[video] The Verrazano School Celebrates Its First Graduating Class

Today’s Commencement will include 20 graduates of The Verrazano School, the first students to graduate from the prestigious program.

[View the CSI Today Video short.]

According to Katie Geschwendt, Coordinator of The Verrazano School and the FIRST Program at CSI, “nearly every member of the first graduating class from The Verrazano School entered in the spring of 2007 at the inception of the program.”

Charles Liu, the Director of The Verrazano School, praised the graduating class. “I am so proud to be the Director of such a fine program here at CSI. It is a tremendous privilege to be associated with these superb students whose accomplishments and excellence have brought the college such distinction.”

At a recent gathering of Verrazano graduates, many of the students expressed their satisfaction with their experience over the last four years.

Christina Rossi, a History major, underscored the individual attention that Verrazano students receive, stating that the Verrazano experience “was a really great feeling to me. I loved every minute of it. [The staff] was very helpful in accomodating me and getting me on the right track here at CSI.”

Vlad Klym, a Computer Science major, said, “The Verrazano School gave me a lot of opportunities to meet faculty for research. It was absolutely terrific for early registration; you never had to worry about classes. At the same time, it gave me a one-on-one [relationship] with the professors, so they’re not just faculty members, they’re more like mentors.”

Science, Letters, and Society major Nora Rahman seemed to agree. “Being in The Verrazano School was a great opportunity. I had priority registration, small class sizes, and I always had a mentor to help me, and I also had the opportunity to improve my leadership skills because I was a mentor for The Verrazano School for one semester.”

On the subject of leadership, Geschwendt noted that CSI “Student Government Class President, Nick Imbornone, is a Verrazano graduate and other graduates were also involved in Student Government during their time at CSI. Also, several of the graduates served as peer mentors for The Verrazano School.”

What does the future hold for some of the grads after The Verrazano School? Geschwendt said that “several of these elite graduates of CSI are going on to law school and graduate programs within CUNY and elsewhere. There is also a student attending a school of naturopathic medicine and one graduate is already working full-time in wealth management at a major financial firm in Manhattan.”

The Verrazano School is a selective, four-year baccalaureate honors program that offers students a unique undergraduate education at CSI. According to its mission statement, the School “seeks to provide motivated and talented students with the highest quality undergraduate experience possible at the College of Staten Island, through an integrated program of courses and learning communities; constructive contact with full-time faculty; forward-thinking academic advisement and career preparation; and academic, social,
and cultural learning opportunities inside and outside the classroom.”

For more information on The Verrazano School, call 718.982.4219 or visit the School’s Website.

[video] CSI Geologist Analyzes Staten Island’s “Rocky” Past and Future on NatGeo TV’s Prestigious “Known Universe” Series

[flowplayer src=’https://csitoday.com/wp-content/uploads/video-player/assets/video/csigeologist.mov’ width=320 height=180 splash=’https://csitoday.com/wp-content/uploads/video-player/assets/images/csigeologist.jpg’]Staten Island’s literally “rocky” past–and future–were analyzed this May by veteran CSI geologist Dr. Alan I. Benimoff on the “Cosmic Fury” episode of the prestigious Known Universe TV series on the National Geographic Network.

Participation in the internationally broadcast program along with prominent scientists from Caltech, the University of Arizona, the United States Geological Survey, astronomers and others, symbolized recognition of CSI as “world class” according to Benimoff.

A distinguished scientist in his own right, Dr. Benimoff discovered a new classification of mineral from a talc mine in St. Lawrence County New York in 2004. Specimens are part of the collections of the New York State Museum and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.

For Known Universe, Dr. Benimoff had taken the TV crew members to two sites–one in Sunnyside, the other in Graniteville–and he emphasized that, by analyzing the rocks found there, it was possible to determine what type of plate boundaries existed there in the past.

Because “the surface of the Earth is a mosaic of rigid shifting plates, known as plate tectonics,” he said, “the rocks are telling us that the Earth we see now may differ in the future and the continental configuration seen now will not be the one of the future.”

The Sunnyside site, near route I-278, has Serpentinite rocks “that signify an ancient convergent plate boundary where an island arc volcanic system crashed into the ancient North American continent some 440 million years ago.”

CSI’s Alan Benimoff sitting on an outcrop of Serpentinite rock near the Staten Island Expressway.
CSI’s Alan Benimoff sitting on an outcrop of Serpentinite rock near the Staten Island Expressway.

The Graniteville quarry, on Forest Avenue between Van Name and Simonson Avenues, has rocks of an ancient divergent plate boundary. “They formed when the supercontinent of Pangaea broke up some 200 million years ago.

“Until about 22,000 years ago there was no Staten Island, and this area was all over the globe. The ancient North American continent (named Laurentia) was at the equator some 500 million years ago, then drifted north. The drainage of our area was changed about 22,000 years ago when the vast ice sheet covering this area retreated. Its farthest southern advance was where Tottenville is now.”

Aired three times this month (May) the one-hour program was “great” for CSI, he said, because it contributes to the College’s national and international recognition.

No newcomer to TV, Dr. Benimoff has been co-producing and co-hosting about 65 episodes of Geology Forum, a live monthly program on Staten Island Community Television for the last six years. It is broadcast the first Friday of each month at 8:00pm on Time-Warner Channel 35 and Verizon FIOS Channel 35, and repeated two weeks later on Time Warner Channel 57 and FIOS Channel 37 at 10:00pm.

On June 15, Dr. Benimoff will mark his 43rd year on CSI’s full-time instructional staff. He has done extensive research on Staten Island rocks, written numerous scientific papers on the Island’s geology and, in 2004, discovered a new mineral.

A member of CSI’s Department of Engineering Science and Physics he teaches the Environmental Sciences Master’s Program courses: ESC 752 Soils and Geohydrology and ESC 703 Earth Science, as well as Physical geology in the Verrazano School Program and GEO 105 Environmental Geology and GEO 102/103 Historical Geology.

Dr. Benimoff earned a PhD in Geology from Lehigh University, his MA and BS in Geology from Brooklyn College, and his AS in Engineering Science from CSI.

After finishing his AS degree in spring 1967, he was hired as a full-time technical assistant (now called CLT), working in CSI’s Physics Lab. That summer session, he went on a geology field trip and “got hooked on geology.” Instead of continuing his Engineering BS degree, he decided to major in Geology and continued his geological education at night at Brooklyn College.

CSI Student Selected for Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship

For the third consecutive year, a CSI student has been accepted into the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship.

Irvin Ibarguen is a sophomore member of The Verrazano School, majoring in Business Marketing. Although only a sophomore, Irvin has already participated in three internships—with the publisher Simon & Schuster’s marketing department, the marketing department for the SINY non-profit organization, and the executive director’s office of Northfield Bank. He is a former member of the LAWbound program, which is designed to prepare Latino students for careers in law. He has also been extensively involved with the CSI community, particularly through his efforts to help develop The Verrazano School program, which is now in its third year. To date, Irvin has served on The Verrazano School Student Initiative and written a marketing plan for the future recruitment of potential students. In addition to these accomplishments, he has managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA. Upon graduation, he plans to attend law school and pursue a career in immigration law and advocacy for immigrant rights.

The Watson Fellowship is a three-year career-building and mentoring program that places students in paid internships for the final three summers of their college careers. Watson Fellows also have the opportunity to attend various cultural events and professional development events around the city. Recent CSI recipients of the Fellowship have included Brian Kateman and Michael Maslankowski (2009), Michael Young (2008), Alexander Perkins (2006), and Sara Butler and Hal Harris (2005).

For this summer’s internship, Irvin is considering The Scholar Rescue Fund with the International Institute of Education (IIE), Echoing Green, and DonorsChoose.org.

In order to apply for the Fellowship, students must be freshmen or sophomores, not older than 25 years old at the time of application, and U.S. citizens or green card holders. Ideal candidates will be able to demonstrate a history of academic success and community/college involvement. If you would like to learn more about this exciting opportunity, please visit the Career and Scholarship Center in Building 1A, Room 105 or call 718.982.2300.

By Geoff Hempill, PhD

CSI sophomore and Verrazano School student Irvin Ibarguen has been selected as a Watson Fellow.