For the third time in four years, student and administrative representatives from the College of Staten Island recently participated in the Staten Island Black Heritage Family Day.
When asked why she thought that it was important to attend the event, CSI Emerging Leader and Junior Nursing major Rose Adesola said she attended because, “it was a celebration of African American culture. In my 21 years of life I had never been to a parade so when [Coordinator for Student Leadership Development] Robert [King Kee] presented us with this opportunity I was more than happy to attend. I hadn’t really imagined how amazing the day was going to be, walking with my fellow Emerging Leaders and representing our school filled me with joy and a sense of pride in my College and my culture. I am from a Nigerian background, being raised in an American society, so when events celebrating culture take place it’s a message to me and younger children of African American decent to never forget where you came from. Never lose your roots because it is a great part of your identity.”
Another Emerging Leader, Dan Aliotta, who is a junior majoring in Business Management, also represented the College at the event. He commented, “After marching in the Black Heritage Day Parade and spending some time at the celebration at the conclusion of the Parade, I realized that you don’t have to be Black to celebrate Black heritage. That day was about bringing Staten Islanders of all ethnic and racial groups together to celebrate one of the many things that make this Island so special, and I’m happy I could say I was part of it.”
Salvador Mena, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, who was a part of the CSI contingent, summed up the significance of the College community coming out for the event, “As the ‘College of Staten Island’ it was important to be present at the event, both supporting and participating. The organizers of the event were thrilled that we were involved, but more important that the College was supporting this significant event celebrating the Black community and its contributions to Staten Island. I cannot begin to tell you how many people along the parade route shouted, “CSI!,” and more importantly how many alumni of the College either participated in or observed the event. Numerous individuals came up to us throughout the parade route to say hello and share their class graduation year. I recall meeting alumni from the 1970s and 1990s. Each appeared proud to be a CSI graduate and pleased to see us participate in the event. The turnout by staff and students at the event reflects the College’s commitment to engaging with the Staten Island community beyond the campus.”
The all-day event kicked off at 10:00am at Vanderbilt Avenue and Richmond Road, followed by a People Parade at noon from Vanderbilt to Bay Street. The day capped off with the We Are Family Festival in Tappen Park.
Kee added that beyond their participation in the event, “our students were there volunteering in the morning prior to the ‘People’s Parade’, helping to set up and getting groups and participants organized and registered for the event.
Other CSI students who participated were Jeremy Pasker and Emerging Leaders Alexandra Doronina, Nathasha Kariyakarawana, Lauren Stevens. According to Kee, “the Office of Student Life’s Emerging Leaders Program is a full-year, collaborative leadership program that builds strong leaders here at CSI and in the community.”
College administrative, staff, and friends representatives in attendance, besides Salvador Mena and Robert King Kee, were Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. William Fritz and his wife Bonnie, Deputy to the President and Chief of Staff Kenichi Iwama and his wife Joanne, Director of Compliance and Diversity Danielle Dimitrov.