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MA in Youth Studies
Class of 2018
What were some of the most defining aspects of your time at CUNY SPS?
Some of the most defining aspects of my time in the Youth Studies program at CUNY SPS include completing an independent study course in addition to the YS 620 - Practicum: Designing and Running Quality Youth Programs course while working within the Intergenerational Change Initiative. My experience within the intergenerational Change Initiative was transformational because we practiced true youth-adult partnership work, which was pivotal to my professional growth. I was able to strengthen my foundation with that lens and incorporate its positive elements within my future work. Within the Practicum course, we learned about systems of change, leadership models, and administration, and drafted research-based proposals to improve the work of our respective organizations. It was a golden opportunity to dive deep into everyone’s practice within the field and learn more about the many ways we can contribute to the field using our interchangeable skill sets.
What is the best piece of advice, or most important thing you learned at CUNY SPS?
The best piece of advice that I learned at CUNY SPS was to always keep building and thinking of ways to make things better. I was encouraged to continue questioning origin, sources, and frameworks in which knowledge is produced. I also learned the value of prioritizing lateral partnerships and networking amongst your community even more than looking to extend to someone who is much further out of reach.
Who influenced you the most? Please feel free to include anyone from the CUNY SPS community including faculty, staff, or fellow classmates.
Dr. Sarah Zeller-Berkman’s approach to building programs and her leadership throughout my time in the program was impactful. She listened to the students’ thoughts, collected feedback, and then developed systems to build positive change and support for future cohorts. She was also very open about her approach and modeled collaboration for students enrolled in the program. Dr. Kersha Smith, who taught for a semester within the program, brought wonderful insight into research. From her, I learned strategies that modeled how to be a sharp and productive scholar and ways to maintain a balance that includes self-care using a fortified mindset. Two gems!
How has your CUNY SPS influenced your current job, and your career overall?
In pursuing the Youth Studies degree at CUNY SPS, I was able to learn alongside other brilliant educators, changemakers, scholars, youth development practitioners, future consultant company owners, and future lawyers, which created an invigorating brain trust that I was able to tap into multiple evenings every week. My experience at CUNY SPS helped me strengthen my approach to working in education settings and building better partnerships with many stakeholders including students, faculty, administrators and guardians. Furthermore, I am a filmmaker and my studies have also improved my ability to write and direct more insightful stories featuring youth as protagonists and supporting characters.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
I currently work with multidisciplinary artists and scholars. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is helping them realize they are leading and navigating their journey and that this process is invigorating, liberating, and the foundation of adult life. Also, my work as a filmmaker, writer, and director informs my work as an educator and vice versa so it’s a positive cycle.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years, I see myself making more excellent films that amplify underrepresented and misrepresented voices and stories, expand representation of the human emotion spectrum, and embody soul. I also see myself continuing to lift as I climb in educating rising artists/scholars.
OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
- What show/s are you currently watching? On TV I recently caught up on all episodes of the Good Doctor, Stranger Things, and Candy mini-series. I also recently watched, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, and Akeelah and the Bee. Crooklyn and Do the Right Thing are up next.
- What is your favorite line in a movie? Too many to name!
- Favorite or most recent book you read? My eyes have been in Directing: Film Techniques and Aesthetics for both professional and educational purposes.
- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, none, all?
Connect with me!
- List 3 things you would bring to a deserted island.
- My faith in God
- An everlasting journal with an everlasting s-gel pen
- A skilled and collaborative film cast and crew
Learn more about Rachel and her work on her website.