Stephen Ippolito

MA in Disability Studies and BA in Sociology

Class of 2017 and 2014

"I was able to use what I learned to help create a more efficient management system for our district at the LCI as well as bring awareness of disability accessibility to my employment at NYU.”




Why did you choose CUNY SPS?

I chose to come to CUNY SPS because the online courses that were offered fit my work and family schedule. Also, CUNY SPS is very affordable. I had graduated from LaGuardia Community College, but still, I felt a need to go further. I was able to transfer 70 credits from LaGuardia to CUNY SPS. I saw an advertisement for online CUNY SPS majors on NY1 News back in the summer of 2011. I said to myself, what do I have to lose. I graduated with my BA in Sociology in 2014 and my MA in Disability Studies in 2017. I made many friends both with students and faculty. It was the most significant six years of my life. The faculty brought their personal, academic, and professional experiences to share with the students. My academic achievements at CUNY has helped to improve my professional as well as my personal life. My education has enabled me to better serve the Lions Club International (LCI) as the second-year director and my new position as chairperson for Diabetes Awareness and Action as well as New York University’s Public Safety Department. 

What most appealed to you about your CUNY SPS degree program?

I have always been interested in helping other people. I wanted to find a program where I can study about current problems and how I may be able to work with other people both academically and professionally in order to better serve the community. The sociology and disability studies programs gave me many different perspectives from students and faculty experiences ranging from social problems, discrimination, crime, law and policy, activism, to advocating for disability rights and independence. The courses provided scientific methodologies for addressing, identifying, and bringing about possible solutions to many of society’s problems.

How did you find your online/classroom interaction with other students?  With faculty?

All of the classes I took were online classes. The online discussion boards using CUNY’s Blackboard system provided the perfect environment to communicate and share different ideas. CUNY SPS has a diverse population of students that share differing perspectives from their professional, personal, and academic life. I have made many friends with the students and faculty here. It was great to hear different perspectives from students who live across the country. The professors here are the best, with several professors that are well known and work in the field.

What were some of the most defining aspects of your time at CUNY SPS?

The defining aspect of my time here at CUNY SPS was the assurance this program gave me in my professional life. I was able to use what I learned to help create a more efficient management system for our district at the LCI as well as bring awareness of disability accessibility to my employment at NYU. I am better able to serve the community because of the academic knowledge gained from CUNY SPS.  In addition, CUNY offers a get together for alumni and students every year as well as the alumni panel where we share our experiences with future prospective students coming to CUNY SPS.

What is the most important thing you learned at CUNY SPS?

I learned how to prioritize my tasks and better time management skills, and I learned about the importance of collaboration with faculty and students. The online classes provided the tools for excellent time management as well as patience because I would wait for a response to my discussion posts. My classmates and faculty were terrific. CUNY SPS has opened many doors for me and my career goals. My studies at CUNY SPS have given me the ability to become a much more effective writer, debater, and speaker. I have also learned the importance of teamwork and becoming a leader.

How has your CUNY SPS degree influenced your current job, and your career overall?

Earning both my BA in Sociology and my MA in Disability Studies has allowed me to move forward with my career goals in assisting those with disabilities. My education has enhanced my professional career overall. Having a college degree sets a standard and credibility to do my job effectively. CUNY SPS has allowed me to grow as a result.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

I enjoy helping and supporting other people. I like people to be happy and confident in the services that I offer. My career goals always have stayed the same, which is to provide the very best to the community I help. Helping students to stay safe at their schools and helping those in need provides that award, knowing that they have been helped. I take pride in my work in providing a positive change, so that people can do better.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I see myself in five years helping better the community I serve. The next step in my journey is to use the knowledge I have acquired to become a better advocate for people with disabilities. I will continue working with the Lions Club to help others become independent and successful. In the near future, I would like to start an organization to help people with diabetes awareness management.


Outside The Classroom

  • Favorite sports? Favorite team?  My favorite sports are mixed martial arts, soccer, baseball, and basketball. My favorite teams are the Brooklyn Cyclones, Mets, Yankees, Rangers, Jets, 49ers, and the Knicks.
  • Favorite movie or TV show of all time?  I love to watch Star Trek (all series and movies), Star Wars, The History Channel, Science Channel, cooking shows, Jeopardy, Let’s Make a Deal, Price is Right, and Wheel of Fortune.
  • Netflix, Hulu, Cable, all three, neither? I watch YouTube (who doesn’t!!), Netflix, Cable, and Amazon Video.
  • Favorite NYC attraction or cultural institution? I love all the amusement parks, museums, notably the American Museum of Natural History, and zoos.
  • Favorite music artist/band? I like all types of music, especially 70’s and 80’s music.
  • Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, none, all?  I use all of them. Social media provides a great platform to share information both personally and professionally.
  • Book or e-reader? Favorite or most recent book you read?  I’m a big tech fan and prefer to use e-books because you don’t have to carry a load of books when they can be read on a phone, tablet, or computer. 

Read more about Master of Arts in Disability Studies, Bachelor of Arts in Sociology