Cesarino Checo really enjoys helping others, and her experience at Guttman helped her make that realization. She is a second-year Liberal Arts & Sciences – Social Sciences and Humanities track student, and a Student Government Association Senator. Cesarina humbly admits that she holds a 3.9 GPA. During her first year at Guttman, she made her college experience all about academics, but a service-learning requirement in a philosophy class taught by Professor Claire King changed her perspective and made her see that being involved in other ways can affect positive change on a larger scale.
This class required students to complete a service-learning component. Cesarina volunteered at Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service, helping kids with homework in an after-school program. She also volunteered at the Pantry Prep at Masbia of Flatbush, distributing food to the elderly, which she continued doing after the class ended. These experiences were a “turning point” for Cesarina. “It was realizing that I can do more than just homework, and I really enjoyed coming out of my comfort zone by talking with different people, helping with whatever I could,” she said.
Cesarina wants to be a high school teacher and help “change the system.” “I believe there is a problem with the education system. I want to go in and try to bring my own perspective from what I have learned and what I have experienced. One of my goals is to make students enjoy high school,” she said.
Cesarina came to the United States five years ago from the Dominican Republic, and attended International Community High School in the Bronx. When she arrived in the US, Cesarina was surprised by the vast number of opportunities available to people: “I want to take advantage of that and help people take advantage of the opportunities they are given in this country. I’m starting to see how education can get you to really far places,” she said.
Getting involved with the SGA in her second year is another way Cesarina wants to be helpful. She enjoys attending the many campus events happening at Guttman, and wants to encourage others to use them as a break from the stress of classes. Recently, Cesarina attended an event organized by the Wellness office that focused on mental health that she found really helpful: “It’s really cool that I can get this knowledge and help my whole family and classmates.”
Her professors describe Cesarina as responsible, and a hard worker. That’s what she wants people to know about her. “It’s not only about being smart or knowing more than other people – it’s mostly about working hard,” she said, and she’s true to her word. In addition to all her responsibilities at Guttman, Cesarina holds a part-time position as a Counselor’s Assistant at her old high school. Aside from her successes in college, she considers this job a dream come true. She guides 12th graders through the college application process, and finds the job really rewarding.
The threefold advice Cesarina gives incoming Guttman students: don’t be afraid to look for help on campus, take advantage of all the resources available, and to “get out of your comfort zone.” She values Guttman’s block schedules as a great tool to keep students on track, with a structure that encourages people to attend events during Common Hour. Cesarina is very appreciative of all the support from the staff at Guttman. When she graduates, she plans to attend a four-year college and achieve her goal of becoming a teacher.