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Denise Lewis is a current student at The CUNY School of Professional Studies, enrolled since Spring 2010 in the Online Bachelor’s Degree in Business. As a single parent she raised three children, often working two jobs to support her family, while maintaining an excellent GPA. Each of her children currently attends or has graduated from college. Academic Advisor, Jaye-Anne Sartoretto recently had the chance to ask Denise a few questions about her goals and motivation for pursuing higher education, and here is what she shared with us:
Jaye-anne: What are you hoping to accomplish in the next five years?
Denise: What I intend to accomplish in the next five years is to be on my way to a successful Fashion Styling business. I have an Associate’s Degree in Fashion Buying and Merchandising from the Fashion Institute of Technology, and when I get my Bachelor’s Degree in Business it will give me the business foundation from which to build and establish a business. I have already started drafting a simple business plan from which I can build upon and add more detail to bring my business into fruition.
Jaye-anne: What or who inspires you and keeps you motivated?
Denise: I am basically self-motivated. I know what I have to do, and I plan out my assignments and do them. After not completing my degree when I was young and fresh out of high school, it has always been my goal to finish college. I was always inspired by:
- My grandmother, who was a West Indian woman who always instilled in her family that education is important;
- My mother, who although she did not go to college went to nursing school and became a Licensed Practical Nurse while raising five children;
- My oldest sister who has a Master’s Degree in Counseling and is a Study Skills College Counselor at the Fashion Institute of Technology;
- My daughter, who won a full scholarship to a private college (DePauw University in Indiana) and graduated, and who, by the way, is back in Graduate School studying accounting and plans to become a CPA;
- My other two children, who have some college and plan to return to get their degrees;
- And last but certainly not least, my four grandchildren, for whom I would like to be an example to show them that no matter what age you are, it is never too late to finish college and to instill in them that college is an important life goal to accomplish.
Jaye-anne: What challenges do you face as an online student? And how have you overcome those obstacles?
Denise: The challenges that I face as an online student are sometimes being tired; or if I am studying a subject that is a little challenging for me, such as mathematics, I have to find a tutor or someone to help me. I have overcome these challenges by just pushing along and doing the best that I can and asking for help from someone who is more knowledgeable in a subject that I am, or I ask the professor for more time to complete an assignment if I am having trouble with it. Most professors understand and grant the extension. Another challenge for me was dealing with the noise of my grandchildren (who only wanted to play) when I was studying. However, I overcame that challenge by purchasing a laptop and retreating to a quiet room to complete my assignments. There were also times that I stayed late at work to get my homework and studying done.
Jaye-Anne Sartoretto 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:
“As an advisor, I see my role as helping students integrate their academic path with career planning. Equally important is what transpires during the academic process. My goal as an advisor, is to encourage students to discover strengths, define interests and become more confident in what their capabilities are. But the environment for this to manifest needs to be an environment that is built on trust and support. It is most important to build a relationship with each student. Each student is different and has different needs. Therefore it is crucial to be sensitive to what those needs are and advise accordingly. As advisors we get to understand the vicissitudes our students overcame. That is why there is nothing more rewarding and praiseworthy then to watch my student graduate. I can only hope that I somehow made a difference in their lives.”
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.
Current student, T.J. Black (’14) contributed the following recap of the inaugural Master of Arts in Applied Theater Lab Conference that was held in mid-March:
On March 17, 2012, students and alumni of the Master of Arts in Applied Theatre program gathered for the inaugural MAAT Lab Conference. The MA in Applied Theatre was developed in 2008 in collaboration with the CUNY-Creative Arts Team as the first degree-granting program of its kind in the country. It is committed to the goal of creating leading practitioners in the field, using theatre as a tool to address educational issues and affect social change. The Lab Conference, organized by current students T.J. Black (’14), Olivia Harris (’14), Leah Page (’13) and Ben Weber (’13), was designed as a forum for current students and alumni to explore pressing topics in applied theatre, and to further cultivate an ever-growing community of applied theatre practitioners coming through the program.
Despite issues with scheduling—the conference was rescheduled due to Hurricane Sandy—nearly a third of all current students and alumni chose to participate. The sessions were a mix of participatory workshops and plenary discussions, covering a range of topics including sex and gender in the classroom, fundraising, applied theatre work in prisons, and many more. Several of the sessions were inspired and/or developed by class work done in the MA program.
During the closing reflection, the community expressed that the conference was a useful and effective exploration of current questions in the field of applied theatre. Attendees also found it to be an ideal opportunity to network with colleagues from different graduating classes. There is an enthusiastic interest in continuing to develop the conference as a venue for collaboration, dialogue, and exploration of the major issues facing this emerging field, potentially opening to the wider community in the near future.
Presenters included current students Rachel Evans (’13), Olivia Harris (’14), Shamilia McBean (’13), Brisa Munoz (’13), and Ben Weber (’13), as well as alumni Ria Cooper (’10), Max Forman-Mullin (’12), Maggie Keenan-Bolger (’10), Jessica Levy (’12), Heather Nielsen (’12), Kevin Ray (’11), Julia Taylor (’12), Sherry Teitelbaum (’11), and Michael Wilson (’11).
For further information on the MAAT Lab Conference, please contact T.J. Black at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the MA in Applied Theatre, please visit http://sps.cuny.edu/programs/ma_appliedtheatre
The annual ePortfolio Showcase highlights students who have created ePortfolios for academic, professional, and/or personal use. The showcase aims to demonstrate the many ways our students are stretching definitions and creating full pictures of their learning.
This year, in addition to accepting ePortfolio nominations from faculty, students will be able to submit their own ePortfolios to the showcase. Students who are selected as one of the “Featured Student ePortfolios” will be highlighted on the ePortfolio Showcase website, receive a badge to display on their own ePortfolio, and receive an Amazon gift card.
What is an ePortfolio?
Electronic Portfolios (ePortfolios) offer a dynamic, online space to represent your professional “self” on the Web. In higher education and in the business world, ePortfolios are a way to showcase your skills, achievements, and experiences. Whether you want to share your work with friends, family, professors, colleagues, potential employers, or graduate school admissions committees — ePortfolios provide innovative ways to market yourself while taking ownership over your own work.
The online ePortfolio platform CUNY SPS has chosen is Digication. Designed specifically to showcase academic work, Digication’s easy-to-use tools allow you to create thought-provoking and visually stimulating ePortfolios that will enhance your courses and deepen your learning experience. Once you have an SPS account with Digication, you can create as many ePortfolios as you like. You will always have access to your ePortfolios, before, during and after the semester; even after you graduate.
Watch the brief “Intro to ePortfolios @ SPS” video below to learn more about this digital tool and how it can be used.
New to ePortfolio?
If you don’t have an ePortfolio account, but are interested in creating an ePortfolio to submit in our annual showcase please send an email to the ePortfolio team at ePortfolios@sps.cuny.edu. (Please be sure to include your name, SPS email address, and the degree program you are enrolled in.) The ePortfolio team will email your account information along with some basic instructions to get you started.
We’re also pleased to offer an ePortfolio Information Session on April 10, 2013 from 12:30pm – 2:00pm, where students can learn more about ePortfolios and how they can be used for both academic and career development. This webinar will explain the nature and uses of ePortfolios and will give you the tools you need to start building your own ePortfolio in time to participate in our annual ePortfolio Student Showcase.
Info Session: ePortfolios for Academic & Career Development
When: Wednesday, April 10, 2013; 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Already Have an ePortfolio?
If you have created an ePortfolio as part of a course requirement you should already have a Digication ePortfolio account. You’re welcome to attend the ePortfolio Information Session on April 10, 2013 from 12:30pm – 2:00pm, and/or review the many resources available to students on the ePortfolio Resource Website. To learn more about new third-party apps that can be included in your ePortfolio, click here.
ePortfolio advisors are also available to assist with conceptualization, troubleshooting, and third-party applications. You can request Live Help with an ePortfolio advisor during the scheduled virtual office hours, or send an email anytime to ePortfolios@sps.cuny.edu.
Submit Your ePortfolio!
We invite you to submit your ePortfolio to the CUNY School of Professional Studies ePortfolio Student Showcase for an opportunity to be selected as one of the “Featured Student ePortfolios” on the ePortfolio Showcase website and receive a $100 Amazon gift card.
Selections are made based on:
- Design layout
- Organization of materials
- Best use of multimedia
- Demonstration of reflective learning
- Overall representation of academic skills, coursework, and extracurricular activities
To nominate yourself, please complete this form by May 24, 2013. Please help us recognize your great work with ePortfolio!
Dear SPS Students:
I hope you have enjoyed your winter holidays, and are looking forward to the challenges and rewards of the upcoming semester. Whether you are a new or returning student, I am happy to welcome you to the School of Professional Studies for the Spring 2013 term, and to thank you for choosing SPS. I am confident you will find your studies with us rigorous and engaging and the academic community here enriching and supportive. Please be sure to visit our community blog and “like” our Facebook page to get the latest news about our School, your professors, and your fellow students.
I sincerely hope your experience at SPS exceeds your expectations; please feel free to share with me any suggestions and ideas that might assist our efforts to provide you with the best education possible. Once again, on behalf of our faculty and staff, I wish you a successful and enjoyable semester.
Dean, School of Professional Studies
John Mogulescu is the Senior University Dean for Academic Affairs and the Dean of the CUNY School of Professional Studies, and his responsibilities involve him in many different aspects of the University’s academic life. In addition to SPS, Dean Mogulescu has overseen collaborative programs between CUNY and the NYC Public Schools, CUNY Prep Transitional High School, the CUNY Language Immersion Program, CUNY Start, and the Adult Literacy and GED Preparation Programs. Dean Mogulescu also supervises the University’s Workforce Development Initiative, special training initiatives for City and State workers, and programs for welfare recipients, in addition to Adult and Continuing Education at CUNY and its non-credit programs, which serve over 250,000 students per year.
Recently I read an FB status on a friend’s page that asked what a panic attack felt like and I smiled in sympathy. I wanted to reply and describe it, but I didn’t want to take up that much space. I recently experienced my first panic attack.
Now if you’ve been a reader for a while you are wondering, well why did you have a panic attack? Finding out you are the grandmother of a five day old infant can do that to you. Looking back, it’s a really funny story. It was about 8:30 pm on a Friday evening. I was puttering around my kitchen, wine glass in hand, when my eighteen year old son ‘S.’s seventeen year old girlfriend ‘A.’ called me up. We both said ‘hi’. Then she said, “S. said I should talk to you because you give really good advice. He said you gave him good advice about our dog a couple of weeks ago.”
“Sure,” I said, “I love dispensing advice, what’s up?”
A: “So we had this baby right, and I don’t know what to do.”
Me: “A baby what?”
A: “A baby!”
Me: “A puppy?”
A: “No a baby girl.”
Me: “Whose is it? Are you babysitting?”
A: “No, it’s our baby. Me and S. had a baby girl a few days ago.”
Me (sounding very stupid by now): “You and S had a baby girl a few days ago?”
A: “Yes, and I needed some advice from someone on what to do about it and S. wanted me to call you.” Here I think she said something else, but I couldn’t really hear her anymore.
Me: “Ok. Let me call you back. Just stay by the phone and give me a few minutes and I promise I’ll call you right back. In, like, a few minutes.”
Somewhere in the middle of that last sentence is when the panic set in and the attack began. My hand was shaking so hard I could hardly hold the phone. My heart felt like it would beat out of my chest, or be squeezed to a complete stop by the increasing tightness. My throat was closing up and I realized there were tears falling because I felt them scalding my face. Both my son T. and his dad J., my significant other, were staring at me with panicked looks on their faces. I hung up the phone and ran past them to the bathroom. J. followed me in and shut the door.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“S. had a baby girl!” I squeaked. I grabbed his shirt tightly with both hands and burst into loud crying. If he hadn’t been holding me so tightly I think I might have crashed to the floor, I could hardly breathe.
He let me cry for a while and when I finally began to wind down, he said, “You have a right to feel upset and cry, but you need to get it together and call those kids back. Can you imagine how scared they are right now? And they called you for help. Go call her back, and go get the baby if you need to, everything will be fine.” He was right of course and hearing him say it, I started to feel much better and calm down.
I washed my face and then as he walked out of the bathroom, my mother knocked on the door. He let her in and directed her to the bathroom. As soon as I saw her, I burst into tears again, having an ‘I-need-my-mommy-moment.’ And although that lasted all of about 90 seconds, it helped me get an immediate perspective on how it must feel to be a seventeen year old girl with an issue like this and no one to talk to. I told my mom what was going on and she said essentially the same thing J. had. I just felt all the hurt, anger, and disappointment drain out of me to be replaced by something like a steely resolve. I went back to the kitchen (and my wine!) and called A. back and arranged to pick them and the baby up the next morning.
She was with us for a few weeks until her parents got themselves situated. Now I am officially a grandmother to a beautiful baby girl named Charlie. Whew, I said it! I guess I’ll be writing lots of infant articles now, between her and my niece. I can’t wait to pick her up and meet up with my sister and niece to shop for baby girl dresses, shoes, hair bows and pink everything!
Cheryl is a student at CUNY School of Professional Studies and the mother of three boys. A former office manager, she currently writes a blog about her adventures in parenting called UrbanMommys.com. In her spare time she likes to check out fun new places and things to do with children for her readers.
In September, SPS announced that Linda Key (’12) received a prestigious Fulbright award. Applied Theatre students and alumni continue to break ground. At elementary schools in all five boroughs, Leah Page (’13), Liz Parker (’11), Rachel Evans (’13), Amy Sawyers (’13), Anneka Fagundes (’11), Shamilia McBean (’13), Brisa Munoz (’13), and Sara Hunter Orr (’13) deliver “Alice’s Story,” an interactive theatre piece about bullying. The piece was created by J’nelle Chelune (’11), Ria Cooper (’11), and Anneka Fagundes for the arts in education organization Making Books Sing, with the organization’s Director of Education. TIME for Kids magazine covered “Alice’s Story” in a recent October issue—in fact, the publication featured Rachel Evans and Liz Parker on its cover, in TIME’s iconic red frame.
In Chelsea this summer, second- and third-year students interviewed seniors at SAGE, the nation’s first Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender senior center. Led by visiting professor Tony Goode, our students wove the interviews into an original piece of theatre, and then performed the piece for SAGE and other centers. Chelsea Now covered the performance, acknowledging Carli Gaugh (’13), who had “channeled a SAGE member” and captured the spirit of the singular seniors.
The Applied Theatre program’s collaboration with SAGE began in 2011 as a thesis project. Sherry Teitelbaum (’11), Kevin Ray (’11), and Jenny Houseal (’11) led LGTBQ youth and members of SAGE in creating a theatre ensemble. Foreshadowing this summer’s work, the ensemble drew on its members’ stories to create a dynamic original piece of theatre. Now, the project, called Bridging the Gap, has won major funding to return to SAGE; Bridging the Gap’s second original piece, “The Quest for Love,” premiered Saturday, December 1 at The LGBTQ Center. Also working with seniors, Abigail Unger (’12) was recently hired as Recreation Coordinator for Project Find, a network of senior centers throughout the city.
Downtown at Judson Memorial Church, Wil Fisher (’11) and Michael Wilson (’11) produced The New Masculinities Festival, an evening of performances addressing what it means to be a man. See www.manquestion.org/festival or to watch the performance.
I am writing to tell you about a Red Cross volunteer day to Far Rockaway, Queens, which you’ve probably heard about. The story of my last stint at the shelter in Long Island was posted on the CUNY SPS Community Blog, and I thank them for their initiative. It may also be on the Red Cross blog soon.
This stretch of land, Far Rockaway, is a peninsula on the south end of Queens/Long Island, just south of JFK airport, which was right in Sandy’s way and still has widespread power outages and fuel shortages.
The New York Red Cross organized a volunteer effort to cover some of the most affected areas, which are basically the last pockets without power. There is an info-graphic that compares three recent major storms.
This was also an interesting day. We met up with our Red Cross (ARC) friend and headed down to Floyd Bennett airfield where the National Guard, FEMA, ARC, etc., have set up with fuel tanker trucks, trailers, mass kitchens from the Southern Baptists, and so on. Anne and I were with an ARC member and we set out ahead of the volunteer bus to find the location where we were to meet the food trucks, and to let folks in the area know there would be hot food.
The drive to Far Rockaway over the bridge from the airfield was an eye-opener. Even big trees had toppled and the storm’s winds had spread the sand from the beach from the waterfront up to a few hundred yards inland. Written on a boarded-up McD’s was: “Nothing here 2 take. U R 2 late.” Some commentary on night-time activity. Smashed car windows told the same story.
People in those neighborhoods were tending to their homes, generating piles of rubble that sanitation crews were picking up here and there. Some streets were closed to traffic entirely, because of downed trees, downed cables, trash, or rubble. Utility crews, said to come from all over the country, were all throughout the neighborhood, working on power lines and assessing damage. Some unfortunate neighborhoods will always be the last to have services restored.
Much of the dislocation comes from the associated effects of not having power—no heat, communications, spoiled food, trash piling up, lack of fuel, totaled cars everywhere… The area has been without power since the storm 18 days ago, when the ocean water, 4 to 6 feet deep, rushed in and destroyed any electrical circuit it met—in cars, in fuse boxes on houses, street lights, garages. Generators were around by buildings, work sites, and on main streets and corners. Lines of hundreds waited in long lines for fuel trucks, carrying gas cans to fill up their cans and generators, all overseen by police officers.
We found that a church close by had clothing donation and distribution going on, and found people charging their phones on generators. The food trucks arrived soon, run by volunteers from California, Virginia, and other places. People soon started queuing up for a hot meal ready to go, but that didn’t compare to when the next truck, carrying a load of clean-up kits, diapers, and over 900 comfort kits (containing a blanket, flash light, batteries, wipes, hand sanitizer, hand warmers, and more) arrived. Since we had walked the neighborhood, we easily found three apartment complexes that lacked generators and the kits found their way into the crowds in less than an hour. Here a word about the volunteers. They came from schools and companies all over town and formed instant teams for canvassing, food prep, handing out supplies, and did it all with a compassionate and positive attitude.
There were bright spots. Some houses had remained dry and people had taken in others who had no place to go. Sometimes we were told that things were fine, or that neighbors were helping each other by sharing a generator. In another back yard we found a guy with a beer and a hearty “who cares”-laugh barbecuing.
The whole effort will have gone on for a few more days after the first one on Saturday, which we were part of. I am thankful for getting a chance to help, and that leads me, with a little smile, to a good opportunity to mention that a small donation to the Red Cross is a very easy and helpful way to support disaster relief, not just here, but all over the country.
One more thought. After Katrina hit New Orleans it became public knowledge that in a situation like this people really need to be prepared to get by on their own for 72 hours. Please consider checking a preparedness web site to make a plan. They say hindsight is 20/20, but sucks nonetheless, if enjoyed from a raft.
Best, as always,
PS: As always, these views are my own and do not reflect the views or positions of any other party, directly, or otherwise.
Michael Spieth is a graduate of the Advanced Certificate in Project Management program at CUNY School of Professional Studies.
To all of the veterans, active troops, and military families in the SPS community, we thank you! Returning home and making higher education a goal is not always easy. We asked alum Armando Vega, and current student Enrique Diaz to share some of their thoughts on being student veterans.
I was in the U.S. Navy, and I served honorably for 4 years (1994 – 1998).
2. What CUNY SPS program did you receive a degree in, when, and how has that changed your life?
I earned an MA in Labor Studies. My desire is to work in Human Resources and the Labor Relations department. My dream is to one day become the HR manager and or director of a reputable corporation.
3. Were your experiences as a student affected by also being a veteran?
Not really because I returned to school much later in life, and my classmates where older working class adults. I try to keep my veteran status private for the most part.
4. What does Veterans Day mean to you?
Veterans Day is close to being the most important day of the year next to July 4th. It is a day of remembrance for the sacrifices made by the many brave men and women that has enabled this great nation to remain free from tyranny.
5. What advice do you have for newly returning veterans?
To be resilient, and realize that the civilian world is not very kind to returning veterans, and that finding employment is very difficult right now. Keep the faith and seek help from the Veterans Administration.
Any additional thoughts?
For me to attend CUNY and earn my Masters degree was a worthwhile accomplishment, and hopefully I can use it to advance in my career.
1. What branch of the United States Military did you serve, and for how many years were you enlisted?
I served 6 years as a Religious Program Specialist (RP) with the United States Navy and 4 years as an 0111 (Administrative Specialist) with the United States Marine Corps.
Currently enrolled in the Public Administration Certificate Program, once completed, June 2013, I plan on transferring to Brooklyn College for a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. Once I have earned my degree in Political Science, I hope to use it to advance my career within City government.
3. Were your experiences as a student affected by also being a veteran?
My yearning for learning was nurtured while I was on active duty. As a veteran, I now have more time to pursue my desire to learn.
4. What does Veterans Day mean to you?
It’s a day of reflection. I think back to my time served, my friends and family who have served and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that I could live in a land where the only one holding me back is myself. All the opportunities are there for the taking.
5. What advice do you have for newly returning veterans?
Take advantage of any programs available to you. Use your GI Bill to further your education and make yourself more marketable. As sad as it is to say, being a veteran is simply not enough anymore to obtain a good paying job to sustain yourself and your family.