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?

Online BS in Business, Denise Lewis. Student at CUNY School of Professional Studies

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.

Admissions and Academic Advisor Jaye-anne Sartoretto works at The CUNY School of Professional StudiesJaye-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.