The SEEK Research Assistants Project (RAP) is alive and well, having just reached its 12th anniversary. Originally established by Dr. Roberta Vogel (Professor Emerita), RAP was conceived as a way to encourage SEEK students to gain hands-on exposure to research questions and methodologies by following the progress of faculty researchers. To date, over 50 SEEK students have participated, working with faculty from Art to Women’s Studies, and many disciplines in between. This past fall, senior Emma Petit-Frere completed a second semester in the Department of Psychology, working as an active member of the Cultural Knowledge and Racial Identity Lab led by Dr. Collette Chapman-Hilliard. Dr. Hilliard’s work focuses on racial and ethnic identity and cultural knowledge, and how these may mitigate race-related stress, the relationship between cultural consciousness and mental health, and the factors that contribute to an affirming racial/ethnic identity.
According to Dr. Hilliard, Emma has “…contributed importantly to my research program, and is currently working on a study that examines the role of cultural assets, such as knowledge of Black history, in contributing to help-seeking attitudes among college students of African descent.” Emma is a role model for several other SEEK students who plan to enter RAP this spring, including one who will join Emma under Dr. Hilliard’s tutelage. We are not only proud of these students, but also extremely grateful for the dozens of faculty, like Dr. Hilliard, who have so willingly provided these unique opportunities over the years. For information about this Project, contact Coordinator Jean Como in the SEEK Office.
For more exciting news about SEEK, please visit the SEEK website.
Sergio Mendoza, now a CSI senior, was born in Santa Ana, El Salvador and came to this country in 2008. When in high school in Brooklyn, one of the major struggles he faced was the language barrier. Although a dedicated student, not knowing English resulted in lower grades. Nonetheless, he overcame these challenges and arrived at CSI in fall of 2012 as a new member of the SEEK Program. At CSI, he has earned an impressive 3.92 GPA and is looking forward to graduating this spring. During these years, he has not only qualified for the Dean’s List and Chi Alpha Epsilon (CSI’s chapter of the National Honor Society for Opportunity Programs) but was one of the founders of SEEK’s “Men of Excellence” group, serving as a leader among its Black and Latino members. A first generation college student, Sergio chose to major in Spanish education (with minors in English-linguistics and Italian) because he feels that “there’s nothing that connects one to a culture better than its language.” His initial struggles with English and the stigma of not being able to speak English fluently inspires him to want to help other non-native speakers of English. With a future goal of becoming a high school Spanish teacher or language professor in college, he hopes to have an impact on others and give back to society by helping and educating young people. Sergio’s advice to incoming freshman is to always be optimistic. “College life might be intimidating,” he says, “but with a positive attitude and perseverance one can achieve anything. The most important suggestion is: don’t learn and study just to pass a class, learn and study for the sake of learning. Classes come and go, but knowledge stays. That is the path to success.”
For more exciting news from SEEK, please visit the SEEK website.
When Damelsa Hatmil first arrived on CSI’s campus back in 2013, the SEEK Counseling Team recognized her leadership potential from the start. So it was, that they nominated her last June to be one of two CSI representatives to the CUNY Student Leadership Academy, a retreat organized annually by the CUNY Office of Special Programs. The goal of the Academy is to prepare students to become leaders at their home schools and within CUNY. Part of this initiative is a group called United Leaders of CUNY (ULC) which provides a continuing forum for leadership development throughout the year. Damelsa is now part of ULC’s Executive Board, as the newly elected Vice Chair for SEEK Affairs. As a member of ULC, Damelsa attends regular meetings in New York City and reports that learning how to conduct herself professionally at a meeting or business lunch is just one of the skills she has gained through participating. During the spring, the new Vice Chair expects to be actively involved in SEEK’s citywide 50th anniversary celebrations, among other activities. Damelsa is one of a number of outstanding SEEK students who always seem motivated to excel.
For more exciting news from SEEK, please visit the SEEK website.
Ronak Patel ’17: Major: Nursing A SEEK student, he works in the SEEK Office, assisting with workshops, and he volunteers at a local hospital. He is currently researching the views of different world cultures on medicine. A favorite aspect of CSI: “Everyone here encourages you to succeed; they support you in all your success. They are here to pull you up and make you reach your true potential. I love CSI and I hope everyone who comes to this College does too.” Future plans: He plans to complete the two-year Nursing Program, earn his Bachelor’s degree, and then continue on to receive his Master’s in Nursing. He hopes to eventually become a Nurse Practitioner. To read more about CSI Alumni, check out Eye on CSI.
This past holiday season, SEEK student Bruce French came to the SEEK Office with an idea: why not help Project Hospitality, Staten Island’s respected not-for-profit agency for the homeless, find warm clothing for those in need? The idea, eventually dubbed “Socks for SEEK,” took hold when he and Counselor Fran Fassman decided to reach out across campus for donations of warm winter socks. As a result, socks of every size and style began pouring in, and in the end, Bruce and his fellow students managed to collect 225 pairs. Delivered to Project Hospitality by Dr. Fassman and SEEK Counselor Miriam Perez-Lai just before the holidays, the socks made their way into the agency’s holiday baskets in time for Christmas. Not only did SEEK students and staff give to this drive, but donations poured in from other offices as well – Financial Aid, Bursar, Testing, Academic Advising, Counseling, Alumni to name just a few – proving that CSI staff members always rise to the occasion.
Every fall (and sometimes in the spring) SEEK happily welcomes a new group of freshmen (170 this fall). While SEEK treasures each and every newcomer, sometimes particular students are standouts – those who show a special energy or spark that makes SEEK staff really take notice. Freshmen Nasley Garcia and Akira Campbell are just such students.
“What makes Nasley stand out,” says counselor Miriam Perez-Lai, “is her dedication to her studies. She seems to spend all her time with her books, and then claims that reading is her leisure activity as well. I seldom see a freshman with such focus.” Those habits may just be Nasley’s ticket to success, as she achieved a 3.57 GPA her first time out. Still, books and reading are not Nasley’s only pursuits; while in high school she volunteered in a local food pantry, and no doubt will become similarly involved in the future.
Another noticeable newcomer, according to counselor Steven James, is freshman Akira Campbell. “She is very pro-active and attentive to detail… a very special attribute for a freshman,” says Mr. James. Akira’s terrific organizational skills and persistence helped net her a 3.51 GPA in her first semester here.
For more exciting news from SEEK, please visit the SEEK Website.
Washington Monthly, which publishes an annual rating of colleges throughout the U.S., has recently named the College of Staten Island as one of America’s Best-Bang-for-the-Buck Colleges. The article appears in the magazine’s September-October 2012 issue.
Providing some background for its ranking system, Washington Monthly notes that, in its opinion, other college rankings are often flawed because they tend to measure the level of prestige that institutions have, as opposed to how well they are serving their students. The article further notes that some of the higher-ranking colleges in other lists have often taken the focus off of traditional students in favor of higher-caliber recruits through an increase in admissions standards.
“We are proud that Washington Monthly has recognized the value of the high-quality education offered at the College of Staten Island,” said Dr. William J. Fritz, interim president of CSI. “This national honor is indicative of our renowned faculty, establishment of new national honor societies, construction of world-class residence halls, and the distinction of being ranked as a top military-friendly institution. The CSI community should indeed be proud of this tremendous achievement.”
In regard to these policies, the article explains, “The Washington Monthly has long believed that such behavior by colleges doesn’t serve the broader interests of the country, and that rewarding such behavior is wrong. And so the magazine designed its own ranking system to do the opposite: to rate colleges based on how well they perform with the students they have, regardless of the students’ backgrounds or SAT scores, on metrics that measure the widely shared national goals of increasing social mobility, producing research, and inspiring public service.”
As Washington Monthly ranked U.S. colleges this year, it took another aspect into account—“cost-effectiveness.” Using a measure called “cost-adjusted graduation rate,” which involves, according to the article, “the gap between the predicted and actual graduation rate of a school…divided… by the net price of attending that institution,” the magazine compiled a list of institutions that represented a good investment from the students’ perspective and CSI made the list.
The article notes that “As an urban, commuter institution, the College of Staten Island attracts a diverse group of students from the New York City metro area. Because of the difficulty in retaining commuter students, the college offers many programs to enrich students’ academic lives and provide incentives for them to stay invested in finishing their degree.” The article mentioned the SEEK program, designed for students who have the potential to succeed in college, but would benefit from enhanced academic support and financial assistance, and the three honors programs available to high-achieving students as examples of some of the exceptional value available to students at the College.
Commenting on CSI’s inclusion in this prestigious list, CUNY Senior Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Secretary of the Board of Trustees Jay Hershenson said, “It comes as no surprise that the high-quality academic programs and services available at CSI are widely perceived to be of great value, especially during these difficult economic times. Students and their families are very fortunate to have this jewel of a CUNY college in the crown of Staten Island.”
Representatives from TD Bank recently visited the College of Staten Island campus to present a $5,000 check in support the partnership between SEEK/Strategies for Success and Curtis High School.
The grant has two distinct groups of beneficiaries: CSI students who will serve as mentors to Curtis High School students, while improving their own academic, leadership, and professional skills, and Curtis High School students in need of academic support to ensure their success.
Joseph Doolan, Vice President and Retail Market Manager with TD Bank, said “We are proud to support the expansion of the College of Staten Island’s Strategies for Success program into Curtis High School, and we are pleased that the CSI program’s 11 years of demonstrated success in our community will now benefit students at Curtis and allow for additional students at CSI to serve as college mentors.”
Georgia Landrum, Strategies for Success Program Associate Director, further underscores the win-win that this project offers the students involved, “Curtis students will benefit by having college role models assisting them with their academic work. The CSI students benefit by being in leadership roles. They attend leadership development training that helps them in assisting the younger students and with their lives in general.”
Landrum also notes that the gift from the TD Charitable Foundation completes the Strategies for Success pipeline, stating that “In the past, our program served elementary and middle school children. Now that we will be able to offer services to Curtis High School students, we have a continuum from the elementary to college level. We can now be more effective in reaching students at all levels and hopefully making the bridge to college a bit easier for them.”
Prior to signing on with Curtis, Landrum reports that the program was already making a significant impact. In academic year 2011-2012 alone, Strategies for Success gave 32 CSI students the opportunity to serve more than 400 primary school children.
CSI Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. A. Ramona Brown noted, “On behalf of the College of Staten Island, I would like to thank the TD Charitable Foundation for their belief in and support of CSI’s SEEK/Strategies for Success/Curtis High School partnership. We look forward to a collaborative relationship with the TD Charitable Foundation in support of CSI’s students, as well as students from the local schools on Staten Island.”
Looking ahead to the future of Strategies for Success, Gloria Garcia, SEEK Program Director, states that “Strategies for Success has been in existence for 11 years and has made its mark in the Staten Island community. With this new initiative, we have expanded our services to the high school students. We look forward to continuing the strengthening of our partnerships with Curtis High School, the Jewish Community Center, and the New York City Department of Education (District 31), bringing the College and our students even closer to the community. We are very proud of our CSI role models.”