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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.

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

Let’s face it. You’ve probably been told you were crazy for doing something at least once in your life. Maybe on more than one occasion.

My wake-up call came in a job I have been at for 5 years in the mental health field. I was coming home, more often than not, in tears or increasingly bad moods that, sad to say, my family was feeling. Finally someone sat me down and asked me why. Why I was putting up with the treatment I was receiving from the owners of the company—why didn’t I go somewhere else? (Yeah, that was the crazy part.)

And honestly, I didn’t have an answer. Why was I subjecting myself to the treatment—the harassment, the name calling, the derogatory remarks, the blame game—and all from the owners of the company that I had given my blood, sweat and tears to for the past 5 years? (Yes, literally, blood and sweat, and more often than not tears.)

It started with school. CUNY SPS gave me the motivation to push for something more. So I started on my Bachelor’s journey and in the meantime, I started a second job—working at both places and staying a full time student. Let’s be honest, I didn’t want to jump ship and find myself drowning in another position like I was currently in.

This arrangement, however, came with some serious work to be done. I’ve picked up a few tricks to balancing two full time work schedules and full time class loads, and maintaining some semblance of sanity: (And this is where I was called crazy, for the second time.)

  1. Get yourself a planner. Believe me, this has saved me so many times. What works best for me is a weekly/monthly planner. I can track dates on the monthly view (such as starting and end dates for each week, because honestly, why would any of your classes ever consider using the same time schedule?). The weekly view lets me write out my assignment information
  2. Color coding can be your best friend. Each class gets its own binder and notebook in matching colors. I use the same color pen in the planner to keep everything in line. This way, I can glance at anything and know which class it is for. Also, it has drastically cut down on grabbing the wrong binder for a particular class. So not cool.
  3. Plan your time. Keep track of everything—your due dates as well as other commitments. Nothing like waiting until the last minute to write that essay because you forgot that it’s your sister’s-best-friend’s-cousin-twice-removed’s birthday party and you were away all weekend.
  4. And probably most importantly, schedule time for YOU. You’re no use to anyone if you’re holed up in your room for weeks on end with people are scared to come to your door (for fear of having something thrown at them because you’re trying to focus on your paper). Not that I have any personal experience with this one. At all.
  5. Enjoy the process. School, albeit with CUNY SPS online being completely different from traditional classrooms, is a process. You’ll meet people who are going through the same things you are, and working through the same material. Breathe. And known that your fellow students are probably pulling their hair out as much as you are.

Also, you should really get one of those countdown calendars. Ripping a day off those things is strangely therapeutic when your eye deep in textbook readings and calculations. Seriously. Try it.

Nicole Wallace 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 Psychology degree program in June 2016.

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

Turning Homework into Ohmwork:

As graduation approaches, I have naturally found myself reflecting on my unconventional route through academia and my time as an adult student at CUNY SPS. In my last semester, now a passionate supporter and member of the SPS community, I look back on the last several years of my life and think to myself, “How the hell did I manage to pull that off?”

The online degree finally appears to be bypassing the stigma that it is somehow “lesser than” the typical classroom environment. The stigma, of course, is not true in the slightest. Online courses possess more material to read and therein more material to write about, a huge degree of independence and discipline that will make or break your success, as well as the fact that, much unlike a typical classroom, there’s nowhere to hide online. There’s no chance of cramming the moment before the assignment is due or piggy-backing off others’ responses and “faking it” (something I was certainly guilty of in classes).

Receiving an online degree comes with its advantages as well as its challenges, particularly when classes are supplementary to a 40-hour work week. The work-life-school-sanity balance is one that doesn’t come without effort, but is one that is critical to being able to shoulder the weight of the work in addition other life callings. In the thick of it all, it can be easy to forget why we’re all here in the first place. At this point in our lives, whether it be returning to college to finish a degree or matriculate for the first time, we must remember that education is a gift to ourselves. So, in hopes that my experiences may help you not lose sight of that, here are a few tips I found vital to my academic and work/life/school/sanity balance:

  1. Meditation and gratitude—a little goes a long way.

I’m a relative newcomer to meditation (less than five years) and have found that 10 minutes at some point during my day does wonders for my concentration and quelling anxieties. There are a number of excellent apps out there for free to help you practice for all levels of experience (my favorite is Brain Wave by Benzai Labs; Stop, Breathe, and Think: Meditation Tailored to Your Emotions by Tools for Peace is also excellent). Every day of the week would be great, sure. But is it realistic? Probably not. I find that meditating for a short time is extremely beneficial when transitioning from my job work to school work as well as before bed, a time when the minds has a greater tendency to replay all of the goings on in the upcoming day or weeks ahead.

Remember, meditation is all about practice, routine, and appreciating where you are in that moment—be it distracted or not. Be gentle with yourself through the process. Starting with a guided meditation may be best for newcomers, as it can familiarize the mind and body with the state of being associated with a meditative state.

If meditation isn’t for you, try writing or speaking out loud a list of things for which you have gratitude. Again, while this technique is best effective when employed each day, I found it incredibly centering in moments of frustration and apathy.

Don’t forget to check out adult coloring books, either—yes, I get it, and I know how that sounds, but hear me out. I received one from a dear friend for my birthday last year and, aside from the beautiful detail and general nostalgic fun, the calming effects of this activity are undeniable.

Taking 15 minutes to color leaves winding down a vine or a distant cityscape against the night sky may sound ridiculous or feel silly or even counterintuitive, but there’s actually a lot of science behind the effects it has on the brain. What’s more, since the adult coloring book market has been up for grabs for a little while, there are all types of themed coloring books that are sure to suit your level of artistic ability (minimal, in my case), style, and interest—like these:

ACE Scholar Alexandra Schonholz ACE Scholar Alexandra Schonholz ACE Scholar Alexandra Schonholz ACE Scholar Alexandra Schonholz

There are 40 ornate eggs in that coloring book for the ornate egg-lovers out there. Forty!

ACE Scholar Alexandra Schonholz ACE Scholar Alexandra Schonholz ACE Scholar Alexandra Schonholz ACE Scholar Alexandra Schonholz

 

 

 

 

 

There’s even one called Sexy Girls Coloring Book for Grown-Ups 1.

I recently purchased one for my younger sister who is beginning medical school at Mt. Sinai this fall. She was preemptively, very grateful

  1. Keep good with the holy trinity: sleep, nutritious food, and exercise.

Are you getting enough quality sleep? The eight-hour mantra we’ve all been accustomed to saying, hearing, and striving for may not be true, it turns out. Daniel Kripke, one of the most acclaimed sleep researchers, has now found that getting between 6.5 and 7.5 hours a night leads to a longer life as well as increased happiness and productivity. It’s not a matter of being tired the following day (or week), it’s a matter of keeping focus and our brain’s ability to refocus.

Likewise, napping for 30 minutes or less (quite literally, do not sleep for more than 30 minutes). provides numerous advantages and is much healthier than trying to push through with energy drinks, soda, or coffee—all destructive decisions in the end. Napping has a plethora of benefits that will make you reconsider incorporating this childhood-era activity back into your schedule.

Afraid that you’ll fall asleep and won’t be able to wake up? Well don’t be. Drink a cup of coffee before lying down to make the wake-up-get-up process less arduous. On another note, we all have very loud and annoying alarms on our cell phones in these modern times. In a simple search in the iTunes App Store, I came across several apps you might find useful for those days when it may be extra difficult to pry yourself out of bed or off the couch.

  • SpinMe Alarm Clock: The alarm shuts off only after you have gotten out of bed and physically spin yourself around until the alarm stops.
  • Math Alarm Clock: A terrifying prospect for a words-not-numbers gal like myself, this alarm clock requires you to do math out loud, correctly, to disable it.
  • FreakyAlarm: This alarm doesn’t stop ringing until you solve a series of logic games and scan pre-determined items around your house.
  1. Leave time for yourself and actually use it.

American culture is well known for its “work hard and then work some more” attitude (not to mention New York’s amplified version of that whistled tune). Breaking away from partners, family members, friends, situations that require us to be “on,” and, most importantly, screens lends itself to improved physical and psychological health.

This is yet another task that is easier said than done. For simple ways to incorporate your ‘you’ time, try waking up a half-hour earlier than the rest of your household, close your door, go for a walk, read during your lunch hour, or exercise. It could even be as simple as taking one hour every Saturday to walk to a coffee shop, grab a drink, and sit on a nearby park bench for some people-watching. Find out what “me” time means for you and make it part of your schedule.

  1. Reach out, don’t freak out.

If there’s one thing that has been at once extremely difficult and incredibly rewarding for me at SPS, it has been the ability to reach out when I have felt like I was in trouble. I’m still bad at it—I want to do everything to fix it first but sometimes find myself spinning in a sea of make-up work after a semester of unexpected roadblocks. Reaching out to professors has been one of the most effective ways in which I’ve been able to keep calm and carry on throughout the difficult moments. The SPS team knows who its students are—we are professionals young and old, mothers, fathers, caretakers, and sometimes, long-time outsiders to academia. The faculty at SPS also knows that each and every one of us is there because we want to be. We share a sincere desire to pursue education for personal growth, not just a letter grade. More importantly, being there doesn’t mean that everything else in life comes to a screeching halt—quite the opposite, actually.

In my experience, professors have always been sympathetic, understanding, and willing to work with me through the tougher times. Do not suffer silently—there is no need. Suffer out loud! Express yourself and the challenges you are facing along with the ways in which you aim or hope to overcome them.

So there it is—a few words of wisdom from a young woman who now questions what it is that she can’t get done with her evenings ahead, each extending the promise of freedom from eternal ‘to-dos,’ and each one bearing a red, flashing VACANCY sign posted where all of the homeworks used to live.

We are a group of courageous and extraordinary individuals, all with different, wonderful stories of how we arrived. At CUNY SPS, we are celebrated, encouraged to be proud of ourselves, and inspired to do great thing. In moments of uncertainty and lack of confidence, I was met with understanding from the people at CUNY. I was taught that those less-than-stellar perceptions of myself were not true; they may have felt real, but they were not true.

In my final moments as an undergrad I am content. I am proud. I am so thankful to be a part of the SPS family.

Remember why we’re here. Remember that it’s not easy and that is okay. I’ll be the first to tell you that the tough times make us stronger, but in those moments you must also find grace. What we’re all doing here is not easy; I would even argue it is a more difficult path (I would also argue that it’s been a million times more beneficial for me to return to school as a working professional but that’s a whole different blog post). Take the time to pause and reconnect with your inner drive and the reasons you’re really here. Don’t forget that sometimes, it takes stepping back for a moment to regain perspective and remember to keep your eye on the prize. To everybody: good luck and godspeed.

Alexandra Schonholz 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 Communications and Media degree program in June 2016.

 

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

I applied for numerous scholarships throughout my life only to come away empty handed each and every time. When I got the email informing me that I had been selected for an ACE Scholarship it felt surreal; all I could do was stare at my computer screen and read it over and over again. They say good things come to those who are willing to wait and the Lord knew that I had waited. I received my ACE Scholarship at a time in my life when it was needed the most. It was a godsend to me financially; my father went home to be with the Lord two weeks into the spring semester. My world came to a grinding halt and my financial situation changed overnight. The ACE Scholarship allowed me to finish school and complete my Bachelor’s Degree, something that I had been trying to accomplish for twenty years.

What made the scholarship extra special was the meaning and significance behind it. I was being recognized for my academic accomplishment and I was also going to have the opportunity to be a positive influence in someone else’s life. I have always aspired to be the best at whatever I attempt and to have it recognized was so heartwarming. I worked hard and there were a lot of times that I really felt like giving up but I’m so glad that I didn’t.

The scholarship came with the requirement that I mentor another student returning to school, just as I had done. I met a beautiful young woman who identified with me on many levels which got our relationship off to a wonderful start. Even though this was my last semester we are still in touch with one another, my scholarship came with a new found friend that I will cherish forever. I am ever so grateful to the benefactors who make the ACE Scholarship possible. I plan to attend graduate school in the fall; the sky really is the limit.

Maria Lewis 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 Urban and Community Studies degree program in June 2016.

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

Reflecting back on my first encounter with a higher education institution, I vividly remember feeling secured and my professors always reassured and motivated me to believe that there was no room for failure. This gave me the drive to obtain my Associate’s Degree in Science from the Borough Of Manhattan Community College.

Unlike my fellow ACE scholarship recipients, I never took time off from school. I immediately transferred to Hunter College. There I felt overwhelmed, unsure of myself, and my drive slowly reduced. I felt like a fish in an ocean full of sharks and stingrays. My professors were intimidating just as much as my classmates were. I received no support and no reassurance that I could do this and excel. I remember crying for the first two weeks because I felt so lost. After a year of not wanting to be there, I received an impromptu email from the CUNY School of Professional Studies and I figured, “what would I lose by attending the information session?” I remember running from the number 1 train to the 3 train from the Upper West Side to get there. I made it in 15 minutes before the session ended. I vaguely remember Director of Student Services Z. Lobley being there and she handed me all the information I needed. She encouraged me to attend a one-on-one evaluation session with an advisor and apply in person. This has been one of the best life changing decisions that I have ever made.

Many tried to discourage me to not follow the path of online learning and I am very happy that I am not easily swayed. Having two jobs and working 50-60 hours a week gave me little time to sit in a classroom setting. After my first semester at CUNY SPS, I felt the same way I did at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. I felt safe, encouraged, and the support of my advisor and professors were just what I envisioned my learning experience to be. The professors had the same motto that “failure is not an option,” which they showed. It varied from emails, phone calls, and the Blackboard messages they bombarded us with on a weekly schedule. Being selected as the recipient of the ACE Scholarship validated for me that all of my late night studying and heavy consumption of black coffee did not go unnoticed.

While on the scholarship, I am currently giving back to my fellow students by being a mentor, which is another life changer. Now that I am so close to completing the requirements for my degree, I hope to use everything I have learned to continue working in my community, either in a non-profit organization that advocates for disability rights or in the education field.

Thank you, CUNY SPS, for this opportunity, and for supporting me and my fellow students in our future endeavors.

Noelitta Tailiam 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 BA in Disability Studies degree program in June 2016.

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

In her recent blog post, fellow ACE Scholar Christine Hansen wrote of the persistent dissatisfaction with her law career that prompted her into a search that eventually brought her to CUNY SPS. I empathize entirely with her feelings of professional emptiness, as I have also been dissatisfied with my two decades-long career (spanning 13 companies) in finance, and came upon CUNY SPS in a similar fashion.

I remained in finance for so long merely because it paid well, I could always find a job in the field, and perhaps most importantly, I had not discovered that about which I was truly passionate. After much reflection, I now recognize performing work of great intrinsic value as the key to profound satisfaction, and there is neither salary sufficiently large nor a perk so compelling as to compensate for feeling unengaged with one’s work. Moreover, I now understand that I changed jobs frequently because the work itself—not the bosses, commute, benefits, or whichever reason I would cite to justify leaving—was unpalatable.

In my view, no work is as valuable as that which places one in the service of others. I deeply believe that those who hold talent and advantage ought to work those talents and advantages to societal benefit. By their ardent support of the ACE Scholarship program, it is clear that the administration of CUNY SPS believes in this incumbency. It is also clear that the benefactor of the ACE Scholarship, Mr. Alan Fishman, likewise believes in this incumbency, as evidenced by his generous financial support of the program.

While working in finance, I utilized my work ethic, articulation, organizational skills, persuasiveness, intelligence, communication skills, team-building ability, and skill in motivating others for the narrow benefit of corporate interests; it is difficult to describe the excitement I feel now that I am on the cusp of pressing my talents into the service of the many in the hopes of making lives substantively better through a career in social work. I will be attending New York University’s Silver School of Social work, pursuing a Master of Social Work (MSW) Degree.

I was most strongly attracted to the ACE Scholarship because it keeps one close to the CUNY SPS community via a tether of obligation. ACE Scholars act as mentors to two incoming students, are required to produce a blog post (the one you are reading), participate in School events, and make known our experiences with the ACE program. ACE Scholars, who enjoy the advantages of being diligent, persistent, self-starting, and goal-oriented, give back to the CUNY SPS community by leveraging those talents in the service of their mentees and the school.

It would not have been possible for me to complete the undergraduate degree with which I flirted for twenty-something years if it were not for CUNY SPS. The programs are innovative, the online learning environment is intuitive and flexible, and the professors with whom I have studied were all eager, interested and responsive; all of these coalesce into a unique learning experience that benefits additionally from CUNY’s affordability. It is without reservation that I say that CUNY SPS is one of the brightest gems of the CUNY system.

Anthony Mongelli 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 Psychology program at the end of this semester.

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.

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

I am very grateful that I was selected as a recipient of the ACE Scholarship. This is a newly formed scholarship and I am proud to be in the first “class” of scholars. As a recipient of this scholarship I have the luxury of not having to worry about tuition for this last semester. The ACE Scholarship has also helped me grow and gave me the opportunity to “give back” through mentoring.

Returning to the classroom after such a long absence was daunting. I did not know what to expect, especially given that I was now attending online, and was quite a bit apprehensive. The first semester or two was very stressful as I learned how to navigate this new environment as well as manage my time so that assignments could be completed on-time. To be able to help a fellow student, one who may be experiencing the same stressors, was a very rewarding experience. The mentoring aspect of this scholarship helped me develop and use skills that can be applied to real world situations.

Working, raising a family, and completing a degree can be very stressful, difficult, and expensive to manage. Not having to worry about tuition for my last semester made completing the semester a bit less stressful and allowed me to focus more on what would come after graduation.

Getting my degree at CUNY School of Professional Studies and receiving the ACE Scholarship have opened opportunities for me that did not exist a few years ago. Having my hard work acknowledged, in the form of a scholarship, gave me the push I needed to seriously consider continuing my education and applying to a master’s program at CUNY School of Professional Studies.

The mentoring skills I acquired as part of the ACE Scholarship helped me see the importance of helping others without overstepping. It was a great feeling to think that I may have made someone’s initial experience at CUNY SPS a little less stressful.

Deborah Griffin is a recipient of the CUNY SPS ACE Scholarship, a scholarship program designed to support high-achieving undergraduate students Achieve College Education (ACE). She will graduate from the Business program at the end of this semester.

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

Online education has been a boon for busy individuals who can’t commit to be present in the traditional classroom in the set schedule every week. Though there are various online schools and the format of online education provided by these institutions are likely to vary, in this essay my own personal online learning experience here at CUNY School of Professional Studies will be shared.

CUNY SPS is the online school provided by City University of New York in various fields such as Business, Nursing, Psychology, Information Technology and so forth. I pursued a BS degree in Business. Each class has three credits. In general, each class requires you to allot 9 to 12 hours of study time, which meant 1 credit hour required 3 or 4 hours of study depending on difficulty level of the particular class. For most classes, the school week starts on Monday and ends on Sunday, which means the deadline for most work is at midnight on Sunday. Most classes have a discussion board each week where topics relate to the materials studied that particular week. They also have separate assignments or quizzes going on each week like in the regular classroom. In sum, it involves a lot of reading and writing, and emphasizes analytical thinking on the part of student.

There were certain things that I found really important, and that I want to share with you today. First, it’s very important to manage time effectively. Managing time starts with allotting a certain amount of time to a particular class each week. If you are a working individual, you shouldn’t make any compromise on those allotted hours separated for that particular class.
I also found studying in pieces very useful, which means I set like 40 to 50 minutes on my alarm clock for one class. After I complete that duration studying for that particular class, I take a 5 to 10 minutes break, and start another class with similar 40 to 50 minutes duration. Identifying your peak hours also helps. For example, since I am a morning person, I generally devote this time studying and learning new or difficult things.

The second critical success factor is the motivation that keeps you get going. Generally, at the start of the semester, it happens that you have a lot of energy and you are really excited for the exciting journey. But, as the pressure of the class and your other obligations pile up, passing through middle towards the end of the semester gets tougher. The most important motivation factor for me was “desire to learn.” As I got tired bombarded with tons of new things, I tried not to get embarrassed and burnt out, and instead took it by making up my mind that “I will learn one thing at a time, and this process would be continuous as it goes on.” This mindset helped me to lessen my stress, and helped me get going. Also, the desire to learn helped me to get motivated every passing day in many cases trying to take best from the materials supplied.

Thus, though online education provides you the flexibility to learn on your own pace away from the rigid timetable of the traditional classroom, it poses certain challenges, and overcoming them needs your own roadmap to succeed.       

Binod Jwarchan is a recipient of the CUNY SPS ACE Scholarship, a scholarship program designed to support high-achieving undergraduate students Achieve College Education (ACE). She will graduate from the Business program at the end of this semester.

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