Staten Island Not For Profit Association Honors Dean Maureen Becker and Student Kirill Antonovis

Dean Maureen Becker at the College of Staten Island (CSI) and Biology major Kirill Antonovis will be among several individuals being honored for helping in the community at a ceremony on November 20.

The Staten Island Not For Profit Association (SINFPA) will host its sixth annual Community Service Awards at the Vanderbilt in South Beach to honor those who help the community.

Dr. Maureen Becker, Interim Founding Dean of the School of Health Sciences, was honored by SINFPA.

Dean Becker began at CSI in 1992. She was the Director of Clinical Education and Deputy Chair for 22 years. She was one of two full-time faculty members since the inception of the physical therapy program. Dean Becker was appointed the Interim Founding Dean of the School of Health Sciences in 2014. During her first two years, the School of Health Sciences was comprised of the Nursing and Physical Therapy Departments. Effective July 1, 2016, the Social Work Department joined the School of Health Sciences under Becker’s leadership. Becker holds a doctorate in health sciences from the Institute of Physical Therapy, a master’s degree in exercise physiology, and a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy.

Kirill Antonovis, a biology major at CSI, was honored by SINFPA.

Antonov, a senior at CSI, has participated in most of CSI’s food collections, serving not only the college but Project Hospitality as well. He volunteers his time at the college’s food pantry, has served as a co-chair of the 2016 CSI Relay for Life, and as a volunteer for the NYC Department of Homeless Services Project HOPE. He volunteers for the Steven Siller Tunnel to Towers programs, as well as the Staten Island Half Marathon. Antonovis also volunteers at Staten Island University Hospital and with the Volunteer Heart Ambulance as an emergency medical technician.

To read about all of the individuals being honored, read the full article on Staten Island Live.

CSI Students Present at International Conference

CSI Student Juliana Zaloom (middle) receives Best Undergraduate Submission award from committee chairs Dr. Sam Putnam, Bowdoin College (left) and Dr. Martha Arterberry, Colby College (right).

This year, three College of Staten Island (CSI) students attended the 2016 International Conference on Infant Studies in New Orleans, winning various awards and showcasing their research contributions.

Juliana Zaloom, Andrew Russo, and Carmen Guallpa are Psychology majors doing research in the Child Development Lab at CSI with Dr. Lana Karasik, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Dr. Sarah Berger, Associate Professor of Psychology.

Juliana Zaloom won the prestigious, highly competitive award for “Best Undergraduate Submission” for her work with Dr. Karasik on a cross-cultural project in Tajikistan. She was first-author on a poster presentation and the only one selected from nearly 200 undergraduate abstract submissions. Zaloom received a plaque and a monetary award from the Infancy Congress. Andrew Russo, who has been conducting research in Dr. Karasik’s lab and writing his honors thesis, also first-authored a poster. He received an Undergraduate Research Fellowship to support his work in the lab.

Juliana Zaloom, Andrew Russo, Dr. Lana Karasik, Dr. Jennifer Wagner, and Dr. Sarah Berger enjoying coffee and beignets in New Orleans.

Carmen Guallpa, who has been doing research with Dr. Berger, for the last year, and writing her honors thesis, also presented a poster. Guallpa also received the Undergraduate Research Fellowship.

All three received travel awards (only ten travel awards are distributed) from the International Conference on Infant Studies (ICIS) as well as travel grants from CSI, and all were honored at the awards ceremony.

“It was really exciting to see CSI and CUNY represented at this international conference,” said Dr. Karasik, who has been a full-time staff member of the CSI Psychology Department since 2012.

“When I recruit students to work with me, I train them to be research collaborators; I want them to feel they are part of the research enterprise. Students are trained to be independent researchers and because of this, they become really invested in the work,” said Dr. Karasik, adding that another benefit of attending these conferences is that students can network with other students and experts in the field, and research graduate school opportunities.

“It is wonderful to see our students featured at an international academic venue. Dr. Karasik’s research is highly valued and well respected, both by her colleagues and our field. Our students benefit greatly from the opportunity to work with such a reputable scholar,” said Rev. Dr. Kathleen Cumiskey, Chair of the CSI Psychology Department.


CSI’s Got Talent Dazzles For Fifth Year

Serena Medina

The fifth annual CSI’s Got Talent competition featured a rich variety of student performers who dazzled a packed house in the College of Staten Island’s Center for the Arts on April 14.

More than 60 students auditioned with 12 finalists going head-to-head for the cash prizes: $2,250 for first place, $750 for second place, and $250 for third place. Emceed by Sal Vulcano from TruTV’s Impractical Jokers and Jay Miller from Midevenings with Jay Miller, the contest was hosted by The Division of Student and Enrollment Services/Office of Student Life, along with WSIA, Student Government, and the Campus Activities Board.

1st Place: Serena Medina

Medina grew up in Williamsburg and then moved to Staten Island. She lived in Manhattan while attending The American Musical and Dramatic Academy and was in CSI’s Gospel choir. When Medina is not studying, she is singing and playing the piano. Her inspirations include Billie Holiday, Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston, and Nina Simone.

Chante E. Wright

2nd Place: Chanté E. Wright

Wright began writing poetry as young as age 11 and abandoned it in pursuit of music. She was led back to the light of writing through her perseverance and her greatest inspiration is poet Mirtha Michelle. Her fluidity inspired Wright to express herself freely on paper. Wright is a lover of all fine arts who enjoys writing on her rooftop, painting in her art studio, or performing at acting auditions.


Cynthia Martin

3rd Place: Cynthia Martin

Martin is a first-year student and Nursing major at CSI. Since the age of ten, she has had a passion for singing. Her inspiration is derived from her favorite artists and her family, all musical performers as well.

“CSI’s Got Talent” is an opportunity for performers to showcase their abilities. I was impressed by the depth of talent among our student body, from the dancers to the singers to the spoken-word artist. I was enthralled by the production!” exclaimed Vice President for Student and Enrollment Services Jennifer Borrero.



Young Graphic Designer Wins CSI 60th Anniversary Logo Contest

Robert Weber, winner of the CSI 60th Anniversary logo competition is joined by CSI Vice President for Institutional Advancement and External Affairs Khatmeh Osseiran-Hanna (left) and CSI Foundation President Samir Farag.

When Robert Weber ’16 considered entering the College of Staten Island’s 60th Anniversary Logo Contest, he knew he wanted to create something original and beautiful.

His hours and weeks of hard work paid off when his art was selected as the winner of the contest. The Communications major with a minor in Design and Digital Media, who has been working for several years as a freelance graphic designer, noted that his inspiration “started with the idea that the logo ought to not be the typical ‘Collegiate’ style.”

“It is too often that you see designs produced by colleges that look the same. I didn’t want the design to be stereotypical of a college production,” said Weber, who holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from St. John’s University and has also studied Information Security and Forensics for two years at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).

To celebrate the College’s Diamond Anniversary, the Office of Communications and Marketing, Division of Institutional Advancement and External Affairs, hosted the competition to provide the opportunity for a currently enrolled CSI student to become part of the CSI legacy by designing the College’s 60th Anniversary Logo.

Weber’s winning logo entry will be used online, in print, on merchandise, and to create stickers that can be placed on books, letterhead, and envelopes. It will also become part of the prize-winning portfolio of the successful entrant. In addition, he will receive $500.

Weber, who will graduate Magna Cum Laude this spring with a 3.8 GPA and Honors, was proud to be chosen out of the four finalists.

“I wanted to give back to CSI as my time here came to a close… I feel accomplished to have been able to leave behind a positive mark on the College of Staten Island,” said Weber, a Great Kills resident who graduated from Susan Wagner High School. He has offered his design services at no cost to many small businesses in New York as he believes that “giving back to those who help our local economy is very important.”

The young artist’s design process began with sketching out ideas that included the required text in varying sizes and framing each sketch with a diamond. He drew his color inspiration from the colors and composition of the CSI logo.

Using Adobe Illustrator, he began his work, and after about a week of browsing through dozens of fonts, colors, sizes, and constant repositioning, “I had my final revision of this flat and elegant design that aligns with the identity of the College of Staten Island while expressing a sense of modernism.”

This summer, Weber will be interning at CNET, a subsidiary of CBS in New York.




College of Staten Island STEM Scholarship Recipients Engineer the Future through National Grid Partnership

Twelve students at the College of Staten Island received scholarships in the STEM disciplines as part of a three-year partnership with National Grid to encourage more college students to study science, technology, engineering, and math.

During a meeting at CSI, Frank Lombardo, Executive Advisor to the President of National Grid U.S. and CSI Foundation Board Member, thanked the students for their earnest and diligent interest in STEM careers. “We are a company with highly skilled employees, our partnership with CSI helps students grow , and ultimately helps to build a pool of diverse and skilled candidates for the future workforce.”

National Grid is committed to working with students of all ages to keep them engaged in science and technology. The company’s goal is to attract, retain, and support a diverse and capable workforce to achieve its vision for bringing the natural gas network into the 21st century.

“Your seeds will definitely become flowers at CSI,” Hassan Fares, a CSI student from Brooklyn of Lebanese descent, assured the team from National Grid in acknowledgment of their generous investment in the workforce of tomorrow.

Fares was joined by his fellow students in sharing their stories, and explaining their passions.

Scott Shouldis, a junior with a cumulative GPA of 3.59, said his destiny was changed in many ways with Superstorm Sandy. He explained that his breakthrough moment between whether to study electrical engineering or mechanical engineering was when his family needed to hook up a generator after the storm-induced power outage. However, there was no adapter for the generator to work at the house. A family member said “No adapter. No problem,” and immediately went to work splicing the wiring and bringing the lights back on.

“I grew up in broken family, with a broken life. Many of my friends died when I was growing up,” commented Zain Ali, who grew up in Pakistan. “I couldn’t fix those things, but I could fix gadgets, and my cousins encouraged me to study my passion. I quickly learned that the purpose of life is to give life purpose.” It was a sentiment felt throughout the room, and echoed by Nadia Elattar who said, “if you’re not challenging yourself, you’re not accomplishing much.”

Stories of fortitude ruled the day.

“CSI has made me a stronger person,” noted Rin Zhi Larocque, a fisherman’s daughter who came to the U.S. in 2011 and has a 4.0 GPA studying biology and business at CSI, while Andrea Gonzalez told of her arrival in the U.S. at 14 years old with no understanding of English. She learned English in four months, graduated as her high school valedictorian, and now travels from the Bronx to CSI two hours, one way, to further advance her academic career and create a brighter future.

“It is an honor for CSI, and our department in particular, to have such a great partner in our pursuit of expanding STEM education in our community and our country in general,” noted Neo Antoniades, CSI Professor and Chair of the Engineering Science and Physics Department. Antoniades, who is faculty director of the project, led the effort to select the scholarship recipients. “Thank you National Grid, on behalf of all of us.”

He added that the department has recently applied for a Master’s in Engineering in Electrical Engineering (ME in EE) as the logical next step for graduates of a BS in EE. The application, to be approved by CUNY and the NYS DOE, should permit for the program to begin in fall 2017.

Gary Reichard, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at CSI, noted that the Engineering Science and Physics Department “is a model of research and opportunity,” and thanked National Grid for their “invaluable support that is vitally important to ensuring our students’ success.”

In addition to Lombardo, other National Grid representatives attending the meeting were Carol Decina, Manager, Community and Customer Management, and Mauri Myers-Solages, Manager, Corporate Citizenship New York.

“National Grid is committed to enhancing STEM education in our communities and developing the next generation of engineers and scientists,” Lombardo added. “Our partnership with CSI has provided scholarships to support students interested in advancing in math- and science-related careers and supported workshops to engage high school students in the STEM curriculum.”

“CSI has made many headlines with many national rankings this year, and almost all of them recognize the value of a CSI education by noting the College’s commitment to access and quality, while helping our students achieve unprecedented levels of success as alumni, “noted CSI President Dr. William J. Fritz. He added that “these rankings are the result of important partnerships that make our students success possible through the independent work of our many departments, divisions, and Schools. I extend my deepest thanks to National Grid for transforming the lives of our students and making the world a better place for all of us.”

Ms. Wheelchair NY: ‘Life, liberty and the pursuit of access’

At the Pridefest at Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanic Garden, are Andrea Dalzell, Ms. Wheelchair New York. and standing from left, Jamie Lynn Macchia, Miss New York and Katelynn Smith, Miss Central New York. Photo Courtesy of the Staten Island Advance.

STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE — Maya Angelou put it best: “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

Meet Andrea Dalzell, who lives by those words each and every day of her life.

The 27-year-old College of Staten Island student holds the title of Ms. Wheelchair New York 2015 and will be among 27 women from across the nation to vie for the Ms. America Wheelchair title slated for later this month in Des Moines, Iowa. The winner will represent more than 50 million Americans with disabilities.

The new winner will be crowned by Samantha Schroth of Wisconsin, Ms. Wheelchair America 2015.

So, as Staten Islanders root for Eltingville’s Jamie Lynn Macchia, who holds the title of Miss New York and is on the road that leads to to Miss America, we retrace the journey of another inspiring young women.

Andrea garnered her state title last September at a pageant held in the Albany Marriott Hotel.

Unlike most competitions, Ms. Wheelchair doesn’t judge or base its winners on outward appearance. And while the women still dress up for the formal interviews and speeches, the pageant is an advocacy program in which the winner is chosen on who can be the best advocate for those with any type of disability challenge.

The only requirement to enter: Contestants must be dependent on the use of a wheel chair every day of her life — but that doesn’t mean Andrea didn’t include the “art of sky diving” as part of her resume.

At the age of 6, Andrea was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis (TM) and used a wheelchair since the age 12.

Born under the zodiac sign of a Taurus, this strong woman was determined not to let a disability curtail her life. She drives four times a week from her home in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn to the College of Staten Island.

“Andrea is a dynamic member of the CSI community; she is always pushing fellow students, faculty and staff to do their best,” said Jeremiah Jurkiewicz of Stapleton, coordinator, LGBTQ Resources Center, Office of Student Life on the Willowbrook campus. “You always see her racing around the campus in her chair. She is constantly speaking up on behalf of students needs and refuses to let herself be ignored.”

Andrea’s advocacy includes meeting with Assemblyman Matt Titone (D-North Shore) to promote the universal and affordable housing law for the disabled and all.

Also, she attended the PrideFest celebration at Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden on July 11 and the next day she participated at the First annual Disability Pride Parade & Festival at Union Square Park, Manhattan.

What’s more, she continues to travel the city promoting her pageant platform: “Life, liberty and the pursuit of access.”

Andrea leaves Sunday, July 26, and will be in Iowa till August 2 for Ms. America Wheelchair.

Angela Wrigglesworth, the Texas State coordinator sums up the pageant: “Real beauty is not measured by the number of heads you turn but by the number of hearts you touch.”

Jim Smith, executive director of the Miss Staten Island Pageant, adds, “Andrea has touched many hearts of Staten Islanders with her courage and determination. She will do Staten Island proud.”

This article by Carol Ann Benanti first appeared in the Staten Island Advance and on July 20, 2015. It is reprinted here with permission.

High Honors for CSI Women; Tim Sweeney by CSCAA

Following a great scholastic year in the pool and in the classroom, the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) has bestowed laurels to the men’s and women’s swim teams at the College of Staten Island.  The women’s swimming & diving team, which took home the College’s Team GPA award at the Dolphins’ end of year awards banquet, was one of 406 schools spanning all NCAA Divisions to be designated as a Scholar All-America team in 2014-15, and CSI sophomore Tim Sweeney on the men’s side was honored as a Scholar All-America Honorable Mention as an individual.

Boasting a collective team Grade Point Average of 3.25, the women’s team at the College has successfully married the ideals of excellence in the classroom and the pool.  The team decimated the school record book this season, setting 19 new school records this past year, including 13 alone at the annual CUNYAC Championship Meet in early-February.  A total of 9 CSI student-athletes boast GPA’s over a 3.0, with six earning over a 3.25.

One such student-athlete is 2015-16 senior Kelly Walsh, who sports a 3.30 GPA majoring in accounting with a minor in finance.  Alongside her exploits in the pool, which include contributions to two record-breaking relay teams, Walsh holds a part time job at Forbes Magazine in Manhattan and will take the time to study abroad in Ireland in the coming weeks with teammate Caitlin McLoughlin.  For Walsh, excellence in the classroom is par for the course, and the attitude is infectious with her teammates.

“The best thing about our team is that we are very helpful and supportive of one-another,” Walsh stated.  “We are there to pick each other up and I think we all recognize that if we work hard we can achieve in all areas because we won’t let each other down, and that includes the work we do in the classroom.”  As a captain and upperclassman, Walsh understands the commitment involved with excelling in both arenas.  “As a captain you have to represent your team the right way and I know that means doing well in the classroom as well as the pool.  I definitely feel that they go hand-in-hand.”

For Walsh, being able to achieve in her studies translates rather seamlessly to the competitive waters, and both are linked as a student-athlete.

“I feel like they both come with the same mindset,” she said.  “Much like practicing in the pool, the more hard work and effort you put in your studies, the better your grades can be.  Good things come from being able to focus on doing well in both.”

CSI’s men’s unit also held a high honor in Sweeney’s achievement.  To obtain Scholar All-America status, a student-athlete must maintain an overall GPA of 3.50 or higher, while also achieving a minimum of an NCAA B-cut time in a respective NCAA Championship event.  Sweeney is delivering, sporting a 3.87 GPA majoring in mathematics with minors in finance and geography while sporting a B-cut time in his signature 200-yard Butterfly event.  He will seek a career as an actuary after college.

“This is very much an honor and I appreciate being recognized,” said Sweeney, who was named the CUNYAC Performer of the Meet at their annual Championship Meet in February.  “I treat school and swimming as two very important things in my life and the two work together to make up who I am.   To be recognized for achievements in both as a Scholar All-America truly means a lot.”

“Swimmers and divers truly embody the student-athlete ethos and are well-known for earning some of the highest GPAs on campus,” said CSCAA executive director Joel Shinofield. “With nearly half of all national championship qualifiers producing GPA’s higher than 3.50, you see swimming and diving adds so much to value to a campus community. These accomplishments are impressive and a sign of the success they will carry on through life, positively representing their schools along the way.”

“It’s definitely a great feeling to be recognized,” said Walsh, who will focus on becoming a Certified Public Accountant post-graduation.  “We have individuals on the team who are amazing and work extremely hard and a lot of that hard work in the classroom can get overshadowed by performances in the pool.  So, this is really a great highlight for us.”

Founded in 1992, the CSCAA – the oldest organization of college coaches in America – is a professional organization of college swimming and diving coaches dedicated to serving and providing leadership for the advancement of the sport of swimming and diving at the collegiate level.  For a complete list of Scholar All-America teams and Individuals, visit the CSCAA website at

Nabila Zubair earns Peter Jennings Award

College of Staten Island President Dr. William J. Fritz, Nabila Zubair, and Kayce Freed Jennings at the scholarship awards ceremony.


Nabila Zubair was awarded the 2015 Peter Jennings Scholarship Laurel Award at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York (CUNY).

The Peter Jennings Scholarship Laurel Award Program provides scholarships to adults who have recently completed their coursework with great success, achieved their High School Equivalency (HSE) diplomas through CUNY’s Adult Learning Centers (ALC), and who will continue their education at a CUNY College. The scholarships, in the amount of $1,000 each, were awarded to ten individuals at the June 18th event with the support of his widow Kayce Freed Jennings.

Growing up in Kuwait, Nabila Zubair, was a serious student in school and particularly did well in science and biology classes.  When Nabila married at 17 years old, her hopes for further education were no longer a possibility. In her culture, a married woman was required to put aside her hopes and concentrate her time and energy toward caring for her family.

Donna Grant, Kenichi Iwama, Nabila Zubair and Christopher Cruz Cullari at the 2015 Peter Jennings Scholarship Laurel Award at The Graduate Center, CUNY.

“Nabila’s secret wish was to have the opportunity to go to college and continue studying topics in biology and science and become a nurse,” explains Donna Grant, Director of the ALC, English as a Second Language (ESOL) Programs, and CUNY Start at CSI.  “It is amazing to me that she has persevered through so many obstacles.”

Nabila was a young newlywed with an infant child when Iraq invaded Kuwait which resulted in the Persian Gulf War. There was aerial and naval bombardment of Kuwait to defeat the invading Iraqi army, but when the ground assault began, Nabila’s husband’s business was burned to the ground.

The family fled Kuwait, and for the next eight years the family was unsettled, living in three different countries.

With her four children and husband, she arrived in the United States in 1999, where Nabila’s first priority on her list of steps toward achieving a college degree was to improve her English language skills.

When she enrolled in the ALC in 2010, she was not quite at third grade reading level.  At the end of that semester, her assessment test score had moved her into a Pre-GED level class, demonstrating literacy skills at the middle school level.  After Nabila’s first semester at the ALC, family responsibilities again became the only priority, and her goal was put on hold again.  Then, in 2012, Super Storm Sandy devastated Nabila’s Staten Island neighborhood and her husband’s small business.  Postponing her studies for a time to rebuild her family business, Nabila eventually returned to the ALC, continued to make literacy gains, and took the high school equivalency (HSE) exam in the summer of 2014.  She successfully passed the HSE exam that summer, and Nabila transitioned to the CUNY Language Immersion Program (CLIP), where she is completing the advanced class.

“It is really our privilege to serve Nabila and the students of the ALC,” says Christopher Cruz Cullari, Executive Director of Continuing Education and Professional Development. “There are many students in our programs who share similar stories of success despite facing enormous obstacles, and I am deeply impressed with the commitment and resiliency of our students.”  Cullari was joined at the ceremony by College of Staten Island President Dr. William J. Fritz, along with the leadership team of Continuing Education and Professional Development, and Kenichi Iwama, Deputy to the President and Chief of Staff.

The Office of Continuing Education and Professional Development supervises programs in pre-college remediation such as CUNY Start, as well as programs for Workforce Development, Community Development, English for Speakers of Other Languages, and the 1199 Union Student Support Program for Working Adults.   Its services and transformative programs provide support to diverse groups of students throughout Staten Island and New York City.