Data Gathered After Sandy An Invaluable Tool, Researchers Say
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5u_qMhaIoo[/youtube]Dr. William J. Fritz, Interim President of the College of Staten Island, recently stopped by the NY1 studios to discuss with Anthony Pascale the new data in the wake of Hurricane Sandy that is expected to help city officials prepare for the future.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vI2cPamihKU[/youtube]Dr. William J. Fritz, Interim President and Professor of Geology at the College of Staten Island, The City University of New York and Member of the Earth and Environmental Sciences Doctoral Faculty at the CUNY Graduate Center, was the featured expert for the ABC Eyewitness News Special “Superstorm Sandy: What We Learned,” with ABC TV’s Bill Ritter and Diana Williams, and Newark Star-Ledger Columnist and reporter Mark Di Ionno.
A very warm and sunny day greeted the College of Staten Island’s 2,345 graduates and their families, friends, and supporters from the College community and beyond last Thursday at CSI’s 37th Annual Commencement.
After acknowledging the dedicated efforts of the CSI community in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Interim President Dr. William J. Fritz listed some of the characteristics that make CSI unique, like its 204-acre campus and the fact that it is the only public institution of higher learning in the Borough. He also mentioned some of the College’s recent achievements, such as the construction of the new student residence halls, the creation of new professional schools in business and education, and the forthcoming Interdisciplinary High-Performance Computing Center.
In closing, he shared his philosophy regarding the connection between alumni and their alma maters, “There are those who view colleges and universities metaphorically as living entities with the alumni forming the soul of the institution. I subscribe to this notion as well. As alumni, your achievements become our achievements. Your prominence builds upon our prominence and prestige. Your philanthropy and humanity become our contribution in kind to a better, more compassionate, and caring world.”
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_xHTVXvxYg[/youtube]In his speech, Bitetto reflected on his time at CSI “What I am most proud of as I get set to graduate is that I was a member of the CSI family. Even under the worst circumstances, like Hurricane Sandy, members of the Staten Island community came together to volunteer their time and donate their food and clothes because we all come from the same place. That’s what makes the College of Staten Island student body so special. We have arrived at a point where we see the value in giving back to others. We all have overcome obstacles, and as a group, we demonstrate that nothing shall keep us from succeeding as long as we work for it.”
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R28o_qFA-wA[/youtube]Okeke, who is originally from the former East Germany, emphasized the role of The Verrazano School in her academic and personal path. “Being a part of the Verrazano School also fostered my college career by providing me with a family of students and caring mentors who assisted me throughout every step of my college years. When I was a scared freshman, they welcomed me to my new country and helped me adjust to the many cultural differences. Through The Verrazano School, I volunteered my time and engaged in making my community a better place to live.”
Also in attendance at the ceremony and offering their support to the graduates were U.S. Senator Charles Schumer; CUNY Vice for Facilities Planning, Construction, and Management Iris Weinshall; and CUNY Trustee Rita DiMartino.
The Commencement ceremony also bestowed honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees upon Elizabeth A. Dubovsky, Executive Director at The Staten Island Foundation, and Distinguished Professor Toyin Falola. In addition, Dr. Fritz recognized the latest recipients of the President’s Medal, Robert S. Cutrona, Sr., President of Project-One Services, Inc. and a founding Director of Victory State Bank; Norma D’Arrigo, a community leader on Staten Island; and Dr. Alfred Levine, Professor of Engineering Science and Physics and the Director of the Center for Environmental Science at the College of Staten Island.
Later in the day, the CSI Library hosted the annual Dolphin Awards ceremony, which honors outstanding contributions to the College by faculty, staff, and students.
-Outstanding Scholarly Achievement by a Member of the Full-Time Faculty: Christina Tortora
-Outstanding Teaching by a Member of the Full-Time Faculty: Probal Banerjee
-Outstanding Service and Contribution to the College by a Member of the Full-Time Faculty: Alan Zimmerman
-Outstanding Teaching by a Member of the Adjunct Faculty: Edward Hack
-Outstanding Service and Contribution to the College by a Member of the Non-Teaching Instructional Staff in HEO Title: Carol Brower
-Outstanding Service and Contribution to the College by a Member of the Non-Instructional Staff in CLT and OIT Specialists Title: Victor Magnani
-Outstanding Service and Contribution to the College by a Member of the Non-Instructional Staff: Debbie Britton
-Outstanding Service and Contribution to the College by a Member of the Non-Instructional Staff in Maintenance, Operations, Security: John Santorelli
-Outstanding Service and Contribution to the College by a Member of the Part-Time, Non-Teaching Staff: Debra Lane
-Outstanding Service and Contribution to the College by a Currently Enrolled Student: Elizabeth Che
Dr. Fritz opened the Dolphin Awards ceremony by noting that “At Commencement this morning, I stated unequivocally to our graduates that the College of Staten Island was, is, and always will be a place where you can pursue all of your ambitions and achieve all of your dreams—and that with a degree from CSI, you can accomplish anything. I truly believe this. But I also know that it is the hard work, dedication, and excellence of our faculty, staff, and students, as exemplified by the Dolphin Award winners we honor here today, that turns this belief into reality for our graduates.”
College Writer/Editor Terry Mares followed Dr. Fritz, reading short biographies of each of the honorees, underscoring their contributions to the College.
Evelyn Okeke has been conducting research as a Biology (BS) major with a double minor in Biochemistry and Chemistry at CSI in Dr. Abdeslem El Idrissi’s lab since the summer of 2010, where she worked on a project that led to two publications. She has maintained a 4.0 GPA since she started her undergraduate studies in The Verrazano School Honors Program in 2010.
She has recenlty presented her research at numerous conferences including the 18th International Taurine Meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco. During the summer of 2011, she worked as a research assistant in the Robinson lab at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and last summer, she completed an internship in the department of Protein Science at Merck & Co. Inc.,as well as study abroad on scholarship in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R28o_qFA-wA[/youtube]Evelyn was awarded the prestigious UNCF/Merck fellowship for the academic year 2012/2013 and she received an honorable mention from the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship in 2012.
In the fall 2013, she will be begin her doctoral studies at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. This summer, she will go to the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands to complete a research internship in the Department of Pediatrics with a focus on neuroscience.
Christopher Bitetto is graduating from The Verrazano School Honors Program as a Communications major with a concentration in Media Studies. Upon matriculating to CSI after graduating fifth in his class at Susan Wagner High School, Christopher set out to accomplish two goals during his career at CSI: To maintain a 4.0 GPA and to become the Sports Director at WSIA so he could broadcast all of CSI’s basketball and baseball games, and host a weekly sports talk show. He is proud to say that both goals have been met.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_xHTVXvxYg[/youtube]He realizes, however, that his goals at CSI have not only been met, they have exceeded even his high expectations.
During his tenure at CSI, Christopher interned at Sirius XM Radio; he presented his honors thesis production, “Moneyball: The New Formula to America’s Pastime,” at the Undergraduate Conference on Research, Scholarship, and Performance; and completed an independent research paper on baseball as a microcosm of society. He thanks his family and the CSI faculty members, without whom he would not have been able to reach his full potential.
Christopher’s mindset in life is “if you are going to do something, why not be great at it?” and he has approached every challenge with which he has been faced as a student at CSI. He is proud and thankful for receiving the Valedictorian honor.
Irvin, a senior History major with The Verrazano School honors program, began his college career as a Marketing major. When asked why he made the switch from Marketing to History, Irvin answered, “People usually think of history as a set of names and dates, but, in reality, it’s a lively and, at times, acrimonious debate. I wanted to be a part of it.”
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZjUQ4Gd5Ew[/youtube]Although Irvin is aware of his achievements, he regards his admittance to Harvard’s PhD program as one stop in a long, academic ride, which so far has earned him several scholarships including an IME Research Fellowship: a full-tuition scholarship awarded to Mexican Americans, and the prestigious Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship, which provides undergraduates with three consecutive summer internships.
As part of the Watson fellowship, Irvin has worked for the Institute of International Education; Crain’s New York Business, writing several articles for the seminal business newsletter; and will be traveling to Tunis, Tunisia to work for Amideast, a non-profit organization offering education activities in the Middle East, as a program assistant. “Tunisia will be a radically different experience,” said Irvin. “I am looking forward to the challenge.”
Irvin maintained a 4.0 GPA and is quick to credit his CSI professors, namely, Drs. Calvin Holder and Richard Lufrano of the History department, for establishing “my love for reading and writing about History.”
On Irvin’s success at CSI, Dr. Lufrano noted: “In my 25 years of college teaching at different institutions, Irvin is among the top two undergraduates I have taught.”
Irvin especially credits his family with supporting him throughout his scholastic life. His parents moved here in 1990 while his mother was still pregnant with him.
Growing up in a small apartment with ten inhabitants would seem like a drawback to many people but to Irvin it was more of a blessing. “I was never alone… They were the best support group,” he said of his parents who worked several jobs while raising him. “I was able to focus exclusively on my education.”
A graduate of Midwood High School in Brooklyn, Irvin also credits his background for motivating him to pursue a History PhD. “The scorn directed at illegal aliens often found its way down to me,” said Irvin, who admits to having distanced himself from his heritage while growing up. It was not until Irvin enrolled in an advanced seminar, in which he completed a paper about Mexican immigrants in New York City that he was able to “embrace the beauty of [his] Mexican background.”
At Harvard, Irvin hopes to continue to write about illegal immigration in a way that can contribute to ongoing debates. In this regard, his background puts him in a unique position. “I am here because of the sacrifices of ‘illegal immigrants’ and I am deeply respectful of their plight, but I also grew up detached from them, so I can analyze their history with an interesting mix of passion and objectivity.”
Irvin eventually hopes to publish his dissertation, and establish himself in a tenure-track professor position where he can produce quality scholarship and influence students’ lives for the better.
For now though, he is “simply grateful to the CSI community for its constant support, especially Dr. Lufrano, Dr. Holder, [The Verrazano School’s] Katie Geschwendt, and [the Career and Scholarship Center‘s] Dr. Geoffrey Hempill.”