Ever since she was 16 years old, Kaitlynn Liriano had her heart set on Binghamton University.
She wasn’t accepted when she applied in high school, but she refuses to be deterred. She came up with a plan: Stay at home in New York City, where she could attend class for free, and eventually transfer over to her dream school. She chose Hunter College, one of the oldest public colleges in the country.
And slowly, she watched her dream slip further out of reach. She felt a lack of connection with her new college, along with the guidance and individual attention she needed to succeed. Her grade point average drifted downward – from 3.25, to 2.8 and then a truly concerning 1.5.
She had friends and family members who encouraged her to consider SUNY Broome. It’s a good school and a good platform to transfer onward to Binghamton University, if she kept her grades up. Still, she resisted.
“I felt like I would be taking a step back,” she said. “I applied and I got in; I took that as a sign from the universe that it was where I needed to be.”
While she didn’t initially know anyone at the college, it proved to be a worthy academic home. Majoring in Individual Studies in the Liberal Arts division, Kaitlynn’s grades are better than they have ever been and she still plans to transfer to BU. She has already marked her path: major in human development, minor in education and someday become a counselor, helping high school students achieve their college dreams.
‘Give it a chance’
Counselors truly made a difference in Kaitlynn’s own life, presenting college as an attainable option. That’s no small thing.
“I’m a Dominican girl who grew up in Harlem. Society has shaped it so I don’t succeed,” she explained. “People like me are not set up with opportunities to go to college.”
In high school, she became involved with Aspira of New York, a nonprofit that helps inner-city minority youth achieve educational excellence. The organization hired her, and she found a true passion in helping fellow students succeed.
“I love connecting with the kids. It’s very fulfilling to see a student finally reach their potential,” she said. “A lot of kids in these situations, they think too low of themselves. Counselors connect with them and help them realize that college is possible. It’s very rewarding.”
Many people have inspired her along the way, including the counselor who initially hired her. He made sure she was exposed to every opportunity for success, including the EOP program, and eased her into the process of applying to college. A Binghamton University alumnus, he still checks in with Kaitlynn to see how she’s doing in college.
The verdict: It’s turning out so much better than her initial attempt back home.
“My experience here has been so much better. The professors here work with me. The advising here is amazing. Everything is so easy,” she said. “The adults genuinely care and want to see the students succeed. At the end of the day, I have the help I need to figure out where I want to go.”
Kaitlynn also has become involved in campus life and made new friends through her job at Student Activities. She’s also looking to get involved in Student Assembly, and attends events on the Binghamton University campus as well.
She has the following advice for her fellow students: “Get involved in organizations and student clubs. It’s so easy to start a club here,” she said. “There’s more life on campus than people think there is. Give it a chance.”