Sherisse Irizarry is an inspiration. She’s a first generation college graduate who completed her bachelor’s degree at Nyack College in Organizational Management (OM) in 2012. She did so with honors, and she did so while raising her young children. After being outside of education for almost a decade, she still felt a calling. She completed her Masters degree in Social Work (MSW) in 2021. She accomplished this while also working full time and managing a practice at NYU Langone Health. Sherisse traveled by public transportation from Staten Island to Manhattan for classes, and also commuted to the Rockland campus as needed. She put in the work for her calling, and it’s been quite a journey.
First Step: Organizational Management
Sherisse wanted to progress in her career, and choosing Nyack College more than a decade ago for Organizational Management was “the right fit” for her. “I had been working at NYU Langone, and in order to become a manager there you need to have a bachelor’s degree.” She heard great things about Nyack, so she chose the Organizational Management program in the School of Business and Leadership. She was excited about this new chapter, and the diversity of the program really stuck out to her. “My cohort was a variety of mothers, single mothers, and young people. It was a group collaboration, and I love that dynamic.” Still, it was a time of challenge as well. “It was a sacrifice. I worked on my bachelor degree during difficult times. The more I learned, the more I was aware of what I could do. I was being stretched. My kids were little. But thanks to God, I did it. When they told me I graduated with honors, I was so overwhelmed. I was grateful, and I was proud. I couldn’t have done it without my cohort community.”
Answering the Call
A number of years later, Sherisse felt a call into the social work field. “I originally wanted to just get information on the program, but I ended up jumping right into it. I knew the timing was right, and I had peace in my heart. I was worried a little about finances, but anything that needed to be provided for, was provided.” Just like the Organizational Management experience, it was the community that really stood out for Sherisse. “We had a group of genuine, vulnerable students. And we gelled so well, and it spilled over to personal life. I thank God for it.” Sherisse was the oldest one of her cohort and the camaraderie was amazing. “One of the students was the age of my daughter, and they all welcomed me.”
A Change in Perspective
How has Sherisse’s mindset been transformed from her time at Nyack College? “It’s definitely had an impact on me. I’ve grown up in an era of judging. Nyack taught me to rethink that, and execute it differently. Now it’s a mindset of acceptance. Not meaning that you have to agree with everything, but embracing every type of person and doing so with love.”
To hear the full interview with Sherisse, tune into WNYK Warrior Radio on Thursday, May 5 at 2:00 p.m.