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Dear CUNY BA Community,

We are delighted to send you this update on some of the latest news surrounding the CUNY BA program. Last semester we had the pleasure of hearing from various members of the CUNY BA community about programs, initiatives, accomplishments, and resources that they felt made the semester great. We hope to be able to include your updates in future editions of our newsletter! We have also been in the process of creating a Communications Team. If you are a current CUNY BA student who is interested in volunteering for the Communications Team, please contact the CUNY BA Fellows at


Who would have thought when we sent our last Newsletter our world would be turned upside down? In less than six months more than 380,000 deaths worldwide (so far) by the COVID-19 pandemic have been reported, revealing how helpless we are in encountering a simple, but dangerous, microscopic virus. For a much longer time, however, we have been also confronting a visible man-made plague of prejudice, intolerance and racism, which, in this case, we have the power, and perhaps now even the will, to eliminate (see CUNY BA's full statement on our commitment to social justice).

Self-quarantining and remote working have made life difficult for everyone but sometimes difficulties can turn into unexpected opportunities. CUNY BA has not only learned to function remotely but also to be even more driven, focused, and creative – meeting challenges with solidarity and grace. I am tremendously grateful and proud to be part of such a group of individuals, including not only the extraordinary CUNY BA staff but also our amazing graduate fellows, incredible faculty mentors, generous donors, supportive administrators and, of course, our outstanding students, who are the reason why we do what we do.

So, as we end this unique academic year, let’s remember we are moving through it and will emerge even more committed and determined to keep CUNY BA relevant and successful.


Honoring Our Grads
We would like to invite you to join us in congratulating the 2019-2020 graduates of the CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies program by visiting the homepage of our website to watch a video we put together in their honor. A copy of our commencement program is also available. Grads, although we cannot be with you in person this year to celebrate commencement, please know that our thoughts are with you and your families. We are so proud of you!


CUNY Baccalaureate Student Showcase
On Friday, May 15th, CUNY BA assembled via Zoom - alongside close to 70 audience members - for the first-ever CUNY BA Student Showcase. Inspired by the Dissertation Showcase at the Graduate Center, 4 CUNY BA students representing 5 CUNY schools presented their independent research in brief, 5-minute presentations. Beyond sharing their work to the broader CUNY BA community, this event was geared toward cultivating presentation skills that will prove to be invaluable in a rapidly-shifting, increasingly-digital workforce. CUNY BA is so proud to have shared the work of Lauren Cassidy (Live Entertainment and Media, Queens College, '20), Corey Plate (Biological and Physical Approaches to Psychology, College of Staten Island, '21), Talisa Velazquez (Latin American Art and Engagement / Performance, Hunter College, '20), and Derek Basler (Middle Eastern Studies / Politics, Media, and Culture, City College, '20) - spanning diverse topics from African naked mole rats to remote Albanian villagers. If you were unable to join us, please enjoy the presentations here.
Lauren Cassidy
Corey Plate
Talisa Velazquez
Derek Basler
Click on the presenter photos to view their individual presentations


G. Rhodes and Gov. Cuomo

On May 8th, 2020, current CUNY BA student Elizabeth Soto (Biotechnology and Neurodegenerative Diseases, City College, '20) interviewed Gareth Rhodes (CUNY BA '11, Public Policy and Political Economy; featured in the photo above, seated next to Gov. Cuomo), an alumnus of CUNY BA and Harvard Law School, and a current member of the New York State COVID-19 Task Force established by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The following is a summary of the interview:

As a CUNY BA student, Mr. Rhodes completed his undergraduate studies at the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at the City College of New York, where he participated in public policy internships and extracurricular activities. Prior to serving on Gov. Cuomo's NY COVID-19 task force, he had worked in the NYS Executive Chamber on various crisis and disaster response efforts, such as those established for Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, the major November 2014 storm that brought more than 7 feet of snow to Buffalo, NY, and in the aftermath of the escape of two inmates from an Upstate New York prison and ensuing weeks long manhunt. As part of Gov. Cuomo's COVID-19 task force he oversaw various day-to-day tasks, recovery mechanisms, including the development and implementation of a statewide testing strategy, the construction of temporary hospital sites including a 2,500 bed facility built at the Jacob Javits center in Manhattan, and a statewide hospital coordination center to manage patient load across more than 200 hospitals in New York State. Mr. Rhodes described being familiar with the commitment and passion that it takes to fulfill a role in a crisis response team - but nothing, he stated, has compared with the work that has accompanied the pandemic our nation is currently facing.

Mr. Rhodes described his work with Governor Cuomo, top aide Melissa DeRosa, and task force members including SUNY Empire President Jim Malatras and Budget Director Robert Mujica, and others, as starting from very early in the morning with preparation for the Governor's daily national press briefings and ending late at night. His role requires that he stay on top of statistical updates regarding the coronavirus, day-to-day management of statewide testing program, and other responsibilities that are now focused mostly on the reopening of New York State's economy. The pandemic, and the fluidity of the situation surrounding it, have required that Mr. Rhodes and other members of the task force assist with and advocate for numerous and various needs that have arisen in New York. The team has overseen the development of a testing program that has performed over 2.5 million COVID-19 tests to-date, and worked with more than 180 labs that are currently performing diagnostic testing for New York State, including more than 75,000 tests on one recent day. Despite the uncertainty associated with the crisis, Mr. Rhodes discussed how the Governor and the state's COVID-19 team have worked to help guide the citizens of New York through the pandemic situation, continuously assessing and re-assessing ongoing demands, and determining next steps. Amidst the anxiety and frustration, "it is imperative," he said, "to figure out the best ways and times to re-open in a smart manner, while being as aware and taking steps to mitigate for all the risks."

Mr. Rhodes expressed his belief that the resilience of the healthcare workers has been genuinely inspiring. While many citizens on the way to events will thank the Governor for his work, Mr. Rhodes stated that the entire team is continuously thinking of how to thank the healthcare workers, who work long days at hospitals and clinics while putting their lives on the line in the service of others. He described how it has been a unique experience - not only to him, but to everyone on his team - to see people sending handwritten letters and showing an outpouring of support to their team, to healthcare workers, and to other essential workers.

When asked what advice he would offer to current CUNY BA students, Mr. Rhodes said that he encourages students in the CUNY community to pursue their passion for having a high-impact role in our society, and to look for opportunities to serve regardless of the field they are in or are looking to pursue. “The world will be a different world,” and whether one is at the start of their career or has a significant amount of work experience, there will be an opportunity to be an agent of change in the post-COVID crisis economy and society.

G. Rhodes and Gov. Cuomo
Mr. Rhodes is seated on the left next to Gov. Cuomo


Art in the Time of Corona
Brittany Rodriguez (Neuroscience, Brooklyn College, '22)

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen the world brought to a standstill. Aside from the frustration of quarantine, isolation itself brings its own challenges. Work, school, and other services have been transferred online, and we must find ways to occupy ourselves from within the safety of our own homes. Click here for the full article...


Wali Ullah

This Spring, CUNY BA student Wali Ullah (Political Behavior and Analysis, City College, ’20) held a full-time internship with the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) in Albany, NY, working as a policy associate with a focus in higher education and green energy policy. Click here to read more about his experience, and his advice for other CUNY BA students interested in public policy and politics.


CUNY Baccalaureate Virtual Information Sessions

Greetings from CUNY BA's Office of Admissions,

We wanted to let you know that we will be hosting Information Sessions for prospective students throughout the summer. Our next online session will be on Monday, June 29th at 12:30pm. Sign up is available here. Future information sessions will be advertised on our website, and through LinkedIn.

Thank you for sharing this with friends, colleagues, and anyone else who might benefit. As always, we appreciate your continued support. Your referrals are our best advertisement.

I hope you and yours are well!

Kind regards,
Peter Altman
Coordinator of Admissions


--- CUNY BA students have an opportunity to take classes offered through Macaulay Honors College. For information about Fall course offerings, please click here. Any classes except the Springboard and Science Forward (Seminar 3) classes are open to CUNY BA students.

--- CUNY BA students can also take courses offered at the Newmark School of Journalism. The fall course list can be accessed here. The School is offering courses in coding, data, audio, video, photojournalism, investigative, narrative, political and opinion writing, science and health journalism, business and economics journalism, arts and culture reporting, urban and international reporting issues, and community engagement. CUNY BA students should contact Anthony LaViscount (, at the J-School Office of Student Affairs, if they are interested in enrolling in any of the courses. All require consent of the instructor.

--- The Futures Initiative has issued a call for Undergraduate Fellows for the 2020-2021 academic year. All CUNY undergraduate students are invited to apply, and the deadline for applications is June 30th, 2020. Click here for more information and to apply.

--- If you are a CUNY BA student who is looking for a faculty mentor, or if you have a mentor and are interested in providing advice to other students in need of a faculty mentor, please be sure to check out the CUNY BA Community Site on Blackboard. There are already several posts there (including posts from faculty members who are available to mentor new students!) so please do check that out and add your own posts.


Please consider donating to our Alumni fund to help us support our CUNY BA community. We hope you will consider making a contribution, in any amount that’s comfortable for you, to CUNY BA Support (choose "CUNYBA/BS Alumni Fund" in the “Designation” dropdown menu). We thank you, in advance, for your support, and look forward to being with you soon!


In May 2020, three of the CUNY BA graduate fellows (Manny Gonzalez, Marino Mugayar-Baldocchi, and Teresa Curmi) recorded a brief podcast to describe life as a graduate student, including advice for students who are about to enter a graduate program. Click here to listen - it's a must-hear for soon-to-be graduate students and those who are interested in applying!

Thank you!
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