ACE Scholarship Mentor Milan Fredricks – In Her Own Words

Graphic Illustration by Milan Fredricks
Graphic Illustration by Milan Fredricks

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 first essay in this series is by Milan Fredricks. Milan is in the B.A. in Communication and Media program and is also Managing Editor of The Kiosk.

Sometimes I ask myself how much more I can take before I break. Much has happened the Fall 2018 semester and more is on the horizon. One of the best things that have happened? Becoming an ACE Scholarship winner and mentor.

Guardian Angel

This was almost a missed opportunity, but, luckily, I had my guardian angel (she knows who she is!) who strongly encouraged me to apply. Words cannot fully express how opportune this scholarship was. For the first time, I felt relief on the strain of my budget, which included caring for my aging mother, along with those large tuition checks. But it wasn’t just about the money for me. Yes, it was important, but the service aspect of the award also appealed to me. My first semester at CUNY SPS, the fall of 2017, I was an ACE mentee and it was an eye-opening experience. I credit my involvement in the program to my early success at CUNY SPS. It set a foundation that some amazing opportunities built on. I welcome the chance to do the same for other students.

Time well spent

Being a mentor is fulfilling, but it also requires a commitment in time and energy. It meant making myself available to my mentees, learning how to straddle the line between doing too much and allowing my mentees to come to me when they needed me. As the Fall 2018 semester ended (with just a few weeks to go!) I hoped that I was able to make an impact, however small, on my mentees. I hope that I was present enough, and worry that maybe I wasn’t.

However, this experience has taught me that being a mentor is not about being perfect. Learning that has been very freeing for me. As someone who puts a lot of pressure on herself to be “the best.” I was humbled by my moments as a mentor. I learned so much about, and from, my mentees. Whatever my shortcomings in this role now, I know that I will learn from them and be better in the future.

Keeping commitments and taking chances

But back to my musing on how much more I can take. This semester has brought about incredible opportunities; the ACE Peer-Mentor program, CUNY SPS Student Association, CUNY USS (University Student Senate) and The Kiosk, as the managing editor. Just writing it all out is exhausting! Add two very tough courses and a family health crisis that emerged mid-semester to that list and I wonder how I’m still standing. Then I remember. It’s the commitment that I made to myself when I enrolled in CUNY SPS after nine years away from school. It’s the dream of pursuing my Master’s at Columbia University. It’s the amazing relationships and connections that I have cultivated at CUNY. These make it all worthwhile.

I know now what lies just ahead for me. I see it so clearly now; just beyond. So, I will take on as much as I can because I am made for great things. And anything worth having is worth working for. My future.

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