Marybeth Melendez Performs at Unidad Latina Conference: a Center for Student Accessibility Spotlight

CSI alumna Marybeth Melendez continues her academic success as she pursues her graduate degree at the College.

Marybeth Melendez is a woman of many accomplishments and talents. She is a College of Staten Island (CSI) graduate student, a mother of three, and, as hundreds of people witnessed at the Unidad Latina Conference this past October, also a singer. However, what the audience members at the first annual Conference may not have known is that Melendez is an individual who is blind.

Melendez suffers from a retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative genetic disorder, which caused her to begin to lose her vision at a young age. Yet, that did not hinder her academic and personal dreams. She applied to the College, earned an Associate’s and a dual Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology, and is now pursuing graduate coursework.

“The only way I could provide for my kids was to go back to school. I knew it was a decision I was making for me and for them.  I needed to make sure I was planning for a successful future for us,” commented Melendez.

Her recent rise to stardom at the Conference in New York City certainly solidified that sentiment. Melendez was honored when she was asked to sing both the opening and closing songs of the night. Melendez began the event with “The Star-Spangled Banner” and brought the evening to a close with “Killing Me Softly with His Song.”

The graduate student, who is pursuing a master’s degree at CSI in Mental Health Counseling, also spoke to attendees briefly to share her gratitude to CUNY for the opportunities she has been given in higher education.

“I thank CUNY for giving me the best education possible, and we, as students, give back in terms of advocacy as we stay in the New York workforce. We are students, workers, advocates, public servants, and professionals. We are the best of CUNY,” said Melendez.

The Conference, which was organized by the New York State Senate and the Hispanic Federation, brought together hundreds of people from the Hispanic community in New York, including leaders from business, education, health care, and government to discuss ways to promote economic growth and job creation.  At the event, the Unidad Latina Award for Excellence in Education was presented to CSI President Dr. Tomás D. Morales.

Melendez is the former President of the ALPHA (Academics, Leadership, Professionalism, Honor, and Acceptance) Club and both a tutor and registered student at the CSA. She has worked on special projects and events with the CSA since 2009  and was a speaker at the 2010 “My Story” event.

“The Center for Student Accessibility leveled the playing field for me. They gave me the tools I needed to be the best student I could be. Without the Center, I would not be where I am today,” said Melendez, who graduated summa and magna Cum Laude and is the recipient of multiple scholarships.

The Center for Student Accessibility is a part of the Division of Student Affairs.

As part of the Center for Student Accessibility’s (CSA) “My Story” campaign, the Center will regularly highlight high-achieving students who have overcome challenges and exhibit student success, including academic advancement, co-curricular commitment, and pre-professional training. 

Pres. Morales Receives Unidad Latina Award for Excellence in Education

College of Staten Island President Dr. Tomás Morales, flanked by Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, was honored over the weekend at the Unidad Latina Legislative Conference in Manhattan. Photo courtesy of The Staten Island Advance.

( – The first annual Unidad Latina conference held in New York City this weekend was an enormous success that brought together hundreds of people from the Hispanic community in New York, including leaders from business, education, health care and government to discuss ways to promote economic growth and job creation.  The conference was organized by the New York State Senate and the Hispanic Federation.

“This conference was an impressive gathering of bright, talented people who came together to discuss how to make the Latino community more prosperous,” Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos said. “Every conference room and ballroom was filled with people committed to giving Hispanic-owned entrepreneurs the resources they need to grow and improving the quality of life for Latinos.”

Among the bipartisan group of legislators who attended were: state Senators Charles Fuschillo, John Flanagan, Jack Martins, Martin Golden, Jim Alesi, Lee Zeldin, Jeff Klein, Diane Savino and David Carlucci;  Assemblymembers Nicole Malliotakis, Guillermo Linares, Naomi Rivera, former Assemblyman Roberto Ramirez and former New York City Councilman Fernando Ferrer.

A gala dinner, held Saturday night, began with the national anthem sung by Marybeth Melendez, a visually impaired graduate student at the College of Staten Island.  The gala was emceed by Jeanine Ramirez of NY1 News, who has traveled to Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic for special feature reporting assignments.

Featured speakers at the dinner included Lillian Rodriqúez López, President of the Hispanic Federation;  Monika Mantilla, founder, President and CEO of Altura Management and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, whose mother came to the United States from Cuba.

Special awards were presented at the dinner to recognize individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the Hispanic community.

  • The Unidad Latina Award for Excellence in Education was presented to Dr. Tomás D. Morales, the President of the College of Staten Island.
  • The Unidad Latina Community award was given to Gil Bernardino, the Executive Director of Circulo De La Hispanidad, a non-profit Hispanic community organization in Nassau County.
  • The Unidad Latina Award for Excellence in Business was presented to Juan Figueroa, an owner of Milestone Mechanical, a heating and cooling company in Manhattan that focuses on energy-efficient buildings.  After beginning just three years ago, the company has achieved almost $2 million in sales.
  • The Unidad Latino Legacy Award was presented to Rita DiMartino, a member of the CUNY Board of Trustees and former vice President of Congressional Relations for AT&T.  Ms. DiMartino also served in leadership roles with UNICEF.
  • In addition, Senator Lee Zeldin presented an award for Business Person of the Year to Santiago Reyes, a restaurant owner in Suffolk County.

Other speakers at Unidad Latina were: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Irene M. Esteves, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Time Warner Cable Inc.;  Dr. John B. King, Commissioner of Education and President of the State University of New York; and former New York City Council Member Fernando Ferrer.


[gallery] College Community Celebrates First Annual Homecoming

The SIBCRI Walkathon kicked off the College's first-ever Homecoming.

More than 400 CSI alumni, students, staff, and faculty had the chance to enjoy a new tradition, last Saturday–the College’s first-ever Homecoming. Fortunately, the rain that was forecast for most of the day held off until later in the afternoon, so visitors were able to enjoy the full slate of events that were planned for the day.

View the CSI Today Photo Gallery.

Following registration and a continental breakfast, Homecoming began with a walkathon to benefit the Staten Island Breast Cancer Research Initiative (SIBCRI). Con Edison was the lead sponsor of this event. Walkathon participants, many of whom donned pink t-shirts, enjoyed a refreshing stroll through campus, which included a grand balloon archway and pink water emanating from the College’s water fountains. The SIBCRI also hosted a table where walkers could purchase handmade scarves and other knitted goods to raise funds for the important research and work that the Initiative conducts in the hope of combating breast cancer on Staten Island.

As no Homecoming would be complete without sporting events, other events in the morning included a volleyball game between the CSI Dolphins and a team from the Culinary Institute of America and a tennis match. In addition, there was also Career Speed-networking, which gave members of the Class of 2012 the opportunity to connect with and get career advice from CSI alumni. This event was made possible thanks to the assistance of the Business Department, including Chairperson Professor Thomas Tellefson, and other faculty members, such as Professor George Stearn, who organized the speed-networking event and participated with his business students.

The afternoon’s offerings included an Oktoberfest luncheon at which Ken Tirado of Killmeyer’s Old Bavaria Inn gave a presentation on the origins and history of Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany; a free gelato party and reception with a historic poster display on Italian heritage that was organized by the professors and students from Italian Studies program to commemorate Italian Heritage Month; alumni reunion tables for alumni from the Classes of 1962, 1967, 1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2002, and 2007; a meet-and-greet with members of the Academy of Retired Professors and current faculty; a report on the College’s progress from CSI President Dr. Tomás D. Morales; and a guided campus bus tour.

There were also more athletic activities on tap as visitors enjoyed a Women’s Soccer match featuring the Dolphins and John Jay, as well as a Men’s Soccer game that pitted the Dolphins against the A-Team of the NYPD.

There was also an outdoor music performance and all-day events, like the WSIA Radio outdoor remote broadcast and children’s attractions, such as a pumpkin patch and face painting. The CSI Alumni Association Board was also on hand with an information table.

In the evening, Homecoming concluded with a WSIA 30th Anniversary Dinner, in honor of former station General Manager, Greg Adamo ‘86. The event gave WSIA alumni a chance to catch up with old friends and colleagues in a light-hearted atmosphere.

Summing up the entire Homecoming experience, which, of course, included the hard work and preparation that went into creating the event, Homecoming Committee Chairperson and CSI Athletic Director Vernon Mummert said, “The first-ever CSI Homecoming Day was a wonderful success! I was so pleased to have the great work of so many colleagues in putting together an event of this magnitude. It was through their spirit of enthusiasm and cooperation that we were able to provide a wonderful experience for our alumni.”

Macaulay Grad Accepted to AmeriCorps Program

Macaulay Honors College graduate Isabella Cardona has recently been accepted to Public Allies, an AmeriCorps program.

Isabella Cardona, who graduated magna cum laude from the Macaulay Honors College at the College of Staten Island (CSI) with a BA in Political Science and International Studies, along with a minor in French, has been accepted to Public Allies. Public Allies is an AmeriCorps program, where she will work with We Are New York,  a project formed as a joint endeavor by The City University of New York and the Mayor’s Office to facilitate English-language conversation groups for immigrants living in New York City. Her appointment began on September 1 and runs through June 29, 2012. 

We Are New York helps the immigrant community in two ways: by providing platforms (situated in local communities) in which immigrants can practice their English and by enabling immigrants to learn more about important New York City services. 

Commenting on how she feels about this honor, Cardona said, “It has always been and will always be very important for me to maintain high levels of civic engagement. It is a true honor to be able to provide meaningful service to my country—the one that has given my family and me a tremendous amount of opportunity. I know that being part of AmeriCorps will strengthen my leadership skills, enable me to further develop my core values, deepen my love for civic participation, and will undoubtedly inspire much personal and professional growth. 

“As graduation approached,” she adds, “I faced the unnerving question of what to do after receiving my hard-earned degrees. I was not sure what specific direction to go in, but I did know that I needed some time to reflect on what my next step(s) should be. Public Allies is a perfect fit for me because the program allows me to do the aforementioned while working altruistically in my community. It also enables my natural intellectual curiosity to continually be fueled with the weekly skill training, community building, and leadership development seminars it provides. Furthermore, upon completion of the program, I will receive a $5,500 education award. It almost seems too good to be true!”                                                                                                                                  

Upon graduating, Cardona received both the International Studies Award and the CSI Alumni Association Outstanding Student Leadership Award. During her tenure at CSI, she also served on the organizing committee of the Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars, as a New Student Orientation Leader, a SEEK Mentor, a CSI Ambassador, and a student volunteer for the CSI Alumni Association.

In addition, Cardona has completed internships with the U.S. Department of State and World of Children—a humanitarian organization dedicated to supporting child advocates, and TheBigWord—a leading global translating and interpreting agency. She has also studied abroad in Paris, France and Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, and she accompanied President Morales and several other CSI students to a breakfast meeting with Mayor Bloomberg in the spring of 2009. She is also fluent in Spanish. 

As for her future plans, Cardona is in the process of applying for a Fulbright Fellowship to teach English in Argentina next year.

WSIA to Celebrate 30 Years as Licensed Station with Alumni Reunion at Homecoming

WSIA will celebrate 30 years as a licensed station with an alumni reunion on October 1.

WSIA, the student-run campus radio station, and Staten Island’s only FM outlet, had its humble beginnings in a broom closet on the Sunnyside campus. Today, it is a state-of-the-art station, broadcasting from CSI’s Willowbrook campus on 88.9 FM and online.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Federal Communications Commission granting a license to WSIA, so the station is celebrating with an alumni reunion during Homecoming on October 1. The event will feature a dinner honoring former General Manager Dr. Greg Adamo, who is currently Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Graduate Program in Communication Studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD.

See who is attending and Register Online Now!

 Besides his 22-year tenure as General Manager of WSIA, he is an alumnus of CSI, having received an MA in Cinema Studies in 1986. Dr. Adamo has also been a member of the CSI faculty and has taught at Rutgers University and Richard Stockton College. In addition, he is the author of the recently published book, African Americans in Television: Behind the Scenes, an examination of television and race from the viewpoint of  television writers, directors, producers, and executives. 

All WSIA alumni are invited to attend the reunion to catch up with old colleagues and friends and learn more about today’s WSIA. Call General Manager Philip Masciantonio at 718.982.3056 or email him at for more information.

For more information on Homecoming at CSI, as well as its first scheduled event, a walkathon to benefit the Staten Island Breast Cancer Research Initiative, visit the CSI Today Registration Page or call the Alumni Relations Office at 718.982.2290.

First-Ever Homecoming Scheduled for October 1

CSI’s first-ever Homecoming will offer a fun-filled day of events and plenty of activities for kids.

The stage is set for a brand-new tradition—Homecoming CSI-style, as alumni, students, staff, and members of the community will gather for a full day of fun, reminiscing, and networking on October 1.

See who is attending and Register Online Now!

Homecoming will kick off at 9:00am with registration and a continental breakfast followed by the Staten Island Breast Cancer Research Initiative Walkathon. After that, attendees can enjoy an exciting volleyball match-up between the CSI Dolphins and a team from the Culinary Institute of America. Another morning event is Career Speed-networking, an opportunity for members of the Class of 2012 to meet and gain career advice from CSI alumni.

The day’s options expand from noon on with an Oktoberfest luncheon at which Ken Tirado of Killmeyer’s Old Bavaria Inn will give a presentation on the origins and history of Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. He’ll address how it has evolved and will also speak about the history of German immigrants on Staten Island and the past history of German breweries that once proliferated here.

After lunch, span the globe and enjoy learning about “la bella Italia” in a relaxed setting with free gelato.  Participants will enjoy mingling with CSI students, many of whom are Italian Studies majors, and viewing their colorful poster presentations regarding various aspects of Italian culture.

Other attractions include alumni reunion tables in the Campus Center (Building 1C) for alumni from the Classes of 1962, 1967, 1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2002, and 2007; meeting with members of the Academy of Retired Professors and current faculty; getting a College update from CSI President Dr. Tomás D. Morales; enjoying a guided campus bus tour; and cheering on the Dolphins during a Women’s Soccer match, pitting CSI against John Jay.

An outdoor music performance and more soccer are on tap in the afternoon, as the Men’s Soccer squad takes on the A-Team of the NYPD.

The day’s events conclude with the WSIA 30th Anniversary Dinner, welcoming back all of the alumni staff members who worked and learned the radio business at the College’s radio station, and honoring former station General Manager, Greg Adamo ‘86.

There will also be all-day events, like the WSIA Radio outdoor remote broadcast and plenty of children’s attractions, such as a pumpkin patch and face painting. The CSI Alumni Association Board will have a table.

For more information on CSI’s first-ever Homecoming, including a full schedule of events, visit the CSI Today Registration Page or call the Alumni Relations office at 718.982.2290.


CSI Marks Tenth Anniversary of September 11, 2001

President Morales speaks at last Friday's 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony.

A breezy, partly sunny day provided the setting for the College’s 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony, last Friday, as CSI students, faculty, staff, alumni, and family members of some of the 27 alumni lost on that day gathered in the Memorial Garden to mark the tenth anniversary of the tragic attacks on our nation.

Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. A. Ramona Brown, who served as the emcee of the ceremony, introduced CSI President Dr. Tomás D. Morales, who offered welcoming remarks. “We will never forget those whom we lost and we will never forget their families, friends, and loved ones who continue to try and heal from this unspeakable tragedy,” he said. The President recalled where he was where he was when he heard the news of the attacks and mentioned that he spent time as a high school student working in New York City’s Financial District.

“Students come to the College of Staten Island to fulfill their dreams and aspirations,” President Morales added, “to pursue productive careers in the hopes of achieving better lives. The stark realization that 27 CSI alumni, 27 of our former students, were taken from us on 9/11 is indeed especially painful. The names of these former students, engraved on a plaque in the Memorial Garden right here before us, serve as a reminder of a great loss that continues to resonate with all of us.”

Following President Morales’s remarks, Music student Stephanie Geraci performed “Meditation” from Jules Massenet’s Thaïs on solo violin and English Professor Cate Marvin read her poem, “On Trying to Write a Poem After 9/11/01.”

Representing the CSI student body, Cpl. Joseph McDonough, a member of the United Stated Marine Corps and the CSI Armed Forces Club, shared his feelings on 9/11, noting that he was personally affected by the tragedy, having lost a family member and many loved ones on that day.

Arthur J. Merola, DPM ’84, ’85, President of the CSI Alumni Association Board at podium with Linda Dianto ’69, ’71, ’85, Assistant Treasurer of the Alumni Association Board, behind.

Next, Arthur J. Merola, DPM ’84, ’85, President of the CSI Alumni Association Board, and Linda Dianto ’69, ’71, ’85, Assistant Treasurer of the Alumni Association Board, read the names of the CSI alumni who lost their lives on 9/11.

Elaine R. Schenk, MId from Catholic Campus Ministry offered closing thoughts, calling on everyone in attendance to focus on forgiveness, peace, and kindness in an effort to heal.

The ceremony concluded as attendees placed white carnations next to the 9/11 Memorial.

Members of the College community who would like to speak with a professional counselor are urged to visit the Counseling Center in Building 1A, Room 109, either alone or with friends. Center hours are 9:00am to 5:00pm, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and 9:00am to 7:30pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

CSIAA Touches Base with Alumni at SI Yankees Game

Susan Law '74 and Peter Cheung '75, who met at SICC and eventually married, with Dr. Alan Benimoff

The College of Staten Island, in collaboration with the Alumni Association (CSIAA), hosted an alumni information table at the September 3 Staten Island Yankees game to provide information to College alumni and give them the opportunity to reconnect with CSI. The table was staffed by Dr. Alan Benimoff of the College’s Engineering Science and Physics Department. Dr. Benimoff is a CSI alumnus and a member of the CSIAA Board.

The College sponsors many events each year for the College’s 55,000 alumni, including the first-ever Homecoming on Saturday, October 1. For more information on this and other alumni events, visit the CSIAA Website, call the Alumni Relations Office at 718.982.2290, or email the Office at