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THE OCTOBER SURPRISE
Since turning 40, each advancing birthday seems progressively less a reason to celebrate. But my birthday this year gave me a most unique and unexpected gift: I was invited to the CUNY Women’s Leadership Conference to be held at Hunter College on October 28th. This program turned out to be a great cause for celebration.

EXCITED, BUT A LITTLE APPREHENSIVE
This CUNY-wide event was to include students from all 24 campuses, so I knew many of the attendees would be college aged and much younger than me. I wondered: “As a continuing ed student shifting professional gears mid-life, how relevant could this conference be? After all, it will surely be geared to young women embarking on their careers, not women looking to redraft a life story.” I had no idea what to expect.

To my surprise and delight, the numerous speakers and panels had messages that were not only inspirational, but also absolutely applicable to my current circumstances. There were so many wonderful segments, here is a mere sampling:

  • The keynote speakers Rossana Rosado, NYS Secretary of State, and Letitia James, Public Advocate for the City of New York, both delivered emotional speeches about the empowering experience of community involvement. Their lives of public service are proof positive that we all have the power to affect change.
WiTNY panel

WiTNY panel

  • From the Women in Technology (WiTNY) panel, we heard about the need for women in the digital world. The statistics are staggering: only 18% of computer science graduates are women and woman comprise just 26% of the tech workforce. WiTNY would like to see that change.
Dr. Lobley, Director of Student Services, and some the SPS student attendees

Dr. Lobley, Director of Student Services, and some the SPS student attendees

  • Perhaps my favorite aspect of this symposium was meeting some of SPS’ faculty and my fellow SPS students. Our SPS students represented our school with eloquence and passion: asking questions, raising issues, and talking about passionate causes.

THE ONGOING PRESENT
This could have been a very tough birthday: I’m job hunting and certainly not getting any younger.

Thank you, CUNY and SPS for this encouraging lift—I could pop the bubbly after all!

For more information about the CUNY Women’s Leadership Conference, or to learn how you can attend a future conference, contact studentservices@sps.cuny.edu.

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

Sitting Down

with

Cyrille Aimee

Cyrille Aimee

As a musician, every now and then I run into a person that inspires me by his or her approach to what they do. I met Cyrille Aimee on the subway one Saturday night while hanging out with my high school b-ball teammate, Steve. She was very friendly and we talked about music and life. She said modestly, “We will be playing a Birdland next week; you should come check out the show.” Although I didn’t make that show, I did get a chance to check the show out about a year later. Cyrille turned out be one of the most authentic musicians I have met in my life. Her personality is as genuine on stage as it is off stage. So when I got the opportunity to interview Ms. Aimee for my blog, I naturally kicked it with her like an old friend, a new ally, and a fellow musician. Check out what Cyrille had to say about her music, and how she approaches this stage of her career.

Jeffrey C. Suttles: When did you start singing?

Cyrille Aimee: Hmmm, I started when I was around 13 or 14 years old.

Jeff: Did your parents inspire you to sing?

Cyrille: Well my parents always loved music and musicians. My mother is from the Dominican Republic, so she loves to dance. I actually started singing when I met these gypsies.

Jeff: What school did you attend?

Cyrille: I came here to study at Suny Purchase College in Westchester, New York. I loved going to school in that area of New York, they have a great music program.

Jeff: Your new project, Let’s Get Lost, did you do the writing and production or did you collaborate with other musicians?

Cyrille: A little bit of both, some of the songs I wrote by myself. Some of the songs I collaborated with the guitar player in the band. There are some songs I did in French and I also did some covers. It’s a mix!

Jeff: How much are you touring these days?

Cyrille: I just got back from France two days ago, and I’m headed to Japan next week. So I’m pretty busy.

Jeff: How often do you get back to France, to visit your family?

Cyrille: Well I was there last week, and I’m going back in June. I try to get back as much as I can, I usually go when I have a concert. I try to stay a little longer to spend time with my family and friends.

Jeff: How does your family feel about you success? Are they happy for you?

Cyrille: Yeah, of course they are.

Jeff: Who would you say influenced you the most, as a musician or an artist? Who inspired you to do what you do?

Cyrille: Hmmm, many artists have inspired me. Ella Scott Fitzgerald heavily influenced me when I begin my career. But I’m also crazy about Michael Jackson. It’s so many artists that influence me. The list is very long!

Jeff: How about Sade, some of you vocal work reminds me of Sade.

Cyrille: Yeah, I love Sade.

Jeff: What do you feeling is missing right now in jazz culture?

Cyrille: I would like to see jazz become available to wider audiences. Jazz has an old connotation to it, and it’s not that at all. Jazz is a very evolving music and the only thing is people don’t know they like it because they are not exposed to it. If they were exposed to it more, they would discover more about it. I would like to see more jazz on TV and on the radio.

Jeff: Yeah, it would be nice to see commercial radio and TV embrace the jazz culture. Okay last question, what words of wisdom or suggestions do you have for young artist aspiring to do what you do?

Cyrille: Hmmm, do be afraid to get back on the horse when you fall off. You are going fall many times, and basically the job of an artist is to use the times that you fall as constructive criticism and learn from it.

Jeff: Hmmm-great advice Cyrille, every young artist should apply that concept. It’s always a pleasure to kick it with you. Have a safe trip to Japan; we’ll talk when you get back. Peace.

Click to follow Jeff on Twitter

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.

 

 

 

Elected officials make a lot of decisions that affect students, so we should vote.  We get 4 chances to vote in 2016.  Here’s a little summary of what’s happening.

April 19: New Yorkers will vote in their party primaries for president.  Some of the different parties are Democrat, Republican, Working Families Party, Green Party, Conservative Party, etc..  When people register to vote, they get to select the party they want to be a part of.  Some people do not pick a party.  The registration deadline is March 25th.

June 28: Primary day for all 27 New York members of the United States House of Representatives, including New York State Senator Schumer.  The registration deadline is June 3rd.

September 13: Primaries for all 63 seats of the State Senate and all 150 seats of the State Assembly.  The registration deadline is August 19th.

November 8: President and Vice President of the United States.  The registration deadline is October 14th.

The only way to vote is to be registered.

Find out how to get a job as a poll-worker.

You can get more information by checking out CUNY’s Voice Your Choice website.

Rhonda Harrison has just completed her studies 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.

I ran onto the bus just as the driver was about to shut the doors. I reached into my jacket pocket and pull out my Metro Card, only to find out there was not enough money on it to pay my fare.  Sigh.

I looked at the driver, and gave him the please don’t embarrass me and kick me off the bus for not having any money look.  He shot me back a dirty look and gestured for me to go on ahead without paying.

“Thank you” I whispered.

As I made my way through the cluster of people who insisted on standing at the front of the bus, I saw an old friend I hadn’t seen since high school; Roberta Smallwood.

Roberta was very troubled back then, she was in and out of jail for robbery and she used to smoke crack. But from what I saw,  Roberta had cleaned up nicely.

The seat next to Roberta was free so I decided to sit on the tattered blue upholstery that clearly had a set-in stain. After awhile, as a New Yorker, you become a master at differentiating a set-in stain that will have no affect on your clothing from a stain that’s fresh.

Roberta immediately recognized me and we laughed and reminisced about our high school years. She opened up about her prison days and rehab. She had been clean for five years and worked as an administrative assistant for the MTA. Every now and then her eyes would wander off out the window when she spoke of her past. I guess some memories were still very fresh for her and she was still healing.  I was happy to see that she is doing so well.

The bus finally reached my destination, the subway.  Roberta and I exchanged phone numbers and emails, vowing to stay in touch, but would we really?  People often run into old friends and have every intention of staying in contact with each other, but life’s routines always seem to get in the way.

As I hopped off the bus, I was painfully reminded of the annoying blister I had on my pinky toe that would hurt every time my sandal strap would rub it.  As I thought about Roberta on the train ride into NYC, I realized that everyone has a story; there is something that happens in everyone’s life that makes them who they are.  What is mine?

Martine Chevry received her B.A. in Communications and Culture from the CUNY School of Professional Studies in June 2011.  She currently works as an Editorial Assistant and lives in Queens, New York. Martine is currently planning on self publishing her first novel in Spring 2012. She enjoys writing, working out, shopping, reading and reality television.

The wonderful world of Twitter is to thank for my latest blog post! A little over three weeks ago now, I was going through my normal morning routine by surfing through my three favorite websites (the NY Times Homepage, Gmail and Twitter) when I came across the actor Ed Burns’ latest post about a winner for a song for his new movie “Newlyweds.” That is where I quickly clicked on @mrpatmccormack and found the man who won the contest; which then lead me to his website and contacting him personally. At first I had to congratulate him on his winning and of course than thank him for us little people who try very hard to follow our dreams. He entered a contest and won a once in a lifetime dream! After a few emails back and fourth I asked him if he’d let me interview him for the CUNY blog and he said yes!

I asked Patrick to tell us a little bit about himself before we started the questions …. I’m a singer, songwriter and film composer originally from New England.  Last spring, I recorded and independently released my debut EP, “Fresh Paint.”  I pride myself as a self-sufficient recording artist, performing guitar, drums, piano, vocals and all other instrumentation.  I’ve spent the past 3 years living in Chicago, playing in my band, T & The Wonder, while writing and recording my original songs.  In addition to singing and songwriting, I spend equal time composing and producing instrumental music for independent films.

·     If you had to describe your music in three or four words, what would you call it?

Sentimental | Folk | Pop

·     What made you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in music?

Growing up in the 1990’s was a very inspiring time for popular music. When I heard stuff like Beck, Beastie Boys, or Cake all over the radio, it just seemed so relatable.  Even if it got me nowhere, making music is such a versatile form of expression. I felt like such an underachiever by NOT having a band, even when I was 10. As far as actually pursuing music, I saved up for a four track cassette recorder.  The first batch of simple folk songs I made on cassette really kickstarted my obsession with layering instruments and vocals.  That’s also when I realized you can make a record completely by yourself.  With enough practice, and commitment, I learned bass, guitar and drums; the brick foundation of every rock song.

·     I saw through Ed Burn’s personal Twitter Account that you’ve recently entered a contest sponsored by him through Twitter; can you tell us about that experience? How has it changed your career?

It was a huge surprise to me.  My friend Giancarlo even had to talk me into entering the contest.  Burns chose “Ovenbird” from my “Fresh Paint” EP.  This could not have been any easy choice for him, I think there were about 100 song submissions from some very serious musicians. Luckily, they had a pair of tickets to the premiere for me, so I flew into New York about 36 hours after finding out I had won. Very surreal.  The film was amazing, so just being attached to it was such a thrill.  Edward Burns was extremely encouraging when we spoke in person.  Getting complimented by such a legendary filmmaker,I couldn’t even mentally process it. A large part of my career focus is composing music for film.  Right now I’m scoring a few short films and other instrumental projects. Getting the credit of an Edward Burns film is a huge boost for my future in cinematic music.

·      What are your up-to-date performance plans? New Releases? Tours? News?

Sometime in the next week I will be releasing the “Mile Away” single, along with some other material.  This is a prelude to a new album, which has no official release date yet.  I’m at my home studio just about every day, working out the details of my new songs.  Should be around mid summer, so look for that. Currently, the “Fresh Paint” EP is ‘name your price’ on bandcamp.com, in other words, FREE.  I strongly encourage anyone with an interest in independent music to download and listen.  Each track is original, and every instrument was performed by me, including all vocals.  I’m very proud of this EP and I can’t wait to share my next one.

I’d like to personally thank Patrick for lending me his time to answer these questions for his blog post! If you’d like to find out more about his work,  check out his website or follow him on Twitter @mrpatmccormack 

Louise Marie Russo is currently an undergrad at The School of Professional Studies majoring in Communication and Culture. She enjoys traveling, cooking, baking, photography as well as volunteering. Her goal one day is to work with a non-profit organization advocating for the homeless population of New York City and one day publishing a book of photography.