"What has surprised me the most about CNR is how friendly everyone is and how easy it is to make progress."

Susanne P. Lebrija
School of New Resources
New Rochelle Campus
The College of New Rochelle

Where are you from?

I was born in New Jersey. When I was eight my father accepted a job in Mexico City, with the Rockefeller Foundation, and I lived there until two years ago. Two years ago I moved back to the United States and settled in Connecticut, where I live now.

Tell us something about your family?

I have five grown sons - all professional men. Two still live in Mexico, one in Dallas, one in New York City and another in Connecticut, about three blocks from me. Three of them are married and I am blessed with wonderful daughters-in-law. I have five grandchildren – two boys and three girls - aged 3 to 9, who are the light of my life! My children and grandchildren have grown up in a bi-cultural family and all know and love their varied ancestry: Spanish, Argentine, German and Mexican on my husband’s side and Italian, English and Irish on mine. All are bilingual and travel frequently.

I am also very close to my father, who at almost 82 is strong, healthy and wise. My mother passed away eight years ago and I still miss her dearly. I have three brothers. One lives with my father. Another one and his family live nearby. My  youngest brother lives in Houston with his family. We are a close family and enjoy being together.

Why did you decide to go to college?

Perhaps the one thing in life I regretted most was not finishing college. I was married young, had five sons in rapid succession and spent the next thirty-some years raising my family. Although I was a stay-at-home Mom I constantly took courses and attended seminars, and worked as a volunteer at a clinic for the needy. When I moved back to the United States I decided to fulfill a lifelong dream and … finally … “get my degree.”

Why did you decide then to attend The College of New Rochelle?

I attended and graduated from an Ursuline school in Mexico. Over the years I remained close to several of the nuns who had been my teachers and mentors. As fate would have it, two of them now live in New Rochelle. Sister Michelle Guerin, O.S.U., who I have known since I was in grade school, talked to me about SNR, a program I had never heard about – for adults who wanted to “go back to school.” She patiently encouraged me, actually set up the first appointment and went with me to SNR for a visit. Everyone was so nice and they made it easy for me to enroll. I felt welcomed from the beginning. They encouraged me to take advantage of the Prior Learning Portfolio course in order to get credit for “life experience.” They also told me they could accept my college credits (from almost 40 years ago!). It was a head-start I never expected, and needless to say I was hooked! Although 30 miles from my home, I gladly make the trip to New Rochelle two or three times a week. SNR is helping me fulfill a lifetime dream!

What is the most challenging part about being a student today?

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of being an adult learner is getting back into “school mode.” Instead of reading for pleasure, I now concentrate on L.A.P.s, research papers and homework. (At my age?) My free time is limited but I must admit I am doing something I truly enjoy. It is different from what most women my age do, but it is fun! And the best part - my family is proud and supportive of my new endeavor. 

When do you attend classes?

I have attended classes two or three nights a week for the past three semesters. This semester I also enrolled in my community college to take a certification course to teach English as a Second Language. It means stretching my time thin, but since I am fully bilingual (English-Spanish) and I still work with many foreign speakers, it is an area I would like to pursue in the future.

Do you have any favorite teachers at CNR?

Definitely! Although all SNR teachers I have encountered have been excellent, two stand out as special. Judith Balfe, who teaches the seminar “Experience, Learning and Identity,” is absolutely the perfect teacher for an Intro course. She is affable and welcoming, and her course is interesting and stimulating. She skillfully “eases” students back into the learning experience and re-wakens their minds to new and exciting ways of critical thinking and writing. I highly recommend her “Core” course as the first one EVERY entry-level SNR student takes. Another extraordinary teacher is Dr. Michael Popp. My area of interest is Sociology, and Dr. Popp, a sociologist, has not only been my teacher, but also my mentor for two independent studies. I thoroughly enjoyed his “Urban Community” class and appreciated his guidance for my other courses. His own life experience and extensive sociological knowledge make his classes dynamic and interesting. HINT: Both teachers’ classes fill early. Their reputation on campus is no secret!

What has surprised you the most about CNR?

What has surprised me the most about CNR is how friendly everyone is and how easy it is to make progress.

When do you expect to graduate?

May 2005!

To find out if  CNR is the right choice for you, please contact:

School of New Resources
Office of the Dean
The College of New Rochelle
29 Castle Place
New Rochelle, NY 10805
email: snr@cnr.edu

O F F I C E  O F  C O M M U N I C A T I O N S
29 Castle Place, New Rochelle, NY 10805

© 2004  The College of New Rochelle