CUNY alumnus becomes NYC mayor

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CUNY

Dani Heba

CUNY alumnus Eric Adams is poised to become the 110th mayor of New York City and the city’s second Black mayor defeating his Republican opponent Curtis Sliwa in a landslide victory on Nov. 2.

“The City University of New York congratulates one of its own, Eric Adams, for prevailing in the New York City mayoral election on Tuesday and for making good on his prediction in 2015 when he passionately told the graduating class at Medgar Evers College that he would one day become mayor,” CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez said in a statement on Nov. 3.

Adams attended the New York City College of Technology, earning an associate of arts degree in data processing. He then attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in criminal justice.

The CUNY alumnus credited John Jay with allowing him to realize he had dyslexia. He had overheard a documentary about learning disabilities that someone was watching while in the college’s library.

He said that finding help allowed him to improve academically.

“I went from a D student to the dean’s list,” Adams said. “It was a combination of starting to listen, of tutoring and finding out what the problem was.”

When Adams takes office on Jan. 1, 2022, he will be the first mayor since Ed Koch to have attended a CUNY school. Koch attended City College.

Adams is also the city’s first mayor-elect to have been elected in his party’s primary via the ranked-choice voting system. Matos Rodríguez credited CUNY for educating the community and providing people with a place to vote.

“Finally, we are proud of CUNY’s efforts to educate its community about the new ranked-choice voting system during the NYC primaries in June, and to mobilize students, faculty and staff through its CUNY Votes campaign,” Matos Rodríguez said. “CUNY colleges also served as voting sites for early voting and the general elections. We thank our community members for their participation in our electoral system and for their support of leaders that support public education and have pledged to work toward an economic recovery that is equitable and inclusive.”

Adams achieved many feats after his time at CUNY, including serving as a law enforcement officer with the New York City Police Department for 22 years, founding 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, serving as state senator and assuming his current office as Brooklyn’s borough president.

The CUNY alumnus faces major challenges upon his inauguration, including rising crime, the pandemic recovery, education, housing and more. However, he said that he remains hopeful for the future of the city under his leadership.

“Looking out over this horizon and seeing you gives me hope,” Adams said in his victory speech. “This is our moment. This is our opportunity. This is our moment as a city.”

Adams was born on Sept. 1, 1960 to a butcher named Leroy Adams and a cleaning lady named Dorothy Mae Adams. As a child, he and his family lived in poverty, to the point where he recalled adopting one of the rats that infested his home in Brownsville.

Adams moved to Jamaica, Queens, at the age of eight. He was bussed to Bayside High School, and ultimately made the decision to attend.