CUNY SPS Marks 10th Annual Scholarship Reception with Student Success Stories and Anniversary Toast


On November 15, the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) community gathered to attend the 2023 Annual Scholarship Reception and celebrate the 10th anniversary of the event, which was first held back in 2013. In addition to observing this decade milestone, the evening also spotlighted this year’s deserving and talented scholarship recipients and the donors who help make these awards possible.

In her opening remarks, Dean Braverman welcomed the CUNY SPS community and reminded the audience of the critical role that scholarships play in helping students achieve success. "For our students, many of whom are working adults, CUNY SPS has been a lifeline to complete degrees and advance in their careers,” she noted. “Many of these students attend part-time while they juggle work, family, and other life responsibilities. And because they are working adults, their financial aid options, other than scholarships, are often limited.”

Following Dean Braverman’s remarks, Blake Foote, chair of the CUNY School of Professional Studies Foundation Board, introduced the scholarship recipients, who each shared their own stories.

Scholar Isabella Lazzarino (MA Museum Studies)The first speaker was Museum Studies Scholar Isabella Lazzarino (MA Museum Studies), who reflected on her academic journey as a first-generation college student.”I stand before you today as a proud Latina woman and the first in my family to enter graduate school,” she explained. “My journey has been forever transformed by the opportunities made possible through [the Museum Studies Scholarship]…[It] has provided me with not only the financial support but also the mentorship and guidance necessary for personal and professional development.”

Marco Panchame (BA Human Relations)Next, Newcombe Scholar Marco Panchame (BA Human Relations) took to the podium to share the impact the award has had for him. “For over a decade, I have dedicated my life to working with the city’s homeless population, witnessing firsthand the challenges and traumas that they face daily,” Panchame said. “The Newcombe Scholarship has come as a beacon of hope, allowing me to continue my pursuit of one day obtaining a master’s in social work.”

Lennyn Jacob (BA Disability Studies) and her son.Lastly, William J. Kissane III Scholar Lennyn Jacob (BA Disability Studies) spoke, recounting her moving story as a student with an invisible disability. “I lived in fear of the stigma associated with my disability,” Jacob said. “I didn’t know how I would make college work after the many failed attempts, but I knew I had to have courage...Today, I stand before you as a student activist and proud loving mother of a neurodivergent son with autism.” Jacob then detailed some of her recent activist efforts and accolades, including being named on the City & State Power 100: Most Influential People in Higher Education list for both 2022 and 2023.

After the student speeches concluded, Blake Foote returned to the podium to offer her final remarks. “Scholarships have an enormous impact on our students – as you just heard from our speakers. However, with our current resources, the School is only able to provide scholarships to a very tiny percentage of our students annually.” Foote continued, “For example, this year, the SPS Bursar’s Office received 626 scholarship applications and was only able to award 83 students. As we grow beyond 4,000 students, we are committed to increasing our number of available scholarship opportunities.”

To close the evening, Dean Braverman took the stage again to propose a congratulatory toast to the Foundation Board as a specially prepared 10th anniversary cake was wheeled out.

“Thank you so much to our amazing Board Members for your ongoing commitment to the school and our students,” Dean Braverman said. “And to our wonderful and thoughtful Board Chair, Blake Foote. Your hard work and dedication are inspiring!”

More information on the School’s scholarships may be found on the CUNY SPS scholarships page. Deserving CUNY SPS students need your financial support to reach the finish line and attain their college degrees. Please give as generously as you can this Giving Tuesday, visit the School’s 2023 CUNYTuesday Campaign website.

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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