Front Row, L to R: Heman Zhang, Dennis Krupitsky, Miguel Hurtado, Tony Chan Second Row, L to R: Brianna Kelly, VP Ken Iwama (CSI), Mauri Myers-Solages (National Grid), Prof. Neo Antoniades, Cheryl Adolph (CSI Foundation Director), Alba Bella, CSI Provost Michael Parrish, Valjeta Demirovic, Frank Lombardo (National Grid), CSI President William J. Fritz, Mina Hanna

This year’s National Grid Scholarship recipients, College administrators, faculty, and staff; and representatives from National Grid gathered in the Gordon and Lorraine Di Paolo Board Room last week to celebrate the latest group of ten students to receive the coveted scholarship, which provides critical financial assistance to currently enrolled undergraduate STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) students at CSI. The awards, based on academic merit and financial need, support underserved and underrepresented students. The program is part of a $108K three-year grant from National Grid, which also provides funding for the National Grid Engineering Workshop Series, which seeks to expand exposure to the STEM fields to under-represented students, those who would otherwise not pursue STEM, and students who would not pursue education at a public institution like CSI.

Prior to the start of the event, some of the scholarship recipients discussed why the award was important to them. Tony Chan, a junior who is majoring in Electrical Engineering, said, “I’m extremely grateful because I work part-time, and I’m a waiter, and each shift is 12 hours and there’s no breaks. If I didn’t get this scholarship, I’d have to work three days a week during the summer while taking summer classes.”

Heman Zhang, a junior Computer Science major, noted, “I’m really honored to receive this scholarship because this is a strong affirmation of all my hard work and studies.”

Sophomore Computer Science major Dennis Krupitsky stated, “It’s awesome to receive this scholarship to be recognized for hard work. It’s going to help me a lot so I can have a little leeway off work and focus more on my studies.”

Among the speakers at the event was CSI President William J. Fritz, who commented that National Grid is helping the College to fulfill the “destination Campus” Strategic Priority of its Strategic Plan, attracting students from inside and outside of Staten Island with the quality of its programs.

Representing National Grid were Mauri Myers-Solages, Manager, Corporate Citizenship, NY, and Frank Lombardo, Director, Gas Construction and Maintenance, NY. In her remarks, Myers-Solages noted, “We understand that we need to invest in the community, making sure that potential young leaders in our workforce are being developed and nurtured.”

Neo Antoniades, Professor and Chair of the Department of Engineering Science and Physics, said, “Today is all about the students. Whenever I see Frank and Mauri, they always ask me about the students. It’s that interest from them and their company about all these opportunities that are there for our students, and how we are helping students to get to those opportunities.”

The scholarship recipients also had the chance to share their stories with those in attendance. Although each student’s comments were unique, there were some common themes—primarily a firm resolve to make the world a better place, but also, as some commented above, a sense of relief that the scholarship money was allowing them to focus more on their studies, as opposed to working side jobs to pay for college.

Near the conclusion of the event, Lombardo, who is also a member of the CSI Foundation Board of Directors, addressed the students, saying, “Every one of you has a great story. It’s not a story that you can make up; it’s real.” He went on to note the importance of engineering, underscoring the students’ theme of ultimately making the world a better place.

Also in attendance where CSI Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs J. Michael Parrish; Vice President for Economic Development, Continuing Studies, and Government Relations Kenichi Iwama; Executive Director of Institutional Advancement Cheryl Adolph; and Executive Director for Economic Development, Continuing Studies, and Government Relations Jasmine Cardona.

National Grid has partnered with the College of Staten Island since the 1990s, helping to provide our students, and those from area high schools, with critical exposure to education in the STEM subjects.

One of the most recent grants to the College from National Grid was a two-year, almost $250,000, Clean Tech Incubation Grant to the CSI Tech Incubator. The grant, which is the largest awarded to date by National Grid in the New York Metro area, is from the company’s economic development program, and seeks to expand the CSI Tech Incubator’s hub to create the CSI JumpStart Entrepreneurial Program. This will be a development program for 16 businesses over six-month periods, which will include support with marketing/branding, business plan development, human resources management, legal services, financial projections, market research, and other related business development services.