CSI Student with Visual Impairment Looks Forward to Graduation and Graduate School

Cheriyan utilizing assistive technology in the CSA

Although Ben Cheriyan ’16 had trepidations about attending college as a student with a visual impairment, he decided that he would not give in to his fears.

This spring, the College of Staten Island (CSI) Psychology major, who is minoring in Business, celebrates graduation, as well as academic and co-curricular success at the College. Carrying a 3.675 GPA, at this year’s Commencement, Cheriyan will receive a Cum Laude Award, Honors in the Department, the James Ortiz Jr. Memorial Award, and the CSI Auxiliary Corporation Excellence in Psychology.

“As a freshman, I had doubt in myself and feared my visual impairment would hold me back. Through the amazing people I met during my time at CSI, I learned that it was not my vision that was holding me back but fear itself,” said Cheriyan, who received a 2016 CSI Undergraduate Research Stipend for the Spring 2016 semester and served as an ALPHA Club and CSI Student Government member, as well as the treasurer of Psychology Club.

Cheriyan at the CSI Undergraduate Research Conference

The Ralph McKee Career and Technical High School graduate is grateful to the staff at the Center for Student Accessibility (CSA) for supporting his efforts throughout his college career.

“The Center went above and beyond to make sure I received reasonable accommodations and provided me with necessary assistive technology. What I appreciate the most about the CSA is that they took time to know me as an individual and not just as someone who is visually impaired,” commented Cheriyan, a 21 year old from Sunnyside.

Cheriyan also worked closely with Kristen Gillespie-Lynch, Assistant Professor of Psychology at CSI and Coordinator of Project REACH, a program aimed to help students on the autism spectrum succeed in college and beyond. He began work with the Project’s peer mentoring program in Spring 2013 as a mentee, and with Professor Gillespie-Lynch’s guidance and encouragement, he became a mentor the following year. Cheriyan has also been conducting research under Professor Gillespie-Lynch as he works with her on his honors thesis. The topic of his thesis is whether participating in a peer-mentorship intervention improves test anxiety in college students.

“What I appreciate the most about Prof. Gillespie is that she has high standards for me despite being legally blind. In the past, teachers have kind of ‘babied’ me because I was visually impaired. The skills I have learned under Kristen are something I will continue to use as I progress in academia and in the workforce,” said the student, who is planning to apply for a Master’s Degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology for the Spring 2017 semester. Cheriyan’s career goal is to work with individuals with disabilities to provide appropriate job training and accommodations to succeed on the job.



IME Grants Funds for Scholarships to Mexican Students in New York

CSI President Dr. Tomás D. Morales (left) and Acting Consul General Ismael Naveja (second from right) are joined by CSI student scholarship recipients at the Mexican Consulate’s Endowment Awards Ceremony.

The Mexican Consulate in New York announced today that the scholarship program of the Institute of Mexicans Abroad (IME) has awarded $20,000 to support the education of the low-income immigrant community that resides in this city.

These funds provide scholarships to eight students of Mexican origin who carried out studies at the College of Staten Island (CSI), The City University of New York (CUNY). The eight students were selected from 20 young people who applied for the scholarship.

The recipients are young people between the ages of 19 and 27,  born in Mexico or in the U.S. with Mexican parents, who already conduct their studies in areas such as history, nursing, business administration, and international relations.

To Araceli Neri Maron, who came from Mexico to the United States 20 years ago when she was seven, it is a great motivation to have been granted this scholarship, amounting to $2,500 per student and covering a semester. “I want to study to be able to help people who do not speak English. In addition, I want to change the stereotype that Mexicans only have low-paying  jobs,” said Araceli, who is studying nursing.

“It is essential that our youth have the same educational opportunities,” said Ismael Naveja, consul general.

Ibarguen Irvin, another recipient, was born 20 years ago in New York shortly after his parents reached U.S. soil from Puebla in search of a better future.

Ibarguen will use his scholarship to help fund his fourth year of studies in history. The money will ease the burden on his parents who work in a factory in the city. “This money lessens the burden that my parents have to support my studies. My father has three jobs,” said Irvin, one of three brothers.

Of the 250,000 students in the CUNY system, University executives estimate that between 5,000 to 6,000 are of Mexican origin, although that number could be larger, as indicating origin is voluntary.

In addition, Jay Hershenson, CUNY Vice Chancellor, said that this alliance sends a clear signal to the Mexican community on the importance of education. “Especially during this economic period it is critical that people receive education. Students are the future of the city, nation, and the world, ” said Hershenson, who noted that CUNY has experienced a 215 percent increase in enrollment of Mexican students in the last decade.

The goal is to promote education among young Mexican Americans and decrease the rate of students who drop out from school,” said Jesus Perez, IME council member and who leads the Academic Advising Center of Brooklyn College.

According to Luz Valdez, who is studying business administration, it is a great opportunity to be able to continue studying. “It was difficult to get the scholarship but I did it,” said the student, who lives in Staten Island, a borough that has seen an increase in its Mexican population.

The Mexican government has signed several educational agreements with CUNY, such as the recent one that offers English classes for Mexicans working in restaurants and the construction industry.