ACE Scholarship Mentor Jessica Kenniff – In Her Own Words

Graphic Illustration by Milan Fredricks
Graphic Illustration by Milan Fredricks

Every year, students who are within 30 credits of graduating are invited to apply for the CUNY SPS ACE Scholarship. The scholarship provides full tuition until graduation. To be considered, students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, enroll for a minimum of 6 credits, and demonstrate financial need. As part of their award requirements, ACE Scholars mentor newly-admitted undergraduate students and act as ambassadors for the school. To fulfill the duties of the scholarship each recipient writes an essay about their ACE experience. The Kiosk will be publishing these essays each Wednesday.

The following essay is by Jessica Kenniff, who is in the B.A. in Disabilities Studies.

What the ACE Scholarship Meant to Me

Just as I was contemplating not attending the CUNY School of Professional Studies for the Fall 2018 semester due to lack of funds, I received a life-changing email. I can remember the exact moment that I found out I was selected as an ACE Scholar and it was one of my happiest moments to date. I would soon learn that becoming an ACE Scholar meant more than just my tuition being paid, it meant I was now a part of a community that I never realized existed.

With the privilege of becoming an ACE Scholar comes the responsibility of becoming a peer mentor to students who are attending CUNY SPS for the first time. This is where I learned that I was not alone in this online education. As I attended our first peer mentor training, I was amazed to see other students, real students! They were not avatars or profile pictures. they were not random strangers replying to my discussion board post, but they were real actual students- live and in person. As we went through our training and we got to know each other, I realized that so many students had the same experience as me. They had the same frustrations, the same worries, and so much experience to offer. Our training offered many tools to help us guide our mentees that we would meet the very next day.

Day two of training arrived and I was happy to see even more students! I met my mentees who where vibrant and full of questions and to my dismay, I was able to answer them. For the first time as an adult student, I felt confident and I felt like I belonged.

Becoming an ACE Scholar not only relieved the financial burden of funding my education out of pocket, but it also helped me feel like an actual student; a feeling that can sometimes be lost with an online education. The biggest takeaway from this amazing opportunity was that becoming a part of the school community as a mentor, as a volunteer and as a student, makes the CUNY SPS experience even more rewarding.

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