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Congrats North Queens Community High School student Rumena Begum

June 16, 2014 / Independent Youth News

“I feel so accomplished. I made it. It’s a happy feeling,” says Rumena Begum, who will graduate from SCO’s North Queens Community High School upon passing her final two Regents exams. Rumena has earned the right to be happy. Not long ago, graduating seemed nearly impossible: After two years of high school, she had earned a grand total of just two credits. Forty-four are needed to graduate.

At her old school, Rumena started cutting classes to spend time with her friends. Her attendance was poor. At the pace she was going, she risked not graduating. Then she came to North Queens.

North Queens Community High School is a transfer school for students who have fallen behind in credits, run by SCO Family of Services and the NYC Department of Education. A smaller school (200 students) and small class sizes allow for more personalized attention. Each student is paired with an Advocate Counselor (AC) who encourages and motivates them to overcome the social and emotional issues they may be dealing with outside of school and to focus on what is important in school.

When Rumena arrived at North Queens, she really hit it off with her AC, Renatta Francois. Rumena’s parents were born in Bangladesh and were strict about upholding their native customs. Renatta helped Rumena navigate the cultural differences that she was facing at home, and encouraged Rumena  to talk to her parents about the difficulties she was facing as an American-born daughter of parents who had come to this country as adults. Instead of cutting school to avoid meetings with her parents, she started to work through the differences and, gradually, her schoolwork improved. “Renatta is my girl,” Rumena said, “Having someone to open up to really helps. This school creates a sense of intimacy.”

Rumena struggled during her first year at North Queens and, though she was earning a few credits, was usually distracted and often fell back into old habits. All of that changed at the start of her second year when she took – and passed – two Regents exams.

“Passing those Regents exams showed her she had the knowledge. All she needed were the credits,” Renatta explained. “Once she realized her potential, she had the confidence she needed to start attending class on a regular basis and earn credits.”

Rumena took advantage of everything  the school offers like extended time and the ability to make up work that was missed. Her credits started rolling in. “They give you all the help you need,” she said. “There’s no excuse to fail.”

Rumena has earned all 44 credits to graduate and is preparing to retake her final two Regents exams. She looks forward to walking across the stage and accepting her diploma with her proud parents watching. After graduation, she plans to attend Borough of Manhattan Community College, majoring in accounting. She offers this advice to students that find themselves in the same position she was just a few short years ago. “Realize that time is passing. This is a second opportunity for everyone.”


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