May 14, 2020

NYU School of Professional Studies Acknowledges the Extraordinary Accomplishments of Its 2020 Graduates Through Virtual Celebrations

Student Speakers Feature Two Young Women Who Have Faced Overwhelming Obstacles While Successfully Earning Their Degrees—One Completing Studies While Based in Afghanistan, Another Turning a Disability into a Career Path, Advocating in the Workplace for Others with Disabilities 

NEW YORK, May 14, 2020 –While the coronavirus pandemic may have upended the annual rite of spring—in-person commencement ceremonies—on campuses across the nation, it will not impede the NYU School of Professional Studies (NYU SPS) from acknowledging the extraordinary accomplishments of its graduates through virtual graduate and undergraduate celebrations scheduled on May 18 and May 21, respectively—both starting at 10:00 a.m. The School hopes to hold in-person Convocation ceremonies once the health emergency abates.

Margaret Chinwe Anadu, head of the Urban Investment Group, Merchant Banking Division at Goldman Sachs, is the Graduate Convocation speaker. Kimberly Castro ’08, editor and chief content officer at U.S. News & World Report, is the Undergraduate Convocation speaker. Each has pre-recorded remarks that will be streamed during the virtual celebratory event.

STUDENT SPEAKER PROFILES - Representing the NYU SPS undergraduate and graduate classes are two exceptional students—each of whom has overcome overwhelming obstacles during her educational journey.

Sena Pottackal – Graduate Student Speaker - MS in Public Relations and Corporate Communication

Sena Pottackal, who will graduate with an MS in Public Relations and Corporate Communication from the NYU SPS Division of Programs in Business (DPB), is legally blind. Born in the US to Indian parents, Pottackal was diagnosed as a teenager with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic eye disease that causes deteriorating eyesight. Since the age of 16, she has used adaptive technology to aid her in her studies.

Pottackal has never allowed physical challenges to deter her from her goals of earning her degree and utilizing the PR skills she has gained to create awareness and opportunities for people with disabilities in the workplace. She served as a member of the NYU Working Group for Disability Inclusion and Accessibility for three years, advocating for the adoption of audio description for the visually impaired for all university-generated video content and the development of mentorships for students with disabilities. She lobbied for disability rights on Capitol Hill with the National Federation of the Blind, and won the 2018 American Association of People with Disabilities NBC Universal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship and the 2019 New York Women in Communications Interpublic Group Scholarship and Internship at Weber Shandwick, the global PR agency.

As a result of her activism, Pottackal was asked to speak at the NYU United Arab Emirates Education Conference about how to create a disability-inclusive learning environment. Last semester, she took the stage at Carnegie Hall at the PR Council’s “Critical Issues of the Modern Workforce Forum” to share her life’s journey and the importance of creating disability inclusive workplaces.

Pottackal intends to pursue an MBA at the NYU Stern School of Business and start a benefit corporation that will provide communications services; proactively hire employees with disabilities; and allocate a portion of its profits to fund scholarships for communications students with disabilities.

Shakia Michelle Rose – Undergraduate Student Speaker – BA in Social Sciences

A deeply felt desire to serve her country led Shakia Rose, a graduating senior in the NYU SPS Division of Applied Undergraduate Studies (DAUS), to join the Army at age 17. Raised in Bennettsville, SC, Rose joined the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC), and later the Army Reserves while still in high school. She attended Howard University from 2002-2004 with the intention of becoming a doctor, before being pulled out of school—due to the global war on terrorism—to serve in Iraq. Since 2011, Rose has been based in Afghanistan, working first as a Department of Defense civilian and then for a defense contractor as a data project manager and liaison. She plays a vital role in disseminating daily war metrics that are currently aiding in the Afghanistan Peace Talks. She reports in part to her husband, Michael Mitchell, a data fusion cell chief for NATO, whom she met in 2007.

Eager to complete her bachelor’s degree, Rose selected NYU SPS DAUS for the flexibility it offered in allowing her to study online and undertake an internship in Afghanistan, where she coordinated humanitarian missions to refugee camps, orphanages, and education centers. As a veteran and staff sergeant in the Reserves, she received Yellow Ribbon benefits in the form of financial assistance for her education through the Post-911 GI Bill.

Rose is living proof that it’s never too late to earn your degree no matter what the circumstances. She completed her studies in the midst of bombs dropping around her and Internet connectivity fluctuating. Through it all, she maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.856; made the Dean’s List in Spring and Fall 2019; and joined the 2019 NYU Chapter of Alpha Sigma Lambda. In addition, she completed her Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification.

After graduation, Rose plans to work in Afghanistan, helping to close out the Taliban peace agreements over the next year. Eventually, she hopes to transition into a leadership management role and apply her project building skill sets to other areas in the UAE/Middle East.

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About the NYU School of Professional Studies
For 85 years, the NYU School of Professional Studies has been a deeply respected institution of higher education that is grounded in applied learning. From its early years, training returning World War II veterans to fulfill the nation’s urgent need for skilled technical workers, it has evolved into a professional education powerhouse that offers 20 graduate degrees, 13 bachelor’s degrees for traditional and post-traditional students, four associate’s degrees, and a plethora of non-degree courses and credentials.

NYU SPS is a thought leader, and serves as an incubator for new ideas in industries that are constantly changing, including real estate, real estate development, and construction management; hospitality, tourism, travel, and event management; global affairs and global security, conflict, and cybercrime; global sport and sports business; publishing; marketing; public relations; project management; executive coaching and organizational consulting, human resource management and development, and human capital analytics and technology; management and systems; translation; and professional writing. It is focused on building skills that open doors to opportunities in emerging fields and global markets. NYUSPS faculty members are leading experts in their areas of discipline, with a hands-on approach that encourages students to push beyond their limits and to break new ground.

Home to some of the largest and most prestigious industry conferences in the world, including the Schack Institute of Real Estate’s Capital Markets Conference, REIT Symposium, and National Symposium of Women in Real Estate; and the Jonathan M. Tisch Center’s International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference, the School’s invaluable connections to industry leaders is a truly distinguishing factor in the education that it provides. Through career development services and resources provided by the NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development at NYU SPS, guest lecturers, site visits, participation in numerous conferences and events, and Global Field Intensives, students benefit from an NYU education that will set them apart. In addition, they have the opportunity to learn from and network with more than 27,000 NYU SPS alumni who live, work, and contribute to innovation in industry around the world. To learn more, visit

PR Office Contacts

Michael DeMeo

Alka Gupta