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Communication & Culture
Class of 2013
Alumna Tiffany Valdes (Class of 2013) is a graduate of the CUNY SPS Communication & Culture degree program (now known as the BA in Communication & Media).
We recently asked Tiffany about her experience as a CUNY SPS student, life since graduation, her goals, and some of her favorite things outside the classroom. Here are a few excerpts from our conversation.
Q: Why did you choose CUNY SPS?
I was in the first year of my studies in sociology at City College when I had to come up with a better alternative to attending face-to-face classes in preparation for my first child and the loss of my job. So after speaking with my counselor and doing some research, I chose CUNY SPS due to the programs offered, the online learning component and the fact that I wanted to stay within the CUNY family!
Q: What most appealed to you about your CUNY SPS degree program?
I was immediately drawn to the Communication and Culture degree program because I was looking to major in something that I could actually use in the workforce and I felt Sociology just wasn’t cutting it.
Plus, I needed a degree that I could use whether I stayed in the nonprofit sector, or branched out to another career field. I loved the structure of the Communication and Culture degree because it touched on diversity in the workplace, and how communications play different roles in our society.
Q: How was your recognition as a Bob Martin Memorial Scholarship awardee important to you?
My recognition as a Bob Martin Memorial Scholarship awardee was a very important milestone for me because it showed me just how far I had come not only as a student, but also as a single parent during that time.
When I received the scholarship, I had recently moved from New York to Arizona to live with my parents while I got back on my feet with my then 11-month-old daughter. It was such a sense of accomplishment for me because it is something that I can look back upon years from now – when my daughter, Eliana, is older and she is faced with adversity – and tell her that she can do it because Mommy did it!
Q: How did you find your online/classroom interaction with other students? With faculty?
I found CUNY SPS's online community to be very interactive and filled with students representing different backgrounds from all over the world, who shared a love of education. The faculty were always available to answer any questions and kept classes engaging.
Q: What were some of the most defining aspects of your time at CUNY SPS?
The first thing that comes to mind when I think about a defining moment during my time at CUNY SPS was Hurricane Sandy. So many students were without electricity, even the professors had a difficult time being able to log-on. It was deeply moving to hear all of the stories from classmates and faculty who were back home in NYC and NJ lending helping hands to fellow New Yorkers without power.
Another pivotal moment for me was being selected to be the Commencement speaker for my graduating class! I remember writing my essay straight from the heart and when I got word back that the committee had selected me out of about 100 other students, it was the best feeling ever! I am glad CUNY SPS has the video on their YouTube channel so I can look back at how nervous I was.
Q: What is the most important thing you learned at CUNY SPS?
One of the most important things I learned at CUNY SPS was actually from my career advisor Shannon Gallo. She truly believed in me! I learned that life will throw you curve balls, but being able to throw them back and not let them get the best of you will help you get further in life. Being able to connect with someone like Shannon, who is vested in you and wants to see you succeed was life changing.
Q: How has your CUNY SPS degree influenced your career?
My CUNY SPS degree directly impacted my career, as with the help of Shannon, I was hired at Enterprise Rent-A Car. I remember during my interview the hiring manager was impressed with my educational background. As I mentioned, I chose the Communication and Culture degree because it opens doors to many different career paths since we live in such digital times!
Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Wow! In five years, I pray that I still am able to work from home. My current employer, the Event Leadership Institute, is an educational event planning company. All the staff work remotely. And, with so many businesses now based online, I think that it where some industries are heading. I would love to see this company grow and to eventually be able to travel while working online, helping behind the scenes, with event planning.