Chapel, Community and Acceptance at Nyack College

Cristmarian Aleys is studying social work as an undergraduate at Nyack College in New York City. She spoke to us about being a transfer student and the acceptance and friendships she has found at Nyack College.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Brooklyn.

How did you decide to come to Nyack College?

I’m a transfer student. I came to Nyack through my sister. She’s in the music department. I had heard of Nyack College before she decided to come to Nyack, but I thought that the only campus that was available was the Rockland campus. I really wasn’t too fond of sleeping and being away from my mom, family, and friends, so I just went to LaGuardia Community College. I was at LaGuardia for about two years.

I thought that I had to wait until I graduated with my associate degree and then come over here. You don’t have to wait to finish your associate degree. You can just transfer your credits. So I started the process. I was nervous. I was scared. I was hesitant. I felt like this school was too good to be true.

Then I came to Open House. They were not preaching, but they were singing and worshiping God. I wasn’t expecting that. I found it cool. Then I took a sample class for Admitted Students’ Day just to see, and I really loved it. Ever since then I have loved this school.

What do you love most about Nyack College?

I love the community. I love the difference. I wasn’t trying to hide God, but there were not a lot of people for me to share my love for God with or my thoughts about the Bible when I was going to LaGuardia. It wasn’t the same thing coming here. Just the other day we were having a discussion about the Bible, and I thought it was so cool that I could do that here in this school. And it’s not that I couldn’t do that over there [at LaGuardia]. I just didn’t have anyone to do it with. So it’s really cool that I can do that here at Nyack College, and that I’m in a community and I’m in an environment where everybody loves God—everybody worships God. I’m not saying that we have the same love or that it’s on the same level, but we all have that same—that one person in common…God.

And then having people that care for you, like my admissions counsellor Emicia. I love Emicia. I’m not saying that Emicia is holding my hand, but she’s helping me learn things so that I can do them on my own and so that I won’t have to be dependent on her. No shade to my counselor in my other school, but she wasn’t that type of person. She was just like, “Oh, you have to do this on your own. I’m not going to do this for you. I’m not going to teach you how to do this. I had to learn this. You’ve got to learn this.” But the care Emicia had for me— being active, always checking up on me, making sure that I’m good, that’s something I didn’t get over there [at LaGuardia].

It’s just such a difference—people praying for you randomly. Having people that you can pray for yourself randomly [when they’re] not having a good day. It’s a safe environment. It’s the interactions with people. We’re still getting to know each other, and it’s a community. I really like it. I really love it.

Perhaps you mentioned some of these things just now, but what do you most value about Nyack College and being here?

Well, I most value that this is a Christian school and that they’re preparing students to be disciples, to go spread the word of God, and they’re preparing them in the right way. But what I most value, is that this is a Christian school and people can feel safe in this community. They’re really on point with respect—not letting people feel uncomfortable or disrespected. It’s really cool that Nyack College is open to everybody.

God is in this place; they worship God here. Chapel—I love chapel. I love going to chapel, whether it’s after class or before class. Sometimes I run to chapel. I need Chapel. I need to hear the word of God. I need to hear the singing. So [one of the things I value about Nyack College is] that God is here and that they do Chapel. It’s so cool that you can get a little bit of Sunday on a weekday. You don’t have to wait all the way until Sunday to experience worship, to experience the word of God. That’s something that I really, truly love.

I love that you can go after having a test that drains your brain or before class—before you get your brain drained out. You can go there and not be so worn out. It boosts your energy.

Has your time at Nyack College changed you in any way?

To genuinely see things differently and not be so closeminded. Getting more into the word—reading more about the Bible and wanting to learn more about God.

What words come to mind when you think of Nyack College?

Community. Fellowship. Love. There’s a lot of love in this place.

What’s challenging about being a student at Nyack College?

The challenge is the work. That’s something that is challenging to me. I didn’t know it was going to be that much work.

What would you say you’ve gained the most from your fellow students at Nyack College?

Acceptance. I felt like I wasn’t going to be accepted into this school. You know how everywhere you go there’s somebody that already has established a friendship with someone else? They know each other from previous schools that they came in together from or they just met here. They have their group. Everybody has their group of friends. I felt like I wasn’t going to find my group of friends. I just didn’t feel like I was going to make any friends. I came here because I wanted to be closer to God, but I also wanted to find friends that were going to push me closer to God. Godly relationships were what I was really wanting here. And as I go, God is developing friendships with people—godly relationships with people. And that’s because of the openness [that exists here]. People are accepting.