NYPIRG on Campus

Student Leadership in Action

fall conference
Students from across the state gather for a NYPIRG Student Empowerment Conference.

NYPIRG Student Profile

Deja Johnson, BMCC

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I’m currently a student at BMCC, where my graduation has been delayed due to the same issues that face thousands of students and people in New York City. When I first started getting involved with NYPIRG, I was an intern for the Consumer Protection campaign; now, I volunteer for all of the campaigns. I’m most concerned about higher education affordability and housing and food security.

I’ve noticed that since the pandemic started, it’s harder for students in need to have reliable access to the equipment and technology required for learning in a virtual environment. Even with financial aid, students struggle with balancing the additional costs of getting an education-- like buying books, computers, and transportation. Funding for higher education shouldn’t be controversial, it should be understood as a means of protecting and assisting people often left behind. Working on the Hunger and Homelessness campaign, I gained experience speaking to others, working with a team, and built great memories collecting goods for local shelters. Lots of students, myself included have to think about how to survive in such uncertain times. How can I prepare for the short-term? How can I maintain a survivable housing situation during the pandemic?

Even though I work while attending school, the costs are still too much to balance. That’s why I got involved with NYPIRG in the first place. I wanted to give myself, and others like me, a voice and provide direct assistance to those in need. No matter how bad things seem to be, always remember “keep on keeping on, things will get better.” In the future, I hope I can write short stories for NYPIRG and I hope to one day own my own business.

NYPIRG's Higher Education Storybank

A college degree is a near-requisite for competing in today's job market. Yet, over the past 11 years, funding for higher education has flatlined, tuition has skyrocketed, and financial aid and opportunity programs which serve New York’s most at-risk students remain under-resourced year after year. Mounting costs are not reserved to tuition: Textbooks, transportation, housing, childcare, and food expenses can also be significant barriers to a college degree.

This is the reality New York college students face. Students are stepping up across the state to tell their stories through NYPIRG’s Higher Education Storybank project.

Click here to visit the storybank where you can read student stories. You can also filter the bank by school, students' NY Assembly or Senate districts, or by tagged keywords. Please share widely.

If you would like to speak with any of the students who participated in the project, please contact the corresponding NYPIRG chapter or email NYPIRG Program Director Megan Ahearn, mahearn@nypirg.org.