday, a day when our community and
our supporters — both longstanding donors and
new ones — come together to invest in our mission
to propel striving New Yorkers like Monti
Lopez to the middle class and beyond.
Giving to The City University of New York
helps sustain and grow the many innovative programs
and initiatives that make CUNY the nation’s
leading urban public university. It is vital
support in increasingly challenging times for
public higher education. This year, it’s an investment
in New York’s recovery from the pandemic.
The returns on that investment are tangible
— not only in the difference it makes in the lives
of students but also in the way their success helps
drive the city’s success. More than 80 percent of
CUNY graduates stay in New York and contribute
to all aspects of the city’s economic, civic and cultural
life. They diversify every sector of the city’s
workforce and make it more reflective of the city,
an impact that goes to the heart of our mission.
And here’s another powerful effect: CUNY
graduates from 1967 to 2019 earn $67 billion in a
single year — more than double what they would
have earned with only a high school diploma.
That’s $33.7 billion of value added each year to
the city’s economy. As the city’s economy starts
to move forward from the pandemic, CUNY graduates
become ever more important to the overall
health of the city.
CUNY’s community of more than 300,000 students,
faculty and staff have sacrificed, adapted
and persevered through the pandemic, and now
our 25 campuses are humming with life once
more. We’re forgiving millions of dollars of our
students’ debt and expanding our efforts to support
their well-being beyond the classroom. We’re
finding ways to help our faculty become the best
teachers they can be and we’re promoting diversity,
equity and inclusion with new approaches
that help us break down more barriers for our
students than ever before. Over the past decade,
the number of degrees we’ve awarded has soared:
from about 45,000 to this year’s record-breaking
We are extremely grateful to the many donors,
large and small, whose generosity has
played a great role in all of these advances. Their
investment is supplementing our city and state
funding at a time of increasing financial stress
for all public higher education. Each year since
its inception five years ago, CUNYTuesday has
generated a greater degree of critical support for
our campuses and their students. In 2016, CUNYTuesday
raised $300,000. Last year — at the
height of the pandemic — it raised $2.7 million.
We hope to set yet another record this year.
By making a CUNYTuesday donation today
or on November 30, New Yorkers help us reimagine
a better and more equitable post-pandemic
CUNY, one in which students continue to achieve
their dreams and lead the New York City of the
future. To give, visit visit https://www.cunytuesday.
org/ and choose the college and even the program
you’d like to support.
Now more than ever, our city needs CUNY,
and CUNY needs you.
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