Bronx Community College (BCC) graduate Easter Z. Wood received a phone call last week with special news. She learned she had been accepted to Harvard University with a full five-year prize fellowship, valued at over $200,000, in the African and African American Studies Department’s (AAAS) Ph. D. Program.
Wood, BCC’s valedictorian as a psychology major in 2006, studied in the CUNY BA Program for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies, which allows students to take courses at any City University of New York (CUNY) four-year college. She took courses at City College of New York (CCNY), Hunter and Baruch Colleges as she progressed towards her undergraduate degree, which she obtained in 2008.Currently, she appears in a CUNY BA ad posted on MTA buses.This February, she was awarded her master’s degree in history with a focus on the African Diaspora at the City College of New York where she was a NY Life graduate fellow at the Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies.
“Actually, I received two calls about being accepted to Harvard and being selected for the fellowship. One came from the director of graduate studies of Harvard’s AAAS Department and one from the chair of the Department.I maintained my cool as I heard them tell me that I had been accepted. It was only when I put the phone down that I let loose.I shouted,” said Wood, who currently works as a program assistant in the Office of Student Life and is generally quiet and thoughtful as she goes about her work helping develop and implement activities for BCC students.
She shared that she is thrilled and very excited, but a little sad because she won’t be able to spend time everyday with her best friend, her Mom, Professor Ellen Hoist, director of Bronx Community College’s Licensed Practical Nursing Program.
Looking back to 2003 when she first enrolled at BCC, Wood said, “my experience here has given me a wonderful, solid foundation for the rest of my higher education career.”One summer at BCC, she traveled to Ghana to participate in a Study and Travel Opportunities for CUNY Students (STOCS) program. Twice she participated in the Salzburg Global Seminar’s International Study Program (ISP) in Salzburg, Austria, first as a student and then as an intern.
“Education is extremely important,” said Wood. “I have held onto my dream of going to Harvard and I’ve tried to be steadfast, dedicated and serious about what I wanted to do and then — I went out and did it.
“Education is a key that unlocks many doors.Even if you go on to do something and it doesn’t use your degree, your education is still that key in your pocket that will help you unlock a door to something else,” said Wood, who remembered when she was younger she had a series of career aspirations. In different phases of her life, she wanted to be a surgeon, a meteorologist, a visual artist, and poet.Studying history, she said, will allow her to look at the different and important events that have taken place over time in many of those areas.
Now, Wood stated her career aspiration is to become a professor, researcher and writer. “I take pride in telling students that if you go to BCC and do well you can go anywhere. But, as I have learned, it takes sacrifice, time and energy.Nothing worth having comes without sacrifice.”