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Dear CUNY BA Community,

We are delighted to send you this update on all of the news surrounding the CUNY BA program this semester! This fall, we have 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!


In our capacity as overseers of CUNY BA, we have the pleasure of meeting with students throughout the year beginning with orientation and ending with commencement.  Along the way, the Academic Director communicates daily with students and the Dean meets periodically with interested students for Dean’s chats.  But, there is one annual event that is always a highlight – the honoring of the Thomas W. Smith Academic Fellows.  This year was particularly memorable because on November 6th, we celebrated its 25th year.  Over the past quarter century Thomas Smith’s generosity has supported more than 900 CUNY BA students, offering them not only much needed financial assistance but also academic and personal encouragement.  Making this all the more meaningful, Tom personally offers the recipients his wisdom and advice, honed over the past 91 years, and personally meets each one for private discussions and photographs. As Tom has said many times, he believes this is the best investment he has ever made.  We could not agree more!

Smith Fellows Ceremony

(From left to right, Dean Brian Peterson, Thomas W. Smith, Academic Director Kim Hartswick) 

Middle States CUNY BA Community Meeting
December 6, 2019, 1pm - 2pm
The Graduate Center, CUNY 
365 5th Avenue
President’s Conference Room; 8201.01
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE, or “Middle States”) is responsible for the accreditation of academic institutions located in New York State. CUNY BA is a degree- granting program under the auspices of CUNY’s Graduate School and University Center (GSUC). As a result, CUNY BA does not have an independent MSCHE affiliation but instead is accredited through the GSUC, which in 2020 is scheduled for re-accreditation for affiliation in Middle States. 

For more than a year CUNY BA has been in the throes of writing narratives, gathering data, conducting surveys, meeting with focus groups, and attending GSUC meetings in order to affirm that CUNY BA meets the criteria for Middle States’ standards. To this end, CUNY BA is hosting an hour-long meeting with the GSUC’s Chairs of the Steering Committee for Middle States, who personally wish to answer your questions and to receive your feedback on the report as it relates to CUNY BA. Please join us in the President’s Conference Room to contribute to this conversation!
CUNY Baccalaureate Open House Day
December 13, 2019, 9am - 5pm
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 5th Avenue, Suite 6412

Stop in for cookies and hot cocoa!
CUNY BA staff will be on-site and available to answer any questions about the program. We also encourage you to invite peers and colleagues who may be prospective CUNY BA students and faculty mentors! Registration for this event is not required.
CUNY BA - Life Experience Seminar
(Please note: This seminar is open to current CUNY BA students only)
CUNY BA is hosting a seminar on Life Experience credits in the CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies program. CUNY BA students can earn up to 15 credits for documented learning experiences, published works, or artistic performances. At this seminar, you will learn about the policy in detail - how and what you need to do to apply for Life Experience credits. Register here

CUNY BA Student-Led Working Group

A message from student representatives for CUNY BA:
We would like to invite CUNY BA students to a conversation about the creation of a student-led working group. The group is forming to meet and discuss the student experience and possibilities for the growth of a CUNY BA student network. We welcome all students to join the conversation and meet with other students who are passionate about the program. Please fill out the contact form if you are interested in participating and we will contact you with further information. We look forward to meeting you all! 

Semester Updates from the CUNY BA Fellows Program

This newsletter is brought to you by the CUNY BA Fellows Program. Initiated in Spring 2019, the CUNY BA Fellows Program employs doctoral candidates from across the CUNY system to support the CUNY BA community through various programming and initiatives that enhance the academic experience. Here is what we were up to this semester!

Since our debut newsletter, which was distributed to the CUNY BA community in August, the Fellows have launched a pilot for our brand new peer mentor program. In this initial cohort, six experienced CUNY BA students were selected to provide peer mentorship in various forms to six newer students in the program. We are hoping to expand this initiative in the near future! If you are a current student interested in volunteering to be a peer mentor, or would like to have a peer mentor assigned to you, please reach out to us at

We also coordinated and co-hosted two successful workshops: one on applying to graduate school in partnership with the CUNY Graduate Center Office of Admissions, and another on finding a faculty mentor with the CUNY BA Academic Advising team. Keep an eye out for announcements about future workshops and events, as we have several already in the works for the Spring semester. Aside from that, we have been working hard to support CUNY BA with various other initiatives, including new shared Blackboard sites and updating several CUNY BA documents and guides (such as the Faculty Mentor Handbook). We hope you are having a wonderful Fall semester, and thank you for your many contributions to the success and vibrancy of the CUNY BA community!

(2019-2020 CUNY BA Fellows from left to right (and in height order!):
Teresa Curmi, Joanna Smolenski, Manny Gonzalez, Marino Mugayar-Baldocchi)

Student Profile

This semester, we profile poet and alumna Tracy V. Pierre (CUNY BA ‘16, Creative Arts & Dance, African-Caribbean Cultural Studies), who gave us this account of her experience in CUNY BA:

“It was a poster on a classroom door with a picture of James Dean with the famous words, ‘rebel without a cause’. This was my introduction to the CUNY BA program... I just didn’t know it. I knew I had many passions, I just did not know how to position them into one specific major but CUNY BA said, ‘don’t choose, create!’ So, with the help of my CUNY BA adviser and countless funding sources only available [to] CUNY BA students, I became a Brooklyn College graduate [who] also took classes at Hunter, Lehman and John Jay College, and I even managed to squeeze in a 1-year exchange program at National Taiwan University. So, saying I love the CUNY BA program is quite an understatement!”

Community Shout-Outs

Current Students

- CUNY BA student and 2018-19 Undergraduate Leadership Fellow at the Futures Initiative Steven Pacheco (Social Justice for Cultural Change, John Jay- featured on the right) gave a talk to this year's cohort of fellows on October 18, 2019 at the CUNY Graduate Center on mass incarceration. He is pictured here (below, right) with CUNY BA students and Futures Initiative Fellows Kia Thomas (center) and Lucien Baskin (left).

- During the summer of 2018, CUNY BA student Alexander Huaylinos (Anthropological Archaeology, City College, 2020) was accepted into the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program entitled “Exploring Evidence of the Anthropocene: Archaeological and Ecological Interdisciplinary Research Experiences for First Generation Students in the Upper Mississippi River System”. As a result of that summer’s research activities, he presented a poster discussing anthropogenic effects on fish community composition at the 2019 Mississippi River Research Consortium. Additionally, his research team has published an article discussing the effects of nixtamalization liquid on stable isotopes found in fish bone collagen in the October 2019 issue of the “Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports”. This fall, Alexander began work as a student researcher at the Penn Museum, where he analyzes the charred plant remains from several Mediterranean archaeological sites. 

Pictured: Alexander Huaylinos at a research site

Alumni News

- Daniel Vater (CUNY BA ’19, Food & Beverage Management, International Business Management in the Digital Age) has been a rising talent in the hospitality industry for over twenty years, as an executive chef, entrepreneur - and now a candidate for a Masters of Management in Hospitality at Cornell University SC Johnson College of Business. On November 12, 2019, Vater was inducted into the Hospitality Design’s Platinum Circle Hall of Fame at the organization’s gala ceremony in New York City. He also received the NEWH Hospitality Industry Network Legacy Award, which included a $10,000 scholarship sponsored by Fabric Innovations to support his graduate work.

- Michelle Sheu (CUNY BA ’18, Design for Social Innovation) recently relocated to Mumbai to work as a Junior Product Associate at Vera Solutions, an international social enterprise that provides data systems for organizations to track their impact and streamline their operations. Michelle is excited to be working with NGOs, grantmakers, and foundations across the globe to bring the sector towards accountability.

- Je'Jae Cleopatra Daniels (CUNY BA ‘17, Media & Gender Studies, cum laude) is a NYC-based artist who has been applying their stories into featured work throughout New York City since graduation. Their film "Bubby & Them" has been featured in over 15 film festivals globally, and in 2019, their artwork was featured at Gowanus Open Studios through the Groundswell Mural Project's Library. In Spring 2020, they will serve as an Artist in Residency at Judson Memorial Church, where they will premier their play "L'Chaim 2 Dykes" (which was part of their CUNY BA undergraduate thesis).

- David Centeno (CUNY BA ’18, Japanese Language and Culture) was accepted into the 2019 Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program this past Spring and moved to Japan in July. David is currently working as an Assistant Language Teacher, and assisting English classes at local elementary and junior high schools in Japan.

- After graduating from CUNY BA, Regina Mullen (CUNY BA ’76, Sound for Film) spent nearly 25 years as a multiple award-winning post-production audio engineer for film and television (including being part of the Emmy Award-winning sound team for Stephen King's "The Stand"). After leaving her career in audio, she began doing arts marketing, and earned her MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. She is an experienced Warrior Writers workshop facilitator, and recently co-edited and contributed to "Sound Off: Warrior Writers NJ", published in honor of Warrior Writers' 10th Anniversary.

- Between April 5th and September 12th, 2019, Lucy Parks (CUNY BA ’18, Writing and Social Change) hiked the entire Appalachian Trail, which is 2,192 miles long and runs from Georgia to Maine. They hiked around 15-20 miles per day while carrying a 30-lb pack that included all of their camping gear, food, and water. They chronicled the experience extensively on their blog,

- In 2017, David Eilenberg (CUNY BA ’06, Economics) took a position in Morgan Stanley IT as an executive director. He currently runs several areas, covering over 3,000 finance professionals. 

- Jeff Kasper (CUNY BA ’14, History, Theory, Politics of Urban Design) recently accepted a tenure track professorship at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Art, where he is an Assistant Professor of Integrated Design - an emergent area of studio art. He completed his MFA in 2017 - also at CUNY - and has since taught art, design, social engagement, and disability culture as visiting faculty at Queens College, Pratt Institute, Fordham University, and The New School.

- Noa Jaffe (CUNY BA ’18, Ecology & Religion, featured in purple at center-left) recently graduated from the Master of Arts in Teaching Program at the American Museum of Natural History, and is currently working as an Earth Science Teacher.

We Want to Hear from YOU! 

Do you have news that you would like to share with the CUNY BA community about yourself, your faculty mentor, or someone else in CUNY BA? Please fill out our submission form and contact with any questions. 


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CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies · 365 5th Ave Ste 6412 · New York, NY 10016-4309 · USA

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