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I’m currently reading Waiter Rant by Steve Dublianca and I can’t stress how excellent the book is. There is something so amazing when someone is just honest and forthcoming about their personal experiences. It’s like an invisible connection of emotions and thoughts that we can relate to. The writer explains his experience working in the restaurant industry.

For starters, I commend him. Working with the general public is difficult but the food industry is a beast all in its own. I tried my hand at working at a local Cuban restaurant when I was about 14 and made it through about a 1 day, 4 hour shift and I never went back. A few years later and one of the only times  I was able to not work and simply focus on school, I took a temp job at a Subway (at least it was temporary in my mind). That lasted just long enough to pay off my newly minted credit card. It wasn’t a hard job, but the clincher for me was when one day I was getting ready for school. I had taken a shower, gotten ready, and got to class. Of course, I always sat in the back and still do like the genuine handful that I am. The thing is that I caught a whiff of Subway. If you’ve ever eaten subway you know they have an incredibly distinguishable smell. It was only after a few minutes that I realized that smell of subway was me. I didn’t last, I cracked. I was still around 19 or 20 years old, super self-centered and self-conscious and couldn’t fathom going to school smelling like I’d been bathing in Subway. Needless to say I quit.

The writer of Waiter Rant talks a lot about humanity, the socioeconomic disparity and more importantly, the ruthlessness in our own humanity. One of the examples he talks about is a women who suffered a stroke in the restaurant. The woman is waiting for an ambulance when a couple walks in and proceeds to argue about the table they want, all while this woman is on the floor having a stroke. If you shook your head while reading that, take a second and think, are you that person on the train that has watched someone pass out and sucked your teeth or sighed out loud at the delay? Because I’ve watched this happen before. Right, because the person laying on the filthy subway car totally planned on botching your morning commute. I’m ruthless and cutthroat in a lot of ways, but on the other hand I am empathetic and understanding. So if I’m stuck under ground or plain stuck because your having a medical emergency, I think, oh well at least I’m still alive to see another day, the person who’s on the floor might not be that fortunate.

The book talks about a homeless guy who sometimes gets food from a restaurant. It reminds me of the homeless problem in New York and nationally. A few years back I was out with one of my best friends. The weather was brutal, I could feel the cold through my 1 Madison fox fur, goose coat. (Okay PETA advocates, have a seat. I didn’t know at the time it was authentic until I read the tag). The thing was that there was a woman with a thin coat asking for a coffee. Yes, a coffee. What upset me was everyone ignored her. She wasn’t asking for change, she wasn’t asking for money, she just wanted something to warm up. Now I pose this question, how can you say no? I’ve often asked homeless people if their hungry. I may not be rolling in the dough but how can you justify denying someone a meal. This past week this has been bouncing around in my peanut head. If I can afford a $300 Coach bag, how can I justify denying someone even a $5 meal? Can you? I know I can’t. Let’s put it this way, if you own an iPhone you know they retail for about $600 or upwards unless you have contract etc.. If you own an iPad, your walking around with now $1,000 in goods at minimum. So just think about that.

I’m not saying it’s up to one person or anyone to dive in financially and help the homeless or to jump in and save the life of a passed out passenger. What I am saying is we need to be a bit more conscientious of our attitudes towards each other. The truth is—even me included in this—it’s easy to be consumed by the work and school grind, however, no matter the pursuit, you should never lose sight of your humanity.

Here is my fave quote from the book:

“My Godfather, a Catholic Priest, once told me: ‘You may be the strongest and survive-only to win a life not fit for living.'”

Jessica is a full time mother, employee, and student. She works as an Immigration Paralegal and is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Business. Jessica loves to volunteer with organizations that are targeted towards children. She recognizes that children are our future and sometimes they need someone who believes in them.

Jessica’s motto: Balancing everything is difficult but achievable.

One of Jessica’s greatest passions is writing. She says, “You have the ability to connect with reader’s in a way that speaking sometimes you simply can’t explain. I have been through a lot in my personal life and am very open about my struggles, but I live to be an example to not only my own daughter but to others.”
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Have you ever seen that 1990’s movie about a dentist that goes whackadoodle over his wife who’s having an affair with the pool boy? Well I know they don’t really do that but I have an extreme aversion to dentists. In fact, I would sooner let a tooth fall out of my head rather than indulge in going. I never even had my wisdom teeth knocked out of my head. They’re in my mouth living a delightful life. However, years ago I had a bad tooth that eventually cracked but the pain eventually stopped. So when I had an issue a few years back and I was forced to go to a dentist, it turns out they had to extract what was left. This was my first experience that wasn’t a routine cleaning or planing.

To say I would rather eat off the floor of a subway car than to go to the dentist is a pretty bad analogy considering how filthy those carts are. But I can justify that one since people in other countries eat off the floor and they’re okay. What did we do before plates and bowls (cavemen times)? The moral of this story is that I went. They numbed my gums which was painful in itself and then he proceeded to crack my tooth like a nutcracker as my head moved around like I was bopping to a happy beat. I was horrified and traumatized all at the same time.

Needless to say, I avoided the dentist for a few years after that once in a lifetime joyous experience. Recently, actually a week before Christmas, I received the most priceless gift ever! A toothache. Of course it was so bad I had no choice but to seek human intervention. Now, I like this dentist but I can’t stress how long I put this off for. My root canal was just finished a few weeks back, so I literally put off a visit since December. I didn’t show up like twice and I rescheduled like 4 times. God bless them for putting up with me, but I guess the girls know I have a strong aversion to the dentist. Unless I’m dropping dead on your floor, catch me if you can…

Jessica is a full time mother, employee, and student. She works as an Immigration Paralegal and is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Business. Jessica loves to volunteer with organizations that are targeted towards children. She recognizes that children are our future and sometimes they need someone who believes in them.

Jessica’s motto: Balancing everything is difficult but achievable.

One of Jessica’s greatest passions is writing. She says, “You have the ability to connect with reader’s in a way that speaking sometimes you simply can’t explain. I have been through a lot in my personal life and am very open about my struggles, but I live to be an example to not only my own daughter but to others.”

I tend to think that I’m reasonable. There is nothing that you can’t explain to me that I won’t understand or try to understand. I heed advice because I’d rather avoid the pitfalls of life than go through something that someone can help me avoid. I think I’ve been through more than enough at this stage of my life.

The one thing that drives me insane is that I don’t listen to people who don’t have a leg to stand on. If your a hot mess trying to tell me what to do—your nuts, bonkers, mad—I don’t even want to hear your spiel. Get yourself together first then lets assess.

This isn’t limited to my own parents. It’s not that I’m still holding on to the resentment of the past for essentially raising myself as a teen. But I can’t understand where mostly my father gets off trying to tell me to save for my daughters college—something I’ve done since she was in the womb and he did not do—or anything else for that matter. Kids don’t come with a children for dummies manual. But some things I like to think you can figure out on your own.

My Achilles in life is my daughter. Where I may not have any feelings or emotions towards anything else in life, and my actions might be cold, she’s the one person I whole heartily would do anything for and this includes sacrificing my own peace and happiness to make her happy.

I have a 1,909,093,000 worries right now. So to get a call this morning from the man who helped create this whole that I’ve been struggling to get out of, after I’m helping him, to lecture me on my daughter, is insane. I’m outspoken so of course I said my peace, because my initial reaction was, “How dare you.” How dare you lecture me when I’m the one carrying the burden 15 years after you left me fending for myself. I suppose there is a thin line between reason and insanity… and my life remains in remnants of insanity.

Jessica is a full time mother, employee, and student. She works as an Immigration Paralegal and is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Business. Jessica loves to volunteer with organizations that are targeted towards children. She recognizes that children are our future and sometimes they need someone who believes in them.

Jessica’s motto: Balancing everything is difficult but achievable.

One of Jessica’s greatest passions is writing. She says, “You have the ability to connect with reader’s in a way that speaking sometimes you simply can’t explain. I have been through a lot in my personal life and am very open about my struggles, but I live to be an example to not only my own daughter but to others.”

I may have explained before or may have simply neglected to explain that I used to be a spark. Like the kind you see on July 4th kind of spark, pretty but kind of frightening sometimes. I’m not sure what conjured this story, but the other day as I was getting ready for work, and this pants story popped right into my little head.

You see, I’m the type of person that owns things. If I’ve offended you, said or done anything I’ll own it in its entirety. If I didn’t do or say something, again, I’m going to be the first one with her hand up saying I didn’t do this. Nothing seems to flip my switches faster than someone assuming and accusing me of doing or saying something when hands down, I’ll tell you to your face. Of course if I don’t remember I’ll tell you the same as well.

When I was about 19, I bought a pair of burgundy stretchy work pants from Rainbows in Lake Worth when I lived in Florida. As is the usual case of my life, with work, and school I was always running around. The pants had been in my car with the intention of bringing them back, because after I brought them home I hated them. (Not at all uncommon for me.) The thing of it is, that those pants traveled in my car up and down for about a week in their bag with the receipt and tags still on. On one of those days someone had broken into my car taken my radio but ransacked my cars contents including the pants, so by the time I went to return them, they were a bit wrinkled.

I walked into the store with bag, tags on and receipt. When I approached the counter, (I recall this like it was yesterday) the cashier told me I’d worn the pants. Now lets pause here. I have patience, but if you ask me or tell me something I of course will oblige and answer. I don’t handle stupidity well at all… so lets keep this in mind here.

I calmly explained I didn’t wear them, hence the tags were on. I just didn’t have time to bring them back any sooner than a week. She proceeds to call the manager. Now what happens next was seriously one of those black out moments where first your like you’ve got to be kidding me, but then anger makes its appearance like a headlining superstar.

The first thing she says when she calls the manager is this girl is returning pants and she wore them. If I could tell you I saw colors, stars and stripes I would. I remember the initial shock as my mouth literally dropped because I didn’t wear the stupid pants, and now this woman who I’d been going back and forth with for 20 minutes was telling someone I wore them as her opening statement. By the time she got off the phone I was in full on “Carrie the Rage” mode. I was screaming, and yelling because I didn’t wear the pants and she continued to accuse me of doing so. The end of the story is, I walked myself right outside and slammed the pants against a pole a few times before proceeding to toss them in the garbage. I still hate those pants today.

My point in telling this story is that I own my actions fully. I don’t believe in excuses. I feel like if you do something, man up and own it, good or bad. I hate it when people try and deflect blame. Do I blame anyone for the untimely demise of my pants? Not exactly. I own my part in beating them like a rug against a pole and them tossing them. Yup, that was all me right there. (I can imagine the faces of the shoppers in that plaza, while this is going on.)

It’s funny because I’m in a situation with someone now that is constantly throwing blame on everything and everyone around them and it drives me nuts. We can’t control our circumstances entirely or surroundings but we do have the power to control how we react and we can control the ownership of our participation in the things that we do. If one person upsets me, there is no reason everyone thereafter has to pay, because they are not the source of my imbalanced emotions at that moment.

Jessica is a full time mother, employee, and student. She works as an Immigration Paralegal and is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Business. Jessica loves to volunteer with organizations that are targeted towards children. She recognizes that children are our future and sometimes they need someone who believes in them.

Jessica’s motto: Balancing everything is difficult but achievable.

One of Jessica’s greatest passions is writing. She says, “You have the ability to connect with reader’s in a way that speaking sometimes you simply can’t explain. I have been through a lot in my personal life and am very open about my struggles, but I live to be an example to not only my own daughter but to others.”

I’m sure the title sounds frilly and full of smile’s and good stuff but no, you’ve been fooled. This is about the things that I have observed that drive me insane.

I’m friendly to a degree. You approach me or speak to me and I’m polite and social. Otherwise, you’ll likely meet my deadpan, emotionless or cold glare. It’s interesting because I wasn’t always this bad when it came to being social. When I first moved to New York I was still a social butterfly again to a certain degree. I’ve always been particular. In about 5 minutes maybe 10, I usually have people pegged. I’ve either classified you into one of 3 categories—we click, we will never click, and invisible. I have no in between. This is usually a result of my silence, however profiling. Everywhere I go I profile. It’s a habit, it’s innate and I can’t help it.

Being in New York again since childhood from 2008 to present, I still enjoy my space, which we have very little of. If a train is packed, I’m willing to be late to let 4 trains pass me then to plaster myself onto the window or subway surf on the outside. So this morning as I jump onto the elevator, I let one pass so as to not enter a packed one. (I have a morbid theory that if the elevator was stuck, I’d rather be alone than to be packed like a sardine. I think it’s an entirely valid reason, maybe not.)

The moral of the story is, I enter the elevator. Where do I stand? Can you guess? In the most invisible corner humanly possible. Want to guess what happens? Two more people enter and where do they stand in an entirely empty elevator, next to yours truly Suzy sunshine. I move my head and I know my face has taken the puzzled look as I think to myself, why?

Why do people feel the need to stand so relatively close to you when there is clear space, in front and in the middle of the elevator. It drives me insane. My little hamster wheel squeaks with the fury of why? I try to move myself away. I’m blatant about it, because again, why must you stand near me when there is such an obvious amount of space?!

My personal favorite is the packed meat locker called a subway. It’s one thing for the train to be full, it’s another when you think your getting in and your practically riding the platform. You clearly see that there is no space, so where do you seriously think you’re going? I’ve been known to ask people if they’d like to ride my shoulders? Perhaps a piggy back ride? Shouldn’t you at least know my name since you’re so in my space right now? Of course, depending on the mood, there are far less nice things I have said about this.

It’s really just the lack of courtesy that pulls my chain. I am evil to a lot of degrees, yup I admit it and very openly, but I also know how to treat people with dignity and respect. unless your on my dark side…may the force be with you. Blame it on being a double Capricorn, blame it on a self diagnosed personality disorder, whatever it is all I’m saying is it’s really not hard to treat each other just a little bit more courteously and not trample one another.

Jessica is a full time mother, employee, and student. She works as an Immigration Paralegal and is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Business. Jessica loves to volunteer with organizations that are targeted towards children. She recognizes that children are our future and sometimes they need someone who believes in them.

Jessica’s motto: Balancing everything is difficult but achievable.

One of Jessica’s greatest passions is writing. She says, “You have the ability to connect with reader’s in a way that speaking sometimes you simply can’t explain. I have been through a lot in my personal life and am very open about my struggles, but I live to be an example to not only my own daughter but to others.”

To read books like this, I have to be in a certain mood. Just like any other genre, be it mystery, true crime, or forensic psychology related. I knew from the moment I was about 80 pages in, that this was going to require a certain state of mind from me to be able to finish it. So over the past month, in between reading thrillers, etc., I finally finished it.

The book was about a neurosurgeon that was diagnosed with cancer and his journey until his untimely demise. The book offers an interesting perspective into the journey of someone who’s life is cut short by such a serious illness such as cancer. There were a few quotes that stuck with me and a few thoughts that I’d like to share and understand your thoughts.

At the end of it all, what really matters? There came a point where he was diagnosed with cancer, would he return to neurosurgery—his passion? Where would he go? What would he do, and most importantly, what really mattered? I often think about my own demise, what have I accomplished, what have I not, what do I want, and what would I do but my own question of what really matters. Now that I am a mother, I have an Achilles—my daughter. Had I not been a mother the answer would be simple, what matters to me is money and my friends. Now I find that what matters to me is the ability to see my daughter grow and guide her through life. Money is still there, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to having a sordid affair with money. It is the root of all evil after all and everyone has a price, or at least I’m honest enough to own that I have one.

The book was a good read, again heavy in the content and the reflection and understanding that we all have a counter over our heads, just ticking the minutes and days away. But the takeaway is much larger in scale, because I reminded myself to take more time to myself, more time to slow down and enjoy my surroundings, more time to see and be one with nature and the things that I enjoy and love.

So at the end of the day…what really matters to you?

Here are the quotes:

“Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete.”
Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air

I began to realize that coming in such close contact with my own mortality had changed both nothing and everything. Before my cancer was diagnosed, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. After the diagnosis, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. But now I knew it acutely. The problem wasn’t really a scientific one. The fact of death is unsettling. Yet there is no other way to live.”
Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air

“The tricky part of illness is that, as you go through it, your values are constantly changing. You try to figure out what matters to you, and then you keep figuring it out. It felt like someone had taken away my credit card and I was having to learn how to budget. You may decide you want to spend your time working as a neurosurgeon, but two months later, you may feel differently. Two months after that, you may want to learn to play the saxophone or devote yourself to the church. Death may be a one-time event, but living with terminal illness is a process.”
Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air

Jessica is a full time mother, employee, and student. She works as an Immigration Paralegal and is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Business. Jessica loves to volunteer with organizations that are targeted towards children. She recognizes that children are our future and sometimes they need someone who believes in them.

Jessica’s motto: Balancing everything is difficult but achievable.

One of Jessica’s greatest passions is writing. She says, “You have the ability to connect with reader’s in a way that speaking sometimes you simply can’t explain. I have been through a lot in my personal life and am very open about my struggles, but I live to be an example to not only my own daughter but to others.”

I started reading a book called Kitty Genovese, based on the 1960’s murder of a young woman. What stands out is that in this case people heard the woman’s screams yet no one did anything. Neighbors either went to sleep, assumed someone else was calling for help and in turn no one did anything. The reason I wanted to talk about this is because according to the book in the 60’s ambulances did not have the capabilities to treat emergencies as they do today. The entire point is no one did anything when she was initially attacked. Her attacker returned and finished the brutality that he started when he found her lying in a hallway of a building.

Yet.. the other day, my significant other showed me a video of a young woman passed out and people working on her. I was disgusted. Why? Because I could not wrap my head around the fact that people were taping it like it was a reality show.

In that situation, medical attention was summoned, but then I was floored by the reaction. Since when did we become a voyeuristic society where everything is filmed even the most shameful, embarrassing, or life threatening situations. You called 911, awesome, you may have saved someone’s life, but why take it a step further and record and why do we watch?

In some cases, one could argue that filming certain events has saved lives. At the same time, would I want to see my mother, sister, or best friend virulently and unsuccessfully being resuscitated for the rest of my days to haunt me? As if losing someone isn’t hard enough! It’s every fight, every encounter that instead of stepping in, we opt to record. People watched the murder of Kitty Genovese. Some weren’t sure what they saw but the point is they watched.

The book is said to explain why people watched and yet, no one intervened. Is it our self preservation? Then again, why in the second scenario would people record such a thing?

All I know is that, I think we need to step up more and hold ourselves more accountable. Consider the consequences of a video that will never go away, consider who it affects, who will pay the price for its existence. Not everything that happens should be recorded to never cease to exist. We all know how the internet works. You post, he post, it gets shared and you can’t stop it. It snowballs from one small snowball to an uncontrollable one. So before we pick up our iPhones and iPads, how about we call 911 first and make sure the person’s okay if it’s safe to do so.

Jessica is a full time mother, employee, and student. She works as an Immigration Paralegal and is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Business. Jessica loves to volunteer with organizations that are targeted towards children. She recognizes that children are our future and sometimes they need someone who believes in them.

Jessica’s motto: Balancing everything is difficult but achievable.

One of Jessica’s greatest passions is writing. She says, “You have the ability to connect with reader’s in a way that speaking sometimes you simply can’t explain. I have been through a lot in my personal life and am very open about my struggles, but I live to be an example to not only my own daughter but to others.”

This post was written by Binod Jwarchan, a recipient of the CUNY School of Professional Studies ACE Scholarship.

Online education has been a boon for busy individuals who can’t commit to be present in the traditional classroom in the set schedule every week. Though there are various online schools and the format of online education provided by these institutions are likely to vary, in this essay my own personal online learning experience here at CUNY School of Professional Studies will be shared.

CUNY SPS is the online school provided by City University of New York in various fields such as Business, Nursing, Psychology, Information Technology and so forth. I pursued a BS degree in Business. Each class has three credits. In general, each class requires you to allot 9 to 12 hours of study time, which meant 1 credit hour required 3 or 4 hours of study depending on difficulty level of the particular class. For most classes, the school week starts on Monday and ends on Sunday, which means the deadline for most work is at midnight on Sunday. Most classes have a discussion board each week where topics relate to the materials studied that particular week. They also have separate assignments or quizzes going on each week like in the regular classroom. In sum, it involves a lot of reading and writing, and emphasizes analytical thinking on the part of student.

There were certain things that I found really important, and that I want to share with you today. First, it’s very important to manage time effectively. Managing time starts with allotting a certain amount of time to a particular class each week. If you are a working individual, you shouldn’t make any compromise on those allotted hours separated for that particular class.
I also found studying in pieces very useful, which means I set like 40 to 50 minutes on my alarm clock for one class. After I complete that duration studying for that particular class, I take a 5 to 10 minutes break, and start another class with similar 40 to 50 minutes duration. Identifying your peak hours also helps. For example, since I am a morning person, I generally devote this time studying and learning new or difficult things.

The second critical success factor is the motivation that keeps you get going. Generally, at the start of the semester, it happens that you have a lot of energy and you are really excited for the exciting journey. But, as the pressure of the class and your other obligations pile up, passing through middle towards the end of the semester gets tougher. The most important motivation factor for me was “desire to learn.” As I got tired bombarded with tons of new things, I tried not to get embarrassed and burnt out, and instead took it by making up my mind that “I will learn one thing at a time, and this process would be continuous as it goes on.” This mindset helped me to lessen my stress, and helped me get going. Also, the desire to learn helped me to get motivated every passing day in many cases trying to take best from the materials supplied.

Thus, though online education provides you the flexibility to learn on your own pace away from the rigid timetable of the traditional classroom, it poses certain challenges, and overcoming them needs your own roadmap to succeed.       

Binod Jwarchan is a recipient of the CUNY SPS ACE Scholarship, a scholarship program designed to support high-achieving undergraduate students Achieve College Education (ACE). She will graduate from the Business program at the end of this semester.

This post was written by Jerome Basma, a recipient of the CUNY School of Professional Studies ACE Scholarship.

Earlier this year I was really fortunate to be the recipient of an ACE Scholarship at the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS). The scholarship was set up to help students finish their degree as they get closer to graduation. Receiving this award was a real honor, and I feel very grateful to have been considered, let alone chosen.

As part of the award, ACE scholars are required to mentor two students who are just entering the school. I have never mentored other students before, and I was really intrigued as to how it would go. The idea behind the mentoring is to give some guidance to those who are returning to school or are transferring from other institutions, and to help them transition into the way things are done in the online learning environment. As mentors, we don’t take the place of advisors; we just impart some of our accumulated wisdom and provide encouragement. After all, there aren’t that many advisors or counselors who have direct experience of working in online teams or groups to complete class projects, or have direct experience of how taxing taking one too many classes can be for a student juggling a full-time job, along with family obligations that just cannot be ignored. Don’t get me wrong, advisors at CUNY SPS are extremely important, it’s just that we as mentors can reach new students as very few others can: as fellow students who have been in the exact same position that they now find themselves in.

The first step in this process was to have mentors and mentees meet face to face during a gathering organized at the school just for that purpose. The meeting was attended by the dean and the assistant deans at the school. Refreshments were provided, brief talks by the school’s representatives were listened to, and most importantly mentors and mentees got to know each other a little bit. My experience meeting my two mentees that evening was both interesting and fun. The three of us came from different backgrounds and occupations, but we all shared some very important things, like a desire to better ourselves through education, an intimate understanding of what hard work is, and some years having experienced what you might call “the real world.” That evening was spent getting to know each other better, what our experience was, where we’d left off in our education, and figuring out how we would keep connected throughout the semester. By the end of the evening we decided upon using email and then Google Hangouts for video teleconferencing. This second method would be good to keep us talking face to face every once in a while.

I’m glad to say that the Hangouts feature in Google works really well. It’s pretty much just like Skype, except that it’s a little easier, I think, and free. We’ve met a few times now on Hangouts, and we usually do that all three of us at the same time. I’ve left my mentees the option of meeting with me individually at any time, if they choose, but so far they’ve been content to be altogether. This has created a mini-community working through similar goals of successfully completing the semester. Another way this has helped is that online learning can often feel a little isolating, especially for new students. I always try to go to the CUNY SPS gatherings and meetings in midtown Manhattan for the sense of community and fellowship. However, many of the students who live in upstate New York or out in Long Island can’t make the time to come all the way in for the gatherings. Teleconferencing on Hangouts has turned out to be an easy and convenient solution.

During the first half of the semester much time was taken talking about CUNY SPS’s orientation. This is the process or training all new students undergo to prepare themselves to utilize the tools and methods of online learning. It’s pretty comprehensive at CUNY SPS, and assignments and projects are given to the newbies before their actual classes start. By the time you’ve gone through orientation, you and your PC are ready to do the work in the classes. I’d had orientation a couple of years ago, and so I wasn’t very much help to my mentees on that subject. What’s funny is that they helped each other more than I helped them by being able to discuss their experiences during our teleconferences.

After orientation, and at the very beginning of the classes, I started to fill out the shoes of a mentor by giving them tips on how to organize their time and work. Online learning requires a lot of initiative; you’ve really got to motivate yourself to check in to the class website (on Blackboard) and to participate at the right times. Unlike traditional classroom learning where you take notes during a lecture, and are given assignments, classes online require you to choose the time and the place wherein you will learn and satisfy class requirements. It can be daunting at times, and it is really easy to fall behind. With some practice and good habits, however, you can work up to a very good rhythm and get a lot done.

What follows is some of the most important advice I’ve given my mentees. Don’t overtax yourself with too many classes. At the end of the semester you want to have actually learned and retained something of the classes you took. Getting a passing grade is only part of the value of this whole enterprise: learning skills and techniques that you’ll be able to use in the workplace should not be sacrificed to this.

Another is about working in groups, which I mentioned earlier. The advice is this: if you find yourself involved in a group project where your co-participants have low motivation, do not hesitate to take the lead. Don’t let others drag you down, set the pace for your (and their) success.

Yet another is to communicate your personal challenges with the professors. Very often there are obligations we won’t be able to forgo, unexpected things will happen. In those instances, talk to or email your professors. Most will be understanding, and make some accommodations. For those who don’t, you’ll then be clear on their expectation. In my experience I’ve found that if you’re genuine and you work hard, the professors will work with you as much as they reasonably can.

At this point I should tell you that I lost one of my mentees. Due to important personal circumstances this person could not continue with the semester, and had to leave. It was disappointing, and at the same time understandable. In parting with my mentee, I made the point that when things improve, the School is still here and that as before it’s never too late to take it up again. With that said the semester progresses and I still have my other mentee who is doing quite nicely. Over the weekend, we’ll have one of our Hangout sessions where she will tell me how she is doing, and have the opportunity to ask questions or just share observations. I look forward to her completing her first semester at CUNY SPS, and encouraging her all the way to the finish line.

Jerome Basma is a recipient of the CUNY SPS ACE Scholarship, a scholarship program designed to support high-achieving undergraduate students Achieve College Education (ACE). He will graduate from the Business program at the end of this semester.

This post was written by Jonathan Rodriguez, a recipient of the CUNY School of Professional Studies ACE Scholarship

When I think back on my first two semesters here at the CUNY SPS, I remember how difficult and frustrating they were. I remember wanting to quit because I felt overwhelmed, as if I was swimming against the current. However, I knew I could not quit because I made a promise to my infant son when he was born that I would finish what I started, so I began to search for something to help me organize and prioritize my time. I want to share one of the things I found helpful to manage my days and relieve some of my stress.

I was reading a book by one of my favorite authors, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. One of the people he highlighted created a calendar of his days to help him organize his time and maximize his efforts. I went to Staples and purchased a two-month dry erase calendar and began to write out the things that needed my attention for each day, in life, at school, and for myself.

This helped me to find the time I needed to dedicate to class work and set deadlines for work that was visible daily. The calendar also allowed me to make time for myself, meaning I was able to dedicate time to refresh myself with a walk around the block, watch my favorite television show, play some Candy Crush, or spend time at the gym. Like many people, I am a visual person, so when I find myself always forgetting assignments or stressed because I do not know where time is going, I visualize it with a calendar, something that I must look at daily.

I am now coming to the last semester at CUNY SPS and it has been challenging and fun throughout my time. I hope my little life hack helps you during your time at CUNY SPS. This was never easy, but it was worth it. You don’t have to give up or give into the stress; you can complete what you started just like me.

Organize your days and remember to take care of yourself. The worst thing you can do is burn out. Make time for yourself; do whatever it is that refreshes you because it will benefit your work and your longevity. God Speed as you go through this semester and every one that follows.

Jonathan Rodriguez is a recipient of the CUNY SPS ACE Scholarship, a scholarship program designed to support high-achieving undergraduate students Achieve College Education (ACE). He will graduate from the Business program at the end of this semester.