WHO ARE OUR STUDENTS?
The students in our MA program come from a range of occupations. Some are government employees looking to advance their careers, others are returning to school after many years, and still others want to embark on a new career path. But they all recognize the importance of earning a master’s degree.
VICTOR CALISE earned his M.A. in Urban Affairs from Queens College. On May 29, 2012 he was appointed Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities by Mayor Bloomberg. Prior to joining the Parks Department, Commissioner Calise held several positions at the United Spinal Association, a non-profit organization focused on disability rights that aims to improve the quality of life for Americans living with spinal cord injuries. As the Director of Sports Marketing, Commissioner Calise coordinated nationwide adaptive sports programs for United Spinal members and organizations such as the Multiple Sclerosis Society. An avid athlete, Commissioner Calise was a member of the USA Paralympic Sled Hockey team and represented the USA in the 1998 Winter Paralympic Games in Nagano, Japan. He volunteers for the Wheelchair Sports Federation and is frequently a guest speaker on the topics of spinal cord injuries, physical therapy and adaptive sports. Photo Credit: Spencer T. Tucker
CHARRISE ANDREWS graduated with a BA in Urban Studies and is now an MA student. Of her MA experience, she says, “In my experience of working over 20 years as a Civil Service employee in New York City government, I realized that when social and economic changes are initiated in urban communities, new challenges arise. The Urban Affairs Master’s Program is designed to equip me with knowledge of these social and economic policies that are essential for me to become an effective and efficient public advocate for New York City’s vulnerable urban populations. I look forward to this empowering journey!”
MICHAEL HARMON is an MA student. ”After receiving my bachelor’s degree, I wanted to continue my education as a graduate student. After diligent research, Queens College had the best Urban Affairs M.A. program by far. Comparing it with other schools, Queens College has the most comprehensive class selection,” he explains. ”The professors here are very helpful and knowledgeable. Some work in the field and are experts on particular subjects. During my time in this program I have learned a lot about many different urban issues and how to be part of the solution.”
About his future plans, he says, “After graduating from the program I hope to work in a not-for-profit organization that lobbies politicians for the many voiceless persons in the city.”
I began the MA program in Urban Affairs at Queens College in the Fall of 2012, energized and motivated to begin a new course of study. Two years prior, I completed a BA in Journalism at Baruch College with a minor in Law and Policy. As a part of my undergraduate requirements, I often interviewed politicians and community activists regarding new policies, land use projects and other issues that were points of interest in their communities. Reporting on such issues attracted me to becoming part of the story, rather than simply reporting it. Although Journalism provided me with interesting and challenging work, I wanted to continue my education in a course of study that was germane to public administration and policy in New York City. The MA program in Urban Affairs at Queens College provided me with an opportunity to explore my interests in public affairs on a graduate level.
My experience in the program has been, in a word, rewarding. Each class I’ve taken has broadened and sharpened my knowledge on various subjects pertaining to public affairs, with an urban emphasis. The plethora of classes offered in the program and its flexible design have allowed me to expand my course of study without the burden of rigid requirements. The four required courses, although challenging, provide a valuable foundation of knowledge and skills applicable to the other courses offered in the program. The professors have been very knowledgeable and helpful; their expertise on subjects have contributed to a rewarding academic experience. On any given day, whether a result of a lecture, class discussion or reading assignment, I gain a piece of valuable knowledge about issues affecting urban communities.
While enrolled in the program I was given the opportunity to work with several colleagues and a professor to produce a data analysis report which focused on numerous communities that would be potentially affected by proposed land use projects in the City. The experience I gained from this project, in addition to the skills and knowledge gained from the coursework, will prove useful as I pursue a career in the public sector. I intend to complete the program and graduate in the Fall of 2013. After graduation, I will pursue a career in policy and planning in the public sector, I am also considering continuing my academic career and pursuing a Ph.D.
The MA program in Urban Affairs has been an enriching experience enabling me to expand my personal and academic understanding of urbanism. I have acquired skills and knowledge necessary to tackle omnipresent issues of urban renewal and growth management, and have grasped a wider and more holistic comprehension of how people live in and perceive their urban surroundings. I have learned how citizens can voice their opinions about issues that shape their lived realities in urban environments and affect real, positive change for the future.
My academic journey was complemented by the opportunity to partake in an internship with The Architect’s Newspaper, a well-rounded print and online publication which provides a comprehensive source of information on urban projects and commissions, unfolding politics and debates, and architectural developments across the country. I am part of an editorial staff who delivers news reports to a niche community of architects, engineers, designers, planners, and other parties interested in the built environment. My knowledge of urban enclaves was strengthened by my ability to meet top architects and designers, my immersion in a fast-paced public environment, and the publication of my articles which pertain to all things architecture and design.
My professional aspiration is to work towards creating cities that are dynamic, safe, functional and sustainable and which embrace their own necessary and ideal models of growth. I am committed to democratizing public involvement in city planning through community based projects, intelligent design, and green zoning initiatives which will improve the physical and emotional well being of city dwellers across all boundaries of divergent urban identity.