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MA in Disability Studies
Class of 2011
April Coughlin has always had a passion for teaching and credits the CUNY SPS Masters in Disability Studies program for sparking interest in continuing her education and shaping her long-term career goals. Now she’s pursuing her PhD in Education with a focus on Disability Studies at Syracuse University and teaching online classes here at CUNY SPS.
We recently caught up with April and learned about her experience as a CUNY SPS student, life since graduation, her goals, and some of her favorite things outside the classroom.
Q: Why did you choose CUNY SPS?
I was teaching at a high school in Washington Heights and decided that I wanted to pursue another college degree. I already hold degrees in Education and Broadcast Journalism. I learned of the CUNY SPS Masters in Disability Studies program through a CUNY website search. At the time, I didn’t know that Disability Studies was a field of study or degree-bearing program. Having lived with a disability for 26 years, this seemed like an interesting opportunity to pursue!
Q: What most appealed to you about your CUNY SPS degree program?
My classmates and professors! CUNY SPS provided an incredibly welcoming environment and everyone brought such interesting backgrounds and experiences to the class discussions. By virtue of its location in New York City, CUNY SPS’s Disability Studies program was greatly enhanced by the many timely disability cultural events that were a part of our class conversations. Also, through our coursework, we were able to analyze many of the policies, procedures and practices that directly impact people with disabilities in New York City.
Q: How did you find your online/classroom interaction with other students? With faculty?
Interactions with other students and faculty were great! Everyone was very supportive. Faculty members made time to meet after class or during other times throughout the week. Each professor showed not only support, but a genuine interest in my research and the topics we discussed both in and out of class.
Q: What were some of the most defining aspects of your time at CUNY SPS?
Definitely the diverse friendships I built and the knowledge base on disability that I developed throughout my program. These connections with faculty and students, as well as the knowledge that I gained, will carry me throughout my career as an educator.
Q: What is the most important thing you learned at CUNY SPS?
That people DO care about disability and want to make changes toward equality!
Q: How has your CUNY SPS degree influenced your career?
It has directly impacted my recent career shift. I taught high school for six years in New York City and have always had a passion for teaching. Because of the CUNY SPS Masters in Disability Studies, I decided to go on to pursue my PhD in Special and Inclusive Education with a focus on Disability Studies at Syracuse University.
Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
The most rewarding aspect of teaching is when a student contacts you years later and tells you how much of a difference your class and/or mentorship made for them. There’s no greater accomplishment than knowing you had a positive impact on a student’s life.
Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself teaching college classes to current and future educators and continuing to work with people of all ages to increase knowledge about disability and the importance of access and equality