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Dear Honorable President Barack Hussein Obama II and Family,

I felt the need to write you this letter for two reasons, to say thank you and to say I am sorry.

THANK YOU.
I don’t know how many people have thanked you for being one of the greatest Presidents we have ever had in this country. Through judgement of your legitimacy and unsurmountable opposition, to every move you have tried to make for the betterment of this country, you have served this country with style and grace in a way that no President in my knowledge has ever done. You and your family have done so much, knowing that you will never get the credit you deserve.

I am an army veteran, and throughout your Presidency, regardless of the decisions you have had to make, I have never been more proud to serve this country. You and the First Lady, Michelle Obama will be the examples of who I want my children to desire to emulate. You have inspired me to be a better version of myself every day, and after you leave the Presidency I will continue down that path.

The fight that you have fought does not and will not end with you. You are an inspiration to people the world over.  You have held the world on your shoulders in a way that no one ever believed you could and you did it as a gentleman and a scholar.

To the First Lady, you are the standard of how women across the world should be held to.

To your daughters, be proud in the fact that your parents are heroes in every sense of what a hero is supposed to be. They should be proud of the fact that they have played part in the making of a symbol of greatness for people who have been too far under served by this nation for too long.

I AM SORRY.
I am sorry that too many of us have left you to do this alone. I am sorry that too few of us in this nation took up the mantle of hope that you started this journey with and spread it across this nation. I am sorry that that we abandoned you on the battle field in Washington D.C. as many of us sat back and watched while you were attached from every side imaginable, and then blamed you for not doing enough. You have never let us down; we have forsaken the faith that you had in us. I am sorry that somehow we allowed hate to beat out love.

There is so much more I want to say, but in this moment, my heart is heavy.

However, there is an upside to this dark day. Today is my birthday, and when I woke up this morning I cried, because this is the first time in my life I feel ashamed to have served this country. Then I looked at my son and I reinvigorated in my focus. I was reminded of why you inspire me. My gift to myself on this day is to work harder than ever in everything that I do. I will not let this wave of hatred weaken my stance against animosity in any of its forms. I pray that others will join me in fighting against all the division and distraction that has crawled out of the darkness, by way of the Republican representation and those of like-minded ideologies.

Your victories will stand forever in me and all those who are now can see our current reality.

Lauren Patterson is a single father, student in the Communication and Program program at CUNY SPS, entrepreneur, and a veteran. However, first and foremost Lauren is a student of life. Lauren is a self-proclaimed work in progress, and thrives on his motto: live to be the successful person you already are.

personality

Hello CUNY SPS Community,

I recently attended orientation for my fall internship at a major news organization.

The internship seems to be really well organized and structured, and one of the things I most enjoyed was the career development sessions. One thing we did was take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. This is a personality test that is designed to indicate psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. I was really fascinated by this process and the results, because I felt that they were surprisingly accurate!

I had never taken a personality test before, but was recently encouraged to because I have been doing a lot of soul searching and career development/goal setting in my own life. I think it is important that your passions align with your strengths, and so I was excited to find out what I may be more inclined to doing well and enjoying at the same time.

Read the rest of this entry »

I came back to school in 2014 because I knew I was smart, talented, and worthy of that piece of paper. I came back because I wanted more opportunities. I wanted the ability to apply for a job knowing I was exactly who that company desired.

Well, I’m in the midst of a job search that’s beating me down a bit, in which I’ve incurred many rejections. For the longest time I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a living. On a certain level, I still don’t. As a Communications and Media major, there are many avenues open. I have a great deal of interest in digital fields. I love films, and TV, so working for a studio, or a network, or a production company appeals to me. There’s also something very alluring about an interactive company, one that’s advancing media, or an idea into the future.

Back to those rejections. I’m sure many of the students at SPS are here for similar reasons. Maybe you’re tired of your current job; it doesn’t pay enough, the hours are bad, you’re stuck in a position with limited upward mobility. Believe me, I feel you.

I’m finding it difficult to get past a certain stage in the interview process. I’ve had several phone interviews, made it through the assignment stage, and in some cases to in-person appointments. They’ve all ended the same:

“We’ve decided to go in a different direction.”

“We’re looking for someone with a little bit more experience.”

*Bachelor’s degree required*

After many months of applying for jobs that I knew I wasn’t qualified for (on paper), I decided to apply for jobs in which my transferable skills would pop. Sometimes that means making what you might consider a lateral move, which I’m accepting of. I’ve worked for the last year with the terrific advisors in the Career Services department on refining my resume, learning what to expect in an interview (questions, answers, how to ask questions), and was taught the importance of networking. In my case, the informational interview has been an important part of my growth not because its gotten me a job, but because down the road, those contacts may be helpful in providing a new opportunity.

****I urge everyone to give Shannon Gallo or Kelsey Richardson in Career Services a call. If you’re like me—someone who’s been at the same company for a long time, and never had a lot of experience in looking for a job before—they have a wealth of great information and advice.****

I plan on coming back to the blog with quick updates about my progress, and to share some experiences during the process. Hopefully one day soon I’ll be able to report positive progress in the way of a new job! Until then, I’ll keep sending out resumes, and writing cover letters. I said earlier, the negativity that comes with applying to jobs has beaten me down a bit, but it hasn’t defeated me. Coming back to school reinvigorated me. It’s a lot for all of us to deal with, especially taking into account the amount of hours we work on top of going to school. I’m more motivated now to succeed than at any point in my life, and I look forward to the challenges to come.

Robert is a current student here at CUNY SPS, pursuing a degree in Communication and Media. He is interested in platforms of media, especially those related to digital media; and a fan of serious film as well as this current golden age of television.

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.

Tyrone Cumberbatch is graduating from CUNY SPS on June 6 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and Media and this is his speech:

To the students and faculty of the CUNY School of Professional Studies, I want to share my utmost thanks to all I’ve had some form of communication with in these last several years. Finally completing this part of my education journey has filled me with great satisfaction and happiness. Just to share a little about myself. I come from very humble beginnings that have taught me many valuable lessons. I’ve had my shares of low points but I’ve also had many high points in my life, which I tend to focus on. I also posses the bonus of 42 years worth of life experiences that I can share with you all but I was only given 5 minutes tops if selected to give my speech as student commencement speaker. Nevertheless, I can add another experience to that long list of having this possible commencement speech spread amongst the graduate archives of the CUNY School of Professional Studies. I can truly say that hard work pays off in many different ways.

I truly know that dedication, perseverance and sticking to worthy commitments allows for endless and worthwhile possibilities. It is up to us all to continue to strive for greatness and achieve what we all deem to be the ‘better life’ we all want and deserve, that our families deserve and the communities that we all live in can also benefit from. We all have different paths that we must take on this journey we call life but with the right education, mentorships, work ethics and other positive factors, the success that anyone of us can obtain is bountiful.

My charge to the CUNY School of Professional Studies class of 2016 is that no matter where you are in life, no matter your age, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, and political affiliations always to strive for greatness, never let anyone deter you from where you want to go in life. Always Continue to learn, grow in education, (hopefully with other degrees from CUNY School of Professional Studies) always read and learn more every day, especially in the career you tend or are now currently working in. If you want better, you yourself must be better. I know this speech may have the energy and sound like a motivational seminar, but that’s the key, continue to do what ever is necessary to motivate yourself especially during the times when life becomes the hardest with harder lessons than you can imagine.

I personally know of hard lessons. Approximately five years ago I loss my younger brother who I was very close to. But I know that somewhere in the echoes of the universe he is very proud of me and he is proud of my continuous pursuit for a better life. Graduating with my Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and Media is another example of me trying to achieve that better life. I implore you to continue to achieve yours.

In conclusion, yes I know “don’t let it end, keep it going,” but alas I must get ready for the AFTER PARTY. Let me share with you this quote by Napolean Hill, “Patience, persistence and perspiration makes an unbeatable combination for success.” I charge you again: have patience in all that you do, allow the time necessary to obtain your goals. Continue to be persistent to strive towards your goals and add the perspiration when it is needed, sometimes we have to sweat to meet our goals.

With all three Ps combined, success is no doubt in your grasp to do with it as you will. My fellow CUNY SPS classmates, in which SPS now stands for Superb People Succeeding, continue to do just that—SUCCEED and be great in it all!!!

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.

 

As I write this, I have Microsoft Word open with nothing more than a title on the page. Even the title isn’t sitting well with me. It’s the beginning of a 5-6 page paper due next Friday for which I have a topic, enough background information, and websites for citation purposes. The words are just hard to come by. I’m writing here to vent my frustration with the sometimes overwhelming process of putting thoughts to paper.

In another Word window, I have some sentences down for a project I’m a bit more excited about, though there’s no grade given for that. That’s a personal project. Ideas came to mind, and it was best to write them down. I’ve always dreamed of making a film. Not for fame or fortune because I’m too much of a realist for that, but because it’s the best way I can think of to express some of life’s sensibilities. A diary. I’m not talking about some three hour epic, but something short; 10 minutes, 20 minutes. Maybe several 10-minute sequences over the course of time that add up to feature length. I can post them on a website dedicated to the project. YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram play a part in promotion.

It’s all a struggle. It’s like sometimes your mind just becomes a cloud. The type of cloud with nothing going on inside. No lighting or thunder, no rain or snow. I write, not because I think I’m any good at it (I give myself credit for being pleasantly mediocre), but because it can be very rewarding. Here, I vent my frustration. On another page, an idea comes alive. That’s when I love it. The screen in front of me becomes a form of therapy. Getting started is the hardest part. Then I get started, and the first 500 words become the issue, though once you get into a groove, it can be an infectious feeling. One idea follows another and suddenly you’re several pages in without feeling like you’ve really tried.

What’s the best ending to your story? Forget the story, what’s the best ending to a paragraph? How do I make the simple thought a powerful one? I should let more prolific authors answer those questions. It’s possible the answer isn’t the same for everyone. We each get to a specific point in our thoughts, but go in different directions.

Despite all that, I’ve always been capable of a good paper. Give me a 5 page paper any day of the week over a 50 question multiple choice test. Studying for weeks for a test is arduous at best, excruciating in general. Writing is such an important part of being a student at CUNY SPS. Its helped me view my strengths and weaknesses in equal measure, and with time, improve those deficiencies.

One tip I can give that’s been helpful to me as of late is to find a song, or a type of music you like; something that helps you relax, or puts a smile on your face. Play that music when you write. Not so loud that it’s a distraction, but loud enough so that you feel whatever emotion you’re looking for in the moment. I’d always heard that classical music was a great motivator in the process. I tried it. I liked it. I also find inspiration in a terrific film score. Sometimes it’s dark and creepy, sometimes it’s melancholic, and other times it’s the uplifting sounds that might push you to a place of triumph, so to speak.

Some will use big, thoughtful words, and speak in terms you might not understand. I find as much value in that as someone who just writes what they think in even the simplest of ways. I’ll go back to my open Word windows now and try to piece it together bit by bit. I know it will get done, and done well. It just takes time.

Robert is a current student here at CUNY SPS, pursuing a degree in Communication and Media. He is interested in platforms of media, especially those related to digital media; and a fan of serious film as well as this current golden age of television.

With critics awards almost completed and the Academy Awards a little over a month away, I felt inclined to share some of my favorite movies from the past year. Mine is just another list for people to roll their eyes at. I mean, who’s reading this? I’m just some guy who really likes movies. A guy who would rather stay at home on a Friday night to watch one, and then wake up Saturday morning to hit the matinee for another; a matinee that sometimes sparks an entire day in the theater. I wrote in an earlier post about this not being a banner year for film. At the time, summer had come and gone. The bombardment of overwrought blockbusters, sequels, reboots, and end of seasons dumps were coming to an end. As 2015 grew older, however, the output seemed stronger than in recent years past.

The sequel/reboot fad didn’t end with the summer season; however, this fall gave us two reboots that reinvigorated franchises beloved by millions. Star Wars: The Force Awakens, though not as iconic or as unique as Episode IV or V, was an enjoyable movie-going experience. The first 30 minutes is as fun and exhilarating as anything released this year, even if the film is essentially A New Hope remix. Another reboot, what I would call my surprise of the year, Creed, knocked it out of the park (or ring?) for what amounts to the best of the Rocky franchise since the original.

The end of 2015 also re-introduced the world to the 70mm format. The Hateful Eight, Quentin Tarantino’s mystery-western set in the 1800’s, is the first film projected entirely using the Panavision equipment since Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master (2012). 70mm allows for a higher film resolution than the most frequently used 35mm, as well as capturing colors more vividly. It’s a glorious and exciting way to see a film. Questions arose about why a story such as The Hateful Eight needed to be shot in 70mm. It probably didn’t, but kudos to directors like Anderson, and Tarantino (as well as Christopher Nolan who has championed the idea of film use to the studios for several years) for attempting to bring this beautiful format (KILL DIGITAL) back to the forefront. These are filmmakers that truly care about the art. Whether or not every movie is a hit is irrelevant. They’re making them the way they want to make them about what they’re interested in. It’s something for anyone to admire.

The digital vs. film debate is a heated and contentious one as described by this Vox article.

***PRO TIP: Do not see The Hateful Eight and The Revenant back to back on the same day as I did. It was an endurance test I nearly didn’t survive. I wouldn’t say I was a huge fan of either, though Hateful had some big laughs.***

There needs to be a willingness to find great movies. This is not to say that a movie not seen by mass audiences are always better, but in watching there’s a feel they’re made with more care. I’m coming off as a snob, but I point this out because much of the following list will not be seen during the Oscars telecast. Go and find them.

1. Phoenix

2. Queen of Earth

3. Carol

4. It Follows

5. The Clouds of Sils Maria

6. Spotlight

7. Sicario

8. Mad Max: Fury Road

9. 45 Years

10. Creed

11. The Diary of a Teenage Girl

12. Ex Machina

13. Tangerine

14. Heaven Knows What

15. The Duke of Burgundy

Twitter: @BobbyJDaniels

Robert is a current student here at CUNY SPS, pursuing a degree in Communication and Media. He is interested in platforms of media, especially those related to digital media; and a fan of serious film as well as this current golden age of television.

In 2002, the Boston Globe released a series of investigative articles covering the widespread pedophilia and subsequent cover-ups within the Catholic archdiocese of Boston. The investigation led to a Pulitzer Prize for the Globe and the conviction and sentencing to prison of several priests in the Boston area.

Now that you have a background, you should know something about the movie: it’s excellent. Spotlight, named for the investigative unit of the Globe (the oldest of its kind in the U.S.), is an affecting, impressively directed and acted drama that cares more about the possibly unsexy “how we got here.” The job of a journalist can be a tedious one. These stories don’t come together overnight. It takes weeks, months, sometimes years of hard work to tell the right story. Spotlight plays as something of importance, but also as a sort of love-letter to investigative journalism.

One of the year’s best films, surely a front-runner for Best Picture, Spotlight embraces the power of the press for good; it pits two of Boston’s most known institutions, the Catholic church, and the Boston Globe against each other. As stated in the movie, 53% of the Globes readers are Catholic. Boston is a town made up of many Irish-Catholics. How will they react to such a story? There is also an ethical line to be drawn in regards to the feelings and privacy of those abused. In one case, a father of three tells that not even his wife knows of his childhood of abuse.

The film itself is not a takedown of the Catholic church. Writer/director Tom McCarthy allows the facts to speak for themselves as well as giving the audience the opportunity to make decisions based on those facts. Instead of showing us the abuse, he allows the actors portraying the abused convey the emotions. It’s often true in horror films that the threat of the violence is more scary than the actual violence. Same rule applies. There’s a lot to be said for subtlety and restraint, something McCarthy proves himself completely capable of here. It made him the perfect director for such a film.

The superb cast of writers and editors (played wonderfully by Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, Rachel McAdams, Brian d’Arcy James, and John Slattery) put together the pieces like a jigsaw puzzle just waiting for its conclusion. Comparisons in genre to All The President’s Men and Citizen Kane—the standard bearers for newspaper films—are inevitable.

Spotlight celebrates the standard of integrity each journalist should hold themselves to. In the world of Twitter (shamelessly plugged without pay by me at the jump) where attention spans are at a low, and clickbait is at a premium, the care and effort that went into the piece leaves me with a sense of gratitude. It feels true to form that in the end, the job goes on. As one conflict simmers, another one brews. Sadly, there will always be a scandal to be uncovered. We should be hopeful, whether it’s print, online, or otherwise that it’s investigated and reported as thoroughly and honestly as it is here.

Spotlight: 3.5/4

Tweet me @BobbyJDaniels!

Robert is a current student here at CUNY SPS, pursuing a degree in Communication and Media. He is interested in platforms of media, especially those related to digital media; and a fan of serious film as well as this current golden age of television.

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

When I began this program several years ago, I thought of it as an avenue to complete my degree after having a stressful commitment to an in-class environment. For years I had been commuting from work to school, driving from work in Brooklyn to City College, and then driving home to Rockland County. The most challenging part of it all was getting to class on time, navigating rush hour traffic and then trying to find parking and reaching class at a respectable hour. By the time I walked into the classroom, I was spent mentally and physically.

The switch to online classes allowed me to work during my discretionary time. That was an extreme blessing for me. The classes have been engaging and the toll that the stressful commute was taking on my health has diminished. I have become a master of time management, and I owe it all to the support that I received from the advisors, instructors, and fellow students at CUNY SPS. Furthermore, becoming an ACE Scholar was the pinnacle of my success at CUNY SPS. I could not have succeeded without all of you. I am forever in your debt.

I am looking forward to finishing my final classes in December. I’ve decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Higher Education after I take a year off and spend some time with my family. Once again, I’d like to thank you all for your support.

Anthony Thompson 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 Communication and Media program at the end of this semester.

It would be difficult to characterize 2015 as a banner year in film. Take a look at the top 10 box-office hits of the year and we find sequels, reboots, and superheroes. A box-office list doesn’t necessarily show us the good in film. Most often, it’s quite the opposite. These are major-studio-produced projects that have big budgets, and major dollars in advertising campaigns behind them, most of which are released in the summer months. We’re past that now. October brings in the season of more serious fare. Indie, art-house, supposedly award-worthy films.

Let’s break down some of the early hopefuls already in theaters. Perhaps this post helps some of you who aren’t sure what films are worth your time and money this season.

SICARIO – 3.5/4

My favorite of the early awards hopefuls, Sicario is a tense thriller that takes a look at the frightening drug wars on the border of the United States and Mexico. Director Denis Villeneuve (Enemy, Prisoners) has established himself as a man so adept at tension in even the simplest of scenes. Shot beautifully by Roger Deakins (DP – The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, No Country For Old Men, Skyfall), and led by a quiet, but powerful Emily Blunt, and Benicio Del Toro in his most chilling performance in years, Sicario is an ambitious, and compelling thriller that at times will leave you breathless.

THE MARTIAN – 2.5/4

I couldn’t help but feel disappointed walking out of this one, feeling as marooned as Matt Damon’s character on Mars. While critical praise is almost universal, The Martian left me cold. Damon gives a fine performance, but the rest of the cast—that for whatever reason needed to be someone recognizable in each role—was distracting at best, and annoying at worst. At times, the science is fascinating, and the imagery wonderful, but it was too Hollywood-by-the-books. A neatly wrapped up film where the end is never in doubt.

BRIDGE OF SPIES – 3/4

Steven Spielberg is no stranger to war-time film-making with movies such as Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Munich, and Lincoln under his belt. While Bridge Of Spies may not be a major Spielberg work, and at times feels like it’s a film more settled than ambitious, it’s well done. With a tight, at times humorous script by the Coen Brothers (of course!), and one of America’s most beloved actors (Tom Hanks) leading the way, it’s a drama about morals. About doing what’s right instead of doing what’s asked or expected. Mark Rylance as Abel, the Russian spy, is scene-stealing.

STEVE JOBS – 2.5/4

It’s another slam-you-over-the-head with quick, witty dialogue Sorkin-fest. Think The Social Network, but not as good (and I didn’t love that, either). There isn’t a lot of revelatory information here. Jobs was a difficult person to work with and be around, but this is known, and there are better sources for that information. The film, and script are more concerned with showing you how bad a guy this was, rather than the visionary who inspired it. This gets the extra half a star for Michael Fassbender’s immersive title performance as Jobs. He’s so good, you forget they look nothing alike.

A bonus pick for those of you who enjoy documentaries:

JUNUN – 3/4

For my money, Paul Thomas Anderson is the greatest working filmmaker today, and of the last 18 or so years. Writing and directing the fabulous Boogie Nights at 26 years old, and creating what I consider to be the only masterpiece of the past decade (There Will Be Blood), PTA is known for his flair behind the camera, his close-ups, and getting the best damn performances of actors a director could dream of. He sets most of that aside here to film his friend, and regular collaborator Jonny Greenwood (lead guitarist of Radiohead) creating an album in India with a group of Indian musicians. There is almost no dialogue, and very few interview moments we’ve become accustomed to seeing in documentaries, but the connection of these musicians, and the feeling conveyed by each shot left an impression on me. It might not be for the average viewer, and maybe you need to be a fan of PTA to get it, but for the wonderful music alone, and that it’s less than an hour, it’s certainly worth the look.

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Robert is a current student here at CUNY SPS, pursuing a degree in Communication and Media. He is interested in platforms of media, especially those related to digital media; and a fan of serious film as well as this current golden age of television.