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Fifty-Ninth Commencement



Meet Members of the Class of 2024

Frances Koren


Class of 2024
Frances Koren

Frances Koren is not your typical college graduate.

She and her twin sister were captivated by the campus feel of Staten Island’s St. John Villa Academy High School and ended up attending, traveling via two buses from their Brooklyn home. While attending the high school, she fell in love with the Sunnyside campus of what was then the Staten Island Community College (now the College of Staten Island). “Even though you didn’t need a college degree at the time, I wanted to attend college because my parents didn’t have that opportunity.”

Frances became the first in her family to attend college, graduating first with an associate degree in liberal arts and then a bachelor’s degree in economics. “When I was doing my bachelor’s degree, I really wanted to teach the primary grades. However, in the mid-1970’s, with the fiscal crisis in NYC, they weren’t issuing teaching licenses,” she recalled. “I wanted to be able to get a job once I graduated, so I switched to economics.” What followed was a successful 29-year career as an operations officer at Fiduciary Trust Company.

When she found herself unemployed, she decided to take a culinary course through Kingsborough Community College’s Continuing Education program. There, she learned about KCC's My Turn program, which allows New York State residents aged 60 and up to take courses for free. She became a My Turner in 2013.

Until 2020, courses taken while in the My Turn program could count towards a college degree. Current enrollees can audit classes but not earn a degree. However, the program "grandfathered" those enrolled at the time, giving them until June 2024 to complete their degree. After her transcript from her previous college was evaluated, Frances learned that she only needed four credits to earn a second degree, so she decided to go for it.

She began taking classes part-time in tourism and hospitality and later switched her major to physical education, pursuing her passion for physical activities. “As I was taking the classes, I realized I could have been a physical education teacher because gym was my favorite class in school.”

In 2016, Frances began working as a college assistant in the advancement office. Her work schedule was able to accommodate her classes and allow her to participate in various campus activities, including walkathons, Spirit Day, and the My Turn Club.

One of the last two My Turn students grandfathered in under the old rules, Frances completed her associate degree in June and is now considering exploring opportunities in therapeutic recreation.

Frances credits professors Joan Paduano and Juan Franquiz for their support and encouragement. Paduano, now deceased, introduced Frances to the CEWD program, which led to her enrollment in the My Turn program. Franquiz's social recreation class helped Frances in her role as a Girl Scout leader. "He is such a great professor. He is always there to support and encourage students," she said. “I figured it would help me run various activities with the girls, so I continued taking recreation classes, which I really enjoyed.”

Despite the challenges of becoming a student again after several decades, Frances graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA and received several awards, including the Physical Education Award, a Gold Student Service Award, and the President's Award for Distinguished Scholarship.

Her advice to new college students is to take advantage of everything the college offers. She hopes others will recognize that Kingsborough Community College has programs for all ages and encourages everyone to pursue their dreams, no matter their stage in life.