CUNY SPS Magazine, 2022 - 2023

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Magazine Spring 2023 CUNY SPS Welcome From Our Interim Dean Celebrating Our Departing Academic Directors Veteran and Military Students Championing America’s Champions Supportive Space Urban Male Scholar Mentors Commencement 2022 Highlights She Said Yes! And Much More Inside In This Issue

The CUNY SPS Magazine is produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications

Editor-in-Chief: Ariana Souzis

Design: Kelly Cunningham

Writers: Marisa Osorio, Mary Jane Reis, Lisa Sheridan, Ariana Souzis

Chief Marketing and Communications Officer: Andrea L. Fagon

CUNY School of Professional Studies Magazine 1 3 Dear Members of the CUNY SPS Community: Welcome from Interim Dean Jorge Silva-Puras 5 It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye: CUNY SPS Celebrates Our Departing Academic Directors 11 Online Orientation at CUNY SPS: Creating a Community of Support 15 Championing America’s Champions: CUNY SPS Lends Helping Hand to Veteran and Active Military Students 17 Democracy at Work: Participatory Budgeting Empowers CUNY SPS 21 Supportive Space: Students Find Advocacy and Encouragement in the Urban Male Scholars Program 23 CUNY SPS’ Workplace Learning Unit Continues Its Innovative Work for Another Productive Year 27 We're Back: CUNY SPS Celebrates Graduating Classes in First In-Person Ceremonies Since 2019 31 Bridging the Gap: IT Partnership Allows Tech Certification Program Graduates to Earn College Credit 33 School
HR Generalist
Her Passion
Program Briefs 51 Backstage at CUNY SPS: An
53 Faculty, Staff, Students, and
Briefs 57 She Said Yes!
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Celebrating CUNY SPS Students

Dear Members of the CUNY SPS Community:

Since our last issue, CUNY SPS has achieved so much. More than 4,000 students are enrolled in our credit-bearing programs and nearly 40,000 more attend our non-credit professional workplace learning offerings. In 2022, we launched two new degree programs—a Bachelor of Arts in Youth Studies and a Bachelor of Professional Studies in Applied Management and Entrepreneurship. Our quality and online expertise continues to be recognized by U.S. News & World Report, which ranked us once again among the top best online bachelor’s degree programs in the nation.

Reflecting back on these stats, I see one explanation for our School’s continuing success: the efforts that our entire community makes to consistently mentor, support, and nurture our students and each other. It’s a simple equation: when students receive proper guidance and encouragement, they are far more likely to flourish in school and beyond.

It is this incredible culture of care that I am very pleased to showcase in the latest issue of the CUNY SPS Magazine, starting with the peer mentoring opportunities offered to our students through our award-winning online orientation programs and the groundbreaking Urban Male Scholars initiative. Other articles in this issue speak to the less formal—but no less impactful—support our community provides. This includes our three departing academic directors, who, as we say goodbye, share the ways that they’ve always sought to foster their program’s faculty and students.

In another great example, our devoted staff in the Office of Military and Veteran Student Services—many of whom are themselves CUNY SPS students and alums—describe how they work tirelessly to serve the needs of those students who serve their country.

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Welcome to the Spring 2023 issue of the CUNY SPS Magazine! I am very excited to share with you some of the inspiring stories, projects, and achievements from our community over the past year.
I see one explanation for our School’s continuing success: the efforts that our entire community makes to consistently mentor, support, and nurture our students and each other. It’s a simple equation: when students receive proper guidance and encouragement, they are far more likely to flourish in school and beyond.

We also explore in this issue how, through our IT Pathways partnership, our committed administrators and staff work closely with IT training program graduates to guide them through the process of transferring their tech credentials into college credits, helping to set the stage for their future success at CUNY SPS. This mutual culture of support is also built into our School’s units and initiatives. As you’ll read, our new participatory budgeting process invites the entire community to propose and vote upon projects that benefit CUNY SPS—providing an innovative way to collectively share our expertise with each other. And, as in prior issues, our Office of Professional Education and Workplace Learning (PEWL) and Committee on Institutional Equity and Diversity (CIED) offer updates on the key trainings and events each unit hosted over the past year to teach and bolster not just the members of our community, but many thousands of city agency workers as well.

Last, but not least, we celebrate the culmination of these efforts to guide our students triumphantly to the finish line, with a look at this year’s joyous and heartfelt in-person commencement ceremony featuring the classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022.

In the following pages, I invite you all to learn more about the different ways our community seeks to champion our students and each other, and to reflect upon the ways that you yourself have played a role.

All the Best,

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More than 4,000 students are enrolled in our credit-bearing programs and nearly 40,000 more attend our non-credit professional workplace learning offerings.

It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye:

CUNY SPS Celebrates Our Departing Academic Directors

Goodbyes are never easy. During the 2022-2023 academic year, the CUNY SPS community bid farewell to three academic directors who retired or moved on from their leadership roles. To honor these remarkable directors—and the work they’ve done to build their programs into academic powerhouses—we invited them to reflect upon their careers and accomplishments.

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Disability Studies is a somewhat recent academic discipline. How did you become a trailblazer in the field? Well, I started out as a singer—I studied voice and even sang at Carnegie Hall— but I loved singing rock and roll. My skeptical parents recommended a job at my aunts’ secretarial service, which led to work as a secretary at an agency representing people who were mentally ill or institutionalized in New York State. In my spare time I read everything in the office. And people would call up and ask me for advice. I ended up getting hired by the foundation that had funded the agency–Geraldo Rivera’s One to One Foundation. I stayed there for seven years, and then founded a nonprofit, Maidstone Foundation, that worked on advocacy for children and adults with disabilities who were least likely to receive help. I stayed there for 25 years.

Because of that experience, I was invited to teach courses on developmental disabilities at Medgar Evers and later City College. When CUNY SPS was established, I became an adjunct, then left Maidstone to teach here full-time. I started as academic director in 2008, and we launched the MA in Disability Studies in 2009, which I’m proud to say is the first degree of its kind in the US.

Dr. Mariette Bates

Academic Director of the Disability Studies Programs

(Advanced Certificate, BA, and MA in Disability Studies; Advanced Certificate and MS in Disability Services in Higher Education) from 2008 to 2022

What do you consider to be some of your greatest accomplishments here?

I would say the ability to develop and offer these programs is my biggest accomplishment. Also, the fact that we have so many students with disabilities, and so many disabled faculty members teaching for us. It’s also great that because it’s online, people can take advantage of it without coming to New York City.

Launching the MS in Disability Services in Higher Ed, because it was hard to do, was also incredibly meaningful to me. And launching the BA in Disability Studies because I think it’s very important for people to understand that working with people with disabilities is critical work. And it’s often undervalued by society— people who work in this field don’t make a lot of money. But it’s critical to the people that are being served by these systems.

What are some challenges you have faced in your role?

I think one of the real issues we have is that people continue to devalue disability. It’s stigmatized and the workers tend to be stigmatized as well. There’s a general reluctance sometimes by people who don’t experience disability to engage in the issue. And another problem is that disability is very complicated.

Everybody with a particular diagnosis is different. It’s a very broad and complex issue. It’s been a challenge for me to develop programs and courses that reflect this complexity.

What will you miss the most about your job?

I will miss everybody here very much. I’ve developed so many good relationships with people at CUNY SPS. My colleagues have been so wonderful in supporting and extending goodwill. I always felt like they had my back. It’s been exciting building the School together with everybody. And of course I’ll miss the students and faculty.

What advice do you have for new faculty joining the disability studies programs? For students?

My general advice is to take advantage of what’s offered by CUNY SPS, and to get involved to the extent that you’re able. I know that many of our faculty and students have families and other responsibilities, but this is a wonderful place and has many great opportunities.

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I’ve developed so many good relationships with people at CUNY SPS....It’s been exciting building the School together with everybody. And of course I’ll miss the students and faculty.

Dr. Mariette Bates (continued)

The theme of this year’s CUNY SPS magazine issue is mentorship. How would you say mentorship has played a role in your programs?

One thing I’ve tried to do is to give graduates of our master’s programs an opportunity to teach. I’m very excited that one of our master’s graduates, Emily Brooks, was awarded the Adjunct Faculty Prize for Teaching Excellence last summer.

I always tried to mentor the students as well through office hours. I had an open door here all the time. I’ve worked with so many people, that’s one of the things I was always able to offer—a lot of experience talking to people with really challenging problems and figuring out how to help them get what they needed.

What would your students and colleagues here be surprised to find out about you?

In the 1970s, I lived for five years on a schooner at Sherman Creek (now called Swindler’s Cove) on the Harlem River. I was the only woman in the community there—and I was on the only boat with a stove, so I cooked for everybody.

A producer I did some secretarial work for was so intrigued by this that he tried to make a TV show about my life. He wrote a treatment for a sitcom called “Diana, Queen of Sherman Creek.” He pitched it to a few networks, but it never went anywhere. I guess my life might have taken a different turn if it had!

After retiring, what are your plans?

I will still be involved with CUNY SPS disability program efforts. I’m planning to work with my colleagues from the JFK, Jr. Institute for Worker Education and the Museum Studies program to help bring the Museum of DisAbility to CUNY.

I also am teaching myself the dulcimer. I’d love to go sing and play in nursing homes and hospitals.

You’ve had a really varied career. What is the secret to your success?

I think that when opportunities came along, I would just say “okay” and do it. I was curious and worked really, really hard because none of it came easily or naturally to me. When I started working at those foundations, I immersed myself in learning about disability, and that’s how I learned everything because we were inventing the field as it grew. So that’s the advice I’d give to anyone starting out now—when opportunities arise, just take them, even if you don’t think you’re ready. You will be.

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Briefly describe your career and how you became the academic director of the health information management programs.

As a health information management professional, I started working in the field immediately after graduating from college. I have never looked back or thought about doing anything differently. I became a member of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)—the professional association for HIM professionals—in my junior year of college and here I am, 47 years later. After working as a practitioner in health information management for 30 years, I jumped to the academic side, training the HIM professionals of the future, first at a community college in New Jersey and then at CUNY for the last 10 years.

What do you consider to be some of your greatest accomplishments here?

CUNY SPS has allowed me to be creative and expand the offerings for our students. First, after achieving accreditation for our BS in Health Information Management, we created a Medical Coding certificate program. Subsequently, we were able to create a BS in Health Services Administration. This program has been wildly successful in helping a wide variety of students to achieve their goal to earn a bachelor’s degree. Our next achievement was launching a MS in Health Information Management, one of only a few in the country. Providing these opportunities to students has been my greatest achievement.


What were some challenges you have faced in your role?

I would say not having enough resources to move things forward at the pace needed or that you would want. With rapid and continuous growth of programs, there is a need to increase resources as well to provide needed services to students.

What will you miss the most about your job?

I will truly miss the camaraderie of our small group of full-time faculty and the ability to help students to achieve their goals.

What advice do you have for new faculty joining your programs? For students?

For new faculty, I would say that they should rely on their peers at CUNY SPS. We have a terrific group of supportive and collegial faculty who have the best interests of the students at heart. To students in HIM—there are boundless opportunities for those in this field—be sure to network with the use of the professional associations such as AHIMA. For HSA students, the field is expansivewith many career paths—think about networking with those in like fields to move your career forward.

What would your students and colleagues here be surprised to find out about you?

Many of my colleagues may be surprised to know that I am heavily involved in the children’s camping industry. I have served on the board of directors of a girls sleep-away camp in New York State for the past 30 years. I attended the camp as a child and worked there as a camp

counselor. It is a place where we empower young women to be the best that they can be. This is where the roots of my love for the outdoors and for helping younger people succeed was born.

After retiring, what are your plans?

I have been involved with many nonprofits over the years, having also served on the board of directors of AHIMA for a three-year term. I would expect that I will continue working with these organizations, but may step up on my hiking, paddle-boarding, and kayaking with more free time!

Anything else you’d like to mention?

It has truly been a pleasure working at CUNY SPS. Everyone I have engaged with over the years has had the best interest of the students and the organization at heart. I have likened CUNY SPS to a small, mean, fighting machine—we get things done with very limited resources in a highly bureaucratic environment. Thanks to everyone I have interacted with for your kindness and respectfulness. I will truly miss you all!

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I will truly miss the camaraderie of our small group of full-time faculty and the ability to help students to achieve their goals.

Dr. Ed Knox

Academic Director of the Online Business Programs (BS in Business; BPS in Applied Management and Entrepreneurship; and MS in Business Management and Leadership) from 2017-2022

You served in the military, worked at General Electric, and started several companies. What led you to directing the business programs at CUNY SPS?

There were several critical moments in my career that led me to education. First, when in the military, I transformed an underperforming unit into the one highest ranked by the inspector general. Several soldiers noted that I was a good trainer and developer during that time and suggested that I should consider teaching. And when I thought about it, I realized that I did enjoy teaching.

After I left the military, I went into corporate America. There I discovered it was hard to find MBAs and engineers with the skills necessary to be deemed essential for the organization to compete. I immediately worked with professional peers and colleagues to develop workshops that addressed knowledge and experience gaps. Because of my experiences, I began to take business education very seriously. I also realized that I wanted to work in higher education. So when a former colleague offered me an opportunity to work at a business school—I took it and never looked behind me.

Initially, I worked at Florida A&M University. After I relocated to New York, I worked at several schools in administrative and teaching roles, including CUNY Medgar Evers, where I served as the executive director of enrollment management, instructor of business, chair, and dean of the School of Business. In 2016, following a brief departure from CUNY, I accepted the offer to become the interim academic director for the CUNY SPS online business programs. I jumped at this role for two reasons. First, I was impressed by CUNY SPS’ level of innovativeness, one of a few online schools with unique academic and co-curricular programs. Secondly, the business programs were fully online and would provide an opportunity to learn about the infrastructure necessary to deliver a curriculum virtually. CUNY SPS appointed me the full-time academic director in 2017, and the rest, as they say, is history.

What do you consider to be some of your greatest accomplishments here?

I’m proud of a few things. Most importantly, working with my business colleagues to build a solid curriculum. That’s our responsibility as academics; we control the curriculum. We

reviewed the integrity of the curricula and courses to ensure they are updated and grounded in business theory and concepts. Ultimately, we want to ensure our students learn to think critically as leaders and businesspeople.

Second, I’m proud that in 2022 we were rated #30 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in Business. It was the highest ranking we had received to date. That has much to do with our curriculum, instruction, co-curriculum, and student support efforts.

I am also very proud of creating our business program conferences and speaker series. Our annual business conferences help build collaboration between academics and practitioners and ensure our curriculum integrates industry trends.

The student club (Management and Entrepreneur Leadership Organization) is another accomplishment. We are getting students actively engaged and applying theories and concepts to practice. It was a big priority because an active student is a learning student.

Finally, my crowning achievement is launching the Bachelor of Professional Studies (BPS) in Applied Management and Entrepreneurship in 2022. This program will benefit thousands of CUNY students who have earned or enrolled in an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree. The BPS is unique in design and has a broad targeted audience—in and outside CUNY. It provides value to CUNY SPS and the whole University system.

What were some of the challenges you have faced in your role?

One challenge I had was capacity—the online business program is one of the larger academic programs at CUNY SPS. At one point, the program’s enrollment was over 500 students with just one full-time faculty member. Work-life balance was tricky —I often worked more than 70 hours a week. I didn’t let this deter me. I just kept pressing on and prioritizing what was most important. The school’s leadership supported bringing in two new business full-time faculty members and expanding part-time consortia and ACL (Academic & Critical Literacies) faculty. The increase in capacity made a tremendous difference.

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What will you miss the most about your job?

I will miss the rich dynamics of the department and my faculty colleagues, who are incredibly smart people. I’ll also miss the continuous engagement in thought leadership alongside my very innovative colleagues serving as academic directors and other administrative roles.

What advice do you have for new faculty joining the business programs? For students?

I would tell new faculty to roll up their sleeves and learn the entire curriculum, not just their functional business discipline. You must understand its comprehensiveness and how to teach it effectively to develop a businessperson. Get involved with OFDIT [Office of Faculty Development and Instructional Technology] and learn all the functionalities and tools available to become solid educators. It will be rewarding for you anywhere you teach.

To students, I would say: be clear on your reasons for wanting to study business. Understand the business programs and why we are teaching specific course topics, theories, and concepts, and how they are related to your aspirations. Also, get to know your faculty and peers. They’re your resource networks and will provide necessary support at CUNY SPS and beyond graduation.

What are some trends you see emerging in the 21st century? How is CUNY SPS preparing our students to cope with these changes?

Here’s a very abbreviated list. Online education—it’s here to stay. E-commerce and social platforms are intimate tools of our unfolding virtual world. Entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial thinking drive organizations and economies. Human resources, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are central to the evolving

socioeconomic landscape—people need to learn how to think about these concepts to function and thrive in today’s world. Finally, using big data is becoming critical for making informed and impactful decisions.

At CUNY SPS, we’ve addressed these trends with business conferences, speaker series, and special topic courses—we’ve hosted talks on new technology (e.g. Crypto) and DEI, among other topics. Much of our efforts to appreciate emerging trends are rooted in the experienced practitioners who serve as adjuncts.

How would you say mentorship has played a role in your programs?

Mentoring is one of the main things that academic directors do; probably our most important role. We mentor junior faculty and staff. Serving as the most senior subject matter experts, we mentor our students on their way to becoming professional businesspeople and various careers which align their aspirations and studies.

What would your students and colleagues here be surprised to find out about you?

Most people may not know that I originally came to New York to pursue a career as a Broadway producer. After participating in an invitation-only commercial theater program that involved discussions with Broadway producers, I quickly learned it was an expensive proposition—so I opted for smaller-scale productions. At one point, a show I had been workshopping was selected for a showcase presentation by NBC with the possible consideration of a pilot. While not advancing beyond the showcase, the experience was rewarding.

You stepped down from your role as academic director but remain as faculty. What classes are you teaching now? What are your other future plans? Currently, I’m focusing on my academic research, writing, and publishing on topics of leadership and entrepreneurship. I will continue teaching leadership and entrepreneurship courses in the MSBML, BS, and BPS programs. I plan to return to my consulting and business practice, which focuses on entrepreneurial startups and small business development.

Any final thoughts?

We should never forget that academia is about students, their dreams, and aspirations, and we should always remain student-centered. I like to acknowledge the student club Management and Entrepreneur Leadership Organization (MELO). The organization represents a wonderful collaboration between CUNY SPS faculty, staff, administrators, and business practitioners. The club hosts events where students engage in activities that build their deep appreciation for business and meet with successful leaders and entrepreneurs. It’s open to all undergraduate and graduate students. I encourage all CUNY SPS students, regardless of major, to join!

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We should never forget that academia is about students, their dreams, and aspirations, and we should always remain student-centered.

Online Orientation at CUNY SPS:

Creating a Community of Support

Over the past two decades, CUNY SPS has quickly evolved from a fledgling member of the City University system into one of the nation’s top ten online bachelor’s degree programs. How did the School rise so rapidly in the ranks? In addition to outstanding faculty, programs, and accessibility, CUNY SPS offers something else: a flourishing online community of support and mentorship, available from the outset thanks to the School’s award-winning orientation programs.

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“Our students often have so much going on in their lives outside of the classroom—families, careers, financial struggles, chronic illnesses, and disabilities. Plugging into the community can make sure they’re supported and can help smooth the way toward their degree.” CUNY SPS’ online orientation programs—which include New Student Orientation (NSO) for entering undergraduates, Test Flight for prospective students, and Online Learning Essentials (OLE) for non-degree students—all provide a first but critical entrée into the School’s support systems.

For some students, orientation dramatically shifts their trajectory toward success. Laura Collazo, BA in Sociology alum and first year experience facilitator, reflected, “If it wasn’t for NSO, I would never have begun my studies at CUNY SPS.” She explained, “I had convinced myself that there was no way I would be successful as too much time had passed since I was a student, and I was also worried I would be an outsider among my peers. NSO flipped this narrative on its head.” Thanks to NSO, she realized she “wasn’t the only person who had stepped away from school for many years” and that she did, indeed, belong.

Collazo’s anecdotal experience is born out in the research. According to Emily Schrynemakers, first year experience specialist, multiple “peer-reviewed studies [show] that nurturing a community . . . can have a significant impact on

student satisfaction and desire to persist through graduation.” CUNY SPS’ three orientation programs create this support system from the start and, in some cases, even before a student enrolls. Each of the orientation programs targets a slightly different population. Test Flight, a first-in-kind program, offers a weeklong simulation of a class designed to give prospective students a real sense of the CUNY SPS online experience. NSO, a two-week mini-course, is offered to all incoming undergraduates, including those who have completed Test Flight. OLE supports non-degree and e-permit students. All of these programs allow students to experience the online learning environment before classes begin—and to establish a baseline community of peers, faculty, and staff.

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If it wasn’t for NSO, I would never have begun my studies at CUNY SPS...I had convinced myself that there was no way I would be successful since too much time had passed since I was a student, and I was also worried I would be an outsider among my peers. NSO flipped this narrative on its head.
In the words of Dr. Angela Francis, assistant dean of general education and first year experience,

Although each program is targeted to different populations, they all orient students to the specific demands of online learning. Like most CUNY SPS classes, orientation sessions are asynchronous, meaning that students participate at a time that fits with their schedules. Some learning modules help students hone the skills they need to succeed with this learning model, such as time management and task prioritization. Still others focus on academic topics such as information literacy and essay writing. Participants engage with

academic materials, submit assignments, and contact their professors—all virtually and all in a low-stakes, supportive environment.

These orientation experiences really make a difference. Virginia Gilroy, adjunct lecturer and new student experience facilitator, observed, “I can often tell who hasn’t attended any of the orientation programs. In both the Test Flight program and NSO, students learn basic skills, like how to start a discussion board thread and, most importantly, how

to upload an assignment to Blackboard. These may sound like small things, but they are a large part of the online learning experience. When a student comes to class already knowing these skills, they avoid the small frustrations that can have a huge impact on their impression of online learning.”

The discussion boards Gilroy refers to serve an academic purpose—and a community-building purpose—as well. Through these boards, new and prospective students can ask questions, find answers and get perspective, not only from staff and faculty, but also from peers. Dr. Francis noted that “…most of orientation takes place on the message boards because we feel it’s crucial that students actually have conversations with each other, the faculty, and staff, rather than. . . just listen to us talk to them.” Collazo recalled how powerful the boards can be, commenting that “… reading over my peers’ posts, which were mixed with worry, excitement, and determination, encouraged me. If they believed they could succeed at this, maybe I could too.”

While the discussion boards foster informal, spontaneous connections between students, the School has also created a formal peer mentor system at NSO. This program pairs experienced, successful CUNY SPS students with incoming undergraduates based on major. According to Schrynemakers, new students “appreciate the unique insight that others who have gone through the asynchronous programming can share with them.” New students

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In both the Test Flight program and NSO, students learn basic skills... When a student comes to class already knowing these skills, they avoid the small frustrations that can have a huge impact on their impression of online learning.

particularly like to ask peer mentors questions specific to their major, which as Schrynemakers observes, “helps them feel connected to their programs.” In the Fall 2020 cohort, 85% of NSO enrollees surveyed agreed that their peer mentor helped them learn about the CUNY SPS student experience. Academic directors such as Ellen Karl, who ran the health information programs, have also noticed the difference that peer mentors can make. Karl said that NSO students “are hearing from the horse’s mouth what it is like to be an online student in a particular program. These mentors are encouraging and speak about their challenges and what their best practices are to be a successful online student.”

Beyond the peer mentors, many other members of the CUNY SPS community are available during NSO, including faculty, academic directors, program staff, library staff, the help desk, and even career services. Taken together, these individuals create a wrap-around system of support for incoming students. Not surprisingly, the program has proven to be very popular. In Fall 2022, NSO saw its largest orientation group ever, with a record 756 students, or 94% of new enrollees.

For prospective students, the Test Flight orientation also provides much-needed assistance. This orientation was first created for the Jump Start program, which offers an alternative admissions process to returning students who find themselves bogged down by old GPAs that don’t reflect their true capabilities. These students take Test Flight to demonstrate their college readiness as well as to get a feel for what it means to be a student at CUNY SPS. In addition to the course simulation, Test Flight participants work with a team of facilitators, the majority of whom are faculty members or CUNY SPS graduates, to connect with both admissions and the Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) team. These built-in mentors guide prospective students through the application process and help them determine if they can transform work experience into college credits. The program has proven so popular that CUNY SPS now provides it to any prospective student who wants to better understand what the School has to offer.

Even “visitors” to CUNY SPS benefit from a sense of community and from mentorship—and the School provides it through OLE. As Dr. Francis put it, “We want [non-degree and e-permit students] to realize they are part of our community . . . for however long they decide to stay with us.” In OLE, students have access to advising designed specifically for visiting students, as well as to fully facilitated discussion boards and learning modules. The visiting student advisor stays closely connected to these students throughout their enrollment, performing some of the same roles that staff from the Office of Advisement perform for other CUNY SPS students.

With all these offerings, it’s not surprising that these three orientation programs were selected to receive the 2020 Online Learning Consortium’s Effective Practice Award due to their “exemplary contributions to the field.” Yet Dr. Francis and her team continue to evolve the programs. As Schrynemakers observed, “The [quantitative and qualitative] information we gather . . . is carefully considered and used to help improve the experience for future students!” Dr. Francis also noted that the team plans to coordinate with the CUNY SPS Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Planning (IE&P) to “do a deeper assessment” with the aim of “completing a major revision based on a combination of those findings and feedback from the community—particularly from students.”

For Dr. Francis, the success of the three orientation programs reflects not only the hard work of her team, but also the deep commitment of “the smart, innovative, driven people who make up the [CUNY SPS] community.” In her experience, “People across the School are driven to find ways to help students succeed—from the way faculty design courses and interrogate pedagogical methods to the way offices across student services work to remove barriers to our students’ access to a college education.” It is this ethos that drives the success of the School’s orientations—and CUNY SPS itself.

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People across the School are driven to find ways to help students succeed—from the way faculty design courses and interrogate pedagogical methods to the way offices across student services work to remove barriers to our students’ access to a college education.

CUNY SPS Lends Helping Hand to Veteran and Active Military Students

Championing America’s Champions:

Americans take pride in having the strongest military in the world, with troops known for their fortitude, ingenuity, and resilience, even under the toughest circumstances.

As effective as these men and women have been in the skies, on the field, and across the seas, the transition back to the classroom can sometimes prove challenging. CUNY SPS—a recognized military friendly School that was ranked #5 on the U.S. News & World Report’s 2023 list of Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans—seeks to ease this transition and clear the way to successful degree completion for all its students with a military affiliation.

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Army veteran DeQuency Bowen, (BA in Communication and Media ’20; MS in Business Management and Leadership ‘22), understands firsthand why the road to a college degree can prove particularly complex for veterans and active military. She explained, “The needs of the military/veteran student vary, by branch of service, tuition assistance, disability, dependents, and more,” and that “it is important that we understand that there is no one size fit for this community.” For that reason, CUNY SPS, and especially the School’s Office of Military and Veteran Student Services (OMVSS)—where Bowen is employed as a college assistant—works to be as sensitive as possible to the diverse needs of these students.

The first challenge many of them face upon enrollment is accessing their military benefits. According to John S. Long (BA in Communication and Media ’20), a former marine and current military and veteran’s affairs assistant at the OMVSS, “Between the VA, the individual military branches, and the various other organizations that are involved, there are a lot of things to keep track of.” OMVSS is focused on cutting through red tape and smoothing the way towards enrollment and degree completion. As Long puts it, “One of the best parts of my job is being able to help students navigate the maze of benefits and options that are available to them.”

Even when students can access their full benefits, tuition continues to be a major stressor. Once again, the School aims to help through its US Military Bachelor’s Degree Completion Scholarship. This scholarship is available to active duty and reserve military CUNY SPS students who participate in the Department of Defense (DoD) Tuition Assistance program. Students can use scholarship funds towards tuition costs above the DoD limit, and thus avoid incurring student debt. Since its inception in 2021, seven CUNY SPS students to date have received this scholarship, with more awards offered yearly going forward.

Support from the School does not stop with tuition and benefits assistance, however. In Spring 2022, for example, the OMVSS helped establish the CUNY SPS Student Veteran Organization, or SVO. Kaminie Persaud, US Navy veteran and VA work study intern at the OMVSS, is the SVO’s first and current president. She described the group’s purpose as “a space for military and veteran students and alumni where they can network with each other, gain information about military connected benefits they may be entitled to, and ask questions about anything they need help with regarding school or their benefits.”

CUNY SPS veterans also have access to information and speakers through a weekly “Wellness Wednesdays” program, hosted online by the CUNY Central Office of Veteran Affairs. Past guests have included representatives from the Jericho Project’s Veteran Initiative, which focuses on finding housing, employment, and supportive services for veterans; the David Lynch Foundation’s Operation Warrior Wellness, which brings evidence-based mindfulness practices to veterans and active military; and Brooklyn Legal Services, which offers pro bono legal support to eligible Brooklyn residents, including veterans.

The new SVO takes particular pride in bringing in experts to speak with student veterans every month. According to Long, these “specially curated guest speakers [. . .] provide a broad range of information and resources that are specifically designed to meet [veterans’] unique needs and interests.” Even the most experienced vets can learn from these events, noted Long, who remarked, “Attending these presentations has. . . introduced me to programs and information that I had never heard of, even though I first went to boot camp over 17 years ago!” Recent speakers have included representatives from the US Department of Veterans Affairs, the NYC Department of Veterans’ Services, and CUNY SPS Career Services and Counseling Services.

Support for active military and veterans at CUNY SPS continue to evolve. Bowen spent the first half of 2022 reaching out to CUNY SPS students and alumni with a military affiliation via a survey drafted by the CUNY Central Office. The survey’s goal was, according to Bowen, “to get a grasp of . . . the needs of military/veteran students by asking about their work background, their current military status, their ability to attain financial assistance for school, their best method of contact, and their current stressors within the School.” Initial findings have shown that the community is generally satisfied with the military and veteran student services and that one of their biggest stressors is tuition. Going forward, CUNY Central and the School will use data points from the survey to enhance support and services for active military and veteran students. In the meantime, the School and the OMVSS continue a mission that feels deeply personal. Long observed, “I know first-hand how daunting the process [of returning to school] can be, and how important it is to have advocates available to help answer questions and guide you through the process.” Fortunately for our military heroes, the OMVSS—in coordination with the rest of the CUNY SPS community—is there to support and nurture them throughout their educational journey.

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The needs of the military/veteran student vary, by branch of service, tuition assistance, disability, dependents, and more... it is important that we understand that there is no one size fit for this community.

d at Work: Democracy

Participatory Budgeting Empowers CUNY SPS

It all began when Dr. Sarah Zeller-Berkman, academic director of the CUNY SPS youth studies programs and director of the Intergenerational Change Initiative (ICI), found herself experimenting with participatory budgeting (PB), an innovative democratic process by which community members collectively decide how to allocate a portion of a shared budget. While using PB in her own work with the ICI, an organization conducting youth participatory action research, a light bulb went off. Why not try this closer to home? “I associate CUNY SPS with innovation,” she explained. “I felt like our school was looking for ways to develop a sense of community as well as support ideas that would make things better for our students, school, and/or city.”

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“When everyone is included, everyone wins.” Jesse Jackson’s inspirational quote was taken to heart by CUNY SPS last year with the adoption of an innovative and inclusive budgeting model that seeks to share expertise, build community, and ultimately make our School better.

Inspired, Dr. Zeller-Berkman pitched participatory budgeting to the CUNY SPS Budget Committee in December 2020, realizing that CUNY SPS would be the perfect place to institute a process that invites all community members to ideate and actualize creative ways to improve the School. “The hope is that having a democratic, transparent process that gives all community members access to seed money to make a vision become a reality would help inspire greater collaboration and catalyze change initiatives,” she reflected.

Tracy Meade, senior associate dean for strategy and innovation and member of the Budget Committee, quickly realized the proposal’s potential for civic engagement, collaboration, and transparency. “Sarah saw the PB process as a means to give the CUNY SPS community direct access to a portion of the budget for projects developed and selected by the community,” she noted. Meade herself was already familiar with participatory budgeting—her husband, along with fellow members of the Brooklyn Bird Club, had in 2015 successfully proposed a PB project to the city to replace the lake mess monster, an aquatic weed harvester used to keep Prospect Park’s lake healthy.

Meade’s enthusiasm was echoed by the rest of the Budget Committee and, with the initial support of Dean Emeritus Mogulescu and later Interim Dean Silva-Puras, they agreed to allocate $50,000 a year to fund up to five PB projects that would be voted upon by the CUNY SPS community.

Once approved, the Budget Committee immediately got to work, establishing a subcommittee to implement the PB cycles. This subcommittee began planning the logistics and outlining the criteria for PB projects, which they determined would be based on adherence to the

School’s mission and vision and goals set forth in the CUNY SPS 2022-2027 Strategic Plan. (See chart below.)

In Fall 2021, the inaugural PB cycle was launched. To promote the process and stir ideas, the subcommittee invited CUNY SPS community members at several Faculty and Town Halls to share their concerns, desires, and dreams for the School. The themes that emerged from these conversations were documented and later shared as a guide for possible projects. In November 2021, the subcommittee opened the initial round of project proposals, narrowing down the submissions to eleven projects that fit the PB criteria.

Online voting opened to all members of the CUNY SPS community in early December 2021. By the time the voting period closed three weeks later, a total of 336 students, adjuncts, and full-time faculty/staff had chosen four projects, which focused on topics like equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), youth data and research, and disability training. (See chart page 20.)

Wasting no time, the subcommittee distributed the PB awards in January 2022, and the project work began in earnest. In Fall 2022, project organizers began reporting back to the subcommittee on their successes and lessons learned, offering the first snapshot of what has been gained by the CUNY SPS community through this inclusive process.

Participatory Budgeting Project Criteria

PB projects are selected based on how well they:

¢ Advance the CUNY SPS Mission and Vision

¢ Support the 2022-2027 Strategic Plan’s Guiding Concepts of Community, Flexibility, Equity, and Accessibility

¢ Align with one or more of the Six Areas of Strategic Focus outlined in the Strategic Plan:

¢ Expanding Enrollment and Access

¢ Ensuring Academic Success and Career Development

¢ Improving the Teaching and Learning Experience

¢ Broadening Professional Education and Workplace Learning (PEWL)

¢ Providing a Culture of Care

¢ Cultivating Innovation

¢ Use tax-levy dollars in a permissible way

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For the Committee on Institutional Equity and Diversity (CIED), which had organized both the Professional Development Day and Microaggression and Bullying Awareness Training for Faculty and Staff, the PB award allowed them to successfully expand their EDI offerings to the School. More than 120 faculty and staff attended the professional development training and microaggression awareness courses, learning valuable EDI tools and competencies that would support positive and healthy employee relationships.

The PB award also had a positive impact on Dr. Zeller-Berkman’s own work. With these funds, the Intergenerational Change Initiative was able to hire ten young people to partner with CUNY SPS youth studies and data science students and faculty to collect and analyze data from the ICI’s annual Youth Ask Youth (YAY) Census. In addition to providing these students with valuable

research skills, their work enabled the team to develop a Youth Agenda for policy leaders in NYC and share it with major stakeholders.

To members of the Budget Committee, this first participatory budgeting cycle proved to be a great test case. Meade observed, “The pilot, put up very quickly, was a success, which was very rewarding!” Dr. Zeller-Berkman reflected upon what the subcommittee might improve with future cycles, especially as awareness of PB spreads. “I think we are learning each year how to give people the information and support they need to submit projects that go on the ballot. I am hoping we will get more projects each year and more people engaged in the voting as we report back on the great work that is being funded through these efforts.”

Even as the logistics are being ironed out, participatory budgeting at CUNY SPS continues to gather steam. In Spring

2022, 388 voters chose four projects for the second round of PB awards. These projects will address some familiar needs from the first cycle—bringing EDI awareness to the classroom and EDI trainings through LinkedIn—and several new ones, like building career confidence through theater-based facilitation, and providing Narcan training to treat narcotic overdoses. Indeed, as more PB projects are launched each year, the topics and concerns these projects tackle will offer collective insight into what the CUNY SPS community truly cares about.

Meade can’t wait. “I am eager to see the PB projects that are selected over the next 5 years. There’s so much to learn, and adding this avenue of idea generation and funding support provides CUNY SPS with a broader source of ideas to help improve the student, faculty, and staff experience and most importantly, the success of our School.”

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The hope is that having a democratic, transparent process that gives all community members access to seed money to make a vision become a reality would help inspire greater collaboration and catalyze change initiatives.

2021-2022 Fall Cycle Participatory Budgeting Project Descriptions

Disability Training for Faculty and Staff: $2,400

This faculty training program was created to improve faculty attitudes towards disabled students, fill in gaps about legal requirements under the ADA, increase the use of universal design/universal design, and strengthen faculty’s confidence about interacting with disabled students, all of which lead to higher graduation rates for disabled students.

Intergenerational Change Initiative: Growing Student Skills, Transforming Communities, and Building Better Policies: $25,000

Faculty and students from the youth studies and data science programs offered CUNY SPS students paid fellowships to be part of a socially engaged research lab called the Intergenerational Change Initiative (ICI).

Professional Development Day: Emotional Intelligence, Cultural Competency, and DEI: $7,000

CIED and HR provided a “Professional Development Day” as the first of a series to provide systematic and continuing opportunities to expand the understanding, engagement, and application of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI).

Microaggression and Bullying Awareness and Training: $15,000

The Office of Human Resources and the CIED offered a self-paced learning program to address employee relation issues such as microaggression and bullying and enhance equity, diversity, and inclusion in communication and interaction in all areas and at all levels and bring about change in campus culture and climate.

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Supportive Space: Students find advocacy and encouragement in the Urban Male Scholars Program

As a young man growing up in the 1990s, sporting a classic fade haircut, baggy jeans, oversized sweater, and Timberland boots, Gilbert is a product of the solid foundation that was in place when he got on a Greyhound bus in the Bronx and exited in Geneva, NY, to attend Hobart College.

“It was definitely quite a moment for me,” Gilbert said recalling his college experience in the Finger Lakes region. “I went there as a student in the Higher Education Opportunity Program. The director [of this scholarship program] was a very nurturing individual and had

surrounded himself with a staff that was the same. It was there where I started asking questions about what I wanted to do with my life, and I felt so fortunate. I wanted to be in a position to give back what was given to me.”

Fast forward three decades and Gilbert, program coordinator of the Urban Male Scholars (UMS) program—a new project funded by CUNY Black Male Initiative (BMI)—is now in the role of helping CUNY SPS students navigate a path and connect with mentors.

Established in 2005, CUNY BMI is based on a promising model first started at Medgar Evers College. With the generous support of grants from the New York City Council, CUNY BMI funds projects throughout the University. These projects are designed to strengthen the education pipeline for severely underrepresented populations in higher education, particularly African, African

American, Black, Caribbean, and Latino/ Hispanic males by increasing the enrollment, retention, and graduation rates of these students. There are more than 30 programs throughout the University focusing on this issue, including the UMS program at CUNY SPS. In fact, CUNY SPS is the first CUNY BMI program to serve an all adult, online transfer student population—a big breakthrough for the School!

Designed to provide culturally competent peer mentoring training for men of color, the UMS program at CUNY SPS is also open to every undergraduate student. Currently, there are 15 student mentors and 30 mentees in the program, who are recruited and notified about UMS by the CUNY SPS Office of Student Services. In his position as program coordinator, Gilbert connects mentees and mentors, offers a variety of programming, and meets with the group regularly.

CUNY School of Professional Studies Magazine 21
Helping others by providing guidance and mentorship was integral to Michael Gilbert when he began his journey into higher education.

Student mentees in the program are exposed to role models from various backgrounds; have access to professional communities on campus; receive academic and career guidance to ease the transition back to college; and are supported in overcoming the common barriers to online education for firstterm students.

Gilbert began in this part-time role in November 2021. As the world moved from working from home to back in the office, he hopes to gather mentees and mentors once a month on campus for fellowship. He and others at CUNY SPS know the statistics of Black men beginning and finishing a higher education degree is alarming.

“Male enrollment at CUNY SPS currently represents less than one third of the student population,” said Anthony Sweeney, associate director of student life. “This problem is not unique to our school or in higher education, but we need to do something about it. To date, there has been no large-scale effort at recruiting men of color for our undergraduate programs. With some time, it is our expectation that the Urban Male Scholars program will offer us the tools to close this gender gap.”

Washington Hernandez, associate dean of administration and finance and a UMS Advisory Committee member, said the UMS benefits students in a variety of ways.

“The program’s focus on intentional listening and response through a lens of inclusion, cultural acceptance, and awareness, not only benefits the mentee but the mentor as well,” Hernandez noted. “One thing we have learned during these past 16 years at CUNY SPS is that even though most of our student’s life situations benefit greatly from asynchronous learning opportunities, they also crave a sense of community, and this program provides that community in a supportive, structured, and empowering environment.”

Alpha Sow, a UMS mentee who is majoring in health services administration, said he struggled during the pandemic when all his communications were online. “I had nobody to show me the way,” he said. “When I received the email about the program, I jumped at the opportunity. I love having a mentor and someone who can guide and help me.”

However, you don’t just get any mentor, noted Noel Pichardo, also a student mentee majoring in information systems.

“You get someone who understands your situation. I’m a NYCHA [New York City Housing Authority] resident and it’s tough dealing with that type of environment and focusing on your college work,” Pichardo explained. “Angel [Arroyo], my mentor, understood my situation and gave me some tips on improving time management and letting me know about an app for PDF documents, so I can listen to my textbook readings.”

Arroyo, who is majoring in sociology, said he has a good connection with Pichardo, adding that he’s responsive, flexible, and willing to have real conversations about barriers to academic achievement and open to suggestions.

“It is important to me that Black and Brown people succeed and that they have the tools and supports they need,” Arroyo said. “We must empower one another to be great and break free from the institutional and systematic oppression that exists in the US. I am honored to be a part of that support.”

Jamaal Hall, a student mentee in the communication and media program, recalled being puzzled when he first heard of the program.

“When I read about BMI, I thought they were talking about body mass index,” Hall said. “I didn’t know a program like this even existed. As a Black man you need other Black men who can really understand you and the situations that you’re going through. It was among the many reasons that I decided to sign up for the program.”

As an eternal optimist, Gilbert presses on with this vital work since the issues haven’t changed from when he wore a younger man’s clothes. “It’s overcoming fear and wanting to finish what you started,” he said. “It’s having counselors on hand when you’re feeling overwhelmed. It’s having someone help you find resources and know someone is there for you who wants you to succeed, that’s half the battle.”

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The program’s focus on intentional listening and response through a lens of inclusion, cultural acceptance, and awareness, not only benefits the mentee but the mentor as well.

CUNY SPS’ Workplace Learning Unit Continues Its Innovative Work for Another Productive Year

With a $30 million budget and 16 partnerships, the CUNY SPS Office of Professional Education and Workplace Learning (PEWL) continued its work with city and state agencies, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector of delivering engaging learning programs.

Since the inception of PEWL in 2006, more than 250,000 city and state employees along with other people from around the metro region and the country have benefited from its work.

Magazine 23
School of Professional Studies

ACS Workforce Institute

A hallmark of PEWL is creatively using cutting-edge technology to support professional staff members developing new skills.

PEWL provided comprehensive project management at NYC’s Administration for Children’s Services Workforce Institute (ACS WI) to support the development and launch of two state-of-the-art training and simulation centers for child welfare and juvenile justice staff and supervisors working in ACS and its many contract provider agencies.

The centers, located at Union Hall in Jamaica, Queens, and West 125th Street in Harlem, are equipped with advanced audiovisual equipment to allow for remote participation and interaction with the simulation learning.

The Union Hall site features 27,000 square feet of training and simulation space, including 10 classrooms, a mock court, two simulation apartments, a flexible simulation space, and a special room to accommodate training for Youth Development Specialists.

The 125th Street location features 4,000 square feet of training and simulation space, including two classrooms, a simulation apartment, and a flexible simulation space.

DHS Financial Independence Now (FIN) Learning and Coaching Program

The Financial Independence Now (FIN) Learning and Coaching Program trained more than 700 Department of Social Services-Department of Homeless Services (DSS-DHS) agency and shelter provider staff, continuing its mission to help their clients with personal finances.

The FIN program, a partnership between PEWL, DSS-DHS, and Change Machine, a nonprofit organization that builds financial security for low-income communities, provides training on how to assist clients with setting financial goals, develop spending and savings plans, and manage credit and debt.

This collaboration was formed in January 2018 with the goal of equipping DSSDHS professionals with the tools to lead conversations with clients about personal finances, including the assessment of credit scores and reports, as well as finding no-cost or low-cost banking services.

Since the training launched in September 2018, shelter and agency staff have been trained across approximately 120 shelters and low-barrier programs serving a range of clients, including single adults, young adults, adult families, and families with children. The program aims to ultimately reach all the agency’s shelters across the five boroughs.

“We are grateful to PEWL for their incredible partnership on the FIN initiative which has provided valuable training for DSS-DHS and our provider-partner staff to better assist clients looking to develop financial literacy skills as they stabilize their lives,” said Shereen Margolis, partner liaison manager, Office of Public/ Private Partnerships and Erin Foster, programs/special projects coordinator, Adult Services Division DHS. “This is the kind of innovation that helps build on our ongoing efforts to offer vulnerable New Yorkers the high-quality supports they need and deserve.”

Unlocking Employment

PEWL designed, implemented, and launched a pilot of the e-learning course, Unlocking Employment: How to Partner with Job Seekers Impacted by the Legal System, created to enhance the skills and increase the effectiveness of workforce practitioners working with job seekers who have been involved in the criminal legal system.

Unlocking Employment is a collaborative project between PEWL, the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity (NYC Opportunity), and John Jay College Institute for Justice & Opportunity (the Institute).

“We created Unlocking Employment as an aid for workforce development professionals so they can better support job seekers with legal system involvement,” said Carson Hicks, deputy executive director at the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity. “This e-learning course is filled with key insights on the impact of legal system involvement, legal protections available to those with criminal convictions, and tools and best practices to support the job search.”

Eddie Santiago is familiar with how challenging it can be, as someone who was in prison for 15 years. Santiago, a community technician at Bowery Residence Committee, was taking a professional development certificate course at the John Jay College Institute for Justice and Opportunity when he crossed paths with Elena Sigman, director of collaborative learning at the Institute.

Sigman was working on the Unlocking Employment online course, and asked Santiago if he wanted to be a course advisor.

“I paid my dues to society and then you go and try to get a job and employers raise eyebrows when they learn about your past and then it’s rejection, rejection, rejection,” Santiago said. “How do you get people to see that there’s more to you than that?”

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Here are some notable updates from this integral CUNY SPS unit during the past year.
CUNY School of Professional Studies Magazine 25
PEWL colleagues Rebecca Brown Cesarani and Amy Perez, joined by OCFS staff member Beth McCarthy, peer into Sim Alley’s Ladybug Landing Child Care Center simulation training room at the HSTC.

He suggested that the course should include language that avoided using the word criminal, jail, or prison because that immediately biases potential employers against you. Santiago’s advice was incorporated into the design of the course.

OCFS Training Technology, Distance Learning, and Direct Training Services Program

In June 2022, PEWL staff visited the Human Services Training Center, a new state-of-the-art facility in Rensselaer, New York, opened by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) and supported by PEWL.

PEWL employs nearly 20 staff members at the 100,000 square feet center, as well as another nine team members at the agency’s regional office in Buffalo.

At the Human Services Training Center, in-person mandate training is provided to workers around the state, including child welfare caseworkers and supervisors, juvenile justice workers, and licensed childcare professionals, among others. PEWL teams maintain and support the training technology used at the Center, as well as develop many e-learning courses that are delivered to the agency’s thousands of employees and voluntary provider agency staff statewide. The facility includes traditional classrooms and computer labs, in addition to simulation rooms where trainees can participate in hands-on training. The rooms are designed to mimic an apartment,

a child day care center, a group family day care program, a juvenile detention center, and a courtroom. Known as “Sim Alley,” the long hallway has various rooms and painted facades of a cafe, a Broadway show, and the subway. The simulation labs feature one-way glass observation rooms and hidden microphones where as many as 20 trainees can gather at once to observe the trainings in real time.

In the labs, child welfare workers can learn how to effectively testify before a judge in court or caseworker trainees can use a simulated apartment to identify warning signs of potential child abuse or neglect.

A simulated child day care center provides a practice field to identify and correct violations and, in another room, there is a juvenile justice facility with bolted-down furniture. The setting offers detention trainees practice in handling situations that might come up in a youth residential center.

The training center was two years in the making and is one of only two such centers nationwide.

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Flexible simulation training space at the HSTC Simulated small apartment training environment at the HSTC

We’re Back!!!

CUNY SPS Celebrates Graduating Classes in First In-Person Ceremonies Since 2019

CUNY School of Professional Studies Magazine 27

Nursing Convocation and Pinning Ceremony

In one of the School’s first in-person events since 2019, the Nursing Convocation and Pinning Ceremony was held on May 12 at Baruch College’s Vertical Campus. During the often emotional ceremony, which was also live-streamed on YouTube, CUNY SPS paid tribute to the nursing graduates from the 2021-2022 academic year.

With 238 nursing students earning their bachelor’s and master’s degrees, the ceremony recognized the largest graduating class of CUNY SPS nursing students to date. These numbers also include 37 graduates who were officially inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing for Fall 2021 and Spring 2022, and nine honor students who served as Petrie Scholars during their time at CUNY SPS.

Dr. Margaret Reilly, academic director of the CUNY SPS online nursing programs, delivered opening remarks. “In spite of unprecedented professional demands, our students demonstrated their incredible resilience and persistence and managed to complete their degrees,” she said. “This evening, we are here to help commemorate that journey and congratulate them on their success.”

In addition, commendations came from Interim Dean Jorge Silva-Puras, and keynote speaker Deirdre O’Flaherty, director of patient care services at Lenox Hill Hospital/Northwell Health. CUNY SPS students Tania Veloz and Selina Oriekhoe offered comments on behalf of their bachelor’s and master’s classes respectively.

Veloz, the BS in Nursing student speaker, recounted the challenges she faced during the height of COVID and the support she received from CUNY SPS. “Given all the news about people dying, the number of hospitalizations, and the lack of staff, it was a scary time to pursue a nursing career,” she explained. “... [CUNY] SPS held our hands throughout every challenging moment. We may have been physically apart from the school, but we never felt alone.”

MS in Nursing Education student speaker Oriekhoe acknowledged Dr. Reilly and the nursing faculty in her moving speech. “When suddenly the pandemic started, I wasn’t able to focus on even one class,” she shared. “Had it not been for the nursing faculty and Dr. Reilly, I can honestly say that I would have dropped out of this program. Their support remained constant and reassuring.”

At the close of the ceremony, graduate pins were distributed, and Dr. Reilly ended with a charge to the new nursing graduates. “Together, let’s keep dreaming, discovering, and delivering to create a brighter future for all—nurses make a difference!”

Commencement 2022

On June 1, the Class of 2022 was joined by students from the classes of 2020 and 2021 for a jubilant—and occasionally tearful—group commencement ceremony at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens. To ensure the event was inclusive and accessible, the festivities were also livestreamed on YouTube. As students, faculty, staff, friends, and families converged, the day’s energy hit an exuberant pitch. Hosted by S. Brian Jones, an MA in Applied Theatre alum, the ceremony kicked off with a performance of the national anthem by Katherine Swede-Taillon, who was graduating from the MA in Museum Studies program. This was followed by congratulatory speeches, both live and prerecorded, from a group that included CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez and Interim Dean Jorge Silva-Puras.

In an exciting statistic that speaks to the School’s growth, the Class of 2022 included 1189 graduates—the largest graduating class at CUNY SPS. Adding to these exciting numbers, over 400 undergraduates from the Class of 2022 received academic honors, including more than 200 earning summa cum laude, or highest honors.

Throughout the ceremony, speakers focused on the impact COVID had on CUNY SPS students and how they overcame this challenge to reach the finish line. Interim Dean Silva-Puras acknowledged the determination of the assembled graduates. “Today we honor the new you…The one that has achieved so much. The one that forged ahead to get your degree in the midst of—and in spite of—these seemingly insurmountable trials.”

In a central highlight, new graduate John Prince delivered the keynote address. Prince, who graduated magna cum laude with a BA in Psychology, shared his story about the many ups and downs that led him back to college and to his current work running Breaking the Cycle NYC, a nonprofit organization focused on young boys between the ages of 12 and 17 from at-risk communities.

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In Spring 2022, CUNY SPS welcomed the return of its live graduation ceremonies. Here are some of the highlights.
Together, let’s keep dreaming, discovering, and delivering to create a brighter future for all— nurses make a difference!

“It would have been easy to give up when the world was in chaos and confusion, but you kept going. All the long nights of studying, writing papers, doing research, and having to respond to all those discussion board posts finally paid off,” Prince reflected. “I say all this to remind you that you are no regular graduate. You are the chosen few who should never forget the perseverance and sacrifice it took to reach your goals, so please give yourselves a round of applause.”

Graduates Mark Big Day with Family and Friends

Surrounded by family and friends, graduates at the 2022 Commencement also had a chance to reflect upon their accomplishments at CUNY SPS and plan for the future ahead.

Tiffany Fosmire-Mathias, who received her BA in Human Relations, attended the event with her husband, children, and grandson. For Fosmire-Mathias, a writer, entrepreneur, and business professional, the day marked a period of professional growth.

In 2020, Fosmire-Mathias decided to go back to college and chose CUNY SPS’s online human relations program since she knew she wanted to work with people. While completing her coursework, Fosmire-Mathias made time to connect and share her expertise with fellow CUNY SPS students.

At the 2022 Student Leadership Conference and the Entrepreneurial Thought & Engagement Conference, she led workshops and spoke about how she launched The Phoenix Center for Youth Development, a nonprofit program that provides underserved

CUNY School of Professional Studies Magazine 29
It would have been easy to give up when the world was in chaos and confusion, but you kept going. All the long nights of studying, writing papers, doing research, and having to respond to all those discussion board posts finally paid off.

youth with life skills and social development workshops. She also found time separately to contribute to two women’s anthologies.

As Fosmire-Mathias observed, her CUNY SPS degree is a step toward making a difference in society. “I want to use my skills and the knowledge I gained here at CUNY SPS to help others. I want to heal my hurts and break trauma bonds,” she shared. “I look forward to my daughter showing [my grandson] my name on the big screen as I walk across the stage. I am a first-generation graduate… I am here to heal and break generational curses.”

For Bryan Burgos, who earned a BS in Business, the CUNY SPS 2022 Commencement will always be

remembered as the place where he celebrated his passage from student to graduate—and also where he got engaged.

Burgos decided to pop the question to his girlfriend, Xiomy Rodriguez, after the ceremony with their adorable 19-month-old son Bryan Santiago Burgos alongside.

“What inspired me to propose to my girlfriend this day is that I had my family come together for this special moment,” said Burgos. “I wanted to make it more memorable and share this special moment of mine and make it ours.”

To time the proposal perfectly, Burgos coordinated it around his family. “Xiomy was recording [the event] because she had no idea what was about to happen,” he explained. “When I told [my family] that this is a very special moment for me, but I wanted to make it even more special. That’s when I got on one knee and asked Xiomy if she wanted to be with me for the rest of our lives. She was speechless, shaking, and started crying right away and came to hug me.”

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I look forward to my daughter showing [my grandson] my name on the big screen as I walk across the stage. I am a first-generation graduate… I am here to heal and break generational curses.


career-oriented position and, at the same time, a clearer, faster path for completing college.

The IT Pathways partnership is already making an impact on student lives. Shafin Ahsan, who earned a certification through NPower and is currently majoring in information systems at CUNY SPS, readily attests to this fact.

This innovative partnership with four nonprofits, NPower, Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow, PerScholas, and The Knowledge House, enables emerging tech professionals from underserved and underrepresented communities to convert their career- and life-altering IT certifications into up to 15 free college credits that can be applied towards an online BS in Information Systems at CUNY SPS.

Too often, adult learners with industry-informed IT training find that their real-world certifications and expertise aren’t recognized by the academic community. The IT Pathways program, which was established with support from both the Carroll and Milton Petrie and Pinkerton Foundations, creates a bridge between rigorous IT credentialing programs and CUNY SPS. IT Pathways students who pass their certification exams often get two rewards: a well-compensated,

“NPower changed my life forever in all the best ways I could think of,” he explained. At NPower, Ahsan—who had no prior experience in tech—learned critical IT skills at zero cost. Today, Ahsan has earned the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) certification, which demonstrates knowledge of hardware, networks, and computer systems, as well as the AWS (Amazon Web Services) certification, which demonstrates proficiency in cloud services. These certifications enabled Ahsan to begin working within the field as an IT Specialist—and, thanks to the IT Pathways program, to register at CUNY SPS with 15 college credits under his belt.

According to Ahsan, staff at CUNY SPS “walked me through the [application] process…I signed up immediately for the upcoming semester [and] attended CUNY SPS as soon as I graduated from NPower.”

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As the demand for tech talent continues to outstrip supply, CUNY SPS is helping to fill the gap—and empower returning college students—through its IT Pathways collaboration.
By working to address both the reality of students’ lives—and the reality of a job market where tech workers are always in short supply—CUNY SPS and its IT Pathways partners are creating a whole new world of success.

Kimberley Aguirre, academic partnership navigator for the IT Pathways program, assists with transitions like Ahsan’s. She observed, “I help students complete their CUNY applications, and make sure that CUNY SPS is the perfect fit for them.” Once students enroll, she continues to support them via one-on-one monthly check-ins, where she assists with everything from scholarship applications to Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) credits, from wellness checks to academic support. For Ahsan, the experience of moving from NPower to CUNY SPS felt seamless, especially “after years of struggling through juggling school and work.”

This alignment, of work and school, of real-world experience and classroom learning, characterizes both the IT Pathways program and CUNY SPS as a whole. Most importantly, this collaboration is opening the door to successful employment and degree attainment for increasing numbers of students from underserved and underrepresented communities. By working to address both the reality of students’ lives—and the reality of a job market where tech workers are always in short supply—CUNY SPS and its IT Pathways partners are creating a whole new world of success.

the Gap:

Jadah Stone, another information systems major at CUNY SPS, had a similar story to tell. She worked toward her IT certifications through Per Scholas, which provided her “with a high-quality, fast-paced way to get the knowledge I needed to break into the [tech] field.” After five months of study and preparation, Stone earned a CompTIA A+ certification, as well as its Network+ certification, the latter of which proves proficiency in computer networking. Now employed as a full-time IT support specialist at a luxury retail fashion company, Stone has found that her CUNY SPS program is a great fit because it allows her “to be flexible in earning college credits without having to worry about overwhelming myself with juggling a full-time job and school.”

Like Ahsan, Stone found it relatively simple to enroll at CUNY SPS and get credit for her Per Scholas credentials, thanks to Aguirre “guiding me through what documentation I needed and providing support along the way.” She is grateful to the program and to CUNY SPS for her current career success— and improved morale. “It can be discouraging when you put a lot of pressure on yourself to do well in school and at work,” Stone shared, “but the opportunity to attain college credits for industry-standard tech certifications…allows my academic and work success to operate in alignment.”

IT Partnership Allows Tech Certification Program Graduates to Earn College Credit

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Briefs School

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CUNY SPS is proud to be recognized publicly for our quality, online expertise, and academic excellence. Here are just a few of the top rankings we’ve received over the past year.

“These rankings by U.S. News & World Report confirm what we’ve heard again and again from our students—that CUNY SPS’s well-honed, affordable, and accessible online degree programs offer them a great education at a fraction of the cost of private college,” said CUNY SPS Interim Dean Jorge Silva-Puras. “As a School devoted to helping working adults earn their college degrees, we couldn’t be more pleased by this public acknowledgement of our efforts.”

CUNY SPS Rankings

Military and Veteran

Psychology awarded CUNY SPS a Military Friendly® School Bronze Award for 2022-2023

#13 on College Values Online’s list of 30 Best Online Colleges For Veterans 2023

Data Science

#1 on Fortune Education’s list of Most Affordable Online Master’s in Data Science Programs in 2022-2023

#16 on Fortune Education’s list of Best Online Master’s in Data Science Programs in 2023

#5 on’s Best Online Master’s in Data Science Programs in 2023

#8 on College Values Online’s 2023 list of Master’s in Psychology Online: Top 20 Values

#25 on’s Best Online Master’s in Psychology Programs in 2023


BA in Sociology: #5 on U.S. News & World Report’s Top Online Schools for Sociology List

#10 on’s Best Online Bachelor’s in Sociology Programs in 2023

CUNY SPS has been ranked #7 on’s 2023 list of Top 25 Bachelor’s Degrees and Programs

The Committee on Institutional Equity and Diversity (CIED) provides information and activities focused on advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion throughout the CUNY SPS community.

In its third year, the CIED was proud to broaden its mission-driven efforts by hosting numerous events and learning opportunities that engaged students, faculty, and staff. The CIED gratefully acknowledges the involvement and support of the numerous community members who helped to execute this past year’s many activities.

To the right is a roundup of CIED programming:

Ramps Up EDI Efforts


October 2021: National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) In/Visibility: Disability Awareness Film Discussion

The CIED, in conjunction with the Office of Student Disability Services, screened the films Deaf in the Military and The Power of 504 and facilitated two days of postfilm discussions.

December 2021: LinkedIn Learning Community Program

In collaboration with the Office of Human Resources, the CIED presented a series of six LinkedIn Learning courses focused on EDI issues. The series culminated in a group discussion facilitated by Alexis Rodriguez-Nieves, human resources administrative specialist, and Clarke Griffith, program director from the Office of Professional Education and Workplace Learning (PEWL).

This past year, the CIED also expanded its online EDI Calendar with a comprehensive list of commemorative dates and months, and updated its accompanying EDI Resources with an evolving digital reference library. Both the calendar and resource webpages were frequently referenced by Interim Dean Silva-Puras and used in other School communications.

December 2021: Universal Human Rights Month Event

Presented in partnership with the Black Student Union (BSU), Disability and Access Coalition (DAC), and the Film Club, the CIED screened and discussed the film Belly of the Beast


May 2022: Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month

The CIED introduced Joyce Moy, executive director of CUNY’s Asian American/Asian Research Institute (AAARI), in a keynote presentation focused on how to combat the climate of anti-Asian hate, and the AAARI’s role as a bridge between CUNY and the community.

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In / Visibility DisabilityAwareness FilmDiscussionEvent This program will be hosted twice, allowing participants to choose between an afternoon or evening session. Click on the dates to register. October 27, 2021: 1-2 PM Facilitators: Cassandra Evans Assistant Professor, Disability Studies, Gabriella Faddool, MA in Disability Studies, Daniel Sayani, BA in Psychology, and Jacklyn Tomlin, Student Leader & MA in Disability Studies October 28, 2021: 8-9 PM Facilitators: Matthew Conlin, Adjunct Faculty, Disability Studies Gabriella Faddool, MA in Disability Studies, Daniel Sayani, BA in Psychology, and Jacklyn Tomlin, Student Leader & MA in Disability Studies If you have any questions about the program, please contact us at The Committee on Institutional Equity and Diversity & Office of Student Disability Services Present To commemorate National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October, students, faculty, and staff are invited to join us for a film discussion on Deaf in the military and The Power of 504 These short videos are available free on YouTube. We recommend participants to watch both videos prior to the event. The facilitated group discussion will be held on Zoom

2022-2023 CIED Committee Members

Celeste Clarke Director of Campus Operations (Co-Chair)

Jenna Coplin Academic Program Manager, Museum Studies/Research Administration and Compliance

Michael Gilbert Program Coordinator, Black Male Initiative, BSU Advisor

Sahana Gupta Chief Diversity Officer/Title IX Coordinator/

ADA-504 Coordinator (Co-Chair)

Kenya Harris Professor, Nursing Program

Minden Koopmans Director of CUNY Online

Antonia Levy Associate Director, OFDIT

Jennifer D. Lewis Adjunct Assistant Professor, Business Education

Christopher Leydon Associate Director, Student Services

Tracy Meade Senior Associate Dean for Strategy and Innovation

Asantee Mitchell BA in Disability Studies Student

Jan Oosting Assistant Professor, Nursing

Arianna Rodriguez Senior Academic Advisor

Lisa Sheridan Marketing Assistant and Researcher

February 2021: Black History Month Event

In conjunction with the BSU and the CUNY SPS Book Club, the CIED hosted a shared reading experience of award-winning author Nicole Dennis-Benn’s acclaimed book, Patsy. The evening featured a conversation with the author and CUNY SPS disability studies graduate student Kpana Kpoto.

March 2022: Professional Development Day: Enhancing Emotional Intelligence and Cultural Competency to Embrace Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Workplace

In a joint effort with the Office of Human Resources, this webinar was led by Dr. Kinette Richards, PhD, NCC, owner and operator of Creating Space Equity Consulting, LLC. The program helped advance emotional intelligence and cultural competency.

April 2022: Microaggression and Bullying Awareness and Training

In collaboration with the Office of Human Resources, this training informed attendees how to manage microaggression and bullying in the workplace. Participants completed four courses on LinkedIn Learning, then Ritu Pancholy, founder and CEO of Culturupt, concluded with a training session.

April 2022: CUNY Disability Awareness Month

PDF Spring Cleaning Event

The CIED supported the Office of Faculty Development and Instructional Technology (OFDIT) in a drive to ensure the School’s PDF documents are accessible.

April 2022: Create a Positive Learning Environment: Bringing Equity and Inclusion Into Our Curriculum and Classroom

The CIED presented a digital colloquium with a panel presentation that explored strategies to build student equity and provide a positive learning environment for marginalized populations.

April 2022: Blackness in Latin America: The Black Experience Throughout the Americas

Offered at the Student Leadership Conference, in partnership with the CUNY SPS Student Association, the BSU, and the Black Male Initiative (BMI), this talk featured former Interim Dean Vanessa K. Valdez from Macaulay Honors College deliberating on the Black experience throughout the Americas.

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IN LATIN AMERICA A P R I L 5 2 0 2 2 A s p a t o f t h i s y e a r s A n n u a l S u d e n t L e a d e r s h p C o n e r e n c e t h C U N Y S P S S t d t A t d B k M I t t c o - h o s i n g a n e v e n t c o o r d n a e d b y t h e B a c k S t u d e n t U n o n a n d C o m m t t e e o n n s t u o n a l E q u i y a n d D i v e r s t y 6 P M - 7 P M E S T A DISCUSSION ABOUT THE BLACK EXPERIENCE THROUGHOUT THE AMERICAS featuring Dr Vanessa K Valdés rEGISTER @ : bit ly/BSULATIN2

CUNY SPS Observes Day of Giving with Calls for Support and Wellness Talk

CUNY SPS hosted its annual fundraising event in November 2021 as part of #CUNYTuesday, the University-wide day of giving inspired by the global philanthropic movement GivingTuesday, raising a total of $148,140 by the end of the campaign.

Organized by the CUNY SPS Offices of Alumni Relations and Career Services, the #CUNYTuesday event Finding the Balance: Navigating the Boundaries of your Career and SelfCare featured an insightful and lively panel of speakers who offered expert advice on how to advocate for their mental health and wellbeing without compromising their career goals.

Moderated by Erin Jeanette, head of counseling services at CUNY SPS, the panel included Melissa Hinds, MSN, RN (CUNY SPS alum, nursing programs), who is the director of the online assistance unit and associate director of health and technology at Center for Practice Innovations (CPI); Sophe Pauze, MPA, senior director of strategic partnerships at the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health; and Justine Pawlukewicz, LCSW, PhD (CUNY SPS alum and adjunct professor, disability studies programs), who is also a professor and former chairperson of the human services department at the New York City College of Technology.

During the 90-minute conversation, the speakers explored several extremely relevant issues facing workers and employers today. Topics discussed included setting boundaries, burnout, and tips on how to cultivate wellness in the workplace, followed by an audience Q&A.

Throughout the conversation, the speakers emphasized the idea that self-care in the workplace would benefit not just the individual employees, but the company overall.

“We know that when employees feel good, and have their emotional and physical health needs met, that they are more productive, that they stay in their jobs for longer, and that they have better morale,” concluded Pauze as she encouraged attendees to advocate for themselves at work.

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CUNY SPS Honors Scholarship Recipients at 8th Annual Reception

In a welcome return to in-person events, CUNY SPS hosted its 8th Annual Scholarship Reception in October 2021 in Midtown Manhattan. At the moving ceremony, CUNY SPS honored its scholarship recipients for their hard work and thanked the generous donors who made these awards possible.

Speakers included CUNY SPS Foundation Board Chair Blake Foote; Interim Dean Silva-Puras; Debra Schaller-Demers, an instructor in the CUNY SPS MS in Research Administration and Compliance program and 2021 winner of the School’s Adjunct Faculty Teaching Excellence Prize; Adina Hoppenstein, an MA in Museum Studies student and recipient of the Museum Studies Scholarship; and April Outen, an ACE Scholar completing the BA in Psychology program.

Schaller-Demers, who is also vice-president for research outreach and compliance at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, spoke in a prerecorded video about her great pride in teaching at CUNY SPS. “I get to teach what I do every day in my day job… I get to share my enthusiasm and energy, and hope-

fully help others realize that there is a career path that is worthwhile and rewarding.”

In their speeches, both students reflected on the impact of the scholarships they received. “I, along with my fellow Museum Studies Scholars, joined this program because we believe in change for the better, and the best place to start that domino effect of change is at the

heart of a society: museums,” said Hoppenstein. “…Through your generous support, you have buttressed our faith in ourselves. Before meeting us, you believed in us, and that is something money can’t buy.”

“The ACE Scholars Program helped me pave the way to success, from start to finish,”

Outen said. “It allowed me to breathe and turn my complete focus to my academic studies rather than wringing my hands every semester, trying to play financial magic, or pausing my studies because some other area of my life needed to be addressed first.”

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Student Life Expands with 4-Day Social Justice Forum; School Honors Leadership Efforts

CUNY SPS student life continues its upward trend, as student leaders energetically form new clubs and organize community-building events.

In one major highlight, the Student Association, in collaboration with the Urban Male Scholars program, hosted the 5th annual Student Leadership Conference in April 2022.

This year’s theme was Social Justice: What Does Social Justice Mean To You?, and the expanded four-day online conference featured daily student-moderated panels exploring various social justice issues. Sessions included My Journey Into Social Justice, Blackness in Latin America and Beyond, What is the Goal of Social Justice for the Mentally Ill?, What are the Social Inequalities in the Latin Community?, Creating an Inclusive Space for Disabled Students, and Social Justice: Then and Now.

Among the speakers featured were Tiffany Fosmire-Mathias, a student in the CUNY

SPS BA in Human Relations program; Dr. Vanessa K. Valdés, associate provost for community engagement at City College and former director of Macaulay Honors College and City College’s Black Studies program; and Dr. Jonathan Quash of the CUNY Black Male Initiative, a university-wide student development initiative focused on increasing matriculation, retention, and graduation rates of underrepresented students, particularly men of color.

Dr. Quash, who also teaches music, delivered the keynote address. “There’s something that we ought to remember about what social justice is about, and that is to ultimately make a change…in our society, but also to change the minds of the next generation,” he said. “Those are the ones who are going to go out and do the things that we want to see happen. I encourage all of you today to please go out and be those angels.”

To honor the outstanding service demonstrated by the organizers of this conference and other student club events, CUNY SPS hosted its 2nd annual Student Leadership and Service Recognition Ceremony in May 2022.

The in-person ceremony, in which School faculty, staff, and administrators presented

awards to more than 50 students who contributed to new and existing CUNY SPS clubs, organizations, or committees during the 2021-2022 academic year, was held at the Theater at CUNY’s New York City College of Technology (City Tech) in Brooklyn. Hosted by Anthony Sweeney, associate director of student life, the ceremony also featured remarks by Interim Dean Jorge Silva-Puras; Jennifer Grace Lee, associate dean for enrollment management and student services; and many of the CUNY SPS faculty and staff who serve as club advisors. CUNY SPS alumni Yvette Humphries and Shakima Williams-Jones, co-chairs of the inaugural Student Association, delivered the keynote address.

In their speech, Humphries and Williams-Jones shared some of their own experiences as student leaders.

“I was an online student, no one knew me,” Humphries explained. “So why would I have the chance of being voted in by a student body who didn’t know who I was? Yet I asked myself, ‘Why not?’ I saw unique opportunities to be a part of something that would eventually be bigger than Shakima or I, or anyone else had imagined.”

Williams-Jones added, “Our real goal was to build an environment where we would become family, which is often harder to do online. But I think we laid the groundwork that enabled that to happen. Look around this room—Student Association is still happening!”

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CUNY SPS Partners with Amazon

CUNY SPS was excited to join a partnership between the City University of New York (CUNY) and Amazon which allows the company’s hourly employees to attend college to further their career opportunities. As of January 2022, through Amazon’s Career Choice program, the company has begun providing an annual benefit covering tuition and select fees for all qualifying hourly employees accepted into CUNY SPS. Through this collaboration, New York City-based Amazon workers will have access to 14 online bachelor’s degree programs at CUNY SPS, including in-demand fields such as business, technology, and healthcare.

“Our collaboration with Amazon will empower their employees to take advantage of CUNY SPS’s top-rated online degree programs and achieve their educational goals,” said Interim Dean Silva-Puras. “In particular, the online offerings at CUNY SPS will enable Amazon employees to take classes on their own time and schedule so that they can conveniently fit their coursework in with their job and family responsibilities. We welcome our Amazon cohort and can’t wait to see what they will achieve.”

The Amazon Career Choice program is open to any major of study at CUNY SPS and seven other CUNY colleges in all five New York City boroughs. This partnership, the first for Amazon in New York State, is part of a national commitment by Amazon to provide educational and upskilling opportunities to more than 750,000 hourly employees at four national and more than 140 local universities and colleges.

CUNY SPS Wins Grant to Study Impact of Online Assessment Tools

CUNY SPS received a highly competitive and prestigious $3,789,074 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in Summer 2021 to study the impact of online assessment tools on college students’ success.

Under the terms of this award, CUNY SPS will lead a partnership with SUNY Albany, Rutgers University, SUNY Empire State College, and University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) to examine the efficacy, predictive power, and cost effectiveness of the Diagnostic Assessment and Achievement of College

Skills (DAACS), a suite of free, open source online technological and social supports designed to optimize student learning, on newly enrolled college students.

The proposal, titled Examining the Efficacy, Predictive Power, and Cost Effectiveness of the Diagnostic Assessment and Achievement of College Skills, was submitted by Dr.

Jason Bryer, assistant professor and associate director of data science and information systems at CUNY SPS, in collaboration with Dr. Heidi Andrade at the University at Albany and Dr. Timothy Cleary at Rutgers University, as well as Lawrence MacLean, grants officer at CUNY SPS. Dr. Bryer will also lead this initiative, along with a project-funded research associate and project manager.

“We are very excited that IES is giving us the opportunity to test the efficacy of DAACS. With institutions reducing or eliminating their use of admissions and placement exams, DAACS represents a no-stakes alternative to these high-stakes assessments,” said Dr. Bryer. “Results of our initial study showed that students who utilized the feedback and resources were more likely to be successful in their first term of college. DAACS also provides institutions with valuable information about students’ strengths and weaknesses, along with tailored interventions and supports.”

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Briefs Program

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CUNY SPS Program Updates

CUNY SPS is pleased to announce several academic program updates in 2022, including the launch of two new bachelor’s degree programs.

The Bachelor of Arts in Youth Studies degree program, the newest of its kind to be offered at the City University of New York, was designed in collaboration with the MA in Youth Studies program to offer adult allies the skills, knowledge, competencies, and commitments to collaborate with young people. With a focus in critical youth studies and social justice, the program’s coursework will provide students with the conceptual framework and concrete skill development needed to partner with youth to create a more equitable future.

“The importance of youth-workers in communities around the country is gaining the recognition it deserves. The push for greater professionalization of those working with youth across a variety of settings has prompted a need for academic credentials that feel relevant and forward-thinking,” said Dr. Sarah

Zeller-Berkman, director of the CUNY SPS Youth Studies programs. “This unique and innovative bachelor’s, which has been collaboratively developed by youth work scholars and practitioners, will equip graduates with both the theoretical grounding and skills needed to work in the field or to continue their studies on a graduate level.”

seamlessly transfer their credits towards a bachelor’s focused in management and entrepreneurship.

The Bachelor of Professional Studies (BPS) in Applied Management and Entrepreneurship is a 120-credit program designed to equip students with the business acumen to complement the technical skills and knowledge obtained from their Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree and professional experiences.

The new online program, the first BPS to be offered at CUNY SPS, was developed so community college graduates with an AAS degree could

“More than ever before, we can see that business education and training open doors to a wide range of professional opportunities. Our groundbreaking new BPS in Applied Management and Entrepreneurship will help AAS holders from CUNY schools and beyond to earn their bachelor’s while enhancing their existing business knowledge and skills,” said Dr. Edwin Knox, former academic director of the CUNY SPS online business programs, who was instrumental in launching this program. “With this degree, graduates can apply what they’ve learned to help them advance their career prospects, move up in managerial or supervisory positions, or start businesses of their own.”

In other degree-related news, CUNY SPS also launched the Advanced Certificate in Disability Services in Higher Education during the Spring 2022 semester. The fully online program equips disability office workers with the skills and knowledge to effectively

champion college students with disabilities.

Responding to student needs, the formerly in-person or hybrid programs BA in Human Relations and the Advanced Certificate in Management have transitioned to a fully online format starting in 2022. This online format provides students in these programs with greater scheduling flexibility and enable those outside of the New York area to attend more easily as well.

Program Events and News Updates Youth Studies Program Presents Groundbreaking Talks and New Scholarship

In addition to launching its new bachelor’s degree in 2022, the youth studies program had several other exciting updates throughout the year.

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In Fall 2021, the program invited labor activists and workers to converge during the two-part series Youth-workers Unite!, which explored current dilemmas and possibilities for youth-workers in the labor force.

The first convening, Possibilities for the Future of Labor in the Field of Youth Development, held on October 12, 2021, focused on some of the issues exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and how this shift has propelled youth-workers to think more about their rights, protections, and compensation.

The second panel Worker-Owned Cooperatives, held on November 23, 2021, explored the growing interest in worker-owned cooperatives and discussed how to make community-based organizations (CBOs) in the youthwork sector more transparent, democratic, and equitable.

“This panel series offered a rich space to present possibilities for collective consideration related to building youth-worker power in the sector and then explore some of the opportunities and challenges related to those possibilities,” said Dr. Sarah

Zeller-Berkman, director of the CUNY SPS Youth Studies program, who organized the events. “I was personally thrilled to participate in these crucial and incisive conversations, which allowed us to push each other’s thinking and imagine the future of labor in the youth-services sector.”

Following that, the Intergenerational Change Initiative (ICI), a nonprofit run by the youth studies program, hosted the event State of NYC Youth 2021: An Intergenerational Data Deep Dive on December 14, 2021.

these events ran through the month and featured special guest speakers. This year’s installment, which focused on issues of social justice and self-protection, was comprised of three segments: Addressing Vicarious Trauma, held on January 5; We Keep Us Safe! Alternatives to Policing, held on January 12; and No One is Illegal, held on January 19.

Finally, at the close of the Spring 2022 semester, the youth studies program was proud to launch the Youth Studies Scholarship Fund, a new scholarship that will offer tuition assistance of up to $1500 to eligible graduate students in the School’s MA in Youth Studies program.

in Spring 2022. The theme for this year’s conference was Imagining Futures Beyond Silos, Boundaries, Borders: Artists as Cultural Workers in Advancing Intersectional Racial Equity.

During the online gathering, youth and adult researchers from the ICI met with representatives from New York City government agencies and their youth councils to discuss the findings from ICI’s 2021 Youth Ask Youth (YAY) census, which surveyed 1400 youth on important issues like economics, learning, community, health, and relationships.

In January 2022, the program hosted its annual Community & Youth Organizing lecture series. Coordinated and moderated by adjunct lecturer Lumumba Akinwole-Bandele,

All incoming and matriculated youth studies graduate students at CUNY SPS with a 3.0 GPA or higher enrolled in a minimum of 3 credits who are African American, Caribbean American, Latinx, or Asian and/or students with disabilities; or students with a demonstrated commitment or contribution to the educational preparation of African American, Caribbean American, Latinx, or Asian students and/or students with disabilities, in leadership and research in the youth-serving field, may apply.

MA in Applied Theatre Continues Racial Justice and Theatre Education Efforts

The MA in Applied Theatre (MAAT) program hosted its 7th annual Applied Theatre & Racial Justice conference

The virtual three-session series opened during Black History Month with the panel When Walls Become Bridges: Reflections on Black Women in Education Who Have Applied Theatre Cause the Schoolin’ Ain’t Enuf. In March, the program hosted Brother to Brother: Black, Indigenous, and Men of Color Talk Arts, Education, and Activism. The final segment, Disidentifications and Self-Determination: Transgressing and Resisting Binaries and Conformity, was held in April.

Panelists included graduates of the MAAT program and CUNY-wide and CUNY SPS faculty, who shared their mission, art, and perspectives on creating space for more diversity in theater.

Among the many alum speakers, Dr. Alexis Jemal, an assistant professor at Hunter College’s Silberman School of Social Work, shared what

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she gained from the MAAT program. “You know, theatre is powerful. I had so much fun doing it and so much joy. Sometimes I think joy is missing from education. So, there was so much that I got from this program that was healing for me.” Dr. Jemal then explained how she went on to use the principles from MAAT in her work as a therapist. “Something that we use in therapy is narrative practice… by creating more helpful and healthy narratives the client begins to identify their transformative potential, and to understand that change is possible.”

nies that developed productions to educate their audiences through interactive, entertaining, and fun performances. The groups created original pieces, each targeting a specific audience: early childhood, middle school, high school, or college/adult.

The six creative workshops featured in this year’s TIE festival included Let’s Get Nuts! by Elyse Orecchio and Allison Reed; Lunchtown / La Ciudad de los Almuerzos by Marcela Artunduaga, Ariel Mombrea, and Leslie Thompson; The Difference Detectives by Nicole Hogsett, Caitlyn McCain, and Ciara Ward; Mission E by Ellie Bell and Christian Paxton; Another Brick by Yasemin Eti, Ish Gupta, and Sarah Lazar; and Let’s Talk About Sex: An Exploration of Non-Hetero-Narratives by Megan Raab and Brynn Asha Walker.

Museum Studies Events

Explore Museum World’s Past and Future

Students, faculty, and alumni in the MA in Museum Studies program gathered in August 2021 for What’s Next in the World of Museum Work?, a panel discussion about working in cultural institutions in today’s landscape. More than 40 people attended the online talk, which explored how the museum world is changing and what museum workers may expect for the future.

cussion opened an enormous box of ideas and addressed many of the questions raised. We look forward to reopening these conversations and exploring these issues more in the future.”

In a return to in-person programming, MAAT hosted its 2022 Theatre in Education (TIE) Festival in May, showcasing six different student projects with an educational objective.

The annual TIE festival is staged by students known as ‘actor-teachers’ from the MAAT course Teaching

Through Theatre: The Theory and Practice of TIE. The students from this year’s course formed six working compa-

“This year’s TIE Festival was the culmination of a semester of deep and diligent student work, and we were so thrilled to be able to gather in person to share and celebrate that work with folks,” said Sarah Meister, interim assistant director of the MAAT program. “It was a joy to be together and immersed in live, interactive theater after two years of presenting student TIE pieces virtually.”

“The museum talk was a thoughtful and forward-looking conversation about the critical issues facing our cultural institutions and those who work in them. We were excited to have four wonderful panelists who have worked in different types of museums in different roles share their own experiences, while touching upon larger concerns within the field and offering advice to our students,” said Jenna Coplin, academic program manager of the MA in Museum Studies program. “The dis-

Speakers, which included alumni and leaders within the museum world, offered their thoughts on important topics like labor and pay equity, budgets and funding, and diversity and equality within cultural institutions; and answered audience questions about topics like the role of technology and digital media, remote work, and how crises like COVID will impact the future of museums.

In Spring 2022, the program co-sponsored another incisive talk, the two-part Human Rights and the Museum Series hosted by the Kupferberg Holocaust Center at Queensborough Community College.

The two panel discussions, Returning What Was Taken: How Museums Approach Repatriation and The Visual

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badge, a $300 stipend, and access to a suite of programs to help them learn more about companies and job and internship opportunities with members of the New York Jobs CEO Council.

an internship, they’ll be ready to answer all the questions.”

Archive: Documenting the Holocaust and Genocide

Through Photography, offered students a unique opportunity to witness some of the ways that museums can directly impact human rights. CUNY SPS museum studies faculty member Kat Griefen moderated both events and fielded questions from the participants.

IT Crash Course Helps Students Get a Leg Up on Job Competition

As part of a City University of New York (CUNY) partnership with the New York Jobs CEO Council, CUNY SPS offered an online micro-credential course in systems administration in Summer 2021 and Winter 2022.

This fully online month-long 100-hour course, which is open to all CUNY students with 30 or more college credits and a basic understanding of computers, provided the foundational skills necessary for an entry-level job or internship in systems administration. Students who completed the course successfully were presented with a certification

“The sys admin course was a great opportunity for CUNY students to gain real-world, experiential learning in a fast-growing discipline that is in high employer demand,” said Arthur O’ Connor, academic director of the MS in Data Science and BS in Information Systems degree programs, who helped plan the micro-credential.

Ejaz Adams, an adjunct professor in the data science program, served as lead developer for the systems admin micro-credential and taught one of the modules. “I designed the course to equip students with the basic knowledge that they are expected to know in the systems admin role and the current knowledge required in the field,” said Adams. “My hope is to prepare these students so that when they interview for

Christian Davenport, a student in the animation and motion graphics program at the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), signed up for the micro-credential to boost his consulting business. As a part-time systems builder, Davenport provides desktops for his friends, family, and clients running their own multimedia businesses from home and realized this course would help him improve his expertise.

“I took the course so that I could maintain my client relationships, identify where my planning and hardware suggestions might be outmoded, and leverage new skills and practices for my clients as soon as possible,” said Davenport. “Within the first week, I was in touch with my clients to discuss how the new knowledge I was gaining could benefit their current network and provide them more flexibility…I’m definitely in a better position to deliver on those services now than I was before the course.”

Sarah May, a BS in Information Systems student and micro-credential participant, also noted it provided her with a wide range of career opportunities.

After completing the micro-credential in data analytics offered by LaGuar-

dia Community College, May realized that what she learned there had directly prepared her for an internship being offered by Bloomberg’s Global Data Unit. “I was offered two roles, one in Princeton, NJ, with the diversified data support team…and one in NYC on the funds holdings and indices team,” explained May. “I accepted the latter and started in February 2022. Both roles rely on the same skills I gained from the micro-credential.”

Disability Studies Program Previews Journal Issue and Observes Historic Anniversary

In Spring 2022, the disability studies program hosted events to honor a historic anniversary and preview the latest issue of it academic journal.

As part of this year’s Spring Disability Studies lecture series, the program hosted Willowbrook: A Retrospective on Systems Change.

The two-part online series commemorated the 50th anniversary of Geraldo

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The sys admin course was a great opportunity for CUNY students to gain real-world, experiential learning in a fast-growing discipline that is in high employer demand.

Rivera’s 1972 exposé of the abuses at Willowbrook State School a state-supported institution in Staten Island for children with disabilities, which triggered a massive public outcry that led to the school’s closing and to federal civil rights legislation protecting people with disabilities.

Dr. Mariette Bates, former academic director of the CUNY SPS disability studies programs, spoke at the March 8 lecture Ordinary People Changing Systems, where she shared her stepson’s experience at Willowbrook and described her work at One to One, a foundation started by Rivera in the wake of his exposé.

In her presentation, Dr. Bates celebrated the many unsung heroes who fought for reform. “I entitled this talk Ordinary People Changing Systems because the people involved were just that. Ordinary people,” she explained. “Some were people who were placed in Willowbrook who survived its abuse and lived to talk about it and witness what went on there. Some are parents who never expected to

be called upon to lead. Some were students who were called to help and some were professionals who wanted to be involved in something new and exciting.”

On April 12, the programs hosted the follow-up lecture Systems Change Through Court-Ordered Reform, featuring Clarence J. Sundram, JD, a nationally recognized expert on conditions in institutions and community programs for persons with mental disabilities. During the talk, Sundram offered examples of class action lawsuits that led to large-scale change, while discussing the barriers to implementation that may arise.

In a final event held on April 27, the CUNY SPS disability studies program invited several authors from the upcoming issue of the Journal of Teaching Disability Studies, a groundbreaking journal of disability pedagogy edited by the program’s faculty and staff, in an talk entitled JTDS - An Insider’s Look at the New Issue.

Business Conference and Webinar Explore Latest Industry Trends

The online business programs hosted the webinar Blockchain Basics in November 2021 as part of the Talking Business series, which features guest speakers and practitioners in discussion about contemporary topics in business.

SherRhonda Gibbs, dean of Monfort College of Business at the University of Northern Colorado; and John Mogulescu, dean emeritus of CUNY SPS.

Doris, who led the nation’s largest city workforce and small business agency, explored how economically important small businesses and entrepreneurship are for municipalities. Since Doris helped to double the certifications of minority and women owned firms to close to 10,000 companies, he could directly speak about the direct societal impact of entrepreneurship.

Guest speaker Ara Ohanian, the former CEO of Systech International, offered a big-picture look at blockchain technology and noted in particular how this technology is drastically reducing costs in supply chain operations while also providing for all sorts of innovation within the financial industry.

In Spring 2022, the online business programs followed up with the all-day business conference Entrepreneurial Thought & Engagement, featuring a group of successful entrepreneurs, educators, and CUNY SPS students who discussed the entrepreneurial process and its impact on communities and their economies.

The conference included presentations by three respected entrepreneurs: Jonnel Doris, former NYC commissioner for small business services, under Mayor Bill de Blasio; Dr.

“The entrepreneur plays a significant role in society. Not by themselves, but as a collective,” Doris said. “Their ability to see a problem, imagine a solution, and drive implementation by bringing products and solutions to market is invaluable. Entrepreneurs are an essential part of creating a sustainable and prosperous society.”

Following the talks, attendees gathered in several mini-workshops and bonus sessions to explore a range of entrepreneurial issues at greater length.

New Series Mentors and Supports First-Generation Students

In an effort to address the challenges first-generation college students often encounter, CUNY SPS hosted the inaugural First-Generation Student Success Series during the 2021-2022 academic year.

CUNY School of Professional Studies Magazine 49

Conceived and organized by Dr. Elizabeth Alsop, assistant professor and academic director of the CUNY SPS communication and media program, and Dr. Carla Marquez-Lewis, director of the CUNY SPS psychology program, the series held two events each semester.

The panelists fielded questions from both the moderators and the attendees while sharing how they navigated the issues that first-generation students confront. One of the recurrent themes of the discussion was the importance of self-advocacy. As CUNY SPS alum Lisa Sheridan observed, “The single most important thing to do is claim your space and know that you deserve to be here… If there is one thing that I could pass on to new first-gen students, it is to never be afraid to advocate for yourself. Don’t be afraid of your own voice.”

At the close of the Impostor Syndrome talk, Dr. Marquez-Lewis asked students to remember their achievements as a general way to navigate college life—and their future careers. “The fact that you’re in college is one thing that people aren’t proud enough about,” she said. “You have resilience, knowledge, and intelligence to be where you are. The fact that you’re sitting in a classroom is an accomplishment. Don’t forget that. You already have so many great things going for you.”

alumni relations manager, who organized and moderated the digital dialogue. “Our goal is to continue strengthening the supportive community that already exists within the School.”

The Life After Graduation panel featured three alumni members of the AEC: Dani Lucchese, Milan Fredricks, and Lisa Sheridan. Topics discussed included the grad school application process, the importance of mentoring, and resume building.

In September 2021, approximately 50 students attended Navigating Academia for First-Generation College Students, a virtual seminar dedicated to making the non-intuitive aspects of higher education more accessible to students. Recognizing that the culture of college can be intimidating and overwhelming—especially for first-generation students—the recurrent theme of the evening was to normalize question-asking when students confront unfamiliar territory, and to find mentors and create strategies to cope with the emotional issues that first-generation students often face.

The fall’s second event, a virtual roundtable discussion with first-generation student and alumni panelists, was held in November 2021. Approximately 40 attendees joined the roundtable to hear strategies and advice from a selected group of first-generation students and alumni.

In Spring 2022, the series followed up with the webinars Funding Your Education: Understanding Financial Aid and Scholarships on March 29 and Imposter Syndrome: What It Is & How to Overcome It on April 26.

New Alumni-Student Initiative Launched with Mentoring Event

About 50 students separately attended the webinars, which sought to demystify financial aid and scholarships, and explain imposter syndrome and how to overcome it. Recognizing that the culture of college can be intimidating and overwhelming—especially for first-generation students—the theme of both events was to provide guidance in figuring out how to both pay for college and what to do when you feel you don’t belong there.

Seeking to grow the School’s alumni-student community, the Alumni Engagement Council (AEC) sponsored the March 2022 event Life After Graduation, an online discussion that launched the Circle of Success, a brand-new alumni initiative geared to fostering relationship building, mentoring, and engagement with current students.

“CUNY SPS alumni are amazing and always looking for ways to give back to their alma mater. We think the Circle of Success offers them a wonderful opportunity to stay connected to the School while providing support to current students who will one day join them in the alumni network,” said Nidia Cordova,

Students attending, most of whom were ACE Scholarship mentors and ACE first-year participants, reflected that the event helped build much-needed connections. “Taking classes online can be very isolating …The event gave me the inspiration that I really needed. Hearing other people’s struggles and how they overcame them was something I could relate to,” said Robert McInerney, a psychology student and ACE scholar.

Virginia Wallace, a health information management and first-year ACE student, observed, “I was very taken with the discussion about the importance of mentoring. I need a mentor, and I’m actively seeking ways to connect with other students and to find a mentor.”

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Backstage at CUNY SPS:

An HR Generalist Shares Her Passion for People

CUNY School of Professional Studies Magazine 51
A conversation with Ema Izquierdo

Helping our students succeed is the top priority for the faculty, staff, and administrators at CUNY SPS, though many of them often do this behind the scenes. To spotlight some of our School’s unsung heroes, we will be sharing their stories through the magazine’s Q&A column “Backstage at CUNY SPS.” Each member of the CUNY SPS community featured here has been nominated by a colleague in recognition of their great work. – Ariana

Please describe the work that you do. My name is Ema Izquierdo, and I’m CUNY SPS’s HR generalist. As part of the HR office, I oversee all teaching and non-teaching appointments, including onboarding and processing. I make sure all employee data is processed accurately in CUNYfirst and audit all entries to keep our data nice and clean. I generate all reappointment notifications for part-time and full-time employees, and track salary increments and eligibility for additional benefits. I also work closely with Payroll to maintain and process all part-time payments in a timely manner. Finally, I’m the compliance training administrator and in charge of monitoring and tracking the School’s compliance record for several workplace trainings.

What do you find fulfilling about your work?

Every day I feel fortunate to meet very talented people. I try my best to give the new hires a great first interaction with the School when completing their hiring process. I appreciate their kind words and how they feel reassured to have someone to contact whenever they have a question.

How did you find yourself at CUNY SPS?

Back in 2014, while I was pursuing a master’s degree at CUNY Graduate Center, I came across a job posting for a college assistant at CUNY SPS. I was always interested in higher education and human resources, and applied immediately.

Now, after eight years here, I’m proud to say I’ve been part of pivotal changes in our department, from becoming our own HR office, to surpassing our productivity levels during a global pandemic. My career path, from college assistant to HR coordinator to HR generalist, has shaped who I am and how I see myself as part of a whole at CUNY SPS.

How does your job support the needs of the School?

I feel proud to be part of a team that makes the planning and execution of maintaining the rosters for each semester go smoothly. Academic Affairs, OFDIT, Payroll, and HR all join forces to get teaching adjuncts ready each semester. Also, I like to keep in touch with fulltime employees by sending them a happy birthday message or guiding them

through more complicated processes. Being there for everybody is something that helps keep morale high and creates a sense of belonging.

Anything else you’d like to share?

As an HR professional, you are always trying to help people to the best of your ability. Although most people don’t see what happens inside the HR office, we are always working to promote the school’s values and bring in the best human capital. I’m certain that when you work as a team, you can achieve greatness.

I would like to tell the community that they will always find in me someone who’s happy to be of assistance and that believes in your potential. CUNY is embedded in my heart and I’m happy to be part of this amazing group of people called CUNY SPS.

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I feel proud to be part of a team that makes the planning and execution of maintaining the rosters for each semester go smoothly.

Briefs Faculty, Staff, Students, and Alumni

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Faculty and Staff

¢MA in Applied Theatre faculty member Sara Morgulis, who also graduated from the program in 2013, has been elected by the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable to serve on its board of directors. In separate news, Morgulis was also named the executive director of TYA/ USA (Theatre for Young Audiences) after stepping down as director of education at the New York City Children’s Theater (NYCCT).

¢Dr. Jason Bryer, assistant professor and associate director of the MS in Data Science and BS in Information Systems programs, is a contributor to the book Enhancing Effective Instruction and Learning Using Assessment Data

His chapter “The Use of Predictive Modeling for Assessing College Readiness,”

co-written by Diana Akhmedjanova, Heidi L. Andrade, and Angela M. Lui, introduces software for automating some aspects of developmental education and the use of predictive modeling.

¢Disability Studies faculty member Dr. Sheryl Burgstahler has been named a winner of the Online Learning Consortium’s 2021 OLC Accelerate award, which celebrates peer-reviewed excellence in digital teaching and learning practice and scholarship, equity and inclusion, and open education.

¢Arthur O’Connor, academic director of the MS in Data Science and BS in Information Systems programs, co-authored the research paper “Moral leadership and investor attention: An Empirical Assessment of the Potus’s Tweets on Firms’ Market Returns,” which was published in the Review of Quantitative Finance & Accounting.

¢Dr. Lilly Mathew, associate professor of Nursing Informatics, has co-published the article “Evaluating mental illness–substance abuse stigmatic perceptions through education: A library–nursing initiative” in the Journal of Public Health Nursing

¢Dr. Regina A. Bernard-Carreno, associate professor in the Youth Studies program, published the essay “A Teacher Said I Couldn’t Be a Naturalist. Now I’m Paving the Way For My Daughter” on the National Audubon Society website. The essay explores the racial politics of birding.

¢Dr. Elizabeth Alsop, assistant professor and director of the Communication and Media program, has published “On ‘Evil’ and Procedural Failure,” an article discussing TV procedurals and the drama series Evil in the Los Angeles Review of Books. Additionally, Dr. Alsop’s video essay, “The Television Will Not Be Summarized: Some Notes on Televisual Excess,” which was originally published in the journal [in]Transition, was also included in the 2021 Sight and Sound poll of best video essays.

¢Two members of the Youth Studies program, adjunct lecturer Dr. Elizabeth Bishop and academic program coordinator Chanira Rojas,

have published articles in the journal Theory, Research, and Action in Urban Education. Dr. Bishop offers an introduction to the issue with her essay “(Beyond) Breaking Points: Reclaiming Our Lives in Our City.” Rojas’ article “All Hands on Deck: Youth Worker Burnout and Resilience during COVID-19” shares the firsthand accounts of youth development professionals on the front lines.

¢Dr. Sara Martucci, adjunct assistant professor of Sociology at CUNY SPS, published the article “He’s Working from Home and I’m at Home Trying to Work: Experiences of Childcare and the Work–Family Balance Among Mothers During COVID-19” in the Journal of Family Issues

Spring 2023 | 54

Faculty and Staff

¢Dr. Whitney Hollins, adjunct lecturer in the Youth Studies program, has published a book Supporting Children of Incarcerated Parents in Schools. Hollins has also co-authored a K-12 curriculum for directly impacted youth in schools.

¢Dr. Melanie Lorek, assistant professor of Sociology and Human Relations, published the peer-reviewed article “The social and symbolic meanings of recipes in negotiating East German identity,” in the journal Food, Culture & Society

¢Dana Edell, faculty member in the MA in Applied Theatre program, has published the book Girls, Performance, and Activism: Demanding to be Heard. The book offers artists, activists, educators, and scholars a comprehensive analysis, celebration, and critique of the ways in which teenage girls create and perform activist theater. MAAT alums Shanti Rose (‘16) and Jessica Cortez (‘20) worked with Edell as research assistants on the book.

¢Dr. Cassandra Evans, assistant professor in the Disability Studies program, was selected to participate in the CUNY Faculty Fellowship Publication Program (FFPP), where she was mentored through 20212022 to work on publications with other tenure-track faculty across CUNY. Dr. Evans also worked on her project Five Wives, a novel regarding disability justice and intersectionality.

¢Dr. Claudine Campanelli, who oversees the Child Development Associate and Children’s Program Administrator Credential programs, has been awarded the 2022 Outstanding Dissertation Award by the American Montessori Society (AMS) for her dissertation “Birth to Three Language Acquisition: Influences of Ambient Language in the Montessori Setting.” She also shared her research findings at the 2022 AMS conference.

¢Dr. Isabelle Elisha, associate director of the Psychology program, and Rayven-Nikkita Collins, an MA candidate in Psychology, have co-written the article “Resilience: Within-Group Variations in the Impact of Racial Discrimination on Black Youth’s Mental Health,” published in the journal Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences

¢James Casey, faculty member in the MS in Research Administration and Compliance program, published the article “Nudges, Algorithms, and Human Choice: What Does the Future Hold?” in the March 2022 issue of Wisconsin Lawyer.

¢Kate Moss, doctoral lecturer in the BA in Liberal Studies program, was awarded a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Fellowship. As part of this, she participated in a CUNY Innovative Teaching Academy (CITA) Institute in June 2022, along with 14 other SoTL Fellows from across various CUNY campuses.

¢Three faculty members in the Communication and Media program have been selected as Andrew W. Mellon Transformative Learning in the Humanities (TLH) Faculty Fellows for the 2022-2023 academic year. Two adjunct assistant professors, Nina Hien and Dino Sossi, along with Elizabeth Alsop, assistant professor and academic director, are among those selected for this cohort. TLH is a three-year initiative to support student-centered pedagogy and foster innovative teaching in the humanities across CUNY.

¢Dr. Elizabeth Bishop, adjunct faculty member in the Youth Studies program, has been awarded the inaugural CUNY SPS Excellence in Youth Studies Teaching Award. She received this honor for effectively synthesizing theory, source material, and personal experience in her teaching, and for prioritizing student growth and process.

CUNY School of Professional Studies Magazine 55

¢Dr. Kathleen Marsala-Cervasio, associate professor in the Nursing programs, has published the article “An Integrative Review of the Attitudes of Acute Care Nurses Towards Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities” in the International Journal of Nursing and Health Care Science. Dr. Marsala-Cervasio co-authored the piece with Marie Lourdes Charles, assistant professor at Pace University’s Lienhard School of Nursing.

Students & Alum

¢Several alum from the MA in Applied Theatre program contributed essays to the book collection Applied Theatre with Youth: Education, Engagement, Activism. Featured articles include “Unleashing the untold story: The Carpetbag Theatre Inc. and the legacy of the T.R.Y. Ensemble” by Claro de los Reyes and Marion Lopez; “A translanguaging stance

on theatre education” by Sindy Castro; and “Speak About It: Social scripts for consent and healthy relationships” by Olivia Harris and Chelsea Hackett.

¢Jill Francisco, student in the MS in Research and Administration Compliance (RAC) program, has been awarded an education scholarship by the National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA).

¢Aeman Rabbani, student in the BS in Health Information Management program, has received a Career Step Academic Scholarship from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) Foundation.

¢Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, MA in Applied Theatre alum, has been named the executive director of the national LGBTQ nonprofit GLSEN. Mel, who graduated from the program in 2012, has also served as a MAAT faculty member, teaching the course “Theories II: Community, Culture, and Diversity” from 2018-2021.

¢Brisa Areli Muñoz, alum of the MA in Applied Theatre program, will become Musical Theatre Factory’s new artistic director, succeeding Mei Ann Teo.

¢Nina Mdivani, student in the MA in Museum Studies program, published the piece “Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Oral History in Seven Voices” in the arts publication Brooklyn Rail. In this article, she interviews several Ukrainian cultural workers about their experience during the first week of the war.

¢Madeline Calandrillo, alum from the MA in Applied Theatre program, has been appointed director of education at the New York City Children’s Theater (NYCCT), replacing fellow MAAT alum and faculty member Sara Morgulis.

Spring 2023 | 56

He proposed right after graduating!


Bryan Burgos, a new graduate of the CUNY SPS BS in Business program, decided to propose to his girlfriend of three years, Xiomy Rodriguez, after the ceremony.

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Studies Magazine 57
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