Shereece Blake is a 21-year-old graduate of Kingsborough Community College (K.C.C.). She grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, in a poor, violent neighborhood. She witnessed children being abused and saw her aunt immediately after she was killed. Shereece’s experiences led her to decide long ago that she wanted to become a lawyer. She credits K.C.C.'s Learning Communities program with improving her English so that she could take college-level classes. Through the program, she felt she always had someone to turn to when she had a question or needed help or money to buy textbooks. Shereece graduated with honors in January 2009. She recently took the LSAT and hopes to go to either Fordham Law School or Columbia University to study family law. Kingsborough Community College, City University of New York (K.C.C.), serves 30,000 students a year with a median income of less than $30,000.
The Learning Communities program tries to address a daunting problem in New York City community colleges: Only three percent of students graduate on time. K.C.C. offers freshmen financial aid, intensive academic advising, tutoring, personal and career counseling, and case management. The result: over the last 6 years, graduation rates have increased by 40 percent.