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Hey guys,

When I decided to write a graduation blog—sort of a tell-all about my CUNY academic journey—I quickly found out I literally had no idea of what to say. It isn’t that I’m lacking in material; rather I was chock-full of witty statements about meeting (or missing) deadlines; “thanks,” to send out to all my CUNY professors and other administrative staff that helped make earning my undergraduate degree an experience I’m truly proud of; and, of course, time-management tips for full-time students who have thousands of other obligations. However, I struggled with pulling anything cohesive together. So, after many wasted afternoons at my local Starbucks, I did what any other Communication and Culture graduate would do—I communicated by sharing my “writer’s block” phenomenon all over the Internet. While waiting for inspiration to hit or a friend to text back with a sympathetic ‘smiley face,’ I stumbled across a really enlightening video featured here.

As a Communication and Culture major, this video really struck a chord with me. The author presents his message in a brutally honest manner that cannot be ignored, if only because we are all so plugged in to society via “smartphones.” I, personally, can attest to the difficulty of striking up a conversation on the bus stop or even offering something as simple as a greeting to a passersby because we just don’t notice each other. The lives that we live online, the conversations that we hold via social networks, even the pictures we take and immediately post have become so important that we may be missing out on everyday moments. And why? Why is it so important that we ‘share’ every minute detail about our lives on social networks—it’s only being looked at, considered, judged, and then passed over, reduced to a ‘like’ or simply forgotten. I don’t quite know the answer to that question but I do know that I am going to utilize my degree NOT to publish my life online but to communicate interpersonally with the people around me.

My studies here at CUNY SPS helped me realize we are a nation of many cultures, languages, ethnicities, backgrounds, stories, and feelings. Each of us matters in our unique way and we all are worth more than the click of a ‘like’ or ‘share’ button. Communication, thus culture, is comprised of much more than wording an essay online or in class, composing an eloquent response to a peer, and knowing the correct usage of a word. Communication does not stop when we leave online chat rooms, close out private messages, or even exit our classes. Likewise, the history behind the many cultures populating America cannot be summed up and manifested in one person who thinks to share his or her life-story via Facebook or chooses to post authentic cultural dishes on Instagram. Communication and culture is so much larger than us that to truly understand its content, we must go outside the Internet, beyond our smartphones and venture into this people-populated world.

Big steps are not necessary in our quest to start interpersonal communication with those around us. The first thing I’m going to do is stop practicing yoga in front of my laptop screen with my cell close at hand and actually enroll in a class at my local gym. Ten dollars a class, no cellphones allowed, and interaction with men and women of all ages and ethnicities. Sounds perfect!

Recently, I a friend told me that we were moving into the ‘Age of Aquarius” and I should be on the lookout for major positive changes in my life. Only vaguely aware of the concepts behind astrology and the planetary sign under which I was born, I simply laughed her statement away and asked if she really believed in horoscopes and such “super-natural” seeming ideas. This question led to a lengthy debate regarding astrology and inspired me to conduct a bit of research and discover some of the ideas behind the “science of the stars.”

Astrology, or the “science of the stars,” is widely regarded as one of those pseudo-sciences, important in the old days but not nearly as relevant in today’s logical and linear-inclined scientific ideologies. Indeed, the basic principles of astrology are rooted far beyond what can be observed or measured physically; it builds instead on foundations of celestial thought, intuitiveness, and ancient philosophies. For example, as stated by Rob Tillet, published astrologer, “astrology seeks the meaning and application of the influences of the planets, stars and other celestial phenomena in our lives.” Yet, despite the somewhat mystical and spiritual doctrines of astrology, many people are drawn to astrology to determine the significance of various events or even attempt to predict what may next occur.

The science of astrology predates nearly every other science currently in existence today and has been traced as far back as 1645 BC to certain Babylonian civilizations. However, as noted by, “astrology’s origins can also be traced to several other locations and cultures, including Egypt, Greece, and Rome—civilizations whose people developed sophisticated sciences, authored influential astrological texts, or provided counsel based on the stars.” So how is “counsel based on the stars” rendered? Traditionally, astrologers relied on the premise that every human is a spiritual being born under a particular planet and as such is very likely to display certain personality traits, have specific encounters/experiences, or fulfill various obligations depending upon the alignment of their birth planet with the other planets. Astrologers defined which planet an individual was born under by reviewing their birth date and decoding what the position of the sun and the other planets were at that time. For example, as Rob Tillet tells us, “each planet is literally the body and expression of a spiritual being or entity whose job it is to guide the destinies of life-forms on this planet.” Each planet has its own physical representation (i.e. fish, justice scales, ram) which corresponds to a particular month. These symbols are recorded chronologically in a reference chart called the “Zodiac.”

The Zodiac is divided into twelve divisions—also known as houses—each of which corresponds to a planet and of course a sign. For example, the first sign of the Zodiac is Aries (the ram) which is ruled by the planet Mars, followed by Taurus (the bull) ruled by Venus, Gemini (the twins) rules by Mercury, Cancer (the crab) ruled by the Moon, Leo (the lion) ruled by the Sun, Virgo (the Virgin) ruled by Mercury, Libra (the scales) ruled by Venus, Scorpio (the scorpion) ruled by Pluto, Sagittarius (the Archer) ruled by Jupiter, Capricorn (the goat) ruled by Saturn, Aquarius (the Water-bearer) ruled by Uranus, and Pisces (the fish) ruled by Neptune.

Astrologers today rely on the Zodiac chart in much the same way as astrologers of old. For example, comparing a person’s birth date with the alignment of the planets on that particular day not only reveals their sign but it is also said to provide insight as to the person’s future—hence daily horoscopes.

As I conducted my research, I also began to read up on my sign and determine how closely my personality matches the attributes credited to individuals born under the planet Uranus. After learning Aquarians are thought to be, as stated by Michael Thiessen, creator of Astrology Online, “friendly, humanitarian, honest, loyal, original, inventive, independent, and intellectual with tendencies toward unpredictability and contrariness,” it is my thought that my personality traits do closely parallel the ideas of the astrologers. I now flip to the daily horoscope section in the paper to see what astrologers of today are advising me to look out for!

With that being said, I am looking forward to entering the “Age of Aquarius” and encourage everyone to look into their own astrological sign. If nothing else, it will be a fun pursuit and an educational journey!

Works Cited:

Tillet, Rob. How Does Astrology Work? Astrology on the Web, 2012. Web. 7 August 2012. A History of Astrology., 2010. Web. 7 August 2012.

Thiessen, Michael. The Water Carrier. Astrology Online, 2012. Web. 7 August 2012.

Recently, while browsing the CUNY SPS Community Blog, I noticed a post by Ms. Shannon Gallo in which she posed the oft-asked question of “What did you do this summer?” Although I have heard this question countless times before, just as I am sure most of us have, it never fails to catch my attention. Therefore, as I sit down to compose my latest post, I find myself searching my memory banks for what really happened throughout the months of June and July.

First off, the year 2012 was huge for me, primarily because I turned eighteen! And, as a result am now considered—at least, age-wise—to be an adult which—in my mind—meant I should begin taking control of my life in a more adult fashion. What better way to do that than by obtaining a job and attempting to exact some amount of control over my own finances? So, having set the objective of obtaining a job as my goal for the summer, I immediately started the long process of drafting cover letters, resumes, and introductory letters to companies everywhere. Yet, having little to no work experience was definitely a black mark against me and I found myself growing discouraged as weeks passed with no return calls. As the months of May, June, and July flew by, I had almost resigned myself to the fact that “Operation Get A Job” was probably not going to be fulfilled—at least not this summer…

So when a relative brought home an application from a community advertisement, I barely glanced at it. Why should I think this company would hire me when so many  others had not, but under the gentle prodding of family and friends, I filled it out and sent in a resume. Imagine my surprise when the manager returned my call only a few short days later! And before I knew it, I was interviewing for my very first position and being asked about a start-date. Now approximately, two weeks later, I find that I am increasingly adapting to my work schedule, becoming acquainted with my coworkers, and attaining proficiency in carrying out my responsibilities.

Even better, I find that my position is building on many of the lessons I have learned as a student of City University of New York. For example, having a work schedule which I must adhere to is honing my time management skills—it is critical I prioritize so everything which must be done gets accomplished in the time allotted for that particular task. Further, because I work for and in conjunction with many diverse peoples—all of whom with their own ideas, expectations, and behavioral standards—I must use my knowledge of communication to interact successfully, tactfully, and efficiently with everyone.

As of today, the summer has officially ended for me and yet I remain excited because I am on track to graduate at the end of the Fall 2012 semester. Since I have secured employment, the next logical step(s) on the path I am following is to…prep for a Graduate Program and…buy a car!

Wish me luck as I embark on a journey to fulfill these endeavors and I wish you a Very Successful Fall Semester!

Images Used:

Ricci, I.”Summer.” Image. WordPress Blog. 2012.Web

The Central Dallas Ministries Educational Dept. “The Audacity to Learn.” Image. GoogleBlogs. 2012. Web

twitter logoTwitter, a social micro-blogging website has burst onto the scene and become embedded into the fabric of society and more importantly has become one of society’s methods of staying ‘in touch.’ Twitter has attracted users from all walks of life, be they mainstream corporations, governmental organizations, political activists, advertisers, celebrities, or merely people who wish to connect with their friends and the wider world around them. Twitter has proven its effectiveness as the power of Twitter has been harnessed, mined for its expediency in news transmission and instantaneous updates. As Twitter has grown in popularity, I have become an avid Twitter user, connected to a diverse audience.

While scrolling down a Twitter feed, my attention was caught by a comment which read, “Twitter is a heavily populated city, Facebook is just a vacation spot and MySpace is a ghost town.” While I don’t know about the validity of the comment in relation to Facebook or MySpace, it cannot be disputed that Twitter is a “heavily populated city,” one which I was not always a part of.

Twitter, according to Nancy Messieh from “The Next Web” “is growing at a rate of eleven accounts per second and could easily surpass the five hundred million users mark by February of 2012.” Suddenly, it seemed crucial that I join these users and begin interacting in a more positive and productive manner. I was instantly motivated to dig out my Twitter password and username which had been hastily scribbled onto an index card and tossed in a drawer immediately after creation late last year. I found I was still following the same five to ten people, over half of which were family members or fellow athletes. My followers consisted of an equally familiar and predictable bunch of friends and family members. Previously, I might have been satisfied with that but, after learning that Twitter is home to a vibrant community of five hundred million individuals, I was compelled to start reaching out.

Almost ten hours later, I had three assignments still waiting for me, a new appreciation for the intricacies of wasting time and I had managed to follow almost 1891 assorted individuals. I had cast a wide net and was ‘connecting’ with everyone, from governmental organizations, news agencies, charity groups, political figures, writers, and everyday people. In return, I had gained 250 followers of equally diverse backgrounds. I looked at my home page and was fascinated with the amount of pure ‘news’ whittled down to 140 characters and a link which continuously streamed in. Instantly, I was up-to-date on the latest legislation, the newest social media website craze, and the latest breaking news event sweeping the nation. I could not have been any more excited.

I logged off, already planning my next foray into the huge thriving digital world that was Twitter. Retweets and more followers….here I come! My plan started off the next day with surprising success. Through the night, my follower base had grown to 279 followers so I was fairly confident I had cracked the secret of securing followers. The more people you follow, the more people will follow you. I started off with ‘Retweets’, turning myself into a ‘journalist’ of sorts. I tracked down interesting news blurbs on my feed and retweeted them to my followers, sometimes adding an interesting hashtag to my posts. I continued tracking down interesting people and clicking the Follow button until I was following over two thousand people and Twitter refused to allow me to follow anyone else! My fun with Twitter had been officially ended and I felt cheated. Over five hundred million people and I was only allowed to connect to two thousand? There was nothing I could do about the people who refused to follow back – why should that limit who I am allowed to follow. Nevertheless, it did and I promptly launched a mass deletion of ‘Tweeps’ from my account. Everyone who wasn’t following me was immediately removed until I whittled the number of people I follow down to three hundred and fifty while I have three hundred and thirty people who follow me. I now visit the pages of various Twitter accounts and ‘retweet’ or ‘favorite’ as a method of sharing news and information I find interesting.

Today, I am still determined to reach out to my fellow Twitter-er; however, I have devised a strategy which will keep me well within the limitations imposed by Twitter and still allow me to share news from all over. At 344 Following and 342 Followers, my Twitter account is balanced but my news feed is rich with the diverse perspectives of Twitter-ers everywhere. Follow me @coyj.

Works Cited

 Messieh, Nancy. “Twitter Adding 11 New Accounts A Second and Could Pass 500 Million Users by February, says Report.” The Next Web. The Next Web, 16 January 2012. Web. 18 March 2012.

The ruthless brutality which humankind has been known to unleash upon their fellow humans throughout history seems unrelenting and in fact almost unbelievable when considered in hindsight. For example, the Holocaust, the Trail of Tears, the Middle Passage, and the Great Purge – all events of historical significance, centered around a human ethnocentric desire to prove that their particular race (or idea) is better than another. What seems even more startling is the fact that such events are usually not talked about – and are even more rarely thought about. It almost seems as if we make a subconscious effort to push our knowledge of these events far away so we don’t have to think about them or consider the tragic outcomes. I know I have. However, recent events forced me to dredge up my knowledge of man’s inhumanity against man and reconsider those who have been forced into submission and now…..silently wait.

Trail of Tears Winter March

While out for an afternoon drive, a bumper sticker caught my eye because of the message it carried. Stuck on the back of an old dark blue Chevy, the sticker read “Terrorizing Native Americans Since 1492.” Jolted, in my mind’s eye I was transported to another era. I was forced to consider the implications of those words and how much Native Americans – and indeed Native people of many lands – have been terrorized. America was a place inhabited by many peoples who – long before America was “discovered” in 1492 and any earlier expeditions – had established their own systems, languages, cultural knowledge, and expectations. However, their way of life was slashed, ripped to shreds after the discovery of the “New World” ushered in the era of colonization which somehow resulted in the Native people playing the role of ‘slave’ while the colonizers played the role of ‘master.’

My trip back through the horrors of time continued when I stumbled across a portion of “USA Today” (a newspaper) and flipped through it, planning to throw it away when an article entitled “Recognizing Slave Burial Grounds” caught my eye. Essentially, construction crews clearing land for other purposes have stumbled across numerous ‘slave cemeteries’ – some of which have been horribly desecrated. For example, in areas where plantations once stood and in regions where sugar was grown and harvested by slaves, constructions workers have found remains of those who were never properly buried – their lives never respected nor admired nor really talked about.

The silence is understandable. No-one wants to know what happened to all those people who bore the brunt of human brutality. Justice is blind (and apparently mute and deaf as well) – it is far easier to ignore the traumas of history than face them. After all, before this newspaper article and before catching sight of that bumper sticker, I had never spared a thought to what happened to the people who were slaughtered senselessly in the Holocaust, to those who were worked to death on plantations and covered with dirt until their remains were buried under landfill only to be happened upon years later, to those who dropped during forced marches, or executed in concentration camps. What happens to those people – their memories, their children, their way of life…… and when the horrors they were forced to endure are unveiled by accident, what happens to history?

Works Cited:

Jervis, Rick. “Recognizing Slave Burial Grounds.” USA Today 14 February 2012: 3A. Print.

Hi everyone, my name is Coy.

The year 2011 was a year of opportunities, challenges, and new experiences. My first semester as a CUNY SPS student greatly expanded my perspectives as I found myself introduced to the vast amount of resources we – students, workers, and citizens of a digital world – all have at our disposal. Now that 2011 is at a close, I find myself with an opportunity to reflect back on what drew me toward the CUNY SPS community……..

For the majority of Americans, acceptance into a university is considered a milestone – a portal of sorts that allows graduates entrance into a successful career and fulfilling life. University life is viewed with awe as hopeful high school graduates contemplate the schools they will attend, the courses they will study, the clubs they will involve themselves in, the people they will meet, and the knowledge they will exit with. The prospects of university life are often made better when it is considered that as college freshmen they may live on-campus and thus practice ‘real-life skills’ – such as meeting deadlines, budgeting, and time management – away from home. When the four (or more) years have been completed, the new graduate proudly displays their degree and promptly walks into a job which highlights the skills honed at the university. Although, current economic times render these oft-held expectations of university life improbable, many hopeful college entrants entertain such dreams. Up until July 8th 2011, I was one of these many college hopefuls, albeit, one with a slightly different story.

I am a tennis athlete who has always preferred homeschooling. Like many of my same-age peers with whom I grew up, I imagined myself playing for whichever university offered me a scholarship. I saw myself on the pristine courts of universities known for their tennis accomplishments such as UCLA or USC. Throughout my early years as a tennis player, prospects seemed good. I consistently played tournaments, amassed several tournament wins, and generally finished in the top ten of my respective age division. Things seemed to be on the right track until I was injured. Before I knew it, tennis had taken a backseat and my scholarship plans were halted. It was clear I would need to find an alternate method of attending a university.

Since my dreams of a college scholarship would not be fulfilled as I had hoped, I began taking community college courses. In the beginning, I had merely hoped to augment my high school education. However, as I took more and more community college classes, I began to consider the idea of transferring my units to a university and begin pursing a baccalaureate degree in earnest. I had gathered approximately seventy units and was anxiously researching universities to determine where I could go. I did not want to leave home so the program would have to be online; yet, I also wanted a rigorous instruction that would build upon the knowledge I had gained and challenge my ideas. By chance, I discovered City University of New York School of Professional Studies. Further investigation revealed that SPS offered online baccalaureate degrees and would accept up to ninety units. It seemed as if I had found the right program.

I contacted CUNY SPS and began the enrollment process. I tracked down transcripts, composed a personal statement, completed applications, and impatiently awaited a letter of acceptance. I received it July 8th and shortly thereafter began to correspond with my Academic Advisor. She proved very helpful as I secured my classes, responding to my questions and concerns in a timely and informed manner. I soon became acclimated to my classes and enjoyed a highly successful first semester as an SPS student. As the Spring Semester approaches, I am looking forward not only to my upcoming classes but also to engaging with the wider CUNY community through our Community Blog.