CUNY SPS Students Welcomed Into Honors Society for High-Achieving Students with Disabilities

Students at the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) have officially chartered a chapter of Delta Alpha Pi (DAPi), the international honors society for high-achieving students with disabilities, with an induction ceremony for the new members held on May 18.

Delta Alpha Pi is an academic honor society that celebrates and supports academic achievement, leadership, and advocacy for post-secondary students with disabilities. The CUNY SPS chapter offers the opportunity for students to meet up with others who share similar goals and dreams, learn leadership and advocacy skills while being courteous of people with diverse disabilities, and help lessen the stigma around disability.

Jill Von FumettiJill Von Fumetti, a student in the CUNY SPS BA in disability studies program (pictured here), is founder and newly elected president of the chapter. In fall 2020, she approached the CUNY SPS Disability and Access Coalition with an initiative to establish the chapter. “I began to research DAPi after realizing there wasn't a group that dealt with the experience of life with a disability that included only people with disabilities,” said Von Fumetti. “I believe in a connection that exists between people with disabilities that no one else can understand.”

With the launch of the CUNY SPS chapter, students now have that opportunity to meet, collaborate, and learn. Von Fumetti urges all students to take advantage of what the chapter offers. 

“The benefits of joining DAPi are celebrating academic success for people with disabilities, which I think society is often unaware of. People with disabilities are often misunderstood and are capable of achieving more than society thinks. It also helps to teach leadership and advocacy skills for career opportunities,” Von Fumetti explained. “There is the sense of belonging I previously mentioned. And the opportunity to mentor others will help us give back to our community.”

Chris Fleming, student disability services coordinator at CUNY SPS, worked closely with Von Fumetti to help her launch the chapter. “I hold no doubts about a bright future for the group, which is a natural fit for our school,” said Fleming. “This small first-charter group have already deeply impressed me with their knowledge, energy, and ideas and I’m certain that before long, the entire school will feel their presence as well.”

Currently there are 19 charter members of the society, and 10 of those participated in a virtual DAPi induction ceremony on May 18.

The virtual ceremony, which opened with remarks from Fleming, featured brief comments from Tracy Meade, senior associate dean for strategy and innovation, and Jennifer Grace Lee, associate dean of enrollment management and student services. 

Following that, Von Fumetti delivered a moving speech. “People with disabilities have always faced adversity in their daily lives: professional, academic, and personal. Yes, we all have obstacles to overcome as college students. However, I cannot stress to you enough how much time, effort, and dedication that it takes to be a successful college student with a disability,” she shared. “You are the leaders of tomorrow and you, without direct focus on your unique challenges, have aspired to advocate for others with disabilities and use the social model of disability to lessen stigma and create camaraderie between yourself and the rest of CUNY, so that there are more similarities than differences.”

After her presentation, the first two Delta Alpha Pi members graduating this semester from CUNY SPS were honored with a song. 

Corbin Outlaw(Corbin Outlaw, one of the two graduates, is pictured here with cap and gown.) The ceremony closed with Fleming leading a recital of the Delta Alpha Pi pledge.

With this launch, CUNY SPS joins over 170 institutions that have chartered a DAPi chapter since 2004. Among those schools, CUNY SPS is the third CUNY campus with a chapter, alongside LaGuardia Community College and John Jay College.

To learn more about the CUNY SPS chapter of DAPi, please contact either Jill Von Fumetti or Chris Fleming.

About the CUNY School of Professional Studies

For over 15 years, the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) has been leading online education in New York. Notable for offering the most online bachelor’s and master’s degree options at the City University of New York, and for serving transfer students as the University system’s only undergraduate all-transfer college, 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.

The School’s growth has been remarkable, with twenty-four degrees launched since 2006. Enrollment has risen by more than 30% in the last four years to over 4,000 students in the credit-bearing programs.  Thousands more are enrolled in non-degree and grant-funded workplace learning programs. In addition, the School has an active alumni network and has established the CUNY SPS Foundation, which offers multiple scholarship opportunities to current students.

CUNY SPS has consistently been named by U.S. News & World Report as one of the country’s top online institutions. This year, the School was ranked in the top 2% in the nation on the publisher’s list of the 2021 Best Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs.

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