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‘Old soldier’ finds new life at City Tech

“School really gives you an opportunity to change your life,” says Limor Garfinkle, reflecting on her journey from being an immigrant with an uncertain future to an honored graduate in communication design from New York City College of Technology (City Tech).

“When I first came to the [United] States at age 20, with just $1,000, I was alone, I was confused, and I didn’t have confidence in my abilities,” she recalls. “I thought that because I hadn’t done very well in high school in Israel, I couldn’t succeed here. Yes, I had served two years as a teacher in the Israeli Defense Force and even had received commendations for teaching Hebrew and history to new immigrants. But I felt unsure and insecure.

“In fact, it was the words and encouragement I received from the registrar at City Tech that made the difference,” she adds. “He assured me that if I wanted to do it, I would be able to. I’ll never forget those words. With such a heart-warming welcome, I felt like I couldn’t disappoint this man.”

There had been an eight-year gap between when Garfinkle, now 30, finished high school and started college. She chose City Tech on the advice of her father-in-law, a professor at City Tech. When she first started her studies at the College, Garfinkle, who will be the first in her biological family to graduate from college, wasn’t sure what she would major in. “As a child, I would watch commercials on TV and see print ads and would always think about how I would change them,” she notes. “It made sense to major in communication design.”

While pursuing her Bachelor of Technology degree at City Tech, Garfinkle supported herself in a variety of creative ways: as assistant to the director in the production of the documentary “Yiddish Theater: A Love Story,” as a photographer for books published by Arcadia Publishing and as house designer for Sweet Delights, a bakery specializing in Mediterranean baked goods. Each job strengthened her conviction that she had chosen the field that best fit her talents.

“At City Tech, my professors ran the gamut,” she says. “I had the tough-love professor, the sweet and kind, the laid back, the serious, the screamer, the nutty, the funny — but each and every one of them encouraged me and helped me to become a better student. They modeled what it takes to succeed. I’ll be forever grateful to all of them.”

Garfinkle, who graduated with a 3.86 grade point average out of a possible 4.0, never dreamed she would be selected as salutatorian (second to the valedictorian) of the class of 2008. “I feel it is a great honor,” she says, “and I would like to give back to the college as I continue my professional career.”

Her first position following graduation seems to be an excellent launching pad from which to realize her goal. She is working full-time as the New York studio assistant coordinator at Grey Advertising — in her words, “one of the top advertising agencies in the world.” The internship she undertook at the agency while a City Tech student led to the full-time job.

This year is a banner year for Garfinkle on many counts. Not only did she land the job of her choice and will be honored as salutatorian at commencement on June 3 in the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden, she gave birth at the end of February to her first child, James, a bouncing, seven-pound baby boy. Her husband Steven, who is an attorney, alternates his schedule with babysitting a couple of days a week at their home in the Willowbrook section of Staten Island.

“I’m looking forward to attending the commencement ceremony next month; I’ve never been to a graduation before,” says Garfinkle. “I would not have been able to graduate from college without the help and support of my husband and his family, so it will be nice to have them there with me.”

So far, Garfinkle has more than exceeded her expectations. Eventually, she says, she hopes to run her own design firm. Given her talent, drive and determination, it seems like a good possibility. Stay tuned.

City Tech is located at 300 Jay Street at the MetroTech Center academic and commercial complex in Downtown Brooklyn.

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