Campus News Stories
The Flexible Option to Achieving Success: Meet FLEX Graduate Rachel Cyren
A 4.0 honor student, Rachel Cyren came to Kingsborough Community College to flex her intellectual muscles and fulfill her dream of earning a college degree. And flex she has. As a Leon M. Goldstein High School student from 2004-2008, Rachel had hoped to attend college, but couldn’t afford the cost. “My parents lived paycheck to paycheck, so they weren't able to offer me the education I desired,” said Rachel. “Witnessing their struggles led me to join the workforce at 18 when the recession hit.
Unfortunately, the pandemic led to her being furloughed, which left her with a lot of free time. Recognizing the need to find a way to secure her future, she utilized KCC FLEX to the fullest. The program allows adults to earn or complete their degrees by creating schedules that meet their needs, using a combination of online and on-campus classes, including evenings and weekends. Through KCC FLEX, Rachel achieved her dream and much more. “I had always aspired to continue my education, but there never seemed to be the right time. The FLEX program afforded me the opportunity to get my education at my own pace, without fear of dropping out due to time constraints,” she said. “Due to the flexibility of the classes offered, I was able to work and go to school. I could take my classes asynchronously and finish them any time and any day of the week.”
“Being able to take my education on-the-go has been life-changing,” she said. “Continuing my education in my 30s initially presented a challenge. I wasn’t sure if I would fit in or if I had been out of school for too long. I had impostor fears and worried if I could keep up or if I was taking on too much with work and school.”
Rachel’s instructors eased her fears and made her time at Kingsborough rewarding by allowing her to explore her career options. “I had the wonderful opportunity of working with Professor Sokolova on a children’s book, through illustration and design classes, and with Professor Katz on writing and poetry.” Both professors enabled her to focus on her creative abilities and hone her skills. “I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to work with these professors and all the other amazing professors who helped me along on my journey. I now have an art portfolio I can use to acquire work, a completed book, art published in the school magazine, and I know how to apply them to get my writing and artwork considered for publication,” said Rachel. “I dreamed of having these things but didn't know how to make them possible.” She acknowledges that having these opportunities also helped her gain a solid foundation for dedication and time management.
Rachel is graduating with a perfect 4.0 GPA and a degree in liberal arts, with a concentration in women’s and gender studies. “I chose this degree because I plan to enter counseling, human resources, and/or social work,” she said. “I felt it was essential to understand the nuance of gender and intersectional feminism to meet the needs of the communities I am trying to help.”
Rachel’s passion project, a children’s book about mental health, is meant to help with complex trauma and dissociation. “I was diagnosed with PTSD when I was nine years old. I also have a diagnosed dissociative disorder. I thought of how isolated and misunderstood I felt when I was a kid. There weren’t books like this I could turn to for comfort. I hope to publish my book and help kids who struggle with dissociation and trauma understand themselves and their feelings so they don’t feel ‘othered’.”
A member of the art club, Girls Who Code, and Phi Theta Kappa, Rachel learned how to better socialize, make friends, and in unique ways, explore her interests, such as hobbies, art, creative writing, and coding. “Attending Kingsborough allowed me to secure my future. I’ve made many friends and connections that I didn’t anticipate by doing online courses. Being in clubs has allowed me to feel a part of something bigger than myself.”
She shares that her greatest fear has been not getting to the finish line. “I have been afraid of life getting in the way of completing my degree,” she said. “I promised my grandmother a long time ago that I would get my degree and graduate. Walking across that stage and getting my diploma will be my greatest accomplishment.”
After graduation, Rachel will attend Baruch. “Baruch has an excellent psychology program, and I can also explore my interest in computer science while attending; I have been considering dual majoring!” she shared. “I also chose Baruch because it has great graduate programs.”
Congratulations to Rachel on her monumental success.