Verrazano Student Takes Full Advantage of College Experience and Beyond

Samantha Brandt conquers her fear of heights duiring a ziplining day trip with the Emerging Leaders Class of 2016-2017.

She has two majors, three minors, four part-time jobs, is an avid volunteer and member of multiple clubs, and has future plans to study abroad, attend law school, and become a Foreign Service Officer.

Verrazano School student Samantha Brandt ‘18 does all this while maintaining a 3.75 GPA. In fact, the 19-year-old Susan E. Wagner High School graduate doesn’t ask why students should take part in all that the College has to offer, but rather asks, “why wouldn’t they?”

“Get involved and take advantage of what is available at CSI! College is more than learning because you get to make lifelong memories as well. CSI offers trips, clubs, campus events, and so much more, so why not participate?”

The West Brighton resident is double majoring in Political Science and International Studies with a triple minor in Chinese, Business, and Legal Studies. She is a founding member and secretary of the World Around U and a member of the Emerging Leaders Program, the Armed Forces Club, the International Students Club, and the International Business Club. She was also a member of CSI’s Student Government, as Commissioner of Academic and Curricular Affairs, as well as the CSI Association, College Council, and works several part-time jobs.

Samantha Brandt giving a speech at the Student Leadership Retreat, Winter 2016.

“Samantha sets a wonderful example of energy, enthusiasm, and engagement for us all. By living college life to the fullest, she exemplifies the inspiring spirit of every Verrazano School student,” noted Director of the Macaulay Honors College and The Verrazano School at CSI Dr. Charles Liu.

Brandt is currently an usher at the St. George Theater, a note-taker with the Center for Student Accessibility, a New Student Orientation Leader, and is part of the Welcome Desk staff in the Campus Center.

In addition, the lifelong Staten Island resident is a volunteer facilitator for the We Are New York program through the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Affairs.

She will be studying abroad in Italy in the winter of this year and in China in winter 2017.

 

 

CSI Alumna Elisa Csorba Dares to Follow Her Dreams

Elisa Csorba '16 enjoying her new career at the Walt Disney Company.

As Elisa Csorba ’16 is a self-proclaimed “Disney fanatic,” it should come as no surprise that on the day after graduation, the Macaulay Honors College (MHC) graduate boarded a train to Florida to pursue a career at the Walt Disney Company.

Now living her dream, Csorba has secured a position as a Disney Professional Intern in the Customer Relationship Management Marketing department for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts in Orlando.

“I was able to accept this position confidently, thanks to my education and research experience at CSI,” said the Fontbonne Hall Academy, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn graduate, who worked with Dr. Jonathan Peters and Dr. Michael Kress at CSI, “learning more about the world of data than I ever could have imagined possible.”

At CSI, Csorba used her knowledge of data to spearhead Staten Island Economic Development Corporation initiatives, such as Superstorm Sandy Recovery and Staten Island Fair Share. In 2014, she helped to create an Emergency Preparedness Guide for the disabled community on Staten Island, as many members of this community were not appropriately accounted or cared for in aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.   She also participated in marketing research under the mentorship of Professor William Dubovsky, where she assisted in a semester-long study of the Staten Island Museum to determine how the institution could make itself more marketable and drive higher demand.

At MHC, Csorba was thankful to be “given the best of both worlds: a four-year scholarship with Macaulay and an opportunity to study with the best mentors and professors that CSI has to offer.”

“The School of Business at the College of Staten Island has presented me with such wonderful opportunities, and I am so grateful to have been given those experiences. Four years ago, the School of Business was merely a thought, an idea. This past June, I was part of the third graduating class of the School, and we comprise the largest discipline in the College of Staten Island–if that isn’t success, then I don’t know what is.”

Susan Holak, Founding Dean of the School of Business, commented, “We are tremendously proud of Elisa, her accomplishments thus far, and the role that the School of Business and the College of Staten Island played in helping her to fulfill her goals. We look forward to hearing more about the promising future that we know lies ahead of her.”

A member of the Young Alumni Committee of the School of Business, Csorba fully intends to remain in contact with the School and “all of the professors who have enriched my life in so many ways… I look forward to helping college students understand their dreams and pursue their goals. I’m well aware that the only reason I was able to pursue my dream so successfully was because of the support and encouragement I received from the team of professors and administrators who were behind me every step of the way, and I am so excited that I can now be a source of support and motivation for others.

“So dare to follow your dreams and do whatever will make you happiest in life; dare to do the unexpected and extraordinary; and dare to make a change in the world. Because all it takes is faith, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust.”

 

 

Verrazano Student Finding the Right Academic Frequency

Sidhartha Mishra gearing up for research outside the New York Public Library in Midtown Manhattan.

Tuning in to the College of Staten Island’s (CSI) state-of-the-art technology, dedicated professors, and the helping hands of The Verrazano School, Sidhartha Mishra ’17 is certainly operating on the right wavelength. The Computer Science major, who is minoring in Mathematics, is currently researching Radio Frequency Identification Technology (RFID) Communication Protocols for use in security and privacy issues. Mishra is gearing up for his Verrazano Senior Capstone Thesis, “A Study of RFID Communication and Security,” which he will be presenting at the Undergraduate Research Conference (URC) in Spring 2017. The Verrazano student also gave an oral presentation at the 2015 URC.

“My research involves the study of Radio Frequency Identification Technology communication protocols. This technology is being used in various industries, and these communication protocols define the schemes that provide the basis for communication between the RFID tag(s) and reader(s). For my research, I am analyzing these protocols for security issues and concerns, and writing code to simulate them,” noted Mishra, a graduate of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Curtis High School, who maintains a 3.636 GPA at CSI.

“Sidhartha is far more than merely a super-talented techno-wiz. He is friendly and gracious, and he is a greatly valued and appreciated member of the Verrazano School community,” noted Dr. Charles Liu, Director of the Macaulay Honors College and The Verrazano School at CSI.

Mishra on Roosevelt Island.

Twenty-two-year-old Mishra was born in India and moved to the United States at age 11.  He was first inspired to study RFID technology while taking the Interdisciplinary Honors Seminar with Professor Bilge Yesil, after reading Professor Xiaowen Zhang’s paper on the subject.  Zhang became his mentor for the RFID research project and also recommended that the student take a course on mobile development offered by Google. The four-week course at The Graduate Center of  The City University of New York (CUNY) provided an introduction to android development using Java as the programming language on the Android Studio platform.

Mishra is currently participating in a virtual internship as a Web content manager for a Yoga studio and also tutors in the Computer Science Department. The Staten Island resident plans to pursue a graduate degree in Computer Science and is currently exploring graduate schools.

Mishra urges budding researchers and peers, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Explore options and opportunities that may help you get the most out of your college career.”

 

 

 

 

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 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.”

 

 

 

 

CSI Honors Student Achievements Adding Up

Tim Sweeney '17

The following equation sums up Tim Sweeney’s experience at the College of Staten Island (CSI): Macaulay Honors College Student + Captain of the CSI Men’s Swimming and Diving Team + Mathematics Major = One Amazing Student. Leading his team to three CUNYAC Championships in a row, Sweeney ’17, who is also member of the Student Athletics Advisory Committee (SAAC), advises his peers not to let school work add up.

“Stay on top of your work. College is a great opportunity to have fun but the amount of work can pile up quickly. Complete your work piece by piece, without letting it get out of hand,” urges Sweeney, a 20-year-old graduate of St. Peter’s High School.

Sweeney and his team recently traveled to Stuart, FL for a week-long training trip of two-a-day swim practices and dry-land workouts, where the athletes could focus on training without any distractions. Sweeney hopes to represent CSI at the 2017 NCAA Division III Swimming Championships this March.

“We are extremely proud of Tim. He is an excellent leader to his teammates and a very hard worker. It’s been a pleasure to see him grow as a student and excel as an athlete,” lauded Charles Gomes, CSI Director of Athletics.

“Swimming has been such a big part of my life for about 15 years. Because of this, I’m around the pool so much. I give swim lessons at CSI and I’m one of the head coaches of Hillside Swim Club, a team that I swam on for 13 years, until I graduated high school,” noted Sweeney, a West Brighton resident who also carries minors in Geography and Finance.

In a brief hiatus from aquatics and academics here at CSI, Sweeney also had the opportunity to travel to Copenhagen, Denmark where he studied Danish Greenspace, a class that allowed him to “see and experience so many new things from a culture that is so different than ours here.”

With an impressive 3.865 GPA, Sweeney is also a research assistant under Professor Jonathan Peters of the Finance Department at CSI and recently presented at the 2016 CSI Undergraduate Research Conference. His project, titled “Geospatial Analysis of New For-Hire Vehicle Services in New York City,” was an analysis of four different taxicab services throughout the five boroughs.  Sweeney also participated in the Macaulay Big Data Boot Camp, part of the Data Science Program at Macaulay Honors College and is taking part in a data analytics project this summer at the CUNY HPCC.​

Sweeney is grateful to many CSI faculty and staff members, particularly his swim coach, Mike Ackalitis, who has been “a key factor in my swimming successes and is always available to help outside of the pool as well, whether it is with school or work.”

Sweeney also appreciates his Macaulay advisors, Anita Romano and Lisa French, who “have offered guidance in all of my academic endeavors dealing with classes and outside internships,” as well as his mentors Professor Peters and Nora Santiago.

“Tim’s devotion to his studies as well as his training is admirable. He is a terrific student, and the Macaulay Honors College is proud to have him in the program,” said Dr. Charles Liu, Director of the Macaulay Honors College and The Verrazano School at CSI.

After graduation, Sweeney plans to attend graduate school for actuarial science, which would incorporate his math and my finance backgrounds and “allow me to enjoy the best of what each has to offer.”

 

 

 

 

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.”