By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
With help from DC 37, Staten Island school cook Patrick Marino graduated with honors from CUNY’s LaGuardia Community College in May.
He earned an associate’s degree in Nutrition and Culinary Management, a program designed for Local 372 members working in food services.
“I attended college when I was younger but I hated it, so I went to culinary school,” said Marino, 35. “I saw a CUNY ad in the PEP. I always wanted to get a degree.”
With help from a CUNY advisor and the union’s Education Fund, Marino was accepted into LaGuardia.
“This time was different. I was motivated. I have a wife and a baby. I work full time and I’ve been an essential worker from day one of the pandemic,” Marino said. “I took courses online after work. Sometimes I had two classes a night. I did two years of study in one year to get my degree.”
Marino, who overcame testing anxiety, carried the maximum 18 credits a semester. He recorded the lectures, studied hard, and maintained a 4.0 GPA.
“Patrick was an outstanding student and he is extremely motivated,” said the Ed Fund’s Patty Punch. “For most students, the AAS degree takes about three or four years to complete since it is not possible for most working adults to attend college full time. Although the degree does not guarantee a promotion, only an interview, Patrick was able to successfully secure a promotion.
In September, the Department of Education promoted Marino to assistant manager with additional job training and a $20,000 annual salary hike.
“My union was so supportive and made sure I passed every class,” Marino said. “The best advice I would give is to just get started. Just do it! Having a union has made a big difference in my career and my life!”
“This program is an opportunity to invest in our members’ futures,” said Shaun D. Francois I, president of both Local 372 and DC 37. “We congratulate Patrick on his academic accomplishments and his dedication as an essential worker, feeding his P.S. 32 community on Staten Island during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Free College for Local 372 School Lunch Workers
DC 37 partners with the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies (SLU) to help more union members attend college. DC 37 covers the full $12,600 tuition cost for the Food Service Management degree offered at LaGuardia Community College. Local 372 members who work in School Food and have a high school diploma or an equivalency diploma are eligible and must apply through the Education Fund, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Members pay the application fee, books and supplies. Financial aid and tuition reimbursement are available. For pre-college advisement, contact a CUNY Days counselor at cunydays.eventbrite.com.