Following in the footsteps of sport-specific tours that ran from 2003-07 that took all-star teams to different countries to spread the goodwill of CUNY, the City University of New York Athletic Conference has sent a team of 30 scholar-athletes from a cross-section of sports and CUNY campuses to New Orleans, Louisiana, for a humanitarian effort organized to continue to help the ravaged landscape decimated by Hurricane Katrina.  CSI Athletic Director Vernon Mummert and Men’s Basketball sophomore Herschel Jenkins were chosen as College of Staten Island ambassadors on the trip, and the group touched down today for their 10-day tour and rebuilding effort.  Jenkins will keep us posted as to progress during the tour via diary excerps that we will post here on

CUNY’s scholar-athletes were still children when 9/11 occurred and approaching adolescence at the time of Hurricane Katrina. As New Orleans continues to rebuild and endure the after-effects of an extreme catastrophe, New York’s students are one of the few communities that can offer an empathetic hand and lessons in survival. Like New York and its abundant diversity, New Orleans is a rich mixture of Spanish, French, Caribbean and Canadian cultures. It is a natural and timely choice to select as CUNYAC’s first state-side tour site for Goodwill at Home.

“The Goodwill Tours have been such a rewarding experience for the student-athletes of the past that we had to be creative to allow current scholar-athletes to share similar experiences,” said CUNYAC Executive Director Zak Ivkovic, who has been responsible for all five tours and will lead this one as well. This tour will be completely different in its’ structure and approach as it’s happening at home. Still, our community service efforts and the outcome for the scholar-athletes will be similar. In the end, we are all thrilled at the opportunity to accomplish this once again.”

The goodwill tour concept was initiated to augment the student college experience by providing a platform to promote individual and community development. In addition, the tour offers benefits by exposing and marketing the CUNY name and its students/staff to a wider external audience. The mission of the CUNYAC Goodwill Tour concept is to develop well-rounded student-athlete leaders who can serve as ambassadors of CUNY, community advocates, and role models on their local campuses. Student-athletes and student leaders will travel with coaches and administrators to engage in humanitarian work in high-need areas of the world, to exchange cultural values, and to develop skills necessary to become leaders in college, career and life.

On the previous tours, a sport specific team has engaged in cultural and athletic activities in a country that has growing interest in the particular sport. The five teams have travelled to: Argentina for women’s volleyball, Dominican Republic for men’s basketball, Ecuador for women’s basketball, Italy for baseball and South Africa for men’s soccer.

This time, top scholar-athletes from all 15 CUNYAC member colleges will be joined by a student-athlete from Division II Queens College, therefore athletic excellence will be represented from each of the 16 CUNY campuses that offer intercollegiate athletics and add one representative each from the Macaulay Honors College, the Malave Leadership Academy, and the University Student Senate. Along with participating administrators from CUNYAC, the CUNY Central Office and as many as five member campuses, the team will provide said humanitarian support to New Orleans.

Highlights of the tour include: The Rebuild Program – serves homeowners throughout NOLA who for financial, physical, or other reasons need assistance for reentry to their homes. Since Katrina, Rebuild has gutted more than 900 homes and is now assisting residents by providing volunteers to rebuild homes. A sports clinic at All Souls Episcopal Church & Community Center in the Lower 9th Ward; A tour of New Orleans’ levee system by John Williams, city and master planner for the Lower 9th Ward or a professor from Tulane University. A visit to New Orleans Aquarium Imax Theatre to view “Hurricane on the Bayou” – A short documentary film explaining the important environment role of the wetlands surrounding Louisiana. Plus several tours of the area swamp and wetlands, southern plantations and a learning about Cajun country.

”This is going to be a great learning experience for the entire team,” said Brooklyn College senior softballer Danielle Maresca. “It’s a big motivating factor as most of us move forward with our lives after college. It’s such a huge privilege and honor to be selected to participate, a chance to make a difference, just like a big game that we’ve each played in this could be a career changer for someone on this tour.”

As one of the largest urban public university systems in the world, The City University of New York (CUNY) by nature of its New York City home is challenged with serving a diverse student population and educating not only New York’s citizens, but the world’s citizens. The University’s overall enrollment of more than 480,000 students is comparable to the population of Kansas City, Missouri, the 35th most populous city in the United States. Consequently, this places CUNY in a unique position to greatly influence the educational experience of many individuals and communities.- Story courtesy of