As a star athlete, tech expert, and Macaulay Honors College (MHC) student, Michelle Kushnir ’17 may appear to have a full college plate. However, being captain of the College of Staten Island (CSI) Women’s Tennis Team, winning the 2015 CUNYAC Sportsmanship Player of the Year Award, and conducting data visualization research are just a few of this Computer Science major’s accomplishments.
Kushnir, who is minoring in Business and Mathematics and maintaining a 3.7 GPA, was also a member of the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP), and has studied abroad and interned extensively.
The 21-year-old held a research assistant position for the CUNY High-Performance Computing Center, working with Michael Kress, PhD; Jonathan Peters, PhD; and Nora Santiago on analyzing public data such as taxicab and land use data. She is currently a research assistant for the Engineering Science and Physics Department, working with Dwight Richards, PhD, on improving the audience experience at cyber defense competitions using data visualization.
With the ELP, Kushnir volunteered at food drives for Project Hospitality and the CSI Food Pantry. She also traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark, taking a course in Danish Greenspace, and recently studied Japanese business and culture in Tokyo, Japan.
The Eltingville resident’s internship experience includes positions at Princeton SciTech as a Website developer, and at UBS as a Technical Business Analyst in the Business Intelligence Department, where she will return to this summer.
“Take every opportunity handed to you. Even if it doesn’t fit exactly what you want to do, take it, because you’ll never know who you’ll meet or where that opportunity will take you next, “commented Kushnir, who graduated from Tottenville High School, where she was a student in the Classics Institute.
Born in Brooklyn, Kushnir plans to pursue a graduate degree in Information Systems Management, with concentrations in Business Intelligence and Data Analytics.
“Students in college should always explore a wide range of interests; Michelle has explored – and excelled – about as widely as anyone possibly can! She’s intensely driven to succeed in everything she does – while at the same time being fun-loving, deeply thoughtful, generous, and kind. It has been a privilege to have her as a student in my class and as a member of the CSI community,” said Charles Liu, PhD, Director of MHC and the Verrazano School. Kushnir was a student in Dr. Liu’s HON 223 seminar, “Science and Technology in New York.”
“I am grateful to the Macaulay Honors College staff, specifically Lisa French, Anita Romano, and Dr. Charles Liu who all provided so much guidance for me throughout my four years at CSI. They truly care about their students, and were there for me whenever I needed their help,” said Kushnir.
Ever since Career Day at PS 53, James Raio ‘17 has wanted to be an attorney. In fall 2017, the College of Staten Island (CSI) Macaulay Honors College (MHC) student will be closer to that dream as he enters Fordham Law School on a partial scholarship.
Maintaining a 3.9 GPA, the Political Science major, minoring in Legal Studies and Economics, advises his peers to “work hard because good grades will pay off later, whether you are applying to grad school or searching for employment!”
The Staten Island Technical High School graduate has interned at the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office, an experience that certainly solidified the budding prosecutor’s career plans.
“It was really interesting and taught me a lot about the field. I was able to work closely with attorneys and talk to them about law school and also spoke with law enforcement officials about the criminal justice process,” noted Raio, age 21.
The Bay Terrace resident also works as a pharmaceutical technician and says that time management has been key for him.
“I have always been good about staying on top of deadlines and getting things done early. You can’t wait until the last minute,” urges Raio, who is currently completing his senior thesis, early, of course. His thesis is focused on President Donald Trump and the 2016 election.
“James has been a model student. He already has certain important lawyerly virtues. The words that most comes to mind when I think about James are ‘calm,’ ‘steady,’ ‘methodical,’ and ‘meticulous.’ I’ve always found him to be responsible and thoughtful. It has been a pleasure to have him in my classes and to witnesses his many successes,” commented Michael Paris, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Global Affairs. Dr. Paris worked with Raio on his law school applications and supervised his senior thesis.
A native of Staten Island, Raio also studied abroad in Florence, Italy in summer 2015. There, he studied sculpture and was also able to enjoy excursions such as horseback riding in Tuscany and visiting a Ferrari factory. His study abroad program was funded by his MHC Opportunities Fund.
“James is the kind of person I want in my corner, standing up for what’s right when the chips are down. We are all so proud to have him here at CSI. However he chooses to participate in our legal system, he will succeed – and he will make the world a better place for us all,” noted Charles Liu, PhD, Director of MHC and the Verrazano School.
Committing himself to advanced programs at both Staten Island Technical High School and now MHC, Raio is glad to have experienced “rigorous programs that challenged me to excel in difficult coursework. It really makes a difference to work and learn beside other high-achieving students.”
At Fordham, Raio plans to pursue corporate or criminal law.
“Writing is an extension of oneself. When I write, I can show the parts of my soul, and heart that aren’t visible to the naked eye. Writing allows one to bring another layer of themselves into the world, and it can be a truly beautiful process.”
These are the illuminating and introspective words from College of Staten Island (CSI) English major Shantel Rowe ‘17. The Verrazano School student has written for The Banner and the Verrazano Voyager as well as for her own music blog, “Call It What It Is.” Also a performing artist, Rowe has played the guitar since she was 15.
With a wide range of influences including Amy Winehouse, Rupi Kaur, and Sylvia Plath, Rowe also attributes her passion for the pen to her mother. “I had always enjoyed writing, as my mother is a writer herself; however, I began taking it more seriously once I entered high school. I was challenged to write poetry, journalism, and creatively—and writing every day essentially helped me connect more with the craft,” commented Rowe, who carries a 3.9 GPA, with a concentration in Writing and a minor in Journalism and American Studies.
Some of her favorite pieces for The Banner include her commentary on Rihanna’s Anti album titled “Rihanna Takes on New Tone with Confidence” and also “Nina Brings the Drama Onscreen and Off,” an article about the controversy surrounding the Nina Simone film, Nina, which largely spoke to colorism in Hollywood.
Balancing life as a busy artist and devoted student, the recipient of a CSI Foundation Scholarship has also worked closely with Ava Chin, PhD, researching Chinese immigration into America. “We primarily focused on Dr. Chin’s family’s immigration, predominantly in New York City in the 18 and 19 hundreds; however, our research also speaks to Chinese immigration as a whole. I feel as if this work deepened my knowledge of immigration but more importantly of New York geography and how history plays its role in that. Of course, we know about certain neighborhoods living in New York; however to truly understand the history and dynamics behind Chinatown is something that is truly culturally enriching. To walk along Mott Street or Bayard and look at buildings that aren’t just structures, but artifacts/stories, is truly fascinating,” noted the 21-year-old Grasmere resident and Brooklyn native.
Dr. Chin was equally pleased to work with the student. “Shantel is a rare combination of old-soul maturity mixed with quirky brilliance. She has a keen and intuitive writing voice, a sharp eye for detail, and a great sense of musical styles—it’s been a pleasure to watch her grow from being a talented freshman to an outstanding senior. I could not be more proud of her,” Dr. Chin commented.
The graduate of the College of Staten Island High School for International Studies says she is “humbled” by her experiences at CSI and by professors who “have assisted with both my academic and personal growth.”
“Once you enter college, you learn more than you ever could anticipate, not just academically, but socially, culturally. As an individual, I’ve significantly grown because of my experience here; I’ve experienced so many opportunities where I stepped outside of my comfort zone in the classroom and around campus, and because of that, I feel as if I’ve been very humbled,” said Rowe, who plans to pursue a doctorate and become a music journalist and college professor.
Charles Liu, PhD, Director of MHC and the Verrazano School, praised that, “In this increasingly media-blanketed world, we are fortunate to have Shantel and her brilliant, thoughtful voice to help us make sense of what we see and hear. It’s great to have Shantel as a member of the Verrazano School and the larger CSI community.”
Rowe’s advice to her peers involves both mental and physical commitment in order to achieve success. “Mentally, you have to focus on your goals and set forth the steps to achieve them. This means networking, going the extra mile, and staying organized. Physically, these steps can be made by remaining an active voice and participant on campus,” she said.
It has been well established among researchers that music can have a relaxing effect on people. Perhaps, no one knows that better than College of Staten Island (CSI) student Brian Raleigh ’18. The Verrazano School student has been a musician since age five, and now, as a successful college student in a popular band, Raleigh finds that his calm demeanor is his key to stress-less success.
“I feel like many college students get into the ‘end of the world’ mentality a lot of the time and it only makes them more stressed, which is not the goal of college. College is supposed to be a place that is challenging. However, the challenge does not lie with the actual work professors give. It lies with one’s response to it,” declares Raleigh, a Business Management major, minoring in Music.
While playing keyboard in his band, Wayward Strangers, at such popular venues as The Bitter End and Webster Hall, Raleigh still manages to work as a peer coach in the Office of Academic Support at CSI and at his family-owned shop, Eggers Ice Cream Parlor, while maintaining a 3.5 GPA.
Being a part of the CSI community is important to Raleigh, and he urges all CSI students to “make CSI your own! Don’t be afraid to stay on campus and make friends. CSI is a great school for the price we pay, and one should feel proud to go here. Get involved and enjoy college!”
The 20-year-old Petrides High School graduate is also a member of the CSI Music Club. His goal is to pursue music professionally, be it with his own band or as an associate in the industry, possibly opening a record label or talent management firm.
“I would like to shape this next generation of music as well as give back to a community that has given people behind them the chance to listen to amazing music,” Raleigh commented.
“The band is my passion but so is music in general. I think anyone’s dream career would be to travel the world with some of their best friends and make music. I think that with Wayward Strangers it’s a real possibility,” said Raleigh, a West Brighton resident.
The student credits Charles Liu, PhD, Director of the Macaulay and Verrazano School programs, because he, “really got me to think about life and the reality of the world outside of college. He is very inspiring and is always filled with surprises.”
Dr. Liu, also an astrophysics professor at the College, says Raleigh inspires him right back. “Brian was a pleasure to have in my class – what an engaged, active learner he is! He’s great to have around outside of class too – as a student, a musician, and much more. He is a highly valued and greatly appreciated member of the Verrazano Community.”
The model student advises his fellow peers to keep up with their priorities and not to let too much responsibility weigh them down.
Raleigh insists, “Do not get caught up in the amount of work you have. Always do your work but always realize that every situation, good or bad, is temporary. Thus when life and school are good, push harder because at some point that good situation will start to change, so be prepared. On the other hand, I find myself buried in work all the time, but whether its school or work, when things get hard, I accept the challenge. I will get through it, good or bad, pass or fail, the stress will end.”
The Seventh Annual CSI Foundation Celestial Ball, in celebration of the College’s 60th Anniversary, raised record-breaking funds through generous donations from guests and sponsors, and matched last year’s record-breaking attendance. The money raised will be used to strengthen student support and advance faculty research, as well as help ensure that CSI’s greatest needs are met.
The black-tie optional event, chaired by CSI Foundation Board Secretary Marilyn Caselli, was held at the beautiful Richmond County Country Club.
As in past years, the Ball committee honored members of the CSI and Staten Island communities who have affected positive change. Each were awarded the President’s Medal by Gary Reichard, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affair. Recipients included Dr. Michael Kress ’69, ’75; Patrick McDermott; and Beatrice Victor. In addition, the Friends of CSI, represented by Carol Berardi, Norma D’Arrigo, and Anthony DeFazio, celebrated their 40th Anniversary of service to students and student support, and were awarded a proclamation from the President and Provost in recognition of their hard work and dedication.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ai38Ipew4M[/youtube]Khatmeh Osseiran-Hanna began the evening’s program by acknowledging the event’s sponsors and the individuals who worked tirelessly to make the Ball a success. She also noted the contributions of the board members of the CSI Foundation and CSI Alumni Association, and underscored the importance of the College’s partnerships with the Island’s not-for-profit organizations. She concluded by summing up a main focus of the Ball, “The evening is all about you, our donors and you our honorees. Grounded in your generosity, we reach new heights.”
CSI Foundation President Sam Farag emphasized the CSI Foundation’s critical role in securing philanthropic support for the College and built upon Osseiran-Hanna’s words to the donors by thanking the Ball’s attendees, emphasizing that the success of CSI and its students is dependent upon their generosity, now more than ever.
CSI President Dr. William Fritz began his remarks by discussing the legacy of the Celestial Ball, stating that the event “builds upon the legacy of the Starlight Ball, founded as the College’s premiere fundraising event by the Friends of CSI in 1978, which then morphed into the Starlight Cabaret. So in reality, we have been celebrating for at least 38 years!”
Dr. Fritz recognized past honorees and honorary degree recipients in the audience, as well as the hard work of the members of the College community, which helped to make the Ball a reality. He briefly discussed the upward trajectory of the College since its inception as Staten Island Community College in 1956, highlighting the many local and national accolades that CSI has received for the excellence and value of its programs, and the transformation effect on the student body.
The significance of academic excellence was a focal point of the comments provided by student speaker Steven Arriaga, a Linguistics and Spanish major with minors in French and Latin American Studies. A senior with the Verrazano School Honors Program, Steven compared his time in high school, from which, he admitted, he “barely graduated,” to his amazing success at CSI. Now, he is deeply involved in a number of organizations, is a Fulbright candidate, and plans attend graduate school upon graduation.
Steven, who is a recipient of the Clara & Arleigh B. Williamson and the Academy of Retired Professors scholarships, also expressed his gratitude to the College’s supporters, saying that they are responsible for his success. “You are part of the reason that there is no better university system in the country than the CUNY system. I repeat: there is NO better university system in this country than the CUNY system; the ambitions of CSI scholarship recipients are a testament to this truth. Thank you for allowing us to shine, for being the catalyst that allows us to endlessly achieve excellence.”
This year’s Ball included a silent auction, where attendees competed for prizes such as a whale and dolphin watching excursion for two onboard the American Princess or two tickets to see Kanye West at the Prudential Center, among many other exciting items and activities.
President’s Medal recipient Michael E. Kress, PhD, ’69, ’75
Dr. Michael E. Kress is the former Vice President for Information Technology and Economic Development at the College of Staten Island and former Executive Director of The City University of New York Interdisciplinary High-Performance Computing Center (IHPCC). He received his Doctorate from New York University. He is an alumnus of the College of Staten Island, holding an MA and BS from Richmond College.
His prominent CUNY career spans more than 45 years. As Vice President for Information Technology, he was responsible for developing campus technology strategies and providing leadership and direction with respect to the operation of campus technology systems, core business applications, voice and data networks, IT Security, and data center operations. He was also a member of the CUNY IT Steering Committee, and is a distinguished member of the CUNY Doctoral Faculty in Computer Science.
In his capacity as Executive Director of the CUNY IHPCC, he had oversight of the facility that provides the computational resources required by CUNY faculty, students, researchers, and their collaborators. Dr. Kress developed synergistic collaborations among researchers to bring together computational scientists and discipline experts to solve problems which rely on high speed computing and massive data sets. Some recent contributions include scientific visualization of real world and simulated data, including storm surge research in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, and traffic and transportation system modeling. In addition, Dr. Kress developed special techniques for teaching mathematics to blind students and instituted a system for text transcription for deaf students at CUNY.
Dr. Kress is the recipient of many National Science Foundation and other grants and has published extensively in the field of computational science, numerical analysis, educational technology, and transportation systems. In July 2014, with his leadership as principal investigator, a consortium of six CUNY institutions received a $15 million gubernatorial grant to launch a CUNY Center for Big Data Analytics and Visualization to develop big data analysis resources at multiple sites and workforce certificate programs that will capitalize on New York City’s growing strength as a national hub for technology-focused innovation.
Recently, he led The Willowbrook Mile collaboration among CSI, the Staten Island Developmental Disabilities Council, the Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities, and the Elizabeth Connelly Resource Center/Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.
President’s Medal recipient Patrick F. McDermott
Patrick F. McDermott is the Managing Partner and co-founder of McDermott & Thomas Associates LLC, a firm specializing in employee benefit planning and insurance, financial planning, and estate planning. McDermott and Thomas Associates LLC has offices on Staten Island and Princeton, NJ. The firm is a Founding Partner of United Benefit Advisors, one of the nation’s largest privately held employee benefits advisory organizations with more than 1,300 experienced benefits professionals located in 140 offices across the country. UBA Members provide employee benefits consulting and brokerage services, and best-in-class products to more than 24,000 private corporations and public employers, managing nearly $10 billion annually in Employee Benefit expenditures on behalf of 1.6 million+ employees and their families.
Pat is a Director and Past President of the College of Staten Island Foundation, Trustee of the Northwell Health System (North Shore-LIJ Health System), Past Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Staten Island University Hospital, Chairman of the National Board of the American Parkinson Disease Association, a Trustee of Catholic Charities Community Services of the Archdiocese of New York, and a Director of the Staten Island Rotary Foundation.
As a member of the CSI Foundation Board, Pat has served the College of Staten Island community since 2000. His contributions, both financial and in service, have been invaluable to the advancement of both institutions. He has received numerous awards for service to the community including the United Hospital Fund Distinguished Trustee Award, the Meals on Wheels Louis R. Miller Community Service Award, the Staten Island CYO Community Service Award, CYO Archdiocesan Shining Stars Award, YMCA Distinguished Community Service Award, and is a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International.
Pat and his wife Susan have three children and five grandchildren and reside on Lighthouse Hill.
President’s Medal recipient Beatrice Victor
For most of her life, Beatrice Victor has dedicated herself to community service.
Born Beatrice Goldsmith in Worcester, MA, she became a Registered Nurse after graduating from high school, and immediately joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corp., serving in Bethesda, MD as an ensign. Most of her patients fought at Iwo Jima, and the ward for which she was responsible was inspected by President Truman.
After the war, she worked in a physician’s office, and attended evening classes at NYU to bolster her skills. She subsequently met and married her husband, Dr. Melvin Victor, and worked with him in his office until his death in 1977. She then served as a representative for Staten Island HIP.
Beyond her professional life, Ms. Victor became an advocate for people on Staten Island with brain damage, having a child of her own who experienced brain damage at birth. As a result of her efforts, one of the Island’s first group homes opened and she served as Executive Director for eight years. It is still providing excellent service to this population. In addition, she was instrumental in the creation of a diagnostic center at the Mental Health Society for the brain injured, which still provides services in the Borough as the Elizabeth Pouch Center for Special People. Ms. Victor also attended numerous rallies and took many trips to Albany to advocate on behalf of people with brain injuries.
Ms. Victor has also been a champion for seniors on the Island, working to establish SeniorNet to teach computer skills to seniors. She worked to open a classroom for this project at the Jewish Community Center of Staten Island, serving as a teacher for ten years. She has also written the “As We Are” column in the Staten Island Advance, which addresses issues that are important to seniors.
Celebrating 40 Years of Dedication and Service: The Friends of CSI
The Friends of CSI are celebrating their 40th anniversary, this year. The organization began in 1976 as a group of community members who support the College’s Mission and who promote and execute programs to involve the community in the educational and cultural activities of CSI. Most significantly, their efforts have assisted generations of students with scholarship support, making their dreams of a college degree accessible and affordable.
Over its four-decade existence the Friends have hosted an impressive list of fundraising events. They established the Starlight Ball, which was the predecessor to today’s Celestial Ball. Other events include dinner theaters, the International Festivals at the Sunnyside Campus, various musical events, and a trip to Sicily and Rome with the CSI Alumni Association.
In recent years, the Friends have sponsored an annual Literary Brunch event, which spotlights prominent authors and theirs works. This year’s Brunch featured CSI Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Gray Reichard, who discussed his latest published book, Deadlock and Disillusionment: American Politics since 1968.
Dr. Reichard’s presentation was followed by an audience discussion moderated by Professor Richard Flanagan, which included Tom Wrobleski from the Staten Island Advance, and Francis Barry, columnist on politics and U.S. domestic policy for Bloomberg View. It was a timely event, as it occurred shortly before the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.
World travel has taught College of Staten Island (CSI) student Ana Hayes ’17 many things. The most important lesson she shares, though, is to always “keep an open mind.”
After the 20-year-old Macaulay Honors College student traveled to Berlin, Germany this past summer, that lesson became a true reality.
“I met with quite a bit of culture shock upon my arrival in Berlin. The Germans are a wonderful people and, to some extent, the values and norms Americans share with them outweigh the differences between the two groups,” said Hayes about her two-month internship at the American Citizen Services department in the U.S. Embassy.
The Queens, NY-born CSI student is no stranger to travel, venturing to Europe as early as nine years old. These early experiences, coupled with her geographical coursework at CSI, according to Hayes, “proved very valuable as I developed some sense of European politics at large that I leaned on throughout my trip.”
“During the course of my internship, I came into contact with Embassy employees who better fleshed out my understanding of the types of people drawn to government service. I was struck by how diverse a group they are; indeed, I feel that in some ways I learned just as much about the United States as I did about Germany. For the first time, I found myself interacting daily with people from well outside the New York orbit. Their perspectives were often worlds apart from my own, yet we all shared a passion for cultural plurality. It made the office a pretty exciting atmosphere,” said Hayes, who will graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Italian language, Culture and Politics, and Political Geography of the United States. She currently holds a 3.9 GPA.
Hayes has been inspired by many individuals in her life: Peter Kabachnik, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Global Affairs; Gerry Milligan, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of World Languages and Literatures; and, of course, her mother.
“My mother and I have traveled together since I was young. Travel has always been a major part of my life, and I want to continue that,” said Hayes, noting that her mother, as a Professor of History at Montclair State University, would receive research stipends and take Ana with her on trips.
After graduating from the International Baccalaureate Program at Curtis High School in 2013, Hayes began at CSI with many of her courses focused on Russia. Her dual Italian American citizenship also encouraged an active interest in Italian culture and language. Sicily is of especial interest to her, due to her Sicilian heritage.
Her advisor and mentor, Dr. Kabachnik, has also been a positive influence in her academic career. “He encouraged me to do research on Chechnya and that got me interested in doing some very serious research,” commented Hayes, not forgetting the support she has received at Macaulay Honors. “All the people at Macaulay are wonderful and so helpful. They encouraged me to apply for many opportunities.”
A CUNY BA student, Hayes also received the prestigious Thomas W. Smith fellowship. Her mentors for the CUNY BA are Dr. Kabachnik and Dr. Milligan.
Director of the Macaulay and Verrazano School programs Dr. Charles Liu commented, “Ana is a tremendously talented scholar and communicator whose view of our world is truly global. She represents the College of Staten Island and the Macaulay Honors College with eloquence and distinction wherever she goes—in our local community and across the globe too.”
When asked how she balances school, travel, and other responsibilities, the Dean’s List student noted how her family dynamics help her to stay focused. “I’m the second eldest of seven children. Learning how to best use my time, flexibility, etc. were all ingrained in me from an early age as a result,” commented Hayes.
John Gioeli ’17 has always dreamed of designing automobiles, airplanes, or even complex mechanical infrastructures. So, when an engineering internship opportunity arose, the Engineering Science major and soccer star juggled his priorities in order to take another step closer to his goal. The Verrazano School student and 2014 CUNY Athletic Conference All Star notes that it was “a bittersweet moment” when he decided to stop playing soccer at CSI in order to have time for the internship. Gioeli is currently an engineer intern at a company constructing a high-rise condominium building, where he assists the project manager in analyzing blueprints and documentation, and inspecting overall construction and MEP systems.
While carrying a 3.58 GPA and pursuing a Mechanical Engineering specialization with a minor in Mathematics, Gioeli has always managed to handle multiple obligations outside of the classroom. The Brooklyn native is working with Aleksander Haber, PhD on a senior design project, along with classmate Dimitrios Pavlidis. The project is a ball-and-beam control system with an inverted pendulum control situated on top of the beam setup. The feedback-control system is used in everyday-life applications, such as military missile or rocket guidance and automatic piloting.
Gioeli also studied in Florence, Italy in June 2015, commenting that, “I would recommend it to every student to study abroad at least once. The cultural experience is remarkable.”
As the goalkeeper and three-year starter for the CSI Men’s Soccer Team from 2013-2016, Gioeli is referred to as an individual who “helped build the foundation of the current program” by his coach John Tardy.
Earning multiple scholarships and awards, the St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School graduate still finds time to coach a youth travel soccer team for Cedar Stars Staten Island.
In fact, the busy 21 year old’s advice to college students is to “join a club or sports team so that you do not always live in the textbooks studying. Having a few hours a week networking and enjoying time with friends is a major part of college.”
To that end, Gioeli is also, along with Dr. Haber, working to establish an American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) club at CSI.
With future plans to pursue a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering and become a licensed professional engineer, the student is grateful to many professors as well as the Verrazano staff for their support.
“Professor Chang-Min Kim has always been there to lend a helping hand for academic work and always made room to fit students in his busy schedule… The Verrazano School staff are the most helpful and down-to-earth group of people who I can have endless conversations with. Cynthia Palumbo, Cheryl Craddock, and Dr. Charles Liu have guided me through the four years at the College to do my best and to push me to work even harder.”
Gioeli is the recipient of the William H. Chiles Engineering Scholarship, Bing Technology Memorial Scholarship, Donald DiFranco Memorial Scholarship, Telehouse International Corporation of America Scholarship, the Con Edison Scholarship Endowment Award, and several student-athlete awards.
“John has a wonderful demeanor and a live mind. He’s an academic and athletic powerhouse who works at the cutting edge of technology and innovation. It’s an honor and a pleasure to have him in our CSI Verrazano School community,” said Charles Liu, PhD, Director of the Verrazano and Macaulay Honors College programs.
“To my fellow graduates—Congratulations, Mazal Tov, and Mabrook!” So began the speech of Nechama Averick ’15 at the 2016 Braun School of Public Health of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem graduation ceremony. Averick, who will be starting a career in public health in Israel, is a College of Staten Island (CSI) Macaulay Honors College (MHC) alumna.
In Jerusalem, Averick addressed an audience of 200 graduates, government ministers, foreign ambassadors, family, and friends with farewell wishes and resonating messages. A Biology major with minors in Biochemistry and Political Science at CSI, Averick discussed public health as a career, its importance on a global level, and the questions that many still have about the evolving field.
“Public health is an inclusive field that includes all the current events happening around us. Yet, compared to other health professions in the health sciences, it seems to be least known among the general public,” said the 24-year-old native Staten Islander who now resides in Jerusalem. She explained that, “public health literally touches every field of human study—from demography, biostatistics, epidemiology, economics, genetics, and anthropology… In short, public health is the great equalizer that allows those born in poverty or marginalized populations to enjoy the benefits of modern medicine. It is the catalyst for a better, healthier future to be enjoyed by everyone.”
CSI Distinguished Professor Fred Naider, PhD noted that Averick’s contributions at CSI and the local community, and current global contributions are “a testament to the student’s hard work and dedication.”
While at CSI, Averick was affiliated with the Pre-Medical Society, where she served as president for three years. Graduating with a 3.8 GPA, she was also a Horace W. Goldsmith Scholar and received an honors undergraduate research stipend from CSI to conduct laboratory research, which she conducted with Krishnaswami Raja, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry.
Averick currently holds a research position in Israel’s Ministry of Health, Tuberculosis, and AIDS Department.
Through the MHC, Averick spent one undergraduate summer conducting breast cancer research at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and a winter semester studying tropical ecology in the Virgin Islands.
She is grateful for the “tremendous support from the wonderful administrators including Lisa French, Anita Romano, and Charles Liu” as well as guidance from Biology Professor Grozdena Yilmaz.
Averick remembers that, “Dr. Charles Liu was an incredible source of inspiration. He made every student feel wanted and welcome… we would always remark how Dr. Liu was the epitome of loving life and following your passions.”
Her advice to college students is to work hard because “there is just no way around it. The best way to ‘alleviate’ that pain is to develop your support system, without them, I would not be where I am today. Find what you love to do, and if you don’t know, push yourself to do things that make you uncomfortable. Perhaps the most difficult thing in your path towards success is to recognize and grow from your failures; they will make you wiser and humbler. Remember, you get to define success for yourself, no one else has that privilege.” Averick is also proud that that her brothers, Saadyah, Chaim, and Amram, graduated from CSI.
Dr. Naider noted that, “CSI continues to be a place where students learn, grow, and prepare for academically rigorous challenges, scholarly endeavors, and global contributions.”