College of Staten Island women’s swimming dyanmo Naomi Gaggi received high honors, announced as an Honorable Mention for the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship.  Gaggi, a junior captain for the team and a Macaulay Honors College student was cited for her extensive work as an athlete, researcher, and scholar, adding community service, study abroad endeavors and extensive work with individuals on the Autism Spectrum to her list of outstanding achievements.

Gaggi, a Brooklyn native, is also a New York Trust Fund Scholarship Recipient, a Meyer Scholar, a National Collegiate Scholar, a Dean’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship Award winner, and a Dean’s List student.

The College of Staten Island (CSI) Psychology major with a concentration in Neuroscience and Autism Spectrum Disorders is not content with simply wading through college with multiple scholarships and awards.  As a member of CSI’s women’s swimming and diving team, she recently secured her place as a CUNY Athletics Conference All-Star and won Swimmer of the Week honors in 2016.  At CSI’s annual athletics awards banquet, she is a former Coach’s Award winner (2014 – 2015) and Rookie of the Year Award winner (2013 – 2014).

A St. Joseph Hill Academy graduate, Gaggi does have some method to her college madness. “I am highly adamant in the importance of time management and being proactive in all aspects of being a student, not only in the classroom. I strive to exemplify a well-rounded student by maintaining a high GPA and being socially committed to my college and my community,” she said, adding that CSI Head Coach Michael Ackalitis has pushed her to grow as both a student and an athlete by stressing the importance of balancing athletic and academic life.

Her commitment to her community is apparent in her work with autistic children and adults that she has enjoyed since high school. She is also an active research assistant in two labs on campus, working with Dr. Patricia J. BrooksDr. Daniel McCloskeyDr. Kristen Gillespie-Lynch, and Dr. Bertram O. Ploog and has conducted research at the Yale University School of Medicine, conducting neural imaging research with Dr. Joy Hirsch. She is also a member of Psi Chi, the CSI Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and the American Sign Language Club.

While Gaggi thanks many of her CSI professors and mentors, she praised in particular Dr. Daniel McCloskey, one of her research advisors, who has been “extremely welcoming.” McCloskey, a recent recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, encouraged the young researcher to work on projects in his lab where she discovered her keen interest in neuroscience.

In her spare time, the 21 year old has taken advantage of CSI’s Study Abroad program, traveling to Copenhagen, Denmark, in the summer of 2015. This summer, she plans to volunteer abroad in Kandy, Sri Lanka, to aid in the care of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Both abroad experiences are funded by the Macaulay Honors College Opportunities Fund and the New York Trust Grant Scholarship.

Gaggi also lauded Dr. Charles Liu and the MHC staff as well as Fellowship and Scholarship Advisor at CSI’s Career and Scholarship Center and Michele Galati for the constant support and guidance she has received throughout her journey at CSI. “Ms. Galati puts in as much effort into my applications as I do. She is extremely helpful and always finds the opportunities that match me perfectly,” said Gaggi.

After graduation, Gaggi plans to obtain a PhD in Neuropsychology/Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience to research and understand the etiology of neurological disorders. “My goals are to find the neuromarkers of autism and learn more about the ‘social’ brain of autism,” Gaggi said, adding that she plans to apply this knowledge to treating patients in a clinical setting as well as teaching at the university level.

-Story courtesy of Sara Paul, CSI Today