The CSI Celestial Ball reached for the stars and raised over a half million dollars for student scholarships earlier this month.

More than 330 people braved the season’s first winter snow in support of the College of Staten Island’s first annual scholarship gala at the Richmond County Country Club.

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The event brought together community leaders and CSI faculty, staff, and students to celebrate the significant role that a CSI education plays in the lives of so many of our students, and the transformational experience that scholarships can provide to students and their families.

CSI President Dr. Tomás D. Morales and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. William Fritz presented the President’s Medal to the Ball honorees who included Dr. Gordon and Lorraine Di Paolo, CSI Associate Professor of Business and President, Benchmark Capital Advisors, respectively, who provide crucial funding for scholarships and other programs at the College; Robert Scamardella ’72, Partner, Russo, Scamardella, and D’Amato; and Zane Tankel, Chairman and CEO, Apple-Metro, Inc., who pledged a $10,000 personal gift during his acceptance speech.

Another moment of recognition was dedicated to the Brooklyn Home for Aged Men, which has just announced new scholarships for geriatric nursing students at the College, totaling $200,000 with a U. S. Department of Education Title III matching grant of $100,000. In addition, the Home has pledged another $10,000 to the Staten Island Breast Cancer Research Initiative, in consideration of the impact of breast cancer on the elderly.

Among the attendees were ten CSI students who have benefited from CSI scholarships. Although they represented a tiny fraction of students who receive scholarship funds at the College, their presence helped to reinforce the vast importance of CSI scholarships in the lives of our students, many of whom would not be able to attend classes here without these funds. Psychology and Sociology double major Marybeth Melendez not only attended the Ball, but had the opportunity to meet the Di Paolos and thank them for all that they’ve done for her.

One of the most entertaining and lighthearted aspects of the Ball was an auction, hosted by Brian Laline of the Staten Island Advance and Larry Arann, PhD. Participants had the opportunity to bid on the chance to attend exciting events such as a performance of the New York Philharmonic, a tour of the NY Jets stadium and lunch with a team executive, a performance of the New York City Ballet, a New York Yankees game and a tour of their new stadium, lunch with President Morales at the University Club in Manhattan, a special screening of an upcoming Rosie O’Donnell special at HBO headquarters, and a round of golf and dinner at the Richmond County Country Club. Auction prizes were donated by CSI professor emritus and former dean, Dr. Michael Shugrue; CSI professor emerita Dr. Joan Hartman; Vice President of HBO Family and Documentary Programming and CSI Foundation Director Dolores Morris; Con Edison, through the courtesy of CSI Alumni Board Member Phyllis Minacapilli ’91, ; President, Staten Island Yankees and CSI Foundation Board Director Joseph Ricciutti ’94; Mr. Michael Gerstle; and Romeo Limousine, LTD.

The Celestial Ball was chaired by Dr. Christine Cea ’88, President of the Friends of CSI and Scientist at the Institute for Basic Research; Donna Fauci ’96, ’03, Member of the Board of Directors of the CSI Alumni Association, and Admissions Counselor and Program Coordinator with CSI’s Office of Recruitment and Admissions; and Joseph Ricciutti ’94, President of the Staten Island Yankees.