While a student at Queens College, Donaldson Conserve began helping others in various ways, which recently earned him special recognition at graduation as the recipient of the Chaney-Goodman-Swerner Award.
Originally from Cite Soleil, Haiti, Conserve came to the United States in 1999.
“Both my parents left me to go to find more opportunities and eventually they would have me join them in the U.S. when things got better for them,” he said. “My mother had been living here for at least 10 years, and she filed for me to join her.”
When Conserve, who lives in St. Albans, first came to the U.S. in the summer, he said that he was amazed by its beauty. However, he had difficulties when he began school. Other students would give him a hard time and try to start fights with him.
In 2004, Conserve enrolled at Queens College thanks to the Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge (SEEK) program, which he said assists “academically under-prepared and economically disadvantage students achieve academic success.” Although he recently graduated with a degree in psychology, when Conserve first enrolled he wanted to be a medical doctor.
While at Queens College, Conserve met Maureen Pierce-Anyan, the Director of Minority Student Affairs and Pre-Professional Advisor, who Conserve said became like another mother to him. He said that she influenced him to become more active on campus, beginning with a Black History Month event.
Conserve went on to participate in many different organizations and activities on campus. He was a member of the National Leadership Society, The Men of Color Focus Group, The Black Male Initiative planning committee and the Multi-Cultural Education Planning Committee. Also, Conserve was an orientation leader and formerly served as both the vice president and, later on, the president of the Science Organization for Minority Students.
“I truly am grateful for having been recommended to join and serve,” he said.
Pierce-Anyan also helped Conserve choose his psychology major. Conserve said that, even before he came to Queens College, he enjoyed it when friends would come ask him for advice. It was while speaking to another student who was a psychology major that the suggestion first came up.
After the idea was raised, Conserve spoke to Pierce-Anyan to get her advice. She suggested that Conserve take an introductory psychology class.
“I fell in love with the course, and I just knew while taking the course that this is what I’d like to major in for my undergrad,” said Conserve, 24.
During this year’s graduation at Queens College, Conserve received the Chaney-Goodman-Schwerner Award, which is “offered annually to a graduating senior who has made a significant contribution toward fostering human relations and eliminating the divisions that separate people,” according to the Queens College Foundation.
“It had a profound impact on me,” Conserve said, adding that he now wants to work to discover the gift that was seen in him.
Now that Conserve has graduated, he will spend the summer at Columbia doing research at their School of Public Health before going to Penn State to enter its Ph.D. program for biobehvaiorial health.
Conserve said that his ultimate goal is to become a health and education advocate. He said that he wants to be an advocate so that he can make sure that those who are less fortunate are able to receive opportunities so that they can “tap into their potential and become better citizens.”