As I start to reflect on my own experiences as a CUNY student, I realize that I could relate to a lot of my CUNY classmates, in terms of being part of a commuter college. When I was a student at Bronx Community College, I didn’t have to think much about commuting since Bronx Community College was only three blocks away from my home here in the Bronx. That changed when I transferred to Brooklyn College, where the commute will be much longer than before.
The mainstream media and pop culture represent college years as this simplistic “live, laugh, love” experience where students sit on the gorgeous green landscape of their campus. However, CUNY students don’t exactly have that prerogative. Most of us are part of the working-class; furthermore, there is a large diverse population, consisting of many different ethnicities and backgrounds. My college experience did not correspond to the college representation I saw on TV when I was a kid. If I had gone to a private college or a vast public university, maybe that would have been the case. CUNY students struggle, but we stay resilient during unfortunate times, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The spring vacation is near. Some of us may not have the privilege to take a spring vacation. In my case, I will just be studying for a math exam throughout the duration of the break, and I certainly don’t have the financial means to pay for vacation expenses at the moment. In addition, some of us still work, whether it is a job or an internship, and there is a juggle between finding a balance. Oftentimes, I see my classmates at Brooklyn College suffer due to not being able to be present for lectures. Being a CUNY student comes with struggles if you weren’t born with a silver spoon, or if you have to support yourself and your family while getting a full-time college education.
That’s just the busy commuter life of a CUNY student. While every CUNY students’ experience may not look the same, there might be similar themes each CUNY student can find relatable.
Mahin Ashik is a student at CUNY-Brooklyn College, and a Spring 2021 Young Advocate with YI-New York.