Lawrence Ben is a long way from his home in Adelaide, South Australia.
Lawrence made the arduous two-day journey in August 2018 with a very specific purpose: to experience SLU’s Union Semester program.
“My parents sparked my interested in labor,” Lawrence said. “They were both teachers and union members and always told me that ‘when you go to work the first thing you need to do is join your union.’ I also worked as a fruit-picker in my teenage years and was never paid for my work, which sparked an interest in working for a union. While I was studying Law and Arts at the University of Adelaide I took a part-time job with the retail and fast food union in Australia. After I graduated from university, I worked full-time there.”
How did he learn about Union Semester? “I googled it,” he laughed. “It’s really rare to find a program like that with a stipend attached. The stipend made it possible for me to come here. And what better place to study labor than New York City—the classic union town and the center of the labor movement in America.” He added, “I did the application online and Diana Robinson responded right away. She facilitated everything, helped me deal with the international hurdles—she pulled down the roadblocks all the way, for me and for the other students in my cohort from overseas.”
Continue reading Out of Australia and into CUNY SLU
My name is Sephora Wembo and I am a senior at CUNY’s Hunter College majoring in Sociology and minoring in Women and Gender Studies, graduating this December. In the fall of 2019, I got nominated by my professor to take part in the Community Leadership Program at the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies. When I heard about this amazing opportunity, I was excited to take part because I wanted to broaden my experience and skills and further my education in order to become a social worker.
The Community Semester program was an intensive academic and service-learning experience. It gave me the opportunity to not only learn academically but also outside the classroom with an internship. When I began this program, I kept on hearing the words “community organizing” and I had no idea what that meant. I now know that community organizing means empowering people in underrepresented communities to fight for issues that affect them. In class we not only learned about the subjects academically, but also got to experience them firsthand. For example, I attended one campaign in the city called “Housing Justice for All.” It was really empowering to see a lot of organizations come together to work for change in their communities.
Continue reading Community Semester Story: Sephora Wembo … in Her Own Words
Yvette Clairjeane is determined to succeed. And with a Master’s degree in Urban Studies from SLU, that is exactly what is happening.
How did she arrive at SLU? “I was working (and still am) at the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP), and I was looking for a program with evening classes so I could improve my skills. I discovered the Advanced Certificate program through SLU’s partnership with the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS). I thought the courses would help me in advancing my career. So I started out in the public policy certificate program.”
The certificate jump-started Yvette’s career progression. “I started out at the DCP as a research assistant in Counsel’s Office (legal division). After getting my certificate from SLU, I was given additional responsibilities and joined the business improvement team, which works to improve DCP’s business processes and make the agency more efficient. What I studied at SLU was really helpful in learning how the city runs, not just at my agency, but through all the services the city provides to its residents.”
Continue reading With a Degree from SLU, Yvette Clairjeane’s Career Trajectory Soars
Six years ago, Deran Cadotte was weighing his options for a degree in urban policy. He walked into The Murphy Institute (SLU’s predecessor) and met with June Cumberbatch, advisor to the Urban Studies BA Program and his decision was made. “I immediately felt at home,” Deran reports.
In the fall of 2014, while working full-time, Deran began his academic and professional journey towards the next stage of his career in the non-profit world. As a part of his coursework, Deran happened upon a Labor Studies course. Little did he know that a class outside of his field of study would come in handy.
Continue reading Deran Cadotte’s Story of Worker Victory!
Labor Studies Professor Stephanie Luce writes about organizing in the labor movement to defend democracy in the event of a contested election. She notes that some unions are trying to connect their core activists with local “protect the vote” groupings in key states and cities to show up to polls and fight to make sure every vote is counted.
Read it here in Organizing Upgrade.
Photo Credit: Joe Brusky
In “How Does the Past Look From Here? Notes from a historian” SLU faculty member Joshua Freeman compares today’s pandemic and politics to the events preceding and following the flu epidemic of 1918, and argues that this time, the yearning for a return to “normality” may be misplaced.
Read it here in Moyers on Democracy.
Photo Credit: Influenza Hospital Ward (Library of Congress)