Concert Brings Together Musicians from CSI, Curtis High School, SI Philharmonic, and Rutgers

The CSI Orchestra will perform on May 7.

The CSI Orchestra is a unique initiative between Curtis High School and the College of Staten Island (CSI), in which students who ordinarily may not have the opportunity to participate in musical events can pursue their passion. This semester, through a generous grant from the Frank and Lydia Bergen Foundation, students from the Orchestra were able to experience working with musicians from the Staten Island Philharmonic. Their hard work and dedication will culminate in a concert on May 7 in the Center for the Arts Springer Concert Hall at CSI at 3:00pm, when the professional musicians will perform with the students.

CSI vocal soloist Maria Zakharycheva and a student soloist from Curtis High School will perform, and there will be an appearance by the Rutgers String Quartet playing a concerto grosso by Geminiani. The event is organized and directed by Professor Dan Auerbach with Professor James Minenna as co-director Curtis liaison.

“It is through Prof. Minenna’s tireless efforts that recruitment is successful each year. He has been a wonderful colleague with whom to collaborate in this worthy musical endeavor,” said Auerbach.

Director of Development for the Division of Institutional Advancement and External Affairs Mary Anne Semon also noted the importance of past donors and the support of the College.

“This concert would not have been possible if it were not for the generous grant by the Frank and Lydia Bergen Foundation. This grant enabled the continued funding of the orchestra, following a generous donation by Gordon Di Paolo, who gave seed money to start this exciting initiative. The CSI administration’s efforts have also aided in the continued existence of this orchestra, the only such venture in Staten Island,” commented Semon.

The program will include staples from the classical repertoire, including “Spring” from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, and Bach’s “Erbarme Dich” from the St. Matthew Passion.

General admission to the concert is $10 and free for CSI students.

Macaulay Honors College Student Ana Hayes ’17 Interns at U.S. Embassy in Berlin

Ana Hayes '17 interned at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, Germany.

World travel has taught College of Staten Island (CSI) student Ana Hayes ’17 many things. The most important lesson she shares, though, is to always “keep an open mind.”

After the 20-year-old Macaulay Honors College student traveled to Berlin, Germany this past summer, that lesson became a true reality.

“I met with quite a bit of culture shock upon my arrival in Berlin. The Germans are a wonderful people and, to some extent, the values and norms Americans share with them outweigh the differences between the two groups,” said Hayes about her two-month internship at the American Citizen Services department in the U.S. Embassy.

The Queens, NY-born CSI student is no stranger to travel, venturing to Europe as early as nine years old. These early experiences, coupled with her geographical coursework at CSI, according to Hayes, “proved very valuable as I developed some sense of European politics at large that I leaned on throughout my trip.”

“During the course of my internship, I came into contact with Embassy employees who better fleshed out my understanding of the types of people drawn to government service. I was struck by how diverse a group they are; indeed, I feel that in some ways I learned just as much about the United States as I did about Germany. For the first time, I found myself interacting daily with people from well outside the New York orbit. Their perspectives were often worlds apart from my own, yet we all shared a passion for cultural plurality. It made the office a pretty exciting atmosphere,” said Hayes, who will graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Italian language, Culture and Politics, and Political Geography of the United States. She currently holds a 3.9 GPA.

Hayes has been inspired by many individuals in her life: Peter Kabachnik, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Global Affairs; Gerry Milligan, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of World Languages and Literatures; and, of course, her mother.

“My mother and I have traveled together since I was young. Travel has always been a major part of my life, and I want to continue that,” said Hayes, noting that her mother, as a Professor of History at Montclair State University, would receive research stipends and take Ana with her on trips.

After graduating from the International Baccalaureate Program at Curtis High School in 2013, Hayes began at CSI with many of her courses focused on Russia. Her dual Italian American citizenship also encouraged an active interest in Italian culture and language. Sicily is of especial interest to her, due to her Sicilian heritage.

Ana Hayes (right) and her sister, Maddie, also an MHC student at CSI, on the Italian island of Pantelleria.

Her advisor and mentor, Dr. Kabachnik, has also been a positive influence in her academic career. “He encouraged me to do research on Chechnya and that got me interested in doing some very serious research,” commented Hayes, not forgetting the support she has received at Macaulay Honors. “All the people at Macaulay are wonderful and so helpful. They encouraged me to apply for many opportunities.”

A CUNY BA student, Hayes also received the prestigious Thomas W. Smith fellowship. Her mentors for the CUNY BA are Dr. Kabachnik and Dr. Milligan.

Director of the Macaulay and Verrazano School programs Dr. Charles Liu commented, “Ana is a tremendously talented scholar and communicator whose view of our world is truly global. She represents the College of Staten Island and the Macaulay Honors College with eloquence and distinction wherever she goes—in our local community and across the globe too.”

When asked how she balances school, travel, and other responsibilities, the Dean’s List student noted how her family dynamics help her to stay focused. “I’m the second eldest of seven children. Learning how to best use my time, flexibility, etc. were all ingrained in me from an early age as a result,” commented Hayes.

Verrazano Student Finding the Right Academic Frequency

Sidhartha Mishra gearing up for research outside the New York Public Library in Midtown Manhattan.

Tuning in to the College of Staten Island’s (CSI) state-of-the-art technology, dedicated professors, and the helping hands of The Verrazano School, Sidhartha Mishra ’17 is certainly operating on the right wavelength. The Computer Science major, who is minoring in Mathematics, is currently researching Radio Frequency Identification Technology (RFID) Communication Protocols for use in security and privacy issues. Mishra is gearing up for his Verrazano Senior Capstone Thesis, “A Study of RFID Communication and Security,” which he will be presenting at the Undergraduate Research Conference (URC) in Spring 2017. The Verrazano student also gave an oral presentation at the 2015 URC.

“My research involves the study of Radio Frequency Identification Technology communication protocols. This technology is being used in various industries, and these communication protocols define the schemes that provide the basis for communication between the RFID tag(s) and reader(s). For my research, I am analyzing these protocols for security issues and concerns, and writing code to simulate them,” noted Mishra, a graduate of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Curtis High School, who maintains a 3.636 GPA at CSI.

“Sidhartha is far more than merely a super-talented techno-wiz. He is friendly and gracious, and he is a greatly valued and appreciated member of the Verrazano School community,” noted Dr. Charles Liu, Director of the Macaulay Honors College and The Verrazano School at CSI.

Mishra on Roosevelt Island.

Twenty-two-year-old Mishra was born in India and moved to the United States at age 11.  He was first inspired to study RFID technology while taking the Interdisciplinary Honors Seminar with Professor Bilge Yesil, after reading Professor Xiaowen Zhang’s paper on the subject.  Zhang became his mentor for the RFID research project and also recommended that the student take a course on mobile development offered by Google. The four-week course at The Graduate Center of  The City University of New York (CUNY) provided an introduction to android development using Java as the programming language on the Android Studio platform.

Mishra is currently participating in a virtual internship as a Web content manager for a Yoga studio and also tutors in the Computer Science Department. The Staten Island resident plans to pursue a graduate degree in Computer Science and is currently exploring graduate schools.

Mishra urges budding researchers and peers, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Explore options and opportunities that may help you get the most out of your college career.”

 

 

 

 

CSI Alumna Receives Scholarship to Brooklyn Law School

Naomi Edwards at the 2016 CSI Senior Awards Ceremony

College of Staten Island (CSI) alumna Naomi Edwards ’16 is no stranger to scholarships. The Macaulay Honors College (MHC) graduate has received a scholarship to attend Brooklyn Law School, where she will begin in the fall. While at CSI, the lifelong Livingston resident was also the recipient of both the Macaulay Honors College Scholarship and the CSI Valedictorian/ Salutatorian Scholarship, as she was the Salutatorian of her high school’s graduating class.

Edwards claims that her key to success is to “stay focused, and don’t overload yourself. Successful students know what they’re capable of and try to be self-aware.”

The 22 year old is a graduate of the International Baccalaureate Program at Curtis High School. At CSI, she majored in Political Science with a minor in Geography and maintained an impressive 3.9 GPA. She also participated in the Undergraduate Research Conference in 2015, working closely with Professor Richard Flanagan on a Superstorm Sandy study.

Naomi Edwards enjoying the view of Florence, Italy

“My research studied the link between a neighborhood’s social capital and the amount of time that it took for them to rebound after the storm. It is a topic that was very close to home because my family was displaced from our house for six months as a result of Sandy, which hit during my first semester of college,” noted Edwards, who also studied abroad in Florence, Italy in summer 2015.

With much gratitude to her Macaulay “family” and many of the professors in the Political Science department, Edwards lauds that, “They were and continue to be supportive of me as I navigated undergrad and now post-grad life.”

Director of the Macaulay Honors College and The Verrazano School at CSI Dr. Charles Liu commented, “Naomi embodies the quintessential blend of brilliance, hard work, and social conscience. We all will benefit greatly from her good work in the years to come, and are proud that she is an alumna of the Macaulay Honors College at CSI.”

At Brooklyn Law, Edwards plans to focus on human and civil rights, and said she is “really excited to begin to learn all of the different areas of the law and explore what I can do with it.”

Edwards also volunteers with the Castleton Hill Moravian Church Clothing Distribution in her spare time.

Her advice to college students is simple: “Everyone learns at their own pace and in their own way. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you’re so stressed out that you’re not enjoying yourself. Learning should be fun, and a happy student is a successful student!”

 

Ana Hayes’17 to Serve in the U.S. Consulate General in Milan, Italy

Ana Hayes, Macaulay Honors College Class of 2017

Ana Hayes is no stranger to world travel. The Queens, NY-born CSI student traveled to Europe as early as nine years old. Now, this summer, the 20-year-old junior at the Macaulay Honors College at the College of Staten Island will travel to Milan, Italy to serve in the U.S. Consulate General in Milan’s Political/Economic Sector.

Hayes, who will graduate in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Russian Language and Culture, and Political Geography, has been inspired by many individuals in her life:  Dr. Peter Kabachnik, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Global Affairs; Dr. Gerry Milligan, Associate Professor in the Department of World Languages and Literatures; and, of course, her mother.

Ana Hayes (left) and her mother in Siracusa, Sicily.

“My mother and I have traveled together since I was young. Travel has always been a major part of my life, and I want to continue that,” said Hayes, noting that her mother, as a Professor of History at Montclair State University, would receive research stipends and take Ana with her on trips.

After graduating from the International Baccalaureate Program at Curtis High School in 2013, Hayes began at CSI with many of her courses focused on Russia. Her dual Italian-American citizenship also encouraged an active interest in Italian culture and language. Sicily is of especial interest to her, due to her Sicilian heritage.

“One of the most surprising things was that even as I learned more about the world outside the United States, I learned more about my own country. It is fascinating and invaluable for every American,” stressed Hayes.

With the help of Dr. Milligan, Ana conducted an independent study on the migrant crisis and its ramifications for Sicily. While U.S. news coverage has been focused on Northern European reactions to the influx, Sicily plays an important role. It has been the port of entry for many migrants, especially those from Sub-Saharan Africa. Ana studied how these new arrivals affect Sicilians’ self-perceptions. The island, frequently conquered throughout history, is liminal and so its inhabitants’ identities are insecure. Interestingly, many Sicilians feel as alienated from the larger European community as the migrants themselves.  This understanding of the immigration crisis helped Ana create a compelling application for the State Department internship.

Her advisor and mentor, Dr. Kabachnik, has also been a positive influence in her academic career. “He encouraged me to do research on Chechnya and that got me interested in doing some very serious research,” commented Hayes, not forgetting the support she has received at Macaulay Honors. “All the people at Macaulay are wonderful and so helpful. They encouraged me to apply for many opportunities.”

Now a Dean’s List student with a 3.9 GPA, Hayes is currently waiting on security clearance for her summer post in Milan. She is also preparing by “staying up to date with Italian news and the migrant crisis.”

Hayes (right) and her sister, Maddie, also a student at Macaulay Honors student, on the island of Pantelleria

When asked how she balances school, travel, and other responsibilities, the student noted how her family dynamics help her to stay focused. “I’m the second eldest of seven children. Learning how to best use my time, flexibility, etc. were all ingrained in me from an early age as a result,” commented Hayes, who also works with the Special Olympics on the weekends, as her brother is autistic.

When she arrives in Italy, her options will be to live with a host family, in a convent, or in her own apartment. Her goal is to be a Foreign Services officer, a diplomat who works at a consulate and coordinates between the local government and the United States.

[video] With tuition costs hammering families, College of Staten Island offers enticing alternatives

STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE — Divina Wiley’s dream college was Boston’s Northeastern University, but even with a partial scholarship, she realized she’d have to take out a sizeable student loan.

Marika Matheson, Dr. Charles Liu, director of the Macaulay Honors Program and the Verrazano Honors School at CSI, Rosina Christian and Carissa Mazzeo. (Photo by: Staten Island Advance/ Jan Somma-Hammel)

So when she applied to the College of Staten Island, and was accepted into CSI’s Macaulay Honors program, she said she “just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to graduate debt-free.”

The CSI senior hasn’t regretted her decision; in fact, as a psychology and Spanish major, she even had the opportunity to study abroad in Spain, something, she said, she likely wouldn’t have been able to afford to do at another school.

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CSI senior Michael Jachcinski, an accounting major and Tottenville High School graduate, is the oldest of three children.

He transferred to CSI from Rutgers when out-of-state tuition costs at the New Jersey state university got to be too much to afford for his family. Now he attends CSI tuition-free, thanks to financial aid and a part-time job.

While Staten Island parents and students worry about the rising cost of college tuition and college loan debt, one of the best values in higher education may be right in our own backyard.

MANY GO TUITION-FREE

CSI, the borough’s only public college, funded by city and state tax-levy dollars, enrolls just over 7,000 full-time undergraduate students, ages 17 to 21, the majority of whom are recent graduates of borough public and parochial high schools.

An astonishing two-thirds of those students attend classes at CSI’s Willowbrook campus tuition free, most of them through the state’s Tuition Assistance Plan (TAP), that was created to assist middle-class families with tuition costs at colleges and universities in New York state.

According to CSI, nearly six in 10 full-time undergraduate students attend tuition-free.

Nearly five in 10 Staten Islanders attend tuition-free.

Seven out of 10 students graduate debt free.

According to the college, a “typical CSI undergraduate student” minimally receives:
—$11,760 in state and federal financial aid.
—Pays $6,030 in tuition and $480 in mandatory fees.
—Has about $5,000 left over for related costs such as books, supplies and transportation.

Even for students whose families pay full-tuition, with books and fees the cost comes in under $7,500 a year, a relative bargain when compared with tuition at private colleges, and even colleges within the State University of New York (SUNY) system.

Additionally, students accepted into CSI’s elite Macaulay Honors program — about 160 students are enrolled — also attend tuition-free, receive laptop computers, and a $7,500 grant for expenses, which most students use to study abroad.

The data is in line with City University of New York figures in general, although CSI arguably is the most suburban among CUNY’s 24 colleges in the five boroughs.

CHANGE IN ‘PERCEPTIONS’

Mary Beth Reilly, who has served as CSI’s vice-president for enrollment since 2001, said that over the last decade the college has consistently attracted an “academically higher quality” of applicants from public, private and Catholic high schools to its full-time programs leading to a baccalaureate degree, which she attributes, in part, to concerns about rising tuition costs and student loan debt, the the poor economy, and a change in “perceptions” about the college.

“In the 14 years I’ve been in this position, I’ve seen the attitude, the perceptions Staten Islanders may have had of the college, change 180-degrees. We’re no longer perceived as just a ‘local school’ or as a ‘safety school’ or as a ‘last choice’ school, and our data backs this up,” she said.

High school students admitted directly to baccalaureate programs have an average grade of “B” or better. Students admitted to the Macaulay Honors program this year had a high school grade-point-average of 93.6 and a minimum score of 1329 on the SAT, according to CSI data.

The college is also starting to see more second-generation students, with one or both parents who are CSI alumni.

CSI sophomore Carissa Mazzeo, a Tottenville High School graduate from Eltingville majoring in education, said both her parents are alumni, “so I knew already the school was a good value.” In addition to academics, she cited the school’s athletic programs and facilities as a plus; she is a member of CSI’s cross-country team.

SAVING FOR GRADUATE SCHOOL

Lucinda Zawadzki of Great Kills and Shenuque Tisera of Rosebank will graduate this year from the College of Staten Island's Macaulay Honors program. (Staten Island Advance/Jan Somma-Hammel)

Staten Island Tech graduate Lucinda Zawadzki of Great Kills, a senior in the Macaulay Honors program, said she opted for CSI so she could save for graduate school tuition. She hopes to earn her doctorate from Cornell.

“CSI has a great campus, plus the professors are very supportive and accessible to undergraduate students, and that’s important. And the tuition I am saving, and the chance to graduate debt-free, will be a big help with graduate school,” she said.

Shenugue Tissera, a graduate of St. Peter’s Boys High School, had the same thought. A senior and economics major, the Macaulay student and Rosebank resident is also going to go for his doctorate degree at Northeastern and anticipates the money he saved at CSI will help him defer tuition costs there.

He credits one of his high school teachers at St. Peter’s for encouraging him to apply to CSI. “A lot of us thought of the college as a ‘safety school’ until he took some of us to visit the campus,” he explained. Tissera recalled being impressed with CSI’s High-Performance Computer Center (HPCC), which he has since used many times to do statistical research.

Macaulay junior Naomi Edwards of Livingston, a graduate of Curtis High School’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program, is majoring in political science and plans to go to law school. “Like anything else in life, your college experience is what you make of it,” she observed. “If you decide to put in the work, CSI has some great opportunities.”

ISLAND ALSO HOME OF TWO PRIVATE COLLEGES

The borough is also home to two nationally recognized private colleges.

Wagner College, Grymes Hill, has consistently scored high marks in the annual Princeton Review survey of the nation’s top colleges and universities.

Grymes Hill is also home to the Staten Island campus of St. John’s University, which recently announced it would slash campus tuition by $10,000 in response to concerns about rising tuition costs and student loan debt.

By Diane Lore. © 2015 Staten Island Advance and SILive.com. Reprinted here with permission.

 

National Grid adds support, meets with Curtis High Schoolers

National Grid's Steve Holliday gives an engineering presentation to students from Curtis High School.

The Chief Executive of National Grid from London, Steve Holliday, along with the New York President of National Grid, Ken Daly, and his leadership team, recently visited the campus of the College of Staten Island. After a reception in the office of CSI President William Fritz, the group was escorted on a brief tour of the College’s 204-acre park-like campus.

The visit culminated with a demonstration of the fusion of two plastic gas pipes by National Grid technical trainers for 30 students from Curtis High School. The technicians explained that this process is employed in the field when gas service is provided to various locations. Following the demonstration, National Grid allowed ample time for students to ask specific questions. As one of the leading energy utility companies in the world, National Grid also made a significant impact on the students as top executives discussed the career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Dr. Neo Antoniades, Associate Professor in the CSI Department of Engineering Science and Physics, also engaged the students in hands-on experiments in CSI’s state-of-the-art electronics laboratory. In addition, Professor Antoniades presented a series of mini-lectures on the fields of engineering, design, and mathematics in engineering;  the concepts and role of electronics in our lives; and research in electrical engineering with a focus on high-tech fiber optics.

“National Grid’s presence on the CSI campus and the precious time spent interacting with high school and college students has shown us the tremendous value that the company places on educating the next generation of engineers and their commitment to continuing the working relationship with the College of Staten Island and the Department of Engineering Science and Physics,” said Professor Antoniades.

Dr. Antoniades has been presenting an Engineering Workshop Series to intermediate and high school students since 2008 and National Grid has been the primary funder of those workshops.

National Grid also sponsors STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) scholarships for CSI students as an extension of the company’s Engineering Our Future Initiative (EOF), which encourages young people to study STEM.

The College of Staten Island continues to support STEM studies as an educational experience for high school and college students, while also creating an awareness of the numerous career choices in those industries.  National Grid’s longtime partnership with CSI enables the College to continue its legacy of excellence with the finest faculty and facilities available.

 

[video] Google and CSI Collaborate to Teach Educators Computational Thinking

Bruce Rajswasser, a teacher and robotics coach at Curtis High School, programs his robot for the robot-dance competition.

The College of Staten Island Computer Science Department welcomed more than 40 middle and high school educators from the tri-state area, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island, to a “Computer Science 4 High Schools” (CS4HS) workshop designed to teach teachers about computational thinking and its use in the classroom.

The workshop, funded by a $15,000 grant by Google, introduced the teachers in attendance to computational thinking, a term coined by Jeanette Wing from Carnegie Mellon University, which basically encourages people to think like a computer scientist by taking a problem and breaking it up into smaller solvable problems until they are able to rebuild the solution to the larger problem with the smaller solutions.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hi5gzp9lXEI[/youtube]“The idea is that we should do reading, writing, arithmetic, and computational thinking,” said Dr. Susan Imberman, Associate Professor of Computer Science at CSI. “There is not one single field in this world that has not been touched by computer science,” she added. “Technology has evolved so much from the point where to be computer literate meant knowing how to use a word processor, to now where you really have to know how to program a computer—Just about every job requires you to have logical thinking skills.”

During the two-day workshop, the attendees were introduced to SCRATCH, a free program that allows people to program their own interactive stories, games, and animations—and share those creations with others in an online community. Developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, SCRATCH introduces students to programming and to make use of logical thinking and creativity.

The other applications that attendees learned were App Inventor, which teaches students to create their own apps for Android phones, and CS Unplugged, which shows how to do computational thinking without computers.

During the final portion of the workshop, the educators learned how to program robots to perform simple commands. The workshop ended with a dance off, where the teachers programmed and danced with their robots, with the goal, again, of making use of a student’s creativity and tasking them with using logical reasoning to program the robot’s dance steps.

Bruce Rajswasser, a teacher at Curtis High School and CSI alumnus, is a true believer of using programming and robotics in the classroom. “Kids learn the basics of engineering, form, design, and math when using robotics,” he said while programming his robot’s dance moves.

Adding to that, Dr. Imberman noted that the robotic portion can really take hold of a student’s imagination because “students love to do things with real-world applications.” Also, Mohammed Azhar, a member of BMCC’s faculty who trained the teachers on programming the robots said, “making a robot move is more exciting than getting a program to type ‘hello’.”

When asked what she hoped the educators would get out of the workshop, Dr. Imberman said, “We want teachers to take away a set of tools that they can take with them into the classroom, no matter the grade level—in essence, if you have a computer in your classroom, or even if you don’t, you can teach your students how to think like a computer scientist.”