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.

CSI Alumna Nechama Averick ’15: Commencement Speaker at Hebrew University, Jerusalem

CSI Alumna Nechama Averick at the 2016 Braun School of Public Health of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem graduation ceremony.

“To my fellow graduates—Congratulations, Mazal Tov, and Mabrook!” So began the speech of Nechama Averick ’15 at the 2016 Braun School of Public Health of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem graduation ceremony. Averick, who will be starting a career in public health in Israel, is a College of Staten Island (CSI) Macaulay Honors College (MHC) alumna.

In Jerusalem, Averick addressed an audience of 200 graduates, government ministers, foreign ambassadors, family, and friends with farewell wishes and resonating messages. A Biology major with minors in Biochemistry and Political Science at CSI, Averick discussed public health as a career, its importance on a global level, and the questions that many still have about the evolving field.

“Public health is an inclusive field that includes all the current events happening around us. Yet, compared to other health professions in the health sciences, it seems to be least known among the general public,” said the 24-year-old native Staten Islander who now resides in Jerusalem. She explained that, “public health literally touches every field of human study—from demography, biostatistics, epidemiology, economics, genetics, and anthropology… In short, public health is the great equalizer that allows those born in poverty or marginalized populations to enjoy the benefits of modern medicine. It is the catalyst for a better, healthier future to be enjoyed by everyone.”

CSI Distinguished Professor Fred Naider, PhD noted that Averick’s contributions at CSI and the local community, and current global contributions are “a testament to the student’s hard work and dedication.”

Nechama Averick

While at CSI, Averick was affiliated with the Pre-Medical Society, where she served as president for three years.  Graduating with a 3.8 GPA, she was also a Horace W. Goldsmith Scholar and received an honors undergraduate research stipend from CSI to conduct laboratory research, which she conducted with Krishnaswami Raja, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry.

Averick currently holds a research position in Israel’s Ministry of Health, Tuberculosis, and AIDS Department.

Through the MHC, Averick spent one undergraduate summer conducting breast cancer research at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and a winter semester studying tropical ecology in the Virgin Islands.

She is grateful for the “tremendous support from the wonderful administrators including Lisa French, Anita Romano, and Charles Liu” as well as guidance from Biology Professor Grozdena Yilmaz.

Averick remembers that, “Dr. Charles Liu was an incredible source of inspiration. He made every student feel wanted and welcome… we would always remark how Dr. Liu was the epitome of loving life and following your passions.”

Her advice to college students is to work hard because “there is just no way around it. The best way to ‘alleviate’ that pain is to develop your support system, without them, I would not be where I am today. Find what you love to do, and if you don’t know, push yourself to do things that make you uncomfortable. Perhaps the most difficult thing in your path towards success is to recognize and grow from your failures; they will make you wiser and humbler. Remember, you get to define success for yourself, no one else has that privilege.” Averick is also proud that that her brothers, Saadyah, Chaim, and Amram, graduated from CSI.

Dr. Naider noted that, “CSI continues to be a place where students learn, grow, and prepare for academically rigorous challenges, scholarly endeavors, and global contributions.”



CSI Alumna Elisa Csorba Dares to Follow Her Dreams

Elisa Csorba '16 enjoying her new career at the Walt Disney Company.

As Elisa Csorba ’16 is a self-proclaimed “Disney fanatic,” it should come as no surprise that on the day after graduation, the Macaulay Honors College (MHC) graduate boarded a train to Florida to pursue a career at the Walt Disney Company.

Now living her dream, Csorba has secured a position as a Disney Professional Intern in the Customer Relationship Management Marketing department for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts in Orlando.

“I was able to accept this position confidently, thanks to my education and research experience at CSI,” said the Fontbonne Hall Academy, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn graduate, who worked with Dr. Jonathan Peters and Dr. Michael Kress at CSI, “learning more about the world of data than I ever could have imagined possible.”

At CSI, Csorba used her knowledge of data to spearhead Staten Island Economic Development Corporation initiatives, such as Superstorm Sandy Recovery and Staten Island Fair Share. In 2014, she helped to create an Emergency Preparedness Guide for the disabled community on Staten Island, as many members of this community were not appropriately accounted or cared for in aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.   She also participated in marketing research under the mentorship of Professor William Dubovsky, where she assisted in a semester-long study of the Staten Island Museum to determine how the institution could make itself more marketable and drive higher demand.

At MHC, Csorba was thankful to be “given the best of both worlds: a four-year scholarship with Macaulay and an opportunity to study with the best mentors and professors that CSI has to offer.”

“The School of Business at the College of Staten Island has presented me with such wonderful opportunities, and I am so grateful to have been given those experiences. Four years ago, the School of Business was merely a thought, an idea. This past June, I was part of the third graduating class of the School, and we comprise the largest discipline in the College of Staten Island–if that isn’t success, then I don’t know what is.”

Susan Holak, Founding Dean of the School of Business, commented, “We are tremendously proud of Elisa, her accomplishments thus far, and the role that the School of Business and the College of Staten Island played in helping her to fulfill her goals. We look forward to hearing more about the promising future that we know lies ahead of her.”

A member of the Young Alumni Committee of the School of Business, Csorba fully intends to remain in contact with the School and “all of the professors who have enriched my life in so many ways… I look forward to helping college students understand their dreams and pursue their goals. I’m well aware that the only reason I was able to pursue my dream so successfully was because of the support and encouragement I received from the team of professors and administrators who were behind me every step of the way, and I am so excited that I can now be a source of support and motivation for others.

“So dare to follow your dreams and do whatever will make you happiest in life; dare to do the unexpected and extraordinary; and dare to make a change in the world. Because all it takes is faith, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust.”



CSI Alumnus Discusses Health Issues in The Washington Post

Brian Kateman presents at The City University of New York's Tedx event November 2014.

College of Staten Island (CSI) Macaulay Honors College alumnus Brian Kateman ‘11 recently shared his views on health, diet, and the environment in an article in The Washington Post. Kateman is co-founder and president of the Reducetarian Foundation, an organization aiming to urge consumers not to completely cut out meats from their diets, but rather to cut down on the amount.

In the opinion piece, We can save the earth without giving up bacon. Here’s how, Kateman proclaims, “You’d have to be living under a rock to have missed the memo: Too much meat is bad for your health, responsible for immense animal cruelty on factory farms, to blame for speeding up climate change, at fault for squeezing out rare species, and more. Yet despite increased pressure to eliminate meat from our diet, consumption rates have been slow to budge. Americans are eating less beef, but chicken sales are on the rise.”

The article details the foundation’s mission, which centers around “incremental progress” in changing peoples’ minds and behaviors when it comes to food.

“…I co-founded a whole new campaign called ‘reducetarianism’ to encourage people to eat fewer animal products without trying to force them to quit cold turkey. Reducetarianism is the practice of eating less red meat, poultry, and seafood (as well as less milk and fewer eggs). A core concept of reducetarianism is that demanding people cut out meat entirely is neither effective nor sustainable,” Katemam explains in the article.

Kateman, who graduated with a degree in Biology, was also CSI’s Salutatorian. A former Jeannette K. Watson Fellow, he worked for three consecutive summers in paid internships, with the Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability at Columbia University, Echoing Green, and the National Wildlife Refuge Association.  Kateman went on to receive a Master’s Degree from Columbia University while serving as the University’s Assistant Director of Education Programs for the Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability.

Read the full story in The Washington Post.

For past articles on Kateman, read CSI Today: “CSI Macaulay Honors Alumnus Urges Reduced Meat Consumption for Health and the Environment” and “Brian Kateman, Class of 2011 Salutatorian.”





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.”





CSI Alumna Attending Cornell University

Jasmine Calle feeding green algae to a polychaete known as Hydroides elegans.

“Keep yourself busy, but remember to enjoy the ride.”

This is the advice from College of Staten Island alumna Jasmine Calle ’16 who redefines the term “busy.” The Macaulay Honors College (MHC) graduate, who spent her college years feverishly conducting research, participating in student activities, and volunteering in the community, has been accepted to Cornell University. Calle will begin at the University this fall to pursue a degree in veterinary medicine.

“Conducting research has been an adventure. As soon as I started working in the lab, I knew that research was something I wanted to incorporate into my career” proclaimed the St. John Villa Academy high school graduate, who is happy to be able to combine her love of research and her passion for animals into a career path. Calle will also partake in biomedical research for the Cornell-based Veterinary Investigator Program this summer.

At CSI, the 21-year-old Clifton resident majored in Biochemistry and Chemistry with a minor in Mathematics. With multiple scholarships under her belt, Calle noted how CSI lived up to its world-class reputation.

“Whenever I hear others extolling the benefits of the College, the term that most frequently comes up is ‘world-class’ faculty. That phrase is easy enough to overlook, but I began to fully realize the weight it held as I attended school here. Truly, the faculty is amazing, both as teachers and innovators in their own field,” said Calle, thanking, in particular, MHC staff Lisa French and Anita Romano.

A Dean’s List student, Calle was a member of the Emerging Leaders Program and the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program, the Class of 2016 CSI representative for the Macaulay Scholars Council, a Macaulay Scholars Council (MSC) member, and the Vice President of Academic Affairs on MSC’s first-ever Executive Board. She was a Resource Assisted Initiatives in Science Empowerment for Women Scholar and a The Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority participant.

In Fall 2013, she participated in the lab of Professor Shaibal Mitra, where she studied the changing spring arrival dates of certain migrant land birds in New York State. Calle also assisted in the Arenas-Mena Lab studying gene regulatory networks in sea urchins and polychaetes for the better part of her undergraduate career.

Calle educating youth on the Pine Snake

In addition, she participated in a ten-week NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates at the New York State Department of Health where she assisted in basic and public health research in the labs of Dr. Samuel S. Bowser, Dr. Ellen Braun-Howland, and Melissa Prusinski.

“Truly, this was one of the most fun, eye-opening research experiences I had because I was given a taste of the impact research could have on those around me,” exclaimed Calle, who also attended the National Conference on Undergraduate Research and the Emerging Researchers National Conference.

Calle was a member of the Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars, Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program, The Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, a Revson Scholar, a Young Latinas Leadership Institute Scholar, recipient of the Valedictorian/Salutatorian Scholarship (awarded to students who were Valedictorian/Salutatorian in a Staten Island high school), and a Dean’s List student.

Adding to her wild adventures as a young conservationist, Calle traveled to the Galapagos Islands to take a class on Evolution, Ecology, and Conservation in Ecuador and the Galapagos. Her volunteer efforts include working at the Staten Island Zoo, St. Francis Animal Hospital, and St. Joseph’s RC Church.

She leaves her under-classmates with these inspiring words: “You are the most important part of your academic career. Push yourself forward without knocking yourself down.”


CSI Salutatorian Beginning as Port Authority Engineer

Tyler Franco '16 during his internship with the Port Authority at the top of One World Trace Center

As Tyler Franco ’16 stood at the lectern at the 2016 Honors Convocation, he told himself to “just enjoy this moment because it’s not every day that you get to do something like this!”

Franco, a Macaulay Honors College graduate, delivered a moving speech at Tuesday evening’s ceremony in the Center for the Arts that was not without some humor.

“When I was first told that I was salutatorian and would be speaking to you all today, I was thrilled. After all, what’s better than an extra homework assignment during finals, and then getting to read it in front of hundreds of people?”

View the Honors Convocation Program>

He did strike a serious note as well, emphasizing that “while the idea of starting something new may be intimidating, it is also wrought with opportunity. Yes, we may be able to go out and travel the world or get a high-paying job in our field, but as college graduates, we also have the opportunity to make the world a better place.”

An Electrical Engineering and Engineering Science major with a minor in Mathematics, Franco will begin working as an engineer for the Port Authority of NY&NJ this summer.

Tyler Franco in South Africa

“I hope to continue working as an engineer and to eventually leave my mark by working on some of the largest projects in the Tri-state area,” Franco stated.

He commended the faculty and staff at CSI for their support over the course of his four years at the College.

“Macaulay advisors Lisa French, Anita Romano, and Dr. Charles Liu have been incredibly helpful to me over the last four years. They have always made themselves available to lend a helping hand. From helping me decide on my post-graduate plans to identifying good internships for me, and everything in between, they have always gone above and beyond to try and help me the best they could,” recalled Franco, who received a full merit scholarship from the Macaulay Honors College as well as an Undergraduate Research Stipend for conducting research on partial volume segmentation.

He has done extensive volunteer work as an SAT tutor and college advisor for low-income high school students, an assistant coach at his former high school, and a worker for the recovery efforts after Superstorm Sandy.

In fact, much of Franco’s message at the Convocation focused on public service.

“The impact you can leave on someone just by being there to lend a helping hand is immeasurable. So, I implore everyone, regardless of major, to go out and become stewards of kindness, helping to build a better tomorrow.  Whether it’s as a teacher, friend, or stranger, make the world a better place by chipping in.”

Tyler Franco in Australia

The Prince’s Bay resident, who graduated from St. Joseph by the Sea High School, also took advantage of CSI’s Study Abroad program, visiting Sydney, Australia in 2015 and Cape Town, South Africa in 2016.

Franco’s parting advice to CSI students is to work closely with their professors.

“At CSI the faculty is excellent and incredibly knowledgeable. Take advantage of the opportunity to meet them in office hours or after class. You’ll find that they will enjoy having students who are engaged and willing to go the extra mile to become better students.”

To his fellow graduates, he reminded them of the importance of being active in the CSI alumni community.

“In our post-graduate plans, we will meet new people, have new experiences, and visit new places, but we won’t forget the time spent here at the College of Staten Island. And as successful alumni, it is our duty to be ambassadors for the school, which has served as a second home to us for years. So as we move on, we should all be proud of our accomplishments but remember to always give back.”