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I am sitting here procrastinating, my life has been “busy” [understatement] lately. I am trying to juggle work, my daughter applying to college, another daughter applying to high school in New York City, school, and life in general–you know food, sleep, cleaning, exercise, etc… I keep thinking this too shall pass, knowing that I will graduate with my BSN in May next year! Can’t wait!

AND, as I am thinking this I sign up for an information session about a master in nursing, online, here at CUNY SPS… Have I gone mad? More school? Well, I want a master’s degree, might as well do it directly, and it never hurts to check it out… I guess my instinct/drive is to continue to grow, learn more and develop myself continuously, but please life, “give me a break!” Maybe I should just realize that I will never be done, I will always be on my way to the next goal–maybe that is life. I look forward to just reading a regular book, or lazily watching TV without feeling bad and knowing I should be doing something else. This is what I am thinking about now when I should be writing my paper :).

Other than that, it is getting cold out. I kind of like it and I kind of dread winter.

I am going to Sweden next week, to see my parents and my sister, I look forward to that a lot. While I am there I am also going to take the Swedish “board exam” for nursing, in order to get a Swedish nursing license as well. I am thinking to do it now, when I  have nursing school somewhat fresh in mind, and why not do it? We will never know where life will take us, maybe one day I will need to be able to work in Sweden, or I will want to. My secret plan is to gain as much experience as possible, as quickly as possible, while my kids are still in school. The minute they are all gone I aim to go do non-for-profit work in remote countries where healthcare can’t be taken for granted, and I will be able to make a bigger difference in someone’s life–someone who is in desperate need and who does not have access around the corner.

Until the next post…

Lotta

Charlotte Wahlquist is from Sweden. She is a graduate of BMCC and is now a Registered Nurse as of January of this year. In addition to working as a full-time nurse she is enrolled in the online RN to BSN program at CUNY SPS and is a recipient of the ACE Scholarship. Shortly after Charlotte moved to New York, seven years ago, she took a giant leap of faith and went back to school. With her five children, and an impenetrable drive to make her dreams come true—she hit the send button on her CUNY application. The time since that life-altering push of the button has been spent with many early and late hours being a single working mom, a student, and a person wishing for more hours in the day. There have been many challenges that have threatened to pull her off track; however, having her son asking to sit down next to her one night, and work on his homework next to her while she studied made her realize that she had embarked on something much larger than herself.

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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.

In an age when people are into social media, distractions can become the norm. It is even difficult for me to get something done when I am on social media. Time management is crucial as a way to balance demands and entertainment.

In terms of getting things done I set aside a certain amount of time to accomplish a task or goal. If have a paper for class to get done I make sure not to get distracted and spend time working on getting the paper completed.

Some ways to have good time management is to make a plan and try to stick to it. Proper organization is key, such as having a calendar to write events and due dates for class down in. The day before an event or work, I like to have everything ready to go the night before. The reason is due to not rushing in the morning looking for documents or anything required for an event.

In a time where distractions are more frequent, it is very important to try to minimize distraction and have proper time management. I try to limit how much time I spend on social media by going outside for a run or to play Ultimate Frisbee. I also like to spend time hanging out at the park. There are many techniques people can implement to have time management and to balance all of their responsibilities. Some people have different plans for time management. I always try to find time to socialize with others or watch a movie. In an age of social media time management is critical skill to have and continue to develop.

Ed Maher is a person who loves learning. Ed is a student at CUNY SPS in the Public Administration and Public Policy advanced certificate program. He is an avid lifelong reader, and has interests in movies, pop culture, and comedy.

Embodiment is the tangible representation of a idea or concept such as disability. It is taking the socio-cultural concept of disability and giving it tangible form such as emotions, thoughts, and abilities. It is how society’s view of disability and people’s experiences and perspective shape who they are. For example, how stigma shapes a person’s ability to interact with the world socially or how depression shapes perceptions of self and the world. It is using disability to express oneself or to communicate something. For example, an artist using his mouth to paint because he is an amputee. It is understanding the concept of disability from the perspective of lived experience as in the disabled person’s emotions, ability, and thoughts. It is changing your views and how you interact based on their lived experience. For example, asking questions and clarifying instead of forcing a person with a speech impairment to repeat themselves.

**Based on information from readings for DSAB 602

Laura MacKenzie loves to learn about the world around her. She adores animals and has a dog and cat. She is always observing, thinking, and analyzing. Her goal is to become a police consultant/instructor on community relations and disability. Laura is enrolled in the Advanced Certificate in Disability Studies here at CUNY SPS.

Amoni B announces her pregnancy—the cause for delay. She is set to deliver this December. She also discussed eliminating individuals and relationships to keep her circle positive and successful. She knows sometimes categorizing relationships can help to.

What do you think? Were you ever in such a situation where you had to step away from a person or people?

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

Despite being a social construct, inclusion has to occur because right now it is the only way for people with disabilities to be included in society. Laws and polices provide protections and rules that society has to follow in regards to treatment and inclusion. Advocates work to raise awareness and enforce inclusion. Physical acts of inclusion incorporate people with disabilities into the workforce, education, etc..

A key component is shifting societies perceptions and attitudes and acting on it. It is difficult to convince people that inclusion is necessary because disabled people are excluded due to poor societal perceptions and attitudes. People have to confront their own biases, prejudices, etc.. This includes not just “normal” people, but many disabled people who have the same view/attitude or think there is no problem or it is minimal.

People often practice inclusion out of pity or social obligation. The individual with a disability is still seen as “pitiable and pathetic.” The disabled individual is included because of useful skills. Being inclusive only because of usefulness is nothing more than using the person for personal gains. Inclusion should not occur out of pity or social obligation nor just because the person has useful skills. Even so, this type of inclusion may be the only chance the person has to participate in society.

At the core, it is not excluding people with disabilities in the first place. It is recognizing people with disabilities are a part of society from the start. Each and every individual has worth and contributes to society.

Reintegration should occur because people with disabilities are human and have intrinsic value like everyone else. Society has a long way to go to become truly integrated.

Laura MacKenzie loves to learn about the world around her. She adores animals and has a dog and cat. She is always observing, thinking, and analyzing. Her goal is to become a police consultant/instructor on community relations and disability. Laura is enrolled in the Advanced Certificate in Disability Studies here at CUNY SPS.

We all face challenges. Sometimes life really likes to put the pedal on the metal and give you multiple challenges at once. One of the biggest struggles I found with CUNY SPS is that the classes aren’t structured. By that I mean that at Berkeley College online you were able to know when you had deadlines and they typically didn’t coincide with each other. At CUNY SPS, you might have 4 projects all due at once and to make it even more challenging they might be group projects.

So just how do you manage that? It’s hard that’s for sure. A lot of us have our own careers, family life, children, parents that we care for or other challenges that we face. I won’t say that it’s easy because it’s not. For me alone, I’ve had to face a new challenge. My health. Just a few months back my entire life was upended. I was told I had lupus. Now three months in I was given another diagnosis for another autoimmune disease called sjogrens. So three months in I’m battling symptoms of chronic physical pain that can feel crippling and chronic extreme fatigue. So how do I manage working full time taking care of my daughter and school? The fact is I don’t. Sometimes I’ll lack at home cleaning up or somewhere I lack, because it’s impossible for me to do it all. I just do the best that I can because quite frankly that’s all I can do. I can’t do anymore.

While I get my physical being in order, trying to figure out which doctor is right, I’m living. I’m learning slowly to be nice to myself. If my body says go to bed even though I should be breaking night to study, I’m going to bed. At the end of the day, my dream was to graduate magna cum laude because I’m capable of magna work. But I’ve come to a point of forgiveness with myself. It’s the understanding that just because I don’t do perfect all the time, because I don’t reach every single goal, it’s okay. It won’t kill me to not be such an over achiever. What really matters is that I’ve given all that I can try to give.

Half of my friends don’t even know what’s going on with me physically but that’s okay. The thing is that autoimmune diseases are invisible diseases. On the outside you look great. On the inside you have a waging war. I don’t want sympathy or pity or people thinking I’m sick. I take the admission of being sick as though I have something wrong with me. I do, but I’m fighting. I don’t want pity or special treatment. I just want to be normal, but somewhere out there, I have no doubt there may be other students that feel the same. My words to you are, you are not alone. We are all united as students, with similar goals to either succeed, so better for our families, be the first college grads.

Jessica Simpson is a Senior at CUNY SPS enrolled in the Business Program. She works full time as an immigration paralegal in NYC. She has a strong passion for advocacy, children and psychology. In her spare time she reads psychology books and textbooks while studying personality disorders. Her motto is, “Adversity will either break you, change you or make you, I’ve opted in my life to take the latter road and because of that I’m made into what I am today.”

…in my defense I did ask for an extension already early last week, since I knew I was going to be working 4 night shifts and I had a lot of other homework due. The professors are usually very nice about it, if you give notice ahead of time. I know it is easy to fall behind and it is good to have those deadlines, but I am also an adult student and sometimes life happens and there is no way that I can wrap my head around finishing all the work on time. That being said, I do all my work, and I put effort into all I do! A couple of times, of course, I sit at my break at work on a Sunday night posting to the discussion board while half asleep and when I open up Blackboard on the Monday morning, I do not dare to look what I actually wrote, though it does not happen a lot.

I started my journey towards becoming an RN in fall of 2013—4 years ago. One of my biggest obstacles to climb was to actually apply. I had a hard time figuring out how to do things, and on top of that I needed to have all my Swedish transcripts translated and sent in sealed envelopes from the Swedish institution to BMCC. I was excited when I got accepted to start in January of 2014, I bought a backpack and was off to school.

The first week I cried every day. Every time I came to school I needed a new paper, or a form needed to be filled out, and I was sent from the Bursar’s office to the Financial Aid office to the Registrar’s office. I once needed an electrical bill dated from August or July, and I had brought the latest from September and had to turn back home to get the correct one, just to get on that same line the day after and being told that I needed to show it somewhere else. It was a complete disaster.

I was born and raised in Sweden where pretty much everything is filed online and different institutions have access to your verified information from other institutions, and they keep track of your address and they know your grades—no papers are needed. My Swedish transcript looks like a print out from a Commodore 64, an ancient type of computer that has papers with holes on the side that you have to detach after you have printed (click to see a picture) and then BMCC demanded that the principal of the University I attended in Sweden should sign my transcript, stamp it, put it in an envelope, seal it, stamp it again, write his/her signature, tape it shut and send it to BMCC. That is NOT how we do it in Sweden. There they look in the centralized computer system and can see my academic record, (probably since 1st grade). It took a lot of phone calls and sending of stamps that would cover overseas shipping and patience to make that happen—blood, sweat and tears. Finally I got in and started taking my prerequisites needed for me to apply into the nursing program. The first semester I took Biology, Chemistry, Math for Nurses, Psychology and English, because I was in a hurry. I finished my “prereq’s” in one year (using summer semesters to squeeze it all in), and I got my 4.0 GPA that was required to be able to take the test and do the interview that would put me in the nursing program. And, in December of 2014, Mr Sierra, head of BMCC nursing program called me and said that I had gotten admitted…. to be continued. Good night.

Charlotte Wahlquist is from Sweden. She is a graduate of BMCC and is now a Registered Nurse as of January of this year. In addition to working as a full-time nurse she is enrolled in the online RN to BSN program at CUNY SPS and is a recipient of the ACE Scholarship. Shortly after Charlotte moved to New York, seven years ago, she took a giant leap of faith and went back to school. With her five children, and an impenetrable drive to make her dreams come true—she hit the send button on her CUNY application. The time since that life-altering push of the button has been spent with many early and late hours being a single working mom, a student, and a person wishing for more hours in the day. There have been many challenges that have threatened to pull her off track; however, having her son asking to sit down next to her one night, and work on his homework next to her while she studied made her realize that she had embarked on something much larger than herself.

Disability inclusion is the action of including people with disabilities into everyday activities. It is achieved through practices and polices that identify and remove barriers to full participation in society.

“Normal” people construct society which consists of social behaviors, rules/laws, cultural practices, etc.. Everyone starts out as a part of society then based on social constructs some people are excluded. Therefore, inclusion is a way to include people who have been excluded from society. People do not think about whether to include or exclude “normal” people. So, why do we have to include or exclude people with disabilities?

Exclusion and inclusion is a social construct that some people are not a part of society. People are excluded from society based on social perceptions and attitudes towards certain people. People with disabilities are excluded from society because they are seen as less than, undesirable, etc.. Inclusion is necessary to counteract the poor perceptions and attitudes towards disabled people. The physical acts of exclusion and inclusion (i.e. work discrimination, mainstreaming) are based on the social construct of inclusion and exclusion. The physical acts of inclusion are used to counteract the physical acts of exclusion.

We all live on this planet together. Everyone is a part of society. Any act of inclusion and exclusion is based on social constructs stemming from perceptions and attitudes towards certain people.

Laura MacKenzie loves to learn about the world around her. She adores animals and has a dog and cat. She is always observing, thinking, and analyzing. Her goal is to become a police consultant/instructor on community relations and disability. Laura is enrolled in the Advanced Certificate in Disability Studies here at CUNY SPS.

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)