Natasha Devi Apanah
Academic Advisor, Borough of Manhattan Community College ASAP
When did you join ASAP?
July 10, 2007
What does your job entail on a daily basis?
I work with students on a daily basis and we discuss a variety of topics including their academic progress, future career goals and/or personal obstacles that may prevent a student from successfully completing their classes. We also formulate strategies to continue successful behaviors and habits. Everyday is different; however, one thing that remains consistent is I am always available to assist anyone that walks into our office. My well-known phrases amongst staff and students are “Greetings" and "Have a splendid day!”
What has been the most rewarding thing about working at ASAP?
I think the most rewarding thing for me is when I meet with a student that looks confused or frustrated and they just need to have someone listen--and before you know it the student may have solved their own problem. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that a student needs me to be a listening ear and just bounce ideas off me. Part of the development process of advisement is to reassure the student that whatever the decision they make, I want them to be comfortable with it and know I will support and guide them.
What, in your opinion, makes ASAP unique?
In my opinion ASAP is unique because you establish a personal bond with the students and also create a relationship with the faculty and the staff to help our students become successful in college. My fellow BMCC ASAP colleagues truly define the word family--because we really look out for each other. We all pitch in wherever we're needed and at the end of the day we can share a good cry or laugh, knowing that our main goal is to assist our students.
Why do you think ASAP is important?
ASAP is important because it assists students who may have financial burdens and gives them the opportunity to obtain an education. It also is used as a pathway to make the transition from high school to college easier. Most importantly, it enables the students to create a sense of community amongst their own peers as well as within the ASAP staff.
How has working at ASAP impacted you?
Working at ASAP has really opened my eyes to see that students at a young age face a lot of obstacles/challenges in their everyday lives. It was also a reality check for me to see that some students at a young age are the head of their household. It was something I'd never seen previously while working in Florida. When I was younger, the only responsibility I had was to go to school and complete my education; work was optional. My dad was the one who took care of all the bills and my mom stayed home and took care of the house, myself, and my brother. I noticed the students we have in ASAP have more responsibilities than I had at their age. I knew when I started working here in 2007, I wanted to go back to school to complete a second master's in counseling. It took some research on my part, because I wanted to make sure whatever the degree I was going to pursue would be applicable to my daily advising with my students.
So, after many months of observing the needs our students and seeking advice from my director Mrs. Lesley Leppert, I decided to pursue the Mental Health Counseling Degree at Long Island University. I thought this would be a great opportunity to assist students to find resources that will promote their wellbeing and mental health, as well as to help balance their classes around their busy and sometimes difficult lives. It’s all about coping techniques and allowing students to experience the ups and down of life but understanding in the end they will survive and will become stronger individuals.
What is one of the most memorable moments you’ve had while working at ASAP?
Two of the most memorable moments I have had working at ASAP are watching my students graduate and having the director of our program also attend my master's graduation with my family.
My fellow ASAP colleagues, as well as most of my students, knew I was back in school and it motivated me to complete my degree. It was nice to be able to relate to my students--when they would say to me they were exhausted because they were up all night cramming for a test, while I was doing the same, typing a thirty five page research paper.
It's all about seeing the hard work the student has accomplished and the proud smiles of their families. I also enjoy when our graduates come back to keep me updated on how they are doing, and let me know how much my advice and caring meant to them over the years.