You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Alumni’ tag.

Marcy Lewis graduated from the CUNY School of Professional Studies with a B.A. in Psychology just last week. She shares advice for new students, and talks about how she overcame many obstacles on the way to completing her degree.

Marcy Lewis is a recent graduate from the Psychology program.

1. What was your motivation/inspiration for completing your bachelor’s degree? Why did you choose to continue your education at CUNY SPS?

I have had so many things that have motivated me to complete my bachelor’s degree. Coming from a broken family of low socio-economic status and having my first child when I was very young created a desire for me to show my children that stereotypes do not define who you are or what you can accomplish. I wanted to do better for myself as well as my children and to inspire them that even in hard times you can still achieve your dreams.

I chose CUNY SPS because it offered me the complete package of what I was searching for in a University: flexibility, accreditation, affordability, positive reputation for online programs and a strong background in the academic success rates.

2. What is it like to earn a degree fully online?

Earning a degree online has been a mixture of ease and difficulty. I find that I learn better using this method of instruction yet when speaking with those who attend “traditional” classes it seems there is often a greater work load in online classes. I have found that it is crucial to be somewhat ahead of the game; slacking is just not an option as it will pull you behind faster than you could imagine. It really takes commitment, self-discipline, and structure to stay on top of all of your assignments. Being late can really affect not only your work but the work of the entire class. However, despite these difficulties I would not have taken any other route in getting my degree as it truly was the best fit for me.

3. What is the greatest piece of advice you received while at CUNY SPS?

Many of the professors I had here at CUNY SPS offered a similar piece of advice that I found to be quite crucial throughout my college path; taking care of yourself is vital to not just the body but the mind as well. Being someone with a chronic illness, Multiple Sclerosis, this can be quite difficult but I was able to incorporate much of the knowledge and skills I gained through my studies in increasing my overall wellness. By doing so I was able to significantly decrease the stress of being ill, taking care of a family, and taking a full course load each semester. To me, this was crucial in completing my degree.

4. What advice would you like to extend to someone considering entering the Psychology program at CUNY SPS?

The greatest piece of advice I could offer someone considering entering the Psychology program at CUNY SPS would be to interact as much as possible with your professors and classmates as this is how you will get the most out of your academic journey. Asking questions for clarification or direction as well as checking in regularly and participating in the class or group discussions are all vital in achieving greater learning in the online Psychology program. One of the main focuses I found in my online classes was concept of learning not just from the professors but from fellow classmates as well; we learn from each other and we succeed with each other.

5. In which ways have you grown as a result of your studies at CUNY SPS?

As a result of my studies at CUNY SPS I have grown intellectually through the new knowledge I acquired from professors and classmates. I have grown more confident in my abilities and with myself, not just in a professional manner but in personal matters as well. Most of all, I have learned that living with a disease that I cannot control does not mean I have to succumb to its disruption. It is empowering to know that you can take control over something so destructive and that is something that I do not know if I would have learned had I not continued pursing my education here at CUNY SPS.

6. What does earning a bachelor’s degree mean to you?

To many people earning a bachelor’s degree means a higher salary and greater prestige. Those, after all, were some of the reasons that enticed me to start undergraduate school. However, during my second semester I became ill and everything changed. I could have just quite when my doctor said I was unable to work. Why continue if I will never be able to use a degree? The answer is this; a bachelor’s degree meant so much more to me. It meant showing my children that no matter what life deals you to never give up. It meant keeping faith that maybe I can beat the illness and not let the illness beat me; maybe someday I CAN put it to use. It meant showing those nay-sayers that people can overcome adversity no matter how big or small and to never underestimate the underdog. It meant proving to myself that I can accomplish whatever I put my mind to.

7. What kind of impact do you think your degree will have on your professional and personal lives?

Having my bachelor’s degree will most definitely have beneficial impacts on my professional and personal life… if I am able to return to work. Before school I was a waitress, working long hours/weekends/holidays, constantly missing out on my children’s lives, living day to day on tips never knowing how much I would make; thankfully, those days are over. A bachelor’s degree in Psychology increases my job prospects in such a wide array of professions. Living in North Carolina I am able to take the needed exams to secure a teaching license or I can opt to work in my chosen field and assist with grief counseling for military families in my area… the options are quite plentiful as a Psychology degree is so versatile and can be beneficial in social work, business management, customer service, education, mental health etc. etc. etc… My degree has also benefited me personally because I have been able to incorporate skills I have gained to help family and friends during difficult times.

8. What do you hope to do after graduation?

After graduation I would like to work on getting stronger both physically and mentally so that I can return to work. I am hoping to either work with children and families in crisis or become teacher at the elementary level. Perhaps one day I will return to school; however, for now I would like to focus on my health and re-entering the work industry. But first I am going to take a little R&R and enjoy life, my family, and yes… the beaches of Coastal North Carolina.

The following blog entry was submitted by Acting Assistant Director Michael Wilson, M.A. in Applied Theatre.

On April 16 and 17, the Arts in Education Roundtable hosted the 2014 Face to Face conference at CUNY’s City College of New York.  The conference is an annual gathering for educators, artists, and administrators in the City’s arts education community.  I attended to represent CUNY SPS’s M.A. in Applied Theatre and keep an eye out for developments in the field.

At least ten students and alumni of the SPS M.A. in Applied Theatre participated in the conference, representing every cohort in the program’s seven-year history, including a member of the new cohort entering in 2014.

Andre Dimapilis (’12) presented on the use of drama to teach math to young children.  Participants in the session explored how to adapt and frame familiar games around basic mathematical concepts such as distance, numerical correspondence, and patterns.  In addition to considering math instruction, participants in the session wrestled with the more universal question of how to offer creative challenges to students without embarrassing them in front of their friends.  Andre suggested that mindfully scaffolding activities helps make it safe for young people to take risks.  Andre’s contagious love for learning disarmed the conversation, illustrating that passion and care go a long way, too.  Andre drew his presentation from his work as a core team member of the Early Learning Program at the CUNY Creative Arts Team (CAT).

CUNY SPS M.A. Applied Theatre

Joey Schultz (’12) and Kevin Ray (’11) presented on devising theatre with middle-school youth, drawing from their work as staff members of the CAT Youth Theatre.  Their approach will be familiar to students and alumni of the M.A. in Applied Theatre: play drama games to develop community and common theatrical vocabulary; investigate ideas that are of interest to the group; and provide a clear structure for participants to follow to create their own original pieces of theatre about their ideas.  For this session, Joey and Kevin lead participants in using physical images to assert how they would change the world.  The assembled teaching artists and administrators viscerally lampooned gluttony and inequality in many areas including, pointedly, arts funding.

CUNY SPS M.A. Applied Theatre

I also attended “The Many Hats of a Teaching Artist: Cultivating Professional Partnerships,” a session led by members of the Roundtable’s Teaching Artists Affairs Committee.  We used image theatre and other techniques to address issues that arise in relationships with parents, administrators, and classroom teachers.  Afterward, I spoke with committee member Lauren Jost about organizing to support teaching artists: what will it take to have reliable healthcare coverage?  Reliable pay for preparation and travel?  The issue is near my heart: when I was a teaching artist, I struggled with the inconsistency of the work.  I began a meetup group with Anneka Fagundes (’11) and Reka Polonyi, a graduate in Applied Drama from the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, to workshop issues that arose in our work as teaching artists.  We imagined a structure for combining our resources and elevating the status and treatment of teaching artists in the field.  I am eager for our graduates to pick up that torch and run with it.

CUNY SPS M.A. Applied Theatre
Plenary speakers were concerned with the status of the field in the City.  New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said that making art teaches children how to approach learning.  Making art also develops skills tested by the city’s Common Core academic standards.

Later in the day, City Comptroller Scott Stringer presented from his report State of the Arts: A Plan to Boost Arts Education in New York City Schools.  The report, which was released in April, shows that one in five City schools has no part-time or full-time certified art teacher.  Stringer said he is working to secure funding to place an arts teacher in every school.  Reflecting on the day, Roundtable Co-Chair Ted Wiprud said that we arts educators now have a place at the table more than ever.  I shared this news and Ted’s outlook with my officemate, Maureen Donohue.  “More certified teachers?” she mused, “does that mean more jobs for teaching artists, or the other way around?”

I looked in Scott Stringer’s report and found that one in six schools have no arts or cultural partnerships—in other words, no teaching artists.  Would increasing arts spending expand those partnerships?

The intelligent advocacy of our graduates would help in that direction.  Interested in being involved?  Write me at Michael.Wilson@mail.cuny.edu.

CUNY SPS M.A. Applied Theatre

 


CDC Find & Apply Workshop

CUNY Big Apple Job and Internship Fair Save the Date

Sarah Chalmers graduated from the CUNY SPS MA in Applied Theatre program in 2010. In 2012 she started her own company, Civic Ensemble, and was recently awarded the Civic Leader Fellowship from the Cornell University Public Service Center. She will teach applied theatre techniques to Cornell students and engage them in the community-based play process. Below is a reflection on her road to success:

Sarah Chalmers is a graduate of the MA in Applied Theatre program at CUNY SPS

My life since completing the MA in Applied Theatre with SPS in 2010 has been a whirlwind. I promptly left New York City for Ithaca, NY for what many might think would be a quieter life. While we certainly drive slower up here and, unlike NYC, it is against the rules of decorum to honk at someone sitting still at a green light, we do keep busy. My son was born in July of 2011 and I spent a glorious year almost exclusively hanging out with him. In June 2012, ready to scratch my applied theatre itch, a few colleagues and I started a new theatre company, Civic Ensemble. The theatre scene here is thriving and I am thrilled to be a part of it.

While Ithaca has many small community theatre companies and two well-established regional theatres, there was an opening for a new company committed to engaging communities in theatre-making as well as theatre-going. Civic Ensemble is focused on just that. In our first year, in addition to producing a reading series of new plays by women, we implemented several applied theatre programs which we put under the heading of Civic Engagement.

We were commissioned by the Sciencenter (a children’s science museum) to create an interactive theatre workshop about hydraulic fracturing for young children which included debate on both sides of this contentious issue. This workshop was conducted throughout the summer of 2013 and continues into the fall. We also conducted a free two week summer youth theatre for teens ages 13-21 to explore topics of importance to them. This project was in partnership with the Greater Ithaca Activities Center and was funded by the City of Ithaca. We hope that becomes a year round program in the future. Also this summer we implemented a program at a detention center for young men in Lansing using Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed techniques to provide a structure for participants to step back and think critically about their lives and the external forces that shape their circumstances as they explore the ways that they can effect change in their lives. For this project, funded by the State of New York Office of Children and Family Services, and for the Youth Theatre, we hired my fellow MA in Applied Theatre alum Ernell McClennon (’10). It was a wonderful reunion and chance to work with someone who speaks my language completely!

The cornerstone of Civic Ensemble’s season every year is a community-based play. The play tells our collective story as devised by the participants with the guidance of Civic artists. All members of our community are welcome to participate in these plays. The topic of our first play was parenting and resulted in a production called, Parent Stories. Our topic this year is Safety: Community-Police Relations in Ithaca. This is a hot-button topic here in Ithaca, as in many communities in America. Through the sharing of personal stories and perspectives, participants can examine this challenging topic and potentially rethink entrenched positions. We will take these personal stories and craft a play that we will then rehearse and perform for the broader Ithaca community.

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the response to Civic Ensemble and the work that we do with communities. When I look at what we’ve done in one year I am convinced that the applied theatre techniques we bring are needed by our communities. People are hungry for a way to connect and having the tools to facilitate that connection means I am able to create the life I want, doing work that is meaningful to me.

#FindYourReason

Piper Anderson is a 2011 graduate of the CUNY SPS M.A. in Applied Theatre program. She is currently the Director of Education & Artist Development at Young Audiences New York. She is also a performance artist, writer, educator, and life coach. Below is her reflection on the question “Where are you from?” based on time spent in Rwanda working at the Kigali Institute of Education. 

The busy stretch of road from the Kigali Institute of Education to Hotel Civitas is about a 20-minute walk on a narrow sidewalk. J’nelle and I slowed our pace and fell into step together similarly feeling reflective and inspired by all that we were seeing and experiencing in our brief time in Rwanda. Sharing our growing expertise in Applied Theatre was exciting. Learning about a new country and the ways Rwandans were finding creative solutions to the call for reconciliation and healing was powerful and confirmed the deep resonate value of our work. But there was another layer to this trip that I wasn’t quite expecting: “Where are you from?”

It’s a question that I get on Brooklyn streets or the Walmart in small town USA. But when an African asks me this question while standing in a school yard surrounded by the lush hills of the Rwandan country side, I’m not quite sure where to begin. “I’m from the U.S.,” but of course that’s not useful. Africans move to the U.S. all the time seeking opportunities, an escape, a new beginning. The question is not where you ended up. No, where are you from? Where do you begin? So I began with what I knew of my history. I began with the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Which for many Rwandans sounded like some legend, some Grimms tale used to trick naïve children into obedience; it couldn’t possibly be true. But I told the story again and again with the certainty that hours spent in my small public library after school reading every volume on that one bookcase devoted to African American literature. That history finally came in handy on the streets and in the schoolyards where I met people in Rwanda. But my facts seemed to leave more questions than answers and each conversation left me feeling more and more displaced.

Where do I begin? I may never know. Dr. John Henrik Clark says, “History is not everything, but it is a starting point… It tells them where they are, but more importantly, what they must be.” So as J’nelle and I walked along that Kigali road we began to hatch a plan to explore our being, our being a part of the African Diaspora. Our thesis project took the shape of one amazingly simple, complex question: “What does it mean to be part of a Diaspora?” We returned to the states and to our final year in the M.A. in Applied Theatre program and began structuring a creative gathering for a diverse group of Black women artists to explore this question. Our exploration took the shape of a devised theatre piece called “The Offering.” In April of 2011, The Diaspora Project performed “The Offering” at The Brecht Forum in New York City.

Re-Writes_1

When we reconvened the women who participated in the project for a final reflection, there was an urgent desire to continue creating. What we had created together had become a vital means of generating radical material that challenged perceptions of Black women and revealed the complexity of our identities. We wanted to do more. We wanted to create a theatre company and so we did. On September 18, 2011 Re-writes of Passage Ensemble Theatre was born in my Harlem apartment. This is where we get to define our existence. This is the re-writing of our passage. Where we get to decide who we must BE. To learn more about our company visit www.rewritesensemble.com.

Re-Writes_2

 

#FindYourReason

SPS is delighted to present our 2012/2013 ePortfolio Student Showcase! The showcase, which is hosted on an SPS ePortfolio site, highlights student work in individual courses, programs, and capstone projects at both the bachelors and masters level.

Types of ePortfolios

ePortfolio provides a window into our students’ lives: who they are and who they aspire to be. While reviewing nominations to this year’s showcase, we were delighted to learn that we have a published children’s book author and a video/film/TV producer enrolled in our programs.

Digital BadgeThanks to all of the instructors who nominated students for inclusion in the showcase and to the ePortfolio Team for encouraging students to self-nominate. This year we were able to provide $100 Amazon gift cards to students whose ePortfolios were selected for inclusion in the showcase and digital badges to display within their ePortfolios.

If you’re interested in submitting your ePortfolio for an opportunity to be selected as one of the “Featured Studies ePortfolios,” you still have plenty of time to do so – the nomination deadline for next year’s showcase is May 24, 2014.

Feel free to browse the showcase website or visit the featured ePortfolios directly below:

 

Related Posts:

Carrie has been a teaching artist in NYC for 10 years and a mom for 6 months. She received her MA in Applied Theatre from CUNY School of Professional Studies in 2011. Carrie is currently working for organizations such as TDF, The Roundabout Theatre Company, and The Museum of the City of New York doing playbuilding, and connecting theatre to literacy and the Common Core Standards. Below are her thoughts on the art of mothering:

If you had asked me a year and a half ago, a year ago, even six months ago, how I would feel as a working mother, I would have said: “I love my work as a teaching artist and an applied theater practitioner. I’m passionate about theater and the power of theater to transform, and my child will be proud of me for doing what I love. What an example I will set!”

Fast-forward five and a half months.

Applied MotherI am a mom to a beautiful baby boy, a wife, and a teaching artist. But the super-mom I imagined myself to be does not exist.

Instead, I feel pulled in a million directions. The passion for my work and my students are still there but I am also passionate about my son. I have noticed that when I am working with a difficult group of students, my patience is thin and I wonder why I am not at home with my own son who is probably crying because his first teeth are coming in.  When I am planning for my next day’s lessons, I feel guilty that I am putting effort into the development of another person’s child instead of playing with my own son. I feel guilty all of the time because my passions are split and I can no longer give one hundred percent to my work.

I wonder, how long does the guilt last? How long can I keep fooling everyone—my students, administrators, and teachers—that my thoughts are elsewhere? When I’m playing Walk, Stop, Jump, Clap, can I be fully in the moment and there for the needs of my participants? When will I stop recycling lesson plans and challenge my own creativity again?

I thought the art of applied theatre was challenging but the art of mothering is a feat as well. So, I am currently working on my master’s in applied mothering. I’ll let you know when I’m ready to share my thesis.

The Master’s Degree in Applied Theatre, the first program of its kind in the United States, is a sequential, ensemble-based program for students interested in the use of theatre to address social and educational issues in a wide range of settings. The program stresses the unity of theory and practice, and is linked to the professional applied theatre work of the renowned CUNY Creative Arts Team.