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

I first began pursuing my Bachelor’s Degree many years ago, back in Kenya, where I am originally from. Due to personal circumstances, I have had to start, stop, continue and discontinue several times. The thing that kept me going was that it was my late mother’s deepest wish that I continue with my education and obtain an advanced degree. It has been an arduous trip getting here.

Sometimes financial conditions have limited my participation and at other times the pressure of working full-time reduced the time needed to attend school. I constantly hoped and prayed for something to give so that I could complete my degree. Either I could obtain a full scholarship or I could work at a job that would allow for class attendance at very odd hours. The online classes given at the CUNY School of Professional Studies were an answer to half my prayers. It was a financial struggle attending the classes but through thick and thin I worked at it, sometimes taking one course, other times two.

Finally, I was awarded the ACE Scholarship just in time. I have been told that the last few semesters are usually the most difficult and are referred to as the breaking point. That is across the board for the Bachelor, Graduate and even the Post-Graduate degrees. Having struggled to get to the finish line, it was the ACE Scholarship that pushed me through. Not only was it financially essential, it gave me added momentum to get to the finish line and not to lose hope.

Even more pleasantly, it motivated me to obtain better grades than ever. The motivation to work at having really good grades was a surprising upshot of being an ACE Scholar. To keep the scholarship, my GPA had to be above 3.0. I work full-time at a job that, though rewarding, can be really stressful. Having the scholarship ensured that I worked harder not just to complete the assignments on time, but also to submit the kind of quality work expected from an ACE Scholar.

Another requirement of being an ACE Scholar is to be a mentor to new students. In my first semester as an ACE Scholar, I mentored a new student with whom I shared a class. He is one of those students who submit their work way ahead of time. Additionally, his work is always thoughtful and well-written. Many times I wished that he was my mentor instead. On the other hand, having him in my class was very beneficial to me as it motivated me even more to always submit my assignments in a timely manner (though rarely way ahead of time). Mentoring my mentee was a joyful experience and I can only hope that my future mentees will have the same disposition that he does.

Through the mentorship program, I have learned a lot, not only in how to be a mentor, but also how to be a good student.

Esther Kimani 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 on May 31, 2017.

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One day I decided to go down a blackout water slide backwards on a tube, thinking it was going to be awesome. The staff gave me a little push and off I went—I’m having a blast! It’s dark and I can’t see anything and my adrenaline is running high. Then out of nowhere a sharp turn comes that lifts me off the tube and smacks the side of my head. Now I’m sliding down tubeless, still backward, not having blast… thinking this was a bad idea. And that’s exactly how life is, filled with unexpected turns called obstacles.

Obstacles, you can’t avoid them. They are just creeping by, waiting for the moment you least expect it. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any better, out of nowhere life says hold up, not so fast and smacks you across the face. Sometimes we create our own obstacles, and other times things just happen out of our control. For instance, you bombed that interview that you spent days practicing for, the train decided to get rerouted today out of all days, you wrote ABC instead of NBC on your cover letter, you called somebody important by the wrong name, you are looking to gain experience in your field but everywhere you go they require experience, someone doesn’t like you simply because you are attractive, and the list goes on. From the most bizarre obstacles to our everyday headaches.

How do we deal with obstacles? We learn from them, we move on, and we don’t let obstacles define us. We plan ahead of time, we double-check things, we ask for help, and most importantly we try again. When we give up is when we truly fail in life, minor set backs are just lessons.

“Fall seven times, stand up eight”—Japanese Proverb

Yerelyn is a native New Yorker, with Dominican roots in her blood. She loves to read, write, and is pursuing acting. She loves lending a helping hand or words of encouragement to those in need of it. She is majoring in Communication and Media here at CUNY SPS.

 

Hello, spring is near…oh no wait, spring is here!

It’s the time where the sun shines a little longer, a time for regrowth and rejuvenation. Where the temperature starts to rise a little higher and things start to bloom around you. It reminds us that in life we must have balance. Ah yes balance…how easily we forget.

Balance in our lives is crucial, it can’t all just be work, work, work, work, work, like Rihanna’s hit song. We need to remember to make time for our loved ones, our social life, and our personal time. With balance, you’ll be much more productive. You won’t feel burnt out, you’ll have a refreshed mind with new ideas lingering by. I know sometimes it feels impossible to enjoy life with the many commitments one may have, but remember where there’s a will there’s a way. There’s simply no excuses, so start today in developing a healthier daily routine.

“Some days you eat salads and go to the gym, some days you eat cupcakes and refuse to put on pants, it’s called balance”—Unknown  

Yerelyn is a native New Yorker, with Dominican roots in her blood. She loves to read, write, and is pursuing acting. She loves lending a helping hand or words of encouragement to those in need of it. She is majoring in Communication and Media here at CUNY SPS.

Podcast. Something to give you a break from listening to the constant noise as you walk down the street, take the subway and hear the words “Showtime!” or you just want a break from Spotify being annoying with its algorithm, and playing the same songs on your music list even though it’s on shuffle. Well here are some of my favorite podcasts to make you not only laugh, but maybe add something positive to your routine.

The first one that I love is Another Round with hosts Heben & Tracy. I love these two and if you’re familiar with BuzzFeed, then you’ve probably heard of them. Their weekly podcast airs every Wednesday. They are great. Their show is lively and makes me laugh every time I listen. They have guests, and their banter is both witty and charming. They talk about real issues, as well as entertainment ones. They make you feel like they are your friends too.

Next on my list is an ultimate fav, and that’s The Read.

We all know we have those friends that are loud and funny as hell. Well meet Kid Fury & Crissle. This is my top number 1 podcast, and the first one that I ever listened too. It’s a weekly podcast, as well, that airs every Thursday and is the perfect end to my work week with Kid Fury’s rants about pop culture, his and Crissle’s love for Beyoncé and Blue Ivy, and did I mention that he is a total nerd, too? He loves comics, video games, and Steven Universe. It gets no better than that. Crissle will entertain you being annoyed with people who piss her off, to her always having a rant of some kind that you can relate to, and have I mentioned how I love her laugh?

Their opening is classic, and I always laugh so hard when I tune in to the point that I get starred at on the train or bus for laughing too loud. I will not apologize for that. Their listener letters segment brings me to tears with their advice to fellow listeners who write in with their problems. They’re not afraid to give real advice on situation’s, of course ultimately leaving the final decision up to the person.

The third one is The Friendzone.

This podcast features you guessed it, the three friends Fran, Asante, and Dustin. They talk about wellness and everything from health to life issues. They don’t sugar coat anything and they even give little bits on how they feel about their own lives, where they are, and where they want to be.

Fran will give you wonderful insight on a great natural product that she uses, and you’ll want to go and try it yourself. From fragrance oil, to natural deodorant, but its not just about that, Fran is all about wellness, and helping people want better. Asante, is all about music, and will get you hooked on artist that you didn’t even know existed. Dustin will always have you laughing with how he describes people or his latest reality show interest. Together they make up this great show that’s between 1-2hrs of goodness. Tune in every Wednesday

My final favorite is Lady Partz.

Yes the title is what this show is about, but that’s not all they discuss. They talk about news, and pop culture as well, but that’s not what the show is centered around. Join Erica, and Eden who have been friends since high school on their podcast that talks about all the squeamish things about yourself that you are afraid to. Trust me these ladies don’t have any filter, and that’s the best part. They will make you laugh from start to finish, and their friendship is oh too real. They upload on Saturdays.

Portia Lightfoot is a Communication and Media major at CUNY School of Professional Studies. She’s a true gamer at heart. Obsessed with curly hair care, podcast, reading (You can always catch her in a nearby bookstore), and working on her fictional blog when she has a spare moment.

A Big Scary Button

This orange tab on the CUNY SPS scholarship page had me losing sleep for weeks.  It loomed over me like a dour headmistress, daring me to take my chances.   But after a few yoga classes, and some deep breathing, I calmed myself down enough to realize that the application wasn’t the all-or-nothing gamble I’d internally created.  After all, there are loads of scholarships.  Research showed me that a diligent search could unearth a scholarship for almost anyone.

There’s even a scholarship for Dr. Pepper lovers.

(Graphics from: http://carrington.edu/blog/student-tips/finance/scholarships/)

Crafting my Life

All “non-conventional students” have a story.  Since I have lived a full life, the personal essay for my application could easily become longwinded.  The challenge was to convey personality, recount my past, and create an impression in a pithy 500 words.

Writing my mini-memoir reminded me of that famous Oscar Wilde quote, “I’m sorry this letter is so long, but I didn’t have time for a short one.”  Wait- was it Ben Franklin?  Maybe Mark Twain?  Turns out, this quote has quite an illustrious history.  Apparently, I’m not the only person who thinks writing short is hard!  Here’s the link to read its journey, if you’re so inclined. (Spoiler alert: it was Blaise Pascal, but Ben Franklin recycled it.) http://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/04/28/shorter-letter/

Making the Impersonal Personal

The scholarship application needed two reference letters.  My first choice seemed obvious.  I’d enlist my cousin, who has watched over me like a big brother.  Not only does he have excellent academic cred (PhD in literacy), he’s also my book coach.  But I was later told that it’s more relevant having my CUNY SPS professors commend me.  Suddenly asking for endorsements felt awkward.

Because distance-learner.

This is my avatar.

She lives in the ether of my Blackboard profile.  On most screens, she’s smaller than a postage stamp.  Except for the weekly discussion board, she has no voice.  My professors never heard her laugh.  They never saw the delight in her face when they helped her learn new skills, or embrace new concepts. Yet, for my CUNY SPS mentors, she is me.

Thankfully, Professors Driver and Gardener both readily agreed to write the endorsement.  I am forever grateful and there needs to be special corners in heaven dedicated to them.

Lessons Learned

All non-conventional students have a story to tell: here’s mine.  When I initially applied to CUNY SPS, my application was rejected.  In earlier student life, I unofficially withdrew from several classes when transferring schools.  This left some glaring zeroes on my transcript, bringing my GPA below the requisite 2.5 by .03%.  Not easily daunted, I challenged the decision.  After spreadsheets, recommendation letters, and a new personal essay, I was admitted—on academic probation.

I have worked hard.  My GPA is up.

While writing my essay for the scholarship, it occurred to me that in one year my son and I will both be 1st generation college students at the same time.

Study Group 2018

Never too late. Never give up.


500 words: Boom!

Designer, single mom, and ongoing student, Lisa Sheridan is busy juggling life, work, and academics as an undergraduate in the Communication and Media department.

 

 

Life as a student is short, so why not get ahead in the short time your here? What have you been doing to be more prepared after life as a student is over with? If you answered nothing to that question, then you seriously need to get on your A game.

This is the time to learn and grow: as an individual and professionally. CUNY SPS hosts a lot of webinars that help us improve on those soft skills vital for being successful in life.

Join a club: research a club that will help jump start your career. If your majoring in media/communications/journalism a good club to join is the National Association of Hispanic Journalist. They offer fellowships and internships. They also send out great networking events and career workshops. I recently just went to one of their networking events, where I got to mingle with people that work for the New York Times, CNN, ESPN, and BuzzFeed, just to name a few.

Internships: don’t wait until the last semester to intern! Start right away if you can. Internships are a great way to gain exposure in different areas of your major firsthand. The more exposure you get to different professional environments, the more confident you will be when you graduate about what area in your field you want to go in.

Develop your mind: all of these things are great ways to get ahead but they’ll just be a waste of time if you’re not mentally prepared. If you’re the type of person who’s always second guessing themselves or don’t think they are good enough or smart enough, stop, you are enough. You don’t need to be the smartest, or the fastest, you simply need to be the best you can be. If you need a little extra push listen to motivational speeches, read books, and/or have little pep talks with yourself.

“You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great.”—Les Brown

Yerelyn Nunez is a native New Yorker with Dominican roots in her blood. She loves to read, write, and is pursuing acting. She loves lending a helping hand or words of encouragement to those in need of it. She is majoring in Communication & Media at CUNY SPS.

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!!!