Scholar-Athlete Tim Sweeney ’17 Accepted to Columbia University

Tim Sweeney '17 has been accepted to a Master's Program at Columbia University.

College of Staten Island (CSI) student Tim Sweeney ’17 continues to swim in success as the captain of the CSI Men’s Swimming and Diving Team has been accepted to the Master of Science in Actuarial Science Program at Columbia University.

A Macaulay Honors College (MHC) student majoring in Mathematics, Sweeney led his team to three CUNYAC Championships in a row.

He is also a member of the Student Athletics Advisory Committee (SAAC) and a research assistant under Professor Jonathan Peters of the Finance Department at CSI. He showcased his project, “Geospatial Analysis of New For-Hire Vehicle Services in New York City,” at the 2016 CSI Undergraduate Research Conference.

Read more about Sweeney on CSI



Four-peat Complete; Dolphins Take Razor-tight CUNYAC Championship

POSTGAME INTERVIEW – The College of Staten Island men’s swimming and diving team led the CUNYAC Championship from wire-to-wire but ultimately won by the slimmest of margins, taking a 2.5 point win at the end of it all to win their fourth-straight CUNYAC Championship earlier this afternoon at Lehman College.  The Dolphins won four of the six races that were held on the final day of competition, adding a silver and a bronze medal as well.  For his effort, Timothy Sweeney was named the Most Valuable Performer at the meet, un unprecedented fourth-straight for the CSI senior.

The Dolphins had the meet in hand in time for the final race of the event, but hung on to ultimately win the event with 597.5 points, just better than 595 scored by Baruch College.  Lehman College took the bronze with 367.5 points while Brooklyn followed with 259 and York with 23.

The Dolphins entered the final day with a comfortable 45 point lead, but knew their top-heavy squad would be challenged by the depth of Baruch, and that’s exactly how the final day would follow through.  To start it all off, Derek Villa scored the first of four first-place finishes for the Dolphins, coming in at 17:45.65, almost two minutes faster than the field in the 1,650-yard Freestyle.  Pete Carle and Santonio Shand added valuable points in the event as well.  Baruch, however, would counter with a win in the 200-yard Backstroke, despite the Dolphins winning bronze with a time of 2:12.25.

CSI kept the lead padded in the next event, the 100-yard Freestyle.  There, Nicholas Defonte won the meet, coming from behind to score a 50.26 second finish, less than a tenth of a second faster than Lehman’s Chris Fischer.  Mike Munoz also finished fifth in the event, jumping up spots from the original heat sheet seedings.  The Dolphins would feel even better about their chances after Jonathan Gorinshteyn raced in at 2:17.23 in the 200-yard Breaststroke, scoring gold.  Brandon Lei and Roberto Hidalgo scored a fourth and fifth place finish to add valuable points as well.

That put the Dolphins firmly ahead, and the door was subsequently closed by Timothy Sweeney in the 200-yard Butterfly.  Already the CUNYAC record holder, Sweeney flew through a run of 1:51.93, beating his previous record by almost two full seconds.  Christopher Sorenson, also placed fifth in the event.

The Dolphins could not be caught from there, as they held a 34.5 point lead going into the final 400-yard Freestyle Relay.   The Dolphins’ team of Defonte, Gorinshteyn, Villa, and Sweeney would actually win the event, but a subsequent disqualification for entering the water early struck out the Dolphins’ placing in the event, and Baruch bumped into the top spot and gained 32 points to make the final score very close.  Despite being an exhibition team in the event, the CSI team of Mike Munoz, Brandon Lei, Pinto, and Omar Zaky collected a silver medal in the same event.

Upon conclusion of the meet, Sweeney was named the Most Valuable Performer for the fourth-consecutive year.  The margin was the lowest in CUNYAC history and the win by the Dolphins was their 9th overall in program history.

The postseason will continue for CSI.  Fresh off of their CUNYAC title, the Dolphins will compete in the Metropolitan Swimming and Diving Championships in two weekends at Rutgers University.

Senior Naomi Gaggi takes home presigious CUNY Scholar-Athlete of the Month citation

The City University of New York Athletic Conference has named College of Staten Island women’s swimmer Naomi Gaggi as the CUNYAC/Hospital for Special Surgery Scholar-Athlete of the Month for December 2016. The senior from Brooklyn, NY has earned a 3.9 GPA as a Psychology major with a concentration in Neuroscience and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The Dolphins’ distance swimmer earned 10 first place finishes and a total of 24 podium finishes in the month of December alone. Gaggi is the team’s second leading point getter with 188 total points through December’s action. In addition, Gaggi is three-time CUNYAC All-Star and 2017 will look like more of the same for the senior, “this will be my first year to medal individually (at the CUNYAC Championships) and I’m excited. Our team put in a lot of hard work, the boys should be favored and our girls team will look to give everyone a run for their money.”

The team captain began swimming competitively in fourth grade and has only improved since then. Gaggi competes for the Dolphins in the 200, 500 and sometimes 1,000 freestyle, as well as on the freestyle and medley relay teams. Distance wasn’t always her forte however, “The first time I swam the 500, it kind of came as a surprise, I was not a distance swimmer, but I did well and it showed all my hard work payed off in practice.” The St. Joseph Hill alumni said the transition to the storied CSI swim program was not the easiest, “I’m a much stronger swimmer now than when I first came to CSI. I didn’t come from a specialized club team like others, so there was a pretty tough transition to college swimming.”

Leaving New York City was never a thought when Gaggi was choosing a college for herself. “I knew I wanted to stay local in the city, CSI had a great research database and access to so many different research institutions in New York City that focus on autism research.” The senior has made the most of her four years at the College of Staten Island, while being a part of two research teams on campus, Gaggi also has conducted research at the Yale University School of Medicine and Mount Sinai with nationally renowned doctors and researchers. Due to her outstanding efforts in the research field, Gaggi was recognized nationally as a 2016 honorable mention for the Barry Goldwater Scholarship. The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 to serve as a living memorial to honor the lifetime work of Senator Barry Goldwater. “I want to focus on neuroscience and autism spectrum disorder because there is so much known about the basic mechanisms of the brain and so little known about the social aspect of neuroscience. Autism spectrum disorder, on the other hand, is understood on the social level, but little is known about the mechanisms of the brain. I see this as a challenge that I want to further explore through neuroimaging while I obtain my PhD,” states Gaggi.

“I wouldn’t say that being a student-athlete has struggles, it’s just obviously very time-consuming. I think the time-consuming nature helps people learn to prioritize things and manage their time better. It’s certainly pushed me to be a better student.” Like many other scholar-athletes, Gaggi turns the demands of being a full time student-athlete into positives, “swimming twice a day and going to the gym as well, it takes a lot of time, it’s not only helped me make friends but the mindset of being an athlete also helps me be determined and to persevere in the classroom.”

CSI swimming head coach Michael Ackalitis had plenty of praise for his senior captain, “Naomi is a top candidate to be the CSI Valedictorian at this year’s Commencement. She is an exceptional researcher and an outstanding athlete and how she has been able to do both is amazing. She has been a very special piece to the women’s program over the last four years. Her leadership has set the tone for what being a Dolphin is all about. She is a Macaulay Honors Student who is majoring in Neuroscience and boast a 3.89 GPA, she has been the leader for the women’s team earning the highest GPA on campus the last two seasons. Her leadership translates to the pool where she continues to work hard and has won several gold medals at CUNY’s as part of winning relays and also four school records. Naomi has been a major key to keeping the women’s team going in a positive direction,” stated Ackalitis.

“I’ve become a lot more cultured through my tenure at CSI, I volunteered in Sri Lanka with children who have autism spectrum disorder, and I studied abroad in Denmark as well,” says Gaggi. Looking towards the future, Gaggi has been applying to graduate schools to pursue a doctorate in neuroscience and one day hopes to become a full-time researcher and professor in the field. “Swimming and life have taught me one thing, when it’s freezing cold and you don’t want to jump into that pool at 6 AM, you just have to take that initial leap, and that’s the same thing you do if you want to achieve your goals,” said Gaggi.

When asked what it meant to Naomi to be named December’s Scholar Athlete of the Month she had this to say, “it is a really great honor to be recognized with, I really want people to see how great being a student athlete is, it not only helps me in swimming, but it’s given me so many valuable lessons about life and how to be great academically.”

Verrazano Student John Gioeli ’17 Engineering a Blueprint for Success

John Gioeli as goalkeeper for the CSI Men's Soccer Team.

John Gioeli ’17 has always dreamed of designing automobiles, airplanes, or even complex mechanical infrastructures. So, when an engineering internship opportunity arose, the Engineering Science major and soccer star juggled his priorities in order to take another step closer to his goal. The Verrazano School student and 2014 CUNY Athletic Conference All Star notes that it was “a bittersweet moment” when he decided to stop playing soccer at CSI in order to have time for the internship. Gioeli is currently an engineer intern at a company constructing a high-rise condominium building, where he assists the project manager in analyzing blueprints and documentation, and inspecting overall construction and MEP systems.

While carrying a 3.58 GPA and pursuing a Mechanical Engineering specialization with a minor in Mathematics, Gioeli has always managed to handle multiple obligations outside of the classroom. The Brooklyn native is working with Aleksander Haber, PhD on a senior design project, along with classmate Dimitrios Pavlidis. The project is a ball-and-beam control system with an inverted pendulum control situated on top of the beam setup.  The feedback-control system is used in everyday-life applications, such as military missile or rocket guidance and automatic piloting.

Gioeli also studied in Florence, Italy in June 2015, commenting that, “I would recommend it to every student to study abroad at least once. The cultural experience is remarkable.”
As the goalkeeper and three-year starter for the CSI Men’s Soccer Team from 2013-2016, Gioeli is referred to as an individual who “helped build the foundation of the current program” by his coach John Tardy.
Earning multiple scholarships and awards, the St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School graduate still finds time to coach a youth travel soccer team for Cedar Stars Staten Island.
In fact, the busy 21 year old’s advice to college students is to “join a club or sports team so that you do not always live in the textbooks studying. Having a few hours a week networking and enjoying time with friends is a major part of college.”

John Gioeli (second from right) in front of Mount Vesuvius on his visit to Pompeii.

To that end, Gioeli is also, along with Dr. Haber, working to establish an American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) club at CSI.

With future plans to pursue a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering and become a licensed professional engineer, the student is grateful to many professors as well as the Verrazano staff for their support.
“Professor Chang-Min Kim has always been there to lend a helping hand for academic work and always made room to fit students in his busy schedule… The Verrazano School staff are the most helpful and down-to-earth group of people who I can have endless conversations with. Cynthia Palumbo, Cheryl Craddock, and Dr. Charles Liu have guided me through the four years at the College to do my best and to push me to work even harder.”

Gioeli is the recipient of the William H. Chiles Engineering Scholarship, Bing Technology Memorial Scholarship, Donald DiFranco Memorial Scholarship, Telehouse International Corporation of America Scholarship, the Con Edison Scholarship Endowment Award, and several student-athlete awards.

“John has a wonderful demeanor and a live mind. He’s an academic and athletic powerhouse who works at the cutting edge of technology and innovation. It’s an honor and a pleasure to have him in our CSI Verrazano School community,” said Charles Liu, PhD, Director of the Verrazano and Macaulay Honors College programs.

[video, gallery] “Where’s Danny?” Photo Contest Winners Announced

Mitchell Harris '16 (center) receives his prizes from Danny the Dolphin and CSI President William J. Fritz for his first place finish and "most likes" achievement in the "Where's Danny?" photo competition.

Danny the Dolphin traveled the globe this summer as his photographer fans toted the pocket-sized sea mammal across cities, countries, and continents. Now, for those who participated in the “Where’s Danny?” Photo Contest, the results are in.

The winners of the contest (three winners in four categories and two honorable mentions) are as follows:

Mitchell Harris ’16 won for Best Overall and Most Likes.

He will receive an iPad mini 2 and a $50 Amazon Gift Card. Harris graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Social Work and is currently in the Master’s in Social Work program at Fordham University.

[youtube][/youtube] “I have been very involved throughout this whole competition and am ecstatic to have my entries recognized. I had a great time being a part of this creative and expressive contest. Each picture I have taken has a story attached to it. Almost every time I left my home, I had Danny with me, always thinking about where the next picture might appear in my mind and then captured with my camera for others to see. This was a great opportunity to express creativity in a day and age where creativity is not always given a chance to be expressed,” Harris noted.

Rachel Torres ‘16 won for Best Picture and will receive a GoPro Hero Session. Torres graduated from The Verrazano School Honors Program with degrees in Accounting and Economics.

Torres commented, “In the beginning, I did not expect to get so into the Where’s Danny? contest. I thought it would be a cute thing to do because I like social media and taking pictures. Then, I started taking Danny with me everywhere I was going: meetings in the city, out with friends, weekend road trips, and museums. I got so into it that when family and friends saw me digging in my bag, they knew I was digging for Danny. There would be times I would spend a fair amount of time taking pictures then picking out the best ones from the day with a caption to go along. It was a lot of fun participating in the contest.”

Samantha Scali won for Best Caption and will receive a $75 Amazon Gift Card.

Aidan Jimenez ‘20 received an honorable mention. Jimenez is a Business Management major.

Alecia Janeiro received an honorable mention. “I took Danny to seven countries with me over the summer, and it was a really fun experience!” Janeiro commented.

View all #csidannythedolphin entries on Instagram>

All prize winning entries are below:

Best Overall and Most Likes Prize Winner
Best Photo Prize Winner
Best Caption Prize Winner
Honorable Mention
Honorable Mention
Honorable Mention













































CSI Honors Student Achievements Adding Up

Tim Sweeney '17

The following equation sums up Tim Sweeney’s experience at the College of Staten Island (CSI): Macaulay Honors College Student + Captain of the CSI Men’s Swimming and Diving Team + Mathematics Major = One Amazing Student. Leading his team to three CUNYAC Championships in a row, Sweeney ’17, who is also member of the Student Athletics Advisory Committee (SAAC), advises his peers not to let school work add up.

“Stay on top of your work. College is a great opportunity to have fun but the amount of work can pile up quickly. Complete your work piece by piece, without letting it get out of hand,” urges Sweeney, a 20-year-old graduate of St. Peter’s High School.

Sweeney and his team recently traveled to Stuart, FL for a week-long training trip of two-a-day swim practices and dry-land workouts, where the athletes could focus on training without any distractions. Sweeney hopes to represent CSI at the 2017 NCAA Division III Swimming Championships this March.

“We are extremely proud of Tim. He is an excellent leader to his teammates and a very hard worker. It’s been a pleasure to see him grow as a student and excel as an athlete,” lauded Charles Gomes, CSI Director of Athletics.

“Swimming has been such a big part of my life for about 15 years. Because of this, I’m around the pool so much. I give swim lessons at CSI and I’m one of the head coaches of Hillside Swim Club, a team that I swam on for 13 years, until I graduated high school,” noted Sweeney, a West Brighton resident who also carries minors in Geography and Finance.

In a brief hiatus from aquatics and academics here at CSI, Sweeney also had the opportunity to travel to Copenhagen, Denmark where he studied Danish Greenspace, a class that allowed him to “see and experience so many new things from a culture that is so different than ours here.”

With an impressive 3.865 GPA, Sweeney is also a research assistant under Professor Jonathan Peters of the Finance Department at CSI and recently presented at the 2016 CSI Undergraduate Research Conference. His project, titled “Geospatial Analysis of New For-Hire Vehicle Services in New York City,” was an analysis of four different taxicab services throughout the five boroughs.  Sweeney also participated in the Macaulay Big Data Boot Camp, part of the Data Science Program at Macaulay Honors College and is taking part in a data analytics project this summer at the CUNY HPCC.​

Sweeney is grateful to many CSI faculty and staff members, particularly his swim coach, Mike Ackalitis, who has been “a key factor in my swimming successes and is always available to help outside of the pool as well, whether it is with school or work.”

Sweeney also appreciates his Macaulay advisors, Anita Romano and Lisa French, who “have offered guidance in all of my academic endeavors dealing with classes and outside internships,” as well as his mentors Professor Peters and Nora Santiago.

“Tim’s devotion to his studies as well as his training is admirable. He is a terrific student, and the Macaulay Honors College is proud to have him in the program,” said Dr. Charles Liu, Director of the Macaulay Honors College and The Verrazano School at CSI.

After graduation, Sweeney plans to attend graduate school for actuarial science, which would incorporate his math and my finance backgrounds and “allow me to enjoy the best of what each has to offer.”





High Honors for CSI Women; Tim Sweeney by CSCAA

Following a great scholastic year in the pool and in the classroom, the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) has bestowed laurels to the men’s and women’s swim teams at the College of Staten Island.  The women’s swimming & diving team, which took home the College’s Team GPA award at the Dolphins’ end of year awards banquet, was one of 406 schools spanning all NCAA Divisions to be designated as a Scholar All-America team in 2014-15, and CSI sophomore Tim Sweeney on the men’s side was honored as a Scholar All-America Honorable Mention as an individual.

Boasting a collective team Grade Point Average of 3.25, the women’s team at the College has successfully married the ideals of excellence in the classroom and the pool.  The team decimated the school record book this season, setting 19 new school records this past year, including 13 alone at the annual CUNYAC Championship Meet in early-February.  A total of 9 CSI student-athletes boast GPA’s over a 3.0, with six earning over a 3.25.

One such student-athlete is 2015-16 senior Kelly Walsh, who sports a 3.30 GPA majoring in accounting with a minor in finance.  Alongside her exploits in the pool, which include contributions to two record-breaking relay teams, Walsh holds a part time job at Forbes Magazine in Manhattan and will take the time to study abroad in Ireland in the coming weeks with teammate Caitlin McLoughlin.  For Walsh, excellence in the classroom is par for the course, and the attitude is infectious with her teammates.

“The best thing about our team is that we are very helpful and supportive of one-another,” Walsh stated.  “We are there to pick each other up and I think we all recognize that if we work hard we can achieve in all areas because we won’t let each other down, and that includes the work we do in the classroom.”  As a captain and upperclassman, Walsh understands the commitment involved with excelling in both arenas.  “As a captain you have to represent your team the right way and I know that means doing well in the classroom as well as the pool.  I definitely feel that they go hand-in-hand.”

For Walsh, being able to achieve in her studies translates rather seamlessly to the competitive waters, and both are linked as a student-athlete.

“I feel like they both come with the same mindset,” she said.  “Much like practicing in the pool, the more hard work and effort you put in your studies, the better your grades can be.  Good things come from being able to focus on doing well in both.”

CSI’s men’s unit also held a high honor in Sweeney’s achievement.  To obtain Scholar All-America status, a student-athlete must maintain an overall GPA of 3.50 or higher, while also achieving a minimum of an NCAA B-cut time in a respective NCAA Championship event.  Sweeney is delivering, sporting a 3.87 GPA majoring in mathematics with minors in finance and geography while sporting a B-cut time in his signature 200-yard Butterfly event.  He will seek a career as an actuary after college.

“This is very much an honor and I appreciate being recognized,” said Sweeney, who was named the CUNYAC Performer of the Meet at their annual Championship Meet in February.  “I treat school and swimming as two very important things in my life and the two work together to make up who I am.   To be recognized for achievements in both as a Scholar All-America truly means a lot.”

“Swimmers and divers truly embody the student-athlete ethos and are well-known for earning some of the highest GPAs on campus,” said CSCAA executive director Joel Shinofield. “With nearly half of all national championship qualifiers producing GPA’s higher than 3.50, you see swimming and diving adds so much to value to a campus community. These accomplishments are impressive and a sign of the success they will carry on through life, positively representing their schools along the way.”

“It’s definitely a great feeling to be recognized,” said Walsh, who will focus on becoming a Certified Public Accountant post-graduation.  “We have individuals on the team who are amazing and work extremely hard and a lot of that hard work in the classroom can get overshadowed by performances in the pool.  So, this is really a great highlight for us.”

Founded in 1992, the CSCAA – the oldest organization of college coaches in America – is a professional organization of college swimming and diving coaches dedicated to serving and providing leadership for the advancement of the sport of swimming and diving at the collegiate level.  For a complete list of Scholar All-America teams and Individuals, visit the CSCAA website at



Sponsored by the National Consortium of Academics and Sports, the College of Staten Island Office of Intercollegiate Athletics held their 2nd Annual Student-Athlete Day at the CSI Sports and Recreation Center, honoring its collection of scholar-athletes. The short ceremony honored 89 CSI scholar-athletes that held a 3.0 GPA or higher, as of the fall 2011 semester.

The scholar-athlete citations correspond with CSI’s Athletic Director Honor Roll, released for the first time for the fall 2010 semester, sponsored by the CSI Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).

National Student-Athlete Day is celebrated nation-wide, commending scholastic achievement by student-athletes. Since 1987, the National Consortium of Academics and Sports has been on NCAA campuses to promote the accolades of its finest student-athletes, its scholar-athletes, who take their headstrong discipline and passion for what they do on the field of play and transfer it to the classroom.

After a short introduction by CSI Athletic Director Vernon Mummert, participants were greeted by CSI President Dr. Tomas Morales, Provost William Fritz and Vice President for Student-Affairs, Dr. Ramona Brown. Together, they preached of the importance of CSI’s continued accolades in the classroom, and the commitment of CSI athletes to continue to raise the number. Participants were treated to refreshments at the conclusion of the ceremony.

CSI’s Louis Valdez, Javon Cox, Herschel Jenkins and Olivia Tierno are awarded scholar-athlete status.

“This was a great event to honor the achievements of our scholar-athletes, who together with their peers on the playing field are the most dynamic students on campus,” said Mummert. “Many of our student-athletes balance the rigors of full-time studies along with one and even two full or part-time jobs, family commitments, and of course, their exploits on the field. It’s an honor to commemorate them in this way.”

CSI honored nearly 44% of the student-athlete body, the highest number ever at the college.  The recipients received a certificate issued to them by the National Consortium of Academics in Sport.  Assistant Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Services Katie Arcuri, who works and mentors many of the athletes and oversees the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee was the principal organizer of the event, and puts together the Athletic Director Honor Roll citations each year.

Three of the recipients today will also be honored by the City University of New York Athletic Conference in May as CUNYAC-wide scholar-athletes of the year, including Olivia Tierno (women’s basketball), Lauren Neglia (women’s soccer), and Vladislav Romanov (men’s swimming).