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How many fellow CUNY SPS-ers are going to be graduating this upcoming May 18?

Commencements may only happen a few times over a lifetime for each of us. Often the ceremony is meant for the family and friends to watch the accomplishment of the students who are walking the ceremony. This is a journey that can take a traditional route from high school or it can be a non-traditional route. For a majority of CUNY School of Professional Studies students, this journey is completed online and may be a physical trip that happens or is skipped. Behind the scenes, the process of preparing for the ceremony is definitely months in advance.

I wanted to at least walk people through a meaningful activity I did this past year when I walked for my graduate certificate in Disability Studies, and that is the process of decorating a mortarboard. It is my belief that one does not have to be artistically gifted, since there are ready-made kits that are being sold at crafting and arts supplies stores. But the benefits of decorating a board are (1) a good photo prop, (2) you can show off the fact that you’re graduating, (3) it is a mental mind activity of prepping for the ceremony, and (4) blinging up a drab black gown. The memories that can be built on crafting a mortarboard are nice! Plus it is also good to meet up with classmates and fellow graduates to make memories. The only downside I see to this activity is $$$ and time investments.

Graduation Cap Decorated

So, last year, a few alumni got together in the lobby, and brought their own supplies to decorate their mortarboards with. I did my cap independent of that group, but being a representative on the Student Association this year I had hoped that people who are going to be graduating would want to do this activity again. I have every intentions of doing the same activity when I walk again for my masters in 2018. As I have been speaking with Anthony Sweeney, Virtual Campus Coordinator about doing this activity again for class of 2017 graduates. So this is what I propose, on May 23 from 5:30 to 7:30 – graduating class members can bring your own supplies to decorate your mortarboard with. We will be having limited supplies and food also available. RSVP here if you want to join us!

So even if you’re not going to make it to campus at CUNY SPS, I suggest this as an activity you can do with your family, friends or by yourself. I stress to please do a draft and/or dry run for what you want to put on your cap. Decorate your cap considering how you are going to be wearing the cap. So your motor cap should be on a diamond shape, not necessarily a square. Do not rush to stick things on your one cap!

These are art supplies that I suggest, and this is not a complete list or the absolute list that your cap has to have. Last year I made up my cap with the art supplies I have from my other projects, so I only spent about $20 for extra supplies. I used scrap paper, origami paper, index cards, ribbon and stickers. You will be wearing your cap during the ceremony, and an important advice I suggest is to have the items on firmly, that way there is no cap malfunction. That was my fear last year when I didn’t have a hot glue gun.

I pulled everything off my graduation cap after the ceremony was over, because my second CUNY SPS graduation is forthcoming. Enough about me! For people graduating, this is an activity that is a good building one for the crafters in us! Reflect on what pulled you through to graduation, find that special saying, and thank the people you want. You are the main character of this ceremony in world that you inhabit. If there’s any questions, or inspirations, there are plenty of videos on YouTube, photos on Pinterest, etc.

  • 12×12 Cardstock scrap paper of any type. This may be a backdrop for your embellishments.
  • Embellishments—sequins, rhinestones, glitter, gems, letters
  • Stickers
  • Ribbon
  • Hot glue gun or other sticky adhesive tools
  • Fabric paint
  • Stencils

Linda Yau is a native New Yorker. She is currently completing her MS Disability Services in Higher Education. She is constantly on the move, but on her downtime, she hearts folding origami. She is an assistant organizer of  OMG-NYC (Origami Meetup Group in NYC)

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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!

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.

Class of 2013 degree students, your diploma is ready for pick up! Visit the SPS Office on the 9th floor in room 905 at 101 West 31st with a photo ID. We will be open from 9:00am through 7:30pm Monday through Thursday. During the summer, we will be closed on the following days: June 28, July 4, July 12, July 19, July 26, August 2 and August 9th. Please feel free to call us at (212) 652-2869 to ensure the office is open before you arrive.

Please note: if you have any “stops” on your record your diploma will be held. This includes library fines, bursar blocks, and financial aid exit counseling. Please check your eSIMS account to verify your status before coming to the office.

For those students who want their diploma mailed, please email Jennifer Lee with your full mailing address.

Certificate students who recently completed their program will have to wait until late July to pick up their certificate.

If there are any additional questions, please call (212) 652-2869.

The BLK ProjeK is having a bus party!

Bus Party

Lex Congratulates the Class of 2013

About a month ago I received an email from the faculty at SPS inviting me to join a few of my fellow students to attend a dinner in the city. The dinner was organized to give this year’s commencement speaker, Ms. Tanya Fields an opportunity to meet with the students she will be talking to in a few weeks at graduation. Prior to receiving the email I’d never heard of Ms. Fields and at the time, overwhelmed with class work, I did not have time to Google her. Nevertheless, I eagerly accepted the invitation and a week later found myself seated with a few students and staff from SPS at a table in the middle of a candle lit restaurant in mid-town.

When Ms. Fields arrived we took turns going around the table to introduce ourselves. Hearing the diverse exchange of personal and professional stories reminded me just how unique the SPS community is. From students who attend class via the web to those, like myself, that attend in person, SPS brings together students from all backgrounds and ages to a single learning environment. Finally it was Ms. Fields’ turn to share with us her story. She began by telling the table about her current role as director of The BLK ProjeK, a Bronx community food justice campaign.

Tanya Fields has been extremely successful in using social media to bring attention to her social work and community building projects. Over the course of our evening the conversation covered food justice, new media, higher education and politics that included a spirited debate on the social cost of corn commodities between Ms. Fields and myself.

I soon discovered Tanya Fields is a vibrant and energetic young social entrepreneur. Her personal commitment to creating a positive change in her community is a noble act worthy of recognition. In a city as big as New York, it is easy for us to get caught up in our own lives and overlook social problems like poverty, reductions in high school graduation rates, and youth unemployment. It is easier to simply regard these issues as the problem of someone else and turn a blind eye. However, simply ignoring these issues will not make them disappear.

As New Yorkers we enjoy the benefit of living in a great city that encourages us to be ambitious go-getters. Yet in doing so we often forget that we still live in a communal society where a negative impact to any one segment of the population will eventually affect all of us in some manner. Because of this we all have a social responsibility to each other and Tanya Fields’ work reflects this. Her food justice project, which educates young children on good dieting habits, is raising a new generation of New Yorkers that won’t have to shoulder the burden of increased taxes to address obesity related health effects and the increased social cost they place on the public. Ms. Fields’ mentoring and outreach program is empowering young girls by teaching them the importance of education. I believe Ms. Fields’ work is true a benefit to not just her community but also our entire city.

The night concluded with the students sharing their thoughts on what a good graduation speech should touch on with Ms. Fields. I left the dinner feeling truly inspired by the work Tanya Fields does. So much so I thought it only right I use the power of social media to share with the SPS community our commencement speaker and her story.

Following our dinner, I asked Ms. Fields if she would be interested in doing an interview for the SPS Community Blog, which she eagerly accepted. I spent a morning at Ms. Fields’ office in the Bronx chatting about every thing from the future of social media in education to the Jedi mind trick Celie plays on Albert in the end of The Color Purple (her favorite movie). My interview with Tanya was both informative and lighthearted and provides some insight into the life of Ms. Tanya Fields.

Brandon M. Chiwaya is a current SPS student studying Public Administration and Public Policy at the Murphy Institute. He is a member of the school’s 2013-2014 Technology Budget Fee Committee, and was recently awarded the CUNY Vice Chancellor’s Excellence in Leadership Award. Below is an excerpt from Brandon’s interview with Tanya Fields.

A word from our mascot Lexington Lynx

Location based social networking had been heralded by many as the new frontier of online interaction. Letting people know where you are and what your doing adds an entirely new dimension to the standard social equation.

Sites like Foursquare and Gowalla have been leading the pack, with Facebook adding a location based layer called “Places” to its interface. You can let your friends know where you are, and easily meet up or share tips.

It’s the location based tip sharing that many find so interesting. At SPS, we’ve recently created a Foursquare account so that our community can share and swap knowledge about all that New York City has to offer.

Our first location based initiative will be tied into our upcoming 2011 Commencement at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. If you visit our Foursquare profile, you can see that we’ve begun to put up some tips for great meals around our commencement venue. We’ll be adding many more “Graduation Grub” tips in the coming weeks as we gear up to an exciting, memorable, and delicious ceremony.

For those unfamiliar with Foursquare, here is a short video that will help familiarize you with the concept.

Even if you don’t want to share your location and every move with your friends, Foursquare is still a powerful tool for finding great locations in your immediate vicinity.

If you’re inclined to start exploring with Foursquare, or are already using the application, be sure to connect with us as we continue to explore all the amazing food options for graduation.

Shawn Abraham is SPS’ Virtual Campus Manager, which means he gets to have a lot of fun building an online community for the school. He also has a lot of fun reading books about zombies. These two things rarely intersect.