Jessica Borgnis started college a decade ago and was three years into a major in music performance when she left school.
In May 2012, Borgnis graduated from Queens with a bachelor's degree in sociology.
"A lot happened in between that made me a better person and a better student," she says.
Through Queens' Hayworth College for Adult Studies she got the help she needed to make the transition back to school as smooth as possible.
She took a few communication courses and then an introductory course in sociology, and that's when everything clicked.
"Dr. (Jeremiah) Wills explained social trends and social deviance, how socio-economic status is formed and as we explored these theories I realized how environment informs our thinking," she says. "I appreciated how it drew from psychology and married with political science and economics, and realized those were the things I wanted to focus on."
Meantime, Borgnis's music career has also taken off. She plays piano and sings at special events and also works as a mobile music teacher, visiting clients at their homes.
Juggling school, a career and the responsibilities of raising two young daughters hasn't been easy, she says. "But everything I've gotten from Queens has been life-changing," she says. "The small class sizes and the ability to really engage with professors on a personal level has been wonderful."
She says studying the liberal arts has changed the way she looks at the world, empowering her with critical thinking skills and a new ability to write well and express herself.
She completed an independent study of the state of our social welfare system in the United States, viewed through the lens of American individualism. "We are individualistic in nature as Americans, and if you look at other countries who have large welfare states they are more community focused," she says.
During Commencement exercises Borgnis received the Sociology Award for her scholarship. Now she's considering how to gain some practical work experience before she continues her studies toward a Ph.D. in public policy.
"I've been thinking about turning my business into a nonprofit and opening lessons for underprivileged kids so that the arts are available to them," she says. "It feels like a right next step, but there are a lot of options open to me thanks to my time at Queens."
She says she's proud to be setting a good example for her daughters. "It feels really good to have set a goal and accomplished it, and to have them follow my progress along the way," she says.