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.”
Samantha Haimowitz ’14 and Stephanie Palumbo ’14 had the privilege of being teachers before they even became teachers. Both CSI graduates participated in the College of Staten Island’s Teacher Education Honors Academy (TEHA), a selective program that allows CSI students to intern in middle and high school math and science classrooms, and offers full and partial scholarships. Both are full-time teachers as well as TEHA liaisons.
“I was employed as soon as I graduated, so I would call the program a success. I am not the only one who found a job as soon as we graduated either! Many of the TEHA graduates are my colleagues in the school where I work,” noted Palumbo, who is in her second year of teaching biology at New Dorp High School. The St. Peter’s Girls High School graduate also assists the department’s grade leader in developing the Living Environment program’s pacing calendar.
Coupled with a President’s Scholarship for their freshman year, Teacher Academy students achieve their degree tuition-free while getting to know the high school or middle school administrators through a comprehensive internship program.
Every TEHA graduate who has completed the NYCDOE application process has been hired at their desired school, and all of them are still teaching. Currently, there are 38 graduates of TEHA teaching in 19 different schools.
“The model has been very well respected by principals and assistant principals who hire the graduates. New Dorp High School has already hired more than five graduates,” Dr. Deirdre Armitage, Director of Fieldwork for the School of Education at CSI, noted. “The model is very popular, and it’s effective.”
In fact, administrators like New Dorp High School Principal Deidre DeAngelis have been so impressed with recent hires, that Teacher Academy alumni are playing a major role in such functions as realigning the school’s math curriculum to changes required by New York State and the Common Core standards, for example.
Feedback from the students at the High School has also been overwhelming positive, according to DeAngelis. “Some of their favorite teachers are the teachers that came out of the Academy. The kids respect them and they have confidence in them because they know they are fair and knowledgeable,” said DeAndelis, who is in her 17th year as principal at New Dorp.
Additionally, these CSI graduates are writing recommendation letters for the excellent students in their high school classes for acceptance into this honors program.
TEHA Director Dr. Jane Coffee, while inspired by its success and the success of its students, is hopeful that each year will see increased recruitment. “The Teacher’s Academy has been awarded more grant money for scholarships than we currently have candidates that are eligible to receive these scholarships. I encourage anyone interested in becoming a well-prepared STEM high school or middle school teacher to take advantage of the wonderful full scholarship opportunity available,” said Dr. Coffee.
The graduates confirm that Dr. Coffee and the Program coordinators are largely deserving of praise for the Program’s success.
“The Program Coordinators really deserve a shout out for all the hard work they do in ensuring we have all the classes we need each semester to stay on track,” said Palumbo, who received the Noyce Scholarship, which covered her junior- and senior-year tuition.
Haimowitz, in her second year of teaching math at New Dorp High School, appreciated the job training she received. “The program gave me a lot of opportunities to grow professionally, especially when hosting different professional development opportunities,” commented Haimowitz, a Wagner High School graduate and CSI Noyce Scholar.
Receiving a full Presidential Scholarship, Haimowitz is also a grade leader in the math department, which includes building the curriculum for one of the courses; she also serves as a TEHA liaison, helping to place student observers into classes.
The students also attended several SMART Board and technology workshops, went to a technology conference in Washington DC, worked at summer school through the Noyce Program, and taught in the Galapagos Islands through the TEHA program.
The Program has, indeed, often funded opportunities for international teaching as Armitage urges, “international experiences help teachers become better educators by promoting understanding of different ways of learning and different cultures.”
Armitage confirms that this intense fieldwork “allows the students to make sense of their early education courses in ways that other students might not be able to. It connects them to the field. This can solidify their decision to become a teacher, or, just as valuable, it may let them find that this isn’t the work they want to invest time in.”
DeAngelis also appreciates the collaboration and “open communication” between the high schools and the Program. “We are constantly looking at college classes, and they allow input and there is less of gap in what we need when we hire new teachers. That’s huge,” she commented.
For application and Program information, potential candidates can visit the TEHA Website.
STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE — Divina Wiley’s dream college was Boston’s Northeastern University, but even with a partial scholarship, she realized she’d have to take out a sizeable student loan.
So when she applied to the College of Staten Island, and was accepted into CSI’s Macaulay Honors program, she said she “just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to graduate debt-free.”
The CSI senior hasn’t regretted her decision; in fact, as a psychology and Spanish major, she even had the opportunity to study abroad in Spain, something, she said, she likely wouldn’t have been able to afford to do at another school.
CSI senior Michael Jachcinski, an accounting major and Tottenville High School graduate, is the oldest of three children.
He transferred to CSI from Rutgers when out-of-state tuition costs at the New Jersey state university got to be too much to afford for his family. Now he attends CSI tuition-free, thanks to financial aid and a part-time job.
While Staten Island parents and students worry about the rising cost of college tuition and college loan debt, one of the best values in higher education may be right in our own backyard.
MANY GO TUITION-FREE
CSI, the borough’s only public college, funded by city and state tax-levy dollars, enrolls just over 7,000 full-time undergraduate students, ages 17 to 21, the majority of whom are recent graduates of borough public and parochial high schools.
An astonishing two-thirds of those students attend classes at CSI’s Willowbrook campus tuition free, most of them through the state’s Tuition Assistance Plan (TAP), that was created to assist middle-class families with tuition costs at colleges and universities in New York state.
According to CSI, nearly six in 10 full-time undergraduate students attend tuition-free.
Nearly five in 10 Staten Islanders attend tuition-free.
Seven out of 10 students graduate debt free.
According to the college, a “typical CSI undergraduate student” minimally receives:
—$11,760 in state and federal financial aid.
—Pays $6,030 in tuition and $480 in mandatory fees.
—Has about $5,000 left over for related costs such as books, supplies and transportation.
Even for students whose families pay full-tuition, with books and fees the cost comes in under $7,500 a year, a relative bargain when compared with tuition at private colleges, and even colleges within the State University of New York (SUNY) system.
Additionally, students accepted into CSI’s elite Macaulay Honors program — about 160 students are enrolled — also attend tuition-free, receive laptop computers, and a $7,500 grant for expenses, which most students use to study abroad.
The data is in line with City University of New York figures in general, although CSI arguably is the most suburban among CUNY’s 24 colleges in the five boroughs.
CHANGE IN ‘PERCEPTIONS’
Mary Beth Reilly, who has served as CSI’s vice-president for enrollment since 2001, said that over the last decade the college has consistently attracted an “academically higher quality” of applicants from public, private and Catholic high schools to its full-time programs leading to a baccalaureate degree, which she attributes, in part, to concerns about rising tuition costs and student loan debt, the the poor economy, and a change in “perceptions” about the college.
“In the 14 years I’ve been in this position, I’ve seen the attitude, the perceptions Staten Islanders may have had of the college, change 180-degrees. We’re no longer perceived as just a ‘local school’ or as a ‘safety school’ or as a ‘last choice’ school, and our data backs this up,” she said.
High school students admitted directly to baccalaureate programs have an average grade of “B” or better. Students admitted to the Macaulay Honors program this year had a high school grade-point-average of 93.6 and a minimum score of 1329 on the SAT, according to CSI data.
The college is also starting to see more second-generation students, with one or both parents who are CSI alumni.
CSI sophomore Carissa Mazzeo, a Tottenville High School graduate from Eltingville majoring in education, said both her parents are alumni, “so I knew already the school was a good value.” In addition to academics, she cited the school’s athletic programs and facilities as a plus; she is a member of CSI’s cross-country team.
SAVING FOR GRADUATE SCHOOL
Staten Island Tech graduate Lucinda Zawadzki of Great Kills, a senior in the Macaulay Honors program, said she opted for CSI so she could save for graduate school tuition. She hopes to earn her doctorate from Cornell.
“CSI has a great campus, plus the professors are very supportive and accessible to undergraduate students, and that’s important. And the tuition I am saving, and the chance to graduate debt-free, will be a big help with graduate school,” she said.
Shenugue Tissera, a graduate of St. Peter’s Boys High School, had the same thought. A senior and economics major, the Macaulay student and Rosebank resident is also going to go for his doctorate degree at Northeastern and anticipates the money he saved at CSI will help him defer tuition costs there.
He credits one of his high school teachers at St. Peter’s for encouraging him to apply to CSI. “A lot of us thought of the college as a ‘safety school’ until he took some of us to visit the campus,” he explained. Tissera recalled being impressed with CSI’s High-Performance Computer Center (HPCC), which he has since used many times to do statistical research.
Macaulay junior Naomi Edwards of Livingston, a graduate of Curtis High School’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program, is majoring in political science and plans to go to law school. “Like anything else in life, your college experience is what you make of it,” she observed. “If you decide to put in the work, CSI has some great opportunities.”
ISLAND ALSO HOME OF TWO PRIVATE COLLEGES
The borough is also home to two nationally recognized private colleges.
Wagner College, Grymes Hill, has consistently scored high marks in the annual Princeton Review survey of the nation’s top colleges and universities.
Grymes Hill is also home to the Staten Island campus of St. John’s University, which recently announced it would slash campus tuition by $10,000 in response to concerns about rising tuition costs and student loan debt.
Four teams of upper-class marketing research students presented the results of their semester’s marketing research projects to representatives of the Sundog Theatre, Richmond County Orchestra, Riverside Opera Company, and the Little Cupcake Bakeshop recently at the College of Staten Island’s Center for the Arts.
On-Point Marketing Research members Lorna Wilson, Jeffrey Drouillard, and Gideon Omagbemi gave a 20-minute presentation on their findings to the Director of Sundog Theatre, Susan Fenley.
Student researchers from Elite Entertainment including Katie Kapitan, Kiki Kosmidou and Sandy Tang presented their results to Maestro Alan Aurelia of the Richmond Country Orchestra as did C3 Research, Vincent Cannone, Melissa Castellanos, and Shannon Clark with their segment on the maestro’s Riverside Opera Company.
Market research for a CSI alumni member’s Little Cupcake Bake Shop in Brooklyn, a for-profit business, was presented by NEKS Level Research team members Sagi Alkobi, Kristie Draper, and Nelson Ortiz.
These Student Service Learning presentations were executive summaries of information gleaned from their marketing research projects. Each team met with their client to determine the problem areas; define the research objectives, constructs, and measurements; and to develop a questionnaire. The questionnaires were completed electronically and manually by a convenience sample of both organization supporters as well as Staten Island Chamber of Commerce members who agreed to participate. The students’ data were then analyzed via SPSS, a statistical software application, and then crafted into a final report and PowerPoint presentation. Each team was able to demonstrate new and surprising insights to each organization from their support base as well as Chamber members, and provide real-world suggestions for cultivating future donor/supporter involvement and market expansion potential. This year the students added their first for-profit client.
Past research projects from CSI marketing research students have included a study for a St. John’s University continuing education program; SCORE, Staten Island branch; The American Cancer Society, Staten Island division; and COAHSI, Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island.
Maestro Aurelia commented, “I learned a lot about how we can reach more people on Staten Island and what our general audience is thinking. The teams of students you selected to work on this report were fantastic to work with. I also learned from the other teams’ remarks during their presentation.”
Susan Fenley added, “Thank you so much for allowing Sundog to be part of this wonderful program. I think it was a completely win-win situation, with everyone benefiting.”
Professor Thomas Tellefsen, Chairperson of the Business Department at CSI, acknowledged, “The feedback has been great. It’s particularly gratifying when real managers speak well of our students.”
Jeffrey Drouillard, a student who worked on the Sundog Theatre project noted, “I wanted to thank you for allowing me to be part of something [in which] a select few students get to participate. I have learned so much in this quick semester-–this class gave me an insider look into the real business world–-late nights and very early mornings…Thank you for the learning experience – I will hold it with me wherever I go in the future.”
The client-sponsor for Little Cupcake Bakeshop was not able to attend the presentation because of holiday business issues but stated in an email, “Your students very much impressed me and I know the work will be stellar!” He will receive his report after the holidays.
Bill Dubovsky, Adjunct Lecturer in Business, welcomed the audience with a brief presentation on how marketing research can be used by non-profit organizations to build capacity (audience and supporters) and video-recorded the presentations for future marketing research classes. “Our community client-sponsors all came away with useful information and learned from each other’s presentations. It’s gratifying to see students excited about doing real research and then see their results put to practical use by real organizations,” stated Dubovsky, who thanked them all for their time and support of the students.
Each attending client-sponsor received a copy of the research report, data, the PowerPoint presentation, as well as a PDF copy of Non-profit Marketing – Capacity Building Workshop Participant Workbook to act as a guide in developing marketing strategy from the data.