Paying it Forward
Priscilla Tokor, the President of BCC’s Student Government Association (SGA), recalls a particular moment from her very first day on campus. “I could not find my class and someone looked at me and said ‘Are you Ghanaian?’ — and started helping me around so I would not struggle.”
In her role as president, Tokor is now paying that act of kindness forward, helping her classmates find their way through life at Bronx Community College, a challenge made even more challenging in the era of the pandemic.
“It’s tough being a first-year student right now. All of a sudden, our lives are virtual. So the SGA needs to be there for them. They should be able to reach out to us.”
President Tokor’s entire term has been virtual. She even campaigned for the office online last spring. “That was a challenge, I am a very social person.” She solved it by impromptu networking — calling and emailing people she knew who in turn contacted others, a method of getting out the word that still works for her as president. She also did a pitch for her candidacy on YouTube.
Now she runs SGA meetings twice a month on Zoom and is pleased with the virtual attendance. As president, “I wish to promote the school – I feel the best form of advertisement is a human being — and to speak my mind on student issues.” Those issues run from college concerns like financial aid to causes common to students everywhere in these turbulent times. “Right now, we are working on a Black Lives Matter presentation to make students aware of what’s happening.” Former SGA presidents will be a part of the project.
That good Samaritan Priscilla met on that first day guessed correctly: she is from Ghana, where she attended a board school for nine years before coming to BCC. She is currently taking the classes necessary to go to nursing school, but her long range objective is a career in law, and perhaps working with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which she greatly admires.
“My whole life has been about perseverance. At every point, I was struggling with something. Right now, I am the SGA president, I have a full-time job and I’m a full-time student. Perseverance is putting a goal in front of you and working hard to achieve it. I have never let anything hinder me in my growth as a person. This year has turned out so differently than we all had planned. Anyone who is doing what they usually do even though there’s a virus is showing perseverance.”