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How many fellow CUNY SPS-ers are going to be graduating this upcoming May 18?

Commencements may only happen a few times over a lifetime for each of us. Often the ceremony is meant for the family and friends to watch the accomplishment of the students who are walking the ceremony. This is a journey that can take a traditional route from high school or it can be a non-traditional route. For a majority of CUNY School of Professional Studies students, this journey is completed online and may be a physical trip that happens or is skipped. Behind the scenes, the process of preparing for the ceremony is definitely months in advance.

I wanted to at least walk people through a meaningful activity I did this past year when I walked for my graduate certificate in Disability Studies, and that is the process of decorating a mortarboard. It is my belief that one does not have to be artistically gifted, since there are ready-made kits that are being sold at crafting and arts supplies stores. But the benefits of decorating a board are (1) a good photo prop, (2) you can show off the fact that you’re graduating, (3) it is a mental mind activity of prepping for the ceremony, and (4) blinging up a drab black gown. The memories that can be built on crafting a mortarboard are nice! Plus it is also good to meet up with classmates and fellow graduates to make memories. The only downside I see to this activity is $$$ and time investments.

Graduation Cap Decorated

So, last year, a few alumni got together in the lobby, and brought their own supplies to decorate their mortarboards with. I did my cap independent of that group, but being a representative on the Student Association this year I had hoped that people who are going to be graduating would want to do this activity again. I have every intentions of doing the same activity when I walk again for my masters in 2018. As I have been speaking with Anthony Sweeney, Virtual Campus Coordinator about doing this activity again for class of 2017 graduates. So this is what I propose, on May 23 from 5:30 to 7:30 – graduating class members can bring your own supplies to decorate your mortarboard with. We will be having limited supplies and food also available. RSVP here if you want to join us!

So even if you’re not going to make it to campus at CUNY SPS, I suggest this as an activity you can do with your family, friends or by yourself. I stress to please do a draft and/or dry run for what you want to put on your cap. Decorate your cap considering how you are going to be wearing the cap. So your motor cap should be on a diamond shape, not necessarily a square. Do not rush to stick things on your one cap!

These are art supplies that I suggest, and this is not a complete list or the absolute list that your cap has to have. Last year I made up my cap with the art supplies I have from my other projects, so I only spent about $20 for extra supplies. I used scrap paper, origami paper, index cards, ribbon and stickers. You will be wearing your cap during the ceremony, and an important advice I suggest is to have the items on firmly, that way there is no cap malfunction. That was my fear last year when I didn’t have a hot glue gun.

I pulled everything off my graduation cap after the ceremony was over, because my second CUNY SPS graduation is forthcoming. Enough about me! For people graduating, this is an activity that is a good building one for the crafters in us! Reflect on what pulled you through to graduation, find that special saying, and thank the people you want. You are the main character of this ceremony in world that you inhabit. If there’s any questions, or inspirations, there are plenty of videos on YouTube, photos on Pinterest, etc.

  • 12×12 Cardstock scrap paper of any type. This may be a backdrop for your embellishments.
  • Embellishments—sequins, rhinestones, glitter, gems, letters
  • Stickers
  • Ribbon
  • Hot glue gun or other sticky adhesive tools
  • Fabric paint
  • Stencils

Linda Yau is a native New Yorker. She is currently completing her MS Disability Services in Higher Education. She is constantly on the move, but on her downtime, she hearts folding origami. She is an assistant organizer of  OMG-NYC (Origami Meetup Group in NYC)

In July, I will face one of the most difficult challenges I’ve ever experienced. And as a kid who grew up in San Francisco’s tough Mission and Fillmore neighborhoods, I know trial and tribulation. However, this challenge is different. This time I am leaving everything comfortable and moving more than 3,000 miles away across country to New York City.

Cross-country moves are demanding. They are expensive. Resettling in a new area requires a myriad of adjustments, many which are impossible to anticipate. However, one particular test may prove most difficult: the hunt for a good taco.

Of the six or so traditional foody cities in America (Chicago, L.A., Miami, New Orleans, New York, and San Francisco), New York consistently ranks near the top. With its foods representing nearly every region of the world, NY cuisine is as varied as its population. However, even with a rapidly growing Mexican population, NYC’s taco reputation yet lacks.

If the old adage “you are what you eat” rings true, I may be 50% taco, give or take a tortilla or two. Tacos and burritos are quintessential San Francisco foods—so much so that San Francisco, and in particular the Mission district, is known worldwide in food circles for its burritos. (Editor note: I have little hope of finding an adequate burrito anywhere but home, so to avoid undue despair, I am focusing my hunt solely on tacos.) So the prospect of moving to a city with a suspect taco game frightens me.

You want to know how daunting a lack of good tacos is? So much so that I’m writing a blog about it. The great tacothon, NYC edition. Feel free to leave me comments below, especially with suggestions where I may find the best New York City tacos.

tacos

Josh is a psychology undergrad with dreams of an EDL in education. A former graffiti artist, music magazine editor, and DJ, Josh considers himself somewhat of a hip-hop historian. He is interested in community issues, music, the arts, sports, and current events. 

Dear Fellow CUNY SPS Students,

I wanted to say thank you to all the wonderful students, faculty and staff who I’ve had the privilege to learn from and work with these last few years.  I owe much to this school and the relationships I’ve formed here.

I am also deeply honored to have been elected to and serve upon the first Student Association here at the CUNY School of Professional Studies.  Thank you for voting me into this position.  Indeed, I am grateful to have worked alongside my Student Association colleagues.  Being a member of the Student Association is an endeavor I hope all of you will get to experience.

While I am happy to be graduating at the end of this semester, I am sorry to be leaving this school and the many people who have supported me here.  This also means that I must leave the Student Association (along with my awesome colleagues; Linda Y., Misty G. and Jacqueline R. who are also graduating or otherwise ineligible to run).

However, there are three members of the association who are still eligible to run again and having witnessed their hard work and dedication to what we’ve begun; I would like to endorse the candidacies of Shakima Williams, Yvette Humphries and Leonard Blades.

It is my hope that their re-election will help to establish the Student Association as an inclusive and hardworking representation of the students at CUNY SPS and dedicated to supporting and helping as many students as is possible.  Indeed, I expect that many of the initiatives we’ve put into place and the initiatives that future SA representatives will put into place, will support the students of CUNY SPS for years to come.

Let me express my thanks to my classmates, my Student Association colleagues and the faculty and staff at CUNY SPS for their friendship and support as I finish this chapter of my life.

Sincerely,

Daniel K. Chan

Daniel Chan is a belated student who took the 20+ year plan to get his Bachelor’s Degree. He recently received his M.A. in Disability Studies and is working on his M.S. in Disability Services in Higher Education. His proudest academic achievement is still his GED.

One day I decided to go down a blackout water slide backwards on a tube, thinking it was going to be awesome. The staff gave me a little push and off I went—I’m having a blast! It’s dark and I can’t see anything and my adrenaline is running high. Then out of nowhere a sharp turn comes that lifts me off the tube and smacks the side of my head. Now I’m sliding down tubeless, still backward, not having blast… thinking this was a bad idea. And that’s exactly how life is, filled with unexpected turns called obstacles.

Obstacles, you can’t avoid them. They are just creeping by, waiting for the moment you least expect it. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any better, out of nowhere life says hold up, not so fast and smacks you across the face. Sometimes we create our own obstacles, and other times things just happen out of our control. For instance, you bombed that interview that you spent days practicing for, the train decided to get rerouted today out of all days, you wrote ABC instead of NBC on your cover letter, you called somebody important by the wrong name, you are looking to gain experience in your field but everywhere you go they require experience, someone doesn’t like you simply because you are attractive, and the list goes on. From the most bizarre obstacles to our everyday headaches.

How do we deal with obstacles? We learn from them, we move on, and we don’t let obstacles define us. We plan ahead of time, we double-check things, we ask for help, and most importantly we try again. When we give up is when we truly fail in life, minor set backs are just lessons.

“Fall seven times, stand up eight”—Japanese Proverb

Yerelyn is a native New Yorker, with Dominican roots in her blood. She loves to read, write, and is pursuing acting. She loves lending a helping hand or words of encouragement to those in need of it. She is majoring in Communication and Media here at CUNY SPS.

 

Growing up, I gravitated toward the board games that had concrete rules. The vast ocean of choices that presented itself in games of Battleship and the plethora of courses a game of Clue could take were sources of distress. Give me the predictability and stable landscape of Monopoly any day. Every time you pass Go, you get $200. Land on a property and decide to buy it or move forward. Even the game of Life was scripted. Land on a place and reap whatever reward or whatever consequence that the space dictated. With both games, you had some choices like whether to purchase a property in Monopoly or getting insurance in Life. But those choices were limited.

If only real life was as simple. I have found myself overwhelmed by choices. Not just with clothes at the store or beverages at a restaurant. Just with simple life choices. Or maybe they are not so simple. And that is where the daunting feelings settle in. What should my career should be? What metropolitan area is best for me? Do I need a side hustle? And if so, how many is enough?

As Barry Schwartz points out in his TED Talk “The Paradox of Choice,” a lot of that paralysis is that we are now more aware of our choices and question the quality of our choices. We realize that there is a “best” fit out there and constantly question if the choice in front of us is best for us. Instead of acting and making a choice, we delay until we are sure or sometimes do not even act at all. It’s an interesting conundrum in the 21st century. It’s nice to have so many choices but maybe we have too many.

You can check out the video here:


Adam Carnegie is a misguided fan of Arsenal and the Mets and much like them is looking to capitalize on years of potential and almost moments to reach the heights of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. He is a student in the B.A. in Psychology program at CUNY SPS and has the goal of working in advocacy for families with children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder in communities of color. His hobbies include remembering to breathe, running, reading, consuming as much culture as possible, and over-analyzation of a variety of topics including the sociological constructs of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. 

 

Check Your Inbox

When an invitation from Virtual Campus Coordinator Anthony Sweeney hits your CUNY email inbox, please do yourself a favor:

  1. Clear your calendar
  2. GO!

You will not be disappointed, I promise.  Recently a fellow blogger, Yerelyn Nunez, suggested that we take advantage of the opportunities available to us as students: https://cunysps.wordpress.com/2017/03/09/take-advantage-of-being-a-student/.

I couldn’t agree more with Yerelyn.  Here are a couple of examples illustrating the exciting ways we can celebrate our diverse CUNY SPS community.

Bloomberg International Women’s Day Summit

Thanks to one of those fab Anthony invites, I was honored to attend the Bloomberg International Women’s Day Summit.  The event started early Sunday morning, March 12 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with an energetic welcome given by our own CUNY Vice Chancellor Andrea Shapiro-Davis.  She was followed by inspiring speakers who are committed to empowering women throughout the world.  The participants were exclusively students, some as young as middle school age.  The attendees were invited to partner up with Bloomberg mentors.  The support and encouragement we were given helped us all envision a brighter future for women.

CUNY SPS students with Vice Chancellor Andrea Shapiro-Davis

The photo above is Vice Chancellor Andrea Shapiro-Davis (she’s so cool!) with summit attendees from CUNY SPS: Kangela Moore, Yvette Humphries, and yours truly.  (Because I’m an older “non-conventional” student, the younger students kept asking me if I was a mentor!)

Creating a Safe Place

CUNY SPS is a diverse school dedicated to inclusion.  Have you been worried about how the presidential election could affect some of our students and their families?  At a school meeting earlier this semester, there was a conversation about the election and its ramifications.  After this student/faculty dialogue, the students were given the green light to form a discussion group addressing the implications of the current political climate for our student body.  In just a few short months, the logistics were worked out and the exchange is about to start.

CUNY SPS Intergroup Dialogue

Please join the conversation!  All CUNY SPS students are welcomed to the first discussion group meeting to be held on April 5.  Participants will identify a topic to have courageous and supportive conversations that will be co-facilitated by Melissa McIntyre (Disability Studies, MA).

The group will work collectively and collaboratively to empower all of our students and their families in the times ahead.  Dinner is even provided folks!  Clear your calendar and GO!

Let’s all give all give a BIG SHOUT OUT to Associate Dean Brian Peterson, Dr. Zeita Lobley, Anthony Sweeney and Melissa McIntyre who made this happen!

Addressing our Legacy

A final little footnote: at CUNY SPS, we are a newish/smallish school within a large and established university system.  This gives us the unique ability to profoundly impact our school environment.  We have a wonderful group of administrators who are not only open to our ideas about creating student opportunities, but will help facilitate whenever possible.  Few colleges have these possibilities, with this kind of support, so we should all consider how we can help make CUNY SPS an even better learning environment for future students.

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

Hello, spring is near…oh no wait, spring is here!

It’s the time where the sun shines a little longer, a time for regrowth and rejuvenation. Where the temperature starts to rise a little higher and things start to bloom around you. It reminds us that in life we must have balance. Ah yes balance…how easily we forget.

Balance in our lives is crucial, it can’t all just be work, work, work, work, work, like Rihanna’s hit song. We need to remember to make time for our loved ones, our social life, and our personal time. With balance, you’ll be much more productive. You won’t feel burnt out, you’ll have a refreshed mind with new ideas lingering by. I know sometimes it feels impossible to enjoy life with the many commitments one may have, but remember where there’s a will there’s a way. There’s simply no excuses, so start today in developing a healthier daily routine.

“Some days you eat salads and go to the gym, some days you eat cupcakes and refuse to put on pants, it’s called balance”—Unknown  

Yerelyn is a native New Yorker, with Dominican roots in her blood. She loves to read, write, and is pursuing acting. She loves lending a helping hand or words of encouragement to those in need of it. She is majoring in Communication and Media here at CUNY SPS.

Question for the audience:

What are your suggestions, comments, and concerns?

Brooklyn born Amoni B is a socially responsible CUNY SPS business student and court employee. She founded Vive Entertainment EnterprisesBrooklyn Multi-Service Community Center, Corp., a tax exempt 501c3 nonprofit, and Brown-Pugh Daughters & Sons LLC, a real estate investment group, all to benefit her community in East New York. Amoni B is an alumna and former employee of City Tech, holding an Associate of Applied Science in Electromechanical Engineering Technology and a Certificate in Interactive Media Technology. She writes children books, and published technical writings, poetry and plays. She is a mentor, consultant, certified notary, commercial driver, and realtor. Her mission is to promote professional and personal development, and inspire others. More about Amoni B

Podcast. Something to give you a break from listening to the constant noise as you walk down the street, take the subway and hear the words “Showtime!” or you just want a break from Spotify being annoying with its algorithm, and playing the same songs on your music list even though it’s on shuffle. Well here are some of my favorite podcasts to make you not only laugh, but maybe add something positive to your routine.

The first one that I love is Another Round with hosts Heben & Tracy. I love these two and if you’re familiar with BuzzFeed, then you’ve probably heard of them. Their weekly podcast airs every Wednesday. They are great. Their show is lively and makes me laugh every time I listen. They have guests, and their banter is both witty and charming. They talk about real issues, as well as entertainment ones. They make you feel like they are your friends too.

Next on my list is an ultimate fav, and that’s The Read.

We all know we have those friends that are loud and funny as hell. Well meet Kid Fury & Crissle. This is my top number 1 podcast, and the first one that I ever listened too. It’s a weekly podcast, as well, that airs every Thursday and is the perfect end to my work week with Kid Fury’s rants about pop culture, his and Crissle’s love for Beyoncé and Blue Ivy, and did I mention that he is a total nerd, too? He loves comics, video games, and Steven Universe. It gets no better than that. Crissle will entertain you being annoyed with people who piss her off, to her always having a rant of some kind that you can relate to, and have I mentioned how I love her laugh?

Their opening is classic, and I always laugh so hard when I tune in to the point that I get starred at on the train or bus for laughing too loud. I will not apologize for that. Their listener letters segment brings me to tears with their advice to fellow listeners who write in with their problems. They’re not afraid to give real advice on situation’s, of course ultimately leaving the final decision up to the person.

The third one is The Friendzone.

This podcast features you guessed it, the three friends Fran, Asante, and Dustin. They talk about wellness and everything from health to life issues. They don’t sugar coat anything and they even give little bits on how they feel about their own lives, where they are, and where they want to be.

Fran will give you wonderful insight on a great natural product that she uses, and you’ll want to go and try it yourself. From fragrance oil, to natural deodorant, but its not just about that, Fran is all about wellness, and helping people want better. Asante, is all about music, and will get you hooked on artist that you didn’t even know existed. Dustin will always have you laughing with how he describes people or his latest reality show interest. Together they make up this great show that’s between 1-2hrs of goodness. Tune in every Wednesday

My final favorite is Lady Partz.

Yes the title is what this show is about, but that’s not all they discuss. They talk about news, and pop culture as well, but that’s not what the show is centered around. Join Erica, and Eden who have been friends since high school on their podcast that talks about all the squeamish things about yourself that you are afraid to. Trust me these ladies don’t have any filter, and that’s the best part. They will make you laugh from start to finish, and their friendship is oh too real. They upload on Saturdays.

Portia Lightfoot is a Communication and Media major at CUNY School of Professional Studies. She’s a true gamer at heart. Obsessed with curly hair care, podcast, reading (You can always catch her in a nearby bookstore), and working on her fictional blog when she has a spare moment.

A Big Scary Button

This orange tab on the CUNY SPS scholarship page had me losing sleep for weeks.  It loomed over me like a dour headmistress, daring me to take my chances.   But after a few yoga classes, and some deep breathing, I calmed myself down enough to realize that the application wasn’t the all-or-nothing gamble I’d internally created.  After all, there are loads of scholarships.  Research showed me that a diligent search could unearth a scholarship for almost anyone.

There’s even a scholarship for Dr. Pepper lovers.

(Graphics from: http://carrington.edu/blog/student-tips/finance/scholarships/)

Crafting my Life

All “non-conventional students” have a story.  Since I have lived a full life, the personal essay for my application could easily become longwinded.  The challenge was to convey personality, recount my past, and create an impression in a pithy 500 words.

Writing my mini-memoir reminded me of that famous Oscar Wilde quote, “I’m sorry this letter is so long, but I didn’t have time for a short one.”  Wait- was it Ben Franklin?  Maybe Mark Twain?  Turns out, this quote has quite an illustrious history.  Apparently, I’m not the only person who thinks writing short is hard!  Here’s the link to read its journey, if you’re so inclined. (Spoiler alert: it was Blaise Pascal, but Ben Franklin recycled it.) http://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/04/28/shorter-letter/

Making the Impersonal Personal

The scholarship application needed two reference letters.  My first choice seemed obvious.  I’d enlist my cousin, who has watched over me like a big brother.  Not only does he have excellent academic cred (PhD in literacy), he’s also my book coach.  But I was later told that it’s more relevant having my CUNY SPS professors commend me.  Suddenly asking for endorsements felt awkward.

Because distance-learner.

This is my avatar.

She lives in the ether of my Blackboard profile.  On most screens, she’s smaller than a postage stamp.  Except for the weekly discussion board, she has no voice.  My professors never heard her laugh.  They never saw the delight in her face when they helped her learn new skills, or embrace new concepts. Yet, for my CUNY SPS mentors, she is me.

Thankfully, Professors Driver and Gardener both readily agreed to write the endorsement.  I am forever grateful and there needs to be special corners in heaven dedicated to them.

Lessons Learned

All non-conventional students have a story to tell: here’s mine.  When I initially applied to CUNY SPS, my application was rejected.  In earlier student life, I unofficially withdrew from several classes when transferring schools.  This left some glaring zeroes on my transcript, bringing my GPA below the requisite 2.5 by .03%.  Not easily daunted, I challenged the decision.  After spreadsheets, recommendation letters, and a new personal essay, I was admitted—on academic probation.

I have worked hard.  My GPA is up.

While writing my essay for the scholarship, it occurred to me that in one year my son and I will both be 1st generation college students at the same time.

Study Group 2018

Never too late. Never give up.


500 words: Boom!

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