In 2004, Senator Robert Byrd [D-WV] introduced legislation that lead to the passage of a bill establishing Constitution Day.

Here are five fun facts about the Constitution of the United States that you might not know:

Thomas Jefferson didn’t have a chance to place his “John Hancock” on the Constitution. He was in France and missed the signing altogether.

There are several spelling errors in the Constitution, but the most egregious might be “Pensylvania.”

Benjamin Franklin, “Sage of the Constitutional Convention” was the oldest signer at 81 and needed help because of ailing health.

Vermont ratified the Constitution before it even became a state on January 10, 1791.

Amendment XXVII, ratified May 7, 1992, was the last to be adopted and declares: “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened.”

The complete text of the Constitution of the United States can be found on the The Charters of Freedom website of the National Archives.

The City University of New York offers several initiatives aimed at providing assistance to the community on constitutional rights. Citizenship Now!, perhaps the largest and most diverse program, offers individuals and families law services to help them navigate their path to U.S. citizenship. CUNY SPS has proudly supported the efforts of Citizenship Now! through technical support of webinars featuring top immigration attorneys and advocates.

The CUNY SPS’s Graduate Certificate in Immigration Law program is planning a webinar on the immigration implications of two recent Supreme Court decisions: DOMA/United States v. Windsor, in which the court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional; and the striking down of Prop. 8, California’s ballot measure banning same-sex marriage. More information will be posted on our Facebook “Events” page so check back often.

*Fun facts above can be found on the Oak Hill Publishing Company’s website

The following was submitted by Brandon M. Chiwaya (Murphy Institute ’13):  

After graduating from SPS in June, I reached out to Tanya Fields for a bit of career advice. Tanya (who you may remember from my last blog post was the commencement speaker at the spring 2013 SPS graduation ceremony) is the executive director of The BLK ProjeK, a food justice and community development organization in the South Bronx. About a week or two after graduation I sat down with Tanya over a cup of coffee to talk about strategies for career planning. As the conversation gradually shifted toward The BLK ProjeK, Tanya mentioned she was extremely busy planning the upcoming launch of The South Bronx Mobile Market, her latest project. In fact the project was growing so fast she was looking to bring someone new onboard to help mitigate the workload. Tanya floated a proposal to me to come work with her, to which I quickly accepted.

Tanya Fields Mobile Market With Brandon

Since the beginning of the summer, the launching of the South Bronx Mobile Market (SBMM) has been the main focus of the organization. The SBMM is a former school bus, which has been repainted (in a cool paint scheme) and converted to run on used vegetable oil. When fully operational, the SBMM will supply the neighborhoods of the South Bronx with fresh, organic, and locally grown Hudson Valley produce.

New York state’s 16th congressional district, which encompasses the South Bronx, was ranked number one in the 2011-2012 Food Hardship Poll and is the poorest of the 436 congressional districts in the United States. Combined with an over abundance of fast food and take out establishments, area residents rank among the nation’s highest in health related problems due to poor food nutrition. This makes the work of The BLK ProjeK, and the SBMM all the more vital to the local community.

I hit the ground running on my first day at The BLK ProjeK. With the launch of the mobile market only a few weeks away, there was no time to waste. Creating a community needs assessment and survey to help understand the local attitudes toward healthy eating was my first assignment. Feeling a bit unsure where to start with such a task and halfway freaking out, I quickly reached out to a few of my former SPS professors for help. Professor Michael McNeil who teaches Research Methods and Professor Basil Smikle, Jr., who teaches Policy Analysis, were both willing to help out and give me some advice. Throughout this initial phase, it was incredible to know I was using skills and knowledge I’d acquired at SPS a few months ago in a practical application. In a matter of months I’d gone from sitting in Professor McNeil’s 6pm Thursday night class, wondering to myself, “when will I ever need to know about survey sets?” to creating my own. I’d gone from writing abstract policy papers in Professor Smikle’s class to drafting real research reports.

In addition to the mobile market, Tanya and The BLK ProjeK, have been working hard to turn a few vacant lots owned by New York City into urban gardens. Community organizing at this level presents its own share of obstacles. Canvassing neighborhoods, conducting bus tours, and holding community meetings requires an enormous amount of time and manpower. To help support the continued development of The BLK ProjeK, we will be hosting a fundraiser tonight, Thursday, September 5, at the Brook Park Community Garden. For more information about this event please visit:

Tanya Fields BLK ProjeK

To find out more about The BLK ProjeK or ways you can get involved and support our work, please contact us at or call us at 718.635.0951, and the next time you find yourself in the South Bronx be sure to keep a look out for the colorful school bus.

Brandon M. Chiwaya studied Public Administration and Public Policy at the Murphy Institute, and is a class of 2013 CUNY SPS graduate. While in school, he was a member of the 2013-2014 Technology Budget Fee Committee, and was awarded the CUNY Vice Chancellor’s Excellence in Leadership Award. He is currently a Research Analyst with The BLK-ProjeK

An Evening With the Bus Fundraiser

shieldNow that the fall semester has begun, some students have reported issues accessing content in their Blackboard course site and have reached out to the Help Desk to ask which browser is best for use with Blackboard. Firefox is SPS’s preferred browser; however, the most recent release of Firefox may impact your viewing of YouTube videos and other media from within Blackboard and Digication.

Both Firefox 23 and Google Chrome 26 have introduced “Mixed Active Content Blocking,” a security enhancement that prevents active content delivered through an unsecure (HTTP) connection from displaying on secure (HTTPS) environments such as Blackboard and Digication. This security improvement prevents active content added to courses  (JavaScript, embedded objects, Flash animations, streaming video or audio, and external hyperlinks) from loading automatically. However, this feature works similar to your browser’s pop-up blocker and is easy to “turn off” and unblock desired media.

If you have trouble viewing embedded media from within Blackboard or Digication, look for a small shield icon to the left of the web address in Firefox or to the right in Chrome. Click on the shield and follow the prompts to unblock the missing media. View videos for detailed instructions for allowing blocked content in Firefox or Chrome.

To access all of SPS’s Help Desk videos click here.

Welcome Back!

Welcome back students! Remember, classes will be held in our new space at 119 W. 31st Street, but administrative offices will remain at 101 W. 31st Street until later this fall. Here’s a listing of current office locations and contact information

Enjoy the semester!


The Pirate Bay recently celebrated their 10th birthday this past Saturday by announcing a new gift for internet users — PirateBrowser:

“a simple one-click browser that circumvents censorship and blockades and makes the site instantly available and accessible.”

screenshot via the PirateBrowser

PirateBrowser is downloadable via bitTorrent and is available to anyone with access to the world wide web. It was created to allow citizens from countries such as Iran, North Korea, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Denmark, Italy and Ireland to browse the internet unopposed. While it was created to “circumvent censorship,” and I can envision the tremendously positive affect it will have on internet freedom, the Debbie Downer in me is thinking about potential implications for terrorists and child pornographers. Not to mention having to worry that I won’t be able to block certain stuff from my daughter if/when she finds out about this. Ack! (P.S. — No, I don’t let my second grader browse the internet unsupervised; and yes, she does have a newer iPad than me. Le Sigh.)

What does it mean?

According to their FAQ, PirateBrowser doesn’t allow users to surf the net anonymously, but it does link to a service that does. Am I taking the whole think globally, act locally bit a little too far?? What do you think of Pirate Bay’s latest gift to their users?

screenshot of pirate bay


Sarah Morgano (@sarahmorgano) is an Academic Operations Assistant @CUNYSPS as well as a Community Facilitator on the CUNY Academic Commons. When she isn’t creating or updating content, tweeting for the @cunycommons, troublshooting, or studying for her M.A. in Liberals Studies at the @CUNYGradCenter w/ a focus in Digital Humanities, she likes to ride bikes on the Shore Road bike path with her husband and their 7yo.

25 Apps You’ll Need to Survive College

Mashable’s Sarah Ang annotated a list of 25 apps designed to support academic success. My personal favorite is SelfControl. The app allows users to block websites for a designated period of time, making it impossible, for example, to scroll through your Facebook feed during study hours. Self control via censorship? It works. Do you use any of the apps Sarah suggested? Let us know if there’s a must have not listed.

Idalia Reyes is a current student here at The CUNY School of Professional Studies, studying in the Online Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and Media. Academic Advisor, Johanna Rodriguez recently had the chance to ask Idalia a few questions about her goals and motivation for pursuing higher education, and here is what she shared with us:

Johanna: What are you hoping to accomplish in the next five years?

Idalia Reyes Online Bachelor's Degree in Communication and Media Idalia: In the next five years I hope to complete my Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and Media. It is not only one of my biggest goals; it is also the most important and challenging one that I have to accomplish.

Johanna:  What or who inspires you and keeps you motivated?

Idalia: The person who inspires me and keeps me motivated is “me.” I push myself very hard.

Johanna:  What challenges do you face as an online student? And how have you overcome those obstacles?

Idalia: Being an online student is very difficult on many levels. One of the biggest challenges that I face as an online student is always getting to know the curriculum in the beginning of the semester. I get so nervous. I overcome my obstacles by printing out the syllabus and the assignments, and then start a schedule for myself. There is not a day that goes by that I do not check my discussion board in Blackboard several times a day. Whether I am on vacation or working, I am constantly checking in.

The online program has made it possible for me to achieve my goal due to the industry I work in, as my schedule can be very unpredictable. The flexibility of going online anywhere and anytime has made it possible for me to complete assignments and keep up with my classes. It is an interesting program, but it requires dedication and discipline.

I will be very honest. I didn’t think that I was going to make it this far. I am still here, in my fifth semester and I enjoy it. What I found to be helpful is to always keep an open line of communication with your advisor. The School of Professional Studies cares about their students and their opinions. If it becomes difficult, the communication lines are open.

Joanna Rodriguez Admissions and Academic Advisor for The CUNY School of Professional Studies Online Baccalaureate Program.

Johanna Rodriguez is an Admissions and Academic Advisor for The CUNY School of Professional Studies Online Baccalaureate Program. When asked to reflect on her work here at SPS, she said:

How do I define advising? It’s funny because I had to explain myself to my older brother when he asked, “What is it that you do again?” I told him I advise students and teach them to become self-sufficient. I got the response “ohhh” and then he told me he was considering going back to school. His question did force me to think about my definition of academic advising.

The Greeks define learning as the process of bringing about self, and as an advisor I am here to help my students develop active leaning skills. I am here to guide students through their academic career and teach them to become independent and successful. Yes, I do make sure my students take on a balanced work load and make sure they contact financial aid on time, but along with those responsibilities I am teaching my students to become more self-sufficient.

To me the best part of my job is helping my students make choices that will in turn guide them on a new career path, and if it wasn’t for their education they would have not taken that step. I must agree with the Greeks because they were on to something, education isn’t just getting A’s but it is the process of developing yourself.

The CUNY SPS Academic Advisement Center for Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs is dedicated to furthering the educational mission of SPS by assisting the academic pursuits of students. The Academic Advisement Center helps students with educational planning, improving study skills, accessing learning support services, and adjusting to the demands facing adult learners.

SAGE New York City LGBT Senior Center
During the current summer session, eight students in Tony Goode’s course “Creating Meaning through Community Drama” have conducted life history interviews with New York City seniors, ranging from members of SAGE, the nation’s first Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Senior Center, to members of Raises Gowanus, a center serving a Hispanic community in Brooklyn. The students are now busily creating an original piece of reminiscence theatre that honors these seldom-told histories.

Come see a special performance of the work and join in the dialog that follows!

Reminiscence Theatre Performance
Saturday, August 10, 2013
CUNY SPS M.A. in Applied Theatre Studios
101 West 31st Street 6th Floor
(Building dually addressed as 875 6th Avenue)

Admission is free. Seating is limited.


The Master’s Degree in Applied Theatre, the first program of its kind in the United States, is a sequential, ensemble-based program for students interested in the use of theatre to address social and educational issues in a wide range of settings. The program stresses the unity of theory and practice, and is linked to the professional applied theatre work of the renowned CUNY Creative Arts Team.


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