CSI’s Continuing Education Ranked #4 for Most Affordable Four-Year Online Colleges in New York

CSI's Continuing Education Ranked #4 on Online Colleges.com

Online Colleges.com has published its “Most Affordable Online Colleges in New York” report, and the College of Staten Island (CSI) ranked #4 among “Most Affordable Four-Year Online Colleges in New York.” The findings refer to several programs offered through CSI’s Office of Continuing Education and Professional Development.

To view the complete list, visit the Online Colleges.com web site.





Continuing Education Celebrates Summer App Build Program at the CSI Tech Incubator

Port Richmond High School Student Ryan Horgan presents his app.

Imagine. You are racing down Bay Street to catch the morning ferry. You miss it by seconds and are forced to jump into the choppy bay waters and battle hungry human-like fish to catch the boat. By way of Manhattan, you arrive in the Borough of Queens at a crowded subway station. As the 7 train rumbles overhead, you luckily have an arsenal of pizzas to whirl into the mouths of angry, attacking commuter zombies rendering them less angry. When you finally arrive at your destination, after leaping from treacherous moving scaffolding, you zoom away in a helicopter.

Though fictionalized in at least some respects, this may sound close to a typical day of commuting in New York City. The City’s infamous commuting experiences are what inspired mobile app designer and high school student Ryan Horgan to create “NYC Splunking” in a STEM summer program offered at the College of Staten Island (CSI).

Horgan, a sophomore at Port Richmond High School, was one of ten high school students who participated in the “Summer App Build” program for high school students. The program was created by CSI’s Office of Continuing Education and Professional Development. With tuition funded by AT&T, the program marks another successful collaboration between the College and AT&T.

“With the technology sector booming in New York City, it is essential that colleges serve the City and its residents by offering programs that provide access to this fast-growing employment sector,” said Christopher Cruz Cullari, Executive Director for Continuing Education and Professional Development. “With support from AT&T, we have been able to do this in two ways.  First, through a workforce development program for out-of-work/ out-of-school youth, we created a program that provided entry into the field for high school graduates looking for well-paying jobs. Now, this summer, we are working with students while they are still in high school, tapping into their technological creativity and hopefully creating excitement about attending college and studying one of the STEM fields.”Horgan's "NYC Splunking" App

In the summer program, high school students worked diligently during the month of August to create their own apps, learning the science and math behind computer programming. The program culminated in a presentation ceremony at the new CSI Technology Incubator in St. George where the students showcased their work. Director of the CSI Technology Incubator Jarred Sutton spoke briefly about the space, urging that “Staten Island is in a unique situation to harness its great talents with the College of Staten Island to invigorate economic development in the technology industry locally. With support from a myriad of organizations, partners in the community and the resources of CSI and CUNY we can build tech related businesses right here on Staten Island.”

Deputy to the President Kenichi Iwama congratulated the students and thanked AT&T as well as the Continuing Education staff.  He noted that, “On a small scale, this program celebrates student creativity, while on a larger scale it celebrates the innovation taking place in the country. Hopefully, we are igniting this creativity through programs like this one.”

“I’m proud of our students, and I’m very grateful to AT&T,” said Cruz Cullari. He added, “The students would not have been able to participate in this program without the tuition funded by AT&T. They are some of the brightest young minds on Staten Island, and it is an honor to be able to support their talent, which in the long run, will benefit the Borough and the City.”

Approximately 50 family members and CSI staff joined in the enthusiasm as students presented their apps and explained their processes.

Port Richmond High School Student Angelina Vega presents her app.

“My favorite thing was that this program opened my mind to the coding world and to this new generation of computers,” said Angelina Vega, a sophomore at Port Richmond High School, who created Duos Adventure, a game inspired by Super Mario Brothers.

Both Vega and Horgan used Paint.net to create the graphics.

Horgan said he wants to be a game or app developer and work for a large company like Google.

David Brim, an instructor in the program, congratulated his students on conquering the “herculean task of creating apps in essentially eight days.” Brim highlighted some of the knowledge that students gained including algebra, the logic of a computer, and how software correlates with hardware. “I couldn’t be happier and more proud. My students had no experience with this and they worked like crazy.”

Here is the complete roster of “Summer App Build” students:

  • Cameron Baldovin – Age: 16, Grade: 11, School: Xaverian HS
  • Jorge Quintero-Blancas – Age: 16, Grade: 12, School: New Dorp HS
  • Jordan Clanton – Age: 13, Grade: 8, School: NEST+m​
  • Ryan Horgan – Age: 14, Grade: 10, School: Port Richmond HS
  • Joseph Malak – Age: 15, Grade: 10, School: Port Richmond HS
  • Genesis Taveras – Age: 18, Grade: 12, School: Clark Academy
  • Khaleed Sadakah – Age: 16, Grade: 12, School: Susan E. Wagner HS
  • Nouha Sadakah – Age: 14, Grade: 9, School: Susan E. Wagner HS​
  • Angelina Vega – Age: 14, Grade: 10, School: Port Richmond HS




Continuing Education Holds Open House on South Shore

Open House attendees browse through Continuing Education literature

As the new CSI St. George is well under way on the North Shore of Staten Island, the College of Staten Island (CSI) continues to reach out to all of its neighbors in this diverse borough.

On the opposite end of this almost 14-mile-long Island, CSI’s Office of Continuing Education and Professional Development (CEPD) held an Open House in an effort to better serve the South Shore. More than 100 community members attended the informative event at Mount Loretto to get a glimpse of the Office’s fall offerings.

“It’s our goal to be a resource for all Staten Islanders and our information session on the South Shore helped to connect us to the community of the South Shore. This is a symbol of our commitment to serve the entire Island,” noted Chris Cruz Cullari, CEPD Executive Director.

From left to right) Jasmine Cardona, CEPD Director; Christopher Cruz Cullari, CEPD Exexcutive Director; Marianne Smart, CEPD Director; Lisa Spagnola, CEPD Director

The Tottenville event showcased information tables focusing on the four areas of Continuing Education: Workforce Development, Pre-College Programming, 1199 Student Support, and Community Enrichment.

South Shore resident Mario Aguero commented, “I am impressed by all the programs offered at CSI though Continuing Education.”

Last year, the Office served more than 6,000 students.

Calling the Open House a “huge success,” Cruz Cullari plans to hold similar events each semester.








Melissa Riggio Student’s Art on Display in Federal Building

DeCandido's "My Eden Garden"

A simple stone path cuts through a lush garden of deep green shrubbery, warm red and orange flowers, and sprinkles of pink, white, and purple blooms. College of Staten Island (CSI) student Joseph DeCandido’s “My Eden Garden” gently catches the eye from its new home in the lobby of the U.S. District Court House in Downtown Brooklyn. The painting is one of DeCandido’s 15 original works in the show entitled See My Voice.

DeCandido is a student with autism who attends The Melissa Riggio Higher Education Program at CSI. An opening reception in July celebrating the exhibit drew more than 100 judges, court employees, friends, and family members.

The 22-year-old artist and Michael J. Petrides High School graduate hopes to be a famous artist one day. He is grateful to his mentors from the Melissa Riggio Program, as well as professors Tracy Jones and Pamela Brown “for believing in my talent and recommending me for the CSI Art Gallery.”

The Melissa Riggio Program is a part of the portfolio of Continuing Education and Professional Development. Executive Director Chris Cruz Cullari is proud of the young artist as well as the Program and its dedicated staff.

“This Program continues to be successful, and this success can be seen in the tremendous work of its students. Joseph is to be commended for his hard work, and the Program staff members are to be commended for their dedication to students,” lauded Cruz Cullari.

A Prince’s Bay resident and native Staten Islander, DeCandido was diagnosed with autism at the age of three and has used his artwork as a communication outlet since he was young. He learned to hone his craft by watching the late Bob Ross on television.

Joseph DeCandido holds his painting of the CSI Library

In kindergarten, DeCandido won an honorable mention in the Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures contest, and his work was displayed at the Staten Island Children’s Museum during its annual art show from 2012 to 2015. In 2013 and 2014, he hosted his first two solo shows, New York City Sights and Neighborhoods and Lighthouse Mania, at the Pepperjack Grill restaurant in Castleton Corners.

See My Voice runs through October 7 in the Charles P. Sifton Gallery space in the Court House, 225 Cadman Plaza East on the first floor. It is open to the public on weekdays from 8:30am to 5:00pm.


Office of Continuing Education Student Receives Peter Jennings Scholarship

CSI Student Glad Uko-Ima

When Glad Uko-Ima arrived in the United States in 2007, she was determined to succeed in her endeavors in a new country.  Her first step was to get her high school equivalency diploma.

Now, through the assistance of the College of Staten Island’s (CSI) Office of Continuing Education and Professional Development and with that still driving determination, Uko-Ima has not only received her equivalency diploma, but she also looks forward to matriculating as an undergraduate student at CSI in the fall.  A recipient of the prestigious Peter Jennings Scholarship, she plans to major in Psychology.

Uko-Ima began at CSI in 2009 in the Adult Learning Center (ALC).  She earned her high school equivalency diploma after passing the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (formerly the GED) and then went on to the CUNY Start Program. She passed the math assessment test in May after much determination.

“It was very hard, but all the professors and staff in Continuing Education were so wonderful!  They always said ‘you can make it, you are smart!’ They kept me going because I knew that somebody believed in me,” said Uko-Ima.

Director of Pre-College Programs Donna Grant, who recommended Uko-Ima for the Scholarship, commended the student on her “persistence and motivation.”

“She persisted for many years and was able to pass. She’s motivated to do well in college and is a very diligent and enthusiastic learner. Her sheer determination and perseverance were factors in her nomination,” noted Grant.

Uko-Ima was awarded a Peter Jennings Laurel Award Scholarship, which provides $2000 to offset tuition costs.  The Scholarship is awarded to students across CUNY who have received high school equivalency diplomas.  As the late Peter Jennings received his high school equivalency before going on to fortune and fame, his widow, Kayce Freed Jennings, set up the fund in his honor.

The awards are presented at a ceremony at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Glad Uko-Ima and Kayce Freed Jennings

Office of Continuing Education and Professional Development Executive Director Chris Cruz Cullari said he is “inspired” by the programs in the Continuing Education portfolio that help adult learners succeed in higher education and beyond.

“It is inspiring to see a hard-working and deeply intelligent student like Glad receive this award and move from a high school equivalency program to CUNY Start and now college matriculation.  Our programs provide access to higher education and an opportunity for students to build a better life for themselves and their families, as well as strengthen their communities,” commented Cruz Cullari, noting that there are 700 students served by the ALC and 450 by the CUNY Start Program, which provides remediation in reading, writing, and math for students who want to matriculate at CSI but failed the CUNY Assessment Exams.

The Office serves over 6,000 students annually in the areas of pre-college programs, adult learning programs for 1199 Union members, workforce development, and community enrichment such as the Options Program and the Melissa Riggio Higher Education program for students with developmental disabilities.

“I’m very grateful to the College, and I am excited to continue this journey. The people at CSI helped me move forward by constantly encouraging me, and I am thrilled to continue my education here,” said Uko-Ima, who plans to become a family counselor.



From CLIP to Valedictorian: Meet RinZhi Go Larocque ’16: CSI Commencement Speaker

RinZhi vists a Quechua community during a volunteer trip to the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador to learn about their traditional medicine garden. The natives painted her face with berries and served "chicha."

As a non-native English speaker, RinZhi Go Larocque ’16 began her college experience at the College of Staten Island (CSI) by entering the CUNY Language Immersion Program (CLIP).  The Program, administered through CSI’s Office of Continuing Education and Professional Development, allows students the opportunity to study English for an intensive period of time before enrolling in formal college courses.

Now, named as Valedictorian of the Class of 2016, Larocque reflects on how CSI helped her achieve her goals.

“Think of the Dolphin, our school mascot. Like dolphins that nurture their young, CSI has nurtured me,” said Larocque, who is also a Verrazano School student.

Born in Malaysia, Larocque moved to the United States in 2012. She attributes her success in academics, research, and even perfecting her English, to the faculty at the College. “CSI has helped me to completely immerse myself in English, as well as American society and culture,” she said.

The Brooklyn resident has volunteered in Indonesia, Singapore, Ecuador, and her home country, Malaysia, where she was Valedictorian of the Pontian Government High School class. In 2010, Larocque was a visiting scholar and programmer for the Labyrinth Project: Jewish Homegrown History, Immigration, Identity and Intermarriage.

At CSI, Larocque has taken advantage of research opportunities in biology and computer science with CSI professors and has collaborated with scientists and engineers from The City University of New York (CUNY) Advanced Research Center to develop software and publications on algorithms for the analysis of scientific data. As a multi-disciplinary student of computer programming, biology, and business, she has learned to present her research findings to people in different fields at multiple conferences.

The determined and passionate student has also been invited to give motivational speeches at more than five College events, including the CSI Celestial Ball and the scholarship receptions at the residence of CSI President Dr. William J. Fritz. She is also a member of the CUNY Service Corps and a research assistant at the Healthy CUNY Initiative.

“Being an active college student, I am able to broaden my network of connections, locally and globally, which have helped me tremendously to serve in leadership roles on campus,” she commented, adding that being a student in The Verrazano School Honors Program has “given me a badge of prestige and pride as an honor student.”

The Biology major with a minor in Business is a recipient of almost a dozen awards and scholarships, including the National Grid Scholarship (August 2015), Ernesto Malave Merit Scholarship (August 2015), Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges Honor Recipient (May 2015), The CUNY Summer Undergraduate Research Program at Advanced Science Research Center (May 2015), CSI Honors Undergraduate Research Stipend (2014-2016), Clara and Arleigh B Williamson Scholarship (2014-2015), CSI Student Government Scholarship (2014-2015), Aloha Mind Math USA Teacher Award (2013), CSI Foundation Scholarship (2013-2014), Dean’s List (2012-2015), and Winner of the CUNY Intercollegiate ESL Essay Writing Competition (2013).

While an impressive and accomplished individual in her college endeavors and beyond, Larocque says she does not forget her “humble beginnings,” which motivate her to volunteer. “My own perseverance has been indelibly instilled in me by my father, a fisherman and my principle role model. Despite rampant piracy and the destructive typhoon seasons on the Straits of Melaka, he continued to go fishing to support a family of six,” explained Larocque, adding that her mother, father, two sisters and brother all currently live in Malaysia.

The busy student just returned from volunteering in the Amazon rainforest over spring break to help forest conservation and minimize hunger “by helping the local communities to truly advance in agriculture and stand on their own feet.”

“I have learned to scrutinize how health issues intertwine with diverse cultures through many of my volunteer experiences. For instance, volunteering in Indonesia, I found out that their natives chew on raw sugarcane to whiten teeth,” said Larocque, who also works as a hospice volunteer as well as with the CUNY Language Immersion Program, helping prospective CSI students from other countries assimilate in their new society.

Adding even more breadth to the young woman’s repertoire, Larocque’s artistic training includes many years of playing the violin and piano as well as watercolor painting. She is the winner of multiple competitions in Calligraphy Writing, and has a yellow belt in Taekwando. Larocque currently serves as a tutor in the CSI Office of Academic Support, assisting students in calculus, biology, and inorganic and organic chemistry.

Already a dental assistant, medical biller, and coder with Boss Dental PC, in Brooklyn, Larocque has been accepted to several dental schools, including New York University, and will be attending the Doctor of Dental Surgery program at the University at Buffalo this summer. She plans to become an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and also a lifelong supporter of the College. “I would like to invest my faith, trust, and money in the younger generations at CSI, for the pursuit of knowledge and education, just as my scholarships donors, such as Mr. [Frank] Lombardo [Executive Advisor to the President] from National Grid, have done,” she said, adding that she would also like to continue volunteering locally and globally.

“My educational endeavors at CSI have taught me that life’s obstacles can be turned into assets if one is diligent, clever, and able to recognize opportunity,” Larocque promises.

By Sara Paul



CSI Graduates Ten New Candidates into Island Tech Sector Thanks to AT&T Sponsored Career Training Program

Funded by AT&T, the CompTIA A+ Certification is an industry-recognized, entry-level credential, and acheived a 100% retention and graduation rate this first session.

In today’s economy, there is certainly a need for IT professionals, from CEOs to entry-level employees. Now, thanks to a new College of Staten Island (CSI) job training program, the high-tech sector will see ten new highly qualified candidates in the job pool.

On Monday evening, the College of Staten Island’s (CSI) Office of Continuing Education and Professional Development held a graduation ceremony for ten students who successfully completed the 180-hour CompTIA A+ Certification Program. The workforce training certificate Program is targeted to young adults on Staten Island, and is the first of its kind at the College. Funded by AT&T, the CompTIA A+ Certification is an industry-recognized, entry-level credential, which opens the door for a career in the technological sector.

The new addition to Continuing Education saw a 100% retention and graduation rate this first session.

Among the graduates are Prince Lewis, a confident young student, who plans to reach for the stars. “My ultimate goal is to be the next Bill Gates,” he exclaimed, acknowledging on a serious note that he is very interested in building and manufacturing new technology.

“I feel like this class is really the beginning for me,” said Lewis, 25, of Mariner’s Harbor, who is also a CSI undergraduate majoring in Computer Science, returning to school after four years. “A lot of non-stop school keeps my mind strong, and I really liked this Program. The teacher was great, and I learned so many new things.”

Another enlightened graduate, Shariff Moore, was thrilled for the opportunity. “I always wanted to seek a career in the computer industry, but I did not have the knowledge. This was a great way to get right into what I wanted to learn–no prerequisites, no red tape,” commented Moore, 39, of Tompkinsville, adding that the students worked well in the small group setting. “If we had a problem, the others would join in to help. We all took it very seriously.”

Graduates were joined by family, friends, College officials, and politicians. Borough President James Oddo, whose office was instrumental in bringing CSI and AT&T together, brought his greetings and congratulations, saying that he was happy be “back home” at the College where has also taught Political Science in the past. He congratulated the graduates, saying that he was happy to “see folks take control of their future,” adding “any chance that I can take to help young people, I am going to do it. We need talent. We need it now. And we cannot have enough.”

Oddo thanked the College and AT&T before discussing the five-borough tech ecosystem, which allows for tech jobs and non-tech jobs in the tech sector, as well as tech jobs in the non-tech sector, an industry that pays $30 billion in wages. “We need to equip our young people to go out there and grab those jobs. Go out there, and get your slice of the American Dream!”

Enthused with the collaborative technology Program, CSI President Dr. William J. Fritz commented, “This Program ideally represents the joining of the private and public sector for workforce development, and addresses a true academic need in the community during a time of exponential growth in the technology sector. I commend the graduates for their hard work and wish them tremendous success as they embark on their new career paths. We are grateful to President of AT&T New York Marissa Shorenstein and Borough President James Oddo for their support and collaboration in making this vital and relevant Program a hallmark of success on Staten Island.”

The five-month course, which ran from November 2015 to April 2016, included both theoretical and hands-on IT training. AT&T provided funding for the curriculum development as well as materials and full tuition; to reinforce the theoretical and technical textbook learning, students were able to build their own computers, which they kept at the Program’s end. The students are currently involved in internships where they can put that classroom practice to work.

“The concentration of disconnected young adults in Staten Island is growing. That is why we decided to launch this life-changing workforce educational Program to help provide students with a certificate, training, and work experience to create better lives for themselves and their future generations,” said Marissa Shorenstein, President of AT&T New York. “New York City has one of the fastest growing tech scenes in the country, and with the increasing number of tech jobs available across the boroughs, we wanted to develop a program that allows students to walk away with a robust résumé that will prepare them for the available and promising opportunities.”

Christopher Cruz Cullari, Executive Director of Continuing Education and Professional Development at the College, applauded the key collaborators of the Program, thanking them for “lighting the fire” and expressing his “gratitude and hope.” Noting that the Program was rigorous, and still achieved “100% passing, 100% graduation, and excellent attendance,” he thanked the partners for their support and interest in “a very important and exciting new Program.” Cruz Cullari added that a recent New York City labor market report found that an estimated one-third of young adults are unemployed–a statistic that unfortunately speaks directly about several of the neighborhoods on Staten Island’s North Shore. “Our new Program is targeted at young people who are disconnected from both employment and school and have few employment opportunities as a result. This industry-recognized credential and real-work experience will ultimately help them to find work in the technology sector. We need more workforce programs for out-of-school, out-of-work youth like these, and thanks to companies like AT&T, we are one more step in the right direction.”

Learn more about programs and certificates offered by the Office of Continuing Education and Professional Development.


Full Scholarships, Waived Fees, Diverse Offerings Make CSI Cont. Ed. Open House in St. George a Must Visit

The College of Staten Island’s Office of Continuing Education and Professional Development is hosting an Open House at the St. George Library at 5 Central Avenue on the North Shore of Staten Island on Thursday, September 24 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm.

Representatives will be available to discuss the many career training and certification programs in the healthcare sector and review additional diverse course offerings in sectors such as business and accounting, technology, social service, and professional programs such as continuing education for social workers. Programs are also available for people with disabilities, and for those interested in pre-college remedial programs, such as CUNY Start and CLIP, and the Adult Learning Center, which prepares students for high school equivalency credentials.

Course highlights include:

Technology Training Scholarship: Students can apply for the AT&T Training Grant and attend class for free. CompTIA A+ certification is a valuable labor market credential for entry into the technology sector workforce, and the available full scholarship of $2,025 will help many New Yorkers transform their lives through technology-based workforce training. Successful students will receive a CUNY-endorsed certificate as well as an A+ certification. Recruitment efforts for the program will target individuals, ages 18to 31, who are high school graduates and those who have earned a high school equivalency credential. Applications are being accepted until October 1, 2015.

Healthcare Workforce Certificate Programs: To serve the healthcare profession, the fastest-growing employment sector on Staten Island, representatives offer consultation on 14 healthcare training programs in high-demand fields. Program graduates ultimately obtain employment at Staten Island University Hospital, doctor’s offices, nursing homes, and other hospitals and agencies throughout New York City and the region. Classes are taught by instructors who are practitioners in the healthcare field and who provide students with the scholarly and hands-on training that will prepare them to be effective and sought after healthcare professionals.

CUNY Language Immersion Program (CLIP): CLIP is an option for ESL students who prefer a full-time immersion approach to their English language study that does not draw upon their financial aid allocation. CLIP is designed primarily for first-time college students with English-language needs who have not yet passed their ACT Reading and/or Writing Skills Tests. Students participate in a language-rich course of study where the most prominent voice in the classroom is that of the students. Upon completion of a maximum of one year of study in CLIP, students matriculate into the College and begin their college-level studies. Students are eligible to attend once they are accepted to CSI.

Registration fees are waived for students who sign up for fall 2015 programs at the St. George Open House. All participants are encouraged to provide feedback regarding possible new workforce development programs.

“The breadth of offerings in this year’s Catalog is designed to make everyone’s career goal attainable,” said Christopher Cruz Cullari, Executive Director of the Continuing Education program. “We have a diverse and expansive offering of courses and programs for those seeking to enter the workforce, change careers, prepare for new occupations, and achieve or maintain various licensure requirements. Whether you are seeking to take a course or work with us to customize our offerings to meet the needs of your organization or business, we are ready to work toward a more vibrant Staten Island together. Through this event, and the financial incentives offered, we are showcasing our commitment to the residents and communities of the North Shore while building relationships with potential students and community partners.”

The CSI Office of Continuing Education and Professional Development is located at 100 Merrill Ave., one mile west of the CSI campus. For more information visit www.csi.cuny.edu/continue or call 718-982-2182.