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

Throughout my life, I have come to appreciate and embrace opportunities afforded to me. I have always believed that the confluence of my ambition and presented opportunities would inevitably lead to success. I am eternally grateful to have been a recipient of the ACE Scholarship as it has helped me complete my BSN, which is essential to my ultimate goal. My journey has not been a straight path but one filled with pit stops and detours. I hope that by writing this blog, others will be inspired regardless of where they are currently—whether peaks or valleys. Through introspection, I have come to realize that while I always viewed education as essential, life lessons learned can never be understated. During the course of my studies, there are three important elements that I can say have helped me to never give up or lose sight of my ultimate goal.

Firstly, my passion for nursing has always been there. As I am writing this I can recall vividly, during my formative years, I received a Fisher Price medical kit as a Christmas gift. I would play and use this kit every chance I got, whether using it on my mom and my brother, even my pets were not spared. I was always fascinated by the human anatomy and how different parts of the body worked in such harmony. This deep rooted curiosity along with my desire and affinity for helping people directed me on a path to pursue a career in nursing. So even when faced with challenges in my life, that passion always kept burning within me and helped me to persevere amid life struggles.

Secondly, my ambition to succeed has never wavered and I must attest that without it I may have given up. One of my favorite quotes by Roy T. Bennet, in The Light in the Heart, is “Believe in your infinite potential. Your only limitations are those you set upon yourself.” I always attempted never to put a limit on what I can achieve even when that may have seemed reasonable and pragmatic at times. As a young black woman growing up, I have always been told by those before me of things that I cannot be or careers that are out of my reach. However, I was never deterred or deflated by those words, it only further incentivized me to go after what my heart truly yearns for. I did not let breaks in my studies, whether for financial reasons or otherwise, shut the door on my dreams.

Finally, while passion and ambition were indisputably important, they would mean very little without opportunity. For this, I will be eternally grateful to the ACE scholarship program for providing me with the opportunity to pursue my goal. As I near completion, I have no intention or desire to stop here. I fully intend to make full use of this by furthering my studies in the field of anesthesiology, which is my ultimate ambition. The ACE Scholarship has been vital to the realization of my dream of becoming a qualified nurse anesthesiologist. By no means is my journey over, however, I believe as with everything in life, it is important to look back in order to move forward with even greater enthusiasm and appreciation. So I move forward and am ready to board the train of opportunity afforded, growing from the experience and enjoying the ride toward the next level of success.

Kiyra Jones 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 Nursing degree program on May 31, 2017.

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

We all know too well how important education is. Education enlightens us, provides us with knowledge, and helps us to realize the careers that we dream of. However, education to me is more than that. To me, education is a privilege. There are millions of people, especially children, around the world who do not have the opportunity to go to school. I am a Tibetan refugee, born and raised in India, but I was fortunate enough to go to one of the best and largest Tibetan schools in India. Not every Tibetan refugee children had been as fortunate as me. Therefore, I do not take education for granted. I take the opportunity as a responsibility too. I am always grateful for any opportunity that allows me to be back in school. I make sure that I work hard and get good grades, not just for my GPA, but also to fulfill the responsibility that comes with the privilege of being in school and receiving education.

When I first came to the U.S. I wanted to go to back to school and get a degree in Nursing. I wanted to become a nurse because I believed that it is one of the very few professions that can provide not only joy and satisfaction, but also purpose and meaning to your life. Nursing, to me, is not just a job, it is also a medium through which I can fulfill my spiritual values and beliefs.

I found out that CUNY provides nursing programs in its community colleges, and I could avail financial aid to help with my tuition. I enrolled in LaGuardia Community College nursing program, and completed my Associate’s degree in Nursing in 2014, finishing with the highest GPA in my batch. After graduating from LaGuardia Community College, I got accepted into Hunter and CUNY School of Professional Studies BSN program. However, I chose SPS over Hunter college, without any hesitation, since SPS is an online school, allows for flexibility with time management, and SPS’s Nursing directors had earlier come to LaGuardia to talk about the BSN program. I thought SPS was the right school for me.

Once I started my BSN classes at SPS, I realized that I had made the right decision. The staff in the registrar’s office, the financial aid staff, my advisor, and most important of all, the nursing department professors and director were incredibly supportive and helpful. I’ve been to different colleges in India, and here in the U.S, but, the administration and staff, and professors here in SPS are way more supportive and helpful than any other college I’ve been to. The quality of education provided here is excellent.

To make my BSN program even better, I was accepted as an ACE Scholarship one year into my BSN program. The ACE Scholarship helped pay my entire tuition fee for the remaining semesters of my BSN program. Since I’ve started working, I knew that I wouldn’t be eligible for financial aid, and would have to pay the tuition fees out of my own pocket. However, the ACE Scholarship came along, and helped alleviate my financial concerns. The only thing that ACE Scholarship program asked in return was to mentor two new students (nursing) who had just joined SPS. I was a school teacher when I lived in India, and I mentored nursing students when I was in LaGuardia Community College. Furthermore, I have always been forthcoming, and volunteered to help others. Mentoring comes as second nature to me. So, it was not an uphill or a new task for me to be a mentor to new students. Mentoring also provided me with the opportunity to meet and interact with new students.

I will be graduating from CUNY SPS with BSN degree this month. I feel blessed, and very fortunate to get the opportunity to continue my education, to be a student of SPS, and to receive the ACE Scholarship when I needed help the most. I’ve had the most rewarding and fulfilling two years of my life being a student at CUNY School of Professional Studies. I am forever grateful to SPS including my professors, the staff at SPS, and Mr. Alan Fishman, who established and provided funds for the ACE Scholarship.

Tenzion Lekshay 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 Nursing degree program tonight.

Dear Journal,

In this line of work, it is not that hard to consider coworkers as close friends since they also fight that same fight each shift next to you.  And just like when patients come and go on the job, so do fellow nurses you will always remember working with, even after they have gone on to do other, better things.  Here is an ode to you all out there in the greater expanse, to whom others have so depended on (to the previous members of our “A” Team):

I got you…I got you…

at work a dear friend is moving on

like the everyday shifting of a vagabond

taking with it a continent of years of routine

to the motto of: “I swim, You swim. You swim, I swim” until the waters we fight through are clear and pristine

one last time I’ll pass your meds, you take the MD orders. Will be hard to see choppy waters

not the same feelings the next time around me it gathers

no more that one to dare me further, as that feeling of my strength starts to weaken

to another shift with no break, no time to eat and…

so here’s another thought for you to take on the road

put your worries down for more than a while

and I, rescuer of short shifts, will share your load

while incessant insults jokingly, at you, will be thrown in exchange for a laugh and a smile

—Inah Castro

Inah Castro has been a practicing nurse since 2009. She first started out as an LPN and is currently attending CUNY SPS for her BS in nursing. She is bicoastal, as she is licensed in California as well as New York, and has over the years worked on both ends of the country. Inah enjoys writing, cooking, and boxing/kickboxing. 

Dear Journal,

Coming from a family of nurses and having been one for some number of years, I feel I have come away with many things by having seen, having been, and having done quite a number of things while working.  I was born into this profession and I always pursued those quiet moments where I realize that at last I have survived, still. One shift at a time and through job experiences, when looking back one would seemingly never quite find the words to really tell it. Let alone explain the many levels of demands you have to dig out from the depths of, before you can say your job is done, and afterwards finally go home. Still, there is that lingering notion in my mind that is forever hoping and praying my efforts, thus far, have been worthwhile (aside from myself that is):

Let me be a godsend

broken me in and out to mend

let me be a godsend

volunteer to the sleepless down here

as guardians of us mere

blimps of time and creation

try to stand test of time, but only in our proliferation

as our lines continue on, equally disappearing

along with the death and dying

but the disturbance on the big ripple that I insert, I will do so with such great forceful shove

that its speed will felt up there, from up above

-Inah Castro

Inah Castro has been a practicing nurse since 2009. She first started out as an LPN and is currently attending CUNY SPS for her BS in nursing. She is bicoastal, as she is licensed in California as well as New York, and has over the years worked on both ends of the country. Inah enjoys writing, cooking, and boxing/kickboxing. 

Dear Journal,

I have so often been reminded of the issue that other people do not understand my profession.  It has been said, that unless one has gone through the rigors of nursing school, and has gone on to get licensed, and practiced in some setting for a while, one will forever stay outside of “our walls of having been there.”  I, therefore, have taken it upon myself, this undertaking of trying to make the outside world understand.  For those of us in the profession, who just cannot find the exact words or even the right picture to enlighten an outsider about what we do, it is okay.  For, I have willingly volunteered to step up to take on this responsibility to ensure that someone out there, whoever you are, will get a feel of it’s fine grain as if in between one’s fingers, even if only for a moment.  This might mean that I may have to search the whole world over for the words, in whatever form I may find them.  Perhaps, needing to even call upon other media to give them that intended effect.  In doing so, I will lend the world my eyes.  Then, maybe then, will the rest of the world really see what we see when looking around, in our nursing scrubs.  We may travel back in time, journey back to the present, even jump to the future, and at times go outside of the topic area for a moment, as needed, in search of the words we may be looking for:

Words to come

worlds away

the person I am to become

catch the words to say

too near to be

the person I am to me

—Inah Castro

Inah Castro has been a practicing nurse since 2009. She first started out as an LPN and is currently attending CUNY SPS for her BS in nursing. She is bicoastal, as she is licensed in California as well as New York, and has over the years worked on both ends of the country. Inah enjoys writing, cooking, and boxing/kickboxing. 

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

The ACE Scholarship award has provided me with great opportunities. This has been a very busy semester for me at the CUNY School of Professional Studies. Since this is my last semester before I obtain my bachelors in nursing degree, there were many requirements that needed to be completed.

This fall I was required to fulfill 90 clinical hours for my nursing capstone course, complete 3 courses’ assignments every week, mentor two nursing students, apply for graduation, work full time, and was recently diagnosed with a cardiac condition. Being a recipient of the ACE Scholarship has given me the time to fulfill these requirements, because I did not need to pick up overtime shifts to assist me in paying tuition.

The scholarship also gave me the time to complete my applications to graduate schools, in which I have been accepted into the school of my choice, where I will be pursuing my masters in nursing degree and become a family nurse practitioner. I also believe that I gained valuable skills, such as time management, resilience after unexpected obstacles, and becoming a mentor.

The mentees that I was assigned to didn’t require as much guidance as I thought they would need. However, it was nice being there for them whenever they required assistance.

I believe without the assistance of the ACE Scholarship award, I would not have gained these valuable skills, or would have been able to focus the amount of time I did on my academic career and future goals, and for that I am thankful.

Michael Castano 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 Nursing program at the end of this semester.

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

“Average leaders raise the bar on themselves; good leaders raise the bar for others; great leaders inspire others to raise their own bar.”—Orrin Woodward

In the modern world, the ability to take charge is a highly desirable quality and skill. Leadership skills are necessary in various fields. We often wonder whether leadership is an innate or an acquired quality. Can a person who lacks passion and charisma but possesses an appropriate education and training be a great leader? Is honest, personable, brave, passionate, and hard working individual qualified to lead a team and expect success without possessing certain leadership skills?

I think that leadership qualities exist in every individual to a certain degree and we all can lead others in some parts of our lives. In my opinion, leadership skills start forming while following someone’s lead. We learn from other people and then we model our learned behaviors allowing others to learn from us. Following and learning from the right people can be a crucial factor in one’s career path. Open-mindedness and the ability to hear others are some qualities of a future-leader. To advance and perfect such qualities means to make a habit of using them.

The mentor-mentee relationship is a mutually beneficial way to perfect and acquire certain skills. By becoming a mentee initially, one can identify own goals, strengths and weaknesses, and ways for improvement as well as exercise taking charge safely. There are many benefits of having a mentor, which includes one-on-one interaction and support from an experienced individual who has dealt with the current issues of the mentee, which allows for trust, connection, and bond. Wisdom can be shared and certain mistakes can be avoided through such interaction. A mentor can lessen anxiety and empower his or her mentee by modeling desired professional, personal, and communication skills; offering real life advice and resources to the mentee.

I find that benefits of being a mentor are as invaluable as having a mentor. Mentors benefit from the relationship with a mentee through learning new things, widening resources, and sharpening our own coaching methods. Being able to help the person who is willing to learn and potentially benefit the career of the mentor and the field itself is truly empowering and rewarding. Relationships and friendship can be built through this interaction. I think that if person has a mentor he or she is more likely to mentor someone else in the future and that is a main goal of such relationship.

Zarina Kopb 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 Nursing program at the end of this semester.

Peter Magri is a student in our new online Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing program. He explains why he enrolled here at CUNY SPS and what he expects to gain from his degree.

Peter Magri

1. Why did you choose to continue your education at CUNY SPS?

CUNY SPS offered the sense of continuity for me within the CUNY system since I had recently graduated from the Nursing Program at Queensborough Community College. I had come to trust the faculty at QCC and thought that it would be a good fit. I also was happy to hear that SPS used BlackBoard, which was also used at QCC, so the online demographic would be easy to fit into.

2. What is the single most important professional or personal goal that you would like to achieve during your studies at CUNY SPS or after graduation?

I would really like to land a job as a nurse. I have been on so many interviews and have applied to countless jobs and have yet to be hired in a hospital. I would like to get into critical care or the fast pace of a busy ER to really prove my skill sets to myself and those from nursing school.

3. How have you grown intellectually as a result of your studies at CUNY SPS?

I have definitely broadened my assessment techniques and understand the body and how it works because of the Pathophysiology class I took. I also have learned so much about culture and teaching and how important it is to incorporate a patient’s culture in the plan of care.

4. What advice would you offer to someone considering applying for admission to the program?

APPLY! I am so glad I did. The faculty are warm and are always there to assist you through anything that may concern you. You may feel that since it is an online program that you would get lost in the shuffle, but there is nothing further from the truth. They’re there with you every step of the way.

We also asked Peter a few fun questions about his life and his studies.

1. Place of residence: Franklin Square, New York.

2. Favorite CUNY SPS course: NURS301-Assessment.

3. Weirdest place you have studied: Oh God…really??? OK—the toilet.

4. Your favorite music to play while studying: I actually don’t like to listen to music while I study; I like to have CNN on in the background.

5. Best thing about your community or NYC: It’s close to Manhattan and my parents live just down the block from me! Always get great home-cooked meals!

Thank you, Peter, for bringing such a positive attitude about online learning and a passion for the field of nursing to your work here at CUNY SPS!

Cami Dreyer is a student in our online Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (R.N. to B.S. in Nursing) program. She shares her motivations for achieving her educational and professional goals.

Cami Dreyer, Online Nursing student at CUNY SPS

1. Why did you choose to continue your education at CUNY SPS?

This past summer I received my AAS is in nursing and achieved my dream of becoming an RN. While in that program, I was notified about a new, fully online RN to BSN program at CUNY SPS. I knew this would give me the freedom to job hunt and enter the workforce while continuing to work towards the coveted BSN that is now required by most hospitals. I had heard great things about SPS, so I decided to make the leap!

2. What is the single most important professional or personal goal that you would like to achieve during your studies at CUNY SPS or after graduation?

Quite simply, to achieve my Bachelors of Applied Science in Nursing!

3. How have you grown intellectually as a result of your studies at CUNY SPS?

Even though it has only been a little over a month, I have already grown so much! Learning here at SPS goes beyond knowledge and comprehension. SPS is pushing me to apply, analyze, and evaluate the material I learn. In addition, my writing abilities and my sense of how to approach assignments has greatly improved.

4. What advice would you offer to someone considering applying for admission to the program?

If you have other responsibilities, start slow with one or two classes to get the feel for the online format. If you are self-motivated, do IT! You won’t regret it.

Cami also shares some fun facts about her life.

1. Place of residence: Park Slope, Brooklyn.

2. Favorite CUNY SPS course: Physical Assessment.

3. Weirdest place you have studied: While walking through a street fair.

4. Your favorite music to play while studying: Classical.

5. Best thing about your community or NYC: Diversity.

Thank you for sharing all of this with us, Cami. Can you give us your best tip on how to study while walking?

Alexandra Chang is a student in our online Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (R.N. to B.S. in Nursing) program. She shares some of thoughts about her future as a nurse.

Alexandra Chang is a student in our online Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (R.N. to B.S. in Nursing) program
1. Why did you choose to continue your education at CUNY SPS?

My brain kicks in at the strangest times 9pm, 12am… 2:37 pm and 47 seconds – rarely when other “normal” humans go to school. I appreciate that I can work when my brain is most active; my work is of better quality and more enjoyable to complete. Also, it gives me the flexibility to work any schedule.

2. What is the single most important professional or personal goal that you would like to achieve during your studies at CUNY SPS or after graduation?

I aspire to be a traveling Trauma Registered Nurse. CUNY SPS gives me the opportunity to be more marketable to employers because I can work any shift and location. Because it’s online, I may even be able to start taking travel assignments before actually graduating from the program.

3. How have you grown intellectually as a result of your studies at CUNY SPS?

I rave about my studies—I’m not even joking. The research required for SPS allows me to learn about topics that I’m not only interested in, but can apply to my career TODAY! I find myself sharing what I’ve learned with my colleagues and patients all the time. CUNY SPS has made me more competent in my career.

4. What advice would you offer to someone considering applying for admission to the program?

While I find the research refreshing, it definitely requires time and commitment. If you’re the kind of self-motivating person who does independent research “for fun,” then CUNY SPS should be the perfect fit.

Alexandra also shares some fun facts about her life.

1. Place of residence: Harlem.

2. Favorite CUNY SPS course: NURS301 (so far).

3. Weirdest place you have studied: Tattoo Parlor.

4. Your favorite music to play while studying: Trip Hop.

5. Best thing about your community or NYC: Everyone belongs.

You studied in a tattoo parlor! That’s too funny. Our only follow up question is whether or not you were getting a tattoo while studying?