Photo by April Moore, Photo Editor
Every year, students who are within 30 credits of their degree completion 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 second essay in this series is by Lisa Sheridan. Lisa is in the B.A. in Communication and Media program and also the editor-in-chief of The Kiosk.
Remembrance of Thanksgivings Past
The aromatic traces of rosemary, sage, and thyme prompt memories of Thanksgivings past. The turkey is roasting in the oven while the pies cool on the table. Our apartment is toasty warm from hours of baking, basting, and simmering. While reflecting on the holiday’s impact, it occurs to me that the stories of gratitude told around the Thanksgiving dinner table are similar to my ACE Scholarship story.
Where I Have Been
While I am not rich, my life has been. Although I am a single mother, I am blessed with a beautiful blended and extended multi-cultural family. My friends include interesting artists and thinkers from all over the globe. Yet even with all this grace, many of the big moments this past year surround my life at CUNY SPS. This school has given me so many exciting opportunities. As I approach my graduation, the gifts just keep expanding. This year I have more cause than ever to be grateful, thanks to the ACE Scholarship.
My life at SPS began in the spring of 2016 when I had an extended stint of unemployment. Although I had worked for over twenty-five years as a fashion designer, for the first time in my professional life I found that my job choices were being limited because I lacked a BA. I decided to return to school to finish my degree, and improve my prospects. I knew with my over-taxed single mom schedule; online education was my only option. With its high national ranking and low tuition costs, CUNY SPS was a natural choice.
Thinking skilled writing was key to any industry, I chose communications and media as my major. The magic of higher ed is that college presents unforeseen opportunities. Thanks to this process, I began to entertain the idea of pivoting out of fashion and into writing.
In preparation for composing this essay about the ACE Scholarship, I read many essays by recipients from past years. That investigation turned into a lesson in humility. There are so many amazing stories of students balancing lives that included family obligations, work, school, and community involvement. What could I possibly say that was new? Since my challenges are no different than any other SPS student, it became clear that my narrative had to be about gratitude.
I am so thankful that this past year I was able to serve on the Student Association and the USS, the CUNY-wide student senate. It has also been an honor to represent students in determining our academic direction with the Governing Council. These activities have been enriching and engaging. But my most gratifying work has been the ACE mentoring program and launching the school’s first student-run news publication, The Kiosk. I feel so lucky to be a part of all these organizations.
There is an exciting convergence that happens from my various campus involvements. Thanks to these activities, I can be a better mentor for my ACE mentees, because I have become more directly aware of the school’s operations and procedures. When students face difficulties, I am better prepared to help them navigate and find a solution. Because I work with new students as a mentor and hear about their concerns, I can be a more in-tuned leader within student government. Thanks to The Kiosk, I can be a better ambassador for the school, and help to foster SPS student pride.
In two short semesters, my son and I will both be first-generation students at the same time! The ACE Scholarship means that I will be able to help my son go to college because I won’t be struggling with my student expenses. In effect, the ACE Scholarship is lifting the lives of two students at once. Perhaps even more remarkably, by reducing my student debt, the ACE Scholarship makes my dream of grad school a real possibility.
To Mr. Alan Fishman, the SPS trustees and benefactors, the SPS faculty and administration, and to the students of SPS: for making dreams come true for both my son and me, thank you.