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I am one of those lucky people who was blessed with an awesome public education. I attended the Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn and subsequently graduated from Baruch College, all the while being a part of the New York City work force and gaining valuable real life experience.

My mother was a single parent. She knew that in order to support my sibling and I she needed higher education, so when I was in 3rd grade, she enrolled for courses at Pace University. She attained her bachelor’s degree in Economics the same year that I graduated from high school. She made it clear that she expected me to attain at least as much education as she had, ideally more.

You see when my mother was raising me, you could still get a good office job with a good pension with just a high school diploma. However, as I was graduating from high school that was no longer the case. In order to gain an entry level business position a bachelor’s degree was required.

As I now stand in my mother’s shoes, with children of my own, it is apparent to me that for my children to be successful they will probably need to attain master’s degrees in their field of choice. And so wanting to honor my mother by attaining more education than she has, and also wanting to be a good example to my own children, I find myself back in school to attain a master’s degree of my own. When my children enter college, I can say to them, “I expect you to attain at least as much education as I have, preferably more!”

Shakima Williams-Jones owns and operates Love Movement, LLC, an accounting and business management firm with clients in the entertainment, education and non-profit world. Ms. Williams-Jones currently sits on the board of Uncommon Schools NYC, a charter management organization that operates 22 charter schools in NYC from grades K – 12. She holds a B.A. in Accounting from Baruch College, is basketball coach to 20 high school aged children and is the proud parent of a 5. She is currently enrolled in the M.S. in Business Management and Leadership program.

Each year CUNY SPS asks graduating students to apply to be the Student Speaker at Commencement. As part of their application they are asked to submit their anticipated speech. At the end of the process only one student is selected, however, numerous speeches embody the spirit of the graduating class. We are proud to share some of these speeches here.

Adesine Murray is graduating from CUNY SPS on June 6 with a Master’s Degree in Business Management and Leadership and this is his speech:

I would have never imagined my journey of pursuing a tertiary education would have led me to this point. I started my journey of pursuing higher education many years ago at the University of Guyana in South America, where I gained my Associate’s Degree in Accountancy. Upon migrating to America, I decided to continue my educational journey at City University of New York, Brooklyn College campus where I was awarded my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and Finance in the spring of 2012.

During my time at Brooklyn College my initial thought process was to just pass the courses and graduate in the targeted time I had set for myself. I cannot tell you much about my campus life since I did not have much of it. I, like most of the students, worked full time and attended school full time through evening and weekend classes. So, the campus experience and being part of student clubs and other activities that other students were exposed to was not part of my experience at Brooklyn College. However, I can say that Brooklyn College has one of the most beautiful campuses in CUNY—nicely manicured lawns, a pond, mini garden, and a nice combination of old historic and modern buildings. My favorite building was the library where I visited frequently for both undergraduate and graduate studies.

I must thank Baruch College for not accepting me as that gave me the opportunity to attend Brooklyn College which was an easier commute and walking distance from home in Midwood. During my time there, I was able to forge friendships and bonds with fellow students that I still maintain today, and I know they are all equally proud of me for finally catching up with them at the graduate level. My friend Patricia is probably smiling saying, “nerd.”

I was a little hesitant to enroll at CUNY SPS to do my master’s degree because I was not very familiar with the online education process. After doing research and attending one of the information sessions, and thanks to the presenters that day and the alumni who were there to answer our questions, I was sold and here I am today. Part of my reason for doing my graduate degree, apart from increasing my knowledge and attaining qualifications, is to make myself more competitive in the job market and to achieve my life goals. I also did it to serve as an example to my nieces and nephews to show they can achieve anything they want with hard work and dedication.

The journey with CUNY SPS has been challenging at times but also rewarding. One of the professors who helped to take away the challenge of learning math online was Professor David Hauser who taught me BUS 670 Quantitative Decision Making. Starting in the fall 2015 semester with this course I was very nervous, but after my first two classes with Professor Hauser, and learning strategies to complete the work, I was very encouraged. I think Professor Hauser was one of the best professors I have had at the School of Professional Studies.

The experience at all of the CUNY campuses is not one that I can replace and will always remember it as part of my unique journey through three schools earning three degrees. I have learned and was exposed to many new ideas and business concepts that I can take with me on my continuing journey. The CUNY SPS MSBML meet-up was a good way of allowing students to meet their fellow classmates and their professors, even though I attended only the first one and missed the others due to scheduling issues.

I must thank all my professors and advisors for guiding me through this enlightening journey, my family who has supported me through all these years, and my fellow classmates for their help in our classes when I needed it.

In closing, we have all achieved a great accomplishment, so may we all go forward proudly and enrich the world with our new knowledge and experiences and most of all make CUNY SPS proud.

Congratulations!

Professor Anthony Sterns is an entrepreneur in the healthcare field, and has been quite successful in bringing his product, iRxReminder, to fruition. He teaches courses in our MS in Business Management and Leadership degree program: BUS 620 Entrepreneurship in a Global Environment, BUS 680 Economics for Business Decisions, BUS 698 Applied Business Research, and has been a thesis mentor to both graduate and undergraduate students.

CUNY SPS Professor Anthony Sterns

1. How did you come about teaching for CUNY SPS?

I have a good friend from high school and another friend from graduate school who both work at CUNY City Tech. I happened to see an advertisement on the Academy of Management Organizational Behavior List-serve for a business adjunct at CUNY SPS and because I knew something about CUNY, I applied.

2. Over your time as a thesis mentor to our graduate and undergraduate students, which thesis idea have you been most excited by so far?

I had one student complete a systematic review of 3-D printing and whether it met the criteria as a disruptive technology in the manufacturing space. That student was very good and completed a very strong paper.

3. What’s the most important piece of advice you can give to future entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneurship is a long and lonely road. You have to have a strong passion for the vision of the future you see. You will need help to get there. Pick your friends and business relationships carefully, because your relationships will be challenged and it’s those relationships that will mean the difference between succeeding and failing to succeed.

4. What was your motivation behind developing iRxReminder?

My previous work focused on people living with dementia. Medication adherence is one of two reasons that people loose their independence, the other being wandering. I wanted to find a way to help older adults live independently longer. As we learned more about medication taking challenges we focused our attention on first helping clinical researchers and more recently improving adherence to oral cancer treatments and recovery from transplants.

5. What has it been like to watch iRxReminder grow from an idea to an award-winning start-up within the healthcare IT community?

Each milestone feels like a real victory, as every one is hard fought. The most important validation was the investment of our first angel this time last year. I started out in engineering. When I turned in my graduate education and research, I stopped making tangible things; things people use. I am most gratified when I know someone has an app and a device to help them complete a drug study, or take all the medications required to remain independent.

6. What’s next for you and iRxReminder?

We are planning on closing our current seed round this summer, bringing on an additional investor, and finishing our FDA 510(k) clearance, which will open up new markets to us this fall.

1. Favorite way to relax after a long day: Sailing.

2. What I’m reading right now: Managerial Economics.

3. The person I most admire: It’s a tie between Jacques Ives Cousteau and my parents, Drs. Harvey and Ronni Sterns.

4. Greatest piece of advice I have ever received: When they say, “It can’t be done, and you know how to do it, you are definitely onto something.”

5. If I wasn’t a professor/healthcare IT entrepreneur, I’d be: a touring musician.

6. Best part of teaching online at CUNY SPS: My boss, B. Loerinc Helft. She keeps the ship running. I also really like working with the students; their drive keeps me motivated in my own work.

Thank you, Professor Sterns. We’re very fortunate to work with people like Dr. Helft here at CUNY SPS.

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2015!

I didn’t hear so much about New Year’s resolutions (nyr) this year as I did in previous years, but I must say, forward on!

Just want to remind folks that it’s okay to put last year’s nyr on rinse, repeat…after all, who says it should or will take just a year to accomplish your goals?

2014 was a year of sowing seeds, many of which are starting to reap…

As you sow your seeds this year, be sure to take advantage of some pretty great technology that can help you in your efforts to manage your life and get things done.

Tip: Use a project management tool like Trello to turn each of your nyr into a project or “board” and break them up into little tasks or “cards” you need to accomplish. It’ll be really hard not to accomplish your nyr when armed with a plan and a strategy for tracking progress!

Christina is passionate about teaching and helping others, social justice, and business ownership. She has a BA in English from George Washington University and a MA in Education from Howard University. She is currently completing a MS in Business Management and Leadership at CUNY SPS. After 10 years of teaching in public and private schools, she’s chosen to focus on helping women and minority owned small businesses succeed and give back so that her families, friends, and communities can thrive. Find Christina on LinkedIn or Facebook.

Hi, it’s Christina again!  Just to remind you, I’m a grad student in the CUNY School of Professional Studies Online Business Management Program and I’m grateful that with this education I will have the background, knowledge, and skills I need to pursue my life’s passions.

What’s yours?

Very interesting…go for it!

Now in my last article “No New Business:  Doing You” I wrote about focusing on yourself first.  My hope is that you received that message in the spirit that it was given.

Giving back (#givingtuesday) is one of the most meaningful things you can do with your life. There’s nothing like it.  And time and time again, it has been proven that regardless of one’s level of success, wealth, or fame, most people just don’t feel complete and satisfied until they participate in giving back.

But again…how do you get there?  To the place where you are giving AND you feel full?  To the place where you are so filled with love, joy, and happiness, that you can’t do anything but share?

Well, I’m no Buddha, but I want to remind you all to PERSIST, PUSH, and PERSEVERE.

A lot of us are working really hard for jobs, pushing important family, health, finances, and dreams to the side.  I’m here to say “push back!”  I learned the hard way, in my career, that unless you are running your own company, you are quite DISpensable.  Which I say to remind you to put your career in perspective when you compare it against all the other reasons why you were put here on this earth.  Respect and honor the job that allows you to provide—but make sure you are providing for something other than just getting to work the next day.  Get it?

I charge you to take the same tenacity or fever you put towards school and work and turn it upon yourself, your families, your health, your finances, and your dreams.  Live outside the 9 to 5.  Live a fulfilled life, not a settled for one.

In fact, there are some great productivity tools that can really help you piece together the many elements of your life.  Try a tool like Trello for organizing your life and getting things done.  And don’t forget, keeping a calendar can make a huge difference, too!!

Christina is passionate about teaching and helping others, social justice, and business ownership. She has a BA in English from George Washington University and a MA in Education from Howard University. She is currently completing a MS in Business Management and Leadership at CUNY SPS. After 10 years of teaching in public and private schools, she’s chosen to focus on helping women and minority owned small businesses succeed and give back so that her families, friends, and communities can thrive. 

Ever felt like you were on a never-ending roller-coaster ride and THAT was your life?

There’s something about being on a ‘coaster that makes you feel like you are not in control. You are just experiencing the ride, but should it take a sharp turn left or right, you are just going to have to grin and bear it, or scream your head off, because you are not in control.

Or so you think. Who told you to get on that ride anyway? Oh….I see.

And life feels like that sometimes.

But it’s important to remember that there’s choices you can make to prevent or even mitigate the crazy freefall you think is approaching.

I remember living day-to-day with that crazy anxious feeling in my chest. Like, how am I going to get through today? I know I’m strong, but damn, this is killing me. I feel like a rubbed out eraser.

Things changed for me when I began to see my inner turmoil reflected in my external world. There’s nothing like seeing the ceiling collapsing all around you to realize that what you thought you were holding up….had been falling down all along. Do you understand?

Over the past year or so I’ve devoted myself to the new motto “no new business,” and what it means is that I have the power to say “no,” to set my own limits, to focus on my own goals, to slow down, to stop, to make changes, to remove or stay away from people and situations that hurt me, and so on.

“No new business” means I’ve got enough on my plate and I’m just trying to deal with what I’ve got on my plate right now. I love you, but, I can’t help you right now. I have to help myself right now. But as soon as I’m okay, I’ll do what I can. I can’t help you from a hospital bed, right?

“No new business” means saying to yourself, I work full-time, I’m in school, I’m a parent, I’m trying to improve my health, maybe work on a personal hobby or passion, and that’s about all I can handle at this moment. And THAT’S OKAY. I’m not a superhero, I’m just human.

And as we enter into the fall and get supercharged up to do this and do that and do this and do that—I say, slow down. You don’t have to ride every roller-coaster in the park. Just pick one or two. And maybe it doesn’t have to have that loop-di-loop either.  Just chill, do what you can do, and be happy with that. And allow others in your life, who want this and that, to also be happy that you are taking care of you.

“Perhaps too much of everything is as bad as too little.” —Edna Ferber

Christina is passionate about teaching and helping others, social justice, and business ownership. She has a BA in English from George Washington University and a MA in Education from Howard University. She is currently completing a MS in Business Management and Leadership at CUNY SPS. After 10 years of teaching in public and private schools, she’s chosen to focus on helping women and minority owned small businesses succeed and give back so that her families, friends, and communities can thrive.

#FindYourReason

#FindYourReason

I know I could graduate two or more semesters early if only I would take summer classes. But I won’t. Two courses a semester on top of working full-time and trying to have a life (and have some fun!) is too stressful and I need the three-month break from formal education, tests, papers, discussion boards, wikis and required reading. I admire and applaud those that go to school year round and know that we all have different goals, restrictions and time frames.

I spent most of this summer on my self-help project. I realized that I needed to let go of some things, move on with others, change some behaviors, and learn why I keep making some of the same mistakes and how to make better choices. I also needed to figure out what I want to do when I grow up.

I did a LOT of reading—blogs, articles, and books. Not all information is good information. In fact, some of it is garbage. However, a little discernment and fact checking can do wonders. A beauty magazine suggested a biotin supplement to improve my soft, splitting nails. Dr. Oz said it was OK. I have been taking it for several months and my nails have improved. Speaking of Dr. Oz, I work in the same complex and happened to be in the elevator with him one morning. He must have been experiencing a bad day, because he was not the same persona as on TV. Excuuuuuse me.

I read all kinds of relationship advice, ranging from carving my initials into the leather seats of someone’s car to reciting the following mantra over and over again: “I’m sorry; please forgive me; I love you; thank you.” Forgiveness of a behavior does not mean acceptance, and it allows the forgiver to find peace and move on. Acknowledging my part in a failed venture and seeking forgiveness for my failures is an important ingredient in recovery. Grudges and holding onto hurts destroy the soul.

I read some excellent books, including one with simple yet creative ideas on how to handle money, a beautifully written but disturbing book about the spiritual, physical, and bureaucratic struggles of inhabitants of a Mumbai slum and a poorly written but “different” trilogy about alternate lifestyles. OK—it was the Fifty Shades of Grey books. The first one was riveting and thought provoking, but the experience became less interesting through book two and turned into a boring, eye-rolling page-turner by the third installment. Part of the problem may have been that I read all three books over a several day marathon. Even though I was number 1,000 something on the New York Public Library e-book list for each book, they happened to become available at the same time and I did not want to have to re-request them and become number 1,000 something again.

I tried some new recipes and made food I enjoy but usually buy prepared or in a restaurant. Hummus did not turn out as good as Sabra’s, but my gazpacho is very tasty (but not as good as Billy’s, the brother of a friend) and my sesame noodles are not bad. Since I had so much leftover fresh ginger from the sesame noodles, I chopped it and added it to boiling water for a few minutes. I ended up with ginger water that tastes great in a tall glass of ice or mixed with tea.

Besides cooking, I took time to enjoy crafts again. I made a few pieces of jewelry, picked up a needlepoint that I hadn’t touched in many years, and will finish (I will finish!) the sweater I started about 10 years ago and left more than half done.

One of the best suggestions I learned on the self-help journey is to expand my social group. Be open to new people, different types of people, other experiences and settings. Meetup.com has a meetup group for any and every interest. Joining a group is free and I now belong to several. I have been on walking tours of lower Manhattan, visited Coney Island and City Island, went out to dinner and brunch, explored my ancestry and did other really interesting things with people I did not know a few months ago. I have old and dear friends, but we don’t have the same interests in everything, the time or the resources. I have made some new friends and I am taking a trip with one of them through our travel meetup group.

I have learned so much through my informal education this summer. I am grateful for everything that has brought me to this point in my life (the good and the bad, because nothing is a mistake if you learn from it) and the sense of accomplishment and empowerment that comes with the ongoing and never ending self-discovery process. The journey is as important, if not more important, than the destination.

Mary Casey is a student in the MS in Business Leadership and Management program at CUNY School of Professional Studies and is an alumna of Lehman College. She is an administrator for a university in NYC. She loves to travel and wants to see as much of the world as possible. Mary created and maintained a community/political blog from 2002 to 2004.

I had a different blog post almost completely written, but then a friend of mine forwarded an email to me entitled, “WHERE ARE ALL THE GIRLFRIENDS OF OBAMA?”. I replied, “Are you serious?” and thus began yet another crisis in our friendship since high school and my scrapping of my original blog post for today.

We had a few more exchanges of emails, her indignation rising with each of my attempts to dispute the claims made in the chain email, such as Obama never attended Columbia University. OK, I admit my eye rolling may have come across, but I provided links to Snopes, PolitiFact and Columbia University.

Two stick figures holding an extra large envelope with the word fake written on it.

After complaining that I called people who don’t agree with me crazy and that providing unbiased documentation to refute the crazy right wing stuff is a typical liberal response (yes, it is), my conservative friend finally read the information. She admitted that the email is a little crazy. Thankfully, she is liberal enough to accept facts.

In his 2006 book, Conservatives Without a Conscience, John Dean claims that about 25% of Americans will not believe the truth, no matter what, when faced with facts. He backs up his assertion with psychological studies. Nothing you can say or do will convince this group. He also points out that over the past few decades, those conservatives without a conscience have hijacked the Republican party and masterfully use smear campaigns and the spin machine to push their agenda and get their candidates elected. It has gotten so much easier with the growth of the Internet and social media. Add rigged elections and a friendly-to-the-cause Supreme Court, and we are still suffering the result.

It is no secret that the Republicans’ top priority is to defeat the Socialist Kenyan, even if it means destroying the country in the process. Nothing gets done in the Senate without the 60 vote supermajority (and never mind the useless DINOs) and the House is ruled by one of the most inept Speakers in history who can’t control the crazies in his party.

What could be worse? Even though “Yes We Can” has not worked for many reasons, do you want Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann et al. appointing federal judges and Supreme Court justices until 2016?

Mary Casey is a student in the MS in Business Leadership and Management program at CUNY School of Professional Studies and is an alumna of Lehman College. She is an administrator for a university in NYC. She loves to travel and wants to see as much of the world as possible. Mary created and maintained a community/political blog from 2002 to 2004.