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I have studied Freud and psychology since the age of 12. Instead of playing with dolls I found solace in reading. During the summers I read over 15 books a week. The one thing I have learned as a life lesson is reading people. Your intuition tends to be spot on. Whether it’s that person who gives you a bad vibe, or that street you always walk down that today you decide not to because of an ominous feeling. The reason I’m talking about this is because of everything going on with Lamar Odom.

I’ve never met the man as I’m sure neither have many of you. But the one fact that we can all agree on is that it’s a tragedy. It’s like when we watched Amy Winehouse drive herself to her early grave. So full of life, potential, and the bright prospective of a future. It’s the shock of “no, not that person.” It’s that feeling of wanting to understand why, to reach out and hug them and say it will be okay. Life is pain, some people tend to understand that more than others. Like there are strong, and there are weak. More importantly, when things happen in life there are usually two choices: break or continue. The problem is that for those who don’t break, it changes you. The pain chips away at the person you were.

This is the reason why everyday I struggle to figure out where I can serve best. Because EVERYONE needs someone to believe in, to know someone cares, to get a second chance, to be guided to the light from the dark. I think that because of Lamar’s upbringing and past pain, I relate on some level and it makes me think of my life. I know what it’s like to want to make that pain stop because the pain of your struggles in life are so unbearable. Whether you’ve thought of entertaining drug use, suicide, or other outlets, the point is that emotions can carry such a level of weight that some people give into these thoughts. I know that life can bring you to some very scary contemplation’s, whether subconsciously or consciously. The question is do we give into these thoughts and feelings that can be incredibly overpowering. Just like I said before, there are weak and there are strong. Neither is right or wrong in it’s own right. Everyone is entitled to their emotions, thoughts etc.. There is no one emotion that is not valid to the person undergoing the struggle. I just think that we need to have a bit more empathy, a bit more understanding and a little bit more love towards how we treat others.

That inspiring word today, might bring someone off a ledge tomorrow. That smile or genuine act of kindness can be the one thing that kept someone from re-lapsing or delving into some other devoid behavior. I didn’t get to where I am today alone. I had people that believed in my ability. I had people in my corner that hugged me and told me everything is okay. So today, think about how you can impact someone, think before you judge someone so harshly and remember that everyone has a story…maybe someone’s story is much like yours.

Jessica is a full time mother, employee, and student. She works as an Immigration Paralegal and is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Business. Jessica loves to volunteer with organizations that are targeted towards children. She recognizes that children are our future and sometimes they need someone who believes in them.

Jessica’s motto: Balancing everything is difficult but achievable.

One of Jessica’s greatest passions is writing. She says, “You have the ability to connect with reader’s in a way that speaking sometimes you simply can’t explain. I have been through a lot in my personal life and am very open about my struggles, but I live to be an example to not only my own daughter but to others.”

I always consider around Week 5 or so of school the midway point even if there are way more weeks to follow. In the past few weeks I’ve been juggling the full time schedule of 4 courses, work and crazy work deadlines, my daughters homework and my dad’s health. He’s been in and out of the hospital for the past month. In between all of that, I can openly attest that some of my work is not entirely up to par. Wendy Williams was recently scrutinized for saying that women will always have to sacrifice, whether it’s work, school, children etc. She’s right. Although we think that we’ve departed from a historical implication of roles and women, the truth is that women are the primary care takers of their children. When your child is home sick the majority of the time its the mother who stays home and cares for her child, the examples can go on and on. Wendy’s comment basically was that you can’t do it all, something will always lags and women are the one’s who sacrifice in career and marriage and she’s right. This was Wendy’s remarks:

“We can debate this all day. Every woman has a different view and there are some women who have an opinion and are scared to voice their opinion on it. But I’m not afraid to voice mine—don’t throw tomatoes.

I do feel it is difficult for men to accept really successful career women. Whether it be that we out-earn them or the marquee, our names are brighter than their own. I also feel like marriage and babies stunt a woman’s growth career-wise and they don’t understand like, once you get married and once you have kids, you can’t do all the things that you used to do and maintain this important precious thing you’ve built as a family.

So my suggestion to women, always, is to use your entire 20s…work your behind off in your career and get some ground footing, then think about meeting that guy. Even if you’ve met him at 27, don’t get engaged and don’t move to where he is. This is about you and your career. Because we are the ones that lose in marriage.

Not men! Men can have all their boys’ nights out and whenever we have a girls’ night out I’m always, ‘I gotta leave, it’s soccer practice.’ I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I’m saying that as a woman who’s been married for 17 years, we’re still expected to empty the dishwasher and we’re still expected to maintain our household.”

You can’t work a high pressure career over 50 hours and still find enough time to be with your family, it’s give and take. You can’t juggle everything and be great at all of it, somewhere a ball is falling. We can only do so much with the best batting average. I have a daughter, and if I have to be honest with her, I will tell her the same. There are no limits to what you can do in life, but family changes you and your dynamics, because at the end of the day, your a mother first, and everything comes second to last to that including yourself. I often reminisce about my own mother, and I honestly wonder how in the world she made it look so easy! I am tired, worn down and just exhausted by the end of the day. I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this.

Jessica is a full time mother, employee, and student. She works as an Immigration Paralegal and is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Business. Jessica loves to volunteer with organizations that are targeted towards children. She recognizes that children are our future and sometimes they need someone who believes in them.
Jessica’s motto: Balancing everything is difficult but achievable.
One of Jessica’s greatest passions is writing. She says, “You have the ability to connect with reader’s in a way that speaking sometimes you simply can’t explain. I have been through a lot in my personal life and am very open about my struggles, but I live to be an example to not only my own daughter but to others.”

The following post was submitted by Nerisusan Rosario, a current student in our online Bachelor’s Degree in Health Information Management (B.S.):

On October 31st CUNY held its 10th annual Women Leadership Conference forum emphasizing the importance of empowering, supporting and mentoring young professional women. The overall theme at the forum was about finding your professional passion. It was great to be in a room of women that embrace the practice of helping other women seek their potential growth professionally. They all expressed how important it is to build relationships with like-minded women who share similar goals, vision, and passion and are essentially a support system when climbing up the ladder.

Morning Panel: New York City Government (Council members)

The panelists were women that hold public civic positions in the New York City government and were fully engaged in their perspective committees and the needs of their constituents in their district. What impressed me was that their passion derived from a personal level and they carry it through in the work that they do. For instance Councilwoman Inez Barron is passionate about eradicating all ‘ism’s’ such as sexism, racism, and classism. Her colleague Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal strongly believes that the budget is a direct reflection of the priorities of the city and she works towards addressing that vigorously on her committee. Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson is dedicated to improving public safety and ensuring that education equality is never neglected. Finally, Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, the newest member, radiated a passion for the arts and expressed that it is possible to align your passion and still serve her community.

Afternoon Panel: “What is your passion”

The panelists were  CUNY Trustees Valerie Lancaster Beal and Rita DiMartino, a corporate Associate Vice Chancellor Andrea Shapiro Davis and Interim Vice Chancellor and University Provost  Julia Wrigley. The discussion revolved around their concept of what embodies a leader, the balancing act of family with career life, and sharing with us their own professional passion. Every single one of these women expressed a form of sacrifice in order to pursue their dreams and due to their own experience they shared the following tips:

  1. Be aware that we live in a global society (everything is accessible electronically)
  2. Maintain a grade point average of 3.0 (be mindful it’s a competitive market)
  3. Aside from work experience, internships and volunteer work are essential
  4. Monitor Facebook/Instagram/Twitter (employers do check social media and your branding)
  5. Establish a relationship with a professional that can in turn become your mentor
  6. You can supplement what you like by incorporating portions of your passion in your career
  7. Self Promote!!! Know your own values and extend yourself

I was left with the impression that many of the women in each panel are individuals that strive for personal improvement and are not afraid to take the risk necessary to be successful. All the women featured in the CUNY Women’s Leadership Conference possessed a sense of humor, charisma, and confidence which energized the audience to see the next 10 years as a strong opportunity to see women in position of power. It may appear as a challenge and perhaps even a bit intimidating, however one of my favorite quotes that came from Councilwoman Cumbo was a song lycric from Lauren Hill, “Everyday is another day to get it right.”

Maggie Keenan-Bolger (SPS ’10) and Rachel Sullivan (SPS ’10) are co-creators of The Birds and The Bees Unabridged, an original devised theater piece about female sexuality accompanied by a pre/post show art exhibit. Bringing together a diverse ensemble of 25 people, and over 15 visual artists, The Birds and The Bees…Unabridged uses theater and visual art to challenge the status quo and spark much needed conversations about women and trans sexuality.The Birds and The Bees...Unabridged

For years, many women have not had the time or place to discuss and define their own notions of sexuality or to challenge current definitions. Using the experiences, ideas and opinions of the individuals in the ensemble, and the 2000+ people who participated in a nationwide survey, The Birds and The Bees Unabridged tackles issues of sex education, partner communication, the sexual body, sexual health, identity, and how sexuality changes over one’s lifespan. This project examines real opinions and stories…because the gentle explanation of the bees pollinating flowers will only go so far.

The Birds and The Bees Unabridged was developed through the process of devising as learned in the MA in Applied Theatre Program at SPS.

School of Professional Studies Students/Alums involved in the project include: Directors: Maggie Keenan Bolger (’10) and Rachel Sullivan (’10) Performers: Meggan Dodd (“11), Chelsea Hackett (’14), Carrie Ellman-Larsen (’11), Jess Levy (’11), Ernell McClennon (’10), Suzu McConnell-Wood (’11), Heather Nielsen (’12), and Liz Parker (’11).

Showtimes and Details:
Wednesday, March 27, 8pm
Thursday, March 28, 8pm
Friday, March 29, 8pm
Saturday, March 30, 2pm and 8pm
Speyer Hall at University Settlement: 184 Eldridge St. New York, NY
Tickets: Sliding Scale $10/$15/$25, based on what you can give
For tickets and information, visit www.thebirdsandthebeesunabridged.com