By Juan Soto
Plaza College went from the agonizing tears of the fire that ripped through its campus in Jackson Heights in April to the tears of joy for inaugurating its state-of-the-art educational facility in Forest Hills.
The 98 year-old institution that offers business and medical degrees opened its doors back in July at the Forest Hills Tower, at 118-33 Queens Blvd., after it was forced to move out because of the April 21 massive fire.
Because of the destruction of the old campus, dozens of students took accelerated summers sessions to make up for time lost so they could graduate.
On Friday the campus held a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark a new beginning.
Borough President Melinda Katz grabbed the gigantic red scissors that perfectly matched the ribbon to officially opened the college.
The fall semester at the new location began with a student enrollment of more than 800 people.
Plaza College offers a bachelor’s degree and five associate degrees in business, as well as a bachelor’s and three associates in allied health.
“This is a story 100 years in the making,” said Charles Callahan IV, master of ceremonies and grandson of the college’s president, Charles Callahan.
Although Plaza College had planned to relocate its campus to two floors of the 17-story Forest Hills Tower, the college was able to accelerate the move because of the enormous cooperation from Muss Development LLC, the building’s owner.
Katz presented a citation to the Muss family for making the move fast and possible.
“Plaza College is committed to this borough,” Katz said. “It is an amazing asset for Queens.”
College personnel, elected officials, students and other guests enjoyed the ceremony held at the college’s outdoor garden that included live music from a pianist and a catered lunch.
During the event, people remembered the massive fired that engulfed Plaza College and 50 businesses back in April in the Bruson Building at 74-09 37th Ave. in Jackson Heights.
“That night, the night of the fire, there was a will to survive,” said Callahan, who is also director of strategic initiatives.
The campus has new medical classrooms and laboratories, a campus store, a cafe and a student commons that leads to the outdoor pavilion.
“The new home for Plaza College is nothing but electrifying,” said Melinda Negron, a business management senior. “This is only the beginning.”
Stacy Arce, as well as Negron, were at the inauguration of the new campus.
Arce, the mother of two children, graduated from Plaza College in 2010 and got a job at a pediatric practice. After years of hard work, she became the office manager and returned to Plaza College.
She is completing her bachelor’s degree in patient information management.
“I returned to school to continue my education and what better place than Plaza College,” she said. “And I no longer have a job. Now I have a career.”
Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.