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2012 Recipients of the NYCHA-CUNY Resident Scholarship & Regina A. Figueroa Memorial Scholarship

The application process for the 2012 NYCHA-CUNY Resident Scholarship Program and the Regina A. Figueroa Memorial Scholarship Program is officially finalized. Many outstanding students applied for this $1,000 award – making this year’s program the most competitive to date. In fact this year, the Selection Committee received a record number of applications from NYCHA residents who are excelling academically at CUNY colleges. Student submissions were rated on their academic excellence, the clarity & thoroughness of their essay, their tenacity, and their community involvement. An awards ceremony will be held on September 20, 2012 at The CUNY Graduate Center, where NYCHA and CUNY officials will assemble to celebrate the academic and civic achievements of our respective NYCHA-CUNY scholars.

2012 NYCHA-CUNY Resident Scholarship Recipients

Established in 2005, the NYCHA-CUNY Resident Scholarship Program encourages residents to attend and remain in college by providing vital financial assistance that can be used to defray college-related expenses. The NYCHA-CUNY Resident Scholarship Program annually awards $1,000 scholarships to qualifying public housing residents who are enrolled in The City University of New York (CUNY) senior and community colleges.

NYCHA-CUNY Resident Scholarship Award Winner Tiffany AlmonteTiffany Almonte
Douglass Houses/York College

When Tiffany’s grandmother, a long-time resident of Douglass Houses, moved into a nursing home because she could no longer live independently, Tiffany aspired to become an occupational therapist so she can help other seniors maintain their independence. Tiffany is currently majoring in Occupational Therapy at York College and is excelling with a 3.6 GPA. She is passionate about helping the disabled and elderly, and is an active volunteer at a geriatric center.  She also finds time to serve as a Peer Educator at a non-profit organization in her community. Tiffany credits her Douglass Houses and York College communities with nurturing her professional goals.

NYCHA-CUNY Resident Scholarship Award Winner Alexandria Carr.Alexandria Carr
Louis Armstrong Houses/City College of New York

Alexandria is no stranger to adversity. Throughout the most difficult times of her life when she and her family were homeless, Alexandria found solace and stability in school. That is where she excelled, got involved and was nurtured by her teachers. When her family was finally offered an apartment at Armstrong Houses in Brooklyn, it was truly a dream come true. But now Alexandria aspires to move on and move up so another deserving family can benefit from all that NYCHA has to offer. Thanks to the solid education she is receiving at City College, where she maintains a 3.5 GPA, Alexandria is on her way to becoming an English teacher where she hopes to inspire others with her love for learning.


NYCHA-CUNY Resident Scholarship Award Winner Misty Daiyan.Misty Daiyan
Queensbridge Houses/Queens College

When Misty’s parents immigrated to the United States from Bangladesh, they struggled to adapt to a new culture, language and education system. Moving to Queensbridge Houses North provided some financial relief, but not enough to be able to afford a private tutor when Misty’s math homework proved to be too challenging. Ever resourceful – Misty got the free help she needed from her local public library. As a result of her efforts, she eventually excelled in math, and is now studying to become a Certified Public Accountant at Queens College where she maintains a stellar 3.8 GPA. When she’s not studying, Misty tutors local college bound students who cannot afford private tutors. This is her way of helping others to achieve their goals, just as she was helped in the past.


NYCHA-CUNY Resident Scholarship Award Winner Ebony Johnson.Ebony Johnson
Ingersoll Houses/Hunter College

Ebony Johnson is an elected official in training. As a Political Science and Public Policy major at Hunter College with a 3.3 GPA, Ebony plans to pursue a career in public service that will allow her to increase financial literacy, foster civic engagement, and initiate crime prevention tactics in her Fort Greene, Brooklyn community. Ebony gives back to her community by mentoring and tutoring students. She is also advancing social change in her community through extensive research and by drafting policy documents on various issues including gun violence, which she has experienced first-hand through the recent loss of a childhood friend. Ebony credits her Ingersoll Houses upbringing and her CUNY education for igniting her passion for public service.


NYCHA-CUNY Resident Scholarship Award Winner Tahla Khan.Talha Khan
Queensbridge Houses/City College of New York

The one thing that stands out to Talha about his Queensbridge Houses neighborhood is the absence of medical facilities. He plans to change that when he becomes a primary care physician. CUNY has made his dream of becoming a doctor a reality, by making medical school affordable. Talha is a student at the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education at City College, where he will complete both his undergraduate and medical school education in just seven years. Talha maintains an impressive 3.7 GPA and is looking forward to working in medically underserved communities.


NYCHA-CUNY Resident Scholarship Award Winner Danique Love-Billy.Danique Love-Billy
Grant Houses/Lehman College

As a child, when Danique would visit the doctor’s office for check-ups, she wasn’t the young girl afraid to get a shot; she was the child who wondered about the doctor’s tools and how oxygen and blood pumped through her body. Living in a NYCHA community has inspired her to pursue a career as a nurse or doctor because she sees the need for quality healthcare in her low-income neighborhood. Through encouragement from her family and her Grant Houses community, Danique is working hard to maintain her 3.5 GPA in the Nursing program at Lehman College. 


NYCHA-CUNY Resident Scholarship Award Winner Kayla Marte.Kayla L. Marte
Parkside Houses/City College of New York

At the age of 12, Kayla unexpectedly lost her father when he died from cardiac arrest. Up until that point, Kayla lived a normal life as the youngest of three with both parents in her Parkside Houses apartment. Devastated by the loss, it was Kayla’s Mom who encouraged her to continue to make her Dad proud by excelling academically. Kayla did just that and continues to do so at City College, where she maintains a 3.0 GPA as a Media and Communications major. Kayla is an aspiring journalist who wants to tell her story and others through print communications.


NYCHA-CUNY Resident Scholarship Award Winner Rodolfo Martinez.Rodolfo Martinez
Mariner's Harbor/City College of New York

When Rodolfo moved to New York from the City of Caguas in Puerto Rico, he and his family came with nothing and spent many months bouncing from one homeless shelter to the next. Fortunately, their circumstances improved when they were approved for an apartment at Mariner Harbor Houses on Staten Island. Secure in a stable, affordable home, Rodolfo was able to focus on his education and enroll in college. He is currently a senior at City College, majoring in Political Science with a 3.4 GPA. Rodolfo, who never forgot the natural beauty of his homeland in Puerto Rico, is pursuing a career in environmental law to ensure fair management of natural resources in the world. He credits NYCHA for giving him a place to call home, and CUNY for helping him to realize his professional dreams.


NYCHA-CUNY Resident Scholarship Award Winner Tonisha Reid.Tonisha S. Reid
Marcus Garvey Houses/LaGuardia Community College

Tonisha is a leader in her community and in her family. She is the first person in her immediate family to attend college and she intends to make them proud. As an aspiring entrepreneur, Tonisha is preparing to become a fashion retailer by majoring in Business Administration at LaGuardia Community College, where she maintains an exemplary 3.8 GPA. Rising above the negativity that sometimes stifles her peers in her Marcus Garvey Houses community in Brooklyn – Tonisha strives to be a shining example of what can be accomplished through hard work and determination, by going to class each day, mentoring fellow students to stay in school and keeping her sights focused on achieving her professional goals.


NYCHA-CUNY Resident Scholarship Award Winner Syeda Shume.Syeda T. Shume
Polo Grounds Towers/Hunter College

Growing up, Syeda watched her parents work extremely hard to give her and her siblings the education and opportunities they could not have in their homeland of Bangladesh. Unfortunately however, such hard work cost her father his life. He died after experiencing three heart attacks. Her family suffered emotionally and financially after the loss – fearing that homelessness would be their fate. It was just at this traumatic time in their lives when Syeda’s family was accepted for an apartment at Polo Ground Towers in Manhattan. Syeda’s older siblings sacrificed their education to help support their family and to ensure that she gets the best education she can have without worrying about financial restraints. Pursuing a degree in Psychology at Hunter College allows Syeda to do just that. Her 3.6 GPA and a chance to attend medical school are all the thanks her family needs.


NYCHA-CUNY Resident Scholarship Award Winner Jazmyn Smith.Jazmyn L. Smith
Ravenswood Houses/John Jay College for Criminal Justice

Jazymn is the first of her 10 brothers and sisters to attend college. She is also the rare one among her friends to have the responsibility of managing her own apartment. Jazmyn’s mother left her and the Ravenswood Houses apartment where she was raised, to escape the pressure of negative influences in her environment. Jazmyn was just 21 years old at the time and worked two jobs while attending college full-time to keep up with her new adult responsibilities. Jazmyn knows the challenges she faces will only make her stronger. She is fully committed to her studies at John Jay College for Criminal Justice where she is majoring in English with a 3.4 GPA. She realizes that wise decision-making and good choices will carry her a long way toward achieving success.


NYCHA-CUNY Resident Scholarship Award Winner Lygia Sukie.Lygia Sukie
Marlboro Houses/Borough Manhattan Community College

When Lygia leaves her Marlboro Houses apartment dressed for school in her crisp nurses uniform, she knows that she is debunking the tired and untrue stereotypes about the work ethic of public housing residents. She is proud to live in her Brooklyn development and knows that her parents endeavor to give her the very best of what they have to offer. This ambitious young woman became a registered nurse at the age of 19, and has now transferred into the very competitive Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing. Lygia credits the Borough of Manhattan Community College, where she graduated with a 3.2 GPA, with laying the foundation for her future academic success.


NYCHA-CUNY Resident Scholarship Award Winner Melinda Thompkins-PerezMelinda Thompkins-Perez
Park Rock Rehab/
Kingsborough Community College

Melinda faced constant mental, emotional, and even physical abuse growing up at the hands of an alcoholic father. At 17, Melinda moved out to escape the abuse, but struggled to support herself. When she became pregnant at 22, she sought the help of a social worker who guided her to obtain her GED and apply for public housing. Through her perseverance, Melinda was granted an apartment in Brooklyn at Park Rock Rehab, where she is providing her son with the stable home life she never had as a child. Melinda is determined to set a positive example for her son by attending college. She is currently a senior at Kingsborough Community College, where she is majoring in Mental Health and Human Services with a 3.8 GPA. She plans to obtain a Master’s in Social Work, so she can provide support and guidance to other young mothers in need.  


NYCHA-CUNY Resident Scholarship Award Winner Ning Ye.Ning Ye
Gowanus Houses/Borough of Manhattan Community College

Ning knows it’s not where she’s from, but rather where she’s going that determines her success. When she immigrated to the United States from China, Ning felt lonely and lost. She struggled to learn English and adapt to her new environment at Gowanus Houses in Brooklyn. She juggled several jobs to make a living and found herself in the midst of an abusive relationship with her husband. She eventually separated from her husband and conformed to her new life as a single mother of a toddler, caregiver to her aging parents and a full-time college student. Through volunteer opportunities, Ning discovered she has a passion for health care.  She is pursuing a career in Nursing through her studies at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, where she maintains an impressive 4.0 GPA. Investing in her education is the first thing that Ning has done just for herself in a long time. In addition to expanding her career options, the education Ning is getting at CUNY is also helping her to start over with confidence. 


NYCHA-CUNY Resident Scholarship Award Winner Heriberto Vega.Heriberto Vega
Amsterdam Houses/John Jay College for Criminal Justice

Heriberto is the recipient of the Regina A. Figueroa Memorial Scholarship. He has earned this honor two years in a row because he continues to exemplify his commitment to education and community service while living with a disability. NYCHA has provided him with stability in the form of an affordable apartment at Amsterdam Houses in Manhattan and linkages to community resources. Without this support, raising two young daughters, volunteering at community organizations and being a full-time student at John Jay College for Criminal Justice, might not seem possible. Heriberto’s short term goals include attending law school, where he will acquire the skills he needs to advocate for fairness and justice on behalf of immigrants families. He is determined to succeed and is now inspired by the legacy of Regina A. Figueroa, to do just that – in her honor.