Amber Klink looks back on her young life and credits CSM in getting her to where she is today: a senior at Sarah Lawrence College in New York and concurrently enrolled in graduate courses at New York University (NYU). “CSM has given me everything I have today: I literally and figuratively owe it my life.” While that is a remarkable statement, her success story is equally remarkable. Amber experienced a particularly traumatic childhood and spent her entire adolescence in the child welfare and mental health systems. By her own admission, she was a runaway, often homeless, and never attended formal high school. When Amber first enrolled at CSM, she recalls, “I had what I equated to a meager seventh-grade education.”
While at CSM, Amber maximized every resource and opportunity that could help her to not only catch up, but to excel academically. She describes her experience in the Disabled Students Program and Services as “life-changing” and attributes much of her success to its staff for providing comprehensive assistance and unfaltering support. She also benefited from individualized tutoring, study skills, transfer workshops, financial aid and a network of supportive faculty. To round out her CSM experience, Amber participated in co-curricular and extracurricular activities such as Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), serving as its co-president; CSM Connects, a service learning program; and the college’s learning communities offerings, all of which nurtured her personal and professional development. According to Dr. Jeremy Ball, professor of philosophy and PTK advisor, “Through Amber’s persistence and determination, she found her way at CSM and it transformed her life.”
Due to what Amber refers to as the many “gifts” that CSM gave her, she graduated with high honors, earning an AA degree in English literature and liberal studies. Subsequently, she received acceptances to numerous universities, several with offers of full scholarships. With a talent for writing, she chose Sarah Lawrence College, which among other innovative practices, offers a writing intensive education. In spring 2010, Amber graduates from Sarah Lawrence with her bachelor’s degree and plans to continue working on a master’s in social work at NYU next fall.
While Amber gives credit to CSM for helping her realize her dream of becoming an educated person, in return, she left a meaningful impression on faculty and staff that worked with her. In the words of CSM Professor of English Jean Mach, “It was my great honor and constant delight to know Amber both in the classroom, where I could hardly wait to read every paper or assignment I received from her, and in her leadership role in Phi Theta Kappa, as co-president. Amber is generous, sensitive, creative, energetic, smart, and funny. How lucky we were to have her at CSM!”