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What do you call a busy adult with masochistic tendencies? A student at CUNY SPS! Now that I have your attention… Hello! My name is Milan Fredricks and I am one of the newest masochists at the CUNY School of Professional Studies. If you don’t mind, I’d like to tell you a bit about me…

Nine years ago, I was pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree at CUNY Lehman College, having successfully completed three semesters. It was difficult because I was juggling work and family issues, but finishing my degree had always been a priority for me. Then, in 2008, everything came to a head. I became unemployed and those family issues imploded. My focus was shot and my fire was snuffed out. I missed lectures, didn’t show up for labs, and was generally “not all there” when it came to my classes. By the time mid-terms rolled around I had to admit to myself that this wasn’t working, and so I made the painful but necessary decision to drop out of Lehman.

But even then, in the midst of my unhappiness, I swore to myself “this is only temporary!” I figured that I would find another job quickly, work through my family drama and get back to school as quickly as possible. In hindsight, that was a bit naive of me. 2008 was the recession and the worst possible time to lose my job. For the next three and a half years, I experienced chronic unemployment, and the stress of constantly looking for work severely dampened that initial enthusiasm of returning to school. Worrying about my family, worrying about whether I would make rent that month, and suffering from insomnia and mild depression made school my last priority. I never forgot about the promise that I made to myself, but when faced with the possibility of homelessness and the stress of family turmoil, the importance of finishing my degree simply paled in comparison. Finishing my degree was out and basic survival was in.

Nine years later it’s hard to believe that I lost so much time. But the more time that passed, the easier it was to forget that promise. I think I was humbled by my bad experience and viewed finishing my degree as more of a luxury that I couldn’t afford. Even when things on the work front started to stabilize and the family stuff got resolved (somewhat), I still found it difficult to get back on track regarding my college career. It was fear more than anything else, now that I look back. I just didn’t want to take that risk. I was scared to rock the boat. But a few months ago, things changed for me. A light-bulb went on somewhere deep in the cob-webbed recesses of my brain and I decided to renew that promise to myself.

Today, I am a far cry from where I was nine years ago. My family and work circumstances have vastly improved. I am happily employed with an organization that I am proud to work for and 18 months ago I was promoted to a senior administrative position. In my new role, I get to work on projects that allow me to flex my creative muscles. Most notably is the website re-launch project that I managed and the marketing and branding initiative that a co-worker and I plan to propose. The more creative work I get to do, the more I’m pulled to the visual and the graphic. Design and communications have grown into a passion for me and I started teaching myself how to use creative tools, like the Adobe Creative Suite, in the hopes of improving my skills and broadening my repertoire. I am really interested in learning more about UI/UX design and I even enrolled in a course to learn more about full-stack web development! (Just enough to not embarrass myself.)

My educational journey has come full circle. The pain and shame I felt in abandoning my degree is lessened when I realize that, perhaps, that awful time was actually a blessing in disguise. I wasn’t as passionate about what I was doing back then as I should have been and that may be why I was able to walk away. I am now pursuing a degree that I am truly excited about. The CUNY SPS B.A. in Communication and Media degree will give me the foundation I need to jump-start the career I am falling in love with, one that emphasizes design.

But don’t think that I’m satisfied with just achieving my B.A. I plan to ride this new wave of energy and excitement all the way to my Master’s degree! I know that it will be hard. I mean, I’m only two courses into my first semester and I am still trying to shake off those cobwebs. But I’m getting there. That first step was definitely my hardest so everything else after that is within reach. A CUNY SPS degree is my gateway to the life that I want and the life that I deserve. Years of stagnation and regret have evolved into my renaissance age. With my degree and continued self-learning, I can see into my future. A future that has been nine years in the making.

Milan Fredricks is a born and bred New Yawker, a self-professed tech nerd, self-taught web and graphic design freak and lover of puppies and ice cream (Häagen-Dazs, none of that Turkey Hill garbage, and do not argue with her on that!). Her very large, immediate family drives her to the brink of insanity almost everyday but at least it gives her something to tell her therapist! Milan is currently enrolled in the Communication and Media bachelor’s degree program here at CUNY SPS.

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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.

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.

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 Hitfix.com, 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.

Once again we are a country divided by race. Without any witnesses to the altercation between George Zimmerman and Treyvon Martin, sides have been drawn, and not much has to do with the evidence presented.

Zimmerman has injuries consistent with his story but Martin is dead with no way to tell us his version.

Instead the different versions have played out in the news and on social media. There is the George Zimmerman we hear described often as a white man, even if he is Hispanic, who was a racist wannabe cop.

We hear alternate versions of Treyvon Martin. He is either a church going honor roll student or a pot smoking truant graffiti artist.

If you notice, neither generalization depicts either as human like the rest of us.

Did you ever wonder what would be written about you if you were to make the news as your final act? Did you wonder what skeletons would come crashing out of your closet and be given to an eager news source waiting to put a spin on their sensational story?

Did you ever smoke pot? Drink too much? Make any mistake? Did you ever think afterwards, “God, I would hate for anyone to think that’s who I am?”

I do have sympathy for George Zimmerman. He’s a civilian who is now expected to know how to behave for a hungry media. His every word and action is dissected and it highlights why many in the news will only speak through a publicist. Its what we’ve become.

Then there’s poor Treyvon Martin. Walking home one night. Unarmed. With a bag of Skittles. Maybe if he took a little more time with his candy selection his path would have never crossed George Zimmerman’s. But it did and he’s dead and we don’t know if he attacked, if he was attacked. We just get to see his life play out in the news and on social media.

He smoked pot. He cut out of school. He gave someone the finger and it was captured on camera.

Imagine that! A teenager who smoked pot. He cut school too! Wow! The evidence is piling up. But wait, the clincher…there is a picture floating around on social media of him giving the middle finger to a camera.

Convict him! Oh wait! He’s dead.

But really, that’s the all the proof that people need to believe that a shooting resulting in his death was justified.

Lock up your kids if that’s the case. I don’t know who has those perfect kids but I sure don’t. I will even revisit my own teenage years back in the Dark Ages and say that I smoked pot. I cut classes. I also may have given the finger more than once. Thankfully it was before this great technological age where every stupid thing I did as a teen wasn’t recorded to be later used against me.

I also know that living in a predominately white neighborhood and raising my three white kids I don’t share the same fears that a mom of an African American teen has. My kids are never stopped because of the color of their skin, not even my son who favors hoodies and low riding pants.

Watching the reaction to the verdict made me think about that. I don’t carry with me a history of being discriminated against because of my color. My parents don’t have stories of times they were called racial slurs or not allowed to participate in things because of their color.

My children have no obstacles in their way because of their color. And if you think that color is not an obstacle I would ask you to really think about that. If it weren’t still an issue then why are we still so divided along lines of color with this verdict?

Kristen is a single mom of 3 kids and studying at The CUNY School of Professional Studies. She is blogging while she still figures out what she wants to be when she grows up.