Jersey Shore’s Vinny Guadagnino and Staten Island Family Star in “The Show With Vinny”

STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE — Who needs Snooki, Pauly D. and the rest of that clique when you’ve got mom?

Jersey Shore veteran and Staten Island native Vinny Guadagnino (along with MTV execs) think viewers would just as well watch Vinny cavort with his tell-it-like-it is Staten Island family and a roster of celebrity visitors as  [sic] tan, gym and hook up with 20-somethings on the beach.

Mom Paola Giaimo, 53, along with cannoli from borough bakeries, broccoli rabe cooked in the kitchen of their Emerson Hill home, and some Island attitude dished out to big-name celebs — is the draw in a new spin off of the MTV project.

“The Show With Vinny” will be something of a cross between reality TV and a talk show, as a parade of celebrity guests — among them Lil Wayne and Ke$ha — visit the family home for some quality time, home cooking, and serious schmoozing with Vinny, mom Paola and the clan.

The new venture into “family programming,” premieres May 2 at 10 p.m.

And the backdrop — a modest single family home — may look familiar to many Staten Islanders: Vinny, a Susan Wagner High School alum, keeps his childhood room intact for the show, with a framed shot of the “Shore” cast on the wall, along with his diploma from the College of Staten Island.

Among the cast of characters set to be part of the show are Paola’s brother, 55-year-old Antonio Giaimo, a loud-mouthed, equal-opportunity flirt and cigar chewer known to “Jersey Shore” fans as “Uncle Nino.”

A special sneak peek episode of “The Show With Vinny” played after the 2013 MTV Movie Awards.

It featured Vinny hanging out in the gym with Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Mackie, who give him some advice living like a real celebrity. In the promo, Ke$ha also spends some time hanging out with the Guadagninos in our little borough, discussing her own upcoming MTV show, and leaving a calling card of “her glittery trademark” on Uncle Nino.

This article was written by Deborah Young with the Staten Island Advance and first appeared with video on on April 15, 2013 at 1:12pm and was updated April 16, 2013 at 6:12am.  It is reprinted here with permission. 


Jerod Loeb Honored as First Alumni Fellow

L-R: Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Fred Naider, Dr. Jerod Loeb, and Interim President Dr. William J. Fritz

The College of Staten Island welcomed its first-ever Alumni Fellow, Dr. Jerod Loeb ‘71, to campus in a day that capped off with a lecture by Dr. Loeb on the state of healthcare in the U.S.

Dr. Loeb is Executive Vice President of The Joint Commission, an independent, not-for-profit organization that accredits and certifies more than 20,000 healthcare organizations and programs in the United States. Joint Commission accreditation and certification are recognized nationwide as symbols of quality that reflect an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards.

An alumnus of Richmond College, a progressive predecessor institution of CSI, Dr. Loeb has demonstrated distinguished leadership in identifying, evaluating, and implementing performance measures across the wide spectrum of Joint Commission accreditation and certification programs. He is involved in a variety of national and international initiatives associated with performance measurement and patient safety.

Dr. Loeb spent his day on campus speaking to 55 students in the nursing department and meeting with College faculty and administrators, as well as CSI Alumni Association President Dr. Arthur Merola, DPM ’84, ’85.

The keynote event of the day was Dr. Loeb’s afternoon lecture in the Center for the Arts Williamson Theatre, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” He began his talk with a discussion of his days at Richmond College protesting the shootings at Kent State University in 1970, accompanied by slides from those turbulent events. He then turned to the main focus of his presentation, which was the current state of healthcare in the nation. He presented sobering facts and examples of the multiple opportunities for error in the system, from incorrect and potentially life-threatening dosages of medication prescribed, to patients receiving the wrong operation.

One of his practical solutions to surviving a health care crisis was to always have a relative or friend with you during doctor visits, noting “navigation of the healthcare system requires a map, a guide, and an extraordinary amount of skill and stamina–even for those who work in the system.

He also noted that the business of healthcare often gets in the way of the delivery of healthcare, noting that many medical decisions track back to money and that the current reimbursement system in the U.S. is still problematic.

The lecture concluded on a more personal note, as Dr. Loeb discussed his own journey as a cancer patient, outlining “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of his personal experiences, treatment regimens, and his plans for the future.

CSI to Host First-Ever Alumni Fellow Dr. Jerod Loeb ’71

Dr. Jerod Loeb '71 will be honored as the College's first-ever Alumni Fellow on April 9.

The College of Staten Island will welcome its first-ever Alumni Fellow, Dr. Jerod Loeb ’71, Executive Vice President of The Joint Commission, on Tuesday, April 9, 2013 in the Center for the Arts Williamson Theatre from 2:30pm to 4:00pm.

An independent, not-for-profit organization, The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 20,000 healthcare organizations and programs in the United States. Joint Commission accreditation and certification is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards.

Dr. Loeb has demonstrated distinguished leadership in identifying, evaluating, and implementing performance measures across the wide spectrum of Joint Commission accreditation and certification programs. He is involved in a variety of national and international initiatives associated with performance measurement and patient safety.

At this event, Dr. Loeb will present his perspective on the future of healthcare in the U.S., entitled “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”

The College is pleased to have Dr. Loeb return to his alma mater for this important presentation and looks forward to recognizing his career accomplishments.

For your further information, please call the Office of College Advancement at 718.982.2365.

CSI conference on Staten Island Hurricane Sandy aftermath provides clear take-aways

Education is a key component of Dr. Fritz's plans for a post-Sandy Staten Island. At the conference, he unveiled a prototype graphic that could be used in vulnerable coastal areas to reinforce the necessary "climb to safety" response to impending storm surges.

STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE — How to rebuild smarter — and at one with nature — in post-Sandy Staten Island drew hundreds to a day-long symposium here Friday, as the borough continues to grapple with the devastation wrought by last October’s killer hurricane.

 Academics and government officials headlined panel discussions at the College of Staten Island, resulting in some very clear take-aways: Portions of the East and South Shores swamped by Sandy should be returned to Mother Nature and not rebuilt; the city’s 911 system needs an overall [sic], after trapped Islanders desperate for help resorted to contacting their elected officials via Facebook; the mental health traumas of the storm continue to linger; and the disabled and elderly were left to fend for themselves, with some tragic consequences.

“Our Sandy occurred in 1953,” said Dutch official Arjun Braamskamp of the North Sea Flood, which forced his nation into a decades-long effort to stave off such devastation again. Part of that included passage of the Delta Act, which mandates that the Netherlands maintain its coastline, regardless of politics and budgetary constraints.

“Building with nature makes better economic sense and better environmental sense,” said Braamskamp in urging decision-makers to incorporate nature into redesign plans instead of devising ways to keep water out.

Building barriers along the entire coastline isn’t practical, said Braamskamp, an economic officer at the Netherlands Consulate General in New York. Rather, “working as one with the environment” and creating overlapping layers of defense, such as levees, sand, dune and salt marsh reinforcement, a lock system employed during major storm events and incorporating water retention areas such as underground parking garages for an integrated approach.

“We had to acknowledge that as sea levels continue to rise, we needed to come up with a smarter plan,” said Braamskamp. “We had to allow the water to come in whenever possible.”

Geologist Dr. William Fritz, CSI’s interim president, offered up several points to protect Staten Island from future storm surges — including an “education” component of simple signage clearly outlining evacuation options to save lives.

Along those lines, City Councilman James Oddo (R-Mid-Island/Brooklyn) said more should have been done to reach out to seniors who felt stranded, and in some cases perished. He also highlighted the need for the borough “to get our fair share” of federal storm dollars.

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-East Shore/Brooklyn) expressed frustration that various levels of government have not presented a coordinated approach in terms of buyout options and storm mitigation rules for rebuilding, leaving homeowners at a loss as how to proceed.

She also addressed the importance of generators at gas stations and policies to better protect insurance consumers.

Seth Pinsky, president of the city’s Economic Development Council, and head of the mayor’s Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency, said the Island’s housing stock and topography left residents “not aware of how vulnerable they were.”

Looking at the tragedy from a social science perspective, CSI Professors Lacey Sloan and Katie Cumiskey discussed the lack of coordination among non-profit organizations in Sandy’s aftermath, and how many residents continue to struggle emotionally.

Another panelist, graduate student MaryBeth Melendez, who is visually impaired, spoke of the hardships she and other disabled individuals faced with evacuation and transportation options. She said Access-A-Ride shut down two days before Sandy hit.

Meanwhile, FEMA official Michael Klitzke said residents should evacuate when told to do so.

“Know your risk; know your role,” advised Klitzke. “Just because you want to ride it out because it’s never flooded here before, don’t. Go.”

This article was written by Judy L. Randall with the Staten Island Advance and first appeared on on March 08, 2013 and was updated March 09, 2013 at 6:58 AM.  It is reprinted here with permission.

Read “The Toll” from The New Yorker magazine, featuring Dr. William J. Fritz  and highlighting the College of Staten Island and Hurricane Sandy.

Fourth Annual “Celestial Ball” to Raise Funds for College Support

The College's Celestial Ball with be held on April 13 at the Richmond County Country Club.

The College of Staten Island’s “Celestial Ball: Reaching for the Stars,” will take place on Saturday, April 13, 2013 at the Richmond County Country Club, rescheduled from its original date of Saturday, December 1, 2012 due to the devastating effects of Superstorm Sandy. The reception will begin at 6:30pm.

This year’s honorees include Robert Cutrona, Sr., President, Project One Services; Norma D’Arrigo, Community Leader; and Dr. Alfred Levine, Professor, Engineering Science and Physics, and Director, Center for Environmental Science, College of Staten Island.

The goal of the Celestial Ball is to raise much-needed funds to benefit all aspects of the College—from student and faculty support through infrastructure and everyday needs. Although the College is a publicly funded institution, the percentage of state funds in the institution’s budget has been severely reduced in recent years in the face of trying economic times. The need for private support, as a result, is critical.

This year’s Committee Chair is Marilyn Caselli, Senior Vice President for Customer Operations, Consolidated Edison, Inc., and a member of the CSI Foundation Board of Directors, and the Honorary Chairs are the Hon. Rita DiMartino, Trustee of The City University of New York, and the Hon. Kathleen Pesile ‘73, Trustee of The City University of New York and Principal Owner, Pesile Financial Group.

Tickets to the black tie-preferred event cost $250 per person, $150 of which is tax deductible. Responses are requested by Friday, March 29, 2013.

View Sponsorship and Journal Ad oportunities in PDF format.

Sponsorship at the $30,000 level will include special event recognition and publicity as the event sponsor. Sponsorships at the $10,000 and $5,000 levels will also include publicity and recognition at the event. Support at these and all levels will advance the growth of the College in every way. Journal ads are another way to demonstrate your support.

The CSI Celestial Ball, on Saturday, April 13, 2012, will begin with a reception at 6:30pm, and a four-course dinner and program at 7:30pm. The Richmond County Country Club is located at 135 Flagg Place, Staten Island, New York. Valet parking will be provided.

For tickets, sponsorship, journal ad opportunities, and more information, call the CSI Advancement Office at 718.982.2365.

The Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling Celebrates Its Second Cohort’s Graduation

Dr. Frances A. Meléndez, Interim Director of the MHC program, poses with two graduates.

The College of Staten Island’s Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling (MHC) program held  its second cohort’s graduation on Thursday, January 24, in the Center for the Arts Recital Hall.

The MHC program was developed by Dr. Judith Kuppersmith in collaboration with the Psychology faculty in order to address cultural and social problems as they emerge and change in our diverse and challenging world. The philosophy of the program is to “prepare students to work with children, adolescents, adults, families, groups, and organizations using highly developed cognitive and affective skills.” In the program, the students are encouraged to undergo their own personal counseling to better promote self-knowledge and personal growth.

In her welcome remarks, Dr. Frances A. Meléndez, Interim Director of the MHC program, discussed the impact that recent events within and around Staten Island have impacted its residents and brought to light the need for more well-trained mental health counselors. “Post-9/11 New Yorkers have high rates of anxiety and depression and the recommendation for a 15-percent increase in mental health providers…now the aftermath of Storm Sandy adds a third indicator further solidifying the importance and the need for mental health services on Staten Island.”

She went on to tell the audience about the lack of mental health services provided to New Yorkers, “MHC is known throughout the U.S. but it is relatively new to New York State. This program was developed by our faculty and the support of the administration to address the needs of Staten Island.”

The keynote speakers for the event were Dr. Aurelia Curtis, Principal of Curtis High School and Gigi Lipman, LCSW, Director of the Amethyst House, a halfway house for women suffering from substance abuse, both of whom worked closely with the MHC students as part of the internship requirement of the program—the graduates spent time working with several partners throughout the Staten Island community including CSI’s own Counseling Center, the YMCA, South Beach Psychiatrist, and the Vet Center to name a few. 

Both speakers exhorted the students to always persevere on behalf of their clients. 

“Hope is the most valuable thing we can give to our clients,” said Lipman.

This focus on self-exploration and the specific mental health needs of the people of Staten Island was evident throughout the graduation ceremony as the faculty and students present all referenced the importance of understanding the value of therapy and how to use it to help others.    

Many of the speakers for the event also frequently used the word “family” when describing the members of the cohort.  The 20 students, along with their friends and families, applauded and cheered heartily as each member of the cohort received his or her degree. 

“The emphasis of the program has always been collaboration, not competition,” said Kerri Quinn, one of the student speakers for the event. She also went on to talk about her reasons for joining the program.

“I have been to counseling, I know that it works and I want to help others the way it helped me,” said Quinn, who is working for the YMCA Counseling Center, plans on becoming certified as a substance abuse counselor, and works with children whose parents are struggling with addiction. 

Victoria Porcell, the other student speaker, who is teaching Research Methods and Psycho-Pathology at CSI, reiterated that sentiment by saying, “I just want to help others, any way I can.”

In Pinning Ceremony, CSI Students Join the Ranks of Professional Nurses


The CSI Department of Nursing recently held its Nursing Pinning Ceremony to honor the College's newest nursing graduates.

The CSI Department of Nursing held its Nursing Pinning Ceremony in the Center for the Arts recently to honor the 75 nursing students who have completed their professional education this semester.

More than half of the nursing students are non-traditional college students—many are mothers, one is a new grandfather. Several are second-career students from many different backgrounds. Some have previous college degrees; most work and go to school. This year was perhaps even more challenging as many of the students were victims of Hurricane Sandy—some lost homes, books, cars, computers—the list goes on. To their credit, these nursing students not only persevered but were proactive in overcoming the challenges that Sandy put in front of them. This cohort of nurses made a donation of approximately $1,000 to CSI for the Petrie Foundation for hurricane relief.

CSI Interim President Dr. William Fritz attended the ceremony and addressed the nursing graduates. His mother, an RN, was an honored guest.

In his remarks, Dr, Fritz emphasized the strengths of the CSI Nursing Department, noting that the “CSI Nursing faculty set high standards for pedagogy and scholarship and is recognized throughout the nursing profession as one of the best.  Year after year, [the Department] boasts one of the highest pass rates for the state-wide nursing certification exam. For over 25 years, CSI has trained and graduated more than 5,000 nurses, who have gone on to become the backbone of healthcare onStaten Island.”

Dr. Fritz added that “CSI’s continues to support for nursing and health science programs as evidenced by the new Simulation Lab for the Education of Nurses in the Care of Older Adults, and the development of a School of Health Sciences and Human Services….”

After Dr. Fritz’s comments, Dr. Susan Mee, an Assistant Professor from the Nursing Department, said, “It is a great privilege to work with our Nursing students to plan this special ceremony. I am always inspired by their dedication and humbled when I learn of the adversity that they have overcome to achieve their educational and professional goals. They have a lot of heart.”

She was also impressed by the way the students banded together during this trying semester. “This semester was particularly difficult for our students, many of whom were profoundly affected by Superstorm Sandy. Many lost their homes, their cars, their computers, and their books. Fellow students drove their classmates to class, raised money for the CSI fund, and worked as volunteers. It is to their great credit that they completed a rigorous academic program in the face of such devastation. We are so very proud of their great achievements and honored to have been a part of their nursing education.”

Larissa Smirnova, the student speaker for the event, echoed those thoughts when she addressed the audience saying, “There were many times when I thought I would not reach this finish line, but those struggles have only made this moment sweeter.”  She went on to say, “I believe that all of today’s graduates chose nursing as a career deliberately…we have faced our fears, overcome our disappointments and achieved this goal.”

Smirnova also took to chance to thank her husband and 12-year-old son for their patience and support, and ended her speech with what she believes is the most important aspect of the nursing profession, quoting Albert Einstein, “The important thing is not to stop questioning.”

Approximately 95 percent of this year’s cohort will re-matriculate into the CSI Bachelor’s degree program, allowing them to have even greater opportunities beyond college.

The pinning ceremony is a time-honored nursing school tradition. Often more personally meaningful than the graduation ceremony, it signifies their official initiation into the profession of nursing.  The modern ceremony dates back to the 1860s, when Florence Nightingale was awarded the Red Cross of St. George in recognition for her tireless service to the injured during the Crimean War. To share the honor, she, in turn, presented a medal of excellence to her brightest graduates.

Each school’s pin is unique and holds its own symbolic meaning. CSI’s nursing pin reads, “Scientia In Actione,” or “Knowledge in Action.”

IS 51 Principal Nick Mele (CSI ’00, ’05) Embraces History, Creates the Future

Arts Education and Civic Engagement Polish a Public School’s Shine

Markham in his Waters Ave. residence. Photo courtesy of the Westerleigh Improvement Society.

Edwin Markham, born Charles Edwin Anson Markham in 1852, moved to what is now known as Westerleigh on the North Shore of Staten Island in 1901. He founded the country’s first poetry society in 1904, and his house became a central gathering point for the era’s literary elite, with well-received readings performed by notable figures from the home’s second-story porch.

“The Markham House was a distinctive residence and gathering place in its heyday, when the area was known as Prohibition Park,” notes the President of the Westerleigh Improvement Society, Michael Morrell (Richmond College ’70, MSEd). “It stands today as a distinctive crown jewel of Westerleigh, representing the incredibly rich literary history and architectural style of the neighborhood.”


The front page of the April 24, 1937 issue of the Staten Island Advance featured a photo of Edwin Markham outside his home on Waters Ave. in Westerleigh three years before his death. Photo courtesy of the Staten Island Advance.

In his day, Edwin Markham’s April 23 birthday was a local school holiday on which students gathered and covered his lawn with flowers. On his 80th birthday, President Herbert Hoover and prominent citizens marked his accomplishments as an artist and literary figure with a notable party at Carnegie Hall.  According to American National Biography, Edwin Markham “managed to fuse art and social commentary in a manner that guaranteed him a place among the most famous artists of the late nineteenth century.”

Although known primarily for his poetry, Markham was a community-minded civic leader.  His book Children in Bondage: A Complete and Careful Presentation of the Anxious Problem of Child Labor – Its Causes, Its Crimes, and Its Cure (1914), was a landmark publication in the crusade against child labor.

With a noble history, it is fitting that Edwin Markham Intermediate School 51 was the first junior high school built on Staten Island. Today it serves the communities of Port Richmond, Graniteville, Westerleigh, and Mariners Harbor.


Nicholas Mele graduated from the College of Staten Island in 2000 with a BA in History and again in 2005 with an MS in Adolescent Education. He became Principal of IS 51 on January 3, 2011.

IS Principal Nick Mele (CSI ’00, ’05) embraces the history of the Markham School and stewards a future where arts education and civic engagement are keystone values.

Before taking over as Principal, many people warned Mele that Markham was a “tough” school and that he had his work cut out for him.  From the moment he walked into the building, he realized that what he heard could not have been further from the truth.

“The children were great and the teachers and staff took such pride in their work and their school. Perhaps most importantly, I was impressed by the teachers’ and staffs’ dedication to our students and the student experience,” Mele reflects.

As he began integrating into the community, Mele learned that many parents who lived in the neighborhood did not consider IS 51 an option. With declining enrollment, he was fearful that the future was not bright.  After a week of observations and many consultations, he immediately put key changes in place and began to look at ways to make the school more attractive.

According to Mele, “the first course of action was to prioritize the visibility of myself and the staff, both in and out of the building, and to hold the students accountable. To date, we have had great results improving our student’s behavior and enhancing our community relations since I took over.” He began a series of tours and orientations for perspective parents and students during the school day to allow them to learn firsthand of the Markham experience. These activities have been highly successful and well received.


The academic success of students also became quickly evident. In 2011, no graduates were accepted into specialized high schools. In 2012, there were six, including two to LaGuardia. The school is also seeing an increase in English Language Arts (ELA) scores after tireless work with the students with disabilities population and English Language Learners, and consistently received a grade of “B” on the NYC Progress Report.

“If you look at our Learning Environment Survey in which parents, students, and teachers get to chime in about what they think of IS 51,” Mele notes, “we have increased in every category each year from 2006. That is an ongoing testament to the dedication of our teachers and staff, and our entire community is extremely fortunate to benefit for their efforts. My successes are rooted in theirs.”

After consultation with students, staff, and parents, Mele soon changed the themes of the learning academies he inherited to Fine Arts, Performing Arts, and Media/Technology.

This change “tied into what students were interested in and into what programs our feeder schools had,” according to Mele, “such as the band at PS 30 and the Chorus at PS 22.” In addition to implementing practical curriculum for each academy, enrichment-track classes were developed to benefit the students during their three years at Markham.

The lifeblood of a public middle school is a rich mosaic of teachers, staff, students, and parents, and Mele is proud of the synergy of their efforts.


“We collected over $30,000 this past year for the March of Dimes and that makes us the number-one school in the country” for the March for Babies Campaign 2011, touts Mele. This national distinction, which encompasses all K-12 schools throughout the country, is especially poignant as Markham is classified as a Title 1 school.

“We do not receive big donations…” Mele adds, “we raise our money mostly through the children and staff, one dollar at a time.” Mele is quick to acknowledge Andrew Cataneo (CSI MS Ed. ‘93, Sixth-Year Certificate ’95), Assistant Principal of the Performing Arts Academy, as the primary architect of the event and its ongoing success, adding “We are proud that anyone who visits the school in the springtime is welcomed with hallways covered with March of Dimes donation cards.”

In true Markham tradition, Mele knows that a cornerstone of building tomorrow’s leaders includes instilling a deep sense of social consciousness and civic responsibility. IS 51 participates in the Penny Harvest and Bread for Life, their chorus brightens the rec rooms of local nursing homes, and the school produces a spring musical production and puts on free performances for local elementary schools.

Students are quick to point out the emotional significance that their middle school experiences. One first-year chorus student beamed “We get to visit seniors and make them happy through song! That’s so much better than bringing them cookies!” Also, a recent graduate admitted to a summer of crying after leaving her school behind.


As a History major, Mele knows that knowledge gained in the past is critical to building a better future.

“CSI prepared me to become a great teacher,” said Mele.  “I remember a course that went over the nuts and bolts of lesson planning, aims, and objectives with Professor Goldstein. It provided me the structure I needed to be successful, and if I was not a successful teacher, I would have never made it to this point in my career.”

Mele also says he discovered “the purpose of education and our system with CSI Professor Armitage,” adding “It’s funny… in 1998 I was in her class, and today she comes to IS 51 with an excellent crop of student teachers from CSI.”

“I have many fond memories of CSI and I am excited to be in a position where I can give back to the institution and the community that helped shaped my career,” Mele notes.

This academic year, the IS 51 renaissance continues. With more families in the community believing in IS 51, enrollment in the honors classes has doubled and the PTA has increased its role and strengthens the community involvement and academic trajectories.

Tirelessly dedicated to the student experience, Mele doesn’t rest on his success when he notes “there is still a great deal more we have to do, but thanks to the teachers, the staff, and the volunteers who believe in our school, I believe we are on the right path.”