CSI Alumna Jennifer Sammartino-Mallen ’99: Making her Favorite Borough Even Better

Sammartino-Mallen with her family in Provincetown, Cape Cod.

College of Staten Island (CSI) alumna Jennifer Sammartino-Mallen ’99 has been working to improve Staten Island ever since she graduated.

Appointed as the first Director of Tourism and Cultural Affairs for Staten Island in the Office of the Borough President, Sammartino-Mallen recently commented on her devotion to her hometown as well as her own journey as a professional.

“I love Staten Island. I honestly do. It’s my birthplace and my home, and I know it has so much to offer. My entire career, I have tried to do things that benefit my community and make it a better place. I have been so fortunate to have worked with professionals at stellar institutions on the Island and to be able to give back in small ways. I believe the journey I am on will allow me to continue to do that. I look forward to perhaps one day running my own organization and have even thought about getting an MBA,” said Sammartino-Mallen, who resides in New Brighton with her husband, daughter, and their cat, Steve Buscemi.

After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, the native Staten Islander went on to be a journalist at the Staten Island Advance before she began serving for Borough President James Oddo as Director of Communications and External Affairs for more than three years.

“This is an extremely exciting time for our borough, and I am honored to be able to contribute to a positive image of Staten Island to potential visitors in our city, state, country, and the world,” commented Sammartino-Mallen, who, as an undergraduate, received scholarships from several organizations, including the Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company and The Lions Club.

Sammartino-Mallen’s impressive résumé also includes posts as the Director of Communications and Development at Richmond University Medical Center and the Public Information Officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs, which serves Staten Island Veterans. She has also volunteered for the March of Dimes, the Staten Island Heart Society, and the Carl V. Bini Foundation, and is an active parent at Children’s Harbor Montessori School, where she served on the Parent Association’s executive board.

Sammartino-Mallen (second from left) with staff of the Borough President’s Office at the Halloween Hoopla event, a free event for children.

The successful professional, mother, wife, and conscientious citizen reminds other grads to “network. Take the time to go to events and meet people. Never turn down an invitation. You never know who you might meet.”

She further advises CSI students to, “Try everything. Explore. You never know what might grab you and lead you down the right path. I had two or three majors by the time I settled into English Literature. I majored in something I loved because I knew I could stick with it. I wasn’t concerned about how it would relate to my job search after school. I just wanted to be passionate about something and talk about books and plays, and CSI allowed me to do that.”

The proud alumna remembers some notable professors she enjoyed at CSI, including the late Jim Tolan and Michael Shugrue, and Catherine Lavender.

“I recall a grad-level class where Jim Tolan had us take poetry we had written and physically cut it apart, line by line. I was devastated. I’m no poet and I had worked really hard on the assignment. Once we had the work in pieces, he asked us to reassemble it in a different way. What I had before me was so much more profound and interesting when I stopped thinking about where the thoughts ‘belonged.’ I think the same can be said for so many areas of our lives. It was an eye-opening lesson,” she stated.

Finally, Sammartino-Mallen humbly notes, “Life is a balancing act, and I fail all the time. As a mother to a young child, it is next to impossible to give 110% all day, every day to everyone and everything in your life that deserves attention. Do what you can, don’t stress the stuff that you can’t change, and be grateful. And dye your hair.”

 

 

Alumni Souad Outarid Has Formula for Success

Souad Outarid is a teacher at Lavelle Prep.

Teacher, multi-scholarship recipient, Dean’s List member, community volunteer, immigrant, mother. These titles belong to one woman who has seemingly transcended any limitations an international student may impose. Teachers Education Honors Academy (TEHA) alumna Souad Outarid is passionate about all of the hats she wears in life. The Moroccan-born Mathematics major currently teaches at John W. Lavelle Preparatory Charter School, in addition to volunteering locally at the Staten Island Mental Health Department (where she assists elementary students with reading and math). Outarid also lends her time to the Distance Learning program at the College of Staten Island’s (CSI) Continuing Education Program where she tutors GED students and teaches Arabic to non-native Arabic students at the Al-Noor Islamic Society Sunday School.

As an undergraduate student, Outarid earned Dean’s List placement for consecutive years from 2007 to 2012, and was the recipient of the National Science Foundation Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, The Alfred Harcourt Foundation Scholarship, and the TEHA Scholarship. While all hold a high level of prestige, the Noyce Scholarship was particularly transformative for Outarid as it allowed her to participate in an international teaching internship in Vladimir, Russia. The scholarship program seeks to encourage talented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors and professionals to become K-12 mathematics and science (including engineering and computer science) teachers. During the 2017 Spring Break, Outarid joined a group of Noyce alumni, led by Dr. Irina Lyublinskaya, to visit Vladimir State University (VlSU). The opportunity supports developing collaboration between the Pedagogical Institute of the Russian university and the Noyce Teacher Honors Academy at CSI. During this time, Outarid co-taught calculus lessons with another Noyce alum to tenth grade students and co-presented a master class to VlSU graduate students.

Outarid exhibited an eagerness to learn about Russian STEM education, which stood out to Dr. Lyublinskaya. However, her own personal story also resonated with the group leader. Dr. Lyublinskaya states, “While traveling together, I learned about her difficult childhood. She shared how much she values education and she is now giving the same opportunities to children she works with. Souad selected to work in a school where over 30% of students are students with special needs. This is a challenging environment for any teacher, especially new teachers. She has a passion to help all children to learn math…Souad is a teacher who puts her students’ needs first. She would spend hours trying to find a way to engage her students in learning mathematics and to build their confidence. She is a life-long learner who searches for new ways of teaching math.”

Souad Outarid sailing with her two sons in Marsa Matrouh, Egypt.

The Richmond native’s various mentors have also noted her dedication to academia as CSI Professor of Mathematics and TEHA Director Dr. Jane Coffee states, “Souad Outarid exemplifies the very best characteristics of a graduate of the Teacher Education Honors Academy. She was well-prepared in her undergraduate Mathematics major and graduated cum laude. Her grades in her education courses are evidence that she adapted well to the U. S. mathematics adolescence education program—something that was new to her.”

Professor Dr. Nelly Tournaki, Coordinator of the CSI Department of Educational Studies, as well as Urban Education at The Graduate Center, CUNY, also noted Outarid’s exemplary teaching as she adds, “As a CSI faculty and a Board member of the Lavelle school, I often visit classes at the school. Souad’s is a model class. I can attest to her excellent pedagogical skills, depth of content knowledge, and most of all, her professional disposition—she has a strong presence, is sincere, warm, compassionate, respectful, and therefore respected.”

While Outarid’s academic life has certainly been filled with major accomplishments, her story goes far beyond the classroom. After losing her mother at an early age, Outarid was raised by her grandfather and sister who instilled in her the importance of education, especially for a woman in the Middle East. This inspired the Mathematics major to pursue higher education, graduating in 2012 with her Bachelor’s degree and subsequently earning her Master’s degree in Adolescence Education, 7- 12 (Mathematics) in 2014. With this dedication to academia, it may not come as a surprise that Outarid was awarded “Outstanding Teacher of the Year” in 2017. With her eyes set on a Doctoral degree, one might wonder what the aspiring professor views as her biggest responsibility. Perhaps the answer sits directly in the classroom, as she remarks, “As an educator, I take my job very seriously, I love what I do, and I take pride in my work. My students and I have a mutual respect.”

This respect and dedication is what makes teachers like Souad Outarid life changers.

 

 

CSI Alumna Faye Michalakos is Big Apple Award Winner

College of Staten Island (CSI) alumna Faye Michalakos was one of 19 Big Apple Award winners at the New York City Department of Education’s fifth annual Big Apple Awards-a city-wide recognition program that honors outstanding public-school educators. Thirteen of this year’s 19 Big Apple Award recipients are graduates of CUNY colleges. Michalakos is a sixth-grade math teacher at Hellenic Classical Charter School in Brooklyn and a graduate of the College of Staten Island, where she received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

View the full announcement on the CUNY website.

 

Claire Bisignano Chesnoff Invited to Join The Expert Network

College of Staten Island (CSI) advisory board member for the School of Business, Claire Bisignano Chesnoff, has joined The Expert Network—an invitation-only service for distinguished professionals. Bisignano Chesnoff, Owner & Operator of Claire Properties, has been chosen as a Distinguished Real Estate Professional™ based on peer reviews and ratings, numerous recognitions, and accomplishments achieved throughout her career. The City University of New York (CUNY) alumna hold 20 years’ worth of experience in the business, is a 5-star rated Zillow agent, and was honored as Staten Island’s Top Woman in Business.

View the full article at digitaljournal.com.

CSI Alumnus Dom Vulpis Honored by East Rockaway Community

College of Staten Island (CSI) alumnus Dom Vulpis was honored by the Board of Education in advance of his retirement after 22 years. Vulpis, who earned an administrative degree from CSI, is retiring as East Rockaway Junior-Senior High School Athletic Director and is praised for his long-lasting positive influence on students. Vulpis will start working as the assistant to the executive director of Section VIII athletics in Garden City on July 1.

View the full article at liherald.com.

CSI Alumnus Eugene Gonzalez Appointed to Project Access Board of Directors

Project Access today announced that BBVA Compass Senior Vice President and Relationship Manager for Corporate Banking Eugene Gonzalez was appointed to its Board of Directors. Gonzalez is a College of Staten Island alumnus and studied business management. Project Access is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with headquarters in Orange, California and Oakland, California. The mission of Project Access is to be the leading provider of vital on-site health, education, and employment services to low-income families, children, and seniors.

View the full article at OnlinePRNews.com

CSI Alumnus Vincent Wong ’15 Attending Upstate Medical University

Vincent Wong at an Americorps Your Park! Your Health! event.

Saving the world may very well be on Vincent Wong’s future agenda. The 23-year-old Macaulay Honors College (MHC) alumnus achieved a tremendous amount in his four years at the College of Staten Island, which speaks both to his work ethic and thrill for adventure. The recipient of several scholarships and awards, including The Jack Nash Scholarship (2014) and Psychology Departmental Award (2015), Wong is currently a medical student at Upstate Medical University at Syracuse, where he’ll be starting his clinical rotations this summer, with an interest in family medicine.

During his time on campus, the Psychology major and former club vice president was heavily involved with Project Reach, a peer-mentoring program for college students with learning disabilities. As a student researcher, he worked closely with Kristen Gillespie-Lynch, PhD, developing a thesis on the impact of mentoring on the mentors and their success rates. Reflecting on his time with Dr. Gillespie-Lynch, Wong states,

“She is one of the nicest people I know. She allowed me to conduct research with her for two and a half years and guided me every step of the way. She encouraged me to enter various conferences to present my research, which was one of the best-presented undergraduate research at the conferences.”

The admiration is mutual as Dr. Gillespie notes, “Vincent was a huge asset to the mentorship program. He was an exceptional mentor for several students, including a student with a disability whom he inspired to become a mentor himself. His sense of humor and natural exuberance created joy in the students he worked with.”

In addition to his work on campus, the Brooklyn Technical High School graduate, also participated in several extracurricular activities.

Wong was a member of the CUNY Service Corps program, which allowed him to work at the Prospect Park Zoo. Some of his responsibilities included managing the zoo database and helping the staff coordinate special events.

Of his many activities, one program Wong found to be transformative was AmeriCorps. After hearing about the opportunity at the Macaulay job fair in Manhattan, Wong knew that AmeriCorps would be an enriching and life-changing experience for the aspiring doctor. AmeriCorps is a civil society program supported by the U.S. government, foundations, corporations, and other donors engaging adults in public service work with a goal of “helping others and meeting critical needs in the community.”

In addition to the special bond he shared with Sheridan, Wong experienced nature in a unique way. He states, “It opened an entirely new world that was unknown to me before. I always thought of nature being far away and having to transverse hundreds of miles to find a small quiet place to enjoy. However, Gateway National Park is only 45 minutes away on bike. Not only was it super close, it was also a hidden gem.”

Vincent Wong demonstrating proper technique at the Americorps event.

During this time, Vincent learned how to kayak and rescue other kayakers, and paddled to an uninhabited island off the coast of Brooklyn where a pack of horseshoe crabs greeted him and his peers.

Another memory the medical student holds fondly was traveling to Sandy Hook Beach to camp overnight. He recounts, “I remember sitting by the fire with the vivid night sky over my head. The next morning was a marine demonstration. Another counselor and I walked along the shore with a huge net. The captured animals were quickly returned to the ocean after we showed the public all the various species of small fishes that lived in these waters. Overall, this experience taught me to enjoy nature just a little bit more.”

Although it may seem as if he has conquered the world on his own, the current medical school student and Syracuse resident credits his success to a number of individuals including Charles Liu, Lisa French, and the entire Macaulay Honors community.

Wong has also been an asset to the MHC community, “We are very proud of Vincent Wong. He is a genuine, kind, and humble person whose wit and intelligence will help to make him a wonderful doctor one day,” said Lisa French, Associate Director of the Macaulay Honors College at CSI. “Jovial, joyful, and inspiring—a pleasure to have as a student—that’s what comes to mind when I think of Vincent!” adds Charles Liu, Macaulay at CSI’s faculty director.

Wong encourages fellow students to cultivate these kinds of relationships, which made him feel like “family,” as he states, “Students should take the time out to develop and nurture a relationship between a professor or staff member. This relationship will help them grow as a student and as an individual.”