Suri Duitch (left) with Kayce Freed Jennings.Hostos Community College Adult Learning Center 2015 Peter Jennings Scholarship winner, Stacey Almanzar (right).
Suri Duitch (left) with Kayce Freed Jennings and Hostos Community College
Adult Learning Center 2015 Peter Jennings Scholarship winner, Stacey Almanzar (right).

Stacey Almanzar didn’t take the traditional route to college. But now, this determined single-mother is on the fast track to earning a college degree, thanks to her willpower and a special award.

On June 17, Almanzar was at the CUNY Graduate Center accepting a Peter Jennings Scholarship Laurel Award. The scholarships are named in honor of Peter Jennings, the Anchor of ABC’s World News Tonight, who died in 2005 at age 67. Jennings took a strong interest in CUNY’s Adult Literacy/GED Program and frequently spoke passionately about its mission.

Almanzar, a 27-year-old single-mother, first came to Hostos in 2013 when she entered the Young Men’s Initiative (YMI)—an educational support program for African American and Latino men and women between the ages of 18 to 25—to help her earn her High School Equivalency Diploma (HSE).

“One challenge I faced was getting back into the school mentality. I left school when I was 16,” Almanzar said. “Now, here I was at 25, sitting in a class with younger people. I felt out of place. I didn’t know how I was going to handle school,” Almanzar said.

After working hard and receiving support from the YMI, Almanzar passed the HSE in December of 2013. After obtaining her diploma, Almanzar was on her way.

With the help of the Adult Learning Center’s staff, she registered in the Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) program in fall 2014. She attended CNA classes in the evenings so she could earn money working as a babysitter to help her mother with household expenses.  

On April 14, 2015, Almanzar took her next big step and earned her CNA certificate. Now, she is enrolled for the Fall 2015 semester at Hostos. Her dream is to one day work as a nurse or a radiologist.
Kayce Freed Jennings has been administering the scholarship awards since her husband died in 2005. She had some inspiring words for Almanzar and the other recipients at the ceremony.

“You’ve all had to face tremendous barriers. Every one of you has gone farther than Peter,” she said, noting that her late husband did not graduate from high school, but was a lifelong learner.

The impact of earning the award was not lost on Almanzar.
“My daughter, Madison, motivates and inspires me to do and be my best in whatever I decide to do. The Peter Jennings Scholarship will help me in providing for a better future for my family, and I will continue to push and better myself until I have reached my goal of one day being called ‘Nurse Almanzar’ – the nurse who helps save lives.”

More about the Peter Jennings Scholarship Laurel Award
The Peter Jennings Scholarship Laurel Award Program provides scholarships to adults who have recently achieved their HSE diplomas through the CUNY Adult Literacy/HSE Program, and who will continue their education at one of the campuses of CUNY.  The scholarships, in the amount of $1,000 each. 

In 2003, Peter Jennings was awarded the CUNY Chancellor’s Medal for his extraordinary achievements in journalism and his contributions as a role model and catalyst for a better-informed citizenry. The scholarships are supported through the generosity of the Bank of New York/Mellon and the Peter Jennings Foundation.

About Hostos Community College
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College is an educational agent for change that has been transforming and improving the quality of life in the South Bronx and neighboring communities since 1968. It serves as a gateway to intellectual growth and socioeconomic mobility, as well as a point of departure for lifelong learning, success in professional careers, and transfer to advanced higher education programs. The College’s unique "Student Success Coaching Unit" provides students with individualized guidance and exemplifies its emphasis on student support services.
Named one of the top 10 finalists for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, Hostos offers 27 associate degree programs and two certificate programs that facilitate easy transfer to The City University of New York’s (CUNY) four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions. The College has an award-winning Division of Continuing Education & Workforce Development that offers professional development courses and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. Hostos is part of CUNY, the nation’s leading urban public university, which serves more than 500,000 students at 24 colleges.