Diandra Brown, Class of 2020
B.A. in Business Administration; Minor in Health Services Administration
Diandra is graduating this summer with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration Finance & Marketing and a minor in Health Services Administration. We spoke with Diandra about her journey at Lehman, her experience with the Adult Degree Program, and the impact, personally and professionally, of earning her degree.
ADP: What motivated you to apply for Lehman’s Adult Degree Program?
DB: I migrated from Jamaica in 2013, but I left my two-year-old son back home. I began classes at Bronx Community College that same year; however, it became too much to handle. When I got my son in 2015, I had a renewed focus on continuing college, but I did what so many of us do...I said I would begin “next semester.” When I finally began to consider programs in early 2017, I first considered Hostos College. But Lehman’s Adult Degree Program caught my eye. I figured they would understand my situation and be a resource for me as an adult learner.
ADP: Who or what aspect of Lehman has inspired you or helped make your journey a success?
DB: I have met so many people that have inspired me, from students and advisors to professors, but one that stands out the most is Professor Ray Grizzel. I took his IBA parenting class in 2018. That class helped chip away at the insecurity I felt. It helped me to be a better person and a better mom, plus it helped [develop my] writing skills.
ADP: How has your life changed as a result of your college journey?
DB: I am the eldest of four siblings. My experience has inspired my siblings to go to college. I am also able to advise my sister in high school about the college process.
ADP: What advice would you give to prospective students or students just starting out classes?
DB: Go for it!! It seems impossible but once you start, you realize you have the support you need and you are not alone. I initially failed Lehman’s entrance exam* and had to complete twenty hours of tutoring before retaking it. I remember thinking if I can't past an entrance exam, how am I going manage in school? But I didn’t let that bump in the road stop me. I think it’s important to include this because sometimes there will be failure or difficulties but it's how we respond that will determine our final outcome.
*Lehman no longer requires entrance exams for admittance.
ADP: What achievement or contribution are you most proud of?
DB: My 3.9 GPA! That is proof to me that hard work and dedication produces results! I’m also proud of my participation in a leadership program (Intro to Leadership). It was a great opportunity to learn leadership skills, share ideas, and attend a leadership retreat with [interim Lehman College president Daniel Lemons] and his cabinet. I was able to address issues that are not often addressed because part-time students and adult learners are not always represented. I was able to advocate for issues like more evening classes and other concerns that adult learners face.
ADP: What is the biggest challenge you faced as an adult learner?
DB: I am a single mom. My son is 9 years old and I work full-time. He’s been a blessing, although it was challenging to manage my work and school schedule while being present for him. When I started [college], I was fearful that less time [at home] would affect him negatively but it has actually inspired him. He has been on the honor roll every semester since I started college. It’s amazing what we [as adult learners] are able to accomplish!
ADP: What do you think other people should know about ADP and Lehman?
DB: Believe in yourself. It is challenging and sometimes it feels overwhelming. But you can get through it.
ADP: Did you take the Prior Learning class? Tell me about this class and the process.
DB: Yes, I did. It is challenging to consider your professional experiences and articulate your accomplishments. When I finished [my portfolio], I was shocked. I thought, “Who’s story is this?!” It was also satisfying to look over my portfolio and say, “I wrote this!” This class also helps prepare you for the working world. Creating a portfolio [of your professional accomplishments] builds confidence and communication skills so you can better advocate for yourself in your workplace or when applying for a new job. Also, Pam [Hinden, Director of the Adult Degree Program] was great.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.