You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘CUNY School of Professional Studies’ tag.

I am sitting here procrastinating, my life has been “busy” [understatement] lately. I am trying to juggle work, my daughter applying to college, another daughter applying to high school in New York City, school, and life in general–you know food, sleep, cleaning, exercise, etc… I keep thinking this too shall pass, knowing that I will graduate with my BSN in May next year! Can’t wait!

AND, as I am thinking this I sign up for an information session about a master in nursing, online, here at CUNY SPS… Have I gone mad? More school? Well, I want a master’s degree, might as well do it directly, and it never hurts to check it out… I guess my instinct/drive is to continue to grow, learn more and develop myself continuously, but please life, “give me a break!” Maybe I should just realize that I will never be done, I will always be on my way to the next goal–maybe that is life. I look forward to just reading a regular book, or lazily watching TV without feeling bad and knowing I should be doing something else. This is what I am thinking about now when I should be writing my paper :).

Other than that, it is getting cold out. I kind of like it and I kind of dread winter.

I am going to Sweden next week, to see my parents and my sister, I look forward to that a lot. While I am there I am also going to take the Swedish “board exam” for nursing, in order to get a Swedish nursing license as well. I am thinking to do it now, when I  have nursing school somewhat fresh in mind, and why not do it? We will never know where life will take us, maybe one day I will need to be able to work in Sweden, or I will want to. My secret plan is to gain as much experience as possible, as quickly as possible, while my kids are still in school. The minute they are all gone I aim to go do non-for-profit work in remote countries where healthcare can’t be taken for granted, and I will be able to make a bigger difference in someone’s life–someone who is in desperate need and who does not have access around the corner.

Until the next post…


Charlotte Wahlquist is from Sweden. She is a graduate of BMCC and is now a Registered Nurse as of January of this year. In addition to working as a full-time nurse she is enrolled in the online RN to BSN program at CUNY SPS and is a recipient of the ACE Scholarship. Shortly after Charlotte moved to New York, seven years ago, she took a giant leap of faith and went back to school. With her five children, and an impenetrable drive to make her dreams come true—she hit the send button on her CUNY application. The time since that life-altering push of the button has been spent with many early and late hours being a single working mom, a student, and a person wishing for more hours in the day. There have been many challenges that have threatened to pull her off track; however, having her son asking to sit down next to her one night, and work on his homework next to her while she studied made her realize that she had embarked on something much larger than herself.

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

I am the proverbial square peg, trying to fit into the round hole of the legal profession. That was my grand realization after nearly seven years of practicing law. Everyone has heard about lawyer jokes, the “blood thirsty shark” persona, the “they-must-be-lying-because-their-lips-are-moving” lawyers, and miserable court personnel who put your papers to the bottom of the pile never to be seen again. Well, to quote Han Solo in the new Star Wars, “It’s true. All of it.”

So the next question of course was—now what? It was not a matter of just changing firms or fields of law; it was much deeper than that. Knowing that this was not a profession I could see myself suffering through I sought out a means of escape. There was no question that I would need to go back to school to change careers but I also needed the ability to do so without tipping off my firm that their “future plans” would eventually not include me. Enter the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the degree program that has been nothing short of life-changing.

Apparently I am not the typical CUNY SPS student, as most come to CUNY SPS to finish long-awaiting degrees after a “life break” in their education. My attraction was a completely online psychology degree that wouldn’t break the bank. Admittedly I was skeptical at first. Can I handle online courses? Would the experience be comparable to a brick and mortar school like my original bachelor’s degree? The online format quickly became second nature. The experience, well now that is something else. I am a firm believer that the quality of your education is two-fold: 50% what you put into it and 50% what the institution brings to the table. My part was accounted for as I was more than willing to put in the hard work for a new degree, a/k/a my “escape plan.”

However, CUNY SPS has not just met its 50%, but has by far exceeded every expectation I could have had. The courses are well planned and executed in the online format, the professors accessible and genuinely helpful, and the staff on every level, all the way up to the Dean himself, has been nothing short of amazing. I can vividly remember the time I first saw the deans of my first undergrad and law school, because it was only at graduation that the wizards stepped out from behind the curtain and proved that they really existed. CUNY SPS has been the complete opposite, with a support system I have not encountered anywhere else.

I am truly grateful for the opportunity to make this life-changing quantum leap, confident in the belief that CUNY SPS will not let me fall. Now I stand on the verge of graduating from an institution I am proud to be associated with. It has been said that sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. I know that choosing SPS as my “smallest step” was undoubtedly the right decision.

Christine Hansen 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 Psychology program at the end of this semester.

It’s a Thursday morning, 11:30 am and I’m halfway through my weekly check-in meeting with my boss, the Managing Director of my company. I have been tasked with building a corporate curriculum from scratch, and we’re discussing the impasse I’ve reached in attempting to generate course content for departments in the company that I am not very familiar with. We’ve agreed (we usually do!) that it would be best to delegate this task to the various Directors who are best suited to address their own teams’ training needs.

“Great, can you present to the group at our Directors meeting today at 2:00 pm?”, he asks.

“No problem!”

Was I bluffing? How could I be ready to present to some of the most important players in my organization with no advance notice and nothing prepared? The answer is simple: I improvise!

I arrived to my current role, Training Specialist for an eDiscovery services company, completely by accident after traversing a long and winding career path. I moved to New York City 13 years ago to attend law school and, ultimately to build a career in the entertainment industry. Upon graduation, I paid the bills by working in a small Brooklyn law office drafting wills and trusts, all the while pushing my resume out by the truck load to every entertainment firm and company in town. Eventually, I made my way into a yearlong contract position at Viacom which I assumed was my foot in the entertainment door, so to speak. It didn’t quite work out that way though. Once my year was up, I bounced around from temp gig to temp gig, holding onto the hope that I would succeed in finding a job that 1.) I was substantively passionate about and 2.) Would cover the cost of living in New York City with law school debt.

As I approached my 30th birthday single, uninsured, and unemployed, my priorities shifted. I wanted a job. I wanted paid time off, an OBGYN that wasn’t Planned Parenthood, and a desk to set my coffee cup on. I “sold out.” Cue the sad music. Suddenly, I was looking for gainful employment in any field, and the one that I landed in was eDiscovery. One of my responsibilities was to train our attorney clients on how to use software to prepare electronic evidence for investigations and litigations. This evolved into a role as training specialist, designing and implementing a company-wide corporate education program, in addition to client training. It’s a far cry from my aspirations of a career in entertainment but I am really good at it, and there is a delightful satisfaction in being really really good at something. So it works.

To keep true to myself through the years, since I veered off the entertainment path, I’ve indulged in hobbies that make me feel in touch with my creative side. I paint, I attend live concerts and theater events as much as possible, and I perform improv comedy. My first exposure to improv was an “Acting for non-majors” class as an undergrad at Michigan State that left me laughing to the point of side pains on a weekly basis. When I moved to New York, I took improv classes with the Second City Training Center as a way to make friends. I later moved on to take classes with the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater (UCB), completing their core improv curriculum and taking additional classes in acting for sketch comedy as well as advanced study long-form improv. I’ve been on a handful of improv teams, and currently I’m on a 3-person team that performs monthly in a bar basement near Penn Station.

Standing on a makeshift stage in the back of a bar pretending to be a sheep, a ghost, or a lumberjack taking a bubble bath seems, on its face, to be very different from what I do at work every day. Really though, it’s not. I would argue that my improv experience has informed and primed me for a role as a corporate educator. You’ve probably heard the phrase “fake it till you make it” at least once in your life. That’s the general concept in any corporate environment as far as I’m concerned. That’s where improv comes in handy. One of the mottos of the UCB is “Don’t think.” That motto has gotten me through more than a few work situations. Those who over analyze a situation, who hesitate, who doubt themselves before going into a big meeting or interview are less successful, plain and simple.

Once you’ve stood on a stage facing an audience of 5, 10, 50 people staring directly at you, expecting you to not only speak but to make them laugh, you can face any boardroom or corporate training room. That feeling of panic you get your first couple times on stage dulls, subsides, and eventually for some, turns to an empowering adrenaline rush. Your confidence grows, and you realize you can literally handle any situation you’re thrown into. In improv you’re not trained as a fire fighter before you are thrown into an imaginary fire and expected to squelch it with expert gusto. You put enough panache behind any action, and it becomes believable, entertaining, engaging. That’s not to say that you don’t need to know your craft. There are rules to improv that you study before you perform, just like there are rules of business you need to know before you’re qualified to serve a specific role. The rest is in the delivery.

It wasn’t long before I realized this quality I had been honing in secret on Thursday nights was reflecting in my work by day. I was commanding attention, and I was holding my head a bit higher. I wasn’t thinking too much. I had no fears. Sure, I occasionally second guess myself but I rarely let that tiny flicker of insecurity surface. In practice, it also allows me to tackle any task I’ve been handed because I know I’m capable of anything. It’s Tuesday and we need to create a brand new training course by Friday? I’ve got this. And even if I haven’t, I’ll improvise!

Talia Page is in charge of corporate education for an eDiscovery services company. Talia received a B.A. in Political Science from Michigan State University and a J.D. from New York Law School.  She is currently pursuing a graduate certificate in Adult Education with the CUNY School of Professional Studies. 
An huge fan of music and comedy, Talia is also a graduate of the Upright Citizens Brigade training center and performs regularly with her 3-person improv team around NYC.  Fun fact: she’s seen Pearl Jam perform live approximately 40 times in 8 states.

Jeff’s Top 5

Crafting music for artists has changed tremendously within the last 40 years. From the days of Gamble and Huff laying down rhythms and melodies for the Ojay’s, to generating new music for the Black Eye Peas, technology has taken on a whole new meaning as we continue to create music. Nowadays one man has the ability to lay down numerous tracks, without an engineer, or additional musicians through music programs like Pro Tools and Reason.

As a musician, I decided to name the top five beat makers that influenced me to continue to make music. As technology continues to be a driving force in the creation of music, these guys have found a way to stay innovative. Also featured are a great list of honorable mentions, I feel that they are equally gifted and remain rooted in the art of creating music. In hindsight I left out Pete Rock, The Neptunes, Da Beatminerz, and D.I.T.C who also were very influential in the music industry and set a high standard when it came to making beats. Check out the video and let me know what you think, these are obviously my opinions and solely mint to inspire and encourage the next generation of music makers.

Jeff’s Top 5 Beat Makers:

  1. Dr. Dre
  2. DJ Premier
  3. Timbaland
  4. Erick Sermon
  5. RZA

***** This Blog is dedicated to the families and friends that lost a loved one on October 1, 2015 at Umpqua Community College.

Jeffrey C. Suttles is a Master of Arts candidate in Urban Studies at the Murphy Institute. He is an independent songwriter/musician who completed his undergraduate studies at The City College of New York.  He is currently a CUNY CAP student who continues to pursue career opportunities in publishing, communications, and the arts.

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.”

The Leftovers, HBO’s drama based on the novel of the same name written by Tom Perrotta, returned this Sunday for its second season. Season 1 focused primarily on the people of Mapleton, a fictional town about an hour drive north of Manhattan, and their dealing with the mysterious disappearance of 2% of the world’s population. In season 2 the story shifts to Jarden, Texas, appropriately nicknamed Miracle National Park, as not one person was taken from them in the Sudden Departure.

There is a bleak nature to The Leftovers, unlike anything else on TV at the moment (perhaps the only thing close in the “dark” department is, oddly enough, Review, which is great, but a comedy) that sucked me in entirely midway through last year’s first season. It’s grim. It’s depressing. Add that to a level of despair that will undoubtedly turn people off. It’s a divisive show, with a view of the world most people wouldn’t dare tackle nor one they want to be a part of.

Damon Lindelof, co-creator/writer, is no stranger to polarizing television. When LOST ended it’s 6 season run in 2010, many were unhappy, feeling they were left with more questions than answers. I was not one of those people, but I can’t argue with those who thought the show should’ve gone in a different direction. I didn’t agree with all the decisions made regarding the final couple of seasons, but I believe no less in Lindelof, who helped create something wholly original and unique, unlike anything else on TV then and with its failed copycats in the years since.

Alan Sepinwall, excellent TV critic for, posted a wonderfully candid interview with Lindelof that gives great insight into the process of creating such a show, and the pitfalls of controlling something the magnitude of LOST.

The Leftovers is a show about grief, but it’s also a show about hope. A hope that these people can move on with their lives. Maybe not to rebuild the lives they once had, but to expand on lives they never thought possible. The departed are not coming back. We, the viewer, have been told by the creators that we won’t ever find out what happened to them. That focuses us entirely on what’s happening on-screen, right in front of us. There’s a supernatural aspect of the show that’s exciting in a non-alien way. No matter what your religious allegiances, it’s a show that tests your faith.

Mapleton has burned, figuratively, and to a point, literally. The Garveys, along with Nora (Carrie Coon’s performance as Nora Durst is transcendent and one of the great new TV finds in recent memory) are leaving that behind to start anew. I can’t wait to join them.

Here’s a beautiful piece of music from season 1’s Soundtrack. Part of a deep, emotional, and often contemplative score:

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.

There have been so many times when I’ve felt like life was impossible. Whether it was work, home or tough circumstances, facing a wall of doubt and fear isn’t easy. Maybe you’ve also felt this way at some point, but I’m here to share that I’ve learned “impossible” all depends on how you look at it.

In May of 1999 I was finishing up the spring semester at a private university and was 47 credits away from my BA in Health Care Administration—I was on my way to accomplishing a dream—getting my bachelor’s degree! Everything came to a sudden halt that June with the unexpected death of my father. It was a really difficult time for my family and I, and I knew school had to be put on the back burner while I helped my mother and family get through this…and I myself needed to figure out this new life without my dad. Years went by and things moved forward as best they could, but I left the dream of finishing my degree on the funeral home steps that year.

I thought about going back to school for years, but the older I got the smaller that thought became; it just seemed impossible. One day a friend challenged me to find a school, fill out an application and apply. I usually can’t resist a good challenge so I thought to myself, “fine, I’ll just apply.” I hadn’t been in school for FIFTEEN years so going back was impossible in my mind!

Guess what? I was accepted into CUNY School for Professional Studies and fifteen (15) years later, I find myself working towards my BA in Psychology! Psychology of all majors!! Impossible! Truthfully, I was scared to death of what it would be like to juggle a full time job, a hectic home life and school. Perhaps psychology was a perfect choice since I wondered what I was thinking!!

The thought of going back to school seemed impossible, learning how to study again seemed impossible, the hard work seemed impossible, but then I realized it’s just about how I was looking at that word. Impossible. The word impossible itself has motivation built in it—impossible for me became I’M possible!! When I felt overwhelmed and questioned my decision to return, I say to myself DIANNE, I’M POSSIBLE and I’m reminded I can do this and I’m doing it!!!! I’ve now completed 4 semesters and I couldn’t be happier! It’s hard work, but it’s also given me back the ability to dream about the day I get my degree. Impossible is a word of the past!

So, if you’ve let go of a dream like I had, or are just facing a really tough time in your life right now and the circumstances seem impossible, I encourage you to take a breath, say a prayer and remember nothing is impossible—if I’M POSSIBLE then so are you!!!

Till next time……


Dianne Galasso is a Brooklyn native since birth! In 1991, she received her AAS in Journalism from Kingsborough Community College. She studied at St. John’s University from 1993-1999. Dianne has had photographic and written work published, as well as has edited for other published authors. Since 1991, Dianne has worked at a medical center in Brooklyn in various job functions, currently as a Manager in the Nursing Education Department. She has coached girls’ softball, volunteered in the women’s and children’s ministry in her local church and is an active resource in the lives of children.  After a 15 year hiatus from school, Dianne is currently a student at CUNY SPS where she is pursuing her BA in Psychology.

Peter Magri is a student in our new online Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing program. He explains why he enrolled here at CUNY SPS and what he expects to gain from his degree.

Peter Magri

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

CUNY SPS offered the sense of continuity for me within the CUNY system since I had recently graduated from the Nursing Program at Queensborough Community College. I had come to trust the faculty at QCC and thought that it would be a good fit. I also was happy to hear that SPS used BlackBoard, which was also used at QCC, so the online demographic would be easy to fit into.

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

I would really like to land a job as a nurse. I have been on so many interviews and have applied to countless jobs and have yet to be hired in a hospital. I would like to get into critical care or the fast pace of a busy ER to really prove my skill sets to myself and those from nursing school.

3. How have you grown intellectually as a result of your studies at CUNY SPS?

I have definitely broadened my assessment techniques and understand the body and how it works because of the Pathophysiology class I took. I also have learned so much about culture and teaching and how important it is to incorporate a patient’s culture in the plan of care.

4. What advice would you offer to someone considering applying for admission to the program?

APPLY! I am so glad I did. The faculty are warm and are always there to assist you through anything that may concern you. You may feel that since it is an online program that you would get lost in the shuffle, but there is nothing further from the truth. They’re there with you every step of the way.

We also asked Peter a few fun questions about his life and his studies.

1. Place of residence: Franklin Square, New York.

2. Favorite CUNY SPS course: NURS301-Assessment.

3. Weirdest place you have studied: Oh God…really??? OK—the toilet.

4. Your favorite music to play while studying: I actually don’t like to listen to music while I study; I like to have CNN on in the background.

5. Best thing about your community or NYC: It’s close to Manhattan and my parents live just down the block from me! Always get great home-cooked meals!

Thank you, Peter, for bringing such a positive attitude about online learning and a passion for the field of nursing to your work here at CUNY SPS!

As a student currently pursuing my Master’s Degree, I get a lot of the same questions over and over again, from friends, from family, and from people I’ve just met.  “Are you in school?”, “Where are you going to school?” and finally, “What are you studying?” My response usually provokes something along the lines of “What’s that?  Is that, like, working with disabled people?”

With adults, I usually tell them that it’s examining disability from a sociological viewpoint and leave it at that.  With kids and teens, I explain that it’s looking at how disabled people are treated in society.  I’m pretty sure most people have never even thought about disabled people or how we’re treated.  There’s a lot of conversation around sexism and racism in today’s age, even heterosexism (more often called homophobia), but not so much around ableism.

I’ve known since I was in high school, ever since I discovered that disability studies was a field of study, that I wanted to do disability studies for the rest of my life.  Unfortunately, since the Bachelor’s program in Disability Studies at CUNY didn’t exist yet, I was forced to major in what I thought was the closest thing to it – special education.  However, I didn’t realize that special education unfortunately had no place for someone who was actually disabled.  After a lot of discrimination, I left college with no teaching certification, disappointed and disillusioned, and more ready for disability studies than ever.

As I discovered during my time in college, most of the dialogue about disability is dominated by parents, teachers, caregivers, and other people in auxiliary positions.  Disability studies changes all that.  Disability studies as a whole confronts the prejudice of those fields (like special education) head on.  In disability studies, disability is not a problem, a diagnosis, or a “special need.”  It is a complex social phenomenon, intersecting with the odd individualism of our bodies.  That’s why disability studies is so important.  It gives disabled people our own voices and own agency – something that is sorely lacking in other discussions of disability.

Moreover, on a personal level, I have a passion for school now that I didn’t before.  Even when I’m tired, or sick, or just don’t feel like dragging myself to class, once I sit down in that classroom and listen to my professor and classmates, I feel exhilarated.  You would think a 2 ½ hour class would pass achingly slowly, but it usually zooms by, because I’m interested in the material.  I feel welcomed at CUNY SPS.  I’m a part of a community, something I never really felt during my undergraduate studies.  Most of all, I love listening to my classmates’ stories – because in this field, everyone has a story to tell.

Everyone has a story, and I bet you do too.  With one in five Americans identifying as having a disability, we are all closer to disability than we think.  I shared mine, now it’s your turn.  What’s your story?  Share with me in the comments!

Cara Liebowitz is a disabled activist and blogger currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Disability Studies at CUNY SPS. She serves on the board of DREAM (Disability Rights, Education, Activism and Mentoring), an organization aimed at expanding opportunities for higher education students with disabilities. Cara was also one of the founding members of the I Am Norm Campaign, a national campaign promoting inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of society. You can read her blog at