Leah Algeria


I would like to start out by thanking Meri Marone for giving me this opportunity to speak to all of you tonight. I am honored to be a part of Hunter Business School. When I started at Hunter I did not really know where my life was heading. I had hit a lot of unforeseen obstacles. Because of these obstacles, I wound up getting help from the Department of Social Services.

The opportunity to go to Hunter came to me through the system. I openly accepted, knowing that it would help me change my life, but I was scared, excited, nervous, and worried all at the same time. It was a huge step for me but turned out to be the best thing I could have done. Through my 12 weeks I met some amazing people. Diane Trentadue was my teacher for the Medical Billing Specialist program. Diane, thank you for teaching us all we needed to know and for being honest, funny, and real. You made class enjoyable and academic. I speak on behalf of the whole class when I say thank you for being you and for working such long days with us. I want also to give a quick thank you to Jenny who was student teaching with Diane. Jenny you gave us all some really great advice, and we appreciate that.

I would like to thank Meri Marone for fighting for me to get a job. Meri sent my résumé all over. She worked endlessly with me knowing my situation and that I needed a job ASAP.

But, most of all, I want to thank all of my classmates for making my time at Hunter not only enjoyable, but memorable. I can honestly say we had a room full of kind, warm-helping hearts. We were friends in and out of class. Hunter Business School not only gave me the opportunity to grow as an individual to better my life for my kids but also gave me friends for life. It was an experience I will never forget.

Present day my boys are able to get up and go to morning care so I can go to work. They got to see what building yourself up looks like. They can be proud of the life they have, and they are able to see that hard work and dedication pay off. And maybe, just maybe, Mommy actually knows what she’s talking about. They both helped me study for my tests and now they get to see me speaking to all of you. That is the best thing Hunter Business School has given me.

Finally I would like to leave you with this thought. Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try. The harder you work for something, the greater you’ll feel when you achieve it.

Stephen Hawking said, “So remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.

It matters that you don't just give up.

Bari Crook


I always say everything happens for a reason. When I was younger, I always dreamed of being a nurse.

As I was growing up, I had a lot of bad experiences with teachers which turned me off from school completely. I never enjoyed going to school or doing the work that went with it. I lost that spark. When I was in middle school, I heard about BOCES [Boards of Cooperative Educational Services] and how they had a nursing program. I was so excited and determined to do something that I would be interested in, I brought the idea up to my guidance counselor. He told me that I didn’t have the grades to be considered for the nursing program. I basically felt like a failure and sunk deeper. I graduated high school and became a licensed cosmetologist.

Years later I got married and had three kids. My relationship came to a point where it was completely unsafe for my children and me to be in. As I was doing research for my future and planning our escape, I came across Hunter Business School’s LPN program in a Google search. I was so determined to change my life and my children’s lives that I took my three young kids and drove across the country to come home and start fresh.

At 30 years old, I was teaching myself math of all dimensions, English, and science to take the entrance exam for the LPN program. Well, guess what? I scored a proficient level and got into the program! Who said an old dog can’t learn new tricks. I never felt so liberated.

Besides this school saving our lives, Hunter Business’ LPN program gave me the knowledge, the experience, and skills to be a competent nurse. And I was even taught how to be a professional.

I will never forget when Mr. Jody told us that after going for an interview, send the company a thank you note. To be honest, I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard. I then brought it up to my sister’s husband, and he said welcome to the world of business. He sends and receives thank yous all the time. Without Hunter’s career advice, I would have never known any proper professional business cues that are so impressionable in the business world. So, thank you for guiding us in the right professional direction. It is truly an asset.

We also always looked forward to Good News Mondays from Gary. We had him read the magic numbers of recent hires and salaries and always had to make sure his tie matched his socks. So every Monday, hearing those magic numbers gave us a lot of hope for when it would be our time for a job, especially me as a single mom of three. Well, we can now be part of those statistics.

This school truly cares about their students and our futures. Moving forward to the heart of the LPN course: LPN classes are not easy by any means, and it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and determination. I know I have learned and grown so much, and the only people I can thank for that are our instructors. Ms. Deb, Ms. Barbara, Ms. Grace, Ms. Donna, Ms. Kim, and Ms. Nicole are truly inspirational women. They put their hearts and souls into each and every one of us while shaping us to be the nurses we deserve to be. Without their knowledge, their experience, and their faith, I would not be standing here today as an officially licensed practical nurse. These women restored my broken past. They are my reason, and I will forever cherish them and their words of wisdom.

Lastly, I want to congratulate everyone who is graduating tonight. We all worked hard to be here no matter what program you are graduating from. Your hard work has paid off, and I wish you all a lifetime of success and happiness.

To my own class, 1510, this will truly be a memorable time in my life. Even though we are a dysfunctional family, we always had each other’s best interest at heart.
We never forgot a birthday…and gained a baby. I will always cherish the memories we have made and will be looking forward to seeing and hearing about everyone’s accomplishments. Between all the blood, sweat, and tears, we did it! Congratulations everyone!