June 25, 2022 SPRING 2022

President’s Letter

Growth Follows Adversity

“WE’RE LIVING THROUGH challenging times.” I’ve found myself writing, saying, and contemplating those five words countless times this year. But as challenging as the times may be, the struggle offers us an opportunity to fully see who we are, embrace our own strength, and unite together in ways we may have never known, because growth always follows adversity.

Being both a New York City-based College, and an institution that educates students committed to public service, put our community at the center of the crisis during the onset of the pandemic. While our City and the surrounding areas were some of the hardest hit locations in the country, our students, faculty, staff, and alumni were the very individuals specifically trained to keep our communities safe during an emergency. Despite the hardships and health risks, our essential workers and first responders fought—and continue to fight—this devastating disease. In “On the Front Line” (page 4) we salute our fellow Bloodhounds for their unfailing service.

In early March, as the world started to hear about a deadly disease moving across the globe, our community had to abruptly transition to a distance-learning model. Would the students and faculty have enough computers? Could faculty quickly adapt their lessons? How were we going to move thousands of students and faculty to a virtual platform in a matter of weeks? In “Educating Through the Crisis” (page 10) we depict the unity, the ingenuity, and the sheer will that it took to successfully shift our entire campus to a remote-learning model.

Before anyone knew about Covid-19, before anyone witnessed the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, or Ahmaud Arbery, our Honors Program students traveled down to Selma and Montgomery, Alabama, the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, to confront our country’s painful history of racial segregation. As we visited the Southern Poverty Law Center, The National Voting Rights Museum and Institute, and the Equal Justice Initiative, I was struck by the depth and quality of our students’ questions. It was an honor to rediscover these historical events through the eyes of our students. The feelings they express in “Understanding the Legacy” (page 16) are powerful, relevant, and encouraging. I hope they inspire you as much as they inspired me.

This August marked the one-year anniversary of the deadly mass shooting in El Paso. As a proud Hispanic-Serving Institution, this hateful act, which specifically targeted Latinx people, deeply impacted our community. “In Solidarity with El Paso” (page 24) details how our Latin American and Latinx Studies Department came together with the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), to create a yearlong series of events and activities called the El Paso Project. This collaboration demonstrated not only our solidarity with UTEP and the people of El Paso, but it also expressed our deep desire to make our country’s long, anti-Latinx history—which directly contributes to violence and discrimination—better known.

Adverse circumstances will never define us. Instead, how we face those struggles, how we come together to overcome those challenges, becomes the true testament of our character. The greatest privilege I have is being able to serve our talented students and work with our dedicated faculty and staff. Even during these “challenging times” it’s evident through the stories of our community, that in the face of adversity, true leadership, resilience, and optimism continues to propel us forward.

Thank you,

Karol Mason signature

Karol V. Mason
@JohnJayPres

Photography: Arpi Pap Studio

Contents

Remembering Our Heroes

Looking back on 9/11 two decades after the tragedy. By Andrea Dawn Clark

Improving Mental Health Behind Bars

Virginia Barber-Rioja’s, Ph.D.,’02, ’09 passion for psychology and law helps system-impacted individuals with mental health challenges. By Shirley Del Valle

President
Karol V. Mason

Chief Communication Officer
Kira Poplowski, Ph.D.

Editorial Director
Andrea Dawn Clark

Writer/Editor
Shirley Del Valle

Creative Director
Laura DeVries

Web Developer
Chunhui Meng

Web Producer
Anh Phan