Queens College alum Liliana Polo was accepted into the Harvard Graduate School of Education to pursue a doctorate in Education Leadership. She credited this accomplishment to the strong background in education she received as a young adult and during her time as a QC student.
Born the daughter of Colombian immigrants, as a teenager Polo volunteered during high school holiday breaks at her old day care center in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. “I enjoyed seeing children learn when surrounded by caring adults. I also had the privilege of attending an incredible high school, St. Pauls School in Concord, New Hampshire. The Albert G. Oliver program facilitated that process and I was able to get an education unlike any other,” explained Polo.
While teaching Global History at Boys & Girls High School in Brooklyn, New York, Polo began fostering ideas on how to make changes in her department and across the school. “I had some great mentors [at the high school] that suggested Queens College because of its faculty.” She enrolled in the QC Educational Leadership Program to obtain New York State certification to become a school building administrator. Associate Professor and Coordinator, Dr. Terrance Quinn remembers Polo as being a motivated student with a gift of being an educator. “As a student in my class, Liliana stood out for the quality of her written assignments which echoed with clarity of expression and insightful comments.”
After receiving her Certificate of Advanced Study from QC she was accepted into the highly prestigious New York City Department of Education Principal Leadership Academy. After completing the program, Polo founded West Brooklyn Community High School in Sunset Park, NY where she grew up in September 2006. The school serves 200 students, ages 16-20, who have previously been disengaged from school and chose to return to complete their high school requirements to gain post-secondary preparation. “Among her many talents is the ability to identify community resources that can support the mission of her school. Liliana implemented a highly successful partnership model with Good Shepherd Social Service Agency. She was aggressive in developing college and career preparation programs by establishing partnerships with the City University of New York,” proclaims Quinn.
As principal of West Brooklyn, she sought out professional opportunities that broadened her outlook in education. “The program at Harvard is innovative and is attempting to do something that no other school has done before: to merge the education, policy, and management sector and foster the type of leadership that can transform American schooling using all three. It’s too exciting an idea to pass up!” It is with this excitement that Polo will be on her way to completing a EdLD, a new credential that will create opportunities for her to take courses with professors from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, The Harvard Business School, and The Kennedy School of Government. As Polo continues to strive for excellence she will never forget her mentors and supporters. “I will continue to reach out to my network of support which includes colleagues, staff, students, my Leadership coaches, including Dr. Terry Quinn at Queens College.”