High School Students Wowed by First Annual CSI Science Day

High school students congregate in the 1P Atrium.

Students from Staten Island Technical High School, New Dorp High School, and the CSI International High School attended the College of Staten Island’s (CSI) first annual CSI Science Day. Established by the Division of Science and Technology, the event allowed students to tour CSI laboratories and facilities, and participate in science-related activities throughout the day.

“It was exciting to welcome all the participants from the high schools. Our faculty, staff, and students pulled it all together to offer an engaging day dedicated to showcasing the research done in the Division and the opportunities available to the students in the College,” commented Dean of Science and Technology Vivian Incera, PhD, noting that approximately 250 students traveled to the CSI campus.

CSI professors led the teens through educational activities to introduce them to some of the research and experiments going on at the College. These activities showcased the diversity in the curriculum that CSI offers and included information about astronomy with Emily Rice, PhD, and chemistry with Alan Lyons, PhD.

“The visitors saw the passion our professors have for what they do, the excitement of the students working in those labs, and the incredible research taking place on our campus,” said Dr. Incera, whose team worked tirelessly to make the event, which featured a total of 13 professors, a success.

Dean Vivian Incera welcomes students to CSI Science Day.

New Dorp High School student Richard Lin commented that, “Most of us in high school don’t know what we want, but these activities give us options and different paths to choose.”

CSI International High School student Arlett Moran became “inspired and encouraged” to learn more about biology after experiencing the Naked Mole Rat activity presented by Alejandra Alonso, PhD.

New Dorp student Adam Kozlowski said that the event “gave us an insight into what the atmosphere would be like if we were to study [at CSI].” Kozlowski’s favorite part of the day was Michael Bucaro’s bioluminescent single-cell protists presentation.

CSI and the Division of Science and Technology have a long history of collaborating with other organizations to promote the sciences. Creating CSI Science Day specifically for high School students allows CSI to attract and inform prospective students.

“These events provide exposure and accessibility for students who may have an interest in getting involved in the sciences when they enter their collegiate career but don’t know where to begin. The five departments within the Division of Science and Technology provide a range of perspectives for students to decide which field is right for them,” noted Dean Incera.

“I am very pleased with the outcome of our first CSI Science Day… if we managed to plant the bug of science and the thirst for scientific understanding in some of those kids, our efforts were all worthy… We have also received very positive feedback from the high schools leaders, who said it was an ‘eye-opener’ for their students. They all are looking forward to the next CSI Science Day. I think we have just started a new tradition on our campus,” Dean Incera said.

CSI student ambassadors Benjamin Hermus '18; Batool Shirazi '20; Arshia Lodhi '20; Amber Van Cleat '19; Usama Zubair '20; and Tiffany Miller '19, with Dean Incera.

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.



Verdict is In: James Raio ’17 Heading to Law School

James Raio poses next to a police car by the Coliseum on his trip to Italy.

Ever since Career Day at PS 53, James Raio ‘17 has wanted to be an attorney. In fall 2017, the College of Staten Island (CSI) Macaulay Honors College (MHC) student will be closer to that dream as he enters Fordham Law School on a partial scholarship.

Maintaining a 3.9 GPA, the Political Science major, minoring in Legal Studies and Economics, advises his peers to “work hard because good grades will pay off later, whether you are applying to grad school or searching for employment!”

The Staten Island Technical High School graduate has interned at the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office, an experience that certainly solidified the budding prosecutor’s career plans.

“It was really interesting and taught me a lot about the field. I was able to work closely with attorneys and talk to them about law school and also spoke with law enforcement officials about the criminal justice process,” noted Raio, age 21.

The Bay Terrace resident also works as a pharmaceutical technician and says that time management has been key for him.

“I have always been good about staying on top of deadlines and getting things done early. You can’t wait until the last minute,” urges Raio, who is currently completing his senior thesis, early, of course. His thesis is focused on President Donald Trump and the 2016 election.

James Raio at his high school prom.

“James has been a model student. He already has certain important lawyerly virtues. The words that most comes to mind when I think about James are ‘calm,’ ‘steady,’ ‘methodical,’ and ‘meticulous.’ I’ve always found him to be responsible and thoughtful. It has been a pleasure to have him in my classes and to witnesses his many successes,” commented Michael Paris, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Global Affairs. Dr. Paris worked with Raio on his law school applications and supervised his senior thesis.

A native of Staten Island, Raio also studied abroad in Florence, Italy in summer 2015. There, he studied sculpture and was also able to enjoy excursions such as horseback riding in Tuscany and visiting a Ferrari factory. His study abroad program was funded by his MHC Opportunities Fund.

“James is the kind of person I want in my corner, standing up for what’s right when the chips are down.  We are all so proud to have him here at CSI.  However he chooses to participate in our legal system, he will succeed – and he will make the world a better place for us all,” noted Charles Liu, PhD, Director of MHC and the Verrazano School.

Committing himself to advanced programs at both Staten Island Technical High School and now MHC, Raio is glad to have experienced “rigorous programs that challenged me to excel in difficult coursework. It really makes a difference to work and learn beside other high-achieving students.”

At Fordham, Raio plans to pursue corporate or criminal law.

CSI Celebrates GIS Day

Students from New Dorp High School gather in the CSI Library.

On November 16, people from all around the globe celebrate Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Day. The international forum was especially noteworthy at the College of Staten Island (CSI) as it marked the 11th annual event.

As GIS Day falls within Geography Awareness Week (always on a Wednesday), the College hosted several lectures and workshops over the course of the week, focusing on the use of GIS technology in real-world applications that are making a difference in society today.

Students from New Dorp and Staten Island Technical High Schools visited CSI as part of the 30,000 Degrees initiative to participate in a comprehensive agenda led by CSI faculty, staff, and students. This was the first year that high school students have been invited to participate in GIS Day. They participated in three different workshops with faculty and staff:  the Great Fire of London, 1666, the Great Plague of London, 1665, and the Proposed Lynx Habitat Sites.

Faculty presentations during the week included lectures by Alan I. Benimoff, PhD; Simone A. Wegge, PhD; and Stephen Ferst, EdD. Also each year, CSI celebrates GIS day with a display of maps in the Library Rotunda. The maps showcase how CSI students and faculty use GIS in different disciplines.

Nora Santiago presents during GIS Week.

Organizer Nora Santiago, GIS Specialist, noted that, “Geographic Information Systems is a tool that many of us use but we are not aware of it. Your app or Website is relying on GIS technology when you are looking for the nearest place to eat or shop. GIS is a backbone of many online services and games today. GIS allows for processing spatial data quickly and accurately, making it an essential tool for companies and government agencies.”

“These GIS workshops provided high school students with a meaningful college campus visit, access to lab space and faculty, and an opportunity to engage in a 21st Century skill, which we see more and more of in the college and work place setting. This is the kind of exposure we seek to create, and extend to our high school students. It sends the message that college is within reach, and that there are tangible skills and personal growth that can be gained from the experience,” commented Crystal Montalvo, Director of the 30,000 Degrees initiative.

The first formal GIS Day took place in 1999. Esri, an international supplier of geographic information system software, web GIS and geodatabase management applications, president and co-founder Jack Dangermond credits Ralph Nader with being the person who inspired the creation of GIS Day. He considered GIS Day a good initiative for people to learn about geography and the uses of GIS. He wanted GIS Day to be a grassroots effort and open to everyone to participate. For more information, visit the GIS Day Website.

Next year’s GIS Day will take place on November 15, 2017.




Meet Christina Terracino – 2013 Salutatorian

On a basic level, Christina Terracino’s coming of age story can be related to that of Jane Eyre. Charlotte Brontë’s classic journey of maturation, self-discovery, and increasing confidence almost mirrors that of Ms. Terracino’s, who, being a young woman who has always resided in her hometown, feels great pride in the powerful and independent growth she has shown during her tenure with The Verrazano School Honors Program at CSI.

As a teenager attending Staten Island Technical High School, Christina would often try to imagine the woman she would become once she graduated from college. Anyone in her large Italian American family who attended college credited that time as the defining years of their lives and Christina has quickly come to the same conclusion.

Christina began her studies at CSI as a young woman whose father had recently passed away, whose confidence had been faltering, and whose love for reading was the only glimmer of a future career path. Her affinity for reading developed into a passion and appreciation for literature’s conveyance of human emotions, opinions, and nature. Such a connection to literature and research assured her that a career as an academic librarian and professor were a perfect fit.

Christina’s goals have always remained constant: to pursue higher education, to choose a career path that is both productive and enjoyable, and to learn from every possible experience.

During her time at CSI, Christina has become part of a cohort of brilliant and talented CUNY students through the CUNY Pipeline Program, met countless encouraging professors and other members of the College community, presented at two academic conferences, and accepted a fellowship offer from St. John’s University to pursue a Master’s degree in English Literature. She is proud of all of these accomplishments, is enthusiastic to move ahead, and will remain confidant, living by the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt: “Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”