Verrazano Student Receives Full Scholarships to Multiple Law Schools

Jennifer Pierce ’16 wasn’t sure that she wanted to attend the College of Staten Island. After graduating from Port Richmond High School, the New Springville resident considered going away to school. Now 21 and a senior at CSI, graduating this spring with a dual degree, Pierce says she doesn’t regret a thing.

“I really wanted to go away and only chose CSI because it was more affordable. I don’t regret that decision at all!  CSI is great, everyone is nice and helpful, and the professors are so smart,” said Pierce, who will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Communications: Media Studies, a Bachelor of Arts in English: Writing, and a Minor in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies.

Carrying an impressive 3.889 GPA, it should come as no surprise that the Verrazano School student was accepted to three law schools with full tuition scholarships: Cardozo, Seton Hall, and Temple University. She was also accepted and awarded a partial scholarship to George Washington University.

Pierce found her experience at The Verrazano School to be a great support network. The Verrazano Extracurricular Learning Activities (VELAs), according to Pierce, were particularly helpful.

“These events were eye opening and provided me with great information on graduate schools. I also got to meet a lot of people, which is nice as CSI is mostly a commuter campus,” said Pierce. Verrazano students participate in VELAs that enrich their undergraduate experience through academic, social, and cultural learning opportunities outside the classroom.  VELAs feature a wide range of topics including career preparation, study abroad, international issues, and community service.

The budding poet is also grateful to Dr. Cate Marvin, who helped her find her voice in the world of poetry. Pierce has even submitted a portfolio of poetry for her thesis and hopes to submit her work to magazines. The busy law student-to-be also attends weekly poetry meetings with friends from CSI.

For information about this program, please visit the Verrazano School Website.

Studying Abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica

Georgiy Lyzhin '16

Georgiy Lyzhin ’16 completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing in January 2016, but not before he traveled to Costa Rica with CSI’s faculty-led program, where he earned nursing credit!

Hola! My name is Georgiy Lyzhin and I just graduated the College of Staten Island with a major in Nursing.  Over the January 2016 Intersession, I had the chance to study abroad in Costa Rica for 3 weeks.  It was a Faculty-Led program from the Nursing department that gives students the opportunity to be immersed in an entirely different culture, studying the Spanish language, and experiencing firsthand the healthcare system that is followed there.

Being in a foreign country with a language different from yours for 3 weeks is an unreal and absolutely amazing experience.  It is a rare opportunity that everyone should experience.  I was assigned to a family that welcomed me with open arms and opened up their house to me; even though there was a huge language barrier between us.  Just imagine both parties having minimal knowledge of the other person’s language and trying to communicate basic needs or wants.  Looking back and comparing day 1 to day 21, I was surprised of my and the whole groups’ new language abilities.

Costa Rica is truly an incredible, beautiful country that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime.  It is filled with lush rainforest, diverse wildlife, and breathtaking mountainous landscape.  Costa Rica is well known for their chocolate, coffee, and tourism.  The locals there, called ticas and ticos follow the Pura Vida lifestyle, which, translates to Pure Life, and is a perspective of a relaxed, laidback, and positive life.  Living the Pura Vida lifestyle has really inspired me and had me advocating this type of living to everyone back home.

While abroad, I’ve met so many wonderful people that I will always remember, from my host mom and her family, to our drivers and tour guides, to the staff at the university where we studied and the clinics, and of course, to the students that were part of our trip.  Spending so much time with these people, you form relationships that are truly unforgettable.

Apart from the trips to the national parks, volcanoes, beach resorts, spas and local city tours, we spent a great deal of time understanding and experiencing the healthcare system of this country.  Costa Rica heavily invests in its healthcare system, to provide public health to working citizens.  Visualizing the equipment in the hospitals and clinics, and comparing and contrasting nursing in Costa Rica to nursing in the United States, I was able to attain a whole new perspective on this field.

Throughout my entire undergraduate career, I have been dreaming of studying abroad.  Having finally gone in my last semester, I could not be happier.  It was an amazing experience and I would like to thank CSI, my professors, and the Verrazano school for guiding me and helping me make my dream become a reality.  Pura Vida!!

To read more about exciting exploration, visit The Verrazano Voyager homepage.

Mahwish Razi: China, guys, China!

Mahwish Razi ’18, a Verrazano student, is a Computer Science major with minors in Chinese and Political Science. Not only does she study broadly, she travels broadly! Here she shares here experiences on a winter study abroad in China (and elsewhere!).

Three countries, one month, and I am officially back and labeled, “Miss traveled the world”.  I spent three weeks living and studying in Shanghai, China, four days touring Tokyo, and one week on vacation in Dubai this past winter break. I came back Sunday night and in only a few hours was back on the CSI campus. Jetlagged? Like never before. Culture shocked? Well, only the fourth time in four weeks.

Both China and Japan were at the top of my bucket list, Japan above China even. Studying abroad for me was my lifelong dream; however, when I began college, it was almost a joke. As soon as I entered the Verrazano program, there was all this talk about studying abroad and I was constantly asked if it was in my plans, and I’d respond each time saying, “Yes!” while thinking to myself, “If only.”  It’s almost funny when I figured it out; the only thing holding me back really was myself. I’d always find myself wandering into the international center whether it was for an event or to inquire about one, when I finally decided to just get that application and go.
And so I went… It was the best decision I’ve ever made. On the way to Shanghai, we stopped in Japan as it was a connection flight, and although we didn’t leave the airport, I was fascinated beyond imagination. Those Japanese toilets were something, and I remember telling my friends how I wished we came to study abroad in Japan instead of China. However, it wasn’t long before I’d be whining about not leaving Shanghai and coming up with plans to live my life out there.

Shanghai became, in just three weeks, home. My friends became my family and although my tones were off and half the time I was speaking in Chinglish, I came to a point where all I wanted to do was speak Chinese. I find myself nostalgic about everything there. There is not a single thing that I don’t miss. My friends hated being pushed into the trains, but I, for one, loved it. Yes, ask me anything about China and I will say I loved it. It was nothing like what I imagined going there. I thought I’d be going to a bigger Chinatown; I couldn’t have been more wrong. This was a place with the most amazing infrastructure; I almost thought I was in the future. With such advanced technology and architecture, this was also a place rich in culture and cuisine. Although most shops were closed for breakfast, watching the early groups enjoy tai chi and the calligraphy being painted on the park tiles filled me up right to the brim.

I still can’t believe I went to China and I couldn’t believe it there either. I’d probably say it five times a day, if not more, “Guys can you believe we’re in China? China guys, China!” and towards the end I changed it up a bit: “Guys can you believe we’re leaving? We’re leaving China guys, China, aren’t you super duper sad?” Travelling to China was definitely an experience that changed my life for the better and gave me clarity as to where I need to be headed with my future goals. I think if anything, I have been blessed for this opportunity and for the friends that became so dear to me. Xièxiè for everything China and to everyone that helped me reach such an amazing place.


To read more about exciting exploration, visit The Verrazano Voyager homepage.

Rising Stars: Steve Arriaga ’17

Steve Arriaga

Steve Arriaga ‘17:  Major: English with a concentration in Linguistics, minoring in French and Spanish Language. A Verrazano School and Dean’s List student, and a recipient of 13 scholarships, he completed a year as a study abroad peer advisor, and graduated from the Emerging Leaders Program and the CUNY Service Corps where he interned at Lifestyles for the Disabled. He is also interning at Port Richmond HS through the CSI Liberty Partnerships Program. A favorite aspect of CSI: “My time at CSI has been outstanding. The professors that I’ve had have inspired me in one way or another to always love what I learn and what I’ll teach one day.” Future plans: After graduation, he plans to apply for a Fulbright Teaching Assistantship to teach abroad in South America. Afterward, he will pursue a PhD in Linguistics.  To read more about CSI Alumni, check out Eye on CSI.

Conducting Speech Research at the College of Staten Island

Jessica Spensieri ’17 received a Verrazano Research Grant in the Summer of 2015, and used it to conduct research in the CSI Speech Lab.

My name is Jessica Spensieri and I am a Verrazano student of the 2017 graduating class.  I am also a linguistics major and recipient of the Verrazano Research Study Grant for my work with Dr. Jason Bishop.  I have been working in the CSI Speech Laboratory alongside Dr. Bishop on a study about executive function and personality traits, and boundaries in speech.  Basically what this means is we are examining people’s speech and seeing where they pause, and determining if there is a connection with their personality traits and working memory.  We are still in the process of collecting data, so we don’t yet have results.  If you’re a native English speaker, you can actually help out by coming to the speech lab in 2S-216a to participate.  The study doesn’t take long, and you’ll even get paid for your participation, so everybody wins!

Even though I don’t have results to share, I would like to share my experience.  Working with a professor as an undergraduate and having the ability to present your findings at conferences is an amazing opportunity.  I am so fortunate that Professor Bishop took me under his wing and has given me this chance.  I am enjoying working with him in the lab and discovering new things, and am looking forward to what next semester and next year hold.  Not only have I gained this wonderful experience, but I have made friends along the way!  I have met girls that have the same dreams and aspirations as me, and I am so happy that I was able to meet them through this.  I encourage people to take part in research as undergraduates, because it makes you stand out from the rest and is an exciting way to learn new things and meet new people.  I am eager to narrow down our findings for this study and present them at the Undergraduate Research Conference in the spring!

To read more about exciting exploration, visit The Verrazano Voyager homepage.



[gallery] Sixth Annual Celestial Ball Raises Much-Needed Funds to Support CSI

Enthusiasm was in the air as faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of the College of Staten Island broke attendance and contribution records, last December, at the Sixth Annual Celestial Ball. The gala event, which took place at the Richmond County Country Club, was hosted by the CSI Foundation.

This year’s Ball honored with the President’s Medal notable citizens who have made significant contributions to CSI and our community. The honorees were Edward Burke, Dr. Christine D. Cea ’88, Cesar J. Claro, and Dr. Wilma L. Jones. After he received his award, Mr. Claro graciously presented a $250,000 check to the College on behalf of the Richmond County Saving Foundation.

View the Celestial Ball 2015 Photo Gallery>

As state funding for higher education in New York State continues to decrease, Khatmeh Osseiran-Hanna, CSI Vice President for Institutional Advancement and External Affairs, emphasized the goal of the evening to the record number of attendees when she began the festivities by comparing the Ball to the new life that comes each spring. “The Celestial Ball is much like that waking spring in providing crucial renewal of programs and scholarships for our students, dollars for faculty research, and funds for improvement of our campus.”

View the many gracious sponsors who made this event possible>

CSI Foundation President Sam Farag explained the vital role that the Foundation plays at the College and expressed his gratitude to the Ball’s attendees. “Our mission at the CSI Foundation is to secure philanthropic support for CSI to reach its highest level of academic excellence as one of CUNY’s senior colleges and the institution of public higher education in the Borough. As the success of the CSI Foundation, and the College, is rooted in the generosity of the College family and the Staten Island community, I’m grateful that you are all here tonight.”

CSI President Dr. William Fritz highlighted the College’s vast achievements, its growing national recognition, and its increasing reach. “The College has always served its students and its community, but today, that potential is limitless, thanks to recent advancements to our academic programs, our extraordinary faculty, and our beautiful, 204-acre campus. This potential drives the success of our students who are making the College of Staten Island a destination campus. Our student body is comprised not only of people from the Island, but from the other boroughs of New York City, from states across the U.S., and from countries around the world.”

That impact was further underscored by student speaker RinZhi Larocque who compared her metamorphosis at CSI to the College’s mascot, the dolphin. “Like dolphins nurture their young, CSI has nurtured me by giving me opportunities to improve my English through the CUNY Language Immersion Program, and allowing me to do research in the biology lab, as well as be part of the prestigious Verrazano School honors program at CSI, which has prepared me, very successfully, to apply for dental schools.”

This year’s Ball, which raised more than $100,000 in student support included a live and a silent auction, where attendees competed for prizes such as a painting donated by 101-year-old alumna Margaret Ricciardi and a guitar signed by Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, among many other wonderful items and exotic getaways.

SAVE THE DATE– 2016 Celestial Ball—CELEBRATING OUR 60th ANNIVERSARY–December 3, 2016!

Studying Abroad in Italy!

Tayla Lugo

Tayla Lugo ’17 received a Verrazano School Study Abroad Scholarship to take a class on the Medieval Renaissance in Florence, Italy. She spent a month extracting everything she could out of her experience, including traveling well beyond Florence.


My name is Tayla Lugo and I am a Verrazano Student and a double major in English Writing and Literature at the College of Staten Island. This summer I had the privilege to study abroad in one of the most amazing cities in the world: Florence, Italy. I went on a one month long Faculty-led program to learn about the Medieval Renaissance.

I learned about the Medici’s, who were one of the wealthiest families during the Renaissance period, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Donatello, Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, Savonarola, Brunelleschi, and many other prominent figures. My class and I went on many site visits, which included the Academia, the Uffizi, Palazzo Vecchio, a city walk around Florence, the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, the Horne Museum, and a visit to a Preschool in Florence. At the Academia I was able to view Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the David. The Uffizi, which is one of the oldest and most famous museum in the world, showcased Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus and The Primavera, as well as many other works by Raphael and Giotto. My favorite museum that we visited as a class was the Horne Museum because it is a secret treasure that is extremely undervalued. This museum once belonged to the Alberti and Corsi families and contains antique furniture and famous artworks.

While in Italy I visited Pisa, Siena, Capri, Ana Capri, Sorrento, Positano, Cinque Terre, Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Venice, Murano, Burano, Rome, and Paris. Every city was different in its own way, which allowed me to have a greater appreciation for Italy. Studying abroad not only opened my eyes to the endless possibilities in the world, but has also allowed me to escape my comfort zone. I can honestly say that I have matured during this unique experience and my passion for traveling has awakened. I have made true, genuine friendships that will last a lifetime. Florence became my home in an instant and I cannot wait to someday return and maybe even study there again! I am forever grateful to the College of Staten Island for this amazing opportunity and for everyone who contributed to my dream of studying abroad. I hope that my experience will allow other students to inquire about studying abroad and open their minds to the many possibilities that are out there!

To read more exciting news, visit the Verrazano Voyager website.



Sally Mach ’15, School of Business

Sally Mach, School of Business Class of 2015

A recent and proud cum laude graduate of the School of Business and the Verrazano School at the College of Staten Island, Sally Mach stepped directly from CSI into a full-time position as a Financial Analyst on the Disaster Recovery Team at the Langone Medical Center of New York University.

Although she began her undergraduate studies studying Accounting and Computer Science, Ms. Mach realized that her interests lay in slightly different areas when she took an introductory Economics class.  After changing to a double major in Accounting and Economics she added a minor in Finance and, in a final additional semester, a second minor in Legal Studies.  Sally says “my friends all thought I was crazy to stay for another semester, but Warrick Bell [of the Dean’s office] gave me valuable insight that supported the idea that this additional minor would make me all the more diverse and competitive in the job market.”  Confirming the value of a broad educational background, one of Sally’s managers recently suggested to her that adding a graduate degree in a field other than Accounting would make her “a more rounded employee and a better asset to the company.”

Ms. Mach speaks passionately about the importance of her interactions with her instructors, advisors, mentors, and the staff of the College.  She notes that a conversation with Professor Mary Recor about an article they studied in class led directly to her completing an honors thesis in Accounting and presenting a poster at the College’s Undergraduate Conference on Research, Scholarship and Performance, and that a request for a letter of recommendation for an internship with the FBI brought Sally’s name to Dean Susan Holak’s attention – which in turn led to her attending events as a Student Ambassador, as a representative of the School when Governor Cuomo visited, and ultimately the honor of carrying the School of Business banner at Commencement.

Possibly the most critical connection that Ms. Mach made was with the Career and Scholarship Center.  In the Center, Joanne Hollan provides interview training and career coaching as well as résumé development assistance; when she was contacted by NYU Langone for potential candidates – through one of her own CSI connections – Ms. Hollan submitted Sally’s résumé for consideration based on her understanding of Sally’s areas of interest, her preparedness, and her abilities.

Ms. Mach realizes that an important part of her experience at the College of Staten Island was to narrow down what her interests are and how they fit with her ideal job and employment setting.

“I love to help others while disliking a tense and competitive working environment,” Sally says.  While searching for ways to translate her preferences into work that she would find rewarding, she attended one of the School’s Tuesday Business Briefs events hosted by Paul Zammit, an adjunct lecturer in Management, who spoke about considering opportunities outside of the corporate world in places such as government offices.  And, she adds, “Mr. Bell once suggested that I might be interested in working in a non-profit organization.  Little did I know that this small detail would actually have such a huge impact on my future.”