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

In her recent blog post, fellow ACE Scholar Christine Hansen wrote of the persistent dissatisfaction with her law career that prompted her into a search that eventually brought her to CUNY SPS. I empathize entirely with her feelings of professional emptiness, as I have also been dissatisfied with my two decades-long career (spanning 13 companies) in finance, and came upon CUNY SPS in a similar fashion.

I remained in finance for so long merely because it paid well, I could always find a job in the field, and perhaps most importantly, I had not discovered that about which I was truly passionate. After much reflection, I now recognize performing work of great intrinsic value as the key to profound satisfaction, and there is neither salary sufficiently large nor a perk so compelling as to compensate for feeling unengaged with one’s work. Moreover, I now understand that I changed jobs frequently because the work itself—not the bosses, commute, benefits, or whichever reason I would cite to justify leaving—was unpalatable.

In my view, no work is as valuable as that which places one in the service of others. I deeply believe that those who hold talent and advantage ought to work those talents and advantages to societal benefit. By their ardent support of the ACE Scholarship program, it is clear that the administration of CUNY SPS believes in this incumbency. It is also clear that the benefactor of the ACE Scholarship, Mr. Alan Fishman, likewise believes in this incumbency, as evidenced by his generous financial support of the program.

While working in finance, I utilized my work ethic, articulation, organizational skills, persuasiveness, intelligence, communication skills, team-building ability, and skill in motivating others for the narrow benefit of corporate interests; it is difficult to describe the excitement I feel now that I am on the cusp of pressing my talents into the service of the many in the hopes of making lives substantively better through a career in social work. I will be attending New York University’s Silver School of Social work, pursuing a Master of Social Work (MSW) Degree.

I was most strongly attracted to the ACE Scholarship because it keeps one close to the CUNY SPS community via a tether of obligation. ACE Scholars act as mentors to two incoming students, are required to produce a blog post (the one you are reading), participate in School events, and make known our experiences with the ACE program. ACE Scholars, who enjoy the advantages of being diligent, persistent, self-starting, and goal-oriented, give back to the CUNY SPS community by leveraging those talents in the service of their mentees and the school.

It would not have been possible for me to complete the undergraduate degree with which I flirted for twenty-something years if it were not for CUNY SPS. The programs are innovative, the online learning environment is intuitive and flexible, and the professors with whom I have studied were all eager, interested and responsive; all of these coalesce into a unique learning experience that benefits additionally from CUNY’s affordability. It is without reservation that I say that CUNY SPS is one of the brightest gems of the CUNY system.

Anthony Mongelli 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 Psychology program at the end of this semester.

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Every social worker must do a 3-day per week internship, over 2 years, to get a MSW.  The internships are difficult because one has to operate as a skilled social worker by demonstrating the knowledge, ethics and skills of the profession, when in fact, the intern is still learning.

That’s one of the big differences between being an intern and a volunteer.  An internship is a transformative experience that will turn one into a professional.  Volunteering can be transformative, but it’s not designed to do that—you can leave the same way you came in.

The internship supervisor (another MSW) is the intern’s social work instructor, on-the-job-coach, role model, advocate and protector.  I learned all this when I supervised interns.  That’s also when I started to realize how much I enjoyed the educational part of supervision.  It was also part of the motivation to trade in social services for higher education.

Now that I’m an educator, I can truly say that it’s an honor and a privilege to have students.  When I look back and realized how my internship set up the foundation of my career, I felt honored to be entrusted with the responsibility of setting a foundation for my students.

Whenever I get annoyed with my job, I remember that I asked for it.  All of us vent to our friends when we’re annoyed.  I gave my friends permission to remind me that—whenever I start to complain, remind me that I said it’s an honor and privilege to do what I do.

As much as I might sometimes complain about students, I’m glad to be here at CUNY.

Rhonda Harrison is currently studying at CUNY SPS to earn her post-graduate certificate in Adult Learning & Program Design. She is a social worker with a background in workforce development and currently works as an Advisor at a community college.

When I was a social work student studying for my MSW, my professor said that every family is built on an economic “floor.” In other words, families need a certain level of income in order to be stabile. The more holes in the floor, the more unstable the family, triggering the need for social services & income supports.

Despite the fact that fast food workers will soon be able to make $15 an hour, the living wage debate is still continuing. On the evening of Thursday, 10/08, there will be an event in support of a real living wage in New York City. Check out the link to find out more at http://www.reallivingwagenyc.org/.

I don’t know exactly what will be happening, but I hope to check it out. Maybe I’ll see some of you there and we can debrief the whole event later.

Rhonda Harrison is currently studying at CUNY SPS to earn her post-graduate certificate in Adult Learning & Program Design. She is a social worker with a background in workforce development and currently works as an Advisor at a community college.