Hassina Adams remembers the difference the Northside Learning Center (NSLC) made in her life. She had just moved to the United States from South Africa and was the legal guardian for her younger brother and sister. “I think we had been living here for two months when someone suggested we come here for homework help. Even though we weren’t in school yet, we just wanted to be around people so we figured, ‘why not?’ Me and my younger sister came up to the girl’s high school classroom and we sat up there for an hour mingling with everyone. We’ve been coming here ever since. It’s like home.”
Adams would progress from student to teacher at the NSLC, a position she continued to hold while attending Onondaga Community College. Three nights a week she helped middle school-aged girls with their homework. She did it while helping raise her two younger siblings and earning her General Studies degree with an Honors minor. During her time at OCC Adams was a member of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa and a recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence.
During the spring 2017 semester, Adams’ last on the OCC campus, she made a list of items the NSLC needed and presented it to OCC’s Diversity Council. “The list was very humbling for us because she asked for the basic office supplies we all take for granted,” said Julie Hart, Diversity Council member and Assistant to OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill. “We sent out an email requesting donations and people came in droves.”
On the night of November 20 Hart brought those donations to the NSLC. The supplies included dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, instructional posters and electric pencil sharpeners. The NSLC had only one pencil sharpener and it was manual. “Thank you so much. I’m speechless,” said Adams. “The kids are doing to be so excited.”
Adams is now a student at Syracuse University where she is majoring in International Relations Policy Studies and Writing and is a member of the Army’s ROTC Program. She still spends three nights a week at the NSLC, helping those who sit where she once sat.
The NSLC serves over 250 people annually with core instructional programs which are critical to newcomers in the community. “What we do here wouldn’t be possible without generous community support,” said Executive Director Mark Cass. “Generous donors and gifts of equipment and supplies all help the NSLC continue to offer families the education and support they need to pursue their dreams and goals. OCC is a key benefactor of ours, from providing student interns to this most recent generosity.”