Ira Glass Brings His "Radio Stories" to CSI's Center for the Arts

Join Ira Glass of the critically acclaimed public radio show, This American Life, in his only NYC area-performance of Radio Stories and Other Stories at the Center for the Arts (CFA), College of Staten Island on Sunday, April 6, 2008 at 3:00pm. Experience this masterful storyteller live, doing what he does best. Sitting behind a desk, utilizing audio clips, Glass will weave stories that captivate, entertain, and inform. A Q&A with the artist will follow the performance.

This American Life premiered in 1995 on Chicago’s public radio station, WBEZ. It now airs on over 500 public radio stations weekly with over 1.7 million listeners. Most weeks, the program is the most popular podcast in the U. S. Some of its stories are fiction, others documentaries, and still others indefinable, but whatever their genre, his stories make for compelling material for radio, and now television and the stage.

Under Glass’s editorial direction, This American Life has won the highest honors for broadcasting and journalistic excellence, including the Peabody and DuPont-Columbia awards, as well as the Edward R. Murrow and the Overseas Press Club awards. The American Journalism Review declared that the show is “at the vanguard of a journalistic revolution.” It has attracted continuous national media attention over the years. In 2001, Time magazine named Glass the “Best Radio Host in America.”

In March 2007, the television adaptation of This American Life premiered on Showtime and was nominated for three Emmy awards. It has been picked up for a second season of six episodes for 2008. While producing the series for the cable network, Glass and his staff continue to create original radio shows.

Ira Glass began his career as an intern at National Public Radio’s (NPR) network headquarters in Washington, DC in 1978, when he was 19 years old. Over the years, he worked on nearly every NPR network news program and held virtually every production job in NPR’s Washington headquarters. He has been a tape cutter, newscast writer, desk assistant, editor, and producer. He has filled in as host of Talk of the Nation and Weekend All Things Considered.

Tickets for Ira Glass are $35 and can be and can be purchased by calling the Center for the Arts at 718.982.ARTS (2787) or online at www.cfashows.com

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Directions to the Center for the Arts, 2800 Victory Blvd, Building 1P, Staten Island, NY:

By Car: The CFA is located within a few minutes’ drive from the Verrazano-Narrows, Goethals, and Bayonne bridges. Take I-278 (the Staten Island Expressway) and exit at Victory Boulevard, proceed to campus parking lots 1 and 2. Parking is free.

By MTA NYC Transit: From Manhattan, the CFA is served by the S62, S61, X10 buses coordinated with the Staten Island Ferry schedule. From Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, the CFA is served the S93 and S53 buses. To plan your trip, use the MTA trip planner at: http://tripplanner.mta.info/.

The CSI Center for the Arts and its 2007-2008 season, Island Culture: Near and Far, are supported in part with funds from the Richmond County Savings Foundation; a gift by the Carnegie Corporation (made possible by an anonymous donor); the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; the Office of the Borough President, Hon. James P. Molinaro; the College of Staten Island; and by our many business and individual patrons.

Madam Speaker, This Is CSI

James Oddo, Minority Leader of the New York City Council, brought Christine Quinn, Speaker of the New York City Council, to the College of Staten Island for an introduction to The City University of New York’s supercomputer, Athena.

An integral part of CUNY’s Decade of Science, the High-Performance Computational Facility will help researchers to address critical issues and make new discoveries. In addition, plans are in the works to form partnerships with businesses in southern Manhattan, providing computer support to these firms while they offer funding for Athena and its facilities.

Currently, Athena is processing data to improve traffic flow over the Outerbridge Crossing and develop accurate, long-range weather forecasts, in addition to other University-wide data-intensive applications.

Speaker Quinn called the supercomputer “extraordinary,” saying that it will provide the “potential to create not just a massive high-tech computer center for CSI and CUNY but really for the entire tri-state area, which will mark New York as a leader in a field that’s growing and incredibly important.”

“CSI truly is a shining jewel in the CUNY system and the Staten Island community has full confidence in Dr. Morales to take it to the next level. We on Staten Island are understandably proud of the institution and I am happy to bring Speaker Quinn to show her the good things that are happening at this top-notch university and to ask for her assistance in future budgets,” said Councilmember James Oddo.

“The facility will provide CUNY researchers and staff with the computational resources to solve world-class problems in modeling and simulation, and to advance science in general,” said CSI President Tomás Morales. “It will also allow us to enhance the quality of our education experience for students.”

Morales noted that the computer and its facilities are still “in their infancy,” but that, with additional state funding, the College eventually hopes to build a 91,000 square foot “metropolitan computer center” that would serve academic and business interests in the entire downstate region.

Michael Kress, Acting Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at CSI, added that the College is seeking $1 million in funding to renovate the physical space in Building 1M that houses Athena, and increase the supercomputer’s capacity as research demands dictate.

He added that Athena’s current capacity exceeds the capacity of the supercomputers at Columbia and New York University. The current capacity is an extraordinary leap forward for CUNY, allowing researchers to perform modeling simulations in a day that previously took a month.

In keeping up with technology and in response to the University-wide demand for such facilities, Athena is scheduled to double its capacity in March 2008, and then double its power again in July.

James Oddo, brought Christine Quinn, to CSI for an introduction to CUNY’s supercomputer, Athena.

Certified Nursing Assistant Program at CSI Receives a $200K Shot in the Arm

The College of Staten Island has just been awarded a $200,000 grant from the New York City-based Robin Hood Foundation to sustain its Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program, which recruits students from among the borough’s more economically challenged residents.

According to its Website, the Robin Hood Foundation “Targets poverty in New York City by finding and funding the best and most effective programs and partnering with them to maximize results.”

Dr. Hugo Kijne, Executive Director of CSI’s Office of Continuing Education and Professional Development, which administers the program, says that this grant marks the first time that the program will receive private funding.

The CNA program, which Kijne’s office has run since 2000, “is our flagship vocational training program,” Kijne explains. “We offer a high-quality program, and as a result, we have very high graduation and job placement rates. Both are over 90 percent. It’s a very important service to the Staten Island health care sector on the one hand, and on the other hand it’s also an important service to the economically disadvantaged on Staten Island.”

Kijne adds that the CNA program not only addresses a serious need for CNAs in the borough, but it also gives its graduates a chance at well-paying careers. “The wages are good, and usually within four to six months, they have a full-time job with benefits. The program really turns people’s lives around.”

Kijne states that this grant will fund four three-month classes, with the first class beginning in the spring. Each class contains 25 students, making a total of 100 students for the grant cycle. As a result of this funding, Kijne says that “the instructional costs are entirely covered, but there is also money for some administrative costs and student services, such as intake and job development.”

Certified Nursing Assistant Program at CSI receives a $200K grant.

The Battle against the Bulge: CSI Students and Researchers Host Clinics to Combat Metabolic Syndrome

Americans are overeating and underexercising, a lifestyle that can lead to a medical condition known as metabolic syndrome. Unfortunately, metabolic syndrome increases a person’s risk of coronary disease and diabetes, and the number of people with this condition is on the rise.

Two academic departments at the College of Staten Island, Nursing and Environmental Science, are currently conducting a study to determine just how prevalent metabolic syndrome is among Staten Islanders, using free clinics held on the College’s campus to examine borough residents to determine if they have the disorder.

The clinics also provide counseling to all of the patients, letting them know what they need to do to avoid metabolic syndrome and its serious consequences. The clinics are made possible through financial support from the Kidney and Urology Foundation and Staten Island-based Bioreference Labs.

The clinics provide dual-edged benefits by giving Staten Islanders a free opportunity to evaluate their health and ways to alter their lifestyle for the better, and CSI graduate students get hands-on research experience, with Nursing students performing aspects of the evaluations, which include measurement of Body Mass Index (abdominal girth, height, and weight), urinary analysis, and blood work. Once the clinics gather the medical information, Environmental Science students will compile the prevalence data.

Mary O’Donnell, chair of CSI’s Nursing department says, “There have been indications that the incidence of metabolic syndrome may be higher here on Staten Island than it is nationwide. I feel that it’s a very important piece of nursing, in terms of education, to help to identify people who are at risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. A big function of nursing is to be able to assess people, to be able to teach people the proper lifestyles, to avoid these risk factors and actual diseases. They need to work with these people setting up a plan that will assist them to be successful.”

Patient counseling is being provided by John Pepe, MD, a nephrologist who is based on Staten Island. Dr. Pepe shows patients a PowerPoint presentation that provides information on metabolic syndrome and tells them how to lead healthier lifestyles, and Pepe explains that the earlier people adjust their habits, the better. “Lifestyle change and diet are the only effective ways to treat [metabolic syndrome] and when we deal with adults who already have established morbidity, it’s very difficult to change those things. It just doesn’t work. So, our thought would be to begin at a younger age and make people more aware here and possibly eventually in elementary schools and the like.”

On the research end, Dr. Alfred Levine, Professor of Engineering Science and Physics at CSI, explains the statistical work that will result from these clinics. “The question that we raise in general is under what conditions, which diseases had a higher incidence on Staten Island than national levels and which ones are higher at a statistically significant level. We’ve been doing this with, for example, breast cancer, which is definitely high on Staten Island at a statistically significant level. Lung cancer is definitely high at a statistically significant level. And these are studies that have gone back over the last 20 years. Now what we will do is use the same methodology in examining the data on metabolic syndrome.”

CSI Students and Researchers Host Clinics to Combat Metabolic Syndrome.

CSI to Host Women's History Dance/Music Event

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the College of Staten Island will host “Expanding Wing…Stretching Space: Creating Room ‘tween a Rock and Hard Place,” a theatrical poem-in-motion of choreographed poetry and stories with music, dance, and song written by survivors of domestic violence, on Thursday, March 20 at 3:30pm in the college’s Center for the Arts.

“…I was blown away,” [by this show] said Bonnie Rose Marcus, Director, Readings/ Workshops, Poets & Writers, Inc., calling the performance “a vibrant and potent piece of art. To take such a deep and disturbing subject, such as domestic violence, and transform it into a theatrical production that is funny, inspiring, sad and uplifting is monumental.”

Ann Tripp of WBLS radio says the show is “Incredibly meaningful, yet incredibly entertaining.”

The event is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by CSI’s Office of the President, Bertha Harris Women’s Center, Office of Diversity and Compliance, and Office of Student Affairs.

The program is conceived and directed by Nikki Williams. Performers include Nadijah Abdul, Claudia Moore-Hamilton, Phyre, Nikki Stevenson, Velvet Ross, Margarett Saint-Jean, and Glendalys Sosa.

CSI Career Center Propels Grads into Prestige Positions

Once college students jump over all of the hurdles required to get a degree and graduate, they then face the daunting task of launching their careers. The Career and Scholarship Center at the College of Staten Island is not only helping CSI grads to find jobs, it is finding them at prestige firms and organizations, thanks to the Center’s efforts.

The Center has announced that four CSI alumni (Theshin Angulugaha, Salvatore Mazzone, Vishal Shah, Natalia Messineo) have accepted positions with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) as auditors and accountants with beginning salaries of $55,000. In addition, three other CSI graduates (Lauren Macaluso, Ilyia deMuri, and Nitasha Kapoor) have recently received job offers from Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

Theshan Angulugaha comments, “From writing resumes to finding solutions to various complications with employers, the Career and Scholarship Center helped me throughout my senior year at collage. I just finished my internship at Merrill Lynch and now I have a job offer from FINRA. [The Center] provided me with excellent individual career counseling, which raised my confidence to achieve my goals. They always believed in me and my capabilities.”

Nitasha Kappor added, “…the Career and Scholarship Center helped me create a professional looking resume and gave me some great tips for the interview regarding attire, possible questions, and how to present myself. It was a great help and I’m very grateful.”

CSI students, when conducting their active job searches, are met with a team of professionals in the Center that help them with career direction, articulation of their skills, writing their resumes and cover letters, learning the techniques of interviewing, researching of companies, how to dress, and how to proceed after the interview with follow-up thank you letters, and phone calls. The Center also provides resources for finding jobs, and hosts seminars, workshops, and job fairs.

Caryl Watkins, the Center’s director, says that the addition of Tom Dibblee, the Center’s new job developer, has increased the number of CSI grads who have signed on with prestige companies.

“The reason we’re seeing such a difference is because [Tom] does nothing but make phone call after phone call [to employers] or make visits. Then, we start getting the response. We promise employers a 24-hour turn-around to get resumes to them. So, after we get the call-back from the company we then get all the good resumes together that they’re looking for, we email them, and then we start more negotiations to either set up on-campus interviews or interviews on their site. Just something that gets the students in front of them.”

Dibblee says that he is very happy to help. “There is nothing more rewarding than having a student stop by our office and thank you for helping them get their first job. It definitely makes all the cold calling and visits worthwhile.”

Besides these recent successes, Watkins notes that other CSI students have gotten jobs at companies such as Goldman Sachs, Con Edison, Lockheed Martin, Bears Stearns, Infinity Broadcasting, JPMorgan Chase, the U.S. Customs, and Forbes, to name just a few.

The Career and Scholarship Center at CSI is helping grads to find jobs at prestige firms and organizations.

CSI's English Language Institute Is Changing Lives

Staten Island, like the other four boroughs of New York City, represents a diverse ethnic fabric, with many people coming to the Island and the College of Staten Island to make better lives for themselves and their families, some eventually choosing to remain in the U.S., while others return to their home countries.

Some of these people, in particular, those who lack English language skills, become students at the College of Staten Island’s English Language Institute (ELI), where they are challenged and engaged while immersed in the language and culture of New York City.

Since 1984, nearly 5,000 people have been able to participate more fully in and with our society, thanks to the ELI and its exciting and innovative academic program for students learning English as a second language.

Success Stories
Nickolay Shevchenko, originally from Siberia, Russia, is an avid swimmer. His dream was to swim for a college in the United States. That dream came true when he was recruited by the CSI swim team. In order to improve his English for college admissions, he joined the ELI. When he came here in 2006, the only English words that he knew were “Hello” and “Thank you.” After finishing his course of study, he now speaks better than some students who were born here. As a CSI international student on the swim team, he has already set school records in the free style, butterfly, and medley. As a new member of the Dolphins, he has garnered six individual first-place finishes and another three in relay events. He also finished first at the ECAC Division III Championship. Nicholay, a business management major, has set his sites high in both academics and sports, and he hopes to pursue a career in the sports management field.

Georges Bouobda Tsemo, a native of Cameroon, joined the ELI in 2006. After finishing his course of study at the Institute, he was hired as a student aide at the Center for International Service. Georges also participated in a Naval Academy conference through Metro International, an organization promoting pluralism and diversity among the different colleges and universities in the Tri-State area. During the sessions, he was expected to represent viewpoints and generate possible solutions for the problems facing the countries of Eastern and Central Europe today. Georges is presently majoring in biochemistry at CSI and hopes to attend medical school upon graduation.

Georges recalls the impact that the ELI made on his life. “At the… Institute I did not just learn English, I also learned about American culture. In classes, I read books on how Americans live; I was taught how to behave in American society…I went to museums and learned about American art and society. I went to the Statue of the Liberty and received a lesson on American history. I did not just learn English and American culture at the…Institute, it is also the most fun I had [during] last two years; it is the place where I met my friends.”

Iranthi Peiris, originally from Sri Lanka, came to the U.S. four years ago. She was anxious to begin her nursing courses at CSI, but she needed to improve her English language skills. She joined the ELI and soon excelled in her studies. After completing the ELI program, she qualified for the nursing program. In just four short years, she has made amazing strides in reaching her goal. CSI recently saluted the 2008 nursing graduates with a special Lamp Ceremony and Nurse’s Pledge. Iranthi was chosen to be the student speaker. She was given the honor of representing the graduating class because of her outstanding academic record. After receiving her AAS degree, she is continuing her studies and hopes to complete her BSN degree in January 2009. She plans to take the licensure exam (NCLEX) in March and engage in practical training during the summer.

Other exemplary former students’ stories can be found online at www.csi.cuny.edu/international

The late Edmond Volpe, first president of the College of Staten Island, founded the Center for International Service in 1976 in order to foster and support international education and exchange. Soon thereafter, the ELI was established. Today the Institute offers CSI students from abroad and new members of the Staten Island community nine- and 14-week programs in English language and U.S. culture. In addition, the ELI works with partners around the world to create tailor-made programs for professionals who need grounding in our language and culture.

Barbara Murphy, Coordinator of the ELI, notes that the Institute serves a variety of people. “Many of the students who come to us have various reasons for coming. There are people who want to improve their skills to go on to college and we offer that service as a very nice transition from our program to the College. We have people in the community who come for various reasons, to improve their skills for business, or for just basic communication. Sometimes they take a full program; they might come for a partial program, depending on what their needs are.”

Future plans for the ELI include further development of the service learning program where visitors from abroad have the opportunity to volunteer at local agencies not only to learn the English language, but also to experience, first-hand, volunteerism in the U.S. A pilot program was launched in August of 2007.

CSI’s English Language Institute Is Changing Lives.

Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul to Perform at the College of Staten Island

The Center for the Arts at the College of Staten Island presents Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul on Saturday, March 1 at 8:00pm. Tickets are $35, $40, and $45.

Ivers has established herself as the greatest promoter of the Irish fiddle in the world today. Her virtuosity gained international recognition with her mesmerizing musical performance in Riverdance and her acclaim as a founding member of Cherish the Ladies, an all-woman folk group. She appears for one night only at the Center for the Arts with her band, Immigrant Soul, and dancers Niall O’Leary and Caitlin McNeill from the Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dance. Ivers and her band are by no means limited to one genre, drawing heavily on Celtic traditions while employing elements of jazz, rock, reggae, and various world roots for their own unique style.

Ivers, an audience favorite, has toured the world and performed with diverse artists and ensembles such as The Chieftains, Hall & Oates, Afro Celt Sound System, Paddy Maloney, Patti Smith, Paula Cole, Al Di Meola, the Boston Pops Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, and the National Symphony at The Kennedy Center.

Born in the Irish enclave of Woodlawn in the Bronx, Ivers’s first love was Irish music. She was nine years old when she won the All-Ireland first-place medal for banjo playing, and second-place for fiddle. Ivers proceeded to win nine All-Ireland fiddle championships, a tenth on tenor banjo, and over 30 championship medals, making her one of the most awarded persons ever in these prestigious competitions.

She always credits her success to her teacher, the famed Limerick-born fiddler, Martin Mulvihill. “…it’s thanks to Martin that I played in Riverdance at Radio City Music Hall. He’s still part of the way I play—the rhythm is everything. Martin always said, ‘Don’t get fancy until you have the rhythm down and you get the feel of the music, she recalls.'” “You ain’t got a thing if you don’t got the swing—that’s what he told me. The way I play definitely had to do with the years I spent with different rock bands, playing jazzy things. I was much more open to other influences,” she adds.

In 1999, Ivers established a touring production to present the music that now encompasses Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul. This mix of African and Latin percussion and bass, Irish instrumentalists, and American soulful vocals headlines major performing arts centers, guest stars with numerous symphonies, performs at major festivals worldwide, and has appeared on national and international television. The L.A. Times proclaims, “Ivers’s presentation was music with the kind of life and spirit that come together when talented artists from different backgrounds find the linkages that connect all forms of music. No wonder the audience loved every minute.”

Ivers’s recording credits include over 80 contemporary and traditional albums and numerous movie scores and she has appeared on numerous network television shows. She has performed for presidents and royalty worldwide. Her latest CD, entitled Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul, continues to display why Ivers is hailed as one of the great innovators and pioneers in the Celtic and World music genres.

The Band
Eileen Ivers: acoustic and electric violin, speaking vocals
Tommy McDonnell: lead vocals, blues harmonica, percussion
Buddy Connolly: accordion, whistles, keyboard
Greg Anderson: acoustic guitar, background vocals
Leo Traversa: electric bass, background vocals

Bronx, New York native Tommy Mc Donnell (lead vocals, Blues harmonica, percussion) is an inspired vocalist who brings a deeply soulful aspect to the multidimensional thrust of the Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul. McDonnell was a member of the original Blues Brothers Band with Dan Aykroyd, John Goodman, and a host of music legends.

A multi-instrumentalist and producer from the musical melting pot of New York City, Greg Anderson (acoustic guitar, background vocals) is a mainstay in the folk and traditional music worlds. He has worked with Cathie Ryan, Susan McKeown, Richard Shindell, Tommy Sands, Seán Tyrrell, and Steeleye Span fiddler Peter Knight, among others.

Three-time All-Ireland accordion champion Buddy Connolly (accordion, whistles, keyboards) hails from Newark, New Jersey. As a freelance musician, Connolly tours all over the U.S. with many bands. In 1995, he moved to Nashville and was introduced to bluegrass, Cajun, and country music. There were worldwide recordings with the likes of Tim O’Brien, Kathy Mattea, Rodney Crowell, Christian rockers Ceili Rain, Orleans, Matt Molloy (Chieftains), Jo-El Sonnier, and many others.

A native New Yorkers, Leo Traversa (electric bass, background vocals) is a founding and current faculty member of the Bass Collective in New York City; he has taught at the Collective since 1987. His extensive knowledge of a variety of musical genres and cultures and his mastery of their playing techniques makes him one of the most versatile and proficient bassists on the scene today. He has also garnered many television, film, and Broadway credits.

The Dancers

Niall O’Leary TCRG, ADCRG is a former All-Ireland and World Champion step-dancer from Dublin, Ireland. Featured in Irish America magazine’s Top 100, he is the director of the Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dance in New York City, where he teaches children and adults of all ages and levels the latest style and technique in Irish dance. He performs regularly as a solo artist and with his dance company, the Niall O’Leary Irish Dance Troupe. He is also an architect.

Caitlin McNeill from Brooklyn is a soloist with the Niall O’Leary Irish Dance Troupe who has performed all over New York in corporate events and festivals. She trained with the Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dance and is also an assistant teacher with the school.

For more information on Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul, visit: www.eileenivers.com

For more information on the Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dance, visit www.nialloleary.com

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Directions to the Center for the Arts (2800 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island, NY 10314):

By Car: The CFA is located within a few minutes’ drive from the Verrazano-Narrows, Goethals, and Bayonne bridges. Take I-278 (the Staten Island Expressway) and exit at Victory Boulevard, proceed to campus parking lots 1 and 2. Parking is free.

By MTA NYC Transit: From Manhattan, the CFA is served by the S62, S61, X10 buses coordinated with the Staten Island Ferry schedule. From Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, the CFA is served the S93 and S53 buses. To plan your trip, use the MTA trip planner at: http://tripplanner.mta.info/.