Christie Paul ’14 spent 20 years in her birthplace of Haiti before coming to the United States. She left Haiti in 2010 after the devastating earthquake that claimed the lives of some hundreds of thousands of people, including her aunt.
“Talking about that is still hard for me, but I will tell you that trying to talk about it is how I made it through,” says Paul. She remembers the expression she had on her face when her mother told her that they’d be moving to the United States.
“We used to come every year on vacation, but leaving in a hurry like that had a deep effect on me. In a few seconds I saw my country collapse, everything I ever knew became only souvenirs, it wasn’t easy for me to leave the rest of my family and friends behind.”
Paul’s mother convinced her that she had to move on. Not only to get past the tragedy but to continue her education. All the schools in her homeland were destroyed by the earthquake. Reluctant, Paul knew just what she had to do, and she did just that. She’s now a second year student at QCC majoring in Biology.
“I didn’t know where to start,” says Paul. “After leaving Haiti I moved to an environment that was different from the one I came from. I decided to visit the Administration Building at QCC unsure of my expectations and not knowing where to start.”
After taking a tour of the college, Paul participated in a workshop for freshmen where she was inspired and motivated by fellow students. “Through the orientation I realized that I wanted to make a difference for myself and also for my peers,” she said. “I pictured myself two years later, standing on the same stage and motivating students like they were doing for me.”
Since her enrollment to QQC in 2012, Paul has been making steady strides toward that very stage she envisioned walking across. She currently holds a 3.4 GPA and will graduate in January.
Once she became acclimated to college life and comfortable in her new surroundings, Paul decided to explore the resources available to her at QCC. She became interested in the New York Needs You Fellows Program, an intensive mentoring and training program that helps first-generation college students prepare for professional growth and success.
Paul learned about NYNY through the Office of Career Services. She says she knew nothing about interviewing before visiting the Office of Career Services but gained plenty of insight after meeting and working with Ms. Strauss, the Career Advisement Coordinator.
“I knew what I wanted to say but I was so nervous that I was unable to articulate the right thoughts,” says Paul. “As a team we worked together on trust and motivation. She gave me what I needed to win the Fellowship, she gave me confidence.”
Paul says that winning the NYNY Fellowship has increased her eagerness to learn and has provided her an understanding of what it means to demonstrate professionalism. She’s now found the courage to challenge herself to take on new endeavors and is determined to succeed in the medical field.
“Life was complicated during the transition stage when I was learning to adapt to a new language, culture, and customs,” says Paul. “There were times when I did not want to go to school, times I did not want to deal with other people, and times I wanted to return to Haiti. However, as time passed, I soon discovered that I could decide how my future would turn out. I believed that by getting involved and being motivated enough to follow my passion already defined who I was.”
Christie Paul now volunteers for Community2Community (C2C), a non-profit service organization founded and dedicated to the rebuilding of Haiti.