January 2024 Winners

An Empathic Listener Fosters Student Success

Photo of Deborah Karlin

Deborah Karlin

Academy Advisor Specialist
Office of Academy Advisement

The Office of Academy Advisement is a microcosm of the culture of care found throughout Queensborough.

Evelyn Chimborazo, College Office Assistant in Academy Advisement nominated Deborah for the C.A.R.E.S. award. “I smile whenever I hear Debbie talking with students. She has a natural rapport with them, and I can tell they feel valued—knowing she will do as much as she can on their behalf.”

“I was so moved to learn I was chosen as a recipient of this award. Helping lift students up lifts me up as well. I love waking up in the morning knowing I can make a lasting, positive difference in students’ lives at QCC.”

On a typical day, The Office of Academic Advisement, located on the fourth floor of the library building, is teeming with activity. Deborah works with five additional advisors who address the needs of new and continuing students and readmits.

“Every member of this office is integral to what I do, and I am so lucky to work with Evelyn and my supervisor, Academy Lead Adviser Gail Camille Patterson and Department Head, Michael Verdino.”

Deborah meets with seven students a day, preparing advisement logs documented in Starfish for student appointments the next day. She tries to see walk-ins as well.
Her cubicle is a miniature Gallery. Cheerful banners greet students with, “Your Attitude Determines Your Direction,” “Imagine with Your Mind, Believe with Your Heart,” “Stay Positive, Hard Work Will Make It Happen,” and “Never Ever Give-up".

She refers students to Degreeworks, an online checklist of required courses and Schedule Builder, a module indicating what courses are available and where students should register. Sometimes Deborah will contact department Chairs to request an over tally in a full class.

“Students can be confused over degree requirements and strategies to maintain a solid G.P.A. For some the path to academic success seems hopeless. I want them to know they have options to reach their goals.”

Deborah has first-hand experience with feeling overwhelmed and like most students at Queensborough, her academic and professional career weaved in and out of her personal life.

She enrolled at Queensborough in 1997 as a medical lab technician major and then entered the nursing program. When her sister became ill, Deborah withdrew from the nursing program so she could stay in the hospital with her, until she passed away in 2001. Determined to get her degree, Deborah returned to Queensborough where she majored in liberal arts/liberal studies. She graduated with an associate in arts degree in 2003.

Deborah’s 20-year professional career at Queensborough began the same year as a College Assistant in Academic Advisement. In 2007 she served as provisional full-time in New Student Engagement. One year later she was named a full time aHEO Academic Adviser in Academic Advisement, then was reclassed to HEOa Advising Specialist in 2010.

In 2006, Deborah earned a bachelor's degree in history with a minor in psychology at Hunter College. She planned to pursue a master's degree in medical history, but family responsibilities changed that path.

“I hope to take up my studies again.”

Another form of history—a Queensborough Family Tree—established roots at the College many years ago. Deborah’s mother and father met as students in 1970. She emigrated to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic and her father is a navy Vietnam veteran. Her father graduated with an A.A.S. in medical lab technology. Her mother withdrew when they married then came back to Queensborough in 1994, enrolled in the nursing program and graduated in 1999 with an A.A.S. in nursing. She is a retired nurse after working at The Brooklyn Hospital Center. And Deborah’s niece and nephew are Queensborough graduates, 2014 and 2021, respectively.

A Lifelong Activist for Students and the Community

Photo of Lawrence Nelson, ’82, (He, His, Him, Himself)

Lawrence Nelson, ’82, (He, His, Him, Himself)

Senior Associate, Office of Information Technology
Advisor, Ally LGBTQ Club

“I’ve been an activist most of my life,” said Larry, who is often seen on campus wearing his vest and baseball hat peppered with awareness ribbons and buttons. Some of the buttons have faded over the years but the messages are loud and clear: You Are Safe with Me, Say Gay, He, His, Him, Himself, NCSF (National Coalition for Sexual Freedom), #IllGoWithYou, NOH8 and Ally. “These buttons represent years of activism and represent me.”

Gisela Rivera, Director of Student Leadership & Development, Student Activities, who nominated Larry for the C.A.R.E.S. award, said, “I’ve enjoyed working with Larry for many years in different capacities and have known him to be a dedicated club advisor and mentor who celebrates all students and encourages them to participate and pursue roles in leadership.”

In 2016 Larry was approached by Dorith Brodbar, MS, LMHC in the Counseling Office who asked him if he would be advisor to the newly formed Ally LGBTQ Club. He agreed and the first meeting was held in the spring of 2017.

Larry said, “The LGBTQ Club was created to be inclusive and supportive of student sexual diversity and to promote awareness and respect for LGBTQ students— such an important part of the culture of care at Queensborough.”

He added, “Student mental health in general is a growing concern and I realize membership presents complicated issues. Some students may not have come out or are not sure of their sexuality and are afraid of not being accepted. I want people to know the club is for allies too.”

Events organized by the LGBTQ Club have included Paint and Sip (non-alcoholic beverages) Parties, and gatherings to remember LGBTQ people who died or were killed. A few years ago, the Club partnered with the English department to present a showing of the Academy Award winning film, Moonlight about a young Black man struggling with his identity and sexuality. The project featured a Q&A with the faculty and a written essay.

Larry discovered his inner activist at an early age when he was living with his family in Parkway Village, Queens, which at the time was an international neighborhood that housed employees of the United Nations including public figures such as Roy Wilkins, Executive Secretary of the NAACP.

“Wilkins and his wife lived on the next block and were regular customers at the luncheonette my parents owned. I knew he was a leader in the civil rights movement and seeing him lifted my own self-confidence. He left a deep impression on me. I want all students at Queensborough to have similar experiences, to be inspired, to have self-confidence and feel safe.”

Larry's history at Queensborough goes back 47 years. He is a former student who graduated in 1981 with a certificate in data processing and in 82 with an associate in applied science in Data Processing and then attended York College where he received a Bachelor of Science in information systems management.

In 1984 Larry was appointed full-time permanent computer programmer/analyst in the IT department. He has also worked as a college lab technician.

“I enrolled at Queensborough as an Accounting major in the Fall of 1977 and never left!”

As computer programmer analyst, Larry generates reports, compiling and analyzing programming language to produce data and transactions for administrative and academic offices across campus. Larry’s office, located down a (very) long hall in IT, has a nice view of the QCC Art Gallery and has large purple bags packed to the brim with ribbons and buttons which he hands out to anyone who would like to wear them.

“They are a point of pride for me,” he said.

Larry — a board president of the Queens Chapter PFLAG, the organization for Parents, Families Allys, and LGBTQ people united for equality — has marched in Pride parades since 1993. The annual Queens Pride parades, held during Pride Month every June, reflect the borough’s ethnic and racial diversity.

The Mother of Pride was Bronx born Brenda Howard, a self-identified bisexual and Larry’s late partner of 8 years and passed away in 2005 from colon cancer. She is renowned for her activism for many causes, most notably for organizing the one-month protest march and rally to mark the Stonewall Riot. The rally turned into a one-year event, occurring every June. She originated the idea for a week-long series of events around Pride Day which became the genesis of the annual LGBT Pride celebrations now held worldwide. In 2005 the Brenda Howard Memorial Award was created to recognize the vision and principles that exemplify the bisexual community.

“She was my friend, my family, much the way Queensborough has been to me through the decades.”

Campus Cultural Centers

Kupferberg Holocaust Center exterior lit up at nightOpens in a new window
Kupferberg Holocaust Center Opens in a new window

The KHC uses the lessons of the Holocaust to educate current and future generations about the ramifications of unbridled prejudice, racism and stereotyping.

Russian Ballet performing at the Queensborough Performing Arts CenterOpens in a new window
QPAC: Performing Arts CenterOpens in a new window

QPAC is an invaluable entertainment company in this region with a growing national reputation. The arts at QPAC continues to play a vital role in transforming lives and building stronger communities.

Queensborough Art Gallery exterior in the afternoonOpens in a new window
QCC Art Gallery

The QCC Art Gallery of the City University of New York is a vital educational and cultural resource for Queensborough Community College, the Borough of Queens and the surrounding communities.