York College held its 55th anniversary gala at the iconic TWA Hotel at JFK Airport on April 13 honoring a cross-section of supporters including York alumna Erica Ford, the founder of Life Camp and Empire State Development President and CEO Hope Knight, the former leader of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation among several other luminaries.
Queensboro Football Club owner Kane, who has his new soccer stadium rising on the York campus in Jamaica, received the school’s Corporate Award, Dr. Margaret Vendryres was given the Faculty Award, and late Borough President Claire Schulman received the posthumous Legacy Award presented by her longtime friend Vicki Schneps.
York College Chief of Staff Dana Trimball spoke on behalf of President Dr. Berenecea Johnson-Eanes, who could not attend due to illness.
“York has survived and thrived over five and a half decades through the love and support of so many of you here,” Trmimball said. “We are doing well but we intend to do better.”
The theme of the gala fundraising event was “Where Dreams Take Flight” and fittingly it was held at the former TWA Terminal which was transformed into a state-of-the-art hotel alongside the JFK flightline.
“Today is a true personal and professional full-circle moment,” York College Foundation Board Chairwoman Ana Rus said. “I landed at this very terminal, Terminal 5, as an undocumented immigrant from Colombia more than 30 years ago, not speaking English. I remember landing in Queens County in New York City like it was yesterday.”
She spoke of the fundraising effort which represents York’s largest so far.
“It’s about our York College students dreaming, achieving and striving,” Rua said. “To York College, where dreams take flight. Cheers. And here’s to landing them.”
The new funding initiatives to drive student success include the dynamic welcome center, completing crucial building and beautification projects that will elevate the campus design in both accessibility and aesthetics; investing in leading-edge development programs and expanding study abroad opportunities to help prepare York graduates as global citizens.
“York College enriches lives, enables students to grow as passionate, engaged leaders with the confidence to realize their intellectual and human potential as individuals and global citizens,” Port Authority External Affairs & Community Outreach Manager Rachelle Antoine said. “Good quality education has the power to change the life of a person and it is being provided right here at York College.”
The former York College student recalled starting her American journey when her flight landed at JFK in 2006. She stayed with six people in a one-bedroom apartment in Queens Village.
“I share this to say not knowing 16 years later that I would now serve as the manager of external affairs and community outreach for the John F. Kennedy Airport redevelopment program,” Antoine said. “This is why I chose York…the love of the faculty shared to me and the support that they shared throughout this program will never be forgotten.”
Additional reporting by Paul Frangipane.