Kiara Zambrano is an undergraduate student majoring in Social Work at Nyack College in New York City. She grew up in a small Vermont town where almost everyone looked, thought, and talked alike. The diversity of Nyack College and New York City was a sharp contrast to the homogenous, rural town she grew up in and made for a challenging adjustment, but it’s also something she’s come to greatly appreciate about her undergraduate experience. She loves and values the diversity of the Nyack College community. In her words, “because of all of the different walks of life that come in and out of this campus, you get to learn and be exposed to the different ways in which we can love our neighbor and what that really means. Not just loving our neighbor because they look like us or because they believe the things that we believe.” In addition to diversity, Kiara values the community, support, and high academic standard that she has found at Nyack College.
How did Kiara end up at Nyack College? She was looking for adventure. She had also recently become saved. In considering colleges, she wanted to find a community that would support her along her journey and encourage her to continue seeking Christ. When her search brought her to Nyack College, in addition to its Christian foundation, she was also impressed by its diversity, “not just ethnicity or different denominations, but ages and walks of life.” She wanted to be part of a school that included transfer students, older students, international students, and students with very different backgrounds—a school that truly reflects the Kingdom of God in each and every classroom.
Kiara left her support network of family and friends back in Vermont when she moved to New York City to attend Nyack College. The move was new and exciting, but it was also nerve-wracking. There was a lot to learn and adjust to. Fortunately, she found a different kind of family in the halls Nyack College. In sharing about her experience, she said, “what I value most about Nyack College is that you can be from anywhere, and you’re still valued as one of the family. Community is definitely a huge aspect of what I love about Nyack—not just the reflection of Christ in our morals or in our teachings, but in practice. Having community with one another is key, and that’s just what you see here.”
As a student, Kiara has also worked for Admissions, the Registrar’s Office, and Student Financial Services (SFS) at Nyack College. Through these jobs she found an additional network of support. When she was going through a really difficult semester, both Nyack College faculty and staff supported her. They offered her compassion, honesty, and understanding, and they helped her find the best way forward.
Kiara has also gained a lot from her fellow students at Nyack College. They have modeled integrity and how to incorporate faith into it. Acknowledging God’s presence in every facet of the academic experience is a natural part of the Nyack College experience. So when Kiara is doing work for a class, she remembers that she is not just doing it for herself, but for Christ. That mindset affects the manner in which she approaches everything she does. It raises her standards and keeps her motivated to do her best, even when she feels overwhelmed or inadequate.
Now that she’s halfway through her undergraduate experience at Nyack College, Kiara is already beginning to think about her future and what she may do professionally. Just as she is certain that God led her to Nyack College, she is also confident that God is using her time at Nyack College to guide her towards and prepare her for a career. She entered Nyack College as a Liberal Arts major, but her time in the classroom and conversations with other students and professors contributed to her becoming a Social Work major. As part of the college’s Students Against Hunger club, she’s gained an interest in working with the homeless. Other experiences have inspired her towards working with the elderly. She hasn’t settled on exactly what she wants to do yet, but having the opportunity to talk to professors and alumni and hear about their experiences working in some of the fields that she’s interested in has been invaluable. Their insights and advice represent another level of support she’s gained at Nyack College—another facet to her education that is preparing her for whatever God has in store for her future.