Evelyn Cardona: Thinking About Others' Needs | Teachers College Columbia University

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Evelyn Cardona: Thinking About Others' Needs

When Eve Cardona spoke last month at the New York Stock Exchange about “Dress for Success,” a program that helps disadvantaged women achieve economic independence, she laughingly told her audience that the next time she visited, it would be to ring the opening bell.

It’s a good bet that Cardona, Administrative Coordinator for TC’s Office of School and Community Partnerships (OSCP), was only half-kidding.

Cardona grew up in what she describes as “a humble household” in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan and is now raising two children – including one with special needs – on her own. Along the way she has earned associates’ degrees in liberal arts, with a concentration in psychology, and paralegal studies, and worked in the New York State Attorney General’s office providing mediation services. She is now considered an indispensable part of the OSCP, where, among other things, she has played a valuable role in the launch of the new Teachers College Community School.

“It’s great for me to be here and to be involved with this office, helping children who are growing up like I did benefit from the college’s resources,” she says.

“Eve brings an extra level of passion and determination to her work because she has such a strong connection to what we do,” says Emily Zemke, Associate Director, OSCP. “She has been especially valuable as a liaison with parents at TCCS. It takes a special kind of personality to have one foot in the College and one foot in the community. She can do it, partly because she’s a local parent herself and she understands people’s concerns about getting the best possible education for their kids, but also because she can talk to anyone and make any situation work. She really thinks about other people’s needs.”

Cardona awards much of the credit for her own professional advancement to “Dress for Success.” She continues to benefit from the organization’s services and has since worked for it as a volunteer.

“They really helped me to look at myself and the things I could do to move ahead both professionally and personally,” she says. “They help empower women in so many ways.”

Cardona has plans to get her bachelor’s degree and then a master’s in social work, with her sights ultimately set on Law School.

“I want to continue my advocacy work, especially for special needs kids, their parents and disadvantaged women,” she says. “I plan on starting my own nonprofit someday. I’d also like to be able to help shape policy.”

It’s hard to imagine how someone so busy could carve out the additional time to return to school, but Cardona has a built-in energy source.

“I have my kids,” she says. “They’re my inspiration.”

Published Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012


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