November 2023 Winners


A Champion of Language, Culture and Learning for Students of All Ages

Photo of Yang Xu

Yang Xu

Program Specialist
Chinese Academy, Continuing Education and Workforce Development

“Yang is an excellent colleague who has demonstrated, for fourteen years, exemplary service to all students in the Chinese Academy, from kindergarten to our graduating Queensborough students,” said Jacqueline Montgomery, Director, Continuing Education and Workforce Development (CEWD) who nominated Yang for the C.A.R.E.S. Award. She added, “Yang is as kind and dedicated as she is innovative, exemplifying the culture of care we all aspire to at Queensborough.”

Yang Xu, who was born and raised in Southwestern China, came to the U.S. in 2001. Her geographical, academic, and practical experience has all contributed to her inventive method of learning and success.

Reflecting on her time in the Chinese academy she said "When I took over the program as a coordinator, I began making significant changes. Now the classes are arranged as regular Chinese, and as Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL). Students who come from Mandarin, Chinese speaking families take a regular Chinese class, while students who speak different languages take the CFL class.”

“In the regular Chinese class, about ninety-five percent of instruction is conducted in Mandarin while in the CFL class, the instruction is in both English and Mandarin, so they learn more effectively as the teacher communicates in English. Students in the regular class have more opportunities to practice listening and reading in Mandarin.”

Yang also created a class for kindergarten children and then had the game-changing idea to develop courses that align with parent-child time.

"We want parents to have the option to stay on campus, rather than leaving and having to come back, so, we offer adult classes including tennis and yoga. More courses may be added in the coming semesters such as Zumba, photoshop basics, and fundamental photography."

For the Summer Chinese Academy, Yang fostered the College community-CEWD relationship by offering full day summer classes at a discount for faculty and staff, so they can work while their child is on campus.

Yang, who lived with her brother in Pennsylvania when she first arrived in the U.S., attended Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh where she earned both her bachelor's and master's degrees in information technology. “I wanted a career in technology because the dot-com industry was exploding but started to notice a growing public interest to learn Chinese. I thought to myself, why not pursue this opportunity to help people learn a new language.”

She received her master's degree in childhood education in 2006 at Dowling College's School of Education in Long Island and then moved to Queens to be near her friends.

It was not long before Yang discovered Queensborough and upon a referral was hired as a Chinese Academy teacher and college assistant in CEWD and taught in the Chinese Academy on the weekends.

“Jacqueline has been a wonderful mentor to me, and my colleagues are wonderful teachers. The joy of knowing our students will be back the next day is possible because of our teamwork. This award is really for everyone involved in the Chinese Academy.”


The Chinese Academy is a full year program from September to June for K-12 students. In the current school year, three hundred students registered for the program in twenty-one Chinese classes and twelve enrichment classes, which is about ten students more than last year. The enrichment classes include Chess, Tae Kwon Do, Watercolors, Ukulele, Tennis, and Arts & Crafts.

This fall semester students are offered courses to prepare them for state- or city-wide tests in English Language Arts and Math as well as the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) and SAT. These courses will continue to be offered in the spring.


Inspiring Students to Stay On Track And Finish Strong

Photo of Annette Lazaro

Annette Lazaro

Confidential Executive Coordinator
Office of Student Affairs

“ANNETTE understands that our personal touch can make all the difference,” said Dr. Brian Mitra, Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, who nominated Annette for the C.A.R.E.S. Award. “After the College's Department of Strategic Initiatives and Digital Transformation launched the new Transparent Insights Dashboard widget, that provides daily data insights, Annette took it upon herself to begin calling students who dropped out of the college about how we can help them get re-enrolled after seeing that number tick higher and higher. She inspires students to stay with us and finish strong.”

“I have great compassion for students and want to do everything possible to retain them and keep them on track toward graduation,” said Lazaro, who repeatedly calls and emails scores of students who enrolled but then dropped out.

She added, “Students’ obstacles to stay enrolled range from uncertainty about what courses to take next, a change in family obligations, a lost job, or a lack of strong connections on campus. Also, a high percentage of students with a low tuition balance drop out of college before earning their degree.”

Lazaro began her career at Queensborough in 1992 as a CUNY College Assistant in the Office of Admissions. Over the next several years she served as CUNY Office Assistant for the Director of College Discovery. In 2001, she was named a CUNY Office Assistant for the Dean of Student Affairs and Student Judicial Affairs Officer and in 2012 was promoted to CUNY Administrative Assistant in the same office. In 2013 she was reclassified to aHEO as confidential executive assistant to the Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment.

She has seen five Queensborough presidents come and go as far back as Dr. Kurt Schmeller and has worked with six Vice Presidents in the Office of Student Affairs including Ellen Hartigan, Michel Hodge, Brian Kerr and currently Brian Mitra.

This amazing scope of higher education experience has empowered Lazaro to create the culture of care that is at the heart of Queensborough’s mission.

And when you factor in her larger-than-life personality and infectious laugh, she is a superhero in action.

She oversees Freshmen Orientation and works directly with the Office of the President on the annual Commencement ceremony. In 2021 Lazaro and her colleague, Reynald Pierre-Charles were key players in successfully pulling off—in just one month-- the 2021 Virtual Commencement Ceremony. She spearheads the Veterans Day Remembrance Ceremony, QCC Veterans Dinner, and the student veteran representation in the New York City Veterans Day Parade. She also assists Gianna Berry’s Melissa Riggio Program and the Women’s Forum Education Program.

“I love it when students drop by to say hi, or to ask a question or two or let me know they are doing well. They really are the college’s face, the college’s future. Whether I’m managing an event or watching from a distance, I’m always looking to the next thing-the next parade, the next graduation. It is the power of community that keeps the wheel turning.”



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