June 2024 Winners

A Listening Ear; Understanding Students are More Than the Mistakes They Have Made

Photo of Jennifer Klein

Jennifer Klein

Program Manager
Community Standards and Academic Integrity

Queensborough’s Jennifer Klein understands the art of listening, empathizing with someone’s story, to really understand their point of view and what brought them to this juncture in their life.

“I have compassion for students whose high school record is not strong or are new to campus life and have home problems and work responsibilities—these circumstances can be overwhelming and sometimes reach a breaking point,” said Jennifer. “Sometimes these factors play out as conduct or academic integrity issues.”

“Student conduct work in higher education is often overlooked and the processes are often not seen as educational, but that is the foundation of the work and Jennifer embodies that,” said Tikola Russell, Dean of Students, Office of Community Standards, who nominated Jennifer for the C.A.R.E.S. Award. “She applies institutional knowledge and experience in Academy Advisement and Counseling to her work in the Office of Community Standards.”

Tikola added that Jennifer sees students in vulnerable moments, moments they are not proud of, and she approaches them with care and concern.

Indeed, a culture of care is the common thread throughout Jennifer’s work to treat students with dignity and consideration.

Jennifer grew up in Far Rockaway, Queens where she attended Beach Channel High School. “I did not do well on my SAT scores, nor was I a strong test taker. It was not until much later in life that I learned I was dyslexic. In my junior year, my guidance counselor told me I did not have the grades needed to go to college.” Jennifer, who earned her diploma in 1994 applied and was accepted to Canisius College, a private Jesuit college in Buffalo. “I was proud to prove my guidance counselor wrong and knew at that moment that the system was broken and that I wanted to help future students in some capacity.”

She discovered that capacity at Queensborough where she has worked for 20 years in several departments within the division of Student Affairs.

“I feel so happy for students who overcome their troubles to stay in college and get their degree,” said Jennifer who was a social worker in the Counseling Center in 2013. “I remember counseling a single mother who had a family crisis and was ready to give up on college. I encouraged her to take one class at a time and continued to see her regularly. When the crisis subsided, she took a full course load and earned her degree. Currently, she is in a master’s program at CUNY’s School for Professional Studies.”

In 2019, when Jennifer began working in the Office of Community Standards and Academic Integrity, she observed that the structure for giving sanctions or warnings was inflexible. So, in 2020 she approached Dean Russell with the idea to create an action plan wherein students would meet with her every two weeks for a semester and offer access to campus resources including the Counseling Center, Advocacy Resource Center, Career Services, Advisement, department Chairs, faculty, and the Office of Academic Affairs. If the misconduct or academic integrity violation is severe, she would meet with them regularly for one year.

“Not long after the plan was implemented, a student came into the office with a conduct violation issue. Normally, he would have been suspended but due to the complicating factors Dean Russell and I decided not to suspend him. He was given guidance and by the third time he took part in the mandated resource meetings he knew we had his back, and that we would go through this together.”

“Jennifer’s priority is to determine the root of the issues students face,” said Tikola.

“For me, college was the first time I experienced independence, and it was a little scary,” said Jennifer. “I had never been out of New York City and Buffalo—a famously frosty city-- was like another world.  I could have used some emotional support and was lucky to have found it in the sorority Phi Sigma Sigma where I made great friends--some I am still in touch with. The campus was beautiful, and the Canisius College tunnels linked dorms to academic buildings, protecting people from the cold and snow. Everything from job posts to weekly events to counseling, student affairs, laundry, the bookstore, and club room was there. No excuse to not go to class!” Jennifer graduated from Canisius College in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology.

Jennifer earned a master's degree in student personnel administration at SUNY Buffalo State in 2000. She continued living in Buffalo, working full time as a general manager at Blockbusters, and returned to work at Canisius for a few years as a counselor in the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), a private version of College Discovery at Queensborough.

Then Jennifer began applying for open positions in education at colleges in the region. “I had a roommate in Buffalo who applied for a job at Queensborough, and I went with her to the campus and knew the college was a perfect fit—that I would fit in. I applied and was hired in 2004 for the position of academic advisor in the Academic Advisement Center (Now called Academy Advisement).

She earned a second master's degree in social work at Adelphi University in 2009 while she worked in the Academy Advisement.

Though Jennifer’s life and career continued to be busy she always stayed connected to family. When her grandmother passed away, she returned home to Far Rockaway to care for her mother who had fallen into depression. “I was surprised at how nostalgic I felt to be in the old neighborhood. I came full circle from a life lived far away.”

Her mother passed in 2008. “Sometimes family history is complicated, but one thing held true--my mother and I remained close. We had wonderful talks and she offered lots of motherly advice. I will always be grateful for her listening ear, to have had that precious time with her.”

His Fan Mail Has Piled Up Through the Years

Photo of David Chambers

David Chambers

Mailroom Coordinator
Office of Strategic Initiatives and Advancement

Well, not literally.

But during the 20 years David Chambers has worked at Queensborough he has won piles of praise from his colleagues as an adjunct, teaching weight training and co-ed basketball, assistant coach on the women’s basketball team, long-time assistant coach on the women’s volleyball team, substitute CLT in the Equipment Room and for the last nine years, as a full-time College Assistant in the mailroom. He works closely with the folks in Accounts Payable and has enjoyed getting to know Queensborough’s talented student athletes. He is a familiar face with a friendly smile for everyone.

“David is a pleasure to be around and is unfailingly helpful to all faculty and staff. He is a great asset to the College, and I am immensely proud to have him as an integral member of our team,” said Rich D’Amato, Manager of Administrative Operations in the Office of Printing Services, who nominated David for the C.A.R.E.S. Award.

Rich added, "We are always extremely busy with time-sensitive mailings and David pushes the jobs out days ahead of schedule. His work ethic, his reliability and consideration for others are what Queensborough is all about and reflects its culture of care.”

“I am humbled to receive this recognition and happy that I have contributed to the college over the years in many ways,” said David, who started in the mailroom as a College Assistant in 2013 and in 2016 was reclassified to full-time Mail Messenger Service Worker, Level One. “Queensborough has been an extended family to me.”

A beloved member of this family was the late Brian Harper, who passed away in August of 2021. “Brian was a colleague, a mentor but even more a father figure,” said David, who remembers Brian as the Mail Whisperer. “He was approachable, knowledgeable, and offered me solid advice when I was learning the ropes. Toward the end of his life, when he had little energy, he trusted me to take the lead on important projects. He was supportive even when he needed support himself. I hope he felt support from me.”

Part of their bond was formed during Covid when Brian and David were deemed essential employees. They alternated days to work with Payroll to mail hundreds of paychecks to employees who did not have direct deposit. “Brian also planned with the Post Office to deliver when we were in the mailroom so we could sort all the additional mail and deposit it into buckets for each department.”

“David has had some big shoes to fill, and he has stepped up big time,” said Rich. “Through his extensive knowledge of the Smart Mail System, he has saved the College thousands of dollars in postage fees each year. He is responsible for the receipt and distribution of thousands of pieces of mail each week while working as a one man show.”

Pre-Covid David pursued college and his first love--athletics. He enrolled as a Liberal Arts major at Queensborough in 1998. In 2004, he volunteered to analyze performance data as a statistician for the Women’s Basketball Team. In 2006, when he earned his degree, he was named Assistant Coach to Head Coach Joseph Medina for the team.

He went to Queens College in 2007 where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and Nutrition in 2012. David stayed connected to Queensborough and in August 2012 was named Head Coach of the Women’s Basketball Team.

“Women athletes are often not given enough credit for their abilities. They are driven, have style and many have successful academic ambitions while others have the talent needed to reach the next competitive level.”

When asked about his own favorite sport to play, he did not hesitate. “Bowling! I started when I was five and was in the bowling league in high school. It was great fun when my mother, aunts, uncles, and cousins all got together for some healthy competition!”

And David added that his four-year-old daughter, Naomi, has some promising soccer moves.

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.