Savor the Flavors Offers Culinary Delights While Helping Students

Second place winners Port Richmond High School Culinary Arts Program

The Center for the Arts Atrium transformed into the home of some of the Island’s best cuisine, last spring, as the CSI Alumni Association hosted the Sixth Annual Savor the Flavors event. All food and services were generously supplied by restaurants and vendors so that all proceeds could go to the Alumni Legacy Scholarship fund. Savor the Flavors has raised enough money in the event’s first five years to fund 32 scholarships for deserving students. To view the full article, click here.

Kristin Golat selected as an inspirational Staten Islander

STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE — Kristin Golat of Westerleigh has been named an inspirational Staten Islander. She received 30.27 percent of the 1,391 votes cast.

Coming in second place, with 28.54 percent of the vote, was Greg Hansen of Tottenville. Hansen rode his bike from San Diego to Staten Island ultimately raising $140,000 for clean water in Africa.

Community activist Gene Cosgriff of Pleasant Plains Cosgriff came in third with 19.91 of the vote. He proved you can fight City Hall as he took the lead in the long battle to stop the LNG tanks in Rossville from ever being used.

“My daughter Kristin Golat is always doing charitable things,” wrote her mother, Theresa Golat. “She recently trained and ran the New York City Marathon in memory of Martin Richard, the child who was killed during the Boston Marathon bombing. She has also run marathons and raised money for prostate cancer research, in memory of her grandfather.”

In addition, Ms. Golat worked three part-time jobs while completing the masters program at the College of Staten Island for Special Education and is currently a full-time teacher for autistic children.

“She has accomplished great things and I’m very proud of her,” added her mother.

Due to the overwhelming response from the initial nomination period, the Advance has decided to announce all of the nominees in smaller groups over the coming months, so multiple people can be recognized.

It is our hope to profile these Islanders in the newspaper and on, as well as inspire others.

In the meantime, if there is a Staten Islander currently in you life who is an inspiration, submit their information to

You can nominate anyone, child or adult — the only restriction is that the person must be a current borough resident.

Be sure to include the person’s full name, neighborhood and contact information — preferably a phone number — as well as a brief description about why they are so inspirational.

In addition, include your name, address and phone number for verification purposes.

This article was written by Kiawana Rich and was originally published by the Staten Island Advance and SI Live on March 30, 2015. It is reprinted here with permission.

College of Staten Island (CSI) Alumnus Raj Amit Kumar Releases Film

College of Staten Island (CSI) alumnus Raj Amit Kumar will release his first film in the United States, titled “Unfreedom.” The film is banned in India and addresses the trials and tribulations faced by members of the LGBT community in India as well as the harsh realities of Islamophobia. Kumar was featured in an article, “LGBT rights in India is battle of old Victorian morality vs. Hindu fundamentalism: Unfreedom director Raj Amit Kumar,” in The American Bazaar. The filmmaker graduated from CSI with a Masters of Arts in Cinema and Media Studies and began work on “Unfreedom” directly afterward.

Read the full article on The American Bazaar web site.



[audio] Emily Rice appears on NPR’s The TakeAway

FROM NPR: It’s taken 10 years to travel 4 billion miles, but the Rosetta spacecraft has finally placed a lander on a comet. It’s a mission that’s never been attempted before. The landing was a huge scientific milestone, especially since terrain on the 2-mile rubber ducky-shaped comet was much rougher than scientists originally thought. Now that Philae has landed safely, scientists are hoping she will provide critical information about the evolution of our solar system, the origin of water, and the building blocks of life on Earth.

Dr. Emily Rice, a professor of astrophysics at the College of Staten Island and a researcher at the American Museum of Natural History, explains the details of this mission on>

CSI Star shines in PhD program at Boston University

Daniel Feldman, PhD program in Astronomy, Boston University.

It was clear from his Commencement address that 2012 CSI Salutatorian Daniel Feldman was on the correct track, headed for success in whatever field he chose. During the address, which impressed so much that CSI President Dr. William J. Fritz quoted it during his 2013 Commencement address, Feldman discussed the “Imposter Syndrome.” A term coined by Pauline and Suzanne Imes in 1978, it refers to a phenomenon in which people are unable to believe that they deserve the success they achieve. “Many successful people suffer from this syndrome, many of them most likely in attendance at the Honors Convocation,” he told the attendees. “But they should all be viewing the awards ceremony as proof that you are not an imposter…your attendance here is a testament to your success.” Back then, more than two years ago, it was clear that Feldman was a CSI success story.

Today, Feldman has not failed to live up to these lofty expectations. He is currently in his third year at Boston University working toward a PhD in Astrophysics, studying T-Tauri stars, which are in a stage where they are not yet hot enough to fuse hydrogen in their cores and are surrounded by a disk of gas and dust. Feldman discussed his work with the stars, saying “I’m interested in understanding the evolution of the disk’s structure—that is, how dust grains can grow in size by sticking together and eventually, due to increased weight, “settle” to the middle or midplane of the disk, possibly to form planets,” he explained. He went on to discuss the way the research team to which he belongs runs “computer models of how T-Tauri star systems with different properties will look to our telescopes. We can compare them with real observations to infer which properties match those of the stellar system in question. So, for example, how settled is the disk around this star, does it have a gap or hole, etc.?”

This current research will periodically bring him to Arizona, where he will participate in a Boston University collaboration with the Discovery Channel Telescope that will allow him to study the accretion rates of gas that falls onto the star’s surface from the disk. He will be using the data he collects along with previously defined models to determine the properties of the stellar systems he is studying.

The work he is currently performing and his experience as an undergraduate at CSI have prepared him for life beyond academia, once that day comes. Although he still has aspirations to one day become a professor, he is also mindful of other opportunities that may be available to him. Ideally, whatever the choice, he would like to return to New York. “Boston is a very different city from New York—very young.”

As for how he got his start studying astronomy, Feldman claims that he has “always been interested in science—especially astronomy.” It was when he first started out as an undergraduate at CSI and began working with Dr. Charles Liu at the American Museum of Natural History where he began to believe that studying science was the correct course. He also credits Prof. Irving Robbins, Associate Professor of Engineering Science and Physics, and Director of the CSI Astrophysical Observatory, and Dr. Emily Rice, Assistant Professor of Engineering Science and Physics, with furthering his scientific aspirations.

Dr. Rice, one of his mentors at CSI, called Feldman an “honestly curious student” who was very easy going and just wanted to naturally study and understand. “He was a very versatile student—quick to learn new things.” This is proven by his other love, musical theater. He says that whenever he gets the opportunity, he assists at the Saint Clare Musical Theater in Staten Island. While most people would wonder how a scientist could also have musical talents, Feldman says that “art and science are not as different as you would think. They both require study and for you to think critically about the work you are performing.” He called it “similar to analyzing a problem in physics.”

Dr. Rice also stressed that he is a very “self-deprecating person—almost to a fault” and explained that Feldman wrote a blog as an undergraduate explaining scientific matters to his non-science-major classmates. She also wanted to talk about him passing his PhD qualifying exam during his first year at BU—something that she calls “not very common.”

Feldman also stressed how important it was for him and for other students to participate in STEM field studies, even if they are not training to become scientists or researchers. “I think the real importance is more for educating those who do not want to be involved in the STEM fields,” he explained. “Many issues in our country require some base level of scientific knowledge, for example, a politician examining climate change.”

Dr. Rice concurred, “The majority of scientific research is paid for by taxpayers,” explaining why it is worth it for even non-scientists to have at least basic training in STEM fields. She is also passionate about leveling the playing field for women and other traditionally underrepresented segments of our community to have a stronger voice in the scientific community.

Both Feldman and Dr. Rice are passionate about the role that science can have in our lives and they believe that science is not some “esoteric, intractable thing but that, in fact, the opposite is true. We are born curious” said Dr. Rice. “Our understanding of the universe is growing every day and it shouldn’t take an astrophysicist to appreciate that.”

[video] President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence

[youtube][/youtube]Elsa Garcia, a 2014 graduate of the College of Staten Island, was recently a guest speaker at the White House’s second annual President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics at the Roosevelt House in New York City. She worked alongside Luis Fraga, Co-Chair of the Higher education Committee, Alejandra Ceja, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, and several other White House appointees to address the needs of Latino/a students across America.

[Please scrub to 37:29 in the embedded YouTube video to see and hear Elsa’s story in her own words.]

The symposium, titled, “Postsecondary Access and Completion for All: Latinas/os in America’s Future,” was held in support of President Barack Obama’s 2020 goal of ensuring that the United States leads the world once again in having the highest proportion of college graduates.

In her remarks, Elsa Garcia, who graduated from CSI with a degree in accounting this past spring, discussed the importance of CUNY in her success. “CUNY, for me…opens many doors to possibilities, dreams, great opportunities, and of course, an education that will stay with us forever.”

She went on to tell the attendees about the challenges she faced as an immigrant and mother wanting to expand her education. “When I was in my country I did not have the opportunity to continue my education or think about going to a university because school was expensive. When I came to America, I got married and soon had two babies to take care of. I knew that I needed to learn English not only for me, but for my children. That is when I heard about the Adult Learning Center best known as Continuing Education at the College of Staten Island. There was a free program called the Adult Education Program, where I participated in ESL classes that taught me to write, speak and understand English.”

She concluded her speech by thanking her “great CUNY family who helped me in many ways with opportunities that have changed my life for the better.”

Elsa’s remarks echoed the theme of the symposium which focused on discussions about providing more Latino/a students with not only access to better opportunities to become college graduates but also with aid and incentives to remain in college once they enroll.

Ceja called the efforts of the symposium an “initiative that will help us elevate the importance of equity and opportunity for Latina/o students.” She also emphasized that the education needs to “start from the cradle” meaning that children in Latino homes need to have access to educational services from an early age.

Many statistics were cited during the panel discussions that highlighted the many challenges Latina/o students face while attending college.

Deborah Santiago, Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Policy, Excelencia in Education, explained that 52 percent of Latino/a college students attend community colleges and that most of those students are considered part time. “80 percent of Latina/o college students are working part time,” she told the attendees, highlighting yet another challenge that Latino/a students face.

The panel discussions focused on addressing the many challenges that community colleges face such as having low-income students, more remedial students and low college awareness when compared to senior colleges.

These challenges will force policy makers addressing the issue at community colleges to think of ways to incentivize college completion through performance based funding.

“Many reports were written about Latino Americans in college but then get shelved,” Luis Frago said, talking about how the Postsecondary Access and Completion for All: Latinas/os in America’s Future, symposium came about.

The Advisory Commission, which relies on the three core domains of The Community College Completion Agenda, Workforce Development and College/University Rating Systems, created the symposium as a vehicle for bringing together thought leaders, policymakers, strategists and stakeholders to openly engage in discussion and debate with the goal of providing a specific set of policy recommendations to President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

“We were given a very different and special charge by President Obama and Arne Duncan,” Frago added. “We were told don’t write yet another report on the challenges faced by Latino Americans in colleges across the country. Instead, write a report that specifically identifies a policy agenda and specific policy proposals that can help restructure and enrich thinking in Washington D.C. as to how to better serve Latino communities across the United States.”


Over $7K raised for Danielle Ponsiglione Benefit Night

The College of Staten Island celebrated a magical evening on Monday, raising over $7,000 in funds to help support former graduate and softball star Danielle Ponsiglione as part of “No One Stands Alone” Benefit Night at the Tomas D. Morales Baseball Field.  Over 60 former teammates joined Ponsiglione alongside members of the New York Havoc, New York Panthers, and Staten Island Saints Silver squads for an evening of softball and raffles that garnered overwhelming support to help offset medical costs associated with Ponsiglione’s fight against Stage IV Melanoma.

Principal organizer Stella Porto, who coached Ponsiglione throughout her collegiate career at CSI which saw a pair of CUNYAC titles and multiple pitching records, was floored by the level of support.  “Leading up to the event people said they would come, but then to see them actually come and participate, it’s just overwhelming.”  Porto helped organize the event with Kathy Kelly, Athletic Director at St. Joseph by the Sea High School.  Members of the Brooklyn College softball team, coached by Danielle’s father, Mike Ponsiglione, were also on hand to help in the event.

Porto was busy with registration for nearly two hours leading up to first pitch.  Participants paid $20 to play and the funds kept flooding in through raffles, 50/50, and concession sales, which sold out.  Ponsiglione, the guest of honor who also played collegiate volleyball at CSI, spent part of the evening pitching for the CSI Alumni team, but was then mostly busy milling through the crowd of nearly 500 people who came to pitch in.  Prior to kick-off Ponsiglione addressed the growing crowd of supporters.  “I can’t believe this support for me and I am so grateful,” she said.  She later told the Staten Island Advance, “I didn’t know I knew this many people…it’s insane.”

When it came to softball, the teams gathered to play three, three-inning games on the modified baseball field.  The NY Havoc turned back the CSI Alumni, 4-2, and then St. Joseph by the Sea High School blanked the NY Panthers, 2-0.  In the evening’s final game, the Staten Island Saints Silver squad came from behind to score a walk-off win over the Panthers, 5-4.  The laid-back atmosphere among the players served as a backdrop to overwhelming donations and raffle ticket sales throughout the night.  There were 22 raffle prizes in all, including an all-expense paid week-long trip to California wine country, an estimated $4,000 value.  The teams spent just as much time posing for pictures with Ponsiglione and her family in-between games, proof-positive that the night was more a show of support for Ponsiglione than anything else.

“We want her to know that no matter what treatment she’s getting or what doctor she’s seeing, we’re going to be there with her,” said Porto, who has also been active on social media to promote straight donations be sent to Danielle via  To date, over $15,000 has been raised, and that figure will go above the $20k mark with last night’s gross as well.

Those interested in making donations to No One Stands Alone can do so by visiting the donation website at ?  On August 16, the Staten Island Yankees will also take up the cause, as part of all ticket sales for that evening will go toward the campaign.

CSI to Host Benefit Night for Former Dolphin

Recent College of Staten Island graduate and standout softball star Danielle Ponsiglione will be the guest of honor this week when she returns to the CSI diamond, but the multiple record holder and three-time CUNYAC Pitcher of the Year, is battling a new competitor, and many former teammates, family and friends will be on hand for a benefit game in her honor.  Diagnosed with Stage IV Melanoma, Ponsiglione is in her second round of battling the disease, her first coming shortly after her career at CSI in 2012.  To offset medical expenses associated with treatment, CSI will host the event this Wednesday, June 25, 2014, at 7:00pm at the CSI Softball Complex.  The evening will feature multiple three-inning games from a variety of teams.  Entry fees collected from the participants as well as money generated from raffles and prizes will be donated to Ponsiglione’s family.

Appropriately titled “No One Stands Alone,” the evening will feature many present and former CSI Alumni, many of whom played side-by-side with Ponsiglione, going head-to-head on the diamond.  Members of the New York Panthers, New York Havoc and Staten Island Saints will also be on-hand with the theme focused on raising revenue.  Raffle prizes will be awarded and concessions will be available as well, all in the name of one of CSI’s finest alumni.  Current CSI Head Coach Stella Porto is a principal organizer of the event, and was quick to cite the importance of the event in a recent interview with the Staten Island Advance.

“Danielle represents (a combination) of strength and courage,” said Porto. “She was someone who overcame many injuries throughout her career with me at CSI and I’m praying that the strength and courage continues for what (I believe) is the game of her life.”

A two-sport star at CSI, Ponsiglione also played volleyball, but the setter was best known for her dominance in the circle for the Dolphins, where she helped guide the Dolphins to a pair of CUNYAC titles and NCAA Division III Championship Tournament appearances.  In her stellar four-year career, Ponsiglione claims al-time career records for wins (55) and complete games (77).  She logged almost 200 more innings pitched than any other Dolphin, topping out at 543.0, and her career 2.32 ERA stands third all-time, while her career 337 strikeouts rank second.  Ponsiglione’s 20 wins during the 2010 season are also a CSI record.  Alongside her athletic prowess, Ponsiglione was a valued member of the CSI family, lending herself to CSI’s valued Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and a collection of community service projects.

Ponsiglione has stayed close to softball and to CUNY.  Her father, Michael, just completed his first season as Head Coach for Brooklyn College, where he won Coach of the Year honors.

To sign up to participate in the event, or to donate funds or offer up a raffle prize, please contact CSI Head Coach Stella Porto at (908) 463-1300.  In-person registration at the CSI Softball Complex will begin at 6pm on Wednesday.  Should rain interfere with the festivities, a rain make-up date will be announced.