MA in Liberal Studies

Julissa Lora

Success Stories

Julissa Lora (graduated 2023)

When she started MALS, Julissa was working as sustainability coordinator at Brooklyn College, then transitioned into a new position at a nonprofit agency in the Bronx. Currently, she serves as project coordinator and agency liaison for an agency that provides social services and care to underserved communities around New York City.

MALS: What motivated you to apply for Lehman’s MA program in Liberal Studies?
Julissa: I wanted a graduate program that would allow me the freedom to pursue a multidisciplinary education, designing my own curriculum that was tailored to my interests. The MALS program gave me the flexibility to choose courses from across CUNY. Also, I had taken some graduate courses, and I was looking to use those as transfer credits. As a full-time employee it was also important to manage my own schedule. Ultimately, I decided to apply because I attended Lehman as an undergrad and had a great experience.

MALS: Who has inspired you or helped make your journey at Lehman a success?
Julissa: My family has always been my inspiration, in particular, my father and grandmother, who often spoke about the importance of higher education. My mentors also motivated and encouraged me to continue. During the program I received a lot of help from my peers and faculty advisor.

MALS: Describe your capstone—how did it connect to your work/life outside of the program? 
I am passionate about sustainability, particularly in cities like New York. In the past I worked on a research project that looked at community gardens around my neighborhood. During that process I discovered the role of gardens within the community and their struggle to survive. But it was while I was taking an independent study course at Lehman, that my advisor suggested expanding my research and exploring gardens in other neighborhoods, consequently I decided to create my capstone project based on those conversations and continued my research. My capstone project connects perfectly with my work and passion because it covers all areas of sustainability. It explores the role of community gardens in the promotion of physical, economic, environmental, and cultural health of the neighborhood. 

MALS: How has MALS helped you achieve your goals since graduating?
Completing my degree has help improve very valuable skills, specifically writing and critical thinking. Professionally, since graduation, I have been able to expand my job search, qualifying for more lucrative employment opportunities.

MALS: What do you think other people should know about MALS and Lehman? 
Julissa: From the beginning Lehman felt like home to me. The first thing you notice is the beautiful campus, and the diversity of students. Lehman offers many resources, including faculty and staff that want you to succeed.

What advice would you give to current or prospective MA students?
Be an advocate for yourself, ask for help, and network. There were times I wanted to give up, but I always found the support I needed. Take the first step and apply.