Tag Archives: Students

Spring 2017 Union Semester Arrives!

Meet this year’s terrific new Union Semester interns!

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Priscilla Acuña Mena

Priscilla Acuña Mena is a December 2016 graduate eager to begin her post-college life with Union Semester in the hope that it will help her lay a foundation of activist engagement for years to come. She studied Human Biology, which she describes as a health-centric social studies degree, and Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (minor) at Stanford University. Her family, though originally from Costa Rica, moved to California when she was an infant and later to Jakarta, Indonesia, where she spent middle and high school. She is grateful for the transnational perspective on social justice that these life experiences have given her. While most of her previous work experience is in providing direct services in Latinx communities, she greatly appreciates her previous exposure to organizing through her involvement with Resource Generation and showing up for campus activism, and is eager to continue learning.

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Fiona Asante

Fiona Asante was born in Accra, Ghana in West Africa and spent the first 17 years of her life in her land of birth. She migrated to the United States in 2008 and promptly began her journey to excellence in the American educational system. She lived in Buffalo, NY for 4 years, where she completed her high school education and started her college career at Erie Community College. However, due to a workplace injury that rendered her immobile, she was forced to withdraw from her classes and concentrate on her recovery. After 2 surgeries and intense physical therapy, she was able to gain adequate functionality and promptly moved back home to Bronx, NY.  She enrolled in Bronx Community College for her Associate of Science degree in Paralegal Studies and graduated with Honors.  Her experience and exposure to the legal system during her workplace injury buttressed her interest in the legal field and fueled her passion to bring change as well as contribute to the legal system. She is currently enrolled at John Jay College of Criminal Justice pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Law and Society. She is the Community Associate Member of the John Jay Mock Trial Club, where she ensures that the club activities run smoothly.  Her other interests include fitness, fashion and family. When she is not busy pursuing her goals, you will find Fiona at home binge watching shows on Netflix or sleeping. Fiona aspires to be a member of the American Bar Association and strongly believes that if she wants to see change, she has to be the change.

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Mike Bradley

Mike Bradley was born and raised in NYC. He has been working for 11 years as a doorman and is a member of SEIU Local 32BJ. He is also working on his Masters in Labor Studies at The Murphy Institute. His motivation for joining the Union Semester Program is to get hands on experience working at a union and gain some knowledge that will allow him to take the next steps toward the career he wants to pursue once he completes his degree.

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Jason Clarke

Jason is 25 years old and from the beach side town of Newcastle in Australia. He has lived in the capital, Canberra, for the past 5 years. He recently graduated with a bachelor degree in languages from the Australian National University, majoring in Indonesian and Spanish. In his spare time Jason enjoys hiking, skiing, travelling and studying languages. He decided to undertake the Union Semester Program to equip himself with the skills needed to work towards improving the lives of the most vulnerable workers in the community. He is really excited to develop these skills and to experience living in New York City!

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Taylor Cook

Taylor is a junior Sociology & Gender, Sexuality, Feminist Studies major at Middlebury College. She spends most of her time on campus organizing with the Fossil Fuel Divestment/ Reinvestment campaign, hosting a weekly radio show, and learning about critical disability studies. She is new to the labor movement and is looking forward to leaning into nuances and contradictions throughout Union Semester.

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Aminta Dawson

Aminta Dawson is originally from Texas. She came to New York to study at Sarah Lawrence College, and graduated in 2015 with a concentration in Anthropology. While working at Trader Joe’s this past year; she got involved with the union organizing campaign at the 72nd store, eventually becoming one of the store organizers. This semester she hopes to better cultivate her skills as an organizer, as well as have a more comprehensive understanding about labor history and organizing as a whole.

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Matan Diner

Matan is a New York City native and recent graduate of Clark University. At Clark he majored in political science and minored in history. Since graduating he has worked at multiple organizations including the Correctional Association of New York, a prison reform organization. He is also a member of the New York City chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, a Palestinian solidarity organization.  He is excited to further build his understanding of organized labor through hands-on experience.

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Maria DiPasquale

Maria DiPasquale graduated from Emerson College in May 2016 with a BFA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing. She is from Maplewood, NJ, but now resides in Brooklyn, NY. While at Emerson, Maria was an active member of Emerson P.R.I.D.E, a local of United Students Against Sweatshops. She worked in solidarity with campus food service workers and clerical, technical, and professional workers as both groups organized and won successful union drives. She also worked on campaigns in solidarity with Bangladeshi garment workers and participated in the Boston Fight for $15 movement as a student ally. She finished her college career with a thesis entitled “Writing About Oppression and Social Movements from a Privileged Position: New Strategies for Fiction,” accompanied by “Here We Are: Stories of Women and Work in Boston,” a collection of short stories. Maria previously interned for Massachusetts Jobs with Justice! and ROC Boston, and hopes that her Union Semester internship will allow her to gain new skills and perspectives on the labor movement. She wants to spend her career working for collective liberation, and hopes Union Semester will help her find a place within the labor movement where she can be an asset!

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Tali Ginsburg

Tali Ginsburg is from Chicago, and is currently on a year away from Brown University. Tali is especially interested in issues of identity and power, particularly as they relate to labor, the environment, and reproductive justice. They also love to write, sing, stitch, and drink tea. They are excited to learn new skills and modes of resistance through Union Semester, and to build new community in New York.

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Sara Hobler

Originally from Buffalo, New York, Sara Hobler grew up as part of a labor union family and is excited to be entering the movement as an activist. She studies sociology and history at Binghamton University, where she is part of student leadership involved in social justice and organizing. This spring she hopes to develop her skills as an organizer and help make meaningful change in the lives of workers in New York City.

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Brianna Holman

Brianna Holman is a recent graduate of Rutgers University – New Brunswick, where she obtained a bachelor of Science in Labor and Employment Relations. During her time at Rutgers, Brianna was involved Douglass Residential College, a program designed to support and empower women all while being involved in various student based organizations. Brianna would love to focus on community engagement, empowerment and education due to her experience in the New Brunswick and Plainfield communities in New Jersey and her time spent with a small community in the Dominican Republic. Through the union semester, Brianna would like to take the knowledge gained and educate urban communities in the importance of continued involvement in political and labor movements.

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David Isserman

David Isserman was born and raised in rural upstate New York. He developed an interest in labor history and left-wing activism and joined the Young Democratic Socialists in 2011 at the age of 16. He attended Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, where he studied history and classics. While in Canada he was involved with the NDP, working on a parliamentary election campaign in 2015, and wrote for a student socialist newspaper called University and Union.  Upon returning to the U.S, he worked on the Kim Myers for Congress campaign in Utica, New York as a canvasser and office intern. By taking part in Union Semester, David hopes to gain experience as a labor organizer and work in the broader trade union movement.

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Jazmine Javier- LaRosa

Jazmine Javier- LaRosa is a NYC native hoping to expand her knowledge about current labor relations and union strategies. She is an alum of Adelphi University, with a BA in Political Science. Jazmine is currently enrolled in the MA program for Labor Studies at the Murphy Institute. While she has experience as a research assistant, she is most proud of her labor advocacy and organizing work through the Justice for Farmworkers Campaign.

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Liana Kallman

My name is Liana Kallman and I am currently working at a fried pickle restaurant and questioning what the future holds for all of us. I’m feeling ready to start organizing, learning and building power through the upcoming Union Semester. I most recently spent a year teaching English in a small town in Ecuador on a Fulbright scholarship. Before that, I studied at the University of Michigan where I spent time organizing student workers and building the labor movement on campus, focusing on leadership development for women activists.

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Mirella Laure

Born and raised in Manhattan, New York. Mirella is familiar with The School of Professional Studies, taking classes there during her time at Guttman Community College while completing her Associates Degree in Urban Studies. Mirella’s interest in social justice, urban studies, and public policy has only furthered while pursuing her bachelor’s degree in political science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Her specific interests within political science are environmental, food, and urban planning policy. The Union Semester Program is the perfect meeting of public policy, urban issues, and organizing. This intersection of studies are what drew Mirella to the program as well as her interest in the history and future of the labor movement.

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Kayleigh Madormo

Kayleigh grew up in New York, in the beautiful Hudson Valley where she developed a love for photography and exploring the outdoors. She is a recent graduate of SUNY New Paltz, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. Her passion for social activism was sparked when she began working for the New York Public Interest Research Group as a community outreach canvasser, gaining grassroots support for statewide, renewable energy reform. She continued working with NYPIRG during her final semester of undergrad as an intern, taking on the role of project leader for the Hunger Prevention and Homelessness Awareness campaign. She believes that protecting workers’ rights is essential in the fight for social justice, especially due to the recent changes in the political climate of the United States. She is excited to continue her academic career and journey as an activist with the Union Semester and hopes to learn how to be a more effective organizer for the future.

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Addie Mahdavi

Addie Mahdavi is 20 years old; she was raised in Newfane, Vermont. She is a junior American Studies major at Middlebury College in Vermont, where she also works as an assistant in the Student Financial Services Office and plays on the Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team. She looks forward to learning more about unions and the labor movement through Union Semester, and hopes to bring together work around labor with work around identities and systems of oppression to support broader movements toward justice.

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Leah McGrath Reynolds

Originally from St. John’s, Newfoundland, Leah has been living in Montréal for the past 8 years where she has been involved in collectively-run DIY music and art groups and spaces and earned her BA in Community, Public Affairs, and Policy Studies from Concordia University. She is interested in the intersection of labour, immigration, and migration, in particular guest and temporary work programs. She is excited to become acquainted with the American labor movement, broaden her awareness of labour issues, and to learn skills and tactics for organizing precarious work environments and arrangements. Ready for a change of scenery, she is very excited to spend some time in New York City.

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Ezra Sholom

Ezra is a first year Master’s candidate at Rutgers University-New Brunswick for an MA in Labor & Employment Relations. He received his BA from Rutgers double majoring in Criminal Justice and Labor Studies & Employment Relations. He is from Edison, New Jersey and currently resides in Washington Heights. Before and during Ezra’s college career, he organized around several important social justice issues such as police brutality, mass incarceration, racial injustice and worker’s rights among others. He decided to join New York Union Semester based on his upcoming receipt of a Joint Bachelor’s-Master’s Degree from Rutgers and future in the labor movement. Ezra’s ultimate goal in being part of Union Semester is to figure out his place in revitalizing and empowering the American labor movement while bringing union power to heights it hasn’t experienced since the 1950’s.

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Jake Villarreal

Jake Villarreal is a recent graduate from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He enjoys cooking, gardening, and documentaries. He is passionate about building collective power, safe communities, and democratic institutions. In Fall 2017, Jake will be attending law school at Washington University in St. Louis on a public interest scholarship.

What’s Next: A Career Networking Evening (3/8)

Career Networking Event

On International Women’s Day, this networking event will be an opportunity for Murphy Institute students and alumni to speak with successful women (and men) from a variety of fields in order to help better understand how to improve their careers.

Light refreshments will be provided.

You will:

  • Practice and Improve your networking skills
  • Find out what potential employers are looking for when hiring
  • Find out about potential job openings

RSVP Here

Welcoming a New Class of Union Semester Students!

Welcome our spring 2016 NY Union Semester class!

Andrew Brockwell

20160108_142039Born and raised on Long Island, Andrew is a recently graduate of SUNY Old Westbury with a degree in Labor Relations. Ambitious and intelligent, he is joining the Union Semester program to gain insight and experience in working for a union and learn how, as institutions, unions can change public policy.

 

 

Claire Edwards

claireClaire Edwards is a fourth generation settler on Treaty 6 (Cree) territory in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She’s taking a year away from her studies at the University of Alberta in Political Science and Women and Gender Studies to intern in the US. This fall, she spent the semester at NARAL Pro-Choice America in Washington, DC where she interned in the development department. There, she saw the connection between the fight for reproductive rights and the fight for workers rights, and decided to apply for Union Semester to become a more effective organizer. Claire is excited to learn about the current state of the labor movement in the US and apply that knowledge to her work in Canada. 

Alexia Filpo

filpo photoAn undergraduate at CUNY Hunter College majoring in Political Science, minoring in Environmental Studies, Alexia’s goals include getting the Certificate in Labor Studies offered at the Murphy Institute, finishing her BA and obtaining a union job within the public sector, preferably as a sanitation worker, or working anywhere and creating a union! She is a member of the CUNY Internationalist Clubs at Hunter College and wants to work with a union that is aware of its own history and that knows its power, one that wants youth and all sectors of the working class to join in its struggle; a union that wants to tear-up FRIEDRICHS V. CALIFORNIA, among other laws that repress workers; a union that knows the plight of its black and immigrant brothers and sisters, and one that connect the struggles internationally.

Jonah Furman

IMG_0593Jonah was born in Chicago and raised in Evanston, IL. He went to college in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins, and studied philosophy and literature. He then moved to Boston and was in a touring band for four years, which traveled the US and Europe. He then moved to New York and interned at the Street Vendor Project, a workers center for NYC street vendors. He’s interested in radical approaches to work and wages (basic income, work refusal) and the histories of those approaches.

Isaac High

isaachighRaised in Maine, Isaac High is interested primarily in labor history and political economy, which he studies at Sarah Lawrence College (along with a few other things). Labor, union history, and challenges facing working people have been long standing interests of his. Through Union Semester, he hopes to expand his focus on this history and apply a general understanding to more specific and pressing issues. He would love to always be working with organized labor in some capacity.

Drew Picklyk

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Drew graduated from Concordia University in Montréal with a B.F.A in Film and History. A Toronto native, he has spent the last 5 years studying/working and then living/working in Québec. He’s greatly interested in analyzing the current state of labor as it functions in one of the the world’s economic capitals. Through this, he hopes to raise his awareness of of wage / wealth inequality and apply any learned remedies to his future pursuits in life. He is excited to be living in a new country and hopes his outside perspective will expose him to variety of issues he hadn’t previously been aware of.

Valeria Pinzon-Mendez

valeriaOriginally from the big and beautiful city of Bogota, Colombia, Valeria moved to Glastonbury, CT when she was 14 years old. She is now a sophomore at the University of Vermont majoring in Community and International Development. She was motivated to join CUNY Union Semester to have an opportunity to learn more about worker’s rights and struggles. She hopes to be an effective advocate for workers and most of all immigrant workers.

Afsana Rahman

afsanaAfsana is a junior at Hunter College majoring in Sociology. She was born and raised in New York City. Her parents are from Bangladesh and she has two siblings. Her interests are social inequality, race, intersectionality, and gender studies. At New York Union Semester she would like to learn more about the history of the Labor Movement in the United States and would also like to learn different ways to support worker’s rights. She hopes to gain a better understanding of how labor organizations function and how they support millions of workers throughout the world and especially in New York City.

Amanda Trainor

amandatrainorAfter completing her B.A. in International Relations and Spanish, Amanda Trainor has spent the last few years in Brooklyn advocating for adults diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. She recently trained as a birth doula to support families and she is passionate about crafting as a form of activism. New to labor organizing, Amanda feels motivated to learn first-hand how the labor movement can promote leadership for women and minorities and ultimately strengthen communities. She is excited to roll up her sleeves and become a more well-rounded activist by getting involved in the new experiences that Union Semester will offer.

Introducing Fall 2015 NY Union Semester Students

The Fall semester is upon us, and we’re gearing up to welcome yet another Union Semester cohort! Introducing the Fall 2015 class….

For information on joining the class of Spring 2016, find us at www.unionsemester.org.

 

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Siddika Degia
Originally from India, Siddika has lived in New York City since the age of seven. She is a junior at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. She is studying politics, labor studies, and social justice issues. She is attending the NY Union Semester to gain experience and a better understanding about the labor movement.

Siddika is interning at the Transport Workers Union Local 100 in the Education department.

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Erica Dodt
Erica Dodt was born and raised in the Midwest. She created her own undergraduate major in social justice, focusing on pedagogy, law, and gender at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. She is a movement educator and organizer who is interested in the Union Semester to hone her skills at synthesizing research, analysis, reflection, and community self-determination.

Erica is interning at the Writers Guild of America East, in the organizing department.

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Casey Garrison
My name is Casey Garrison and I am a junior anthropology major at Hendrix College. I was born in Southern California and grew up in a small town just south of Little Rock, Arkansas. My interests include educational anthropology, issues in urban poverty, and social justice. I am attending Union Semester in order to broaden my experiences with applied anthropology and further my understanding of labor unions and the fight for social justice in New York.

Casey is interning at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 3.

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Robin Beck
After growing up in Syracuse and Rochester, Robin Beck has lived in Ohio, Newark, and NYC. He has years of experience working in food service and retail, and has been active in the labor and Palestine solidarity movements.

Robin in interning with the Transport Workers Union Local 100 in the Political Action department.

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Marisa Budlong
Marisa is from the East Bay Area, but spent the last four years in the Greater Boston studying Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Sociology at Brandeis University. At Brandeis, she restarted the Brandeis Labor Coalition and was part of a group of feminist activists who created Brandeis Students Against Sexual Violence. Marisa wants to engage in carving out spaces for growth and empowerment within hierarchical systems, especially concerning the livelihood and agency of womyn. She is hopeful that Union Semester will allow her to continue this work and nuance her understanding of how the labor movement intersects in people’s lives.

Marisa is interning with the United Federation of Teachers in the Political Action department.

emilyallenEmily Allen
I was born and raised in upstate New York and Pennsylvania. I moved to New York City when I was 17 and have lived and worked in the city for the past 8 years. I have a Bachelors Degree in Philosophy and Political Science and plan to attend law school next year.

Emily in interning at the Laborer’s International Union of North America, Local 79 in the Research department.

pranavPranav Pendurthi
Pranav graduated from NYU in 2014 with a major in Philosophy.  He is interested in the history of the labor movement, and exploring how it can be used as a structural means by which to counteract inequity.

Pranav is interning at the New York State Nurses Association with the Community Affairs department.

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Alexandra Antioco
Alexandra is a Brooklyn Native, with a B.A in Political Science. She has a passion for social justice and joined Union Semester to get a better understanding of Labor Unions and workers rights as well as to become a better organizer.
Alexandra is interning at the Service Employees International Union Local 1199 Training and Upgrading Fund.
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Mohammad Amin
Mohammad is an immigrant from Bangladesh. He graduated from UCLA with a B.Sc in Math/Econ in 2015. He wants to become a union researcher. He also has deep passion for worker rights in third world countries.

 

Mohammad is interning with 32BJ, Service Employees International Union in the Contracts and Grievances Center.

Murphy Institute Scholarship Recipients

Congratulations to the Murphy Institute’s Spring 2015 Tuition Scholarship recipients! Together, the Labor Studies and Urban Studies MA programs awarded scholarships to 15 students. Get to know some of these students below.

John Becker

John Becker: “History has been a passion of mine since I was young. After 9/11, I felt compelled to read everything regarding the history of humanity. The fundamental question that emerges when one studies the legacy of human struggle, is: “what kind of people hold power and who are the oppressed?”

At first, my enthusiasm for studying labor was restricted to the United States, but soon I became equally curious about organized labor in the international arena. I felt that studying in Cairo, Egypt would be a good place to start. I also hoped to connect with a growing and vitally important labor movement, one that had a regional impact. Egypt had a huge influence on me, and continues to play a lingering role in my life.

When I came back to the States, I thought a lot about how I could be involved in the labor movement here. I then continued to build my experience by interning at Laborers’ Local 1001 in Chicago, which represents the city’s 1,900 municipal employees. This was my first experience in seeing union representation in practice. I spent the summer in Chicago alleyways talking to the garbage men and women on the issues that they faced. It even came to a point where I enjoyed the smell of the garbage because it symbolized to me hard-earned labor, working-class culture, and commitment for the public good!

Now I work for UPS as a part-time pre-loader. I believe this is an important job to have because it is the largest private union employer as well as the second largest private employer in the country. It is represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, perhaps the most powerful union in the United States. What happens at UPS affects the entire national economy. The 1997 UPS Strike proved this by putting almost half of the nation’s parcel deliveries to a halt, forcing UPS to capitulate to the union’s demands. As a rank and file union member, I feel CUNY Murphy is a good place for me to join in helping to rebuild the American labor movement. Solidifying a base is essential to growing the muscle of labor. I think the Murphy Institute is the place for me to focus further on a deeper and more academic understanding of the labor movement and find the potential for today’s labor movement.”

collins“My name is Agninshalah Collins. I have been an employee of the City of New York for the past decade. I am also affiliated with a nonprofit organization called (IAR) In Arms Reach INC, whose mission is to serve low-income, underprivileged youth, with a special focus on children of incarcerated parents. I am a Communications Specialist with 10+ years of experience in a variety of diverse fields. That experience includes nonprofit administration, public relations, crisis management, data analysis, and web development. I represent the interest of workers and fairness, and I am pro-labor. I am the Chapter Chair of the (PCT/SPCT) Police Communications Technicians and Supervising Police Communications Technicians. I am also a Delegate and Shop Steward. This title is significant to the degree that I am the union head of my chapter, overseeing about 1,500 employees whom I am currently organizing to be pro-active instead of re-active. My model is advocacy and organizing for a productive workforce. I am educating my members on union issues and how to advocate for themselves. I believe an educated workforce is an empowered workforce.

I appreciate a challenge. I am a parent who juggles a heavy work schedule, as well as a demanding academic one. My goal upon graduation from the Murphy Institute will be to obtain a career in city government as a Communications Director for the city or a nonprofit, to become a Communications Coordinator or Organizer within a union, or to become the Commissioner of a city agency. My skillset coupled with my education and experience make me a suitable and viable candidate for the titles listed above. I am scheduled to graduate the Cornell Labor Studies Institute with my certificate in Labor Studies in Spring 2015. The knowledge that I have earned through this certificate studies program has been phenomenal in preparing me for a job in the labor field. I decided to enroll in the Murphy Institute Urban Studies program because I felt this program would sharpen my analytical skills and deepen my knowledge of public administration. I am interested in contributing to future policy and want my life’s work to impact some of the greater issues of our times such as poverty, mass incarceration, the gender-pay gap, living wage, real affordable housing, sustainability, and education.”

jacquesWindy Jacques is a Youth Health Educator for the STAR (Safe Teen Acting Responsibly) program at Diaspora Community Services (DCS). She holds a BS in Human Services from New York City College of Technology and is a graduate student in Urban Studies at the Murphy Institute and the School of Professional Studies, CUNY.

She writes: “As a STAR Youth Health Educator, I provide comprehensive sexual health education, pregnancy prevention and positive youth development activities to youth in many New York City partner high schools. Through the STAR Program I empower youth with the knowledge and encouragement to make informed decisions not only about their sexual/reproductive health but about their future goals and plans. I work closely with community partners to increases access to family planning and reproductive health services. I share my passion for community advocacy with the youth and I am helping inspire the next generation of community leaders. We do this by ensuring they have the best chance at graduating high school and going on to college or trade school all while making healthy life choices. My ability to engage the community through a culturally sensitive approach is one of my talents. I am able to raise awareness and educate through groups, workshops and community events.”

 

Sahar KhanSahar Khan: “I was born in Dubai but raised in New York City, Queens. Fired by my intellectual curiosity, college allowed me to explore the different fields of academics. While I was completing a major in Media Communications & Arts at City College of New York, it was crucial for me to link the world of politics to the humanities. Upon completing my Bachelors, I was accepted into the Union Semester Program and now I am completing my Masters in Labor Studies at the Murphy Institute.

Recently, I was awarded a scholarship to participate in the AFL-CIO’s Organizing Institute (OI) National Organizers Workshop in Washington DC.  In my Pakistani culture, women are only portrayed as daughters, sisters, wives, and then mothers. I do not mean to undermine the roles that women play in my society, but I want to have as many doors of opportunity opened for me as a man might have. I was determined to grow beyond the traditional roles that my culture laid out for me. I want to be a symbolic figure for all women. One step forward to my goal is the fight for every worker, their respect, dignity and justice.

Thandness PalmerThandness Palmer: “My main motivation for seeking a Master’s Degree in Labor Studies at the Murphy Institute is to improve my union local. I have been a member of Teamsters Local 804 since 2001. A large majority of Local 804 members are UPS employees. I am improving my understanding of labor at the Murphy Institute and making better decisions and arguments on behalf of my local at UPS. Studying at Murphy has also given me a vaster knowledge of labor in general. I now see labor as a significant issue not only here in the United States but across the globe.”

Paz PeterssonPaz Petersson:  “Throughout undergrad, I developed a growing interest in labor rights as the nexus of the things I cared most about: global society, equalizing opportunities, and ensuring that people have access to the tools and resources they need to lead the lives they desire. I recognized from my studies of international development that entrenched inequality is at the root of many social problems, and I wanted to pursue a career to change this for the better. During internships at the Carbon Disclosure Project and Global Goods Partners Inter-religious Understanding, and in my current position at Human Rights Watch, I have gained a plethora of professional experience in how to effect positive change. The Carbon Disclosure Project’s work tracking environmental impact along major corporations’ supply chains triggered my focus on the challenges of ensuring social responsibility in the transnational production process. This question, of workers’ rights and workers’ happiness (and the many challenges that come along with trying to measure either) is one that I hope to research further in graduate school.

In my courses at the Institute, I am excited and challenged by the fact that many of my peers are active members of the U.S. labor movement. I was also challenged by the classroom environment, as I am most accustomed to scholars eager to discuss the theoretical, but with little life experience of their own to share. I found my peers at the Murphy Institute came from quite varied backgrounds, were involved in a local labor movement in some form, and possessed hands-on knowledge about subjects I had as-yet understood only theoretically.”

 

Marline PierreMarline Pierre: “Finishing my Master’s Degree in Labor Studies from the Murphy Institute will equip me with the knowledge and tools to pursue a career in social action/labor law and bring hope and justice to those individuals in unjust situations. My education has always been centered on learning how to better serve populations in underrepresented areas. I attended CUNY Baruch College and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature. I was also a Search for Elevation Education and Knowledge (SEEK) student within CUNY Baruch College. Because I believe in equality and justice for all employees in the workplace, my desire is to become more knowledgeable about those unions that already exist in New York State, and to learn about labor law and the importance of it in the workplace. As an employee, I have been privy to unfair working conditions for some workers. Obtaining a graduate education from the Murphy Institute is giving me a clear vision of the advantages of labor laws for all working people.”

Jessica VanelJessica Vanel: “My parents are Haitian immigrants who migrated to the United States in the 1970’s.  My mother worked as a porter for a building in Manhattan and was a member of 32BJ for over 35 years.  I can vividly remember when I was twelve years old and my mother came home and told the family she would be on strike. It lasted over a month.  She had to march on those lines five days a week. As a young person in middle school, I conveyed strikes with picket lines, marches, posters, and banners. The result was swift and ended with the union winning fair labor rights.

I am older now and I don’t have a union at my job. In the past years, I felt uneasiness at work watching the abuse by supervisors/managers toward other employees.  It made me feel uncomfortable because no one was there to speak up for employees on issues ranging from not learning a computer program fast enough, asking too many questions, or not moving fast enough. The CEO asked why I didn’t complain about underperforming workers. My answer surprised her: I stated that the issues at hand were minor and we needed to be patient with those workers who weren’t computer savvy. The result from numerous conversations was to have those employees work under my supervision. As soon as that happened, I sent the employees out for more training.  Prior management approach had been to write up the individuals, give them demerits, or harass them.  I found that intervening for these workers reminded me of my past experiences as the daughter of union members. This prompted me to study the labor movement, how employees began organizing, and what our rights are as workers.”