CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies December 2022 Newsletter: Alumni Interview w/ Kevin Torres
Interviewer: CeCe Hori (Morals & Ethics and Financial Risk, Baruch College ‘25)
Editor: Brandon Greyson Kim (Moral Philosophy and Axiological Futurism, Hunter College ‘23)
This interview was made possible by the CUNY BA Student Leadership Council.
Kevin Torres is a 2019 graduate of the CUNY BA program. In a recent alumni interview, Kevin speaks on his CUNY BA experience and how his degree has helped him land internships and job opportunities at some of the world’s top startups!
What inspired you to pursue a degree through CUNY BA?
“After high school, I actually started out at a community college. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Guttman Community College, but it’s a school in Bryant Park. I was part of the second cohort, so it was really small; about 200 students. Guttman provided a very intimate and supportive setting, yet it was still active. So, although it was college, it felt a bit like high school. When I was going to transfer, I thought about attending Baruch, Hunter, John Jay, Queens, and some other schools. Around then, I decided to go to an open house at the Graduate Center, where I heard about CUNY BA. I thought, ‘oh, wow, this is too good to be true.’ So, after leaving community college, I decided to become a CUNY BA student. I wanted to pursue business or marketing, but I realized how constrained and restrictive Baruch was.
CUNY BA allowed me ﬂexibility and freedom. As a CUNY BA student, I decided to major in entrepreneurship management. I took courses in industrial psychology at Hunter, people management courses at Queens College, and business management courses at Baruch. You deﬁnitely get to enjoy ﬂexibility and freedom as a CUNY BA student.
What led you to create an Area of Concentration (‘AOC’) in Entrepreneurship Management?
At the time, I was very interested in entrepreneurship, startup culture, and business. By the time I transferred colleges, I had already worked three or four internships at a few startups. I thought, ‘wow, this is fun. This is exciting.’ I worked at these startups through a number of series’ (funding rounds), primarily in tech. sales. So, given my interest and experience, I really wanted to pursue a major in this area. I also looked at Baruch’s standard entrepreneurship program and although it was very appealing, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. What I really liked about CUNY BA is that you couldapply internships toward your major. I was able to apply six credits of internship experience to my degree. That ﬂexibility –being able to take classes and also gain work experience – really sold the major for me.
How did you go about ﬁnding a mentor and what was that mentor-mentee relationship like?
When I was admitted to CUNY BA, I didn’t have a mentor. So, I decided to visit my community college. Again, it was a very intimate environment. My relationships with those professors were a little bit different compared to my relationships with professors on other campuses, so I was really able to rely on them. I reached out to an old math professor of mine. We had a great professor-student relationship, so I explained to him my situation and asked him if he would be willing to mentor me. He was open to it! It almost seemed like a no-brainer since I had already worked with Dr. Fisher for two years prior. By the time I applied to CUNY BA, it was just a more formalized relationship. After that, any time I had to make changes to my AOC, I ran it by him. I worked on so many projects with him that I grew comfortable having him as a mentor. I was very lucky and having him as a mentor brought me some peace of mind.
How did CUNY BA prepare you for your career?
I don’t really look at my entrepreneurship management degree like a business degree. Well, I do and I don’t. I like to think of it as a sales degree. You don’t normally go to college and specialize in sales. You can do marketing, but I don’t think it teaches you the skills and values needed for sales. When I graduated, the ﬁrst job I had was in sales at a very big tech startup, and I was really proud of it because candidly, my ﬁrst year out of school, I made over six digits. At the time, that was a lot of money! In my head, I thought, ‘wow, my degree paid for itself!’ I felt so proud at that moment.
What’s really great about CUNY BA is that it’s so adaptable. It’s hard work to create an individualized and concentrated education for yourself. You have to do a lot of research and constantly reevaluate yourself. Once you take a course, you have to think about whether it truly aligns to what you’re looking to do. I’ll also say that my degree is always a conversation starter. The minute I explain it, people’s eyes open wide and become invested.
What advice can you give current CUNY BA students?
Take classes at all the campuses. I started out at Guttman CC; I then transferred to Baruch and later, to Queens, which became my home school. I took courses at City Tech, John Jay, CSI, SPS, Hunter, BMCC, and LaGuardia CC. You get a very different vibe from each school and it’s made me appreciate all that CUNY has to offer. CUNY BA gives you that freedom to go wherever you want and to make friends and network across the university. CUNY BA opens the doors to so many opportunities.