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A KCC Family Legacy:

Meet Cynthia Olvina ‘08 and her son, Justin Olvina ‘23

Many traditions stand the test of time, and others fade into obscurity. For the Olvinas,  Kingsborough is a family tradition.

Cynthia joined Kingsborough Community College in 2006 as a work-study student, graduated in 2008 with an Associate in Applied Sciences in office administration and technology, then became a college assistant. “The choice to attend Kingsborough was easy, given how accessible it was for me at the time. I lived nearby, so traveling to the campus was simple,” she said. “I also earned my GED at Kingsborough through Continuing Education, so it just made sense to continue my education here.” Shortly after that, Cynthia decided to apply to work at Kingsborough. “I started at KCC as a college assistant and worked in behavioral sciences and human services, a department title that no longer exists.” Today, she is the administrative specialist and interim KCC Online Teaching Essentials (OTE) liaison in the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost.

As a proud alumna and employee of Kingsborough, she’s seen the many changes the College has gone through over the last 15 years. “I know a lot of folks may say this, but Kingsborough honestly is my second home,” said Cynthia. It has also become a second home for her son, Justin Olvina. “My son attended the child care center while I worked on my degree,” she explained. She recalls Justin musing about his memories of traveling the halls and seeing the shark tank at a little more than four years old. Her “KCC baby” will be graduating from Kingsborough next week with a degree in liberal arts.

Justin’s transition from Madison High School, which offered College NOW courses, was a critical part of his decision to attend Kingsborough. College NOW is a free college transition/dual enrollment program for NYC public high school students. It offers college credit courses aligned with first-year study at CUNY, pre-college courses that prepare students to start college without remediation, college awareness courses and activities, full-day summer programs, and access to CUNY campus facilities and events. The program started in the spring of 1984 at Kingsborough Community College with 449 students. In 2000, a partnership was formed between CUNY and NYC DOE to expand to 17 CUNY undergraduate colleges and today, more than 22,000 students from over 470 NYC DOE high schools participate in College Now.

Justin took two College Now courses at Kingsborough while attending Madison, then decided that Kingsborough would be his first college experience. He intends to transfer to CUNY School of Professional Studies (SPS), which, coincidentally, is where Cynthia received her master’s degree. “I chose SPS because it allowed me the freedom to take courses online while I worked as a college assistant.” His goal is to earn a bachelor's degree in sociology, which he will use to become a teacher. “I enjoy working with people.” 

The mother-and-son duo also share a similar life trajectory. Justin is a college assistant for the communication and performing arts department, starting earlier than Cynthia, who began her overall journey back to college in her early 30s. “I’m glad Justin is moving faster than I did. I didn’t want him to wait as long as I did. You can’t get those years back.” 

She admits she had to nudge him a little to continue, but he quickly acclimated to the KCC environment and flourished. Programs like Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) offered him what financial aid didn’t cover. Offered at nine CUNY colleges, the academic support program is designed to help associate students stay on track and graduate on time. “ASAP is an awesome program. He was given MetroCards, books, and other perks to support him in his studies,” said Cynthia. “A lot of families don’t know what Kingsborough offers. I learned about many programs while working here, so I took advantage of everything I qualified for to ensure my son got the best education possible with the least financial debt and stress.”

Justin is motivated to make a change in the culture through his future work in sociology. “I am completing my associate degree here in less than two years, which gives me the opportunity to more quickly work on my bachelor degree and step into teaching sooner than I’d expected,” said Justin. “I want to do this because I will be educating and spreading the word to people about ways we can thrive as a culture.”

“I am excited, honored and proud of Justin’s accomplishments. He’s my firstborn and my ‘mushbucket,’ a nickname I gave him when he was little,” said Cynthia. 

The family tradition doesn’t end with Justin and Cynthia: Cynthia’s husband also attended Kingsborough. While they didn’t meet at Kingsborough, the unexpected convergence of their life path speaks to the legacy and reach of Kingsborough. 

Justin wants to lead by example for his younger brother Jaiden. “Though Jaiden is in middle school, he may follow our footsteps and be the next Kingsborough Community College graduate,” said Justin.

Congratulations to Justin!

Cynthia Olvina ‘08 and her son, Justin Olvina ‘23

Cynthia Olvina ‘08 and her son, Justin Olvina ‘23