Honoring CUNY SPS Students Who Have Served Our Country

On Veterans Day, the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) honors all of the members of our military who have served and sacrificed so much for the people of the United States.

As part of our longstanding and publicly recognized efforts to support our active military and veteran students at CUNY SPS, which include a range of services and financial assistance, we are especially pleased to salute the members of our community who have served our country in the armed forces.

This year, as part of this day of remembrance, we shine a spotlight on two CUNY SPS students from our military community: TJ Rose and Kaminie Persaud.

VeteransDay_TJRoseTJ Rose, SPC, army reserve, joined the military because, as he explains it, “I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself and, coming from a military/law enforcement family background, it was almost required of me.” In the five years he spent in the army as a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear specialist (CBRN), he not only became part of something bigger, but also expanded his sense of connection and community. In the armed forces, he declared proudly, “We are family—no matter what!”

This strong sense of military family makes Veterans Day especially important to Rose, because it is a time for “paying tribute to my brothers and sisters who served, are currently serving, and who returned to us broken.” To him, Veterans Day means “hope, freedom, sacrifice, and honor,” even as it provides an opportunity to remind the nation that “we must never leave a soldier behind.”

As a CRBN, Rose was “assigned to a decon unit which deals with the response and decontamination process in case of a chemical attack.” Today, as a BA in communications and media major at CUNY SPS, he no longer needs to think about responding to and protecting our country from such attacks on a day-to-day basis, but still aspires to take “the lessons, skills, and discipline acquired while in the military to help me achieve a greater purpose in life and be able to help others, no matter what path I decide to walk.” He notes that CUNY SPS is enabling him to fulfill dreams by providing the “skills it takes to navigate in this fast-changing world.”  

The advice Rose gives to those contemplating a career in the military is good advice for any student—indeed for any person with a dream. He reflects, “Do as many things as you possibly can and get qualified in as much as you can. Any opportunity that falls in your lap to get ahead —take it and don’t second guess it. Make smart choices, respect everyone alongside you, and never quit.”

VeteransDay_KaminiePersaudKaminie Persaud, former Petty Officer Second Class Operation Specialist and US Navy veteran, joined the military to help make college possible—without burdening her parents. She explains, “My senior year of high school I knew I wanted to go to college, but I knew my parents couldn’t really afford sending me to school… I’m first-generation born in the United States, and I watched my parents work and struggle to give me and my siblings whatever we needed to live. I’m also the oldest out of all my siblings, [and] I had to be a role model… so I decided to sign up for the US Navy in January 2014.” 

While starting out, Persaud spent her time on the aircraft carrier USS John C Stennis (CVN-74) out of Bremerton, WA, where she served for two years as an undesignated seaman. As she describes, “I spent most of my time doing a lot of dirty labor, such as completing maintenance on the ship underway replenishment machinery, search and rescue boats, lifesaving equipment, and anchor systems.” This difficult work was critical to keeping the ship stocked and the crew safe in case of emergency.

In the following two years, Persaud moved onto becoming an operation specialist, where she “…worked on radar and missile systems and was in charge of securing secret information. I also conducted maintenance on the ship radar systems to ensure the safety of our ship.”

With these roles under her belt, Persaud is grateful that her time in the military enabled her to attend the BS in Information Systems program at CUNY SPS debt free—and that it helped her to understand Veterans Day in a more profound way.

“Active-duty personnel are protecting this country every day, but sometimes people tend to forget that [service men and women] have sacrificed time with their own families so everybody else can be with theirs,” Persaud observes. “One thing I wish everybody knew about the [active] military is we miss our families more than we miss our freedom… We give up everything for the country to be secure and safe, but not everybody really understands what that feels like. So please try to support your veterans, and active duty especially, in any way you can.”

Currently, Persaud continues to keep her connection to the military alive through her work as an intern in the CUNY SPS Office of Military and Veteran Student Services.

In that capacity, she suggests that vets and active military considering enrollment at the School “ask questions or get help from the Office of Military and Veteran Student Services.…We will do our best to find a solution to whatever issues you’re facing as a student.” This advice comes from personal experience for, as she shares, “I feel like the staff is always here to help me when I need it.”

In the future, Persaud hopes to continue a life of service, by joining “a cybersecurity department that is focused on helping humans,” and she is specifically attracted to organizations that help students or protect children. She comments, “My dream job is really to be a cybersecurity analyst fighting human trafficking, but it will take me some time to get there.” Still, Persaud understands that the CUNY SPS community always has her back. As she notes, “I know a lot of days might be stressful and exhausting, but you can definitely achieve your goals at CUNY SPS.”

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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