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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congratulations!