We always love hearing from our alumni! It means so much to us that they have taken the time to share how they are doing and what they are up to. It’s wonderful to hear from graduates across generations describe how NYU, SPS, and DAUS made a positive impact on their lives.
The Division of Applied Undergraduate Studies (DAUS) is lucky to have such a strong and diverse network of accomplished alumni. This month we highlight Theresa Cardamone, who earned a BA in Organizational Behavior and Change in 2014. Proving that it is never too late to complete a degree, Theresa made the most of her academic experience at SPS, contributing to student groups and extracurriculars and graduating with high honors. She credits her SPS education with opening up doors after graduation. Staying connected with SPS, Theresa has also served on the DAUS Alumni Committee.
What prompted you to pursue your degree at SPS? Why DAUS specifically?
I was in my fifties and facing a divorce. Despite having a wealth of life experience, I was unemployable without a degree. I came across an online ad for the McGhee (now DAUS) undergraduate degree and realized the opportunity to attend college had NOT passed me by. I was specifically drawn to the value placed on granting academic credit for prior learning. I ended up earning a total of 28 credits that way, cutting a year of time and about $35,000 in tuition costs from my program.
How did your coursework inform your future goals and/or current career? How did attending DAUS and going for your degree shape what you do now?
I entered SPS pursuing the Bachelor’s of Arts in Social Sciences with a concentration in International Relations but shifted to Organizational Behavior and Change at the end of my freshman year to match my life experience with coursework needed to complete the degree. My undergrad degree opened the door to further educational opportunities that have led to employment. I earned a post-grad NYU Advanced Diploma in Copyediting, Proofreading, and Fact-Checking at the Center for Applied Liberal Arts, which led to my ongoing part-time position as the Editorial Manager at Equestrian Living magazine.
I am currently nearing completion of my Master’s degree in Public Administration from the Dan Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington. The Evans program blends the two strands from my undergraduate years, revisiting and updating familiar material through an anti-racist lens and adding cutting-edge, real-time content. The material is directly applicable to my full-time position at a prominent Seattle non-profit independent school, which is rapidly evolving from Executive Assistant to Chief of Staff.
Were there any specific professors or courses that stood out?
In my first semester, the Critical Thinking class challenged me and laid a strong foundation for academic writing that serves me to this day. I am still friends with my Critical Thinking learning group.
In addition, Professor Antonio Rutigliano’s unorthodox teaching style and personality are unlike any other. He opened my eyes to the Renaissance and to opportunities to earn credit abroad. I went with Professor Rutigliano on international field trips for credit to Spain and to Italy, which were quite miraculous. A truly transformational experience. I also had amazing professors at NYU Florence, where I spent half of my senior year. Way too many engaging classes than I can list!
Did you participate in any clubs or SPS related activities?
Yes! I wanted to be as involved in the school as I possibly could be. I volunteered and was selected to fill the role of SPS Student Council Secretary in my freshman year. This led to being elected Vice President the following year before stepping up into the role of President. It was an honor to represent such a diverse student body both in-house, and on the University-wide council of student leaders from all colleges. In my semester at NYU Florence, I was an International Ambassador--a liaison between the students in Italy and the NYU governance in NYC.
I also loved All-U Games and participated in several 3K runs to benefit SPS Scholarship funding. As President, I advocated for fellow students in challenging situations. I was honored to write and deliver the valedictory address at the SPS Commencement.
What did the SPS college experience mean for you? What did you take from it?
First, my SPS experience validated the achievements of my previous half-century of life and learning. Second, I realized that my high personal bar was on a level with the University’s expectations, and I couldn't get enough of the coursework. I relished every aspect: study groups, research, turning in papers, exams. I got more from the experience than I can recount. I would have had no chance of being hired to my current position without my NYU credentials. I loved being a part of SPS and NYU. If only I had a longer career horizon, I would be going for my doctorate!