CSI Alumna Receives Scholarship to Brooklyn Law School

Naomi Edwards at the 2016 CSI Senior Awards Ceremony

College of Staten Island (CSI) alumna Naomi Edwards ’16 is no stranger to scholarships. The Macaulay Honors College (MHC) graduate has received a scholarship to attend Brooklyn Law School, where she will begin in the fall. While at CSI, the lifelong Livingston resident was also the recipient of both the Macaulay Honors College Scholarship and the CSI Valedictorian/ Salutatorian Scholarship, as she was the Salutatorian of her high school’s graduating class.

Edwards claims that her key to success is to “stay focused, and don’t overload yourself. Successful students know what they’re capable of and try to be self-aware.”

The 22 year old is a graduate of the International Baccalaureate Program at Curtis High School. At CSI, she majored in Political Science with a minor in Geography and maintained an impressive 3.9 GPA. She also participated in the Undergraduate Research Conference in 2015, working closely with Professor Richard Flanagan on a Superstorm Sandy study.

Naomi Edwards enjoying the view of Florence, Italy

“My research studied the link between a neighborhood’s social capital and the amount of time that it took for them to rebound after the storm. It is a topic that was very close to home because my family was displaced from our house for six months as a result of Sandy, which hit during my first semester of college,” noted Edwards, who also studied abroad in Florence, Italy in summer 2015.

With much gratitude to her Macaulay “family” and many of the professors in the Political Science department, Edwards lauds that, “They were and continue to be supportive of me as I navigated undergrad and now post-grad life.”

Director of the Macaulay Honors College and The Verrazano School at CSI Dr. Charles Liu commented, “Naomi embodies the quintessential blend of brilliance, hard work, and social conscience. We all will benefit greatly from her good work in the years to come, and are proud that she is an alumna of the Macaulay Honors College at CSI.”

At Brooklyn Law, Edwards plans to focus on human and civil rights, and said she is “really excited to begin to learn all of the different areas of the law and explore what I can do with it.”

Edwards also volunteers with the Castleton Hill Moravian Church Clothing Distribution in her spare time.

Her advice to college students is simple: “Everyone learns at their own pace and in their own way. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you’re so stressed out that you’re not enjoying yourself. Learning should be fun, and a happy student is a successful student!”


CSI Alumnus James J. Kuffner featured in SI Live Story

College of Staten Island (CSI) alumnus James J. Kuffner was featured in an article on the Staten Island Live website.  The story, “Kuffner brothers garner accolades for high achievements,” details the accomplishments of Kuffner and his brothers over the years.  Kuffner received a Bachelor of Arts from CSI and recently retired from The University of Portland, after 32 years of serving in many capacities.

Read the full article on Staten Island Live.



CSI Alumnus and Author Featured on PR Web

College of Staten Island (CSI) alumnus Westley Thomas recently had his novel, A Hard Decision, featured on PR Web.  The novel follows the lives of a couple who are divided by war and then surprisingly reunited, forcing the now married widow to make a “hard decision.”

“The book is a tribute to the spirit and strength of every human being and what makes people do the things they do. There is something with which every reader will be able to identify. The book combines love, war, loss, family, friendship, death and all of the elements of daily life that anyone could humanly experience,” Thomas noted.

Thomas graduated from CSI with a Bachelor of Arts in dramatic arts and is now a volunteer advocate for veterans rights.

To view the full article and video, visit the PR Web page.


CSI Alumnus Featured in G.I. Jobs Magazine

Shortly after John Murray left Cantor Fitzgerald, the North Tower of the World Trade Center was attacked on Sept. 11. The tragedy moved Murray to join the United States Army where he served for eight years. His next mission: the College of Staten Island (CSI). Murray received a degree in Social Work from the College, which was designated a 2016 Military Friendly® School.

CSI received the designation from Victory Media, the publisher of G.I. Jobs, STEM Jobs, and Military Spouse.

A recent article in G.I. Jobs celebrates the first CUNY designation this year. Murray was one of three CUNY alumni featured in the article “A Military Friendly First” in the August 2016 issue (the article begins on page 30 in the magazine).

Vice President for Student and Enrollment Services Jennifer Borrero noted that CSI has been working hard for many years to create an environment that supports military and veteran students, and she is excited that CSI has joined the ranks of Military Friendly schools.

“CSI is proud to have so many military and veteran students enrolled, and we are dedicated to serving those students to the fullest extent possible, just as they served our country,” commented Borrero.

This year marks the seventh consecutive year that CSI has been named to this prestigious list, appearing every year since the Military Friendly® Schools designation has recognized service members and their families with transparent, data-driven ratings about post-military education and career opportunities.

In the G.I. Jobs article, CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken stated, “…we expanded opportunities for veterans to obtain CUNY credit for prior services training, and we developed support services to ensure post-graduation career success for our veterans.”

The Military Friendly® Schools designation is awarded to the top colleges, universities, community colleges, and trade schools in the country that are doing the most to embrace military students, and to dedicate resources to ensure their success, both in the classroom and after graduation.




CSI Alumnus Discusses Health Issues in The Washington Post

Brian Kateman presents at The City University of New York's Tedx event November 2014.

College of Staten Island (CSI) Macaulay Honors College alumnus Brian Kateman ‘11 recently shared his views on health, diet, and the environment in an article in The Washington Post. Kateman is co-founder and president of the Reducetarian Foundation, an organization aiming to urge consumers not to completely cut out meats from their diets, but rather to cut down on the amount.

In the opinion piece, We can save the earth without giving up bacon. Here’s how, Kateman proclaims, “You’d have to be living under a rock to have missed the memo: Too much meat is bad for your health, responsible for immense animal cruelty on factory farms, to blame for speeding up climate change, at fault for squeezing out rare species, and more. Yet despite increased pressure to eliminate meat from our diet, consumption rates have been slow to budge. Americans are eating less beef, but chicken sales are on the rise.”

The article details the foundation’s mission, which centers around “incremental progress” in changing peoples’ minds and behaviors when it comes to food.

“…I co-founded a whole new campaign called ‘reducetarianism’ to encourage people to eat fewer animal products without trying to force them to quit cold turkey. Reducetarianism is the practice of eating less red meat, poultry, and seafood (as well as less milk and fewer eggs). A core concept of reducetarianism is that demanding people cut out meat entirely is neither effective nor sustainable,” Katemam explains in the article.

Kateman, who graduated with a degree in Biology, was also CSI’s Salutatorian. A former Jeannette K. Watson Fellow, he worked for three consecutive summers in paid internships, with the Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability at Columbia University, Echoing Green, and the National Wildlife Refuge Association.  Kateman went on to receive a Master’s Degree from Columbia University while serving as the University’s Assistant Director of Education Programs for the Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability.

Read the full story in The Washington Post.

For past articles on Kateman, read CSI Today: “CSI Macaulay Honors Alumnus Urges Reduced Meat Consumption for Health and the Environment” and “Brian Kateman, Class of 2011 Salutatorian.”





From Staten Island to Iowa: CSI grad awarded Truman Capote Fellowship

CSI graduate Julianne Neely is the recipient of the prestigious Truman Capote Fellowship to study creative writing at the University of Iowa. (Neely family photograph)

STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE – More than 1,000 miles separate Staten Island from Iowa City, home of the celebrated University of Iowa’s Writer’s Workshop,the holy grail of aspiring poets and novelists.

That’s where College of Staten Island graduate Julianne Neely is bound in just a few weeks.

Neely, 23, was awarded a prestigious Truman Capote Fellowship to study literature and write poetry and fiction at UI, leading to a master’s degree in fine arts.

“That’s been a dream of mine since high school,” said Neely, an alumna of St. John Villa Academy, Arrochar. “I have always loved reading, and writing as a way to express myself. I feel it’s something I can do well.”

Neely, a Richmond resident, credits her teachers at Villa — where she was in the scholars’ program and completed Advance Placement courses in literature — for instilling her love of literature and creative writing. She credits her professors at CSI — English Professor Cate Marvin in particular — for nurturing and encouraging her talent.

But her road to Iowa was not to be a straight path.

She enrolled for a year at the University of Delaware before she transferred to CSI, where she majored in cinema studies with a minor in English. After earning her bachelor’s degree from CSI in 2014, Neely landed a job with the Children’s Television Workshop, best known as the creators of “Sesame Street” — where she worked until last month.

Neely, however, kept in touch with her professors at CSI, who encouraged her to apply to graduate programs in creative writing. She applied to several colleges and universities, but was wait-listed, she explained.

“But I hadn’t applied to Iowa, and decided I would give it a shot,” she recalled.

She said that Cate Marvin, her adviser at CSI, told her about the Truman Capote Fellowship, “and encouraged me to apply.”

She had to win over her parents — dad Michael Neely is director of the Staten Island CYO —  who were skeptical at first.

“They were somewhat concerned I might just become another struggling writer, but ultimately they wanted me to do what I enjoy,” Neely explained. “Now they’re very proud and supportive of me.”

Neely said she hopes to one day see her work published as a novel, or collection of short stories or poems.For now, however, she plans “to keep reading and keep writing” while she’s at UI.

Among her favorite literary influences are  T.S. Eliot, Sylvia Plath, Joyce Carol Oates, Franz Kafka, and, of course, Truman Capote.

“When people tell you about working hard, if you’re a writer, the only way to get better is to keep at it. That’s what I want to do.”


This story by Diane C. Lore was published by www.silive.com on July 2, 2016 and is reprinted here with permission.



CSI Alumna Attending Cornell University

Jasmine Calle feeding green algae to a polychaete known as Hydroides elegans.

“Keep yourself busy, but remember to enjoy the ride.”

This is the advice from College of Staten Island alumna Jasmine Calle ’16 who redefines the term “busy.” The Macaulay Honors College (MHC) graduate, who spent her college years feverishly conducting research, participating in student activities, and volunteering in the community, has been accepted to Cornell University. Calle will begin at the University this fall to pursue a degree in veterinary medicine.

“Conducting research has been an adventure. As soon as I started working in the lab, I knew that research was something I wanted to incorporate into my career” proclaimed the St. John Villa Academy high school graduate, who is happy to be able to combine her love of research and her passion for animals into a career path. Calle will also partake in biomedical research for the Cornell-based Veterinary Investigator Program this summer.

At CSI, the 21-year-old Clifton resident majored in Biochemistry and Chemistry with a minor in Mathematics. With multiple scholarships under her belt, Calle noted how CSI lived up to its world-class reputation.

“Whenever I hear others extolling the benefits of the College, the term that most frequently comes up is ‘world-class’ faculty. That phrase is easy enough to overlook, but I began to fully realize the weight it held as I attended school here. Truly, the faculty is amazing, both as teachers and innovators in their own field,” said Calle, thanking, in particular, MHC staff Lisa French and Anita Romano.

A Dean’s List student, Calle was a member of the Emerging Leaders Program and the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program, the Class of 2016 CSI representative for the Macaulay Scholars Council, a Macaulay Scholars Council (MSC) member, and the Vice President of Academic Affairs on MSC’s first-ever Executive Board. She was a Resource Assisted Initiatives in Science Empowerment for Women Scholar and a The Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority participant.

In Fall 2013, she participated in the lab of Professor Shaibal Mitra, where she studied the changing spring arrival dates of certain migrant land birds in New York State. Calle also assisted in the Arenas-Mena Lab studying gene regulatory networks in sea urchins and polychaetes for the better part of her undergraduate career.

Calle educating youth on the Pine Snake

In addition, she participated in a ten-week NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates at the New York State Department of Health where she assisted in basic and public health research in the labs of Dr. Samuel S. Bowser, Dr. Ellen Braun-Howland, and Melissa Prusinski.

“Truly, this was one of the most fun, eye-opening research experiences I had because I was given a taste of the impact research could have on those around me,” exclaimed Calle, who also attended the National Conference on Undergraduate Research and the Emerging Researchers National Conference.

Calle was a member of the Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars, Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program, The Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, a Revson Scholar, a Young Latinas Leadership Institute Scholar, recipient of the Valedictorian/Salutatorian Scholarship (awarded to students who were Valedictorian/Salutatorian in a Staten Island high school), and a Dean’s List student.

Adding to her wild adventures as a young conservationist, Calle traveled to the Galapagos Islands to take a class on Evolution, Ecology, and Conservation in Ecuador and the Galapagos. Her volunteer efforts include working at the Staten Island Zoo, St. Francis Animal Hospital, and St. Joseph’s RC Church.

She leaves her under-classmates with these inspiring words: “You are the most important part of your academic career. Push yourself forward without knocking yourself down.”


CSI Salutatorian Beginning as Port Authority Engineer

Tyler Franco '16 during his internship with the Port Authority at the top of One World Trace Center

As Tyler Franco ’16 stood at the lectern at the 2016 Honors Convocation, he told himself to “just enjoy this moment because it’s not every day that you get to do something like this!”

Franco, a Macaulay Honors College graduate, delivered a moving speech at Tuesday evening’s ceremony in the Center for the Arts that was not without some humor.

“When I was first told that I was salutatorian and would be speaking to you all today, I was thrilled. After all, what’s better than an extra homework assignment during finals, and then getting to read it in front of hundreds of people?”

View the Honors Convocation Program>

He did strike a serious note as well, emphasizing that “while the idea of starting something new may be intimidating, it is also wrought with opportunity. Yes, we may be able to go out and travel the world or get a high-paying job in our field, but as college graduates, we also have the opportunity to make the world a better place.”

An Electrical Engineering and Engineering Science major with a minor in Mathematics, Franco will begin working as an engineer for the Port Authority of NY&NJ this summer.

Tyler Franco in South Africa

“I hope to continue working as an engineer and to eventually leave my mark by working on some of the largest projects in the Tri-state area,” Franco stated.

He commended the faculty and staff at CSI for their support over the course of his four years at the College.

“Macaulay advisors Lisa French, Anita Romano, and Dr. Charles Liu have been incredibly helpful to me over the last four years. They have always made themselves available to lend a helping hand. From helping me decide on my post-graduate plans to identifying good internships for me, and everything in between, they have always gone above and beyond to try and help me the best they could,” recalled Franco, who received a full merit scholarship from the Macaulay Honors College as well as an Undergraduate Research Stipend for conducting research on partial volume segmentation.

He has done extensive volunteer work as an SAT tutor and college advisor for low-income high school students, an assistant coach at his former high school, and a worker for the recovery efforts after Superstorm Sandy.

In fact, much of Franco’s message at the Convocation focused on public service.

“The impact you can leave on someone just by being there to lend a helping hand is immeasurable. So, I implore everyone, regardless of major, to go out and become stewards of kindness, helping to build a better tomorrow.  Whether it’s as a teacher, friend, or stranger, make the world a better place by chipping in.”

Tyler Franco in Australia

The Prince’s Bay resident, who graduated from St. Joseph by the Sea High School, also took advantage of CSI’s Study Abroad program, visiting Sydney, Australia in 2015 and Cape Town, South Africa in 2016.

Franco’s parting advice to CSI students is to work closely with their professors.

“At CSI the faculty is excellent and incredibly knowledgeable. Take advantage of the opportunity to meet them in office hours or after class. You’ll find that they will enjoy having students who are engaged and willing to go the extra mile to become better students.”

To his fellow graduates, he reminded them of the importance of being active in the CSI alumni community.

“In our post-graduate plans, we will meet new people, have new experiences, and visit new places, but we won’t forget the time spent here at the College of Staten Island. And as successful alumni, it is our duty to be ambassadors for the school, which has served as a second home to us for years. So as we move on, we should all be proud of our accomplishments but remember to always give back.”