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Fifty-Ninth Commencement



Meet Members of the Class of 2024

Ashanti Louis


Class of 2024
Ashanti Louis

Growing up in an immigrant family, Ashanti K. Louis saw firsthand the disadvantages faced by immigrants due to limited access to education and decided to pursue a college education to avoid the financial struggles her Caribbean-born parents endured. “I knew my degree would provide a better life for me and my family,” she said.

Graduating high school during the pandemic in 2020, her initial plan to attend college upstate and live in a dorm became unfeasible when her biological father passed away that May. “This tragedy took a huge toll on my mother and me. We couldn't afford the tuition and dorm expenses, so I decided to stay in NYC,” she shared. “Nursing has always been my ambition. While discussing my options with my mom, a commercial for Kingsborough Community College aired on TV, which I took as a sign. I checked to see if Kingsborough had rolling admissions, applied through CUNY, and was accepted. I was assigned an amazing advisor, Kevin Gayle, who guided me toward a nursing pathway.”

Becoming the first in her family to attend college was not without its challenges. “My mom worked tirelessly to support us, and managing everything was difficult for her. Being the eldest of four, I had to balance looking after my siblings with attending lectures, labs, and clinicals.”

Despite the hardships, Ashanti persevered. She became a member of the Kingsborough Nursing Club, the Honors Program, and the Phi Theta Kappa International Honors Society.

In October 2023, shortly after Ashanti’s 21st birthday, tragedy struck again when a fire destroyed their home, leaving the family homeless. “Thankfully, no one was home at the time, and my family was safe. We slept in a car that night and spent a month in a hotel before moving to a homeless shelter. That hotel room became a significant part of our lives; it was where I experienced a range of emotions, studied in the bathroom for my exams, and received my final exam results that would allow me to walk across the stage.”

She remembers the judgmental looks she would receive at the homeless shelter, as well as the look of respect the night she returned carrying balloons and flowers from her nursing pinning ceremony. “People often associate homelessness with being ‘ghetto’ or uneducated, but I am far from that. I'm just a girl of immigrant parents from Brooklyn who wanted to make something of herself.”

That time period carries other positive memories. “The homeless shelter was where I studied for my board exams and received the news that I had passed the NCLEX-RN and officially became a registered nurse, despite all my struggles. It's also where I practiced my interview answers for my first RN job, as well as where I received my first 'Congratulations! You're Hired!' email for a job in my dream career—things I thought would take place in my own home."

Her experience in a homeless shelter further fueled her passion for nursing. "As a nurse, you care for people in their most vulnerable state. I was very vulnerable in my last few months as a Kingsborough nursing student, which is why I will continue to use my experience as fuel to be the best nurse I can be for my patients," she said.

She says that her nursing professor Joan Zaloom was a big part of her success and was there for her when she was doubting herself. “She genuinely cared for her students beyond the classroom, showing unmatched dedication to ensure we understood the material we needed to succeed,” Ashanti recalled. "Her belief in me, even when I doubted myself, was incredibly motivating."

Since graduating from KCC in January, Ashanti has transferred to SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University where she’s pursuing a bachelor of science in nursing. She is currently working as a registered nurse at a level-one trauma center in Brooklyn, fulfilling her lifelong dream and plans to become an advanced practice registered nurse within the next ten years.

Ashanti’s advice to incoming college students is to stay focused, maintain a high GPA, and never give up on their dreams. "Bad times and difficult situations are inevitable, but you must push through,” she said. “Never give up on your dreams, no matter the obstacles you face. If you really want something, it will be yours. If I could overcome my challenges and become a nurse, anyone can."