As executive director of student development at Queens College, Jennifer Jarvis counts giving back as among the most important lessons she tries to impart to students. Here she is in January 2011 (kneeling, first row, far right) at a Habitat for Humanity work site in New Orleans where college staff and 21 students volunteered to help build a new home for a Louisiana native displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
Bronx native Jennifer Jarvis has been immersed in the lives of QC students for the better part of 16 years. In her various roles, from a director of student life to her current position, she has done everything from helping to develop campuswide social, cultural, and educational programs to assisting students with career planning.
But some of her most important work—and much of her time—has been spent working with the college’s Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT). Jarvis says QC always had BIT, but following the shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007 that took the 33 lives, CUNY mandated that all its colleges must have it.
Working with a committee of four other staff members, Jarvis says the BIT looks closely at “students of concern,” using information provided from various sources, such as other students and staff members, regarding behavioral issues that may require intervention. Intervention techniques can range from counseling up to and including expulsion from the college. “But expulsion is pretty rare,” says Jarvis. More often than not, individualized counseling is effective at resolving behavioral issues and helps the student remain in the QC community.
For the past 12 years Jarvis has also served as the campus coordinator for the Role Model Mentoring Program, which is supported by the New York Coalition of 100 Black Women. “The role model program is a great way to give back to the local community by helping QC students find their calling,” Jarvis explained. The program enables students to shadow professionals such as lawyers, doctors, or accountants and provides a realistic look at the profession. Jarvis notes, “Sometimes the program can help a student narrow down or even eliminate a career choice they thought they wanted to follow.” Jarvis, who was recently recognized as a 2011 Top Woman in Business by the Queens Courier, stresses that not everyone works just for money. “We need to look at the good that many people are doing, paying it forward, and trying to help others in need.”
Books everyone should read: “Dr. Seuss. Although written for children, his books carry simple messages that sometimes adults need to be reminded of.”
Favorite music: Calypso (Jarvis is of Caribbean descent).
Surprising fact: She worked as a food vendor at the Bronx Zoo.