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I am sitting here procrastinating, my life has been “busy” [understatement] lately. I am trying to juggle work, my daughter applying to college, another daughter applying to high school in New York City, school, and life in general–you know food, sleep, cleaning, exercise, etc… I keep thinking this too shall pass, knowing that I will graduate with my BSN in May next year! Can’t wait!

AND, as I am thinking this I sign up for an information session about a master in nursing, online, here at CUNY SPS… Have I gone mad? More school? Well, I want a master’s degree, might as well do it directly, and it never hurts to check it out… I guess my instinct/drive is to continue to grow, learn more and develop myself continuously, but please life, “give me a break!” Maybe I should just realize that I will never be done, I will always be on my way to the next goal–maybe that is life. I look forward to just reading a regular book, or lazily watching TV without feeling bad and knowing I should be doing something else. This is what I am thinking about now when I should be writing my paper :).

Other than that, it is getting cold out. I kind of like it and I kind of dread winter.

I am going to Sweden next week, to see my parents and my sister, I look forward to that a lot. While I am there I am also going to take the Swedish “board exam” for nursing, in order to get a Swedish nursing license as well. I am thinking to do it now, when I  have nursing school somewhat fresh in mind, and why not do it? We will never know where life will take us, maybe one day I will need to be able to work in Sweden, or I will want to. My secret plan is to gain as much experience as possible, as quickly as possible, while my kids are still in school. The minute they are all gone I aim to go do non-for-profit work in remote countries where healthcare can’t be taken for granted, and I will be able to make a bigger difference in someone’s life–someone who is in desperate need and who does not have access around the corner.

Until the next post…

Lotta

Charlotte Wahlquist is from Sweden. She is a graduate of BMCC and is now a Registered Nurse as of January of this year. In addition to working as a full-time nurse she is enrolled in the online RN to BSN program at CUNY SPS and is a recipient of the ACE Scholarship. Shortly after Charlotte moved to New York, seven years ago, she took a giant leap of faith and went back to school. With her five children, and an impenetrable drive to make her dreams come true—she hit the send button on her CUNY application. The time since that life-altering push of the button has been spent with many early and late hours being a single working mom, a student, and a person wishing for more hours in the day. There have been many challenges that have threatened to pull her off track; however, having her son asking to sit down next to her one night, and work on his homework next to her while she studied made her realize that she had embarked on something much larger than herself.

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What do you call a busy adult with masochistic tendencies? A student at CUNY SPS! Now that I have your attention… Hello! My name is Milan Fredricks and I am one of the newest masochists at the CUNY School of Professional Studies. If you don’t mind, I’d like to tell you a bit about me…

Nine years ago, I was pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree at CUNY Lehman College, having successfully completed three semesters. It was difficult because I was juggling work and family issues, but finishing my degree had always been a priority for me. Then, in 2008, everything came to a head. I became unemployed and those family issues imploded. My focus was shot and my fire was snuffed out. I missed lectures, didn’t show up for labs, and was generally “not all there” when it came to my classes. By the time mid-terms rolled around I had to admit to myself that this wasn’t working, and so I made the painful but necessary decision to drop out of Lehman.

But even then, in the midst of my unhappiness, I swore to myself “this is only temporary!” I figured that I would find another job quickly, work through my family drama and get back to school as quickly as possible. In hindsight, that was a bit naive of me. 2008 was the recession and the worst possible time to lose my job. For the next three and a half years, I experienced chronic unemployment, and the stress of constantly looking for work severely dampened that initial enthusiasm of returning to school. Worrying about my family, worrying about whether I would make rent that month, and suffering from insomnia and mild depression made school my last priority. I never forgot about the promise that I made to myself, but when faced with the possibility of homelessness and the stress of family turmoil, the importance of finishing my degree simply paled in comparison. Finishing my degree was out and basic survival was in.

Nine years later it’s hard to believe that I lost so much time. But the more time that passed, the easier it was to forget that promise. I think I was humbled by my bad experience and viewed finishing my degree as more of a luxury that I couldn’t afford. Even when things on the work front started to stabilize and the family stuff got resolved (somewhat), I still found it difficult to get back on track regarding my college career. It was fear more than anything else, now that I look back. I just didn’t want to take that risk. I was scared to rock the boat. But a few months ago, things changed for me. A light-bulb went on somewhere deep in the cob-webbed recesses of my brain and I decided to renew that promise to myself.

Today, I am a far cry from where I was nine years ago. My family and work circumstances have vastly improved. I am happily employed with an organization that I am proud to work for and 18 months ago I was promoted to a senior administrative position. In my new role, I get to work on projects that allow me to flex my creative muscles. Most notably is the website re-launch project that I managed and the marketing and branding initiative that a co-worker and I plan to propose. The more creative work I get to do, the more I’m pulled to the visual and the graphic. Design and communications have grown into a passion for me and I started teaching myself how to use creative tools, like the Adobe Creative Suite, in the hopes of improving my skills and broadening my repertoire. I am really interested in learning more about UI/UX design and I even enrolled in a course to learn more about full-stack web development! (Just enough to not embarrass myself.)

My educational journey has come full circle. The pain and shame I felt in abandoning my degree is lessened when I realize that, perhaps, that awful time was actually a blessing in disguise. I wasn’t as passionate about what I was doing back then as I should have been and that may be why I was able to walk away. I am now pursuing a degree that I am truly excited about. The CUNY SPS B.A. in Communication and Media degree will give me the foundation I need to jump-start the career I am falling in love with, one that emphasizes design.

But don’t think that I’m satisfied with just achieving my B.A. I plan to ride this new wave of energy and excitement all the way to my Master’s degree! I know that it will be hard. I mean, I’m only two courses into my first semester and I am still trying to shake off those cobwebs. But I’m getting there. That first step was definitely my hardest so everything else after that is within reach. A CUNY SPS degree is my gateway to the life that I want and the life that I deserve. Years of stagnation and regret have evolved into my renaissance age. With my degree and continued self-learning, I can see into my future. A future that has been nine years in the making.

Milan Fredricks is a born and bred New Yawker, a self-professed tech nerd, self-taught web and graphic design freak and lover of puppies and ice cream (Häagen-Dazs, none of that Turkey Hill garbage, and do not argue with her on that!). Her very large, immediate family drives her to the brink of insanity almost everyday but at least it gives her something to tell her therapist! Milan is currently enrolled in the Communication and Media bachelor’s degree program here at CUNY SPS.

In an age when people are into social media, distractions can become the norm. It is even difficult for me to get something done when I am on social media. Time management is crucial as a way to balance demands and entertainment.

In terms of getting things done I set aside a certain amount of time to accomplish a task or goal. If have a paper for class to get done I make sure not to get distracted and spend time working on getting the paper completed.

Some ways to have good time management is to make a plan and try to stick to it. Proper organization is key, such as having a calendar to write events and due dates for class down in. The day before an event or work, I like to have everything ready to go the night before. The reason is due to not rushing in the morning looking for documents or anything required for an event.

In a time where distractions are more frequent, it is very important to try to minimize distraction and have proper time management. I try to limit how much time I spend on social media by going outside for a run or to play Ultimate Frisbee. I also like to spend time hanging out at the park. There are many techniques people can implement to have time management and to balance all of their responsibilities. Some people have different plans for time management. I always try to find time to socialize with others or watch a movie. In an age of social media time management is critical skill to have and continue to develop.

Ed Maher is a person who loves learning. Ed is a student at CUNY SPS in the Public Administration and Public Policy advanced certificate program. He is an avid lifelong reader, and has interests in movies, pop culture, and comedy.

Embodiment is the tangible representation of a idea or concept such as disability. It is taking the socio-cultural concept of disability and giving it tangible form such as emotions, thoughts, and abilities. It is how society’s view of disability and people’s experiences and perspective shape who they are. For example, how stigma shapes a person’s ability to interact with the world socially or how depression shapes perceptions of self and the world. It is using disability to express oneself or to communicate something. For example, an artist using his mouth to paint because he is an amputee. It is understanding the concept of disability from the perspective of lived experience as in the disabled person’s emotions, ability, and thoughts. It is changing your views and how you interact based on their lived experience. For example, asking questions and clarifying instead of forcing a person with a speech impairment to repeat themselves.

**Based on information from readings for DSAB 602

Laura MacKenzie loves to learn about the world around her. She adores animals and has a dog and cat. She is always observing, thinking, and analyzing. Her goal is to become a police consultant/instructor on community relations and disability. Laura is enrolled in the Advanced Certificate in Disability Studies here at CUNY SPS.

Amoni B announces her pregnancy—the cause for delay. She is set to deliver this December. She also discussed eliminating individuals and relationships to keep her circle positive and successful. She knows sometimes categorizing relationships can help to.

What do you think? Were you ever in such a situation where you had to step away from a person or people?

Brooklyn born Amoni B is a socially responsible CUNY SPS business student and court employee. She founded Vive Entertainment EnterprisesBrooklyn Multi-Service Community Center, Corp., a tax exempt 501c3 nonprofit, and Brown-Pugh Daughters & Sons LLC, a real estate investment group, all to benefit her community in East New York. Amoni B is an alumna and former employee of City Tech, holding an Associate of Applied Science in Electromechanical Engineering Technology and a Certificate in Interactive Media Technology. She writes children books, and published technical writings, poetry and plays. She is a mentor, consultant, certified notary, commercial driver, and realtor. Her mission is to promote professional and personal development, and inspire others. More about Amoni B

Despite being a social construct, inclusion has to occur because right now it is the only way for people with disabilities to be included in society. Laws and polices provide protections and rules that society has to follow in regards to treatment and inclusion. Advocates work to raise awareness and enforce inclusion. Physical acts of inclusion incorporate people with disabilities into the workforce, education, etc..

A key component is shifting societies perceptions and attitudes and acting on it. It is difficult to convince people that inclusion is necessary because disabled people are excluded due to poor societal perceptions and attitudes. People have to confront their own biases, prejudices, etc.. This includes not just “normal” people, but many disabled people who have the same view/attitude or think there is no problem or it is minimal.

People often practice inclusion out of pity or social obligation. The individual with a disability is still seen as “pitiable and pathetic.” The disabled individual is included because of useful skills. Being inclusive only because of usefulness is nothing more than using the person for personal gains. Inclusion should not occur out of pity or social obligation nor just because the person has useful skills. Even so, this type of inclusion may be the only chance the person has to participate in society.

At the core, it is not excluding people with disabilities in the first place. It is recognizing people with disabilities are a part of society from the start. Each and every individual has worth and contributes to society.

Reintegration should occur because people with disabilities are human and have intrinsic value like everyone else. Society has a long way to go to become truly integrated.

Laura MacKenzie loves to learn about the world around her. She adores animals and has a dog and cat. She is always observing, thinking, and analyzing. Her goal is to become a police consultant/instructor on community relations and disability. Laura is enrolled in the Advanced Certificate in Disability Studies here at CUNY SPS.

We all face challenges. Sometimes life really likes to put the pedal on the metal and give you multiple challenges at once. One of the biggest struggles I found with CUNY SPS is that the classes aren’t structured. By that I mean that at Berkeley College online you were able to know when you had deadlines and they typically didn’t coincide with each other. At CUNY SPS, you might have 4 projects all due at once and to make it even more challenging they might be group projects.

So just how do you manage that? It’s hard that’s for sure. A lot of us have our own careers, family life, children, parents that we care for or other challenges that we face. I won’t say that it’s easy because it’s not. For me alone, I’ve had to face a new challenge. My health. Just a few months back my entire life was upended. I was told I had lupus. Now three months in I was given another diagnosis for another autoimmune disease called sjogrens. So three months in I’m battling symptoms of chronic physical pain that can feel crippling and chronic extreme fatigue. So how do I manage working full time taking care of my daughter and school? The fact is I don’t. Sometimes I’ll lack at home cleaning up or somewhere I lack, because it’s impossible for me to do it all. I just do the best that I can because quite frankly that’s all I can do. I can’t do anymore.

While I get my physical being in order, trying to figure out which doctor is right, I’m living. I’m learning slowly to be nice to myself. If my body says go to bed even though I should be breaking night to study, I’m going to bed. At the end of the day, my dream was to graduate magna cum laude because I’m capable of magna work. But I’ve come to a point of forgiveness with myself. It’s the understanding that just because I don’t do perfect all the time, because I don’t reach every single goal, it’s okay. It won’t kill me to not be such an over achiever. What really matters is that I’ve given all that I can try to give.

Half of my friends don’t even know what’s going on with me physically but that’s okay. The thing is that autoimmune diseases are invisible diseases. On the outside you look great. On the inside you have a waging war. I don’t want sympathy or pity or people thinking I’m sick. I take the admission of being sick as though I have something wrong with me. I do, but I’m fighting. I don’t want pity or special treatment. I just want to be normal, but somewhere out there, I have no doubt there may be other students that feel the same. My words to you are, you are not alone. We are all united as students, with similar goals to either succeed, so better for our families, be the first college grads.

Jessica Simpson is a Senior at CUNY SPS enrolled in the Business Program. She works full time as an immigration paralegal in NYC. She has a strong passion for advocacy, children and psychology. In her spare time she reads psychology books and textbooks while studying personality disorders. Her motto is, “Adversity will either break you, change you or make you, I’ve opted in my life to take the latter road and because of that I’m made into what I am today.”

…in my defense I did ask for an extension already early last week, since I knew I was going to be working 4 night shifts and I had a lot of other homework due. The professors are usually very nice about it, if you give notice ahead of time. I know it is easy to fall behind and it is good to have those deadlines, but I am also an adult student and sometimes life happens and there is no way that I can wrap my head around finishing all the work on time. That being said, I do all my work, and I put effort into all I do! A couple of times, of course, I sit at my break at work on a Sunday night posting to the discussion board while half asleep and when I open up Blackboard on the Monday morning, I do not dare to look what I actually wrote, though it does not happen a lot.

I started my journey towards becoming an RN in fall of 2013—4 years ago. One of my biggest obstacles to climb was to actually apply. I had a hard time figuring out how to do things, and on top of that I needed to have all my Swedish transcripts translated and sent in sealed envelopes from the Swedish institution to BMCC. I was excited when I got accepted to start in January of 2014, I bought a backpack and was off to school.

The first week I cried every day. Every time I came to school I needed a new paper, or a form needed to be filled out, and I was sent from the Bursar’s office to the Financial Aid office to the Registrar’s office. I once needed an electrical bill dated from August or July, and I had brought the latest from September and had to turn back home to get the correct one, just to get on that same line the day after and being told that I needed to show it somewhere else. It was a complete disaster.

I was born and raised in Sweden where pretty much everything is filed online and different institutions have access to your verified information from other institutions, and they keep track of your address and they know your grades—no papers are needed. My Swedish transcript looks like a print out from a Commodore 64, an ancient type of computer that has papers with holes on the side that you have to detach after you have printed (click to see a picture) and then BMCC demanded that the principal of the University I attended in Sweden should sign my transcript, stamp it, put it in an envelope, seal it, stamp it again, write his/her signature, tape it shut and send it to BMCC. That is NOT how we do it in Sweden. There they look in the centralized computer system and can see my academic record, (probably since 1st grade). It took a lot of phone calls and sending of stamps that would cover overseas shipping and patience to make that happen—blood, sweat and tears. Finally I got in and started taking my prerequisites needed for me to apply into the nursing program. The first semester I took Biology, Chemistry, Math for Nurses, Psychology and English, because I was in a hurry. I finished my “prereq’s” in one year (using summer semesters to squeeze it all in), and I got my 4.0 GPA that was required to be able to take the test and do the interview that would put me in the nursing program. And, in December of 2014, Mr Sierra, head of BMCC nursing program called me and said that I had gotten admitted…. to be continued. Good night.

Charlotte Wahlquist is from Sweden. She is a graduate of BMCC and is now a Registered Nurse as of January of this year. In addition to working as a full-time nurse she is enrolled in the online RN to BSN program at CUNY SPS and is a recipient of the ACE Scholarship. Shortly after Charlotte moved to New York, seven years ago, she took a giant leap of faith and went back to school. With her five children, and an impenetrable drive to make her dreams come true—she hit the send button on her CUNY application. The time since that life-altering push of the button has been spent with many early and late hours being a single working mom, a student, and a person wishing for more hours in the day. There have been many challenges that have threatened to pull her off track; however, having her son asking to sit down next to her one night, and work on his homework next to her while she studied made her realize that she had embarked on something much larger than herself.

Disability inclusion is the action of including people with disabilities into everyday activities. It is achieved through practices and polices that identify and remove barriers to full participation in society.

“Normal” people construct society which consists of social behaviors, rules/laws, cultural practices, etc.. Everyone starts out as a part of society then based on social constructs some people are excluded. Therefore, inclusion is a way to include people who have been excluded from society. People do not think about whether to include or exclude “normal” people. So, why do we have to include or exclude people with disabilities?

Exclusion and inclusion is a social construct that some people are not a part of society. People are excluded from society based on social perceptions and attitudes towards certain people. People with disabilities are excluded from society because they are seen as less than, undesirable, etc.. Inclusion is necessary to counteract the poor perceptions and attitudes towards disabled people. The physical acts of exclusion and inclusion (i.e. work discrimination, mainstreaming) are based on the social construct of inclusion and exclusion. The physical acts of inclusion are used to counteract the physical acts of exclusion.

We all live on this planet together. Everyone is a part of society. Any act of inclusion and exclusion is based on social constructs stemming from perceptions and attitudes towards certain people.

Laura MacKenzie loves to learn about the world around her. She adores animals and has a dog and cat. She is always observing, thinking, and analyzing. Her goal is to become a police consultant/instructor on community relations and disability. Laura is enrolled in the Advanced Certificate in Disability Studies here at CUNY SPS.

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

When I was first notified that I would be a recipient of the ACE Scholarship for the fall 2016, I was beyond excited. I went back to school in January 2015 to finish up my Bachelor’s degree in hopes to move along to get a Master’s degree. Going back was scary and new. I had never taken an online class before. I do work remote and am very accustomed to working independently, but the first day of school is something entirely new! I was not sure of the systems, Blackboard and teacher expectations. I have picked up some tips along the way that have helped me succeed along the way and I’d like to share them. It’s what works for me and I encourage everyone to find what works for them.

Take the time to read through the Syllabus! Every teacher has different expectations and requirements. Some Professors require a DB post to be by a certain day of the week to receive maximum credit. This is such an easy way to earn the most points. Try to make that your deadline to receive the highest scores. Make note of how many reply posts are required for each class. This is another way you can achieve maximum points. If a Professor requires at least two replies to classmates, aim to complete those with substance. I can tell most Professors are looking for an interactive discussion and would rather two substantial posts rather than five replies with a couple of sentences.

I have taken anywhere from two to four classes a semester. Organization is key! At the start of each week, I make a running list in my notebook. I write down what is due each week for every class. I make note of how many replies are needed for each DB post. I also write down if I should be starting to spend time on group projects or reports. Even if a project is not due for a month; I make sure to spend some time on it each week. Sometimes that may just be 15 minutes, but I can tell you even just writing a rough outline helps. Anytime you can spend on homework is helpful. This list for each week helps me remember what needs to be completed. And I get satisfaction every time I get to cross something off for the week!

Don’t wait until the last minute! I know we have all been there. Myself included. Sometimes life is just busy and it happens. I work full time and have three children under the age of seven. I am fortunate to have a husband who will take the kids out on a Saturday morning so I can have time for homework. If I have a test to take over a weekend, he’ll take them out so I can have some quiet. Find what works for you! I work best when I have am not interrupted and can really focus on school work. If you have other responsibilities in life, which I am sure you all do, make the time for school work. Plan a night or some part of the weekend that is dedicated to school. If I know I have a busy weekend ahead, I try and get as much done as possible earlier in the week. Plan ahead!

I also encourage you to come to any CUNY SPS events that you can. I had never been to the actual school until I attended ACE Scholarship events. It was so nice to meet other students and share best practices. These are the only people who truly understand what you are going through and sometimes you just need to sit and talk about it. I can say how nice it has been to meet classmates and faculty in person. It’s been enlightening to share stories and experiences. Although this is an online learning environment, there are so many resources available to you to help you succeed. Don’t be afraid to seek them out!

Tina Nugent 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 degree program on May 31, 2017.