Introducing Marisol Velazquez: College – Going Back to Get Ahead

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Photo supplied by Marisol Velazquez

 Our Stories: An Intimate Connections Series by Pamela Drake

Marisol Velazquez, Director of the Auxiliary Enterprise Board Administrative Office at City Tech, recently returned back to school after 25 years to complete her bachelor’s degree, a decision a growing number of adults are facing. Marisol is a full-time mother, worker, and part-time student. With the love and support of her family, friends, and colleagues, she was able to continue her journey in pursuing her degrees. Currently, she is wrapping up her second semester towards finishing her bachelor’s degree. Her favorite quote is “Don’t ever give up on your dream. It is never too late to accomplish them”. Her children are her biggest fans.

  1. As a full-time working professional, why did you decide to return to school?

I returned to school to make a better life for my family; to complete my goal of having a bachelor’s degree; to make my family, especially my children proud, and most importantly, to be proud of myself.

  1. Did you have any fears about returning to school? What were they?

Yes. I was afraid because I wasn’t sure if I was going to do well (goes back to my insecurity of second-guessing myself) and I wasn’t sure if I could accomplish it.

  1. Describe yourself in one word? How does this word represent you?

Determined. I am determined to complete/accomplish any task or goals no matter how long it takes me.

  1. Now that you have returned to school, are you experiencing any obstacles?

Yes. One of my main obstacles is finding time to study while juggling a household and a full-time job. I see plenty of people doing it and make it look so easy but it’s not easy.

  1. What is still your biggest challenge or stumbling block(s) and what are the best ways you’ve found to overcome them?

My biggest challenge has been second guessing myself. The best way to overcome it is to trust my instincts.

  1. What’s the best advice you ever received?

Be thankful for what you have. Never take life for granted.

  1. What advice would you give others who want to return to school but are afraid?

It’s ok to be afraid, but do not let the fear stop you from what you want in life. There will always be obstacles to stop you from doing what you want but don’t let that overcome you. If you really want to do it, then fight those obstacles because, in the long run, it will be worth it.

  1. What surprising lessons have you learned along the way?

The best way to learn is to fail. Learn from your mistakes and try not to repeat them.

  1. How do you balance school, work, and family demands?

With the love and support of my family, friends, and colleagues, it has enabled me to continue my studies.

  1. What do you want your legacy to be? How do you want to be remembered?

I would like to be remembered as someone who was caring, kind, funny, but most importantly, for my personality.

  1. What’s next for you?

Going for my Master’s degree once I finish my bachelor’s degree.

The thought of going back to school after a long absence can be quite a challenge. Often, adults who are returning to school after years of not being in a classroom are apprehensive about not fitting in, taking good notes, studying, and doing well on a test. Many wonder whether it’s really worth it or whether they can afford it. There is no hard definitive answer to this question. It’s different for each person. Marisol, like many others, had concerns about the time and commitment involved. But figuring out what works for you means asking yourself a few key questions before making a decision: Why do you want to go back to school? Is your goal to change careers, grow professionally, or finish a degree program started years ago? By focusing on your motivation, you can best define educational goals. Marisol went back to demonstrate to her children the importance of education and so that they could be proud of her.

If going back to school is the right option for you, don’t let fear hold you back. It may be scary, but it could turn out to be the best decision of your life.

The Start of Fall Semester

Image by: Matt Cooper

Image by: Matt Cooper

As the summer vacation comes to a close, we are unfortunately faced with going back to school later this week. While only brave souls have decided to also partake in summer classes over the break, many of us are completely unprepared or reluctant to return to the stress of college and what that entails. It’s time for the late night studying, early morning classes, and the textbook shopping on Amazon. However, in the end, we will be grateful in our decision to further our education as it helps to inspire others, educate yourself and to become more sociable with those around you.

I am so appreciative of each and every one of my readers as I try to reach and connect with new readers by way of my writing of food-themed topics. I can definitely promise that with this upcoming semester that I will try new methods of writing in terms of the possibility of adding comedy as I have always been thoroughly entertained by the work of FoodSpin. I want to constantly evolve my writing to the trends or to what would appeal to my readers. I want to thank everyone who takes out time in their busy days to read my blog posts and comments, I genuinely love reading what others think of my writing or my opinion overall.

Being that I am about to start my senior year, I want to offer some advice to everyone who are anxious to begin the fall semester. Despite the stress of school, homework, work, and life struggles; it can be extremely difficult to stay focused and balance it all. But I have a solution, one of the most important things that I have done every semester was find a hobby. Although, it can sound almost impossible with the stress of everything else going on, it can ultimately lead to your success. I have found baking to be a passion of mine that I want to make a career out of but it is also extremely soothing to me. One baking practice that truly calms me is piping frosting whether it be buttercream, Italian meringue etc. I love how focused you have to be in order to get the piping work to be correct, beautiful, and intricate.

So, I wish you luck not only for the upcoming semester but for all of your endeavors whatever that may be. College is the ultimate learning experience that allows you to not only gain a better knowledge on a specific topic but to meet new people, network, and create memories of a lifetime.

Victory, The Victorious

imageThis weekend I spoke with the underground musical artist, Victory. A awesome jaw dropping lyricist, with an interesting hobby. Check it out:

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How did you get your name? Actually the way I got my name is because my rap name use to be Flawless Victory but I just shorten it to Victory

How’d you describe you musical style? / What sets u apart from the artist out there? I would describe my musical style as fun and energetic and what sets me apart is that I won’t rap about what typical rappers rap about because I’m not a trap type of rapper so it forces me to be creative

I  a lot of your music can be comical and jaw dropping… Do you think most lyrical artist sell out from their original genre and fall to mainstream artist? I don’t think most lyrical artist sell out to maintain stream but I do think that they try to go with the times because you don’t have to change what you want to say you just have to update how you say it and most artist don’t realize that

 

What else do you do? I also make clothes and I edit videos also

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I love your designs and I watched the amazing growth… How did You get into fashion / what sparked your interest? I originally got the idea by making a shirt to promote myself as a artist and people liked the design and started requesting it then that’s when we really started getting into the clothing aspect

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Is there anything you’ll like for the listeners to know? I would like my listeners to know that I’m working there’s a lot of good music coming with some great visuals so stay tuned

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I wish him good luck on all endeavers.

Finals Week Is Here Again

If all those Buzzfeed articles, and tumblr memes weren’t proof enough, finals week is fast approaching.

That’s where you now go “yes the term is almost over!” before freaking out on if you’ll pass or not.

Here are some steps to prepare you for the stressful weeks.

1. Plan your schedule: Spend a few minutes writing down everything you need to do. Time has a tendency to slip away during finals week, so plan and keep track of it the best you can. Just because you’ve been able to pull an all nighter study session before, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to do it again.

2. Eat well and get exercise: When you’re short on time, it’s easy to forget both of these two things. A good breakfast, a respectable lunch, sensible snacks, and a smart dinner, can go a long way. Even a 20-minute walk around campus, can do wonders for your physical and mental health.

3. Keep up with your work: If you attend class regularly, keep up with readings, and take notes conscientiously. Doing so can make studying a relatively pain free process.

4. Make sure to get plenty of sleep: Sleep is often the time when we completely synthesize information, especially topics we’ve covered in the couple of hours before bedtime. You want to be as fresh as possible, and able to fully engage your working memory when the time to take your exam comes.

Cuny Students Fight Back

Do you ever think Cuny tuition is too high? Are you having a difficult time paying your fees? Do you think tuition should be free? Well if you do, you aren’t alone!

Students and faculty in 115 locations, took part in the Million Student March this past Thursday. The purpose of the march was to seek tuition-free college educations, cancellation of all student debt, and $15 hourly wage for campus employers. “We expect this to be a long struggle,” said James Hoff, English professor at Borough of Manhattan Communication College, and organizer of the CCNY group. He says that more than 40 million Americans are holding $1.2 trillion in student debt, and one in four borrowers has difficulties in paying off the loans.

The movement, which was widely organized on social media, used the hashtag #Million Student March. This was the second highest trending topic in the United States on Twitter by 5 p.m. on Thursday. Photos and videos posted on Twitter, where #MillionStudentMarch was trending worldwide, showed marches involving dozens to hundreds of demonstrators at schools not just in NY, but including Texas State, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Depaul University in Chicago.

Dealing with mounting student loan debt has been a focus for candidates vying for the White House in 2016. Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders, who has vowed to make tuition free at public universities and colleges, and has pledged to cut interest rates for student loans, tweeted in support of the movement on Thursday afternoon. His rival Hillary Clinton has said she would increase access to tuition grants, let graduates refinance loans at lower interest rates, and streamline income-based repayment plans.

Obama has promised to make all community Colleges free, and while I would hope it would apply to 4 year schools as well, I’m not so certain it can be done.

The Job Search

Graduating soon? Scared you won’t be able to find a job? Well there’s hope for those wanting to land a job after graduation.
The demand for people with bachelor degree’s appear to be growing. In fact, according to a new survey released this month from Michigan State University, the labor market for college graduates hasn’t been this good since 1999.
“There are lot’s of good opportunities out there,” says Phil Gardner, director of Michigan State’s College Employment Research Institute, which conducted the study, Recruiting Trends 2015-2016.
The annual survey on hiring trends found that companies say they are hiring 8% to 18% more college graduates this year over 2014-2015. The most significant increases were for students with bachelor’s degrees in the finance, government, nonprofit, education, and scientific services sectors, it reports.
I think finding a job is the number one thing all graduates worry about. Especially with our current economy. So hopefully this can put you all at some ease as you get out there and begin your job search.

But First…Let Me Take a Selfie

Instagram and twitter are filled with them. Filled with what you ask? Selfies!! Selfies have become so addicting, that there was even a song written about them. But now, it appears taking a selfie, can reward you in a cash reward.

There is now actually such a thing as a Selfie Scholarship! Curious? Well the scholarship is for New York City students, and you could win $500. How? Well, all you have to do is take a selfie, representing your borough in the most interesting way.

HOW TO ENTER:

Create an Account on http://nyccollegeline.org/scholarships/2015-selfie-scholarship-contest

Submit an original Instagram sized selfie responding to the following prompt: What place in your borough best represents you?

One winner will be chosen from each borough!

The Broke College Student

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Many college students complain about money. Well, their lack of money to be exact. A job is what students desperately want, but have a hard time finding.

But did you know CUNY offers numerous job opportunities? Listed below are some that are being offered for those interested.

The CUNY 311 Project is a collaboration between the NYC Department of Information Technology and Telecommunication, and the City University of New York. It provides qualified CUNY students with the opportunity to work as part time Call Center Representatives, within New York City’s Customer Service Center, for $10.98 an hour. 311 provides New Yorkers with one easy to remember number to access all City agencies and services. Workers will be required to answer incoming calls in a professional and courteous manner. They must also be available 18 hours per week for three 6 hour shifts, maintain a 2.5 GPA, and be at least a second year freshman.

The Poll-Worker Initiative recruits and trains hundreds of students to serve as poll workers with the Board of Elections. They are looking for students who can work as Inspectors or Interpreters on Election Day. After a four hour training session for potential workers, a compensation of $200.00 per day for working in the primary election and the general election is awarded.

CUNY Service Corps is another excellent opportunity.  Service placements last 24 weeks, for over two semesters, and you are placed in positions of your interest. Participants work 12 hours per week, are paid $12 an hour, and in some instances earn college credit.

Any of these opportunities pique your interest? Then head on over to the Cuny website and learn more about them, and apply.

Student Debt On A Rise

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Gone are the days of H.S, middle school, and elementary school, when we didn’t have to worry about the cost of tuition, books, and the various other things our professors ask for.

This all brings me to my latest research, that shows that student loan debt is at an all time high with $1.27 trillion. This is more than the debts for both auto and credit cards.

The class of 2015 graduated with the largest amount of student loan debt ever, with an estimated average of $35,051 per person.

45% of Americans with student loans, and 56% of those between 18 and 29, have put off a major life event because of the burden of debt, survey findings have shown.

Something needs to be done! Yes you want students graduating, but not at this cost. There needs to be more assistance for us college students!

Preparing To Graduate?

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This December, if everything goes as planned, I will be graduating from College. While its an exciting thought, it’s also a nerve-racking one, as I begin a whole new chapter in my life.

So it got me thinking about my fellow future graduates, and what they must be thinking and feeling as well. Gathering information from all around, I’ve come up with some tips to help us through our journey.

1. What do you want after you graduate? A Job!!! Complete or update your resume/cover letter to prepare for your job search. It’s also important to buy an interview outfit. And an interview outfit doesn’t include jeans. You have to dress professionally, even if the job you are applying for is a relaxed one, since you want to make a good first impression. Practice your interviewing techniques with the types of questions you may be asked at an interview.

2. Have you taken out a loan? Make sure you know how much you owe, and the different options for repayment that are available. Most student loans begin repayment six months after graduation. You want to be prepared to begin making payments when they are due.

3. Study, study, study! Just because you are about to graduate, that doesn’t mean you start to get lazy and slack off. The goal is to graduate, and one misstep can keep you from achieving your goal.

4. Continue to save! You no longer will have to spend money on those expensive books, and other school expenses, so start saving your money now. It’ll come in handy in the long run, trust me.

Just a few things to pay attention to as you prepare to be handed your diploma. Good luck!!