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How many fellow CUNY SPS-ers are going to be graduating this upcoming May 18?

Commencements may only happen a few times over a lifetime for each of us. Often the ceremony is meant for the family and friends to watch the accomplishment of the students who are walking the ceremony. This is a journey that can take a traditional route from high school or it can be a non-traditional route. For a majority of CUNY School of Professional Studies students, this journey is completed online and may be a physical trip that happens or is skipped. Behind the scenes, the process of preparing for the ceremony is definitely months in advance.

I wanted to at least walk people through a meaningful activity I did this past year when I walked for my graduate certificate in Disability Studies, and that is the process of decorating a mortarboard. It is my belief that one does not have to be artistically gifted, since there are ready-made kits that are being sold at crafting and arts supplies stores. But the benefits of decorating a board are (1) a good photo prop, (2) you can show off the fact that you’re graduating, (3) it is a mental mind activity of prepping for the ceremony, and (4) blinging up a drab black gown. The memories that can be built on crafting a mortarboard are nice! Plus it is also good to meet up with classmates and fellow graduates to make memories. The only downside I see to this activity is $$$ and time investments.

Graduation Cap Decorated

So, last year, a few alumni got together in the lobby, and brought their own supplies to decorate their mortarboards with. I did my cap independent of that group, but being a representative on the Student Association this year I had hoped that people who are going to be graduating would want to do this activity again. I have every intentions of doing the same activity when I walk again for my masters in 2018. As I have been speaking with Anthony Sweeney, Virtual Campus Coordinator about doing this activity again for class of 2017 graduates. So this is what I propose, on May 23 from 5:30 to 7:30 – graduating class members can bring your own supplies to decorate your mortarboard with. We will be having limited supplies and food also available. RSVP here if you want to join us!

So even if you’re not going to make it to campus at CUNY SPS, I suggest this as an activity you can do with your family, friends or by yourself. I stress to please do a draft and/or dry run for what you want to put on your cap. Decorate your cap considering how you are going to be wearing the cap. So your motor cap should be on a diamond shape, not necessarily a square. Do not rush to stick things on your one cap!

These are art supplies that I suggest, and this is not a complete list or the absolute list that your cap has to have. Last year I made up my cap with the art supplies I have from my other projects, so I only spent about $20 for extra supplies. I used scrap paper, origami paper, index cards, ribbon and stickers. You will be wearing your cap during the ceremony, and an important advice I suggest is to have the items on firmly, that way there is no cap malfunction. That was my fear last year when I didn’t have a hot glue gun.

I pulled everything off my graduation cap after the ceremony was over, because my second CUNY SPS graduation is forthcoming. Enough about me! For people graduating, this is an activity that is a good building one for the crafters in us! Reflect on what pulled you through to graduation, find that special saying, and thank the people you want. You are the main character of this ceremony in world that you inhabit. If there’s any questions, or inspirations, there are plenty of videos on YouTube, photos on Pinterest, etc.

  • 12×12 Cardstock scrap paper of any type. This may be a backdrop for your embellishments.
  • Embellishments—sequins, rhinestones, glitter, gems, letters
  • Stickers
  • Ribbon
  • Hot glue gun or other sticky adhesive tools
  • Fabric paint
  • Stencils

Linda Yau is a native New Yorker. She is currently completing her MS Disability Services in Higher Education. She is constantly on the move, but on her downtime, she hearts folding origami. She is an assistant organizer of  OMG-NYC (Origami Meetup Group in NYC)

Check Your Inbox

When an invitation from Virtual Campus Coordinator Anthony Sweeney hits your CUNY email inbox, please do yourself a favor:

  1. Clear your calendar
  2. GO!

You will not be disappointed, I promise.  Recently a fellow blogger, Yerelyn Nunez, suggested that we take advantage of the opportunities available to us as students: https://cunysps.wordpress.com/2017/03/09/take-advantage-of-being-a-student/.

I couldn’t agree more with Yerelyn.  Here are a couple of examples illustrating the exciting ways we can celebrate our diverse CUNY SPS community.

Bloomberg International Women’s Day Summit

Thanks to one of those fab Anthony invites, I was honored to attend the Bloomberg International Women’s Day Summit.  The event started early Sunday morning, March 12 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with an energetic welcome given by our own CUNY Vice Chancellor Andrea Shapiro-Davis.  She was followed by inspiring speakers who are committed to empowering women throughout the world.  The participants were exclusively students, some as young as middle school age.  The attendees were invited to partner up with Bloomberg mentors.  The support and encouragement we were given helped us all envision a brighter future for women.

CUNY SPS students with Vice Chancellor Andrea Shapiro-Davis

The photo above is Vice Chancellor Andrea Shapiro-Davis (she’s so cool!) with summit attendees from CUNY SPS: Kangela Moore, Yvette Humphries, and yours truly.  (Because I’m an older “non-conventional” student, the younger students kept asking me if I was a mentor!)

Creating a Safe Place

CUNY SPS is a diverse school dedicated to inclusion.  Have you been worried about how the presidential election could affect some of our students and their families?  At a school meeting earlier this semester, there was a conversation about the election and its ramifications.  After this student/faculty dialogue, the students were given the green light to form a discussion group addressing the implications of the current political climate for our student body.  In just a few short months, the logistics were worked out and the exchange is about to start.

CUNY SPS Intergroup Dialogue

Please join the conversation!  All CUNY SPS students are welcomed to the first discussion group meeting to be held on April 5.  Participants will identify a topic to have courageous and supportive conversations that will be co-facilitated by Melissa McIntyre (Disability Studies, MA).

The group will work collectively and collaboratively to empower all of our students and their families in the times ahead.  Dinner is even provided folks!  Clear your calendar and GO!

Let’s all give all give a BIG SHOUT OUT to Associate Dean Brian Peterson, Dr. Zeita Lobley, Anthony Sweeney and Melissa McIntyre who made this happen!

Addressing our Legacy

A final little footnote: at CUNY SPS, we are a newish/smallish school within a large and established university system.  This gives us the unique ability to profoundly impact our school environment.  We have a wonderful group of administrators who are not only open to our ideas about creating student opportunities, but will help facilitate whenever possible.  Few colleges have these possibilities, with this kind of support, so we should all consider how we can help make CUNY SPS an even better learning environment for future students.

Designer, single mom, and ongoing student, Lisa Sheridan is busy juggling life, work, and academics as an undergraduate in the Communication and Media department.

Last semester, I attended the CUNY IT Conference to learn about new innovations in Assistive Technology and Accessibility Information.  I was just waiting for some colleagues and looking at my nametag when there was this realization that I’ve done alright (amazing what a simple nametag can do).

The backstory is that I am a high school dropout and I had little direction for a long time, I was truly just wasting my life away (long story). That is until I found my calling working with people diagnosed with various disabilities.

Fast forward, I finally earned my bachelor’s degree in 2011 (the same year I got married), I like to say I took the 20+ year plan.  Now, today I’m working on my second master’s degree, and working as the Assistant Director of a Disability Service Office for a major New York City college.  I’ve also got great colleagues, great friends, great family and a great wife! I’ve done alright, indeed.

Sometimes in unsettled times, one has to remember how far one has come and just say, “I’ve done alright.”

Now tell me, have you done alright?

Daniel Chan is a belated student who took the 20+ year plan to get his Bachelor’s Degree. He recently received his M.A. in Disability Studies and is working on his M.S. in Disability Services in Higher Education. His proudest academic achievement is still his GED.

THE OCTOBER SURPRISE
Since turning 40, each advancing birthday seems progressively less a reason to celebrate. But my birthday this year gave me a most unique and unexpected gift: I was invited to the CUNY Women’s Leadership Conference to be held at Hunter College on October 28th. This program turned out to be a great cause for celebration.

EXCITED, BUT A LITTLE APPREHENSIVE
This CUNY-wide event was to include students from all 24 campuses, so I knew many of the attendees would be college aged and much younger than me. I wondered: “As a continuing ed student shifting professional gears mid-life, how relevant could this conference be? After all, it will surely be geared to young women embarking on their careers, not women looking to redraft a life story.” I had no idea what to expect.

To my surprise and delight, the numerous speakers and panels had messages that were not only inspirational, but also absolutely applicable to my current circumstances. There were so many wonderful segments, here is a mere sampling:

  • The keynote speakers Rossana Rosado, NYS Secretary of State, and Letitia James, Public Advocate for the City of New York, both delivered emotional speeches about the empowering experience of community involvement. Their lives of public service are proof positive that we all have the power to affect change.
WiTNY panel

WiTNY panel

  • From the Women in Technology (WiTNY) panel, we heard about the need for women in the digital world. The statistics are staggering: only 18% of computer science graduates are women and woman comprise just 26% of the tech workforce. WiTNY would like to see that change.
Dr. Lobley, Director of Student Services, and some the SPS student attendees

Dr. Lobley, Director of Student Services, and some the SPS student attendees

  • Perhaps my favorite aspect of this symposium was meeting some of SPS’ faculty and my fellow SPS students. Our SPS students represented our school with eloquence and passion: asking questions, raising issues, and talking about passionate causes.

THE ONGOING PRESENT
This could have been a very tough birthday: I’m job hunting and certainly not getting any younger.

Thank you, CUNY and SPS for this encouraging lift—I could pop the bubbly after all!

For more information about the CUNY Women’s Leadership Conference, or to learn how you can attend a future conference, contact studentservices@sps.cuny.edu.

Designer, single mom, and ongoing student, Lisa Sheridan is busy juggling life, work, and academics as an undergraduate in the Communication and Media department.

Hurricane Matthew’s left Haiti devastated once again. More than 800 people died or that is what the U.S. news has been telling you. The truth is yes, people died but the number is not that large. It is maybe 300 people. It happened mainly in Les Cayes and in Jérémie which is located on the tip of Haiti in the south.  The reason they are falsifying the number of deaths is that certain businesses think the more deaths reported, the more donations they will receive. People love to help Haiti, but does the money they have donated in the past done any good? No. I can tell you this as I live in Haiti and I grew up here. I have the best interest of this country at heart.
Do not donate to the Red Cross. The Red Cross is supposed to be an organization that helps, but it has not in Haiti. After the earth shattering earthquake in 2010, half a billion dollars was donated to the Red Cross but did Haiti actually see that money? No, they did not. Only 6 homes were built with half a billion dollars. Where did that money go? The Red Cross has failed in Haiti. People in the capital more than 6 years later are still living in tents. The big charities use the majority of donations on fundraising and administrative costs and don’t work with or listen to the local communities.
What can you do actually help Haiti?
If you do want to donate, donate to local agencies in Haiti such as Jasper’s House Haiti or even Care. Work with people/small organizations on the ground (familiar with the areas in need). Communicate with them and have them tell you what the needs are.
Here are a list of charities where the money will actually help:
Flora Cross is an elementary teacher working at a bilingual school in Haiti. She grew up in Haiti and returned after many years of absence. She has travelled the world with her journalist father so writing has always come extremely naturally. She is currently enrolled in the Disability Studies here at CUNY SPS. Flora hopes to open a school in Haiti for children with disabilities.

Dear CUNY SPS Community:

It is with great sadness that I continue to read the unfolding story of this past weekend’s mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and our most sincere condolences go out to the families and friends of the victims and to the wounded.  Such violence shakes our faith, our confidence, and our trust, and mortally offends our sense of decency.  As President Obama reminds us, “regardless of race, religion, faith, or sexual orientation… we need to [look] after each other …in the face of this kind of terrible act.”  As New York City prepares for LGBTQA Pride Week (June 19-26), a week made all the more significant by this attack, CUNY SPS remains dedicated to our diverse community, and stands with Orlando.

I invite you to use the comments section below to share your thoughts and reactions on the tragedy in Orlando.  I hope we can use this moment to learn from one another, give strength to those in need, and to engage in a thoughtful conversation about an event that impacts all of our lives.

Sincerely,

John Mogulescu
Dean, CUNY School of Professional Studies

Elected officials make a lot of decisions that affect students, so we should vote.  We get 4 chances to vote in 2016.  Here’s a little summary of what’s happening.

April 19: New Yorkers will vote in their party primaries for president.  Some of the different parties are Democrat, Republican, Working Families Party, Green Party, Conservative Party, etc..  When people register to vote, they get to select the party they want to be a part of.  Some people do not pick a party.  The registration deadline is March 25th.

June 28: Primary day for all 27 New York members of the United States House of Representatives, including New York State Senator Schumer.  The registration deadline is June 3rd.

September 13: Primaries for all 63 seats of the State Senate and all 150 seats of the State Assembly.  The registration deadline is August 19th.

November 8: President and Vice President of the United States.  The registration deadline is October 14th.

The only way to vote is to be registered.

Find out how to get a job as a poll-worker.

You can get more information by checking out CUNY’s Voice Your Choice website.

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.

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.

Donna E. Shalala

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.

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 grew up in Metro Manila, a Philippine urban jungle that’s pretty much Westernized, for better or for worse. At the end of October, malls would be decked out in Halloween decor. Private schools would have Halloween parades. Gated communities would have Halloween parties and children with their parents and nannies would go around their subdivision trick-or-treating. Horror movies, both local and international, would play on cable television. Halloween wasn’t for everyone, but everyone was familiar with it.

IMG_1241

Ultraman versus a Kaijuu

I spent my first Halloween in America in Brooklyn—Clinton Hill, to be exact. The community organized family-friendly, outdoor, Halloween-themed shows to accompany the traditional dressing up and candy-giving occasion. The first show I watched was an amalgamation of monsters and horror movie references. While I never did catch the plot, the appearance of Ultraman made up for it. The second show I got to watch twice. It was a mixture of Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz, and a science lesson on the circulatory system. Its offbeat delivery kept me highly amused. But more than the shows, it was the community that delighted me. Total strangers would laugh and chat with each other. Families would roam the streets together. That sense of togetherness, even if it were just for a few hours, was memorable.

If I were asked to make a comparison between Halloween in the Philippines and Halloween here—we both use this event as an opportunity to comment on the current state of affairs of our respective countries.

IMG_1243

Amazing Halloween decor.

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Scarier than The Addams Family.

Talk about frightening. Happy Halloween, everyone!

Laura is a teaching artist from the Philippines. She is a graduate student in the MA in Applied Theatre Program and is also an Apprentice in the CUNY Creative Arts Team. She enjoys theatre, music, literature, and silliness. This is her first time in the United States. While she finds New York City full of delightful surprises, she has to admit Netflix has made quite an impression on her.

Million Man Movement

Million Man March, October 2015

On October 10, 2015 the people spoke to the injustice that we have been forced to endure. Millions of us came together to awaken the feeling for solidarity among our clergymen, organizers, and the everyday working class people. We stood together to represent the fact that, “enough is enough.” As the buses entered Washington D.C., we were blessed with exceptional weather, and although the Nation of Islam served as a most gracious host, we all felt at home, as we refreshed our spirits and minds.

I was blessed to attend the march with The Universal Zulu Nation. We rode into the nations capital to reinforce the desire for peace in our New York communities. Afrika Bambaataa, a true legend of hip hop, explained, “it’s about taking ourselves home, doing the knowledge, waking up our communities, to get up and do something for ourselves.” The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan delivered the message in a monumental way, and we all returned home enriched in substance through love.

View the full message here.

Be sure to checkout the 42nd Universal Zula Nation Anniversary, November 12-15.

Click to follow Jeff on Twitter

Jeffrey C. Suttles is a Master of Arts candidate in Urban Studies at the Murphy Institute. He is an independent songwriter/musician who completed his undergraduate studies at The City College of New York. He is currently a CUNY CAP student who continues to pursue career opportunities in publishing, communications, and the arts.