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Amoni B recalls several times when she had to manage time more efficiently and effectively, and shares her advice.

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

Amoni B defines what it means to patronize. She believes it is a given to patronize those you know, however many disagree. Amoni provides examples from her own life experiences, and questions the audience about how they feel supporting people they know. What do you think?

Brooklyn born Amoni B is a socially responsible CUNY SPS business student and court employee. She founded Vive Entertainment Enterprises, Brooklyn 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

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.

Kathryn Walker is graduating from CUNY SPS on June 6 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and this is her speech:

Momentous is defined as “(of a decision, event, or change) of great importance or significance, especially in its bearing on the future.” Well, this certainly is a momentous occasion, and marks an accomplishment of a great milestone in our lives. Think about your life before you decided to embark upon this achievement. For me, I had been out of school for 23 years. I had an associate’s degree, and I was proud of it. I had been working for the same company for 16 years and was proud of what I had accomplished there. But I wanted more. I wanted to keep progressing. I had thought off and on about going back to school and finishing my bachelor’s degree, but there was always an excuse not to: where to find the time, not to mention the expense. In looking for more progressed, higher management positions, I found a constant requirement: a bachelor’s degree—which I did not have. It became apparent that going back to school was something that I needed to do. Think about what motivated you to decide to finish your degree.

In researching where to attain this needed degree, I found that CUNY School of Professional Studies was the best fit for me. Compared to other schools, the tuition was competitive and, being online, the schedule would allow me the flexibility to work while going to school. Although, I do have to say that the estimation of each class taking 9 to 12 hours per week is a bit of an understatement (chuckle).

Each class in each semester brought new challenges. Aside from the academic part of learning, there was BlackBoard, Wikis, e-Portfolios, and an array of learning software systems. I even tweeted in one class. But no matter how high the hurdle, we made it to graduation because we stuck to it, we met the challenges, and we overcame them.

Wherever you go from here—whether it’s a new job or continuing with your education—you can overcome new challenges with confidence, and not be intimidated by learning new things. By graduating from CUNY SPS, you have shown that you are capable. Look how far you have come.

In Economics class we learned the term “opportunity cost.” Defined, opportunity cost is “the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.” Besides the financial cost of books and tuition, what were your opportunity costs while pursuing your degree? Perhaps spending less time with your family and loved ones, neglected housework, lack of sleep, weight gain…I’m sure we all have our own list. But we did not give up. We persevered.

However, we did not accomplish this alone. Who was there for you? In what ways did they support you? Maybe it was your advisor who took all the time you needed to guide you through unchartered territory and put your mind at ease. And I’m sure we can all think of at least one special professor that was so attentive and answered all our questions to ensure we had a clear understanding.

And what about our friends and family? Our loved ones did not sign up for school. But there was an opportunity cost for them as well. Think about the ways in which they supported us. Perhaps helping out by running errands, doing extra housework, being understanding about the time we spent with schoolwork rather than with them, or listening to us vent about a stress or frustration about a project, an assignment or an exam.

We are truly blessed and have much in which to be thankful for what we have accomplished and for those close to us that supported us along the way.

 

I’m currently reading Waiter Rant by Steve Dublianca and I can’t stress how excellent the book is. There is something so amazing when someone is just honest and forthcoming about their personal experiences. It’s like an invisible connection of emotions and thoughts that we can relate to. The writer explains his experience working in the restaurant industry.

For starters, I commend him. Working with the general public is difficult but the food industry is a beast all in its own. I tried my hand at working at a local Cuban restaurant when I was about 14 and made it through about a 1 day, 4 hour shift and I never went back. A few years later and one of the only times  I was able to not work and simply focus on school, I took a temp job at a Subway (at least it was temporary in my mind). That lasted just long enough to pay off my newly minted credit card. It wasn’t a hard job, but the clincher for me was when one day I was getting ready for school. I had taken a shower, gotten ready, and got to class. Of course, I always sat in the back and still do like the genuine handful that I am. The thing is that I caught a whiff of Subway. If you’ve ever eaten subway you know they have an incredibly distinguishable smell. It was only after a few minutes that I realized that smell of subway was me. I didn’t last, I cracked. I was still around 19 or 20 years old, super self-centered and self-conscious and couldn’t fathom going to school smelling like I’d been bathing in Subway. Needless to say I quit.

The writer of Waiter Rant talks a lot about humanity, the socioeconomic disparity and more importantly, the ruthlessness in our own humanity. One of the examples he talks about is a women who suffered a stroke in the restaurant. The woman is waiting for an ambulance when a couple walks in and proceeds to argue about the table they want, all while this woman is on the floor having a stroke. If you shook your head while reading that, take a second and think, are you that person on the train that has watched someone pass out and sucked your teeth or sighed out loud at the delay? Because I’ve watched this happen before. Right, because the person laying on the filthy subway car totally planned on botching your morning commute. I’m ruthless and cutthroat in a lot of ways, but on the other hand I am empathetic and understanding. So if I’m stuck under ground or plain stuck because your having a medical emergency, I think, oh well at least I’m still alive to see another day, the person who’s on the floor might not be that fortunate.

The book talks about a homeless guy who sometimes gets food from a restaurant. It reminds me of the homeless problem in New York and nationally. A few years back I was out with one of my best friends. The weather was brutal, I could feel the cold through my 1 Madison fox fur, goose coat. (Okay PETA advocates, have a seat. I didn’t know at the time it was authentic until I read the tag). The thing was that there was a woman with a thin coat asking for a coffee. Yes, a coffee. What upset me was everyone ignored her. She wasn’t asking for change, she wasn’t asking for money, she just wanted something to warm up. Now I pose this question, how can you say no? I’ve often asked homeless people if their hungry. I may not be rolling in the dough but how can you justify denying someone a meal. This past week this has been bouncing around in my peanut head. If I can afford a $300 Coach bag, how can I justify denying someone even a $5 meal? Can you? I know I can’t. Let’s put it this way, if you own an iPhone you know they retail for about $600 or upwards unless you have contract etc.. If you own an iPad, your walking around with now $1,000 in goods at minimum. So just think about that.

I’m not saying it’s up to one person or anyone to dive in financially and help the homeless or to jump in and save the life of a passed out passenger. What I am saying is we need to be a bit more conscientious of our attitudes towards each other. The truth is—even me included in this—it’s easy to be consumed by the work and school grind, however, no matter the pursuit, you should never lose sight of your humanity.

Here is my fave quote from the book:

“My Godfather, a Catholic Priest, once told me: ‘You may be the strongest and survive-only to win a life not fit for living.'”

Jessica is a full time mother, employee, and student. She works as an Immigration Paralegal and is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Business. Jessica loves to volunteer with organizations that are targeted towards children. She recognizes that children are our future and sometimes they need someone who believes in them.

Jessica’s motto: Balancing everything is difficult but achievable.

One of Jessica’s greatest passions is writing. She says, “You have the ability to connect with reader’s in a way that speaking sometimes you simply can’t explain. I have been through a lot in my personal life and am very open about my struggles, but I live to be an example to not only my own daughter but to others.”

I may have explained before or may have simply neglected to explain that I used to be a spark. Like the kind you see on July 4th kind of spark, pretty but kind of frightening sometimes. I’m not sure what conjured this story, but the other day as I was getting ready for work, and this pants story popped right into my little head.

You see, I’m the type of person that owns things. If I’ve offended you, said or done anything I’ll own it in its entirety. If I didn’t do or say something, again, I’m going to be the first one with her hand up saying I didn’t do this. Nothing seems to flip my switches faster than someone assuming and accusing me of doing or saying something when hands down, I’ll tell you to your face. Of course if I don’t remember I’ll tell you the same as well.

When I was about 19, I bought a pair of burgundy stretchy work pants from Rainbows in Lake Worth when I lived in Florida. As is the usual case of my life, with work, and school I was always running around. The pants had been in my car with the intention of bringing them back, because after I brought them home I hated them. (Not at all uncommon for me.) The thing of it is, that those pants traveled in my car up and down for about a week in their bag with the receipt and tags still on. On one of those days someone had broken into my car taken my radio but ransacked my cars contents including the pants, so by the time I went to return them, they were a bit wrinkled.

I walked into the store with bag, tags on and receipt. When I approached the counter, (I recall this like it was yesterday) the cashier told me I’d worn the pants. Now lets pause here. I have patience, but if you ask me or tell me something I of course will oblige and answer. I don’t handle stupidity well at all… so lets keep this in mind here.

I calmly explained I didn’t wear them, hence the tags were on. I just didn’t have time to bring them back any sooner than a week. She proceeds to call the manager. Now what happens next was seriously one of those black out moments where first your like you’ve got to be kidding me, but then anger makes its appearance like a headlining superstar.

The first thing she says when she calls the manager is this girl is returning pants and she wore them. If I could tell you I saw colors, stars and stripes I would. I remember the initial shock as my mouth literally dropped because I didn’t wear the stupid pants, and now this woman who I’d been going back and forth with for 20 minutes was telling someone I wore them as her opening statement. By the time she got off the phone I was in full on “Carrie the Rage” mode. I was screaming, and yelling because I didn’t wear the pants and she continued to accuse me of doing so. The end of the story is, I walked myself right outside and slammed the pants against a pole a few times before proceeding to toss them in the garbage. I still hate those pants today.

My point in telling this story is that I own my actions fully. I don’t believe in excuses. I feel like if you do something, man up and own it, good or bad. I hate it when people try and deflect blame. Do I blame anyone for the untimely demise of my pants? Not exactly. I own my part in beating them like a rug against a pole and them tossing them. Yup, that was all me right there. (I can imagine the faces of the shoppers in that plaza, while this is going on.)

It’s funny because I’m in a situation with someone now that is constantly throwing blame on everything and everyone around them and it drives me nuts. We can’t control our circumstances entirely or surroundings but we do have the power to control how we react and we can control the ownership of our participation in the things that we do. If one person upsets me, there is no reason everyone thereafter has to pay, because they are not the source of my imbalanced emotions at that moment.

Jessica is a full time mother, employee, and student. She works as an Immigration Paralegal and is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Business. Jessica loves to volunteer with organizations that are targeted towards children. She recognizes that children are our future and sometimes they need someone who believes in them.

Jessica’s motto: Balancing everything is difficult but achievable.

One of Jessica’s greatest passions is writing. She says, “You have the ability to connect with reader’s in a way that speaking sometimes you simply can’t explain. I have been through a lot in my personal life and am very open about my struggles, but I live to be an example to not only my own daughter but to others.”

I have studied Freud and psychology since the age of 12. Instead of playing with dolls I found solace in reading. During the summers I read over 15 books a week. The one thing I have learned as a life lesson is reading people. Your intuition tends to be spot on. Whether it’s that person who gives you a bad vibe, or that street you always walk down that today you decide not to because of an ominous feeling. The reason I’m talking about this is because of everything going on with Lamar Odom.

I’ve never met the man as I’m sure neither have many of you. But the one fact that we can all agree on is that it’s a tragedy. It’s like when we watched Amy Winehouse drive herself to her early grave. So full of life, potential, and the bright prospective of a future. It’s the shock of “no, not that person.” It’s that feeling of wanting to understand why, to reach out and hug them and say it will be okay. Life is pain, some people tend to understand that more than others. Like there are strong, and there are weak. More importantly, when things happen in life there are usually two choices: break or continue. The problem is that for those who don’t break, it changes you. The pain chips away at the person you were.

This is the reason why everyday I struggle to figure out where I can serve best. Because EVERYONE needs someone to believe in, to know someone cares, to get a second chance, to be guided to the light from the dark. I think that because of Lamar’s upbringing and past pain, I relate on some level and it makes me think of my life. I know what it’s like to want to make that pain stop because the pain of your struggles in life are so unbearable. Whether you’ve thought of entertaining drug use, suicide, or other outlets, the point is that emotions can carry such a level of weight that some people give into these thoughts. I know that life can bring you to some very scary contemplation’s, whether subconsciously or consciously. The question is do we give into these thoughts and feelings that can be incredibly overpowering. Just like I said before, there are weak and there are strong. Neither is right or wrong in it’s own right. Everyone is entitled to their emotions, thoughts etc.. There is no one emotion that is not valid to the person undergoing the struggle. I just think that we need to have a bit more empathy, a bit more understanding and a little bit more love towards how we treat others.

That inspiring word today, might bring someone off a ledge tomorrow. That smile or genuine act of kindness can be the one thing that kept someone from re-lapsing or delving into some other devoid behavior. I didn’t get to where I am today alone. I had people that believed in my ability. I had people in my corner that hugged me and told me everything is okay. So today, think about how you can impact someone, think before you judge someone so harshly and remember that everyone has a story…maybe someone’s story is much like yours.

Jessica is a full time mother, employee, and student. She works as an Immigration Paralegal and is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Business. Jessica loves to volunteer with organizations that are targeted towards children. She recognizes that children are our future and sometimes they need someone who believes in them.

Jessica’s motto: Balancing everything is difficult but achievable.

One of Jessica’s greatest passions is writing. She says, “You have the ability to connect with reader’s in a way that speaking sometimes you simply can’t explain. I have been through a lot in my personal life and am very open about my struggles, but I live to be an example to not only my own daughter but to others.”

I always consider around Week 5 or so of school the midway point even if there are way more weeks to follow. In the past few weeks I’ve been juggling the full time schedule of 4 courses, work and crazy work deadlines, my daughters homework and my dad’s health. He’s been in and out of the hospital for the past month. In between all of that, I can openly attest that some of my work is not entirely up to par. Wendy Williams was recently scrutinized for saying that women will always have to sacrifice, whether it’s work, school, children etc. She’s right. Although we think that we’ve departed from a historical implication of roles and women, the truth is that women are the primary care takers of their children. When your child is home sick the majority of the time its the mother who stays home and cares for her child, the examples can go on and on. Wendy’s comment basically was that you can’t do it all, something will always lags and women are the one’s who sacrifice in career and marriage and she’s right. This was Wendy’s remarks:

“We can debate this all day. Every woman has a different view and there are some women who have an opinion and are scared to voice their opinion on it. But I’m not afraid to voice mine—don’t throw tomatoes.

I do feel it is difficult for men to accept really successful career women. Whether it be that we out-earn them or the marquee, our names are brighter than their own. I also feel like marriage and babies stunt a woman’s growth career-wise and they don’t understand like, once you get married and once you have kids, you can’t do all the things that you used to do and maintain this important precious thing you’ve built as a family.

So my suggestion to women, always, is to use your entire 20s…work your behind off in your career and get some ground footing, then think about meeting that guy. Even if you’ve met him at 27, don’t get engaged and don’t move to where he is. This is about you and your career. Because we are the ones that lose in marriage.

Not men! Men can have all their boys’ nights out and whenever we have a girls’ night out I’m always, ‘I gotta leave, it’s soccer practice.’ I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I’m saying that as a woman who’s been married for 17 years, we’re still expected to empty the dishwasher and we’re still expected to maintain our household.”

You can’t work a high pressure career over 50 hours and still find enough time to be with your family, it’s give and take. You can’t juggle everything and be great at all of it, somewhere a ball is falling. We can only do so much with the best batting average. I have a daughter, and if I have to be honest with her, I will tell her the same. There are no limits to what you can do in life, but family changes you and your dynamics, because at the end of the day, your a mother first, and everything comes second to last to that including yourself. I often reminisce about my own mother, and I honestly wonder how in the world she made it look so easy! I am tired, worn down and just exhausted by the end of the day. I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this.

Jessica is a full time mother, employee, and student. She works as an Immigration Paralegal and is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Business. Jessica loves to volunteer with organizations that are targeted towards children. She recognizes that children are our future and sometimes they need someone who believes in them.
Jessica’s motto: Balancing everything is difficult but achievable.
One of Jessica’s greatest passions is writing. She says, “You have the ability to connect with reader’s in a way that speaking sometimes you simply can’t explain. I have been through a lot in my personal life and am very open about my struggles, but I live to be an example to not only my own daughter but to others.”

I speak very candidly about my past. I have experienced homelessness, independence at an extremely early age. However, the one thing never changes and always remains are the choices that I have made. In life the only thing we can control is our choices. We can’t decide the family we belong to, or what adversity we will receive, the only thing we can change is our reaction to these circumstances.

I have been on my own since I was 15, with a very strained relationship with my parents. I have since, moved past the circumstances that caused this strain and am content with my decisions. I’ve been in recently deliberating law school or my future and the manner in which I have chosen to live for such a career that I was thinking about choices.

Now as a mother, I always pray that I will instill enough in my daughter that although I will not always agree with her decisions, that she makes decisions that she can grow up, reflect and be proud of. Decisions made today, can haunt your future when they are made equivocally.

I am proud to look back and realize that I struggled for many years, from hunger, homelessness and trying to balance, work, life and school. However, I never gave up, I still haven’t given up, but most importantly than any of that, no matter how hard life got, I fought the good fight to be someone that when I achieved success I could inspire others by doing it the right way. It didn’t matter if it was the longest, hardest, toughest way. I chose to fight. So my words to you today are, no matter how hard life gets, no matter how hard life hits, you swing right back and keep fighting for your dreams, your ambitions, for your path.

My biggest dream is to work with children because I myself grew up at 15. I want to be the person that can tell them that I believe in them because I can recall when I made the choice to take my GED at 16, (I was on college level then) I had someone who believed in me. I enrolled in college immediately after completing this. Unfortunately, I had to put a roof over my head, and worry about other things that school had to take side steps. The one thing that again remained was, I was constantly in and out of school. Because no matter what I knew I had to do this. This is my choice and I still choose this today.

Jessica is a full time mother, employee, and student. She works as an Immigration Paralegal and is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Business. Jessica loves to volunteer with organizations that are targeted towards children. She recognizes that children are our future and sometimes they need someone who believes in them.
Jessica’s motto: Balancing everything is difficult but achievable. 
One of Jessica’s greatest passions is writing. She says, “You have the ability to connect with reader’s in a way that speaking sometimes you simply can’t explain. I have been through a lot in my personal life and am very open about my struggles, but I live to be an example to not only my own daughter but to others.”

Kathryn Walker is a current undergraduate student in our Business program who used past work experiences to earn Prior Learning Assessment credits towards her degree. She shares her thoughts on the experience with us.

Kathryn Walker discusses Prior Learning Assessment at CUNY SPS

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

Professional progression can be somewhat hindered without at least a BS. Today, having an AS does not wield the impressive influence that it did 25 years ago (when I received my AS). In going back to school to complete my BS, I needed a flexible schedule so that I could juggle school with my full-time job and home responsibilities. Although there are several on-line schools, CUNY SPS had the best price with a high-quality brand name.

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

Personally, I look forward to losing the weight I gained since starting back to school. Professionally, I look forward to having increased opportunities. With a combination of extensive experience in making executives look ridiculously good and an official, formal BS—look out!

3. Why did you decide to participate in PLA at CUNY SPS?

One complaint that I had with CUNY SPS was that there was no “experience” credits available. Having to take every course for every credit made the attainment of the degree especially long, and in some cases, frustrating. With my experience, there were some classes that I thought, “Why on earth do I have to waste my time and energy doing this?” Doing the PLA gave me the opportunity to gain credits for the PLA class itself and credits for a class called Writing at Work. This afforded me the time and energy to spend on another class, thus fulfilling the curriculum a little faster.

4. How has the PLA opportunity helped you progress at CUNY SPS? Has it changed your view of what it means to return to school? If yes, how? 

PLA helped me to fulfil the curriculum a little faster. It did not change my view of returning to school. It would have been helpful to have had “experience” credits available sooner. One classmate in the program (from another school) said that he had received 36 credits for previous work experience, and he was on target to finish his BS after one year. I kind of felt like a schmuck because I had been forging along for three years, and at that time, was only eligible for 6 credits with the classes I had left. It was still worth it though—every bit helps.

5. In which ways do you believe you have or will benefit from PLA?

I thought it was an interesting exercise in analysis. Explaining one’s knowledge is usually an abbreviated variation of “I know stuff because I’ve done stuff.” PLA asks students to elaborate on the “stuff:” what did you do; what were the circumstances that led you to do what you did; what did you observe while doing what you did; what did you learn from your observation; and how have you applied that learning to the point of confidently being able to say “I know.” PLA teaches a student to methodically analyze and explain the claim that he/she knows something. Interesting, but also exhausting.

6. What did you learn, if anything, from the PLA process?

I know a lot of stuff ☺.

7. What advice would you offer someone considering application for admission to your degree program? What advice would you offer someone considering PLA at CUNY SPS?

The sooner you start back to school, the better. The longer you put off going back to school, the more out-of-sync you are with everyone else in your life. That being said, it is never too late to go back to school. Just do it. If there are any ways to get credits for life experience or work experience, take advantage of them as soon as possible. Understand that every class will take a minimum of 12 hours per week, so you need to allow sufficient time for this. Pace yourself and manage your time wisely to lessen the chance of being overwhelmed.