Convocation 2019 Inspires John Jay’s Newest Students to Pursue their Dreams

Convocation 2019 Inspires John Jay’s Newest Students to Pursue their Dreams

Convocation 2019 Inspires John Jay’s Newest Students to Pursue their Dreams

John Jay’s commitment to educating fierce advocates for justice grows stronger every year. This semester, we welcomed 2,037 freshmen and 2,001 transfer students to the John Jay family. To celebrate, the College hosted its Convocation ceremony on August 26, representing the start of an exciting new journey for the students.

Relating to the students’ experience, President Karol V. Mason spoke of her own journey as a freshman student and her experience coming to John Jay. “Just like many of you sitting in this theater right now, I was nervous. But I had taken on that challenge, and I wasn’t going to let anyone or anything get in the way of my future success—not even my own fear,” said Mason. “There are going to be times in your academic journey that you’re going to feel challenged. There are going to be times when you may feel a little scared. And you know what, that’s okay. Just two years ago, I was a little scared when I took this job. But my desire to succeed, my desire to be here with you at John Jay College, helped me push past that intimidation and it helped me focus on the work. When you focus on the work, you conquer those challenges, and the fear becomes irrelevant.”

President Karol Mason
President Mason welcomes new students to John Jay

“This College is your space, and the transformative journey ahead is yours to claim.” —President Karol V. Mason

Highlighting the important role the John Jay community plays in student success, Mason then asked each student to look around the room and see their “built-in support network” of fellow students, faculty, and staff. “These are the people who are going to study with you. These are the people who are going to push you to do your best. These are the people who are going to open your eyes to new ways of seeing things,” she said. “You’re in an environment where people value your thoughts, acknowledge your life experiences, and are fully invested in your future. This College is your space, and the transformative journey ahead is yours to claim.”

New York State Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz ’05 with President of John Jay College, Karol V. Mason
New York State Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz ’05 with President of John Jay College, Karol V. Mason

“I always say John Jay and CUNY saved my life. I owe a lot of my success to the College.” —New York State Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz

Mason then introduced the ceremony’s keynote speaker, John Jay alumna, New York State Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz ’05, a woman who knows firsthand what it’s like to navigate life as an undocumented immigrant and student. “I came to the United States from Colombia at nine years old, escaping the drug wars. After I saw a man killed right in front of our house, my mother, a nurse at a government hospital, made the tough decision to pick up everything and move us to Queens, New York. We had no papers, no knowledge of the English language, and no family. All we had was each other,” said Cruz. Seeing her mother’s bravery in action gave Cruz the determination to succeed. “I always say John Jay and CUNY saved my life. I owe a lot of my success to the College. It gave me access to a great education and an amazing network of people I came to rely on and trust in,” said Cruz.

Assemblywoman Cruz’05 offers students sound advice
Assemblywoman Cruz ’05 offers students sound advice

After John Jay, Cruz went on to graduate from the CUNY School of Law and made it her mission to help underserved and underrepresented communities. Now, as an assemblywoman, she’s been instrumental in helping to pass legislation that can help those communities, including the recent José Peralta New York State Dream Act which helps provide undocumented, DACA, and immigrant students with state financial aid and scholarships through the Dream fund. Speaking about the importance of elevating underrepresented communities, Cruz asked the students for a favor. “I’m going to ask you all to do one thing for me. If you come from an underprivileged, working-class neighborhood, when you graduate from John Jay and go on to succeed in your career, don’t leave your neighborhood behind. Make sure to be active in your community and give the next generation a better chance to succeed.” Cruz then offered the newest Bloodhounds some final words of advice. “Be kind to each other. There is a lot going on in each of your lives. Many of you work to pay for school and help at home, some of you are single parents. You never know what people are going through, so be kind to each other and give each other a helping hand when it’s needed.”

Students putting on their John Jay pins
Students putting on their John Jay pins

After putting on their John Jay pins and officially becoming Bloodhounds, it was time to celebrate. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni went out to the Jay Walk to mingle, take photos with our mascot, and enjoy some music and delicious barbecue. We spoke with several of our new students to learn their answers to one question: Why John Jay?

William Nunn ’23
Major: Criminal Justice
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York

William Nunn ’23

My mother’s a probation officer, and most of my family members are either police officers or lawyers. Being around so many people who work in the criminal justice field, I’ve always been interested in the concept of advocating for justice. John Jay is the perfect place to do that. I hope that after I graduate, I can attend law school and become an attorney. There’s a lot of room for the criminal justice field to grow and many areas that are flawed. I want to be part of the change to make it a fairer system for all. 

Princess Johnson ’23
Major: Criminal Justice
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York

Princess Johnson '23

John Jay was my number one choice because it’s a criminal justice school and I want to be a lawyer. I’m very passionate about being an advocate on behalf of children because I’ve seen how life is for foster kids. I’m also passionate about the idea of advocating for people who are given harsh sentences for misdemeanors. As a hopeful criminal defense lawyer, I would like to bring justice to them and make sure that future generations aren’t faced with the same issues.

Ethan Viera ’23
Major: Criminal Justice
Hometown: Queens, New York

Ethan Viera ’23

John Jay has always been a dream school of mine. Every time I would talk about being a police officer or going into law enforcement, I was always told that I should go to John Jay. Being here today is a dream come true. After I finish my bachelor’s degree, I would like to become a teacher and teach political science. My ultimate goal is to get my master’s degree and go into politics.

Gabrielle Puttock ’23
Major: Criminal Justice
Hometown: Watertown, Connecticut

Gabrielle Puttock ’23

I really wanted to go to a college that offered a criminal justice degree, but I didn’t want to attend an institution that just offered the degree and didn’t take steps towards trying to fix the system. John Jay has really shown that they care about the future of the country, and it has taken various steps towards creating a fairer more equitable criminal justice system.

Ty Huebner ’23
Major: Forensic Psychology
Hometown: Manhattan, New York

Ty Huebner ’23

I chose John Jay because I think it’s a place where I'll be comfortable and feel like part of a family. I’m excited to be part of the community, have a good quality education, and take advantage of all the opportunities John Jay has to offer.

Hanane Fadil ’23
Major: Law and Society
Hometown: Queens, New York

Hanane Fadil

I’m looking forward to learning everything that I can about the legal and criminal justice field while I’m here at John Jay. My goal is to become a lawyer and defend those who are falsely accused. The criminal justice system has made some progress with this, but there is still a very long way to go. I want to be part of the voices that continue to advocate for the innocent, and John Jay is the perfect place to start.

More scenes from the event:

View Covacation 2019 Photos