Graduating senior Aamina Bibi has been named Valedictorian of the York College Class of 2020. She is the first Business Department student to do so in more than 10 years.
A proud Cardinal, Bibi has been reflecting on her journey and all who supported her growth from a shy incoming student to the self-assured, accomplished young woman she is today.
As expected, her family’s support has been instrumental to her success. The Bibi family who are originally from Pakistan, had a staggered immigration experience. Her father arrived in the United States in the early 1990s, her mother in the early 2000s and in 2006 their children joined them in Richmond Hill, Queens.
“All my parents wanted in return was for me to work hard in school and not take education lightly,” said Bibi. “They worked long hours and made sacrifices to support their five children.”
The “baby of the family,” Bibi visited York during her sister’s time as a student and liked the atmosphere, including the diversity of the student population and the vast number of flags representing students’ homelands. She began her studies at York as a Merit Scholar in 2016, choosing to major in Business Administration with a Human Resources concentration.
“She was so shy, you would only get ‘yes and no’ answers only from her, said Julissa Contreras-Martinez, who manages the Scholarship Center. “But she was so graceful. By 2018, she was able to speak at the Merit Scholarship event [fundraiser]. “I am so proud of her.”
From admission to commencement, faculty and staff members at York have played an important role in her academic career.
“Each professor was willing to assist, and I believe that I would not have succeeded without them,” Bibi acknowledged.
She recognizes Business and Economics professors such as Drs. Phoebe Massimino and Olajide Oladipo for encouraging her to work hard and take advantage of the many opportunities to learn and grow at York. In fact, Bibi recalls that it was Dr. Oladipo, who early on predicted she would become ‘valedictorian from the department.’
Though unable to pursue study abroad due to cultural and religious reasons, she engaged in campus life as a member of the Human Resources Club, served as a volunteer tax preparer with the college’s VITA program and helped ESL students and Learning Center students pursuing the GED.
“I was able to see firsthand how hard students are working here at York College to make a better life for themselves,” she has said.
With the end of the spring semester fast approaching and commencement postponed due to COVID-19, Bibi still recognizes the importance of this moment. “Working hard, keeping my grades up, studying quietly in the Library for hours, attending meetings for clubs and the Scholarship Center was all worth it,” she said.
Bibi repeatedly mentions her parents in her narrative. “My mother received limited education due to cultural views, not religious views, and she knew how difficult it is to raise five kids with limited education,” she said. “Although she could not understand everything, she tried her best to help my siblings and me in our education. Her prayers were and still are always with me. My father worked two jobs and always made time to pick me up from school at nights.”