Strings Competition Debuts at CSI

The violin group at the CSI Strings Competition

Young orchestra musicians from around Staten Island traveled to the College of Staten Island (CSI) for the first annual CSI Performance Competition for Strings. The only one of its kind on the Island, the event drew six high and four middle school students. Parents, students, and teachers experienced the sounds of strings at the winner’s recital, and organizer Dan Auerbach looks forward to continuing the tradition next year.

“These young people in the CSI competition show just what can happen if we can keep a young person’s dream alive,” commented Professor Auerbach, who ran a similar event in Georgia for many years. “I wanted to focus much-deserved attention on the wonderful musical talent in Staten Island and also on the hard work of area music teachers,” he noted.

The adjudicators for this year’s competition were Professors Auerbach and Edward Brown, both of the CSI Music Program of the Department of Performing and Creative Arts, and Maestro Alex Guzman of the Staten Island Philharmonic.

Joining the talent were Beanna Dzhaniashvili, Christina Pan, Teresa Saverimuttu, Michelle Shevtsov, Isabel Bruschi, and Lila Bruschi. All are violin students of Roman Berlinsky.

Maestro Alex Guzman, Dan Auerbach, student winners, and Edward Brown at the CSI Strings Competition.

Also in attendance were Tyler Almquist on classical guitar, a student of CSI’s own Enrico Arcaro; Liam Gates on violin, a student of Deanna Eliot; Teresa Lynch from The Mighty String Demons, a student of Sanchie Bobrow; and Ganling Chu Braganti, a student of Anthony Harper.

Winners in the high school division from Staten Island schools are as follows:

Ganling Chu Braganti, a Port Richmond High School student, playing Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4; Teresa Lynch, a Staten Island Technical High School student, playing Accolay’s Violin Concerto No. 1; and Isabel Bruschi, a Port Richmond High School student, playing Bach’s Presto, from the G Minor violin sonata.

Winners in the middle school division from Staten Island schools are as follows:

Judges and competitors at the Competition.

Michelle Shevtsov, an IS 24 student, playing Charles de Beriot’s Violin Concerto No. 9; Beanna Dzhaniashvili, an IS 24 student, playing Accolay’s Violin Concerto No. 1; and Liam Gates, a Michael J. Petrides School student, playing Vivaldi’s A Minor Violin Concerto.

This year’s competition sponsors were Nan Sussman, PhD, Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences; the CSI Administration; the Performing and Creative Arts Department at CSI; Valpak of Staten Island/Greater Brooklyn; and Strings & Other Things.

While organizers work to secure funding for next year’s event, Professor Auerbach plans to open the competition up to all Staten Island residents, who may or may not attend an Island school.



Saada Amadu ’16 Forges Ahead to Study Sustainability

Saada Amadu visiting Château de Chambord in France.

As a sustainable environmental continues to be a global concern for many, one College of Staten Island (CSI) graduate is taking action.

Saada Amadu ’16 has received a full scholarship to attend graduate school at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary to study Environmental Sciences and Policy.

“I hope to work at the intersection of environmental science and policy because I believe for us to be able to find methods to sustain ourselves without endangering the environment and livelihood and well-being of future generations to come, international policy must find a way to bridge the gap with the scientific community,” said Amadu, who was an International Studies major with minors in Geography and French.

The Port Richmond High School graduate credits much of her motivation and inspiration for graduate studies to her experiences with research, under the advisement of Associate Professor Roshen Hendrickson, and study abroad opportunities at CSI.

“Saada is a very bright and ambitious woman who has gained access to stimulating opportunities, such as study abroad and graduate school in Europe, through sheer hard work. She has been a great pleasure to work with because she’s intellectually curious and motivated to contribute to her global community,” commented Professor Hendrickson.

Saada Amadu visiting temples in Hong Kong.

For her honors thesis, Amadu wrote about, “policies that led to Senegal importing over 70% of its food and also organizations and individuals working to revive the sector. The interesting part of the research was discovering that structural adjustment programs imposed by the IMF and World Bank were part of the reason for the decline in the Senegal agricultural sector.”

Currently crafting her Master’s thesis, Amadu is studying “the nexus of food, energy, and water security issues. The need for new energy sources and climate change have led some countries to seek alternative sources of energy through biofuels, which are basically energy derived from biomass. First generation biofuels can be derived from crops such as soy or corn while second generation biofuels are derived from by-products such as wood or crops such as jatropha [a flowering plant]. My research is focusing on the fact that biofuels affect both energy and water security of certain communities, in particular rural Ghanaian communities.”

For a truly rich college experience, Amadu strongly urges college students to take advantage of study abroad opportunities as well as the financial support available for those courses.

“Programs can be expensive but with the help of scholarships and grants, the costs might not be too much. I went on two semester-long programs and was still able to graduate in three and a half years. The Center for International Service is particularly helpful when it comes to applying for programs and scholarships,” said Amadu, who traveled to Paris, France in Spring 2015 and Hong Kong in Spring 2016.

The 21-year-old native of Tamale, Ghana was also the recipient of the Gilman Scholarship, Benjamin Franklin Travel Grant, CUNY SIROCS, and CSI Study Abroad Scholarship.

“Saada is an outstanding, dedicated student with a plan to utilize sustainability initiatives to make a difference for underserved communities around the world,” praised Michele Callahan, Fellowship & Scholarship Advisor.

To succeed in college, Amadu urges students to, “Take advantage of opportunities if and when you are presented with them. Also, try to have a faculty mentor because they can be of help when you least expect.”



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 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




Verrazano Student Receives Full Scholarships to Multiple Law Schools

Jennifer Pierce ’16 wasn’t sure that she wanted to attend the College of Staten Island. After graduating from Port Richmond High School, the New Springville resident considered going away to school. Now 21 and a senior at CSI, graduating this spring with a dual degree, Pierce says she doesn’t regret a thing.

“I really wanted to go away and only chose CSI because it was more affordable. I don’t regret that decision at all!  CSI is great, everyone is nice and helpful, and the professors are so smart,” said Pierce, who will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Communications: Media Studies, a Bachelor of Arts in English: Writing, and a Minor in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies.

Carrying an impressive 3.889 GPA, it should come as no surprise that the Verrazano School student was accepted to three law schools with full tuition scholarships: Cardozo, Seton Hall, and Temple University. She was also accepted and awarded a partial scholarship to George Washington University.

Pierce found her experience at The Verrazano School to be a great support network. The Verrazano Extracurricular Learning Activities (VELAs), according to Pierce, were particularly helpful.

“These events were eye opening and provided me with great information on graduate schools. I also got to meet a lot of people, which is nice as CSI is mostly a commuter campus,” said Pierce. Verrazano students participate in VELAs that enrich their undergraduate experience through academic, social, and cultural learning opportunities outside the classroom.  VELAs feature a wide range of topics including career preparation, study abroad, international issues, and community service.

The budding poet is also grateful to Dr. Cate Marvin, who helped her find her voice in the world of poetry. Pierce has even submitted a portfolio of poetry for her thesis and hopes to submit her work to magazines. The busy law student-to-be also attends weekly poetry meetings with friends from CSI.

For information about this program, please visit the Verrazano School Website.

Rising Stars: Steve Arriaga ’17

Steve Arriaga

Steve Arriaga ‘17:  Major: English with a concentration in Linguistics, minoring in French and Spanish Language. A Verrazano School and Dean’s List student, and a recipient of 13 scholarships, he completed a year as a study abroad peer advisor, and graduated from the Emerging Leaders Program and the CUNY Service Corps where he interned at Lifestyles for the Disabled. He is also interning at Port Richmond HS through the CSI Liberty Partnerships Program. A favorite aspect of CSI: “My time at CSI has been outstanding. The professors that I’ve had have inspired me in one way or another to always love what I learn and what I’ll teach one day.” Future plans: After graduation, he plans to apply for a Fulbright Teaching Assistantship to teach abroad in South America. Afterward, he will pursue a PhD in Linguistics.  To read more about CSI Alumni, check out Eye on CSI.

Savor the Flavors Offers Culinary Delights While Helping Students

Second place winners Port Richmond High School Culinary Arts Program

The Center for the Arts Atrium transformed into the home of some of the Island’s best cuisine, last spring, as the CSI Alumni Association hosted the Sixth Annual Savor the Flavors event. All food and services were generously supplied by restaurants and vendors so that all proceeds could go to the Alumni Legacy Scholarship fund. Savor the Flavors has raised enough money in the event’s first five years to fund 32 scholarships for deserving students. To view the full article, click here.

[gallery] Fourth Annual Savor the Flavors Raises Funds for CSI Students

The Port Richmond High School Culinary Arts Program wins First Place Honors for Best Dish, Gnocci Pesto.

As in past years, the CSI Alumni Association’s Fourth Annual Savor the Flavors event, held in early April in the Center for the Arts Atrium, dazzled taste buds and raised much-needed funds for student scholarships.

The the CSI Today Photo Gallery>

The event, sponsored by Liberty Mutual, and chaired by James McBratney ’05, CSI Alumni Board Member and President of the Restaurant and Tavern Association, attracted more than 200 guests.

Besides supporting CSI students and giving attendees the chance to sample some of the Island’s best cuisine, Savor the Flavors continued the tradition of providing awards to some of the best dishes, as judged by Rob Burmeister, Eddie Canlon, and John Sierp from the Food Network’s Chopped.

Best Dish Winners:

—1st Place: Port Richmond High School Culinary Arts Program (Gnocci Pesto)

—2nd Place: PepperJack Grill (Pulled Pork Slider)

—3rd Place: Delish Dishes (Ravioli Blue Cheese)

Best Dessert honors:

—1st Place: BeerGarden (Beer Cake)

—2nd Place: Lee Sims Chocolates (Jordan Cracker)

1st Place Best Dessert - The Beer Garden
People's Choice Award - PepperJack Grill
Best Table Decor - Joe Mozz Gourmet Shop

People’s Choice Award:

—PepperJack Grill

Best Table Décor:

—Joe Mozz Gourmet Shop

Beyond the winners, other businesses that generously donated food for the event were Afternoone’s, Alfonso’s, Blue, Bridge Tavern, Canlon’s, Da Noi, Dosa Garden, Hungry Sombrero, Jimmy Maxx, Joe’s of Avenue U., Lobster House Joe, The Lake Club, Manor Restaurant, Nucci’s, Oriental Plaze, Paesano’s Pizzeria, Park Café, Pink Lady Cakes, R. Ippolito Distributing (specialty beers), Randall Manor Tavern, San Rasa Sri Lankan Cuisine, Tapas, and Vino Devino Wines.

Coca Cola provided some of the beverages for the event, Feel the Beat Productions entertained the attendees with music, and Paul Caminiti from the CSI Photography Club was the event photographer.


From CSI to BU, Salutatorian Daniel Feldman Reaches for the Stars

College of Staten Island Salutatorian Daniel Feldman plans to begin studying Astronomy at Boston University as a PhD student in the Fall. He is a Physics major and part of the 2012 graduating class of the CUNY Macaulay Honors College at CSI.

Read Dan’s blog Science for Dessert, on the CSI Today Student Blogs page.

During his undergraduate studies, Feldman has taken part in numerous research projects. Starting the summer after his freshman year (2009), he conducted galaxy evolution research as part of a research team at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), under the advisement of CSI Professor Charles Liu. He presented this work at the 215th American Astronomical Society (AAS) Meeting in Washington, DC.

Over the course of 2010, Feldman participated in two research projects at CSI that were overseen by Professor Irving Robbins. The first was an asteroid-tracking project, determining the positions and trajectories of high-priority asteroids using data from Tenagra Observatory in Arizona. The second project involved helping to build a radio antenna to track solar flares; this work was done as part of the SID collaboration, which was run at Stanford University.

In the summer of 2010, Feldman was selected to participate in the CUNY Summer Undergraduate Research Program (C-SURP), where he worked with Professor Kelle Cruz at Hunter College and the AMNH, studying youth indicators in M dwarf stars. He continued this research through the following year, resulting in numerous research presentations, including the ASNY Conference at the University of Rochester and the AAS Meeting in Seattle, WA.

In the summer of 2011, Feldman was selected to participate in the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) Program at Northern Arizona University, studying Kuiper Belt Objects. This research resulted in presentations at both Columbia University’s AstroFest and the AAS Meeting in Austin,TX.

In his last year at CSI, Feldman has been working on his senior thesis with Professor Emily Rice, as well as collaborators in the BDNYC research group at AMNH; he has been using high-resolution near-infrared spectroscopy techniques to help determine the physical properties of brown dwarfs.

In addition to research, Feldman has been active in developing his teaching skills. Since his freshman year, he has worked as a physics and calculus tutor for  the Macaulay Honors College. Beginning in his junior year, he has also been employed at the College as an adjunct college lab technician (CLT) for the astronomy labs. He has also done outreach at CSI’s astrophysical observatory, helping teach the public about astronomy.

A graduate of Port Richmond High School, Feldman has a passion for music and theater. As hobbies, he enjoys playing numerous musical instruments, as well as performing as a singer/actor in musical theater productions in various venues on Staten Island. It is his hope to continue to pursue these scientific and artistic passions after graduation, and become successful in these different aspects of life.

In the fall of 2012, Feldman will begin studying Astronomy at Boston University as a PhD student. In the future, he has aspirations of becoming a professor at a research institution.