[video] Meet Blaze Fraser: 2014 Valedictorian and Commencement Speaker

Blaze presented his research findings at the 18th International Taurine Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, April 2012.

Blaze Fraser is graduating Summa Cum Laude with a 3.9 GPA from College of Staten Island’s Verrazano School Honors Program. While studying at CSI, he conducted undergraduate research under the supervision of Dr. William L’Amoreaux, director of the Imaging Facility.

Blaze’s research is focused on taurine, an effective osmolyte in the body, and its physiological effects on different tissues. This upcoming fall semester, he will begin attending the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine in pursuit of his long-term goal of becoming a dentist.

Blaze is the middle of five children, all born and raised in Staten Island. After Commencement, he will be the fourth College of Staten Island graduate of his family with the others including his mother Bernadette, brother Jerry, and sister Lauren.

He takes great joy in his family and faith and their influence on his personality, work ethic, and outlook on life. He is thankful to the College of Staten Island for allowing him to achieve through all of the exceptional opportunities presented to him.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgJpEHOCLSM[/youtube]More about Blaze:

• Member and Treasurer, CSI Pre-Dental Association (2011-2013)
• Department of Biology/Imaging Facility – researched the effects of Taurine on RPE tissues under the supervision of Dr. William L’Amoreaux (Spring 2012, Spring 2014); created experimental set-ups; grew cell cultures and treated and examined them; trained to use various lab equipment
• Presented preliminary research findings at the 18th International Taurine Conference in Marrakech, Morocco (April 2012)
• Recipient, STEAM Scholarship (2011-2013)
• Recipient, Student Government Academic and Curricular Affairs Departmental Scholarship, 2012
• Part-time manager at Body Tan (2011-2013)
• Post-graduation Plans: Has been accepted to Rutgers School of Dental Medicine and will attend starting in Fall 2014.

Meet Elizabeth Krawczun; 2014 Salutatorian and Honors Convocation Speaker

College of Staten Island Class of 2014 Salutatorian Elizabeth Krawczun

Elizabeth Krawczun  is a Verrazano School student who will receive a Bachelor’s degree in Epidemiology. She has served as a volunteer at the South Beach Psychiatric Center and performed independent research, working on data collection within the infection control department.  In January 2013, she studied abroad through Brooklyn College in a global health program in rural India, and last January, she traveled through the Macaulay Honors College to the Dominican Republic to study health and water sustainability. In Summer 2013, she participated in the CUNY Summer Undergraduate Research Program working under Prof. Heidi Jones, Hunter School of Public Health, studying clinical abortion methods and treatment of female patients across the U.S. and Canada. She has served as President of the CSI Chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and was a member of the Emerging Leaders program.

Elizabeth has been accepted into two graduate programs in the UK this fall, and will make her final decision to study Epidemiology at Imperial College London or Medical Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh.

More about Elizabeth:

• CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies: Epidemiology
• B.A. anticipated June 2014
• CUNY Baccalaureate Thomas W. Smith Academic Fellowship (Fall 2012–)
• CSI-2014 Verrazano Senior Convocation Class Speaker (May 2014)
• CSI- Eta Lambda Chapter of Phi Beta Delta (May 2014)
• CUNY-Japan Kakehashi Program (May 2013)
• President, National Society of Collegiate Scholars,CSI Chapter (May 2013–)
• CSI-Verrazano Honors Program (Fall 2011–)
• CSI-Verrazano Study Abroad Scholarship (January 2013)
• CSI-Emerging Leaders Program (Fall 2012–Spring 2013)
• CSI-STEAM Scholarship (Fall 2011)
• Dean’s List (2011-2013)

“A student every teacher wishes to have” graduates after 10 year journey

Elsa Garcia takes a break at the Nancy Munson Memorial Fountain on Alumni Walk.

Elsa Garcia, a senior accounting major with the School of Business has traveled a long road to reach her commencement this May. In 1998 she arrived in the US from Chihuahua, Mexico, soon married, gave birth to two children, and then learned to speak English while being a full-time mom to toddlers.

Her ten-year-journey to college graduation was made possible by the many opportunities available at The City College of New York (CUNY) as well as the College of Staten Island (CSI).

In 2004, Elsa heard about the English as a Second Language (ESL) program at the Adult Learning Center, part of CSI’s Continuing Education program. After spending three semesters studying English she craved another challenge and wanted to earn her GED.

While remembering her experience preparing for the GED, Elsa practically shuddered. “It was the most difficult test in my life,” she said of the GED. “I didn’t even know what an essay was but I knew I wanted to do more than just learn English.”

After passing her GED exam she was accepted into the College Transition Initiative (the forerunner to CUNY START) at LaGuardia College where she excelled, mostly, she explained, due to the support she received from the faculty and staff. “I feel like they took my hand and taught me how to be a college student,” said Elsa of her time with the Initiative. “I was taught how to apply for college, the advisors helped me with every step—I was even given the $75 I needed to submit my college application.”

The road was not a completely smooth one however, as she failed the CUNY Reading Exam by one point.

Disappointed but not defeated, Elsa enrolled in the CUNY Learning Immersion Program (CLIP) for the summer, retook the test and scored the highest score in her cohort. In her CLIP evaluation, her instructor, Azedah Leonard called Elsa, “a student every teacher wishes to have.”

Elsa was then accepted into the Accelerated Studies in Associates Program (ASAP) at CUNY’s Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) which, she claimed, “helped me in every way—it was another door.” As a result of being in ASAP, she received all the support she needed from books, advisement to Metro cards. In five years, Elsa went from a Mexican immigrant who did not speak English to a mother of two with an Associate’s Degree taking her kids for swimming lessons at BMCC.

Donna Grant, Director of the Adult Learning Center and CUNY START at CSI, responded to the theme of doors, saying, “A lot of people think all of the doors are closing on them when in reality once a door closes, another opens…Elsa understood that.”

Along with all her work as a full-time student, Elsa never forgot that she was a full-time mom, as well.

At BMCC she made it a point to schedule classes early in the day so she could drop her kids off at school and pick them up when she was done. During Saturday classes she brought her kids with her and they took advantage of BMCC’s pool and movie theatre. “My kids enjoyed it immensely,” said Elsa of her kid’s experience on campus. “They befriended the staff and faculty—they were a big hit in the lunchroom.”

Elsa spent her time in ASAP at BMCC on the Dean’s list and graduated with her Associate’s Degree with honors. She applied to CSI and was able to transfer all of her credits and even received a scholarship through the ASAP Program, factors that Elsa calls, “Part of the Plan.”

“I noticed the difference between studying for my Associate’s and studying for a Bachelor’s right away,” Elsa admitted. “Studying is like a muscle, you have to work it out.”

At CSI, Ms. Grant, who had been tracing Elsa’s journey since the beginning offered some advice,” I told her to enjoy college,” she said. “Part of going to college is experiencing all aspects of the campus, not only the classes.” With that in mind, knowing that studying for an Accounting degree would be difficult, Elsa forged ahead but was sure to “smell the roses.” She took several art classes, studied Health Sciences, played tennis, studied music, and even became a loyal CSI basketball fan along with her children.

She was also a member of the Emerging Leaders Program for two semesters in which she volunteered her already precious time tutoring GED students in math through the Continuing Education Program.

Now, as Elsa is completing her ten-year-journey and embarks on a new one in the career of Accounting, she takes the time to appreciate her hard work and the support she received getting to this point.

“I didn’t speak any English—I started by reading children’s books,” she admitted while discussing her humble origins. “Now, I am reading books about business law and hate leaving the CSI library because I love learning so much—I would never have made it without all of the programs CUNY offers students like myself.”

Ms. Grant reiterated that’s statement, “these types of programs open doors to non-traditional students,” she said of programs such as ASAP and CUNY START. “Every year, people come into our programs with the desire to learn and we make it possible for them to achieve their dream.”

Elsa has some advice for students who like her, are not native English speakers or are full-time parents. “First off, you have to really want it because it isn’t easy,” she said of working toward a college degree. “Take it step by step, there is no rush—it took me almost ten years—but most importantly, you have to enjoy it.”

Verrazano student heads down right track to student success

The American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association (AREMA) Education Foundation recently named Anthony Shalagin a 2014 Scholarship winner.

Each year, the AREMA Education Foundation awards scholarships to engineering students who are specializing in the railway industry and supports other educational and training endeavors that help to ensure the future of the profession.

Shalagin was awarded the Committee 27 – Maintenance of Way Work Equipment–Hougen Manufacturing Scholarship due to his already impressive work experience in the industry and his academic success.

Anthony, a graduate from Brooklyn Tech High School in 2013, says he has always had a fascination with civil engineering, especially with the transportation sector, noting “The railway system is essential to New York City, with over four million passengers relying on it daily to get around the city.”

Anthony has plenty of experience working as an assistant project manager and engineering intern for AECOM, a leading global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including transportation, facilities, environmental, energy, water, and government since this past June.

With AECOM, Anthony has worked on important subway lines that run through New York City such as the “F” and #3 lines, to name a few. He also worked on the Jamaica Wastewater Treatment Plant, and the World Trade Center Transportation Hub. Additionally, he has assisted AECOM Capital and AECOM Vertical Transportation with business development and the procurement of large-scale projects. Recently, Anthony has been spending his afternoons gathering information for structural analysis on subway lines, checking for spalls and cracked elements that need to be replaced.

Anthony is also part of the ACE (Architecture, Construction, and Engineering) Mentor Program, an after-school program for high school students interested in pursuing careers in architecture, construction, and engineering. Students are mentored by architects, construction managers, and engineers and learn what it is like to work in the design and construction industries.

Anthony helps prepare his students for any challenges they may encounter as engineering students. A recent group was tasked with attempting to renovate the Hudson Yards: What was the students’ solution? Turn it into an amusement park.  Anthony, who was also a mentee with the program, notes “I will always be in great debt to the ACE Program for all of the dedicated mentors, resources, and opportunities it has provided for me.”

John Daza, Program Manager for AECOM, met Anthony through the ACE Mentoring Program. He and several other professionals volunteer their time and develop a mock project with students who are interested in careers in architecture, construction and engineering. He took note of Anthony’s “preparedness and maturity,” Daza said, discussing the reasons why AECOM offered Anthony a position.

“We offered Anthony a position as an Intern with AECOM in our Transportation business line and he has performed beyond our expectations and on par with Interns in their senior college year.” While at AECOM, Anthony has performed duties such as structural inspections, CAD, permitting, research for our capital investment group, construction support services for our Water business line and assisted me on project management-related tasks. “I look forward to working with Anthony as he further develops his skill set as an engineer. He is already part of my team and I hope to have him one day lead some of my teams.”

Anthony credits The Verrazano School Honors Program at CSI for helping pursue his dreams.

“The career development opportunities, small class sizes, great contact with the professors, and unconventional open-ended class discussions that promote critical thinking,” Anthony says, are the biggest advantages to being part of the Verrazano School.

While he is not entirely sure what his future will hold, Anthony is thinking about pursuing an MS in Civil Engineering and maybe even an MBA. Due to his dedication, passion, and the support structure that The Verrazano School affords him, his future is on the right track.

DPT Student Takes Women’s Health Issues into Her Own Hands


Ann Mackey, a doctoral student in Physical Therapy at CSI.

Ann Mackey, a doctoral student in the College of Staten Island’s Department of Physical Therapy program, was recently elected to serve on the Board of Directors as one of two Northeast Regional Representatives of the Section on Women’s Health (SoWH) Student Special Interest Group.

Mackey,  a 2012 graduate from the Verrazano School Honors Program at CSI, recently attended the Combined Sections Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association in her first official capacity as a board member, believes that not enough people are aware that women’s health issues are being addressed within the physical therapy field.

“A lot of women have serious issues and don’t know how to treat them,” notes Mackey, and as a physical therapist and SoWH board member, she wants to change that misconception.

“We really want to start strengthening our networking power,” she says.  To that end, Mackey is in the process of updating the information for all other schools in the northeast, as well as building awareness for other students who may be interested in women’s health issues.

Mackey begun studying physical therapy “later in life.”

As a former ballet dancer, Mackey dealt with many injuries and she knew that “dancing wasn’t going to last forever.” When she decided to attend CSI she knew that she “wanted to help dancers in the same way I was helped by physical therapists when I danced.”

During the recent National Student Conclave, a once-a-year meeting for DPT students, Mackey saw a booth dedicated to the SoWH and completed an application and a written statement of interest when she returned to New York.

Mackey, who is graduating next spring and plans on taking board exams in July 2015, wants to make an impact as a physical therapist immediately and plans on incorporating her women’s health specialty into her methodology.

“I am going to go out there and start working,” she said of her plans after school and she intends on incorporating yoga and Pilates into physical therapy sessions.

Dr. Jeffery Rothman, a chair of the Department of Physical Therapy at CSI, emphasized what Ann’s board membership means for the CSI DPT program as a whole.

“Ann’s leadership position on the Board of Directors in a national office will provide national exposure of the College of Staten Island, CUNY, and the college’s Department of Physical Therapy,” says Rothman.  “She will be an outstanding contact person for students and practicing clinicians interested in the important area of women’s health.”

“Women’s health is an issue that is very underrepresented,” Mackey adds, “not enough people know to get involved.” Due to her leadership and contributions however, that may very well change.


[update] Students Finish 4th in Global Competition

A group of students from the College of Staten Island’s School of Business advanced to the final round of the MikesBikes business simulation World Championship. The team, Luxury Bertels, is comprised of Mohammad Chugtai, Javad Ali, Usman Ahmed, and Catherine Jeanbart who, over the course of last semester, have competed not only against classmates but against thousands of other student teams across the globe.

UPDATE: CSI slipped past Loyola College in Ontario during the last few minutes of competition to edge Loyola out for fourth place in global competition.  “Our team completed in the finals agains institutions from Australia, India, Canada, and the US,” noted Dr. Susan Holak, Founding Dean of the School of Business, adding “This is a fantastic finish for the School of Business team and a real credit to Professor Bertels!  Through creative pedagogy, she has sparked excitement and learning by doing in this class.”

The students, part of Professor Heidi Bertels’ Management 416 call “Decision Making in Business” is a capstone management course which tasks senior business students with analyzing the problems that face all business managers. The students run a simulated bicycle manufacturing company and deal with everything from sales forecasting to marketing, production planning, personnel, pricing, and finance.

Smartsims, the company that runs MikesBikes, keeps track of all the data from all of the teams worldwide. They invite those teams that were top performers while playing against their classmates to compete for a spot in the world championship. 85 of the best teams from universities and colleges around the world competed in the qualifying round. The top eight teams of the qualifying round, including a team composed of CSI students, and then advanced to the actual world championship. Cash prizes are awarded to the first and second place winners and the championship players will also be featured on the Smartsims’ website and awarded a Championship Certificate.

The reason Professor Bertels uses MikesBikes for her class business simulation is fairly straight forward. The manufacturing industry is, according to Professor Bertels, “fairly typical and as general as possible.” So business management students of all stripes can learn from working with the simulation. She is also a big believer in getting students’ “noses out of the books” and actually having them apply the business concepts they have learned throughout their careers as CSI business students.

“The competencies required to perform well in MikesBikes are an understanding of all areas of business on the one hand and persistence and dedication on the other,” said Professor Bertels of the challenges her MGT 416 students face. “The simulation is involved as the students need to make decisions based on financial statements and reports that take into consideration manufacturing efficiency, market sensitivities to advertising and delivery performance, competitor performance and shareholder value. Every time the simulation advances a year, the students need to study the updated reports and make informed decisions based on the changing market and competitive situation. Students that do not work diligently on doing this every week will not perform well in the simulation.”

Dr. Susan Holak, Founding Dean of the School of Business (Interim) and Professor of Marketing at CSI, is very proud of Professor Bertels’ students. “This is a tremendous accomplishment for our students under Professor Bertels’ terrific leadership and guidance.”

“MikesBikes! A name that normally scares students in MGT 416,” exclaimed Javad Ali, one of Luxury Bertels’ team members. “Through hours and hours of trial and error, online, offline this game just doesn’t stop.”

Another member of Luxury Bertels had this to say about the MikesBikes simulation, “This simulation game is perhaps the greatest and most effective tools in learning how to run and manage a full scale business.”

[video] UNICEF Honors CSI Students for creating “A Bridge to Clean Water” for Children in Kenya

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7Yr4bRWYCI[/youtube]A team led by CSI students was recently awarded First Place at the 2013 CUNY Design for UNICEF Challenge.

The competition, titled, “Fulfilling the Promise” tasked teams of CUNY students to design a solution that has the potential to save children’s lives. The challenge united UNICEF, the world’s leading children’s advocate with CUNY, the nation’s leading urban university in what UNICEF has called, “a ground-breaking initiative to mobilize the vast talent and diversity of CUNY’s 270,000 students to find solutions to prevent 6.9 million child deaths that occur every year.”

Members of Dr. Alan Lyons lab.

The challenge that the team addressed was how to provide clean drinking water to remote villages in Africa where water is scarce and incidence of water-borne disease, such as cholera, is high. The team worked to improve on a current method called SODIS, where water is heated by the sun to a temperature above 40 degrees Celsius for six hours—which due to the long times required, compliance with the protocol is imperfect and children continue to fall ill. “A Bridge to Clean Water” proposed a low-cost catalyst film that could be added to bottles in order to reduce the time needed to purify the water.

Dr. Alan Lyons, Professor of Chemistry at CSI, explained the process the team is working on to accelerate water purification. “My students developed a new method to partially embed catalyst particles into the surface of a polymer film. In this way, the majority of the particle surfaces are exposed and retain their high catalytic activity. Also, the process uses particles economically as they are located only on the surface and not distributed throughout the film. The process is compatible with low-cost continuous polymer processes, which would make the reusable material inexpensive and accessible to people in remote areas of Africa.”

Dr. Lyons, who is proud of his students believes that what made “A Bridge to Clean Water” successful was not only the “enthusiasm and hard work of the students” but also the “support and collaboration that many members of the CSI community generously provided.” He credits the students as well as Post-Doctoral Fellow Dr. QianFeng Xu, Imaging Center Facilities Manager Dr. Michael Bucaro, and several members of the Biology department, notably, Kinnea Keating, Natalie Thompson, and Professor Elena McCoy.

The team’s  YouTube video clearly illustrates how the film can be easily placed into any clean and secure plastic bottle.  Exposed to direct sunlight, the photocatalytic activity augments the effect of heating to reduce the time required to kill bacteria.  By saving time, the method becomes more effective and greater compliance can be achieved.

The team also considered how to educate future users on how to use the catalyst film so that they will be self-reliant in the future. They will continue their materials research work at CSI to quantify and improve the process as well as work directly with UNICEF to evaluate the method’s effectiveness in African communities.

Inside Cheerleading magazine Names Two Dolphins All-Americans

Giana Abbrusseze and Ashley Isaccs earned All-American status from Inside Cheerleading Magazine

The College of Staten Island Cheerleading squad is continuing to make headlines past their competitive season, and this time it is on a national level.  The squad celebrated its first ever All-American awards, bestowed to Ashley Isaacs and Giana Abbrusseze by Inside Cheerleading magazine.  Known to insiders as “iC,” the publication is designed to help athletes enjoy, train, perform, compete and live cheerleading to the maximum.  Each year, the magazine gives its top laurels after evaluating nominations from collegiate coaches.  Isaacs and Abbruzzese were two of 20 total All-Americans and were the only pair representing NCAA Division III institutions.

“I’ve always looked up to Division I cheerleading programs and being mentioned alongside members of teams from the University of Alabama and University of Memphis is a great honor and will raise the standards for collegiate cheerleading at CSI,” said Abbrusseze, a Nursing major at CSI who helped champion the squad to a CUNYAC title in 2012 and a runner-up finish in 2013.

Isaacs, a team captain and flyer for the unit, earned CSI a gold medal in the 2013 Jumping routine at this year’s championship, pairing up with freshman Yenitza Mendes.  The junior Biology major at CSI was quick to acknowledge the prestige of the accolade.

“To be recognized beside some of the top cheerleading programs shows that my devotion, hard work and talent are beneficial,” Isaacs said.  “It’s exciting to bring recognition to the City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC) and the College of Staten Island.  Cheerleading is most definitely a sport and we’re working hard to make our reputation better than ever before.”

Isaacs also notes that with the high honor, comes higher expectations for the future.  “With this honor comes the chance as a team to improve our skills, grow, and compete nationally,” the captain said.  “I hope this encourages more students to try out this fall and in the years to come.”

To be considered for All-American status, respective head coaches need to nominate their deserving candidates.  For CSI Head Coach Justine Elyse Green, the decision to nominate Isaacs and Abbrusseze was an easy one.

“Ashley and Giana are unbelievable cheerleaders and I am thrilled that both athletes were selected as members of the iC 2013 Collegiate All-American Team and hope to have many more in the future. We’re a small program, but there’s a great deal of talent walking around our campus and they epitomize that. We’re reaching for excellence and we encourage everyone learn more about us and join our family.”

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, iC magazine is currently distributed to Books-A-Million, Borders, Hastings, and Barnes & Noble.  The magazine features correspondents that include 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist gymnast Jaycie Phelps and former World and Olympic gymnastics team member John Macready.  For more information on iC magazine, log on to:  www.insidecheerleading.com.  For a complete list of 2013 All-Americans click here.

The College of Staten Island Cheerleading program continues to strive for excellence and is looking for talented individuals to supplement its roster.  The team has already held a pair of Captain’s Clinics with more try-out dates scheduled on the horizon.  For more information, contact Coach Green at  JustineG04@yahoo.com.