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  When you grow up in a small town like Smith Station, Alabama (pop. 30,000), New York can seem like an impossible dream. For 18-year-old Amy Hall and 17-year-old Sandra Williams the dream came true.

  Best friends, the two young women were determined to attend college in New York City. The guidance counselor at Smith Station High School suggested a couple of years at a local community college first. Sandras parents were pushing for Auburn University, a prestigious Southern institution. But Amy and Sandra were not going to be deterred. When youre little, you see New York in the movies. . .its so exciting, says Amy who never relinquished her childhood dream.

Her friend Sandra shared Amys enthusiasm. They spurred each other on, gave each other confidence. Their determination overcame all obstacles.

On August 29, Amy and Sandra registered for their first semester at Baruch College. They looked at a couple of other CUNY schools but chose Baruch for its mid-Manhattan location. Despite the trepidation of their parents, the objections of relatives, the disbelief of teachers and guidance counselors, theyre here and preparing to wrestle with history, English, psychology, math. . . all the freshman year staples. No one believed us; they thought it was impossible, says Sandra. At this point, neither has a clear idea of what she wants to study. I thought about corporate communications, says Amy, who is vaguely aware of Baruchs reputation as an outstanding business school. But I like the arts too, theater and dance.

The two are living together on Rutledge Street in Williamsburg. Theyre sharing a studio apartment they found through the Village Voice. The bathroom and kitchen are down the hall, shared by a dozen or so urban nomadsstudents, actors, dancers, writers. Its a converted warehouse with a Jewish bookstore downstairs. In Smith Station, Amy says, You would never get to see a little Jewish kid with a yarmulke or an Indian person. The crazy quilt of races and religions in New York and at Baruch College is a great plus, both girls agree. Theyve mastered the subways, the J train to Williamsburg, the #6 IRT to Baruch College. On Friday nights they go to Union Square Park where theyre taking lessons in break dancing from one of the park regulars.

The city scares them not at all. My parents still call every day, says Amy. They tell me not to be so trusting. But the girls are getting around just fine. During the Great Blackout in August, they hiked across the Williamsburg Bridge to get home. We dont live far, we knew the way, and we like to walk and explore the city, Sandra explained. It only took them two-and-a-half hours.

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"Northern Hospitality"--This article is provided courtesy of the New York Daily News

Zane Berzins
News Manager


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