Mother-Daughter Team Graduate CSI Together

Caren Fall and Christine McWatt at CSI's 2017 Commencement.

In spring 2017, Caren Fall and Christine McWatt had developed serious cases of senioritis.

Fall was returning to college after many years of being out of school.

McWatt was entering college as a freshman after graduating from Port Richmond High School.

It was a challenging road to graduation, but this mother-daughter team had plenty to celebrate at CSI’s Commencement in May 2017.

“Having the privilege to graduate with my mother was an honor. I was ecstatic when I found out that she was going to graduate with her degree with me,” said McWatt, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology.

“I was definitely honored and excited to graduate with my daughter,” Fall said, explaining that her college career began 31 years ago, but was halted due to migration to the U.S. from Guyana and health concerns.

“I made a vow that once my daughter became self-sufficient and independent, I would go back to college. So naturally I am excited and thrilled that I was able to go back to college after all these years and graduate with her,” said Fall, who received a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Business Management. The Mariner’s Harbor resident, who maintained a 3.6 GPA, also received a faculty nomination to join the Sigma Beta Delta Honor Society for Business Management and Administration and the CSI Auxiliary Services Corporation Award for Academic Excellence in Management.

“My mother made so many sacrifices when she had me to make sure I became successful, and the fact that she was able to go back to school when I was a senior in high school and now earn her degree made me so proud of her and to have her as my mom,” said McWatt, a recipient of the Summer/Fall 2016 Dean’s Research Award, who conducted research with Dr. Ellen-ge Denton and Dr. Collette Chapman-Hilliard on African American students’ academic achievement.

A scholarly duo, Fall and McWatt, studied in their dining room together, helped and supported each other with classes, proofread each others’ papers, and swapped math formulas.  McWatt even delivered lunch to her mom when she was putting in long hours studying in the CSI Library.

McWatt, a Brooklyn native, notes that having her mother enrolled in college “gave me more motivation to complete my degree.”

“During my sophomore year of college, I was feeling really discouraged and thought that I would not finish college in four years like I planned. My mother really pushed me to stick it out and not give up,” said McWatt, also a Mariners Harbor resident, and a pharmacy technician at CVS. She is also a contestant in the 2017 Miss Black Staten Island/Richmond County Competition.

McWatt will be attending Brooklyn College as a NYC Teaching Fellow and working toward earning a Master’s in Education. Fall plans to continue working at Trinity School in Manhattan while pursuing a business venture.

 

 

CSI Alumnus Vincent Wong ’15 Attending Upstate Medical University

Vincent Wong at an Americorps Your Park! Your Health! event.

Saving the world may very well be on Vincent Wong’s future agenda. The 23-year-old Macaulay Honors College (MHC) alumnus achieved a tremendous amount in his four years at the College of Staten Island, which speaks both to his work ethic and thrill for adventure. The recipient of several scholarships and awards, including The Jack Nash Scholarship (2014) and Psychology Departmental Award (2015), Wong is currently a medical student at Upstate Medical University at Syracuse, where he’ll be starting his clinical rotations this summer, with an interest in family medicine.

During his time on campus, the Psychology major and former club vice president was heavily involved with Project Reach, a peer-mentoring program for college students with learning disabilities. As a student researcher, he worked closely with Kristen Gillespie-Lynch, PhD, developing a thesis on the impact of mentoring on the mentors and their success rates. Reflecting on his time with Dr. Gillespie-Lynch, Wong states,

“She is one of the nicest people I know. She allowed me to conduct research with her for two and a half years and guided me every step of the way. She encouraged me to enter various conferences to present my research, which was one of the best-presented undergraduate research at the conferences.”

The admiration is mutual as Dr. Gillespie notes, “Vincent was a huge asset to the mentorship program. He was an exceptional mentor for several students, including a student with a disability whom he inspired to become a mentor himself. His sense of humor and natural exuberance created joy in the students he worked with.”

In addition to his work on campus, the Brooklyn Technical High School graduate, also participated in several extracurricular activities.

Wong was a member of the CUNY Service Corps program, which allowed him to work at the Prospect Park Zoo. Some of his responsibilities included managing the zoo database and helping the staff coordinate special events.

Of his many activities, one program Wong found to be transformative was AmeriCorps. After hearing about the opportunity at the Macaulay job fair in Manhattan, Wong knew that AmeriCorps would be an enriching and life-changing experience for the aspiring doctor. AmeriCorps is a civil society program supported by the U.S. government, foundations, corporations, and other donors engaging adults in public service work with a goal of “helping others and meeting critical needs in the community.”

In addition to the special bond he shared with Sheridan, Wong experienced nature in a unique way. He states, “It opened an entirely new world that was unknown to me before. I always thought of nature being far away and having to transverse hundreds of miles to find a small quiet place to enjoy. However, Gateway National Park is only 45 minutes away on bike. Not only was it super close, it was also a hidden gem.”

Vincent Wong demonstrating proper technique at the Americorps event.

During this time, Vincent learned how to kayak and rescue other kayakers, and paddled to an uninhabited island off the coast of Brooklyn where a pack of horseshoe crabs greeted him and his peers.

Another memory the medical student holds fondly was traveling to Sandy Hook Beach to camp overnight. He recounts, “I remember sitting by the fire with the vivid night sky over my head. The next morning was a marine demonstration. Another counselor and I walked along the shore with a huge net. The captured animals were quickly returned to the ocean after we showed the public all the various species of small fishes that lived in these waters. Overall, this experience taught me to enjoy nature just a little bit more.”

Although it may seem as if he has conquered the world on his own, the current medical school student and Syracuse resident credits his success to a number of individuals including Charles Liu, Lisa French, and the entire Macaulay Honors community.

Wong has also been an asset to the MHC community, “We are very proud of Vincent Wong. He is a genuine, kind, and humble person whose wit and intelligence will help to make him a wonderful doctor one day,” said Lisa French, Associate Director of the Macaulay Honors College at CSI. “Jovial, joyful, and inspiring—a pleasure to have as a student—that’s what comes to mind when I think of Vincent!” adds Charles Liu, Macaulay at CSI’s faculty director.

Wong encourages fellow students to cultivate these kinds of relationships, which made him feel like “family,” as he states, “Students should take the time out to develop and nurture a relationship between a professor or staff member. This relationship will help them grow as a student and as an individual.”

 

Comfort B. Asanbe to Serve as UN Department of Public Information Rep

Comfort B. Asanbe, PhD, Associate Professor and Licensed Psychologist in the Department of Psychology at the College of Staten Island (CSI) has been selected to serve as a Department of Public Information (DPI) Representative at the United Nations for the American Psychological Association (APA).  The appointment is a renewable five year term.

“APA-appointed representatives work within the NGO community at the U.N. headquarters in New York. Based on APA advocacy goals and priorities, APA representatives collaborate with other NGO representatives and APA offices and governance to identify issues, organize programs and draft statements that bring psychological science and a psychological perspective to bear on global policies and programs. Representatives also foster dialogue and information exchange between psychologists and APA and U.N. diplomats and representatives of U.N. agencies, and serve as APA’s conduit for information about the United Nations,” according to the APA Web site.

 

 

Dan McCloskey, PhD, Achievements Noted in Long Island Tech News

An article in Long Island Tech News announcing William Floyd High School chemistry teacher Martin Palermo’s selection as a member of Stony Brook University’s third annual class of “40 Under Forty” also notes that College of Staten Island (CSI) Associate Professor of Psychology Dan McCloskey, PhD, is a 1993 William Floyd High School graduate and winner of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers.

Read the full article on the Long Island Tech News Web site.

 

Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Electrical Engineering, Receive Accreditation

CSI's Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering receive accreditation.

Continuing in the tradition of programmatic excellence, quality teaching, and high standards, two programs at the College of Staten Island (CSI) have received accreditation beginning this fall.

The Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling graduate program at CSI has received an accreditation from the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC) through 2021. The program, which leads to licensure in mental health counseling, was cited by MPCAC site visitors for such highlights as being “exemplar of the mission of the school.” Research, advisement, faculty collaboration, strong connections with the community, and recent scholarship and grant opportunities were also noted.

The Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (BS EE), which has been offered since Spring 2014 by the Department of Engineering Science and Physics is also now accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET). The accreditation action extends retroactively from October 2013 and therefore covers students who have already graduated.

The Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling graduate program celebrates its place as the first such program in CUNY to receive this accreditation.

“This is a big deal because we are in the company of schools like Columbia University’s Teachers College, NYU, and the University of Massachusetts,” noted Frances Melendez, PhD, Director of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, adding that this accreditation “will help in recruiting new students, as this gives us real validity in the quality of work and the quality of students entering the field of mental health counseling.”

MPCAC reported that “Dr. Frances Meléndez is an asset to the program, through her strong leadership, advocacy, vision, and commitment to students’ clinical training and professional development.”

Psychology Department Chair Katie Cumiskey, PhD said, “This accreditation is a testament to the commitment of Dr. Meléndez and the hard work of our dedicated core faculty, staff, and students. I’m inspired, though not surprised, that the MPCAC officials were so impressed with our prestigious program. Our program’s emphasis on social justice in mental health counselor training sets us apart in the State of New York and well prepares our students for the many challenges facing the Staten Island community and the world.”

Regarding the BS EE accreditation, Neo Antoniades, PhD, Chair of the Department of Engineering Science and Physics commented that, “Achieving initial ABET accreditation for the BS in Electrical Engineering so quickly after the launch of the program is a testament to the strength of our faculty, as well as the program and our students! This high program quality will ultimately lead to excellent and high-paying jobs for our student graduates.”

CSI is the second institution within The City University of New York (CUNY) and one of only a few in the greater NY/NJ metropolitan area offering an ABET-accredited Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering.

“The five-year initial accreditation places the program among the elite in the field and validates the quality of the faculty, the laboratories, and the institution,” Antoniades lauded.

 

 

Russ Clay Study Announced Online

Dr. Russ Clay, a psychology professor at the College of Staten Island, recently had a preview of his study announced on the EurekAlert website. The article, “Friendships, vaccines, and impressions: Upcoming studies in SPPS,” outlines some studies that will appear in Society for Personality and Social Psychology online.

Professor Clay’s study, “The behavioral immune system and attitudes about vaccines: Contamination aversion predicts more negative vaccine attitudes,” found that, “Higher feelings of disgust predict negative attitudes towards vaccines… In a pair of experiments, the connection between disgust and negative vaccine attitudes occurred in both student (study 1) and non-student (study 2) groups. The results support findings from other studies on the connections between the behavioral immune system and vaccine attitudes.”

Read the full announcement on the EurekAlert website.

 

 

Phyllis Chesler Shares Opinion in NY Post

In an opinion piece in the New York Post titled “Shouldn’t we first help the Christian victims of Mideast genocide?,” College of Staten Island (CSI) emerita professor Dr. Phyllis Chesler discusses the issue of Christians in today’s Muslim world.

She states in her piece: “As the United States debates how many Mideast refugees to accept and who should get priority, the answer is staring us in the face: Those most in need of refuge are Christians and Yazidis who live among Muslims.”

Dr. Chesler is emerita professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies at CSI and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

To read the full article, visit the New York Post website.

 

 

 

CSI Students Present at International Conference

CSI Student Juliana Zaloom (middle) receives Best Undergraduate Submission award from committee chairs Dr. Sam Putnam, Bowdoin College (left) and Dr. Martha Arterberry, Colby College (right).

This year, three College of Staten Island (CSI) students attended the 2016 International Conference on Infant Studies in New Orleans, winning various awards and showcasing their research contributions.

Juliana Zaloom, Andrew Russo, and Carmen Guallpa are Psychology majors doing research in the Child Development Lab at CSI with Dr. Lana Karasik, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Dr. Sarah Berger, Associate Professor of Psychology.

Juliana Zaloom won the prestigious, highly competitive award for “Best Undergraduate Submission” for her work with Dr. Karasik on a cross-cultural project in Tajikistan. She was first-author on a poster presentation and the only one selected from nearly 200 undergraduate abstract submissions. Zaloom received a plaque and a monetary award from the Infancy Congress. Andrew Russo, who has been conducting research in Dr. Karasik’s lab and writing his honors thesis, also first-authored a poster. He received an Undergraduate Research Fellowship to support his work in the lab.

Juliana Zaloom, Andrew Russo, Dr. Lana Karasik, Dr. Jennifer Wagner, and Dr. Sarah Berger enjoying coffee and beignets in New Orleans.

Carmen Guallpa, who has been doing research with Dr. Berger, for the last year, and writing her honors thesis, also presented a poster. Guallpa also received the Undergraduate Research Fellowship.

All three received travel awards (only ten travel awards are distributed) from the International Conference on Infant Studies (ICIS) as well as travel grants from CSI, and all were honored at the awards ceremony.

“It was really exciting to see CSI and CUNY represented at this international conference,” said Dr. Karasik, who has been a full-time staff member of the CSI Psychology Department since 2012.

“When I recruit students to work with me, I train them to be research collaborators; I want them to feel they are part of the research enterprise. Students are trained to be independent researchers and because of this, they become really invested in the work,” said Dr. Karasik, adding that another benefit of attending these conferences is that students can network with other students and experts in the field, and research graduate school opportunities.

“It is wonderful to see our students featured at an international academic venue. Dr. Karasik’s research is highly valued and well respected, both by her colleagues and our field. Our students benefit greatly from the opportunity to work with such a reputable scholar,” said Rev. Dr. Kathleen Cumiskey, Chair of the CSI Psychology Department.