Sept. 28: Thursday Dialogue: Mentors to Leaders

Thursday, September 28 | 12pm to 2pm | Graduate Center, CUNY | Room 9204 | #fight4edu

WHERE: The Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue
Room: 9204
WHEN: Thursday, September 28, 12:00 PM-2:00 PM
CONTACT INFO: futuresinitiative [at]; (212) 817-7201

Description: This roundtable discussion, the second of the Thursday Dialogues series organized by the Futures Initiative, seeks to reflectively explore the unfolding dynamics of the Futures Initiative Undergraduate Leadership Program from its first implementation to the present. This paneldiscussion will bring together directors and current Leadership fellows in a self-reflective discussion on their experiences gained from taking part in this program, including lessons learned and challenges. How does the program conceptualize leadership? What seems to be working? What hasn’t worked? What can be improved? What were their expectations when they initiated this program and how has that changed now? What are some of the intersections between NYPL and CUNY and this program? Questions that our fellows will address include: how has the program helped them accomplish their goals? How has their outlook on being a CUNY student changed based on participating in this program? Based on their CUNY student experiences, what can be improved or emphasized in the program?

These and more questions will be under discussion for the day and we encourage you to add your thoughts and insights to the dialogue by joining us for this informal brownbag lunch. No RSVP necessary.

Panelist Bios: 
Mike Rifino, Mike Rifino currently co-directs the the Undergraduate Leadership Program along with his colleague director Lauren Melendez; in addition to working as the Communications Chair for the Futures Initiative. Mike is a LaGuardia and Hunter College alum and is currently a doctoral student in the Human Development. Mike’s research interest focus on the role of affective processes in the context of academic learning. More specifically, Mike’s research interest focus on how to understand the situated dynamics of emotions in the course of learning activities in interactional contexts.

Lauren Melendez,
Lauren currently directs the Undergraduate Leadership Program along with her colleague co-director Mike Rifino; in addition to working as Admin Specialist of the Futures Initiative. Lauren is a Lehman College alum and has ten years of Media experience with her most recent transition from her work in Sales Planning at ESPN to pursue a career in Education. Lauren is currently attending Graduate School at Hunter College in pursuit of a Master of Science degree in Education in School Counseling and is currently interning as a School Counseling trainee and College Prep advisor at James Baldwin High school.

Kashema Hutchinson,
Kashema is pursuing her Ph.D. in Urban Education program at the Graduate Center (CUNY) and is also the Communications and Leadership Specialist Fellow for the Undergraduate Leadership Program at the Futures Initiative. Over the past two years Kashema has facilitated discussion groups with incarcerated men and women at the Rikers Island Facility in New York. Her research interests include restorative justice, the school-to-prison pipeline, socialization of Black girls and women, zero-tolerance policies, mattering and marginalization, mindfulness and hip-hop pedagogy.

Cherishe Cumma,
Cherishe Cumma is a student at New York City College of Technology, who is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Professional and Technical Writing, with a Biology concentration. While completing her coursework she is also a student blogger at The Buzz, a Leadership Fellow in the Futures Initiative program and a member of the CUNY Pipeline program. Cherishe is also currently a part of the Emerging Scholars Research program where her role is Contributing editor for  New York City College of Technology’s Honors publication.

Jenny Perez Bruno
Jenny Perez Bruno is currently a City college student majoring in Biology and minoring in Psychology. Her career aspiration is to become a pediatrician or gynecologist. She volunteered working as a Patient outreach coordinator at Harlem Hospital, convincing pregnant women to donate to donate their placenta and Umbilical cord. She did biomedical research at Rockefeller University, her research focus on RNA and DNA proteins.


The Futures Initiative
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016-4309