Photo Credit: CUNY Academic Commons
By Ashleigh Brown
As a young girl Alexa Maurer had a goal of becoming a doctor after she graduated from St. Francis Prep. The Elmhurst native wanted to enroll in the pre-med program at CUNY Hunter College until she took the required biology and chemistry classes and quickly realized the program wasn’t for her. She took a break from pre-med and focused on taking her graduation required courses— specifically in media and psychology which she found as her strongest subjects. Maurer thought about transferring out of Hunter to find a program catered more towards her interests and transferring to another CUNY because it was the most affordable option. She stayed at Hunter and was offered a job as an administrative representative in the admissions office and eventually graduated with a degree in Media Communications with minor in Psychology in May 2015.
“It actually helped pave my way into what I’m doing now,” Maurer said. “Working within CUNY, in the scholarship center was unplanned, but the series of events that happened while I was in undergrad pretty much led to this point.”
After working in admissions for four years, Maurer wanted to see other schools and try other options. She got a job as an admissions counselor at the New York Code and Design Academy near Wall Street and ended up missing work for the CUNY system. A listing was open for scholarships, advertised by Julissa Contreras Martinez, administrative specialist for scholarship enterprises, and after a few rounds of interviews with Contreras and Human Resources, she got the position as a college office assistant, scholarship specialist.
“I would prefer to get to know students at one school instead of going to a bunch of high schools,” Maurer said. “I felt like I didn’t really get that connection one-on-one to build with one student like a relationship. Working in the scholarship center here combines everything I did like to do, helping students by being able to see one student over and over again in one school to help them throughout their career.”
Contreras was a SEEK and federal work study student at York and class of 1999 graduate. She has worked at the York testing office, financial aid office and admissions before working in scholarships. Contreras and the rest of the scholarship office were in need of a friendly face where students could feel welcomed.
“She has a welcoming demeanor,” Contreras said referring to Maurer. “In addition to her skills, she’s very creative, expresses herself clearly, she’s articulate and she writes well. Those were some of the things we were looking for, someone that can relate to the students and has an approachable demeanor because students need to come in and be able to talk to Alexa.”
Contreras explained how beneficial and relatable Alexa is because she knows and understands the CUNY system being an alum from a CUNY school. Maurer has surpassed the expectations of the scholarship workshops by making herself visible and available and helps look over students work before submitting their materials for a scholarship.
“I think my goal here is to really kind of give you guys the information that I didn’t get when I was in college because I didn’t know where to look for it and who to ask, so what I’ve learned to try to pass it on.” Maurer said.
Maurer and Contreras believe her experience as a previous CUNY student has helped her into her role at York.
“When you come to CUNY, you’re looking for a great education but you’re also looking for something affordable,” Maurer added. “I know how the CUNY system works, I know when the deadlines have passed, when you need an e-permit. I understand the students’ frustrations and how to work that to their advantage.”
While working at York full-time, Maurer is pursuing her Master’s degree at CUNY John Jay in public administration with her ultimate goal of travelling, meeting new people while pursuing a PhD and helping making CUNY stronger.
“I want to be remembered as someone who has a genuine interest in the students,” Maurer said. “I love to share with students my knowledge and my experience and what I did wrong to help them. A reliable source for them to go to and someone they can relate to.”