Students Network and Learn at Fall Undergraduate Meet-Up

Dr.Elizabeth Alsop opens the Fall Undergraduate Meet-up by addressing the assembly of students

Dr. Elizabeth Alsop, organizer of the Fall Undergraduate Meet-Up opens the event by addressing the assembly. Photo by Douglas Figuerdo

Online students seek community. The Fall Undergraduate Meet-Up provided students a chance to build community by meeting face to face with their peers, professors, deans, and advisors. Dr. Alsop, Academic Director for Liberal Studies and Communications and Media, organized the event held September 23 at the CUNY School of Professional Studies campus. The event was open to CUNY SPS students, faculty, administration, and alumni so that participants could share helpful information and powerful words.

The evening served as a meeting of the minds where students exchanged ideas and contact information. The Meet-Up had a significant student turn-out with 40 people in attendance. The evening started with faculty introductions, staff presenters and students sharing their stories. Shakima Williams-Jones spoke about her decision to serve on the Governing Council and the Student Association because she wanted to build a better school. Student Association co-chair Marilyn Ridley, a retired Morgan Stanley professional, gave a very poignant speech about her decision to return to college. Marilyn left Fordham University in 2007 due to a personal loss. In relaying her decision to return to school, Marilyn spoke about the need to “finish what she started,” a theme that resonated through many of the student’s speeches. Today, Marilyn is an entrepreneur who plans to open a yoga studio and a proud grandmother of four. She is also interested in developing a yoga group at CUNY SPS. Selma Sulejman spoke about the Accessibility and Resources Committee, and their commitment to our disabled students.

Marilyn Ridley speaks about life, loss, and never giving up on her educational goals
Marilyn Ridley speaks about life, loss, and never giving up on her educational goals. Photo by Douglas Figuerdo


College is a time for forging opportunities. A great way to gain experience is to join a student organization. Milan Fredricks and Lisa Sheridan spoke about the gift that comes from service. Milan and Lisa are both in their senior year, and together founded the first online student newspaper for CUNY SPS, The Kiosk. Their story is one of inspiration and can encourage seasoned students to not be intimidated by age gaps and become involved in student life. The Kiosk provides a platform for students interested in journalism and digital communications while sharing news about life at CUNY SPS.

Featured speakers from CUNY SPS faculty and administration also introduced themselves and spoke to the services they provide. Christopher Leydon, Associate Director of the Office of Student Services, assists students who are active military members, veterans, and those with disabilities. Kelsey Richardson, Career Advisor, works with Shannon Gallo in the Office of Career Services helping students with career counseling. Kelsey’s office offers help with everything from preparing for an interview, updating a resume, to creating an excellent cover letter. Their online portal, Career Link, is open to all SPS students and is the best way to contact the career services team. Career Link offers information about professional events, webinars, internships and career opportunities. Theresa Ortiz, Scholarship Specialist, helps students find scholarships and Karen Gonzalez, ePortfolio Assistant, is ready to assist students with customizing their ePortfolios. Ms. Gonzales explained why students need an ePortfolio. Ana Machado spoke about the BS in Information Systems and the MS in Data Science programs. Senior Associate Dean George Otte noted the many master’s degree programs available at CUNY SPS, including the new MA in Museum Studies degree in partnership with the New-York Historical Society. Paragraph


After light refreshments, the assembly broke into smaller focus groups based on academic departments. Academic directors spoke to their student groups about their goals and answered their questions. Students got advice on best practices for their coursework and degree goals. Professor Joseph Foy, Associate Director of the Business Program, headed up the group of business majors and spoke briefly about the classes he teaches and his 20 years’ experience throughout the CUNY system. Dr. Elizabeth Alsop ran a fun, yet informative session with students in the Communication and Media and Liberal Studies programs. The round-table meetings allowed students to introduce themselves and talk freely about their experiences at SPS, their hopes for the future for the program, and their next steps in their educational careers.

CUNY offers fabulous education at an affordable price without compromising quality. Many great opportunities to get experience make connections and foster relationships are readily available at CUNY SPS. 

The Fall Undergraduate Meet-Up proved to be very successful with many students leaving with more insight as to how they want to proceed with their careers and the changes they may want to make with their education. Speaking to each other, students gained new ideas, friends, and future plans. Perhaps some students now want to complete their master’s at CUNY SPS. Or maybe they would like to join the school news-site, or connect with CUNY SPS government regarding concerns or ideas. Opportunity is here for the taking-just sign up!!


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