Welcome to City Tech’s 40th Annual Literary Arts Festival: An Evening of Community & Reflection! This New York City College of Technology tradition celebrates the talents of our students and provides a rich cultural experience for all. It was a special year, where it was the first time ever that CUNY Chancellor Dr. Felix V. Matos Rodriguez of the largest urban public system in the United States, attended the event in its 40 years history. The event started off with thanking the faculty, professors, and students, along with special guests who came together and contributed to make this event a very memorable and informative one. Most thanks to Professor Caroline Hellman, the event director and a City Tech English Professor and an author. After Professor Hellman’s introduction, a video was played of how great life was at City Tech before the pandemic, the beginning of the pandemic, to months later, which then turned to a whole year. Oh, how I miss entering the college buildings, walking down the halls to classes, chilling in the library with friends, and many more.
Then two students, Jeremiah Clemente and Frankie Lachapelle introduced themselves as senators in City Tech’s Student Government and Association, and as the event’s hosts. They then announced the goal and purpose for the event. Throughout the event, polls were presented for participants to engage in. The first poll was, “The best borough of NYC? Staten Island, Queens, Bronx, Manhattan or Brooklyn?” Staten Island 2%, Queens 11%, Bronx 6%, Manhattan 10%, and Brooklyn 70%. I totally chose Brooklyn, where I was born and raised for some time, when I was not in Trinidad. The second poll was, “What Zoom Style Are You or Which Zoom Person Are You? Checked-in (Camera on, Ready to go, Fully awake, Casual attire on) or Clocked-out (Camera off, Just woke up, Bedhead, Pajamas on)” Check-in 66% and Clocked-out 34%. I totally disagreed with that because I am totally a clocked-out person.
The event also consisted of students from City Tech. The first student speaker was Henry Mei, whose major is Career and Technical Education. He talked about being a student teacher, where he then presented a short documentary film. The second speaker was Christopher Maglorie, who graduated with a nursing degree and is a currently registered nurse. He talked about going to school and working full time, along with his experience as a frontline worker at a Brooklyn hospital during the pandemic. I totally admire his work and it is a gift that he was still here to share his story. The third student speaker was Damitreze Poe, who shared his written story about his experience with police harassment. The fourth student speaker was Jesus Rojas, whose major is Advertising and Marketing. He shared his one year later experience from pre-pandemic to present day reality.
The fifth student speaker was Dannielle Sweat who is a 30-year-old mother, part time college student and full-time hospital employee, along with majoring in Human Services. She shared her writing piece that consisted of the daily life of her job and at home from beginning of the pandemic to present day. The sixth student speaker was James Burton, whose major is Computer Systems and IT Operations. He shared his experience of his neighborhood throughout the pandemic. The seventh student speaker was Farouk Fares who majors in Architecture. He talked about his paintings that helped him to deal with his feelings of quarantine. The eighth student speaker was supposed to be Britney Bajnath but she could not make it to the event. Instead, a video of was shown of the photographs she took during the pandemic. The ninth student speaker was supposed to be Kari Singletary, but she also could not make it to the event. A video was shown where she shared her story on how she became a graduated and registered nurse, along with her experience working in the hospital during the pandemic.
There were 4 student panelists at the event. The first one was Nim Tse, who shared his story of school experience, work positions and the pandemic. The second one was Rami Saeed, who shared his story of quarantine and books. The third one was Abigail Thomas, who is a Student Government officer, a board director for the campus chapter, and the executive vice chair and member of the community collation for students with disabilities. She shared her story of being a transgender woman, non-binary woman, sexual lesbian, hear disabled, learning disabled and a victim of domestic violence. The fourth one was Mamadou Diallo, who majors in Business and Technology of Fashion. She shared his story being raised by his grandmother.
A woman named, “Mijori Goodwin” performed a song named, “Still.” I truly enjoyed her voice and the lyrics. Then the Student Government and Association president, Ngozi Okonkwo introduced herself and announced the special guest speaker, “Staceyann Chin.” She is a poet, actor, performing artist, etc. She talked about a lot of things that consisted of social media, discrimination of race and workplace, along with many more areas that was very educational. During the event, anyone was encouraged to post comments in the chat, along with asking questions at the event.