Lehman Alumni Helping the Next Generation

Peter Pan Grows Up and Gives Back

First Endowed Scholarship for New School of Business

Lehman College’s newly launched School of Business has its first endowed scholarship, thanks to alumnus Nelson Gisbert ’69. The scholarship, named for his parents, Juana and Hermenegildo Gisbert, was established for students pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree. The School of Business – launched last August – is the first and only public business school in The Bronx and Westchester.

As an immigrant and first-generation college graduate, Mr. Gisbert’s story is reminiscent of many Lehman College alumni. His story, however, is unique. At the start of the Cuban revolution, when he was just 16, Nelson’s parents sent him to live with relatives in Florida under what was referred to as Operation Peter Pan. During this time, parents sent unaccompanied Cuban minors, aged 16 to 18, to the United States for fear that Fidel Castro and the Communist party were planning to terminate parental rights and place their children in communist indoctrination centers, commonly referred to as Patria Potestad.

That experience formed Nelson’s resolve to make his parents proud by pursuing higher education and subsequently becoming a successful businessman and CEO. He established Nelson Services shortly after completing his degree, though the path there was not easy

“My application to Lehman College was initially rejected due to my low SAT scores and poor English.”

Undeterred, he enrolled in several non-matriculated courses to improve both. The courses were challenging, but he never forgot the patience, care, dedication, and support he received from his professors, which provided him the confidence to apply again. He was finally admitted in the spring of 1966.

To this day, Mr. Gisbert remembers his experience at Lehman College fondly, most notably profesors William Bosworth and Blank Conway, both of whom left an indelible mark.

“I want to provide business students with the same opportunity that I had back in the 1960s to receive a college education and obtain a degree. I think there are so many people out there that want to pursue it but don't have the means, and I want to be able to do that just as I have for my own children.” 

The Juana and Hermenegildo Gisbert Scholarship is expected to be awarded in the fall of 2023. 

We are very grateful to Mr. Nelsen Gisbert for his very generous scholarship gift for business students. This first significant gift for the new School of Business will benefit many of our students who have a similar background to Mr. Gisbert, who came to Lehman College as a young immigrant to study accounting and economics. That the gifts comes from an alumnus makes this gift even more meaningful for us and our students. Having access to this type of scholarship fund is a game changer, allowing them to complete their degree in a timely manner.“  Dene T. Hurley, Interim Dean, School of Business

Beginnings: The Last Mile Scholarship Fund

Cecelia Beirne is a proud alumna of Hunter College in The Bronx (renamed Lehman College in 1968),  graduating with a B.A. in Mathematics. Since then, one constant in her life has been gratitude to her alma mater for introducing her to a wider perspective and nurturing the development of skills necessary to become a better person.

Ms. Beirne has a deep appreciation for the education she received from Lehman and is proud to have the opportunity to give back with The Last Mile Scholarship. Her commitment to the Herbert H. Lehman College Foundation includes an endowed fund to provide scholarship support to undergraduate students pursuing a degree in Nursing or Education, and for seniors experiencing a financial shortfall in their final semester. This fund will be essential for students to realize their dream of completing a degree.

Ms. Beirne had a successful career in education and finance, beginning after graduation by joining V.I.S.T.A., where she worked on criminal justice reform for four years. She then taught secondary school mathematics for over a decade in New York City and Westchester County. In 1985, after earning an MBA from Baruch College, she secured a position in structured finance which began a career that would last for over 25 years. She volunteered for several years at the International Rescue Committee, counseling asylees and refugees on the broad range of educational opportunities available at CUNY.

The Last Mile Scholarship is expected to be awarded in the fall of 2023.

We at Lehman College thank Cecelia Beirne for her generous contribution to our students’ education and continued success.