After a semester in New York, CITYterm alums span the globe to discover new passions and engage with unique communities. Each month, we’ll highlight one of those alumni here and share the story of a student’s experience after CITYterm. Do you know an alumnus who would be great for such a spotlight? Please email Manyata Berbick to let us know.
Cathy Marques, S'05
CITYterm - Fall 2005
Concord Academy - 2007
Davidson College - 2011
M. Ed Candidate in Higher Education Administration, Vanderbilt University- May 2018
I remember friends telling me that I spoke about CITYterm too much. There was a running joke at my high school that students who went to CITYterm came back and all they could talk about was how CITYterm changed their life. I fell right into that narrative, but the reality is that it did change me. CITYterm taught me to always question the status quo. It ingrained in me the importance of agency and using our power to effect change. It challenged me to embrace moments of discomfort as learning opportunities, to never be afraid to dig deeper or ask someone to tell you their story. But it also taught me some more practical things including how to negotiate with someone who stole your phone from the Hungarian Bakery at Columbia, how to read a map before maps became nearly extinct, and how to find the best Greek food in all of New York.
Right now I spend most of my days thinking about college access and how to make higher education more inclusive for all students. Whether that is going to class and engaging in conversations about persistence and retention or advising student groups at Vanderbilt, I am fully invested in the notion that we still have a lot to do to promote access, equity, and completion of higher education. Outside of work and school, I am also planning a month-long trip to South America this summer as a way to delay looking for a job even further. I plan on going to Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Perú, Ecuador, and Bolivia so please reach out if you have any recommendations!
As for my future, I hope to continue to work on increasing the number of underrepresented students who enroll and graduate from college. Whether that will be through work in the policy sphere or working with students directly in an institutional setting, I am not sure but I know I want to focus on creating a more inclusive higher education sector. Part of the driving force behind this goal is tied to my own struggles as a first-gen student in college, but another important piece is related to a critical CITYterm philosophy that we can only be our best selves when others around us are fulfilling their truest potential. But until then, I will be in Nashville people-watching at my local coffee shop, so please reach out if you are in town!