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As I write this, I have Microsoft Word open with nothing more than a title on the page. Even the title isn’t sitting well with me. It’s the beginning of a 5-6 page paper due next Friday for which I have a topic, enough background information, and websites for citation purposes. The words are just hard to come by. I’m writing here to vent my frustration with the sometimes overwhelming process of putting thoughts to paper.
In another Word window, I have some sentences down for a project I’m a bit more excited about, though there’s no grade given for that. That’s a personal project. Ideas came to mind, and it was best to write them down. I’ve always dreamed of making a film. Not for fame or fortune because I’m too much of a realist for that, but because it’s the best way I can think of to express some of life’s sensibilities. A diary. I’m not talking about some three hour epic, but something short; 10 minutes, 20 minutes. Maybe several 10-minute sequences over the course of time that add up to feature length. I can post them on a website dedicated to the project. YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram play a part in promotion.
It’s all a struggle. It’s like sometimes your mind just becomes a cloud. The type of cloud with nothing going on inside. No lighting or thunder, no rain or snow. I write, not because I think I’m any good at it (I give myself credit for being pleasantly mediocre), but because it can be very rewarding. Here, I vent my frustration. On another page, an idea comes alive. That’s when I love it. The screen in front of me becomes a form of therapy. Getting started is the hardest part. Then I get started, and the first 500 words become the issue, though once you get into a groove, it can be an infectious feeling. One idea follows another and suddenly you’re several pages in without feeling like you’ve really tried.
What’s the best ending to your story? Forget the story, what’s the best ending to a paragraph? How do I make the simple thought a powerful one? I should let more prolific authors answer those questions. It’s possible the answer isn’t the same for everyone. We each get to a specific point in our thoughts, but go in different directions.
Despite all that, I’ve always been capable of a good paper. Give me a 5 page paper any day of the week over a 50 question multiple choice test. Studying for weeks for a test is arduous at best, excruciating in general. Writing is such an important part of being a student at CUNY SPS. Its helped me view my strengths and weaknesses in equal measure, and with time, improve those deficiencies.
One tip I can give that’s been helpful to me as of late is to find a song, or a type of music you like; something that helps you relax, or puts a smile on your face. Play that music when you write. Not so loud that it’s a distraction, but loud enough so that you feel whatever emotion you’re looking for in the moment. I’d always heard that classical music was a great motivator in the process. I tried it. I liked it. I also find inspiration in a terrific film score. Sometimes it’s dark and creepy, sometimes it’s melancholic, and other times it’s the uplifting sounds that might push you to a place of triumph, so to speak.
Some will use big, thoughtful words, and speak in terms you might not understand. I find as much value in that as someone who just writes what they think in even the simplest of ways. I’ll go back to my open Word windows now and try to piece it together bit by bit. I know it will get done, and done well. It just takes time.
Robert is a current student here at CUNY SPS, pursuing a degree in Communication and Media. He is interested in platforms of media, especially those related to digital media; and a fan of serious film as well as this current golden age of television.
Politics is a natural and neutral activity. Whether or not you like it or get anything from it partially depends on your level of engagement and skill in politicking.
That’s what I learned through studying Cervero and Wilson’s theory of program planning. Essentially, they say that program planning is a political activity because educational events and activities are always planned with other people. Therefore, all of the planning must be negotiated with others. I used their theory in undertaking a real-life program planning activity at work.
Cervero and Wilson destigmatize and normalize the word “politics.” Most workers believe it’s good to shun office politics, because they think only people with wrong motives engage in politics. I used to think that way, too. Now I realize that to the extent that I refuse to engage in the political process, I limit my own success in changing things for the good of my students. If good guys walk away from the process, the only people advancing their goals are people who are only looking out for themselves. It’s important to engage in politics professionally.
It’s also important to engage in politics nationally. At work, I get to voice my opinions at meetings, through e-mail, individually, etc.. My opinions get “heard” when I get the ear of the right people. Nationally, my voice gets heard when I vote.
Years ago, when I first registered to vote, the Board of Elections sent out an Election Guide telling citizens when to vote and who and what we were voting for. Now, there’s nothing. Also, in non-presidential election years, it seemed like there were plentiful debates to attend so that you could decide how to cast your vote. I feel like those things have vanished. Fortunately CUNY is launching its own campaign to help us out. Check out Voice Your Choice to see more.
Until then, keep these dates in mind:
- March 25 – Voter registration deadline
- April 19 – New York primaries
- November 8 – General election
Rhonda Harrison has just completed her studies at CUNY SPS to earn her post-graduate certificate in Adult Learning & Program Design. She is a social worker with a background in workforce development and currently works as an Advisor at a community college.
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.
What would happen if Americans only worked the hours that they got paid for?
If you either work or study at one of the CUNY colleges, you are aware that workers are campaigning to get a new contract. The fact that faculty and staff have waited so long (5 years and counting) for a new contract, and that contract negotiations don’t seem to be on any local politician’s priority list concerns me. It appears that a calculation has been made that CUNY can be safely ignored. Ruminating on the issue made me wonder what would happen if CUNY staff and faculty only worked the hours they got paid for. Then, I generalized the idea to all workers.
America is the hardest working nation in the western world. We work hard. We work extra hours without being compensated in either money or time. We also leave vacation days on the table at the end of the fiscal year. Yet, we complete timesheets that only reflect working 35 hours per week, facilitating the fiction that all of this work can actually get done in 35 hours.
It also allows employers to dismiss appeals to hire more staff to manage the workload. Instead, we’re told to work harder and manage our time better. Or even worse, we’re told to stop complaining, stop acting like a victim, and hand over our cell numbers so that we can be on-call. The final insult is to have someone question our professionalism or caring, because if we “cared,” we’d be willing to work longer shifts, plus weekends.
If workers only worked the hours they got paid for, the wheels of production would come to a halt. Work Your Hours is not a union campaign, it’s a worker campaign. Work Your Hours is not an illegal campaign, it’s working our contracted hours. Work Your Hours is not class warfare, it’s a protective campaign.
Work Your Hours is not a dream, it’s a goal. What do you think needs to happen to realize that goal?
Rhonda Harrison is currently studying at CUNY SPS to earn her post-graduate certificate in Adult Learning & Program Design. She is a social worker with a background in workforce development and currently works as an Advisor at a community college.
Friday October 30, 2015 marked the 11th annual CUNY women’s leadership conference. The conference was comprised of various women leaders within our communities. There were two sessions held in the afternoon. One was for the New York City Government Panel which consisted of the following speakers: Public Advocate Letitia James, Council Member Inez Barron, and Council Member Margaret Chin.
The other was the New York State Government Panel where Senator Toby Stavisky and Assembly Member Deborah Glick, Assembly Member Diana Richardson, and Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright spoke.
In the morning we heard from Donna E. Shalala. Her words resonated with me because she didn’t come from an affluent family. Since she was a child she was demonstrating leadership capabilities. She gave the example of herself as a child directing traffic during a tornado that was approaching her neighborhood in Cleveland, her family is running to the basement and there she was on the corner of a street directing traffic. The most impacting words however, were how she told us that she still today hit walls. You never stop hitting them, you just have to find a way around it. She was both funny but more importantly honest. Sometimes I think it’s important for all of us to remember that our leaders face challenges just like we do. Even as leaders it doesn’t stop.
Following her words, Author Joanna Barsh spoke. Joanna Barsh is the author of “How Remarkable Women Lead” and “Centered Leadership.” Joanna actually gave us a hands on approach on applying some of the concepts from her book. It was interesting and more importantly engaging. She started out by having us move closer to those around us. I wound up meeting Jennifer who is both a journalist and a teacher. The first exercise was great because it made you break out of your comfort zone. The next exercises involved talking about emotions. We had to discuss how you felt about being there. I was incredibly excited but also nervous because of the large setting of people. By the time we were done, I felt much more relaxed.
Joanna also told us about a time that she froze during a meeting with a client. She explained it with high energy and made it incredibly relatable. What I learned from her example was how sometimes we spiral out of control with fear and it doesn’t let us make a move. In her example the meeting with the prospective client, she was asked why the prospective client would want to make a specific decision. Joanna explained that we all have a voice (or two) and sometimes that can drive us into a downward spiral. We begin to question ourselves, and everything. She wanted us to understand that this is also in a way related to our instinct to “fight or flight” responses.
We proceeded to the lunch portion of the seminar where Carolyn Maloney spoke. Representative Maloney is not only is strong advocate for the 9/11 Zadroga Act. That is the bill for first responders to receive compensation and treatment through the world trade monitoring center, but she is also fighting towards the continued funding of planned parenthood one of the largest women’s medical provider.
Studying American History now under the specific labels of race, class and gender, I understand one message clearly. We take for granted a lot of the rights that have been bestowed upon us because a lot of us can’t remember what it was like before the laws allowed certain things like voting, abortions, etc.. Women were dying in illegal operations in seedy hotels because they had no options. We don’t remember what it was like not to vote because our generation lives at a time where we have a choice.
By the end of lunch time, they had empowered me enough to actually sign up to vote. I was always one of those skeptics, “it doesn’t matter to vote, it’s all corrupt, my vote doesn’t count anyway.” By the end of lunch I had signed up to vote, and actually do as these empowering women suggested. Vote, especially because women today are not fighting for the new laws, we’re essentially fighting to hold on to the rights that we have already gained.
The last portion of the conference was equally as phenomenal as the other sections. Dianna C. Richardson was the one assembly person that stood out among everyone. Everyone was extraordinary because they all stood for one cause which is for the people. They are leaders not only because they lead but because of their advocacy of causes that concern the people. Dianna C. Richardson was both bold and honest. She gave literal meaning to walking the walk and talking the talk. The one unanimous component among a lot of the speakers was that no one necessarily planned to be in the position that they held. It just happened.
I asked at the end of the final session, what advice they would give to someone trying to transition from the private to public sector or vice versa. If not all, the majority of the panelists and keynote speakers were the first of their kind. First in a role, first in a field etc. So I wanted to understand how they handled that resistance and yet transitioned to other things. The response that closely answered that inquiry was the following. If you are trying to change your field, gear yourself, your resume towards what you’re trying to achieve. Making a decision such as public service is a choice that you make because it’s in you.
I’ll leave you with one of the quotes that stuck with me that day and today, and I hope that it stays with you. George Eliot is a pen name for Mary Ann Evans who used a male name to escape stereotypes about women authors and to be taken seriously. She says: “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
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.
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.”
Recently, I spoke to my college students about excellence. I teach a 9:30 am seminar, and I became annoyed with latecomers showing up at 9:40, 9:50, 10:30 am, or later. I asked them a few questions.
You set a doctor’s appointment, and you show up on time, but the doctor shows up late. How would you feel? How would you feel if you dropped off your clothing at the cleaners, and got the clothing back with holes in it? You hire a lawyer to defend you against a lawsuit. You both show up in court, and you realize that your lawyer hasn’t done his homework and has no clue what he’s talking about. What would you do?
Students responded that they’d file complaints, refuse payment, and even sue. They all have higher standards for other people than themselves. They all see college as a necessary step to becoming police officers, nurses, elementary school teachers, and other professions. Their actions trigger my suspicion that they want the degree more than the education. Hopefully, they’ll eventually see that an education is about more than getting a job that pays well. An education helps us to be of service to others.
I started the certificate program in Adult Learning after I got my job, because I wanted to, not because I was mandated to. Most of the people in my program are in the same boat. We didn’t come here to get a job. We came here because we want to be excellent at what we do. We want to be excellent because we care about adult learners. Having classmates who are curious and committed and enthusiastic makes a 6:30-8:30 pm class enjoyable, broadens my thinking, inspires me to try new things at work and, ultimately, enables me to be of better service to my students.
I hear that CUNY SPS students are unique in that a lot of us are already working, and came here to get better. I know that education is also even more than about doing a job better. It can be a transformative experience. Until my students realize that, I’d be grateful to hear from other students about the interplay between their studies and their work.
Rhonda Harrison is currently studying at CUNY SPS to earn her post-graduate certificate in Adult Learning & Program Design. She is a social worker with a background in workforce development and currently works as an Advisor at a community college.
“She has been convicted. Bail revoked.”
Those are the words I received in an email from a former professor of mine. Anna Stubblefield was convicted of two accounts of rape. The verdict reached my email on Friday at 11:59am.
I know, some people are happy. They think, “A rapist has been put in jail and now Dman and his family can begin to heal.” That statement is the furthest from the truth.
The disability community is in so much emotional pain right now. For myself and so many of the members of the disability community this is history on repeat. Over and over again we are denied rights, are silenced and locked away. All because society has placed us in a figurative box, we can’t be sexual, we’re not worthy of love and we’re not people. Having impairments dehumanizes us according to society. If we can’t speak the way society demands we do, then we’re truly invisible.
Twelve people—a mixture of women and men of many different racial backgrounds, all of them appearing able-bodied, ruined two lives, those of Anna Stubblefield and Dman Johnson. Did they know what they were doing? Yes. They had a different viewpoint though. Those people thought as they sat in the jury room that they had the power to “save the disabled boy,” “make things right” and “serve justice” because, “She should’ve known better than to be sexual with someone physically helpless and mentally defective.”
Let’s take a glimpse at who they really imprisoned. Literally speaking, Stubblefield is sitting behind bars. She’s not serving a life sentence so eventually she’ll be free. Or will she? Stubblefield can never get a job working in any kind of teaching position EVER again. Once she is free, finding a place to live might be difficult, as her name will be added to the sex offender’s list. She’s lost her place in the world. Her name will forever be tainted.
With the guilty verdict also came a second imprisonment: Dman’s. No, he’s not literally behind bars. Instead he’s serving a “life sentence” of being denied independence, his voice and a life of his own. His voice forever silenced by the State of New Jersey. Not once was he allowed to speak during a trial that revolved around him. Instead the prosecution made assumptions. They ASSUMED he was “mentally defective” and “physically helpless.” He will remain forever imprisoned in society’s perception of disability.
As a member of the disability community, I can’t help but feel angry, upset and guilty about the entire situation. I’m angry because it’s 2015 and the state of New Jersey still views disability through a eugenics mindset. To the state, Dman and Stubblefield could never have loved one another. How could they? Stubblefield is able-bodied and Dman is disabled. They still frame love as an emotion that is exclusively open and entitled to able-bodied people. In contrast, people with disabilities are believed to be non sexual—“She can’t have sex, she’s in a wheelchair,” or “He’s too mentally defective to consent to sex or know what is going on.” People with disabilities shouldn’t be sexual or romantically involved with each other or able-bodied people because they’re inferior, simply because society can’t or doesn’t want to process the concept of us having sexual desires or romantic relationships. The moment people realized Dman could be and was sexual was when the relationship between Stubblefield and him was torn apart. This is eugenics era thinking, an outdated way of perceiving disabilities and the people who have them.
I’m also upset because after all that we, as people with disabilities have experienced—sterilization, institutionalization, the fight for civil rights leading to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990—all of these milestones are meaningless if society still views people who use different methods of communication or have “severe physical disabilities” as “mentally defective” and “physically helpless.” The outcome of the Stubblefield case demonstrates that we still have a long way to go as a society in terms of the acceptance and inclusion of people with disabilities. After the verdict, I’m wondering when and if our society will ever get to that point.
Lastly, I feel guilty. As irony would have it, I received the news of the verdict as I was on my way to a CUNY Coalition for Students with Disabilities (CCSD) meeting. We were electing a new E-board and discussing various ways in which we can create change and make the overall CUNY experience better for students with disabilities. How could I think of creating change with and for my fellow disabled CUNY students when Dman was locked in the narrow box of society’s perceptions of disability and the one person who had the chance at helping him gain independence was sitting behind bars? All because they loved and wanted to be with each other? It just didn’t feel right. It still doesn’t. I get to spend time with each person I love and care about while the legal system denies Dman and Stubblefield that same opportunity.
My thoughts and support go out to Dman, Stubblefield, everyone that knows them and the disability community during this very sad and difficult time. If I’ve learned anything from this case, it’s that I need and will continue to advocate for and alongside the disability community, especially for the members of the community who use different forms of communication and are silenced by society. None of them will go unheard.
Danielle Lucchese is a second year graduate student in CUNY SPS’s MA in Disability Studies program. Born and raised in Staten Island, she moved to Manhattan last year at the start of her CUNY SPS experience. When Danielle’s not hitting the books or writing papers, she enjoys exploring New York City, photography, writing poetry, playing volleyball, reading fantasy novels, listening to music and spending time with family and friends.
Join us in welcoming the new Distinguished Lecturer and Academic Director of Data Analytics and Information Systems Arthur O’Connor. He sat down with us and shared his thoughts about new trends in data science and more.
What did you do before joining CUNY SPS?
I was a VP of Risk Measurement & Analytics in the NYC branch of a large Japanese bank.
What are you most looking forward to about working at CUNY SPS?
Helping to empower this great adjunct faculty to teach, and helping our students to learn and master some of the most exciting and high-demand disciplines, techniques and tools in data analytics and information technology.
Most exciting new trend in data science?
I’d have to say content processing/semantic analysis of unstructured data. We now have commercially viable knowledge discovery tools to derive insights from things like images, text messages, voice and video files—pretty wild!!!
What’s your favorite thing about living/working in New York City?
Central Park—its given me so much. I met my wife there on a Memorial Day weekend in the 80’s. I played with my 3 kids in its fields when they were young.
What are you reading right now?
I’m re-reading Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson—this time in e-book form.
Best piece of advice you’ve received?
Sing like no one is listening; love like you’ve never been hurt; and dance like nobody’s watching.
What do you hope to accomplish before the fall semester begins?
Get to know the faculty and at least some of the students—they are a very impressive group!
Welcome to CUNY SPS, Arthur, we look forward to an exciting new semester together.