Spring 2015 Newsletter
Message from the president In this issue: By: Jane Mathias President, NYSACAC Chair, NACAC Imagine Grant Committee Director of Guidance Nardin Academy
It’s spring! Aside from actually seeing the ground and enjoying evening light, it is the time of year when everything is in motion in the NYSACAC cycle. We are in the middle of our seven regional Professional Development Forums, registration is open for the Annual Conference and Coming Together at Utica College June 9-12, plans for the two Camp College programs being held at Siena College and SUNY Delhi are well underway, as are plans for our Summer Institute for new and almost new professionals on both sides of the desk. The NYSACAC College Fair at Ithaca College has taken place and there will be two more: continued on page 2
“Hot Topics” PD Forums HEOP Really Works
CACNY Opportunity Fair Announcements
continued from page 1
at Suffern High School and Manhattanville College in the coming weeks. Voting has just closed for open positions on next yearâ€™s executive board, and many of our executive board members have worked at NACAC College Fairs in Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, and are looking forward to the New York City NACAC at the end of April. President-elect Kristen Capezza and I attended a Leadership Development Institute in Washington D.C. at the beginning of March, which was planned and led in large part by our own Dr. Tim Lee in his position as council coordinator. The opportunity to network with our counterparts is invaluable, and we were updated on NACAC activities as well. Our meeting was followed by the national Legislative Advocacy Day and NYSACAC was well represented by our Government Relations team headed by Costas Solomou. Our outreach efforts to high school and transfer counselors around the state has made some headway as our NYSACAC delegates establish contact in their assigned counties. Several of us have attended and spoken at local counselor groups and consortiums in different parts of the state in an effort to draw in those in more rural and underrepresented areas, a theme that will carry through to our Coming Together in June. Colleges have generously donated conference grants to extend the tremendous opportunity of attending our annual conference to those unable to secure school support. If you are reading this, and are not a current member or would like to be more involved, please let me know. Our membership fee is purposely low so that we can truly be the voice for all NYS counselors who are part of helping students get to the next step in their education. Our collective passion, the one that drove you to this profession, can only lead to greater knowledge and success. As we continue the work of the organization, I am so proud of all that we do. We are all volunteers and have day jobs just like yours: demanding, unpredictable, and simultaneously emotionally draining and beautifully rewarding, but look at who and what we are together. We are the conduits of what we stand for, building a better educated and more skilled next generation.
I hope to see you at Utica College in June!
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The Richest Woman in the World By: Karine Sipel
Admissions Counselor, CUNY
I am 27 years old and I have the best job in the world.
This is a statement I never thought I’d utter and surely not before the age of 45. For most of my life I thought that work was just something you do as a means of achieving enjoyment and fulfillment in your “real” life, the life that begins at 5:01pm on weekdays and ends promptly at 9am on Monday. I’d heard a few people claim that they loved their jobs but those people were usually on TV and, like rom-coms, seemed to play into the notion of the “American Dream” - great... if you can catch it. With this notion and the lottery’s similarly convincing motto of “it’s only a dollar and a dream,” I decided early on that I would not place my life in the hands of lofty dreams and instead chose to apply myself to the reality that work was a sacrifice I’d have to make to enjoy everything that came before and after it. And until recently, I was perfectly content with that plan. I can thank my parents for my pragmatic approach to life. I grew up in a family with great warmth but with little to spare financially. Like many people in this wonderfully diverse country, I am the proud daughter of immigrant parents who divorced when I was a child. My mother raised my brother and me, and even though my immediate family was in New York City with me, I yearned to be a part of my large, extended family so I could for once fit in and feel comfortable in my own skin, a skin that seemed to change between ethnic and American depending on my audience. I ultimately found solace in school and saw that my hard work returned immediate results in the form of good grades. Those grades were more than numbers to me; they were validation that I could make a difference in my life. I was the first person in my family to go to college and when I was accepted to graduate school, my mother thought the stars in the sky couldn’t possibly shine brighter. At the time I was working in retail, but early on an opportunity to work on campus presented itself so I took it without thinking twice. Little did I know that this would be the best decision of my life. I spent Monday through Thursday working as a graduate assistant in the Office of Graduate Studies alongside a group of amazing people who truly cared about their work. I learned a lot during my two-and-a-half years there and came to like working in higher education. But a few months after graduation, my student loans found their way into my small mailbox and delivered with them a large and hard dose of reality. I needed a real, full-time, adult job, fast. “Fast” turned into a year and my “real, full-time, adult job” became my current role as an admissions counselor at CUNY. It is in this role that I have discovered and embraced my passion for helping students from all walks of life take the first step toward their future. I see myself in them, as I once was: confused, scared and overwhelmed. But 4
I also see tremendous courage, motivation, and an inspiring determination to be the writers of their own lives. I think that’s why all of us do what we do despite the challenges of the admissions world. Yes, there are long days and far distances traveled, unavoidable deadlines and denials, but undeniably lives are being changed for the better and that makes it all worth it. Each day I count my blessings as I am able to lend a helping hand and hope to make their journey to self-discovery a bit easier. Each day I wake up living the real American Dream and it has nothing to do with a dollar. Each day I wake up the richest woman in the world.
WHEN YOU WANT THEIR NEXT FOUR YEARS TO BE THEIR BEST FOUR YEARS, IT MATTERS. Spring Open House Sunday, April 26 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m. Garden City Campus • • • • •
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GARDEN CITY | MANHATTAN | HUDSON VALLEY | SUFFOLK COUNTY
By Shameek Robinson M.S.Ed. Vice Chair of Communications, CACNY
New York City schools, colleges, and community based organizations work(ing) together to increase college access and success of their students. In New York City, the scope of work for students to prepare for, apply to, enroll in and graduate from college is staggering. With 1.1 million students overall, 400,000 of them in grades 9-12 and no current accurate count of the number of school counselors available to support them, many students and families in New York City are in tenuous positions when navigating the college process. Since 1989, The College Access Consortium of New York (CACNY) has been collaboratively and collectively working to address the needs of students and families to successfully navigate the college admissions, financial aid and graduation process. CACNY is a membership based, all-volunteer non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to supporting efforts citywide to prepare students to enter and succeed in post-secondary study and degree attainment. The secret to CACNYâ€™s longevity and successful activity and impact is its basis on member oriented action. CACNY was formed by a group of high schools, colleges and community based organizations entities that had a vested interest in the outcomes of their students and motivated to share best practices, network together, and use the power of their collective to negotiate opportunities for their students, staff, and organizations. That model continues to this day. CACNY members meet face to face every month between September and June to share their best practices and network. Every meeting contains either a professional topic for analysis or action and either a college spotlight or professional development topic such as recommendation letters or managing relationships with college admissions offices. CACNY has grown from a handful of organizations to over 200 member organizations. This is reflected the breadth and depth of activities provided by CACNY to its member organizations and larger community. A sample of activities include an student opportunity fair, counselor breakfasts with college hosts, student and counselor tours of colleges, and most recently the emergence and hosting of the College Success Network. CACNYâ€™s increased presence and brand has allowed for co-sponsoring and supporting several premier college access and readiness events such as the CACNY Scholarships, the Big Apple College Fair and CBO Fair. The future looks bright for CACNY, having participated in and provided knowledge base and technical assistance/support to New York City and State policy as well as the White House Convening event series on College Access. 6
For the 2015 NYSACAC Conference, CACNY is working to organize a bus to transport members. All this activity is the product of member organizations. Colleges, CBOs and high schools serving or seeking to engage New York City students are encouraged to join the organization. Please visit cacnyinc.org for more information.
10 Ways to Maximize your Regents Week By Urban Assembly School for Law and Justice Diana Moldovan, Director of College and Career Placement Ashley LaCavalla, Assistant Director of College and Career Placement Laura Hecht, College Advisor Shira Olson, College Advisor
Without a clear plan in place, Regents Week can disrupt the flow of financial aid applications at a critical time, especially for students who need to send in documentation for H/EOP programs. We wanted to share some strategies that we’ve put in place to maximize this week.
Before Regents Week: 1. Early Bird Special
Have you created major deadlines for prior year financial information? Ask for income information during the spring of junior year to get a sense of who might be H/EOP eligible and ask for 2014 tax information or proof of income in September of the student’s senior year. 2. Taxes! Taxes! Taxes!!! Has every conversation you’ve had with a student from the holiday break until Regents Week included emphasizing the importance of families filing taxes ASAP? Push for families to file taxes starting Jan 1 so that students can send these out during Regents week. 3. Label your labels! Have your students addressed before? Help students out by making labels with addresses of H/EOP programs for them to place on their envelopes. You can also create a worksheet that shows students how to create mailing labels. 4. Interview prep Do H/EOP programs require students to interview? Contact H/EOP programs before Regents week to confirm their process so students can register for an interview during Regents Week.
During Regents Week: 5. Regents Week is not a vacation! Do your seniors see Regents Week as a full week off from school and responsibilities? Not anymore! Have seniors come in for individual or small-group appointments to complete H/EOP documentation or to complete a preliminary FAFSA and TAP using their family’s prior year tax information. 6. The PIN Sometimes simply putting in mundane information can take a while. Use Regents week to register student and family members for a PIN (be sure to get approval in writing from a parent about getting them a PIN!)
7. What would we do without Google Drive? Create a tracking spreadsheet template for students to use that includes contact information for each H/EOP program. Students will then create their own tracking sheet with the schools they applied to. This will build student ownership: have students call their schools to get information about status, deadlines, etc.
8. Namaste! Haven’t seen teachers or other staff in school all fall because you’ve been consumed with applications? Take a breather: do yoga with teachers!
9. Keep Calm and Register!
Are juniors taking ELA Regents? Register juniors for the May or June SAT after their Regents exams!
10. Get Creative! Have your bulletin boards been collecting dust from the summer? Update bulletin boards to share highlights of students’ Regents Week accomplishments with staff and families. . Enormous thanks to Susan Knight, founding Director of College and Career Placement at SLJ, whose structures and organization paved the way to matriculation for hundreds of students! 9
By: Whittney Smith, Ed.D.
Assistant Principal of Guidance, Mineola High School Mindset! The counselors at Mineola High School have been developing a program to teach 8th and 9th grade students about Carol Dweck’s Mindset Theory, and help them to develop a “growth mindset.” This program will help students, early in their high school career to develop a set of beliefs and intrinsic motivation that stays with them. The term “Mindset” refers to a set of beliefs or a way of thinking that determines one’s behavior, outlook, and mental attitude. The work of Carol Dweck, Lisa Blackwell and others has been ground-breaking in terms of separating two mindsets, the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. In the fixed mindset, the belief is that intelligence is static, or that abilities are “fixed.” Therefore, failure means “I am not smart or talented.” It gives students the feeling that they are good enough only when they do not make mistakes, when they are perfect, or when they can win. This mindset leads to the desire to look smart and therefore avoid challenges, give up easily, see effort as fruitless, ignore criticism, and feel threatened by the success of others. As a result students may plateau early and achieve less than their full potential. By contrast, in the growth mindset the belief is that intelligence can be developed, or that abilities can improve with effort. Success therefore means stretching to learn something new. Failure therefore means that you are not growing or fulfilling your potential. It is painful but not defining of who you are. This mindset leads to the desire to learn and therefore a tendency to embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, see effort as the path to mastery, and learn from criticism. As a result, students reach even higher levels of achievement than they would have expected of themselves, especially when hard work leads to being able to do something they could not do before. This program includes in class lessons, and several videos developed with partners at Roble Media. The first video is an animation that describes the difference between the two mindsets, while the second one is actual testimonials from Mineola High School students who have struggled and overcome obstacles in order to achieve in school. These students embody the growth mindset and give younger students a face that they recognize to relate to. This makes the lessons more “real” for the younger students.
NYSACAC 2015 Conference Registration is Open! By: Kristen Capezza NYSACAC President-Elect
The moment you all have been waiting for is finally upon us! Registration has officially opened for the 2015 NYSACAC Annual Conference and Coming Together. If you read my winter message, your calendars are already marked and you’ve likely already perused the beautiful conference website, www.utica.edu/nysacac. If you haven’t, here’s a quick top 10 recap to bring you up to speed on all the exciting conference happenings… 1. Our conference is the single most comprehensive and all-encompassing opportunity for professional development and will be held June 10-12, 2015 on the beautiful campus of Utica College. 2. NYSACAC’s Coming Together Conference, held as a precursor to the annual conference on June 9-10, presents an incredible timely theme; “Building Bridges between Urban and Rural New York: What are Effective Counseling and Enrollment Retention Strategies from Both Sides?” 3. Options to attend include full conference passes in addition to one-day passes allowing you to customize your experience based on your schedule. 4. Discounts are in place for early bird registrants (EARLY BIRD DEADLINE IS MAY 6TH) and for all NYSACAC members (now’s the time to make sure your membership is up to date!). There are opportunities to give and receive conference grants for counselors whose attendance relies on financial support. 5. Our general membership meeting is not to be missed! This is your opportunity to hear NYSACAC’s progress over the year and weigh in on key topics you would like to see your executive board explore over the coming year. 6. David C. Smith is featured as this year’s keynote speaker, bringing a wealth of experience and passion to his message about you, your colleagues and our organization, the heart of college admissions. 7. 60+ educational sessions are slated for you to choose from including topics such as “The Benefits and Challenges of Massively Open Online College Counseling,” “Delivering on a Promise: Collaboration to Improve FAFSA Completion Rates,” “Close the Distance: Leveraging Mobile Trends to Drive International Student Recruitment,” “The Power of Partnerships to Increase Access and Success” and MORE! 8. How well are you prepared to handle transfer conversations? Choose from three tracks during this year’s new, stimulating Transfer Power Hour! Track one features conversations on how to guide students looking to begin at community colleges or recent graduates that return asking for advice on transferring. Track two spotlights best practices and innovative ideas for collaboration between community colleges and four year institutions.
Track three allows enrollment managers to view the latest tools to invest in for transfer recruitment and engagement. 9. Networking opportunities are plentiful! There are various segments of fun and exploration to encourage networking with old friends and the creation of new relationships in our field. Take time to play bocce, tour a local Utica hotspot, engage in a progressive cyber forensics experience, or challenge yourself on the adventure recreation ropes course. 10. This year’s electrifying socials feature a NYSACAC “State Fair” filled with delicious food and games as well as a trip to a local hotspot complete with live entertainment at The Stanley Theater. You won’t want to miss it! Map out your route early and learn about accessibility to campus by plane, train, and car. And most importantly, REGISTER TODAY! The 2015 Steering Committee, Utica College, and I all look forward to welcoming you to NYSACAC 2015!
Upcoming Professional Development Forums “Hot Topics in College Admissions” April 20, 2015 – Fordham University April 24, 2015 – Nassau Community College The four-hour program (8:00 am–12 noon) will include various round table discussions, each exploring the different factors affecting professionals in the field as they work with students throughout the college search and application process. In today’s world of 4000+ colleges and universities, students must seek opportunities to market themselves as positive, future community members. Among the discussion topics will be current trends, use of social media, high school counselor/college counselor relationships, and college cost. Forums are free of charge for NYSACAC members. Non-NYSACAC members will be charged a nominal fee of $20.00. Our mission is to provide access across New York State so that professionals working with students in the college admissions process may easily connect and access information. We look forward to this year’s discussions and encourage any seasoned professionals with interest in facilitating roundtables to contact us. For more information please continue to check the website or contact our Professional Development Chairs: Annemarie Cervoni and Lisa Searle email@example.com 13
HEOP Really Works! By: Danny Tejada
Liberty Partnerships Program Site Coordinator, Pace University I hold the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP)-close to my heart because without its existence, I would not have been able to graduate from college. Ten years ago, I opened a letter from my dream school, Skidmore College, and it informed me that I had been accepted into the Higher Education Opportunity Program. Reading those words lifted a great weight off of me. During the college application process, most of my family members thought that going to a school outside of New York City was not conceivable, much less affordable. Admissions via the HEOP program solved both of those issues. In addition to outside scholarships and being a resident assistant in my last year, the financial aid package allowed me to leave college with no loans. While I was determined to escape my hellish home (see my article “A Grand Homecoming” in NYSACAC’s Winter 2015 Newsletter), the family-like atmosphere HEOP provided was a tremendous sustainer for me. While a good portion of the students were not fond of having to spend an entire month of their summer in school, I was grateful to be away from home. Not only did I have the peace provided from being away from home, but it also enable me to complete a math requirement, and to strengthen my writing skills-a necessity for college and life. The mandatory regular check-ins during the first year were also a component of the program that some participants did not like, but I was grateful for that extra and consistent support. One advisor, who is currently a HEOP Director at another school, became a model of the father I have always wanted. While family members I looked up to discouraged my various major interests, he encouraged me to explore and discover myself. With that encouragement, I took acting classes that helped with my speaking, and I majored in American Studies with a focus on Diversity in an effort to learn more about myself and other cultures in America. One critical thing that my advisor helped me with was coping with my life experiences. This happened when I enrolled in an acting class where the professor wanted me to “dig deeper” for a scene we were working on. For so long, I had buried my feelings by using a smile as my mask. Although I shared my story at a scholarship ceremony in high school, I never accessed or connected my experiences in a way that lent themselves to empowering others, much less myself. I always feared that if I “went too deep,” and delved into my own emotions, I would never be able to come back. I feared that I would lose the loving and caring person I was and instead follow in the footsteps of my father who had let his childhood dictate his life. My advisor helped me with the internal struggle of “facing” the little boy who had 14
endured so much physical and emotional pain. With his help, I used the understanding of that pain in my acting class, to perform a scene. Ironically, it is the understanding and my ability to associate with those tribulations that has proven beneficial to me in my current profession. Working for Pace University’s Liberty Partnerships Program, I’m able to understand, connect and share with the students who have had similar experiences. Just as my advisor had helped and encouraged me to be proud of who I am in spite of obstacles, I also assist students in reconciling their experiences, so that colleges give them a chance as Skidmore’s HEOP did with me. It is an opportunity for which I remain forever grateful. It changed the course of my life. A colleague at Pace, who I have known for about 12 years likes to ask me in front of our students, “what would have happened if you stayed in New York City for college?” I tell the students that I wouldn’t have graduated because of what I was dealing with at home. HEOP gave me a chance to grow into the strong, passionate and ambitious man I am today. It is my hope that host colleges and the State will continue to invest and consider making an even greater investment in the program so that more students can grow in peace and with love. Without HEOP, I would not have been able to have these experiences which contributed not only to my academic résumé, but it allowed me to also flourish personally.
“During HEOP’s summer session, I rode a horse and hiked a mountain for the first time.”
“I owe a lot of my success to HEOP.”
Government Relations Update The NYSACAC Government Relations Committee held one of the most successful Legislative Advocacy Days in recent memory on February 10th in Albany. College admissions and counseling professionals from across the state braved a snowstorm in order to advocate on behalf of their students and colleagues. The group was able to meet with 38 legislative offices in the State Assembly and Senate. The Government Relations Committee would like to extend a big thank you to all those who took the time out of their busy schedules to attend. Remember to keep an eye on your inbox for upcoming legislative action alerts!
Legislative Advocacy Day 2015: Student Reflection By: Vivian Ogu Student
“America, the land of opportunity” has always been a slogan of propaganda, enticing innocent immigrants. It wasn’t a complete lie, however, because to some extent, if you worked hard enough you could quite possibly scrape by. The problem lies among our young people who have strived to do well academically, searching to expand their knowledge and skills in the classroom and elsewhere. These are students who do not allow their financial situations to hinder their education, but what happens if the very nation in which they were born and raised ceases to support them? It is for this reason that many of Rockaway Collegiate High School’s upperclassmen went to Albany this Legislative Advocacy Day 2015. Every year programs like HESC and TAP are threatened to be cut by state officials, and every year students are invited to protest these threats. I realized as we spoke with the officials and officiate representatives that most of the time they really wanted to know why these programs are so important to us. It was liberating to share what feels almost like oppression on youth when it comes to higher education. We shared statistics and the negative effects of denying adequate funds for students. As a high school senior I can honestly say that I’m proud to have been a part of something that will potentially aid the students who come after me.
CACNY 2015 Annual Opportunity Program Fair By: Sarah Chesson Senior Partnership Manager, PENCIL
Over 60 College Access Consortium of New York (CACNY) members and representatives from more than 20 Opportunity Programs throughout New York State gathered at the East Harlem Tutorial Program, a CACNY member, on Thursday, March 12th to participate in a flurry of high energy networking at CACNY’s Third Annual Opportunity Program Fair. College access and secondary school counselors met with almost two dozen staff of opportunity programs from around the state, championing their students and gathering knowledge about the current Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge (SEEK) and College Discovery (CD) landscape. During the CACNY monthly networking meeting preceding the Opportunity Fair, members heard from Beryl S. Jeffers, Board President of the Big Apple College Fair and Director of the SUNY Center for Student Recruitment as she presented the third installment of a grant totaling $10,000 to CACNY’s Scholarship Committee. Michelle Curtis-Bailey, Chair of the Scholarship Committee then acknowledged the 59 impressive applicants for CACNY’s 2015 scholarship awards. Ms. Jeffers also shared her strong support for CACNY and the work of its member organizations. She then informed members that 43 of the 64 SUNY schools have EOP programs and highlighted the importance of completing EOP applications early, as programs have limited openings, and offered advice on navigating the CUNY to SUNY transfer process for CD/SEEK/EOP eligible students. Phyllis A.H. Breland, President of New York State HEOPPO and Director of HEOP at Hamilton College, shared her colleagues’ efforts in Albany on February 10th during the Student Advocacy Day. Ms. Breland and her colleagues “laid out their considerations” for the state’s higher education decision-makers and encouraged them to double funding for HEOP using a rumored surplus. Those attending became cautiously optimistic as Anthony Belcher, Senior Associate with SUNY’s Office of Opportunity Programs, provided information about an unconfirmed, but possible increase in EOP funding, pending a finalization of the state budget this month. Shaun Rasmussen, Program Coordinator for CUNY’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP), a unique CUNY program developed to support the success of students at community colleges, shared an announcement of ASAP’s expansion to New York City College of Technology and College of Staten Island, a vision to serve 13,000 students in 2016 and a newly launched ASAP eligibility checklist which garnered happy murmurs from the crowd, as it will heighten students’ awareness of this important program and give them directions for completing each item on the checklist. continued from page 18
continued from page 17
As presentations and member announcements wrapped up, CACNY members joined lively queues to connect with the admissions and opportunity program counselors from the many CUNY, SUNY and private colleges in attendance. After speaking with Phyllis Breland from Hamilton College and Jose Mancebo from Lehman College, Robin Blanc from Say Yes to Education and Deborah Steinberg from Harlem RBI noted the importance of the Opportunity Fair to facilitate and clarify their understanding of EOP/HEOP/SEEK programs and further enhance their counseling strategies for next year’s students. Between a deluge of fervent CACNY members sharing student perspectives, Fordham’s Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Ikenna Uche, stated that the Opportunity Fair enables him to hear about applicants that are a great fit for Fordham. Acknowledging that the HEOP admissions process can be lengthy, he emphasized that these collaborations between members can better facilitate students navigating the process. Felix Cruz, Academic Support Center Coordinator at Queensborough Community College, recognized the importance of CACNY’s network in sharing information amongst colleagues with mutual goals of offering students increased access and supporting their success and as a result, pledged to join the organization. After more than three hours of energized, productive discussions, CACNY’s school and college access counselors were empowered with new information and stronger collaborations. Along with the representatives from opportunity programs throughout the city and state, they reinforced their untiring commitment to continuing to assist students in their quest for equity in post-secondary access and success.
A place to share personal and professional news about NYSACAC members.
Congratulations on your new additions! Lisa Searle, Admissions Counselor at Ithaca College and her husband William welcomed a new baby boy to their family. Henry Forrest Searle was born on Saturday, January 10, 2015 at 10:07 am, weighing 7 lbs, 1 oz and measuring 19.5 inches. William, Lisa, Henry and Lucy (their beagle) are all doing well and are loving life in their growing family.
Cara Nichols (Associate Director of Admission at Ithaca College) and her husband, Eric, recently welcomed their first baby! Cole Edward Nichols was born on Friday, January 30, 2015 at 1:05am, weighing 7lbs, 8oz and measuring 18.75 inches. Everyone is fantastic and loving being a family of three! Cara is enjoying maternity leave with Cole and will be back at work at the end of April.
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