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 Named 2016-17 STEM Jobs Approved College

CSI has been named a STEM Jobs Approved College

The College of Staten Island (CSI)  has been designated a 2016-17 STEM JobsSM Approved College by Victory Media, the leader in connecting young professionals with education and career opportunities, and creator of STEM JobsSM media and resources for students interested in science, technology, engineering and math. The 2016-17 STEM JobsSM Approved Colleges survey rates universities, colleges, community colleges and trade schools on their ability and responsiveness to connecting programs and students with high-demand, high-growth STEM occupations.

For additional information, visit the STEM JobsSM Web site.

Shantel Rowe ’17: Embracing Academics and The Arts

Shantel Rowe '17 has been playing the guitar since age 15.

“Writing is an extension of oneself. When I write, I can show the parts of my soul, and heart that aren’t visible to the naked eye. Writing allows one to bring another layer of themselves into the world, and it can be a truly beautiful process.”

These are the illuminating and introspective words from College of Staten Island (CSI) English major Shantel Rowe ‘17. The Verrazano School student has written for The Banner and the Verrazano Voyager as well as for her own music blog, “Call It What It Is.” Also a performing artist, Rowe has played the guitar since she was 15.

With a wide range of influences including Amy Winehouse, Rupi Kaur, and Sylvia Plath, Rowe also attributes her passion for the pen to her mother. “I had always enjoyed writing, as my mother is a writer herself; however, I began taking it more seriously once I entered high school. I was challenged to write poetry, journalism, and creatively—and writing every day essentially helped me connect more with the craft,” commented Rowe, who carries a 3.9 GPA, with a concentration in Writing and a minor in Journalism and American Studies.

Some of her favorite pieces for The Banner include her commentary on Rihanna’s Anti album titled “Rihanna Takes on New Tone with Confidence” and also “Nina Brings the Drama Onscreen and Off,” an article about the controversy surrounding the Nina Simone film, Nina, which largely spoke to colorism in Hollywood.

Rowe is an English major and Verrazano School student.

Balancing life as a busy artist and devoted student, the recipient of a CSI Foundation Scholarship has also worked closely with Ava Chin, PhD, researching Chinese immigration into America. “We primarily focused on Dr. Chin’s family’s immigration, predominantly in New York City in the 18 and 19 hundreds; however, our research also speaks to Chinese immigration as a whole. I feel as if this work deepened my knowledge of immigration but more importantly of New York geography and how history plays its role in that. Of course, we know about certain neighborhoods living in New York; however to truly understand the history and dynamics behind Chinatown is something that is truly culturally enriching. To walk along Mott Street or Bayard and look at buildings that aren’t just structures, but artifacts/stories, is truly fascinating,” noted the 21-year-old Grasmere resident and Brooklyn native.

Dr. Chin was equally pleased to work with the student. “Shantel is a rare combination of old-soul maturity mixed with quirky brilliance. She has a keen and intuitive writing voice, a sharp eye for detail, and a great sense of musical styles—it’s been a pleasure to watch her grow from being a talented freshman to an outstanding senior. I could not be more proud of her,” Dr. Chin commented.

The graduate of the College of Staten Island High School for International Studies says she is “humbled” by her experiences at CSI and by professors who “have assisted with both my academic and personal growth.”

“Once you enter college, you learn more than you ever could anticipate, not just academically, but socially, culturally.  As an individual, I’ve significantly grown because of my experience here; I’ve experienced so many opportunities where I stepped outside of my comfort zone in the classroom and around campus, and because of that, I feel as if I’ve been very humbled,” said Rowe, who plans to pursue a doctorate and become a music journalist and college professor.

Charles Liu, PhD, Director of MHC and the Verrazano School, praised that, “In this increasingly media-blanketed world, we are fortunate to have Shantel and her brilliant, thoughtful voice to help us make sense of what we see and hear.  It’s great to have Shantel as a member of the Verrazano School and the larger CSI community.”

Rowe’s advice to her peers involves both mental and physical commitment in order to achieve success. “Mentally, you have to focus on your goals and set forth the steps to achieve them. This means networking, going the extra mile, and staying organized. Physically, these steps can be made by remaining an active voice and participant on campus,” she said.

Joseph Gyasi ‘18 On Scholarship and Giving Back

Joseph Gyasi mentoring children in the Broadway Housing Communities program.

The prestigious Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship is a highly selective, competitive award, in which only 15 students from 12 New York City colleges are selected each year.

Being a recipient of this impressive scholarship has in no way changed Joseph Gyasi’s ‘18 humble pursuits.

The College of Staten Island (CSI) Pre-Med Biology major tirelessly volunteers at the Emergency Department of the Montefiore Medical Center as well as the New York City Department of Homeless Services in their annual Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE).

“You never realize how blessed you are to have a home until the winter hits. Homeless people tend to marginalized in our communities and I believe as a society we are obliged to support each other. It’s always a blessing to know that through our efforts, people are able to receive the help they deserve… Volunteering in the Emergency Room, you get to see life-and-death cases and this pushes you to have a different perspective on life. So much so that you are inspired to take life more seriously and encourage others to live healthy,” Gyasi said.

While in his home country, the Ghana native also headed a team of 30 students traveling to five villages and small towns in the Ashanti region of Ghana to educate locals about various laws regarding tenure systems and the need to register land. Back in the U.S., he interned at Broadway Housing Communities, a non profit organization that offers affordable housing to formerly homeless people.

“It was exciting to interact with the locals to find out about the various problems facing their communities and then present their plights to the Members of Parliament for their constituencies,” commented Gyasi, who is spending the winter break at the University of Michigan Health System co-authoring an article with John Greden, PhD, on the state of affairs of personalized precise treatments for mental health disorders.

(From left to right): Dr. Valadakis, Joseph Gyasi, and Michele Callahan at the Watson Fellowship reception.

Also minoring in Psychology, Gyasi is a member of the Pre-Med Club, the African Club, and the CSI Emerging Leaders Program, and he is a CSI Student Mentor. Under the Watson Fellowship, he will take advantage of the three-year program that provides funded summer internships and other academic and co-curricular opportunities.

Gyasi is grateful to Michele Callahan, CSI Fellowship & Scholarship Advisor, who “coached me for the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship and helped put me on track to starting my career in Health even as an undergraduate student.”

Gyasi attended high school at the Presbyterian Boys’ Senior High School in Accra, Ghana, and then began college in Ghana for a year before immigrating to the United States in 2014 and transferring to CSI that fall.

“CSI became my second home, rather quickly. I entered a diverse student body who were nothing like I had ever experienced. My friends became family and my professors were leaders I aspired to be like. In no time, I knew I had made the right decision by transferring to CSI,” Gyasi remembers.

Gyasi extended his gratitude to Professor of English Kalliope Valadakis, PhD, who he said was “the first teacher to ever motivate me to reach my highest potential. She helped me become a writer and pushed me out of my comfort zone to be a better person for both my community and my school.”

Gyasi plans to pursue a dual MD/MPH degree specializing in Psychiatry for Medicine and Health Management and Policy for Public Health, and eventually hopes to establish a medical hospital in Ghana that would provide quality healthcare that is affordable and accessible to all Ghanaians and West Africans broadly.

Working hard from the very beginning of college is, according to Gyasi, the key to student success.

“Students should understand the college journey begins truly from their freshman years and they should take those years very seriously as they can make or break one’s whole academic career. Also, CSI has many opportunities to offer and students should tap into those resources,” he noted.

 

Staten Island Not For Profit Association Honors Dean Maureen Becker and Student Kirill Antonovis

Dean Maureen Becker at the College of Staten Island (CSI) and Biology major Kirill Antonovis will be among several individuals being honored for helping in the community at a ceremony on November 20.

The Staten Island Not For Profit Association (SINFPA) will host its sixth annual Community Service Awards at the Vanderbilt in South Beach to honor those who help the community.

Dr. Maureen Becker, Interim Founding Dean of the School of Health Sciences, was honored by SINFPA.

Dean Becker began at CSI in 1992. She was the Director of Clinical Education and Deputy Chair for 22 years. She was one of two full-time faculty members since the inception of the physical therapy program. Dean Becker was appointed the Interim Founding Dean of the School of Health Sciences in 2014. During her first two years, the School of Health Sciences was comprised of the Nursing and Physical Therapy Departments. Effective July 1, 2016, the Social Work Department joined the School of Health Sciences under Becker’s leadership. Becker holds a doctorate in health sciences from the Institute of Physical Therapy, a master’s degree in exercise physiology, and a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy.

Kirill Antonovis, a biology major at CSI, was honored by SINFPA.

Antonov, a senior at CSI, has participated in most of CSI’s food collections, serving not only the college but Project Hospitality as well. He volunteers his time at the college’s food pantry, has served as a co-chair of the 2016 CSI Relay for Life, and as a volunteer for the NYC Department of Homeless Services Project HOPE. He volunteers for the Steven Siller Tunnel to Towers programs, as well as the Staten Island Half Marathon. Antonovis also volunteers at Staten Island University Hospital and with the Volunteer Heart Ambulance as an emergency medical technician.

To read about all of the individuals being honored, read the full article on Staten Island Live.

CSI Chapter of National Society of Collegiate Scholars Inducts 37 New Members

Newly inducted NSCS members

The College of Staten Island (CSI) Chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) held its Member Induction Convocation on November 3 in the Center for the Arts Williamson Theatre. Keynote speaker Bertram O. Ploog, PhD, Professor in the Psychology Department, gave a presentation titled “Psychology is a True Science.”

Ralf Peetz, PhD, Interim Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies and Student Success, welcomed 37 inductees and their guests, as well as Chapter Officers. Erica Villamar, President and Treasurer; Marilyn Owusu-Skeyer, Vice President, PACE, events and STAR Status Coordinator; and Sharena Tirado, Vice President for Community Service, PR/Membership also gave remarks at the ceremony.

NSCS is the nation’s premiere organization for high-achieving students. Founded in 1994 at The George Washington University in Washington, DC, NSCS is the only honor society to recognize outstanding academic achievement among first- and second-year college students.

Membership is by invitation only and is offered to those freshman and sophomore students who carry a 3.4 grade point average or higher and rank in the top 20 percent of their college class. To this select group of students, NSCS offers benefits such as scholarships, access to career resources and internship positions, and leadership opportunities at both the campus and national levels.

With active chapters at more than 293 colleges and universities across the country, including all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, NSCS has as its goal to honor, inspire, and engage. Chapters are involved in service to their individual campuses and communities, as well as in scholastic and social activities.


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.

 

CSI’s Got Talent Dazzles For Fifth Year

Serena Medina

The fifth annual CSI’s Got Talent competition featured a rich variety of student performers who dazzled a packed house in the College of Staten Island’s Center for the Arts on April 14.

More than 60 students auditioned with 12 finalists going head-to-head for the cash prizes: $2,250 for first place, $750 for second place, and $250 for third place. Emceed by Sal Vulcano from TruTV’s Impractical Jokers and Jay Miller from Midevenings with Jay Miller, the contest was hosted by The Division of Student and Enrollment Services/Office of Student Life, along with WSIA, Student Government, and the Campus Activities Board.

1st Place: Serena Medina

Medina grew up in Williamsburg and then moved to Staten Island. She lived in Manhattan while attending The American Musical and Dramatic Academy and was in CSI’s Gospel choir. When Medina is not studying, she is singing and playing the piano. Her inspirations include Billie Holiday, Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston, and Nina Simone.

Chante E. Wright

2nd Place: Chanté E. Wright

Wright began writing poetry as young as age 11 and abandoned it in pursuit of music. She was led back to the light of writing through her perseverance and her greatest inspiration is poet Mirtha Michelle. Her fluidity inspired Wright to express herself freely on paper. Wright is a lover of all fine arts who enjoys writing on her rooftop, painting in her art studio, or performing at acting auditions.

 

Cynthia Martin

3rd Place: Cynthia Martin

Martin is a first-year student and Nursing major at CSI. Since the age of ten, she has had a passion for singing. Her inspiration is derived from her favorite artists and her family, all musical performers as well.

“CSI’s Got Talent” is an opportunity for performers to showcase their abilities. I was impressed by the depth of talent among our student body, from the dancers to the singers to the spoken-word artist. I was enthralled by the production!” exclaimed Vice President for Student and Enrollment Services Jennifer Borrero.