Arlinda Draga enjoys a feast of art and cuisine in Florence

Arlinda Draga ’16 is a Verrazano student studying Biology with a Biochemistry minor and took advantage of a study abroad opportunity to travel abroad to Florence, Italy, in the winter of 2016 to feast on the arts and the cuisine.

I had an amazing experience on my study abroad trip to Florence, Italy this past winter. Florence was defiantly a huge culture shock for me.  I had the opportunity to live with three other students from New York on the top floor of an apartment next to Duomo di Firenze.  Duomo di Firenze is the main church of Florence and is considered to be one of the largest churches in the world.  Everyday my roommates and I would walk past the Duomo and get our cappuccinos before going to class.  I had the privilege of taking an introductory drawing class that was taught by an Italian artist who lived in Florence.

My professor taught us many different ways to draw and made us appreciate all the famous art work of Florence.  During class we would walk to museums and do sketches of famous paintings and sculptures.  We also had the privilege of drawing live nude models to help us practice for our final drawings.  For one of our final projects we were told to go to the top of Piazza Michelangelo and sketch a drawing of the view at the top of the hill.  We were also told to go to three famous areas of Italy and complete a drawing of our view.

My roommates and I went to the leaning tower of Pisa, the Coliseum in Rome and the top of the duomo in Florence and did three separate sketches of these breathtaking views.  This art class not only taught me how to draw, but it gave me the experience to travel Italy and see the real lifestyle of an Italian.

Throughout my trip, I tried some of the most amazing Tuscany dishes which included truffle pasta, T-bone steak, caprese salad, gelato and much more.  Florence is definitely an experience like no other.  Every other store down most of the blocks either sold wine, leather jackets or pizza.

During the night there were secret bakeries at different corners that would sell the freshest pastries.  The people of Florence would tell us to find the bakeries by following the smells in the streets of the pastries being prepared.  I believe that I adapted to the Italian culture very well on this trip.  I’m extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to travel to Florence at such a young age.  This humbling experience not only made me more open minded to different cultures but it made me want to travel all over the world.

 

 

To read more about the adventures of Verrazano students, visit the Verrazano Voyager Web page.

Ni Hao Shanghai!

Veronica LaManna

Veronica LaManna ’16 is a Verrazano student majoring in International Business with a business finance and a French minor. She has taken advantage of Verrazano Study Abroad scholarships on more than one occasion!  She shares her latest adventure here.

If I were to build a time machine and go back in time to tell freshman Veronica that she would study abroad two times in two different countries before she graduated, freshman Veronica would think future her was crazy.  Over the Winter 2016 Semester I was blessed to have a second opportunity to study abroad in Shanghai, China.  Even though it was a last minute decision, I can say that this experience changed my life once again.  Before studying abroad in China, I spent a semester in Nice, France.  Well, France and China couldn’t be more different from each other.  As I got on the plane and started my journey to the Far East, I began to question my decision and myself.  Was this the right place to study abroad? Will I be able to survive without knowing the language or without Facebook for one month? (The use of Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat is banned in China.)  I was expecting to be in complete culture shock as soon as I landed in China.  Well my expectations were correct.

Veronica LaManna and friends

I had never experienced that much culture shock since my trip to Morocco, except it was a very different type of culture shock.  As we took our stop in Japan, we began to enter what seemed like the future.  Finally after twenty-four hours of traveling we finally arrived in Shanghai, or I should call it the future.

The bright lights and the metro were just two things that felt like the future for us.  The first time taking the metro was an experience in itself.  First you are overwhelmed by the amount of people rushing to catch the train, then you are overwhelmed by the amount of futuristic vending machines selling anything from Sony Headphones to freshly squeezed orange juice, finally you are overwhelmed by the skill needed to actually get on the train without being closed in the doors.  Besides my fear of the metro, the other culture shocks I experienced in Shanghai were well worth it.

Veronica LaManna

Everyday the other students and I would try our best to try every type of street food Shanghai had to offer and even try to speak Chinese, or what sounded like Chinese to us, with the locals.  We all felt like we were gaining about two hundred pounds but thankfully all the walking we did exploring evened it out for us.   I would say the only negative side to studying abroad in Shanghai was the amount of time we had there.  We wanted to do so many things but since we only had three weeks and had to attend Chinese classes every day it made it difficult to complete every adventure.  Nonetheless studying abroad in Shanghai has given me not only unforgettable memories but also valuable friendships.

Veronica LaManna and friends

After we left China, some other students and I even got to take a four-day stop in Japan.   I’m so grateful to have received the study abroad scholarship and the student government travel grant in order to make this experience possible.  Xie Xie!

 

 

To read more about the adventures of Verrazano students, visit the Verrazano Voyager Web page.

 

 

 

 

A Personal, Professional, and Spiritual Journey to Costa Rica

Farzeen Kanwal ’16 is completing her Bachelor’s Degree of Nursing. She decided to take advantage of the College of Staten Island’s study abroad program in her final year of school and was transformed by the experience.
From the first day of joining of the Verrazano Honors Program, I remember hearing about how important it is to study abroad. I admit I did not have a strong interest at first since it did not seem financially realistic for my family and I, but still I made sure to keep the option open. As I entered my final year of college, I thought to myself: “it is now or never, Farzeen” and I could definitely say that I am glad I took advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity.
I participated in a three week faculty led program in San Jose, Costa Rica with seventeen other CSI students and every day was a new adventure. On weekday mornings, we would wake up at about 5 am for clinical and visit various hospitals and clinics. We would interact with patients, see surgeries, and were given lectures by Costa Rican healthcare professionals. Afterwards, we would have Spanish class and explore the local neighborhood before our day had come to an end. On the weekends, we went on several trips in other cities such as ziplining, chocolate tours, hot springs, beach resorts, and national parks.Here are some memorable experiences that I would like to share:

This picture was from our very first clinical rotation in Costa Rica. We visited a senior citizen daycare called Hogar Magdala, where we were told about the history of the place as well as given information on who resides there. In the picture below, it was my first time taking blood pressure since completing the nursing associate degree program. I admit I was quite nervous at first because I was not sure how to approach them, especially considering the language barrier. The frustration disappeared when one of the patients smiled and held out her arm for a blood pressure reading. When I told her the result, she was quite happy that it was within the normal range. In future practice, I will remember not to be nervous when approaching a patient, instead I will remind myself that I am helping them reach their goals to lead a healthier lifestyle and there’s absolutely no reason to be scared about that.
This picture was taken when we visited the shaman in the mountains. I was looking forward to this the most on the trip since I have always wanted to learn more about their spiritual practices. He gave us a lecture about the indigenous population and how it was attacked by the people of Spain. He also shed light on a matter I never seemed to think about – spiritual healing is as important as medicine. This type of natural healing is very important to them. In America, we do not necessarily ignore spiritual health, we just do not give it as much consideration as we do for medicine. We tend to go after physical medicine before asking the patient about their own views on ways of healing. He gave us the advice to be open- minded about spiritual healing, and not solely rely on what we are taught.
During our last night of the farewell dinner, I decided to reflect upon what I have learned in Costa Rica. From the nursing knowledge I obtained which I could apply to future practice to the places I have seen, I am very thankful for this experience. Before coming to Costa Rica, I was honestly not sure what to expect. All I really knew about the country was that it was located in Central America. The most interesting aspect about my trip was understanding Costa Rica’s approach to healthcare. They do not have an army to fund; therefore 8% of the tax payer’s money goes to their healthcare system and education. I liked that they have primary care delivery options and how involved they are in getting to know information about the health of the community. We do not really do that here in America, but I think it is a great idea to implement. Aside from that, I thought about the lessons I have learned with the people I was able to call family in such a short period of time. We all helped each other grow in numerous ways and made so many fun memories along our journey.My advice to those thinking about traveling (whether it is to study abroad or not) would be to just do it. Immersing yourself into a new culture will help you grow as a person in ways you would not have imagined.

To read more about the adventures of Verrazano students, visit the Verrazano Voyager Web page.

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.

MHC Student Austin Krauza ‘16 presents Research at MIT and Albany, on Fuzzy Clustering Algorithms for Data Analysis

Krauza presenting at the IEEE Undergraduate Research Conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

At 21 years old, Austin Krauza is already an accomplished researcher. The College of Staten Island (CSI) Computer Science major, with an interest in business and data analytics, recently authored a paper under the mentorship of Dr. Natacha Gueorguieva, which he presented at the 2015 IEEE Research Conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, MA this past November. Krauza’s was one of only 20 papers accepted, and he also presented similar research to lawmakers in Albany in February. The student also co-wrote a paper that was presented at the 14th IEEE International Conference on Machine Learning and Applications in Miami, FL in December and he has several journal articles to be published in the coming months.

The Monsignor Farrell High School graduate works with CSI professors in a wide variety of disciplines, assisting with various research projects, and he is enthusiastic about his academic career at the College.

Austin Krauza in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia.

“Attending the College of Staten Island has been a fantastic experience. From the time I stepped foot onto the campus, the professors were there opening doors into the world, introducing me and my peers into an uncharted world,” said Krauza.

Maintaining a 3.8 GPA, Krauza is pursuing the Advanced Certificate in Business Analytics of Large-Scale Data offered by the School of Business, which he expects to complete in 2016. In his sophomore year, he began working with Dr. Gueorguieva in the Department of Computer Science to conduct research in the field of Fuzzy Clustering Algorithms for Data Analysis. This research has several applications in the medical, law enforcement, and fraud-detection fields. The applications can be used to find patterns and cluster them within a large data set.

Krauza also works with Dr. Jonathan Peters, Dr. Michael Kress, and Nora Santiago at the CUNY High-Performance Computing Center (HPCC) and Social Policy Simulation Center at the College. In addition, the Great Kills resident worked on a mini-research project for his class in the field of New York State (NYS) Statewide Exam Scores and presented to professors from several senior CUNY colleges.

His areas of research focus on large-scale data sets (such as transportation and tolling) where the record count can exceed 210 million records. Such data sets require special processing using the various super-computing clusters located on site at the College. Some additional research projects include semantic and text analysis of unstructured data sources (such as social media networks, primarily Twitter) and the use of various Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and visualization packages to present often complex data sets in a more understandable format.

Krauza is the recipient of two undergraduate mini-technology research grants and an undergraduate research grant. He was also named a Revson Scholar by the Macaulay Honors College.

The student credits Dr. Charles Liu, Lisa French, and Anita Romano at the Macaulay Honors College for much of his success. “Both Anita and Lisa work tirelessly with each and every student, providing them with guidance and advisement, helping students discover the various opportunities that exist inside and outside of campus. Without this fantastic team, the Macaulay Honors College would not be what it is and would not be able to produce such amazing college graduates,” said Krauza, pointing out that Dr. Liu and Romano introduced him to Dr. Peters, whom he assists with various research projects.

Krauza at Featherdale Wildlife Park, Sydney, Australia

Adding to the breadth of his college experiences, Krauza traveled to Australia in December 2015 to study cross-cultural business management. The study abroad trip, sponsored by Queens College, allowed him to study at the International College of Management, Sydney (ICMS). Krauza also enjoys running and plans to run a half marathon in the coming months.

Austin has even already accepted an offer from Verizon Wireless to work as a Data Scientist for their Call Center Operations team in Warren, NJ upon graduation in June 2016. His focus will be working with various teams and departments, and data sources to improve company performance in their United States and worldwide centers. He would like to pursue his Master’s of Science in either Data Analysis or Statistics and possibly a PhD. He also hopes to be able to take the refined skills and abilities that he gains in private industry and assist local social policy groups, such as the Community Education Council (CEC). Eventually, Krauza hopes to be able to come back and share his experiences in the field of data by becoming a professor at CSI.

Krauza (right) at the top of the Sydney Tower, Australia.

“Teaching and mentoring others has always been a passion for me,” noted Krauza, who also tutors Macaulay Honors students. “Moving back into the world of academia would allow me to work hands on in the field that I love and pass my knowledge on to others.”

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating Sergio Mendoza ’16, SEEK Scholar

CSI Senior Sergio Mendoza

Sergio Mendoza, now a CSI senior, was born in Santa Ana, El Salvador and came to this country in 2008. When in high school in Brooklyn, one of the major struggles he faced was the language barrier. Although a dedicated student, not knowing English resulted in lower grades. Nonetheless, he overcame these challenges and arrived at CSI in fall of 2012 as a new member of the SEEK Program. At CSI, he has earned an impressive 3.92 GPA and is looking forward to graduating this spring. During these years, he has not only qualified for the Dean’s List and Chi Alpha Epsilon (CSI’s chapter of the National Honor Society for Opportunity Programs) but was one of the founders of SEEK’s “Men of Excellence” group, serving as a leader among its Black and Latino members. A first generation college student, Sergio chose to major in Spanish education (with minors in English-linguistics and Italian) because he feels that “there’s nothing that connects one to a culture better than its language.” His initial struggles with English and the stigma of not being able to speak English fluently inspires him to want to help other non-native speakers of English. With a future goal of becoming a high school Spanish teacher or language professor in college, he hopes to have an impact on others and give back to society by helping and educating young people. Sergio’s advice to incoming freshman is to always be optimistic. “College life might be intimidating,” he says, “but with a positive attitude and perseverance one can achieve anything. The most important suggestion is: don’t learn and study just to pass a class, learn and study for the sake of learning. Classes come and go, but knowledge stays. That is the path to success.”

For more exciting news from SEEK, please visit the SEEK website.

 

 

 

 

Rising Stars: Bree Silverman ’16

Bree Silverman

Bree Silverman ’16: Major: Mathematics with a concentration in Secondary Education A Teacher Education Honors Academy and Dean’s List student, she is also a NOYCE scholar and an Alfred Harcourt recipient. A favorite aspect of CSI: “I am having a wonderful experience at CSI and I attribute that to the Teacher Education Honors Academy. Through this program, I received mentoring, a great education, and built wonderful friendships.” Future plans: After she receives her bachelor’s degree, she plans to pursue her Master’s in Math Education. To read more about CSI Alumni, check out Eye on CSI.