Birdie Rovner Pieczenik, Mentor, chanced to meet an Esperanza mentor at an MIT dinner/lecture who sounded truly inspired by the volunteer work she was doing with Esperanza. As someone who grew up poor in the Bronx, and the first in her large extended (mostly immigrant) family, Esperanza’s mission struck an emotional chord with Birdie. She was fortunate enough to live in a city with a free college (CCNY) and then receive full scholarships from Cornell University and New York University for her Master’s and PhD work. So a chance to help highly motivated immigrant high schoolers – whether documented or undocumented – was her chance to payback a bit and help others achieve their American dream.
Reading applications turned into interviewing prospective awardees, which turned into becoming a mentor. And in the process, receiving as much as she is giving.
When not mentoring, Birdie is writing her second feature screenplay, having had one prior career in teaching and researching in the criminal justice area and another career owning and operating a small chair of bed and breakfasts in the northeast.
“When I grew up in New York City, everyone’s family –parents or grandparents- came from somewhere other than America. But we all understood that a good education was one road to having a good life in that wonderful melting pot that was America. I had my chance to experience it. And now I want to give it to others.”