R.N. Grad Is Proud — And Loyal

Ameena Hakim sent her alma mater a donation out of her first paycheck.
Sometimes big philanthropy comes in small packages. Take the gift of Ameena Hakim, who became a registered nurse in August and, out of her first paycheck of somewhat more than $200, sent a donation to Queensborough Community College. "I'm here because of Queensborough," she says. "The professors were wonderful. They encouraged me to do everything."

In some ways, Hakim is a classic CUNY student -- she emigrated from Guyana at 15, married at 18, earned a GED, started at Queensborough after her first child began pre-kindergarten and then had two other children while continuing her studies. In 2005, she took an exam in the morning, was taken to the hospital by her husband, gave birth -- and was back in class the next week.

With the college's help she found her first, temporary, job giving flu shots as the H1N1 virus spread through the city. Then an agency alerted her to an opening at United Cerebral Palsy of New York City. She became the residential program nurse for people with physical and/or developmental disabilities at two of its group homes.

"It's a lot of responsibility," she says,. But three months into the job, she seemed to be doing well.

One day last winter, she got a call at home. Unexpectedly, auditors had stopped by. "I ran out in my pajamas, but our work was flawless. We didn't receive any citations. My supervisor said, 'Do you have any friends who work like you?' Well I do -- from Queensborough."

College President Eduardo J. Marti got to know Hakim when she was president of the student nurses' association. "There's a mantra at the college that fundraising is not about the money. It's about how you make Queensborough a priority," he says. "Our nursing program has a national reputation and is very well respected. This lady clearly demonstrates that Queensborough is a priority for her."