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

We all know too well how important education is. Education enlightens us, provides us with knowledge, and helps us to realize the careers that we dream of. However, education to me is more than that. To me, education is a privilege. There are millions of people, especially children, around the world who do not have the opportunity to go to school. I am a Tibetan refugee, born and raised in India, but I was fortunate enough to go to one of the best and largest Tibetan schools in India. Not every Tibetan refugee children had been as fortunate as me. Therefore, I do not take education for granted. I take the opportunity as a responsibility too. I am always grateful for any opportunity that allows me to be back in school. I make sure that I work hard and get good grades, not just for my GPA, but also to fulfill the responsibility that comes with the privilege of being in school and receiving education.

When I first came to the U.S. I wanted to go to back to school and get a degree in Nursing. I wanted to become a nurse because I believed that it is one of the very few professions that can provide not only joy and satisfaction, but also purpose and meaning to your life. Nursing, to me, is not just a job, it is also a medium through which I can fulfill my spiritual values and beliefs.

I found out that CUNY provides nursing programs in its community colleges, and I could avail financial aid to help with my tuition. I enrolled in LaGuardia Community College nursing program, and completed my Associate’s degree in Nursing in 2014, finishing with the highest GPA in my batch. After graduating from LaGuardia Community College, I got accepted into Hunter and CUNY School of Professional Studies BSN program. However, I chose SPS over Hunter college, without any hesitation, since SPS is an online school, allows for flexibility with time management, and SPS’s Nursing directors had earlier come to LaGuardia to talk about the BSN program. I thought SPS was the right school for me.

Once I started my BSN classes at SPS, I realized that I had made the right decision. The staff in the registrar’s office, the financial aid staff, my advisor, and most important of all, the nursing department professors and director were incredibly supportive and helpful. I’ve been to different colleges in India, and here in the U.S, but, the administration and staff, and professors here in SPS are way more supportive and helpful than any other college I’ve been to. The quality of education provided here is excellent.

To make my BSN program even better, I was accepted as an ACE Scholarship one year into my BSN program. The ACE Scholarship helped pay my entire tuition fee for the remaining semesters of my BSN program. Since I’ve started working, I knew that I wouldn’t be eligible for financial aid, and would have to pay the tuition fees out of my own pocket. However, the ACE Scholarship came along, and helped alleviate my financial concerns. The only thing that ACE Scholarship program asked in return was to mentor two new students (nursing) who had just joined SPS. I was a school teacher when I lived in India, and I mentored nursing students when I was in LaGuardia Community College. Furthermore, I have always been forthcoming, and volunteered to help others. Mentoring comes as second nature to me. So, it was not an uphill or a new task for me to be a mentor to new students. Mentoring also provided me with the opportunity to meet and interact with new students.

I will be graduating from CUNY SPS with BSN degree this month. I feel blessed, and very fortunate to get the opportunity to continue my education, to be a student of SPS, and to receive the ACE Scholarship when I needed help the most. I’ve had the most rewarding and fulfilling two years of my life being a student at CUNY School of Professional Studies. I am forever grateful to SPS including my professors, the staff at SPS, and Mr. Alan Fishman, who established and provided funds for the ACE Scholarship.

Tenzion Lekshay 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 Nursing degree program tonight.

The SPS Scholarship Committee has identified six scholarship recipients for the 2013-14 academic year. After careful deliberation, the Committee selected these students from an impressive pool of approximately 70 submissions—the most SPS has received to date.

Vearlane Edge and Velma Felix have been selected as 2013-14 Bob Martin Scholars. Vearlane is a student in the Online B.A. in Communication and Media program, and she anticipates graduating in 2014. For the past 20 years, she has organized and hosted Girl Scout troops of all ages, and has been especially active in an event providing children in need with backpacks and school supplies. With her help, this event has grown from 150 to over 300 participants in just three years. Velma, a student in our Online B.S. in Business program, is on track to graduate in December 2013. Velma returned to SPS after discontinuing her college education because of financial hardship. The Bob Martin Scholarship will allow Velma to finish her degree with SPS.

Tiffany Garcia is our inaugural Timothy Meade Scholar. A student in our Online B.A. in Disability Studies program with a Spring 2014 anticipated graduation date, Tiffany was led to the degree through her work as a special education teacher’s assistant in New Jersey. Tiffany has always worked hard for her education. Following an associate’s degree at LaGuardia Community College, she chose to finish her undergraduate education at SPS. She is on her way to becoming the first person in her family to graduate from college, which has inspired her older sister to return to higher education as well.

Nooria Nodrat and Merrilee Robinson have been awarded Founding Dean’s Scholarships for the 2013-2014 academic year. Nooria is an in-person student in the M.A. in Disability Studies program, and anticipates graduating in May 2014. Nooria, who is blind, decided to come to SPS to pursue Disability Studies in order to give back to her community. Merrilee is currently pursuing a B.S. in Health Information Management with an anticipated graduation date in Spring 2014. Born in a “third-world country,” Merrilee has overcome hardship and prioritizes her education. Her goal is to enter the workforce, earn certification in RHIA and RHIT, and find employment as a compliance officer

Elmo Paige will be receiving the 2013-14 Stephen M. Rossen Memorial Scholarship. Elmo, a single father of four teenagers, is guiding them through their educational journeys as he embarks on his own. With the full encouragement of his employer, this scholarship will allow him to reduce his work hours and focus more closely on his studies: he anticipates graduating from SPS in 2015 or 2016 with the M.S. in Data Analytics.