Lauri Aguirre is the Director of First Year Programs (FYP) at New York City College of Technology. In this role, she has administered and designed programs for new students, focusing on their acclimatization of basic academic skills, college preparedness and student success. Programming has included the First Year Summer Program immersion courses and workshops in English and mathematics, First Year Learning Communities, City Tech 101: A Student Success Workshop, the FYP Peer Mentoring program, and the student handbook, The Companion for the First Year at City Tech. Her goals as FYP Director are to provide new students with the tools, strategies, and resources to enable them to become more comfortable, confident, and successful in their new learning environment.

Denell Downum has a long history at CUNY, having taught in the English departments at both City Tech and Queens College and received her Ph.D. in English from the CUNY Graduate Center. Currently, she teaches in the Writing Studies department at Montclair State University in New Jersey. Her research interests include the relationship between reading and writing as allied practices that work together to construct meaning; game-based learning; and contemporary Irish literature. Denell has presented as a panelist at numerous conferences and published articles in several scholarly journals including Eire/Ireland, the New Hibernia Review, and the Irish University Review. Her work on The Companion to the First Year at City Tech reflects her commitment to supporting student success in the first year of college.

A.E. Dreyfuss is a learning developer and serves as the Program Manager for CUNY’s NYC Men Teach program at New York City College of Technology. She previously was the Academic Liaison for the First Year Programs, and her City Tech publications include the City Tech Writer Sampler ( and Guidelines for Peer Tutors ( She has managed grant-funded projects focused on first-year students, bridge to college programs, as well as faculty development and leadership development. She has a doctorate in Adult Learning and Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Jennifer Sears is Associate Professor of English at New York City College of Technology where she teaches creative writing and related courses.  As a long-standing faculty member of City Tech’s Office of First Year Programs, she has led faculty trainings on the first-year transition for First Year Learning Communities and First Year Summer Programs and has co-authored articles on the first-year student experience with fellow faculty at City Tech. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University; her fiction and creative non-fiction appear in many literary journals and have received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. City Tech OpenLab Profile:



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