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Jamaican Immigrant Cornel Marlon McCalla, Jr. (B.A. '10) Hopes to Help Other Immigrants

June 2, 2010


Cornel Marlon McCalla, Jr.

Cornel Marlon McCalla, Jr. values only one thing more than his education—his family. When he was debating where to go to college, McCalla wanted a school close to his Bronx home. "I did not want to be away from my family for very long periods of time and also away from my beautiful son," he says, noting that the commute to Lehman is only thirty minutes each way.

Born in Jamaica, McCalla chose to study African-American Studies to connect with his heritage. "I never really knew who Africans were and that I have an ancestral relationship with then," says McCalla, who made the Dean's List for the last three years. "When I came to the United States and started studying history, I was amazed and intrigued."

Whenever McCalla had a tough day at home or work, he lost himself in his studies. "As soon as I stepped on the campus and entered a classroom, all my frustrations disappeared," he says. "My Lehman experience has changed and transformed my life as it has made me a more confident, patient, and appreciative person."

Inspired by his experience as an African-American Studies major, he has decided to pursue a career as an immigration lawyer. "Being a Jamaican immigrant myself, I want to help other immigrants, both legal and illegal, get jobs and health insurance and help their children get a good education," he says.

McCalla adds that the most important lesson he learned at Lehman was the value of hard work. "Lehman has prepared me to pursue my future goals," he observes. "Hard work is the key to success. It pays off and if you want to be the best—whether at academics or sports or whatever—training, persistence, hard work, dedication, and patience are the key to achieving your goals."