$500 Goes a Long Way in Graduate School. Just Ask a Graduate Student

What does $500 mean to a hard-working graduate student?

It means buying supplies to work with children in Lehman’s speech-language pathology clinic, says Jessica Ra. It means buying textbooks and replacing a worn-out computer, says Diorvic Gonzalez.

This fall, Lehman College and the City University of New York (CUNY) recognized the work, accomplishments, and sacrifices of graduate students by offering a scholarship award intended to help students who are exceptional in their studies and in need of financial assistance.

More than 180 graduate students were recognized with the award: $540 each. It is the first such graduate studies scholarship to be awarded by CUNY.

Lehman College graduate students are a special group: Like Jessica and Diorvic, many are the first in their families to attend college and obtain a bachelor’s degree. Now they are on track to earn a master’s degree at Lehman.

In the application for the awards, students were asked to describe their achievements, accomplishments – and challenges – and why completing a graduate degree is so important.

Jessica Ra (Speech-Language Pathology)

“In a matter of months, I had gone from barely passing to a near perfect average. Although to some overcoming this obstacle seems too small to have lasting effect, it actually changed my outlook on learning. Learning isn’t just knowing the material but also having the confidence to be wrong and keep going.

“Now I’m a math tutor in my spare time for struggling middle schoolers. The parents are always surprised when I tell them about my abysmal grades from years ago and how far I have come. I always stress to my students that anything can be overcome and that they can’t be afraid to make mistakes. I love seeing that moment when they finally understand something and say, ‘Oh, that’s easy!’”

Daniel Guido (Health Education and Promotion)

“When I think back on my achievements and accomplishments, I can rarely say that talent or skill alone carried me to the finish line. Just like in my sports career, where I was undersized and slow, in my academic career, I had a hard time retaining and comprehending information. Neither of these two advantages in sports or in school were ever able to slow me down.

“I know that hard work always triumphs over talent. As a current full time elementary school teacher, a football coach, and a lacrosse coach, finding time for graduate school will be difficult. I strive every day to be the best teacher and coach I can be. A graduate degree in health education will help me to better prepare my student and athletes for the life challenges ahead.”

Elisa Lannon (Mathematics)

“I believe that an affordable education is one of the most important fundamentals in building a strong future for ourselves and society. As a child with a single, disabled mother who struggled year to year to pay bills and put food on the table with a fixed income, I know all too well the importance of educating oneself to build a secure and successful future. Having a disadvantaged background, I always questioned how my family would afford to send me to college. I knew there was only one option: to work hard and earn my way with scholarships.”

The graduate studies program at Lehman is dedicated to dynamic research, diversity, and the active engagement of students in their academic, personal, and professional development. With schedules geared toward working professionals, students choose from an extensive array of more than 40 master’s degrees in humanities, fine arts, natural sciences, health fields, teacher education, social work, and business. Ph.D. programs are also offered through the CUNY Graduate Center and advised by Lehman doctoral faculty with access to research resources, facilities, and courses throughout CUNY and its affiliated institutions.

Learn more about Lehman College Graduate Studies.