WWW.QNS.COM RIDGEWOOD TIMES MARCH 25, 2021 3
HIGHER ED TODAY
Spring, a time of renewal and hope, is officially
here. Despite the fatigue we feel and the pain
we have endured, there is still optimism in our
hearts as we collectively look to a not-so-distant
future return to some sense of normalcy.
It was in that spirit that I announced in January
that the City University of New York is planning
a safe, gradual progression to a new normal
for the Fall 2021 semester. But for that to become a
reality, we must steel our resolve and maintain the
discipline we have collectively shown so our City
and State can finally — and fully — emerge from
this year-long crisis.
Now more than ever, it’s critical to not let our
guard down and continue masking up, washing
our hands and maintaining physical distance.
And I vigorously encourage everyone to schedule
a COVID vaccination shot for yourselves and your
loved ones, as soon as each person is eligible.
That’s why CUNY is delighted to have two of
our campuses, Medgar Evers College in Crown
Heights, Brooklyn, and York College in Jamaica,
Queens, serve as New York State-Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) mass vaccination
sites. In the first three weeks since they
opened, over 100,000 vaccinations were administered
to eligible New Yorkers at these sites. At a
combined pace of 6,000 vaccines each day, CUNY’s
campuses will have facilitated the delivery of
about 200,000 shots by the end of this month.
These are significant milestones that fill me
and our university with immense pride as these
sites were created to address vaccine distribution
disparities in traditionally underserved communities
of color hit hardest by the pandemic. We
continue to discuss possible plans to have several
other of our campuses also become vaccination
sites in the near future.
CUNY students are doing their part too, bringing
their wide-ranging expertise to advance New
York’s COVID-19 vaccination recovery effort. Volunteers
include students in the health fields and
those with academic or professional experience
giving injections, and others interested in providing
data entry and other support services at vaccination
sites and to those visiting them to be vaccinated.
Some 2,500 CUNY Nursing students are lending
their expertise and knowledge to NY Staterun
facilities such as those at Medgar Evers and
York, and another 1,000 nursing students, under
the supervision of CUNY faculty, are volunteering
throughout the NYC Health + Hospitals system in
the five boroughs.
They are students like Bianca Blake, a York
College senior and aspiring critical care nurse
who has been working at her college’s vaccination
site once a week since the site opened on February
“I wanted to get involved because I wanted to
give back to our community, especially after the
hard year that we’ve all just been through,” she
said. “It’s a chance to not only help our community
but all the people who have been impacted by the
Bianca’s zeal for service is what makes our
students so special — and it’s one of the many ways
CUNY is assisting New York’s COVID recovery effort.
She follows a long line of CUNY students, faculty
and alumnae who felt and acted on that sense
of obligation. Sandra Lindsay, a clinical care nurse
who graduated from Borough of Manhattan Community
College and Lehman College, made history
in December when she became the first person in
the U.S. to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Lindsay,
who is Black, said she wanted to set an example, to
show African Americans and all Americans who
might have reservations that the shot is safe.
Lindsay is a role model and a leader and she’s
now helping our University spread the word of the
importance of getting vaccinated as part of a campaign
we’ve launched to encourage each member
of our CUNY community to get the shot. Only in so
doing will we get through this together.
This pandemic has left no life untouched and
exposed, and even exacerbated existing social, racial,
economic and educational disparities for all
to see. Together, we have lived through this horrible
and historic moment. And now, with the end
finally in sight, we owe it to those we have lost to
continue to persevere, stay vigilant and get vaccinated.
Our University’s participation in the important
effort to vaccinate New Yorkers makes me
proud, but it is only the latest proof that CUNY is
integral to New York City’s recovery and that our
campuses continue to serve as vital anchor institutions
for their surrounding communities. I know
I speak for many more than myself when I say
how much I look forward to the happy and hopeful
times to come, when we resume the activities that
we love. We are getting there.