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Dear CUNY BA Community,

We are delighted to send you our end-of-semester newsletter for Fall 2020. This year has been challenging in so many ways, making it all the more important to celebrate our community’s accomplishments – of which, as you will see below, there are many. Of special note is our newly formed Student Leadership Council: current students, if you are interested in getting involved, please contact the CUNY BA Fellows ( Likewise, if you are a current CUNY BA student interested in volunteering for the Communications Team and helping to shape our forthcoming newsletters, please reach out to the Fellows by email.


Kim Hartswick, Academic Director of CUNY BAOn Monday, March 16, 2020 the CUNY BA staff met virtually for the first time. Forty-two weeks later we continue conducting our weekly meetings via Zoom, but unlike the first several ones, we are now quite comfortable in this virtual world. Likewise, we have learned to adapt our processes to accommodate this new working environment, although elements are still awkward, sometimes take extra time and effort, and cannot, of course, compete with physical face-to-face interactions.

We realize when we are finally able to beat back COVID-19, our pre-pandemic working world will not completely return to its previous state. For CUNY BA, this means we intend to continue offering online options for our students, like workshops, information sessions, and academic advisement. We also understand better how to connect and reach out virtually to more CUNY BA constituents, assembling people who otherwise would be unable to gather together. For example, we offered a recent, and successful, student/alumni networking event with participants from different states, and an "Open House" in which we had a prospective student from Dubai.

Winding down this semester and preparing for a new one, we are thankful for everyone’s support and encouragement as we move forward with hope and excitement. CUNY BA wishes you and your families a safe, healthy, and enjoyable holiday season, and a peaceful and prosperous new year.


Since March, the pandemic has made it necessary for the majority of CUNY classes to be held virtually. For many students this has meant additional work and responsibilities, not to mention the challenges of navigating college life online. We know how hard these past semesters have been and we hope this newsletter provides you with resources and hope for the months ahead.

We also want to acknowledge the contributions of members of the CUNY BA community who have continued to leave their homes on a daily basis to keep New York functioning. Two members of the CUNY BA Community who have been hard at work behind the scenes are Shamora Turner (Industrial & Organizational Psychology, School of Professional Studies ‘23) and Felicie Drigo (Nutrition & Culinary Arts, City Tech ‘20)

Shamora works in a hospital as a telephone operator, a job which involves answering the code line, sending out pages, and transferring calls to appropriate departments. Her work could not be more critical during these challenging times for our nation’s healthcare institutions. Felicie, employed by the New York Department of Education, cooks in the public school system. Throughout the pandemic public schools have provided meals to students and the public at large, and five days a week Felicie helps to prepare, bag, and distribute breakfast and lunch kits. We are so grateful for the work of Shamora, Felicie, and so many other resilient and inspiring members of our community.


Joshua Trinidad (World Languages and Joshua Trinidad, CUNY BA AlumLiteratures/Translation and Interpretation Studies, Hunter College ‘13) is a former CUNY BA student and a current Consular Officer based in Sydney, Australia. As a student, Joshua was the recipient of the Rangel Graduate Fellowship, which allowed him to pursue a career in Foreign Service. Brittany Rodriguez (Neuroscience, Brooklyn College '22) recently interviewed Joshua to learn about his experiences with CUNY BA and how being a CUNY BA graduate led him to his position today with the State Department. Click here to read the interview.


--- CUNY BA will be hosting a virtual Information Session on Zoom for interested prospective students on Wednesday, December 16th at 2pm on Zoom. Registration is available on the Admissions page of our website. Please let any interested parties know about this opportunity and thank you for your support!

--- Our second annual Student Showcase will take place virtually in May 2021. We look forward to amplifying the amazing work of CUNY BA students, for whom this will be an invaluable opportunity to connect with the wider CUNY BA community, sharing the fruits of your hard work and intellectual passion, and placing your research into conversation with your peers. Students, please apply now for the opportunity to present your research. Faculty mentors, please encourage your students to submit an application!

Now recruiting mentors!

Are you a current CUNY BA student interested in gaining leadership skills while supporting another CUNY BA student? Consider applying to be a peer mentor! The Peer Mentor Program is a semester-long program that pairs newer CUNY BA students with experienced CUNY BA student mentors. For more information about this program, please check out our new Peer Mentor Program page on the CUNY BA website. If you are interested in participating, fill out an application here by January 8th. Want to learn more before signing up? Register here to join us for an info session on Thursday, December 10th, at 3pm.


In our CUNY BA Community Site on Blackboard, we’ve shared a presentation and guide on Caring for Our Communities in Times of Prolonged Traumatic Stress. You can find the presentation in the Student Resources and Workshop Materials section of the Community Site. 

And be sure to check out the new Guide to Surviving and Thriving, put together by CUNY students in collaboration with faculty and staff of Healthy CUNY. It’s full of advice, analysis, and tips designed for students dealing with academic, health, and social challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic crisis.

To receive all of the latest resources and updates from CUNY BA throughout the semester, please make sure your email address is up-to-date in Blackboard, check the CUNY BA Community Site regularly, and subscribe to the fora in the Bulletin Board.


CUNY BA enjoys a number of relationships across the University which make available a variety of specialized courses to our students. The Futures Initiative is offering The Latin American She-BOOM and several additional team-taught, interdisciplinary courses to our students; Macaulay Honors College has made Science & Diplomacy: What Scientists Can do on a Global Stage and a handful of other seminar courses available; and Baruch and Hunter Colleges are each offering exciting electives in theater, with a chance to co-produce a play with Tony-award winning playwright Stew, and an opportunity to explore traditional Japanese theater, from costumes to puppetry and more. Visit our website to learn more about these exciting course offerings for Spring 2021.


In this edition of CUNY BAnter, we introduce you to current CUNY BA student Denise Penizzotto (Artistic Dimensions of Religion, Hunter College ‘21). Are you interested in being featured in a future CUNY BAnter? Let us know at

Denise Penizzotto, CUNY BA student

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a professional visual artist with national and international experience in design, project management, business development, arts management, art direction and mural projects. I decided to return to college to finish my undergraduate degree, a desire I have held throughout my professional life. I maintain my practice as an artist but felt I wanted to build on my career with the guided influence of the academic experience.

What captured your attention about CUNY BA when you first heard about the program?

My interest in arts and religion brought me to the religion department at Hunter College, and upon discussing my goals with Professor Barbara Sproul she recommended I look into the CUNY BA program. I saw immediately it was a perfect fit for me because of the flexibility it offers, allowing someone like myself to build a tailored multidisciplinary course of study that will build on my life experience.

What are your academic and/or professional goals?

I plan to go to graduate school with a continued focus on the artistic dimensions of religion.

How does being a CUNY BA student contribute to your goals?

I am able to incorporate my area of concentration into my art practice, allowing academia to influence my art and vice versa. The class offerings in religion and art history are wide ranging enough for me to develop new interests as I branch out into areas and cultures with which I was previously less familiar.

Is there anything you've done in CUNY BA that you feel has better prepared you for success?

A lot! I have built new relationships, many based on scholarly interests, and I have deepened my research skills and improved my writing skills. I am now better equipped to advance in my professional field – through grant writing, observation and research, public speaking, and networking with the many people who have supported my educational process.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself!

I'm not sure if this is a "fun" fact but I certainly enjoy being able to share this: I'd like to encourage anyone who has had a desire to go to college for the first time, or to finish their degree at a "later stage in life," to go for it. My experience with the CUNY BA program and college life in general as a mature student has far exceeded my expectations. It has already enhanced my existing career and, I anticipate upon completion, it will continue to affect, guide, and lead me in directions I would not have thought possible.


Current Student Updates

--- Carina D’Urso (Arts, Education, and Social Change, Brooklyn College ‘22) has been selected to be an intern at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through the CUNY Cultural Corps program. We asked Carina how CUNY BA prepared her for this internship:Carina D'Urso, CUNY BA student “The CUNY BA program has enabled me to discover the crux of my passions. I have strived to study a version of art history which is people-centered, allowing me to marry style and storytelling. Alongside my dedicated faculty mentor Maria Ann Conelli (Visual, Media and Performing Arts, Brooklyn College), I have explored museum education, while delving into lesson planning, exhibition curation, and development. Having Dean Conelli as my mentor has been transformative, as she has challenged me to think deeply about museums, galvanizing me to apply for this internship in the education department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As I begin my internship, I will carry these lessons with me, devoting myself to accessibility and outreach, the values which my mentor and CUNY BA have ingrained in me.”

See the CUNY BAsics section for tips on landing an internship of your own!

Omar Abdelrahman, CUNY BA student--- Omar Abdelrahman (Transmedia Storytelling, Brooklyn College ‘21) has been admitted to the Decoding PR Externship Experience for the Fall 2020. Through DeVries Global, a culture-first communications agency and member of the Interpublic Group (IPG), Omar will join 10 externs from across the nation in an 8-week professional development program in media and communications. Omar tells us: “I wouldn't have looked at this externship as an actual opportunity if CUNY BA hadn’t opened the doors for me first to freely pursue and proactively seek interdisciplinary possibilities.”
--- Kyle Reese (Queer Psychosocial Research, Brooklyn College '21) hasKyle Reese, CUNY BA student been awarded the Barbara Winslow Award for Student Activism at Brooklyn College. The award reflects Dr. Winslow’s commitment to activism and is awarded to a Brooklyn College student in the Women and Gender Studies department who has a demonstrated commitment to community activism that aligns with the department’s intersectional feminist mission. Kyle founded the Queer Student Action Alliance, was appointed chair of the LGBT Resource Committee, and is on the Executive Committee of Brooklyn College’s Policy Council. Kyle’s writing was also recently selected to appear in the 2020 issue of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s online literary journal, Nota Bene.

Faculty Update

--- Lucy McNair (English, LaGuardia Community College) recently moderated an international panel of experts in a conversation about Papicha (2019), an award-winning Algerian film. The event was held in partnership through The New York Forum of Amazigh Film, of which Professor McNair is co-curator, and the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center.

Alumni Updates

--- Michele Muita (International Affairs & Policy Studies, City College ‘11) has recently joined the United Nations Development Programme’s Regional Programme for Africa as Regional Programme Communications Specialist. Previously Michele was an Advisor with GIZ and led the communications and profile management team at the Institute for Peace and Security Studies in Ethiopia.

Joe Pressley, CUNY BA alum--- Joe Pressley (Urban Social Sciences, Hunter College ‘08) has recently been named Chief Executive Officer of the Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI), the country’s oldest and largest organization serving LGBTQ+ youth of color. Joe has led numerous non-profit organizations and brings decades of experience working with HIV/AIDS, African American, and LGBTQ+ communities.

Do you have an update to share with the CUNY BA Community in a future issue of our newsletter? Let us know here!


We close this edition of the CUNY BA Community Newsletter with some tips for landing an internship:

--- Update your resume/CV and LinkedIn profile.
--- Brush up on your interviewing skills.
--- Talk to your faculty mentor about connections they might have to organizations or companies offering internships in your field.
--- Talk to your peers about internships they have had, and ask them how they found them.
--- Check with your home campus’s career office to see what resources they have available. They may have access to internship databases and can help you tailor your resume/CV and professional materials.
--- Check out the bulletin board on the CUNY BA Community Site for opportunities.
--- Reach out to alumni who are working in the field of your prospective internship, either through your school’s alumni relations office, your faculty mentor, or LinkedIn.
--- Seek out informational interviews with people working in your desired field. Even if they can’t offer you an internship right away, they can provide invaluable advice.
--- Regularly browse the websites of organizations, institutions, and companies that interest you.
--- Don’t be afraid to ask if you can receive college credit or a stipend for your internship.
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