CUNY SPS Honors Student Leaders in an Inclusive Hybrid Ceremony

CUNY SPS Student Leadership Award Ceremony keynote speakers Leonard Blades and Lennyn Jacob are interviewed by Associate Director of Student Life Anthony Sweeney

For the fourth year running, students from near and far celebrated with the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) in its annual Student Leadership and Service Recognition Ceremony on April 18. The hybrid event applauded the accomplishments and dedication of the ever-growing group of CUNY SPS student leaders.

The celebration honored a record-shattering 91 students who contributed to new and existing School clubs, organizations, or committees during the 2023-2024 academic year and was held at the Newman Vertical Campus Conference Center at Baruch College in addition to a livestream.

Reshma Jaigobin, student leadership and development coordinator, and Parshotam Lal, student life coordinator, served as emcees for the evening. Jaigobin opened the affair by welcoming the in-person and virtual attendees and then introduced Dean Lisa Braverman, who gave opening remarks. 

As she took the podium, Dr. Braverman praised the large group of CUNY SPS student leaders who managed to find the time to build and strengthen the School’s community while balancing their numerous responsibilities of school, families, and jobs.

“Each student we recognize tonight has played an important role in our community at CUNY SPS, whether they have served in the Governing Council, the Student Association, or as an active leader of the school students clubs and organizations,”  Dr. Braverman extolled. “As we'll hear, our honorees are incredibly hardworking and devoted students who took time out of their busy lives to help build partnerships at CUNY SPS that reflect their shared goals and vision."

After Dr. Braverman’s opening remarks, the keynote address took on a creative formatting approach. Associate Director of Student Life Anthony Sweeney interviewed two extraordinary student leaders: Lennyn Jacob (BA in Disability Studies) and Leonard Blades (Advanced Certificate in Disability Studies). In their conversation, they discussed the students’ drive to make all events more inclusive by utilizing technology to develop hybrid events. 

Jacob and Blades also acknowledged that their student leadership roles at CUNY SPS helped prepare them for their lives post-graduation. Blades offered his reflection on the impact of heading many different groups of student advocates while at CUNY SPS. “Activism and community engagement are in my nature, and that is never going to stop,” said Blades. “But in terms of post-graduate work, I definitely have to say thank you to CUNY SPS, because I will soon be a 3-time graduate. I just can't get enough!  And [CUNY] SPS has definitely prepared me in the best way possible to be ready for the roles that I am serving in today as a disability accommodation specialist at Queensborough [Community College].” 

After the keynote panel discussion, individual awards were given to the numerous recipients. The slide presentation provides a full listing of the honorees as well as their respective organizations and clubs.

At the ceremony’s finale, Dr. Zeita-Marion (“Z”) Lobley, director of student services, recognized the contributions and commitment to the School demonstrated by all the student leaders.

After the ceremony, several student leaders spoke about the impact of their roles in the School’s various organizations and what made their experience special. 

CUNY SPS student leader AJ RamosArmando “AJ” Ramos (BA in Communications and Media ‘24) said, “Being a student leader helped me break out of my shell and, for lack of better terms, ‘get out of my head’...Hopefully, post-graduation, I can parlay those skills into something that will take me down my desired path and original goal of coming back to school.”  

Clubs and organizations: Treasurer, E-Sports Club; member of Pride Club, Social Justice Club, Change Warriors, and Malave Leadership Academy.

CUNY SPS student leader Krutika Patel Krutika Patel (MS in Data Science ‘24) traveled all the way from Georgia to attend the event. “I want to thank Parshotam Lal for inviting me to join a meeting for the South Asian Student Union, which spurred and fast-tracked my involvement in other clubs and student organizations both at [CUNY] SPS and within all of CUNY. Student leadership has allowed me to make my voice heard, even from hundreds of miles away.” 

Clubs and organizations: President, E-Sports Club; At-Large Steering Officer, Student Association; Change Warriors.

CUNY SPS student leader Kaci Conley

Thanks to the event’s hybrid nature, even a potential tornado didn’t stop Kaci Conley (MA in Psychology ‘25) from attending. She miraculously gave her Advocacy group speech while sheltering in her Missouri basement. Being a student leader provides me the opportunity to use my leadership skills and foster connections with other students through engaging meetings and events.” 

Clubs and organizations: President, Psychology Club; Co-Chair, Disability and Access Coalition.

As one of the principal organizers of the evening’s festivities, Heather Zeman, events manager, shared her takeaway. “This ceremony is one of my favorites; the growth in our student clubs and organizations has been amazing to witness over the last 4 years,” said Zeman. “I am so happy that we’ve been able to design the ceremony to include all of our student leaders, no matter where they live."

For more information on CUNY SPS student clubs and organizations, visit the Student Life page.

About the CUNY School of Professional Studies

As New York's leading online school since 2006, the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) offers the most online bachelor's and master's degree options at the City University of New York and serves as the University's first undergraduate all-transfer college. With 26 degrees and numerous other non-degree and grant-funded workplace learning programs, CUNY SPS meets the needs of adults who wish to finish a bachelor's degree, progress from an associate's degree, earn a master's degree or certificate in a specialized field, and advance in the workplace or change careers. Consistently ranked highly by U.S. News & World Report for its online offerings, CUNY SPS has emerged as a nationwide leader in online education. The School's renowned and affordable online programs ensure that busy working adults may fulfill their educational goals on their own time and schedule.

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