Staff Spotlight: Anke Geertsma, Scholarship Coordinator
Interview by CUNY BA Student, Karl Taps (AOC Ancient Mediterranean Religions, Hunter College ‘22)
What professional path or experience brought you to CUNY BA?
I’m from the Netherlands and moved to NYC about ten years ago for my Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at The Graduate Center. As part of my university fellowship, I taught at various CUNY campuses and soon discovered that I really liked teaching and working with CUNY undergraduates, who are really the most talented and inspiring folks I’ve ever met. The more I taught, the more I became interested in pedagogy and in trying to find ways to better serve the needs and interests of the students I had in my classes. After a few years of teaching, I was lucky to be able to join the amazing staff at the Graduate Center’s Teaching and Learning Center where I spent the next three years supporting graduate students who were new, or relatively new, to college teaching.
In 2018 I moved back to The Netherlands where I held a similar position in educational support and development at my home university. I returned to NYC in the Fall of 2020, and though my current position is less directly related to teaching and learning, I am very happy to be back at CUNY and work with CUNY BA’s incredible staff and students.
What might CUNY BA students be surprised to learn about your role and responsibilities?
I think students might be surprised that I’m currently also organizing our commencement ceremony, which is scheduled for Friday, June 10. After two years of virtual commencement ceremonies, we’re all very excited to celebrate our graduates in person. It’s very strange to think that so many of us have hardly (or never) met our peers and colleagues in real life, and I hope that at commencement we can truly feel the energy and excitement of being part of the CUNY BA community.
What has surprised you about being a member of the CUNY BA team?
I think what has surprised me is that a relatively small team keeps the program running and that there is a close connection between staff and students. As I’ve taught at several other CUNY campuses, I’ve seen that not all students feel a strong sense of belonging to a school or program and that some even feel quite lost in the CUNY-verse, but at CUNY BA everyone is really committed to helping our students find their academic paths and helping them succeed. Even in my current role, I’ve really enjoyed talking to our students and reading about their interests and ambitions through their scholarship applications. I’m very happy that as a program we can financially support many of you.
Our program is sometimes called CUNY’s best-kept secret. What would you want prospective and current students, as well as staff and faculty, to know about CUNY BA?
I find it very interesting to think and talk about where higher education is going to go, especially now that we’ve all had to switch to online learning and are still figuring out our new “normal.” I believe that the self-directedness of CUNY BA students, and the way in which they design their own degrees, mix and matching courses, and working closely with faculty mentors to carve out their academic niches, sounds like the future of higher education. It’s quite spectacular that this kind of modular degree, which also values experiences outside of the classroom, has been around for fifty years already, hiding in plain sight!
What is your superpower?
I don’t think I have a superpower, but I do know that in my kids’ eyes, I am still a superhero, and I am going to enjoy that for as long as it lasts. I have a four-year-old son and a one-year-old daughter, so I should have a good ten years left before they realize we’re all just winging it, including their parents. I did, by the way, ask my son what my superpower was. Slightly misunderstanding the question, he replied matter-of-factly that I am Ghost-Spider. For everyone who has not seen the movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse a million times (like myself), that is Spider-Man’s sidekick. My son, obviously, is Spider-Man. Turns out I have some super powers after all. I told him I’d gladly accept that alter ego.
What is the most indispensable thing on your desk?
I have to say that I only just started working from my desk at our office, but the most indispensable thing there, as well as everywhere else I work, is my twice-daily cappuccino. I don’t think I have a caffeine addiction, though that’s for others to judge, but I do know that I really, really appreciate a good cappuccino and that my day is not complete (or productive) without one.