Mother-Daughter Team Graduate CSI Together

Caren Fall and Christine McWatt at CSI's 2017 Commencement.

In spring 2017, Caren Fall and Christine McWatt had developed serious cases of senioritis.

Fall was returning to college after many years of being out of school.

McWatt was entering college as a freshman after graduating from Port Richmond High School.

It was a challenging road to graduation, but this mother-daughter team had plenty to celebrate at CSI’s Commencement in May 2017.

“Having the privilege to graduate with my mother was an honor. I was ecstatic when I found out that she was going to graduate with her degree with me,” said McWatt, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology.

“I was definitely honored and excited to graduate with my daughter,” Fall said, explaining that her college career began 31 years ago, but was halted due to migration to the U.S. from Guyana and health concerns.

“I made a vow that once my daughter became self-sufficient and independent, I would go back to college. So naturally I am excited and thrilled that I was able to go back to college after all these years and graduate with her,” said Fall, who received a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Business Management. The Mariner’s Harbor resident, who maintained a 3.6 GPA, also received a faculty nomination to join the Sigma Beta Delta Honor Society for Business Management and Administration and the CSI Auxiliary Services Corporation Award for Academic Excellence in Management.

“My mother made so many sacrifices when she had me to make sure I became successful, and the fact that she was able to go back to school when I was a senior in high school and now earn her degree made me so proud of her and to have her as my mom,” said McWatt, a recipient of the Summer/Fall 2016 Dean’s Research Award, who conducted research with Dr. Ellen-ge Denton and Dr. Collette Chapman-Hilliard on African American students’ academic achievement.

A scholarly duo, Fall and McWatt, studied in their dining room together, helped and supported each other with classes, proofread each others’ papers, and swapped math formulas.  McWatt even delivered lunch to her mom when she was putting in long hours studying in the CSI Library.

McWatt, a Brooklyn native, notes that having her mother enrolled in college “gave me more motivation to complete my degree.”

“During my sophomore year of college, I was feeling really discouraged and thought that I would not finish college in four years like I planned. My mother really pushed me to stick it out and not give up,” said McWatt, also a Mariners Harbor resident, and a pharmacy technician at CVS. She is also a contestant in the 2017 Miss Black Staten Island/Richmond County Competition.

McWatt will be attending Brooklyn College as a NYC Teaching Fellow and working toward earning a Master’s in Education. Fall plans to continue working at Trinity School in Manhattan while pursuing a business venture.



Heidi Bertels Featured on

An article on discusses a teaching case coauthored by Heidi Bertels, PhD, Assistant Professor of Management at the College of Staten Island.

According to the article, “Teaching case examines ‘average is beautiful’ doll as an entrepreneurial opportunity,” the Professor’s “teaching case is meant to introduce students to the qualities of effective entrepreneurs and to the decision-making process involved in pursuing a business prospect.”

Read the story on


Brian Raleigh ’18 Harmonizes Academics and Interests

Brian Raleigh "crowd surfing" at Webster Hall

It has been well established among researchers that music can have a relaxing effect on people. Perhaps, no one knows that better than College of Staten Island (CSI) student Brian Raleigh ’18. The Verrazano School student has been a musician since age five, and now, as a successful college student in a popular band, Raleigh finds that his calm demeanor is his key to stress-less success.

“I feel like many college students get into the ‘end of the world’ mentality a lot of the time and it only makes them more stressed, which is not the goal of college. College is supposed to be a place that is challenging. However, the challenge does not lie with the actual work professors give. It lies with one’s response to it,” declares Raleigh, a Business Management major, minoring in Music.

While playing keyboard in his band, Wayward Strangers, at such popular venues as The Bitter End and Webster Hall, Raleigh still manages to work as a peer coach in the Office of Academic Support at CSI and at his family-owned shop, Eggers Ice Cream Parlor, while maintaining a 3.5 GPA.

Being a part of the CSI community is important to Raleigh, and he urges all CSI students to “make CSI your own! Don’t be afraid to stay on campus and make friends. CSI is a great school for the price we pay, and one should feel proud to go here. Get involved and enjoy college!”

The 20-year-old Petrides High School graduate is also a member of the CSI Music Club. His goal is to pursue music professionally, be it with his own band or as an associate in the industry, possibly opening a record label or talent management firm.

Raleigh working at Egger's Ice Cream Parlor.

“I would like to shape this next generation of music as well as give back to a community that has given people behind them the chance to listen to amazing music,” Raleigh commented.

“The band is my passion but so is music in general. I think anyone’s dream career would be to travel the world with some of their best friends and make music. I think that with Wayward Strangers it’s a real possibility,” said Raleigh, a West Brighton resident.

The student credits Charles Liu, PhD, Director of the Macaulay and Verrazano School programs, because he, “really got me to think about life and the reality of the world outside of college. He is very inspiring and is always filled with surprises.”

Dr. Liu, also an astrophysics professor at the College, says Raleigh inspires him right back.  “Brian was a pleasure to have in my class – what an engaged, active learner he is!  He’s great to have around outside of class too – as a student, a musician, and much more.  He is a highly valued and greatly appreciated member of the Verrazano Community.”

The model student advises his fellow peers to keep up with their priorities and not to let too much responsibility weigh them down.

Raleigh insists, “Do not get caught up in the amount of work you have. Always do your work but always realize that every situation, good or bad, is temporary. Thus when life and school are good, push harder because at some point that good situation will start to change, so be prepared. On the other hand, I find myself buried in work all the time, but whether its school or work, when things get hard, I accept the challenge. I will get through it, good or bad, pass or fail, the stress will end.”




[update] Students Finish 4th in Global Competition

A group of students from the College of Staten Island’s School of Business advanced to the final round of the MikesBikes business simulation World Championship. The team, Luxury Bertels, is comprised of Mohammad Chugtai, Javad Ali, Usman Ahmed, and Catherine Jeanbart who, over the course of last semester, have competed not only against classmates but against thousands of other student teams across the globe.

UPDATE: CSI slipped past Loyola College in Ontario during the last few minutes of competition to edge Loyola out for fourth place in global competition.  “Our team completed in the finals agains institutions from Australia, India, Canada, and the US,” noted Dr. Susan Holak, Founding Dean of the School of Business, adding “This is a fantastic finish for the School of Business team and a real credit to Professor Bertels!  Through creative pedagogy, she has sparked excitement and learning by doing in this class.”

The students, part of Professor Heidi Bertels’ Management 416 call “Decision Making in Business” is a capstone management course which tasks senior business students with analyzing the problems that face all business managers. The students run a simulated bicycle manufacturing company and deal with everything from sales forecasting to marketing, production planning, personnel, pricing, and finance.

Smartsims, the company that runs MikesBikes, keeps track of all the data from all of the teams worldwide. They invite those teams that were top performers while playing against their classmates to compete for a spot in the world championship. 85 of the best teams from universities and colleges around the world competed in the qualifying round. The top eight teams of the qualifying round, including a team composed of CSI students, and then advanced to the actual world championship. Cash prizes are awarded to the first and second place winners and the championship players will also be featured on the Smartsims’ website and awarded a Championship Certificate.

The reason Professor Bertels uses MikesBikes for her class business simulation is fairly straight forward. The manufacturing industry is, according to Professor Bertels, “fairly typical and as general as possible.” So business management students of all stripes can learn from working with the simulation. She is also a big believer in getting students’ “noses out of the books” and actually having them apply the business concepts they have learned throughout their careers as CSI business students.

“The competencies required to perform well in MikesBikes are an understanding of all areas of business on the one hand and persistence and dedication on the other,” said Professor Bertels of the challenges her MGT 416 students face. “The simulation is involved as the students need to make decisions based on financial statements and reports that take into consideration manufacturing efficiency, market sensitivities to advertising and delivery performance, competitor performance and shareholder value. Every time the simulation advances a year, the students need to study the updated reports and make informed decisions based on the changing market and competitive situation. Students that do not work diligently on doing this every week will not perform well in the simulation.”

Dr. Susan Holak, Founding Dean of the School of Business (Interim) and Professor of Marketing at CSI, is very proud of Professor Bertels’ students. “This is a tremendous accomplishment for our students under Professor Bertels’ terrific leadership and guidance.”

“MikesBikes! A name that normally scares students in MGT 416,” exclaimed Javad Ali, one of Luxury Bertels’ team members. “Through hours and hours of trial and error, online, offline this game just doesn’t stop.”

Another member of Luxury Bertels had this to say about the MikesBikes simulation, “This simulation game is perhaps the greatest and most effective tools in learning how to run and manage a full scale business.”

[gallery] Business Honor Society Inducts New Members

CSI recently held its second annual induction ceremony for the Business Honor Society, Sigma Beta Delta.

The College of Staten Island held its second annual induction ceremony for the Business Honor Society, Sigma Beta Delta, on May 2. The gathering of more than 100 students, family, faculty, alumni, and College leaders celebrated the success of this year’s inductees and reflected on the fine example that they set for the College. In total, over 50 undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty members were inducted into the College’s chapter.

View the CSI Today Photo Gallery>

Sigma Beta Delta is the International Honor Society for Business, Management, and Administration. Its members include top-performing business students and faculty at leading universities around the world. Its members aspire to uphold the society’s principles of wisdom, honor, and aspiration. The society’s logo, a key emblazed with the Greek letters for Sigma, Beta, and Delta, is recognized by educators and employers as a symbol of achievement and distinction.

The event kicked off with welcoming remarks from CSI Interim President Dr. William J. Fritz and greetings from Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Fred Naider.  The ceremony was then led by Interim Founding Dean of Business Dr. Susan Holak.

In addition to inducting current students and faculty, the College chapter also inducted two highly successful alumni as honorary members.  Kathleen Pesile was recognized for her many contributions to CSI and the broader community through her role as a Trustee of The City University of New York, and for her impact in the classroom as a Finance Adjunct, and her leadership in civic organizations. Similarly, Mr. Richard Prinzi was recognized for his success as an entrepreneur, as an alumni leader within CSI, and his ongoing effort to help accounting students as an Accounting Adjunct and as the founder of special accounting scholarships and internships.

During the ceremony it was noted that the honor society was meeting at a time of rapid change at the College. The Business program was being upgraded from a department to a School of Business. In addition, the newly formed School was making steady progress toward being accredited by the “gold standard” in business education-–the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

It was also noted that the College’s chapter of Sigma Beta Delta had over 100 members. This created opportunities for additional special events and networking.  As a first step, the chapter would soon be establishing its own LinkedIn site to help members stay connected.

[gallery] Sigma Beta Delta Holds Inaugural Induction Ceremony

The Sigma Beta Delta honor society recently held its inaugural induction ceremony.

The College of Staten Island (CSI) recently held its inaugural induction ceremony for its chapter of the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society for Business, Management, and Administration.

View the CSI Today Photo Gallery.

The society’s main function is to reward upper-class or graduate Business students who have achieved academic excellence and placed in the top 20 percent of their class.

“CSI now has a way to formally recognize its students that transcends institutions and even countries,” said Dr. Susan Holak, Associate Provost for Institutional Effectiveness and Professor of Marketing, addressing the importance of having a chapter on the CSI campus.

The 53 CSI student inductees hold majors in a variety of fields—including students from The Verrazano School and the Macaulay Honors College—such as Accounting, Finance, International Business, Management, and Marketing.

“Being a part of Sigma Beta Delta is a huge accomplishment. To know that I am in the top 20 percent of my class makes me feel like all my hard work during college really paid off. I am honored to be part of such a great honor society,” said Adejoke Adegoke, Accounting major and President of the Accounting Club. Francesco Cirillo, an honoree majoring in Marketing and International Business added, “I would have never thought I would achieve such a prestigious honor…I dedicate this award to my parents for sacrificing themselves to give me the opportunity to achieve the unimaginable.”

Along with these exceptional students, 12 faculty and members of the administration were also inducted for creating the learning experiences that are at the heart of the Sigma Beta Delta mission. The inducted professors include Soon Chun, Daniel Gagliardi, Patricia Galletta, Rosane Gertner, Jonathan Peters, George Wang, and Alan Zimmerman.

“Having a chapter on campus is “a great way for the Business Department to recognize the outstanding academic achievements of our students. Students receive lifetime recognition as well as other benefits such as networking opportunities and the eligibility to compete for the society’s fellowship awards,” said Professor Deepa Aravind, Assistant Professor of Management.

President Tomás D. Morales and Provost William Fritz were also inducted as honorary members.

The CSI Business Department is the largest department on campus in terms of enrollment, and its students now have an academic honor for which they can strive as they pave their way toward success. Sigma Beta Delta gives the highest-achieving students further accolades to use as they build their network bases from CSI and its environs to members across the globe, giving Sigma Beta Delta members a leg up in the extremely competitive world of business. “Our chapter of Sigma Beta Delta is another reflection of the growth of our school and the progress of our students,” said Professor Thomas Tellefsen, Professor of Business at CSI.

The inaugural induction ceremony of this 372nd chapter of the society was also a way to honor the hard work of those who helped to establish the CSI chapter of Sigma Beta Delta— Chapter President Holak,  Chapter Vice President  Tellefsen, and Chapter Secretary-Treasurer Deepa Aravind, when they were formally inducted on April 26.

The honor society’s principles are imbedded in its name: Sigma, which means wisdom, is meant to remind students that wisdom is not merely information but is the acknowledgment of information and the ability to incorporate it into one’s own life.  Beta, which signifies honor, demands that students respect others and are willing to provide leadership to the benefit of humankind. Finally, Delta signifies the pursuit of meaningful aspirations.

“As members of Sigma Beta Delta, (CSI students) will join thousands of other individuals who have excelled in business-related studies and have promised to uphold the tenets of the honor society,” said Dr. Holak as she addressed the inductees.

The CSI Business Department will be listing all of the Sigma Beta Delta honorees on the Department Website as a way to further honor the hard work of its members.