From a Welcome Wagon to a Commencement Caravan

Dr. Claudia Schrader, president of Kingsborough Community College (KCC), visits with new KCC alumni Saiad Miah. Schrader also stopped by Miah’s home to welcome him when he was a freshman at the college. (Photo: KCC)

Days before Kingsborough Community College (KCC) freshman Saiad Miah was about to start fall classes in 2020, he was pleasantly surprised outside his Brooklyn home by an in-person greeting from KCC President Claudia Schrader and the college’s Welcome Wagon.

And just days before the KCC commencement exercises on June 16, Saiad was greeted again with an in-person meeting outside his home by Schrader and the KCC Commencement Caravan.

“Seeing her again, I was hoping this would happen. It feels like they were with me from the start, and when I’m finished, they are with me again. It goes full circle,” said the 27-year-old business administration major, who is now attending Baruch College. Once he earns his bachelor’s degree, he plans to work in wealth management and eventually open his own firm in five to 10 years.

“The first visit, I felt very welcomed. I wasn’t expecting to see anybody. I just thought it was a community college I was attending, nothing too special. I was just going to attend my courses, and no one was going to put too much attention on me,” Saiad said. But he finished his coursework in a year and a half, crediting a friend at KCC and ASAP for helping him get started and the Welcome Wagon for making him feel comfortable.

He added: “They were all so supportive. They literally laid out the path for me.”

A personal touch

Since 2020, Schrader has been visiting freshman and incoming transfer students at their homes or workplaces throughout the five boroughs and Long Island. She greets the new students with a bag of KCC swag and talks with them about their goals and aspirations. She does these while maintaining Covid guidelines and protocols.

“The first day of school is always my favorite. So, when students were faced with virtual learning during the fall of 2020, I didn’t want them to feel uncertain and uncomfortable. I thought it would be a great idea to meet with them, one-on-one, before classes to talk, answer their questions and provide resources to help put to rest any apprehensions they may have about school,” Schrader explained. “Now, two years later, they made it. And they will continue to succeed. Everyone they met at KCC both in-person and online is very proud of them.”

For Juliana Bonavero, 19, a liberal arts major, the visit of the Welcome Wagon in 2020 and the Commencement Caravan this year gave her a feeling of reassurance.

“It makes you feel she had your back the whole time. I just thought they only did that for newcomers. It’s nice that they still remember the people they visited from the beginning,” said Julianna, who was greeted by the Caravan outside her workplace.

Accepted to Brooklyn College, Juliana will major in early childhood education, with a concentration in English.

Ready to welcome the new class

Schrader was able to revisit six students from the 2020 Welcome Wagon, even taking along a special guest, Sen. Roxanne Persaud, who both revisited retired military veteran student Adrian Alfred of Brooklyn.

Although in-person classroom learning is slowly shifting back to the norm, Schrader plans to gas up the Welcome Wagon this summer and visit first-year and incoming transfer students.

“The Welcome Wagon was an idea born out of the pandemic, but its purpose of embracing students with a personal touch will continue,” Schrader said.

About the Author

Stephannia Cleaton
Stephannia Cleaton is a communications manager at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, New York.