Melice Golding, a senior Psychology major at CSI, won first place for her poster at the 21st annual CSTEP conference at The Sagamore on Lake George in Bolton Landing, NY.
Golding’s poster, “Processing of an Unfamiliar Foreign Language in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)” was CSI’s second win in a row for psychology students—CSI swept the Psychology field this year—and the College’s sixth first-place finish in a row.
The poster focused on children with ASD and used a discrimination-choice procedure embedded in a video game to examine whether these deficits might be due to unusual patterns of attention. The study used unfamiliar languages, German, in this case, that prevented the children from extracting meaning in order to determine if the inability to extract meaning has a detrimental effect on the attention spans of students with ASDs. From the study, Golding discovered that meaning does not have an effect on the attention of ASD children.
In discussing the process of competing at the conference, Golding jokingly called the experience “nerve wracking.” Golding, who had competed the year before, said she “really wanted to take home a trophy for my College.” She went on to discuss her project and the surprising results she gathered. “We were utterly surprised by the results,” she said. “That is the best part of being a researcher. Though, you don’t want your hypothesis to be incorrect, it is really exciting to see results you aren’t expecting.”
In all, there were 121 projects in 15 categories presented by 144 CSTEP students from 34 institutions from around the state, including, New York University, Columbia University, Syracuse University, Long Island University, and SUNY Downstate, as well as all 24 CUNY colleges and universities. The conference was comprised of several student workshops as well as programs geared to professional development. The focus of the conference is to celebrate the dedication and effort that New York-area CSTEP students put forth in their scholarship and to encourage them all to continue their research in whichever field they choose.
As stated previously, Golding’s success is nothing new to CSI as the College’s CSTEP program has a brilliant track record of producing some of the brightest and most successful students in the state. The CSTEP program was founded to provide academic enrichment and research experience in science, mathematics, and technology content areas. Debra Evans-Greene, the Director of the CSTEP program at CSI emphasized the importance of having programs such as CSTEP at institutions of higher learning. “CSTEP levels the playing field for students belonging to historically underrepresented groups or families that are financially unstable,” she said.
“The trick,” Evans-Greene continued, “is to get these students to believe that math and science are fields they can get into. They come to me and say, ‘I can’t do this’ and I love to prove them wrong,” she added with a smile.
She goes on to say that conferences such as the one at Lake George provide healthy competition, “which is good. It helps to sharpen your skills. It also helps to provide students with a network of like-minded individuals.”
She also praised the efforts of many of CSI’s professors and CSTEP PhD students, including Dr. Bertram Ploog and Dr. Alan Lyons, who directly influenced Golding’s work. “They did such a wonderful job preparing the students for the conference,” she noted.
Dr. Ploog, praising Golding’s work, said, “Ms. Golding has been central to all our efforts and success. I consider her among my very top students I have had the privilege to teach over the past 20 years. In addition, with her intelligence and warmth, Ms. Golding is truly a quality person. She has been exceedingly successful despite some life adversities that would have made others quit.”
“On a personal note,” Dr. Ploog added, “I’d like to thank CSTEP and in particular Ms. Debra Evans-Greene for their wonderful support of our deserving and best students. It truly has been a pleasure to work with Ms. Evans-Greene and her wonderful staff. I hope this collaboration will continue for many more years to come.”
Golding, who is planning to study for her PhD in Clinical Psychology, added, “My professors went above and beyond, getting us ready for the conference.” She added that the practice presentations that her professors held were “brutal” in the best possible way as CSI’s CSTEP students took home three trophies combined.
“We also have five PhD students who really grilled our conference students,” Evans-Greene added.
In all, Evans-Greene takes obvious pride in the success of the CSTEP students and is keen to keep the pressure on for next year’s CSTEP cohort. “We won six in a row at the conference; my goal is to make it seven.”
The New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I) at The Rochester Institute of Technology recently named the team from the College of Staten Island as first-place winners of its second statewide R&D student competition.
The competition, entitled “Go Green on Campus,” required the teams of students to identify a specific activity at their college or university with a large environmental footprint and find a solution to make their campus more environmentally sustainable. Open to colleges and universities throughout the state, the event recognized both graduate- and undergraduate-level sustainability projects as part of NYSP2I’s ongoing research and development program.
The CSI Team placed first in the Graduate Student category over teams from Syracuse University and The New School.
The CSI graduate team’s first-place project, entitled “Degradation of Dyes Used in Undergraduate Instructional Laboratories,” was a plan to use sunlight and a unique nanomaterial to decompose organic wastes generated by the College’s instructional laboratories before they are disposed. The team was led by two PhD candidates working in Dr. Alan Lyons’s Chemistry lab, Yuanyuan Zhao, and Yang Liu, along with undergraduate students Bibi Ghafari and Rania Skaf.
The team won after making a 15-minute presentation to a panel of three judges at the competition and received trophies and $1,500 to share among team members.
“This was a team effort,” said Dr. Lyons of the collaborative nature of the project. “The graduate and undergraduate students wrote the proposal and conducted the experiments. They were monitored by me and Dr. QianFeng Xu, a Research Associate working in my lab.” Dr. Lyons also credited CSI Health and Safety Officer James Saccardo “for his support and valuable guidance regarding hazardous and non-hazardous waste disposal,” as well as Dr. Mike Bucaro, manager of the CSI Imaging Institute, “for helping the team acquire high-images.”
“We were thoroughly impressed by the innovative ideas that both the graduate and undergraduate level teams identified to help make their campuses more environmentally friendly,” said Anahita Williamson, Director of NYSP2I.
The Second Annual CSI’s Got Talent competition and showcase brought out the best of the College’s performers for a nearly sold-out event in the Williamson Theatre of the College of Staten Island’s Center for the Arts (CFA).
Prior to the performance, the backstage and hallways of the CFA were buzzing with the sounds and sights of the evening’s 12 contestants. These lucky 12 contestants were all winners, having made it this far during a rigorous audition process of nearly 100 singers, dancers, musicians, comedians, and magicians.
[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/69583855[/vimeo]Returning MCs Jay Miller, host of the talk show Mid-Evenings with Jay Miller, and Sal Vulcano, co-founder of The Tenderloins comedy troupe and star of Impractical Jokers, TruTV’s comedy hit, kept the competition buzzing along with humor, wit, and wisdom.
The 12 finalists wowed the crowd with an energetic variety of sounds and styles. A judging panel, representing students, faculty, and staff from across campus, chose the top five for a second performance.
After intense deliberation, the top-three winners were announced:
First Place ($2,500)
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQLil7xXLgA[/youtube] Sami Jo Frank (Samantha Frank) (“I Have Dreamed,” from The King and I/original song called “Blues Is My Middle Name”). Frank, a senior Business Marketing major, started singing at the age of 14 in the children’s theater program “Kids On Stage.” She starred as Belle in the St. Peters Boy’s Drama production of Beauty and the Beast, placed runner-up in the 2008 Richmond Choral Society contest, and is in the singer/songwriter program at Castellano’s House of Music School. She performs with her all-girl band Safe and Sound and is recording her first blues album. This was her first time competing in CSI’s Got Talent.
Second Place ($1,000)
Francine Bianco (an original, “Soldier”/ The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun”). Bianco is graduating this May from CSI with a BA in English Writing. When she is not in school or at work, you can find her–scratch that–you can ALWAYS find her singing! It’s been this way since she’s learned to talk, and from a very young age she realized that the world best understood her with a guitar in her hand and a mic at her lips. Her goal is to change someone’s life through music, the way hers has been changed.
Third Place ($500)
Lori Claire (“You and I” by Lady Gaga/”Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood). Lori Faicco (Lori Claire is her stage name) is a Master’s student at the College of Staten Island. She is studying to become a Mental Health Counselor. She is also studying American Sign Language with hopes to become an interpreter for the deaf. Lori is a very outgoing individual who loves to help people as well as entertain. She has been performing since she was a child. Her singing brings her a rush of energy and a sense of calm.
“This is an exceptional event that brings the entire campus together for an evening of fun and entertainment,” noted Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. A. Ramona Brown. “Our students’ continually amaze me.”
CSI’s Got Talent will be featured programming again this year on CTV. The broadcast schedule will be shared via CSI Today when available, and the video will also be embedded into this post.
MAYOR BLOOMBERG KICKS OFF THE 10TH ANNUAL IMMIGRANT HERITAGE WEEK CELEBRATION
Mayor Presents American Dreamer Awards to New Yorkers Improving the Lives of Immigrants
National Park Service Teams Up with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs to Bring Hurricane Damaged Ellis Island Immigration Museum Programs to the Five Boroughs
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Fatima Shama today kicked off Immigrant Heritage Week at Gracie Mansion. Immigrant Heritage Week is a citywide celebration, from April 17-24, honoring the experiences and contributions of the millions of immigrants who have shaped New York City for generations. During the reception at Gracie Mansion, the Mayor announced the 2013 recipients of the American Dreamer Awards, presented to five New Yorkers dedicated to improving the lives of immigrant communities across the City. In addition, three new Rising Star Awards were presented to students that show promise as American Dreamers for their work to advance the lives of their fellow students. This year’s Immigrant Heritage Week will focus on showcasing the stories of the millions of immigrants who passed through Ellis Island to start their lives in New York City and cities across the United States. With Ellis Island closed due to damage it suffered during Hurricane Sandy, the City will work with the National Park Service to the bring the stories of immigrants from Ellis Island to communities across the City. National Park Service Rangers from the Ellis Island Immigration Museum Workshops will hold over twenty educational programs at schools, community and cultural institutions across the five boroughs during Immigrant Heritage Week. Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Shama were joined at Gracie Mansion by David Luchsinger, Superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Steve Briganti, President and CEO of the Statue of Liberty- Ellis Island Foundation and the National Park Service Rangers who will lead the programs across New York City.
“In New York City we’ve always known how important immigrants are to this country,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “That’s why we have been a leading voice in the fight to fix America’s broken immigration system. We are very optimistic that a compromise immigration reform bill has attracted bi-partisan support in Washington. This bill could give millions of hard-working people the chance to realize their American dreams and go a long way towards strengthening our economy, our democracy and our communities. Our diversity, our tolerance and our spirit of mutual respect is part of what makes this City so great. That’s what we hope to highlight during Immigrant Heritage Week and it’s the reason we our City continues to attract people from around the world looking to build a better future.”
“To celebrate the rich cultural heritage of our City, this Immigrant Heritage Week we are working with the National Park Service to feature the stories of millions of immigrants who passed through Ellis Island with dreams that are as alive in immigrants today as they were a hundred years ago,” said Commissioner Shama. “It is those dreams and commitment to success that makes New York City better every day, and it is what we continue to celebrate today as we recognize our American Dreamer Awardees.”
“We are thrilled to join Mayor Bloomberg and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs on this initiative, and to celebrate our immigrant heritage and the rich diversity our city and country enjoys,” said National Park Service Superintendent Luchsinger.
Established by Mayor Bloomberg in 2004, Immigrant Heritage Week is celebrated around April 17th, the day in 1907 when more immigrants entered through Ellis Island than any other date in the City’s history. This year, Immigrant Heritage Week will take place from April 17th – 24th. Immigrant Heritage Week was made an annual celebration by Executive Order 128, signed by Mayor Bloomberg in 2009. It is a citywide celebration honoring the experiences and contributions of the millions of immigrants who have shaped our City for generations. During Immigrant Heritage Week, the Department of Cultural Affairs’ NYCulture Calendar will feature arts and cultural organizations hosting events during the week that feature immigrant artists or international content. Events citywide can be found by visiting www.nyc.gov and searching “Immigrant Affairs.”
American Dreamer Awards
The American Dreamer Awards were created to celebrate the significant accomplishments and contributions made by an individual or organization to better the lives of immigrants and immigrant communities in New York City. The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs received over 100 nominations from community organizations, and individuals from across the five boroughs in March and five winners were selected from an outstanding group of candidates. This year, a new category was established, the Rising Star Award, to highlight students that show promise as American Dreamers for their work to advance the lives of their fellow students. The honorees are:
Ambassador Award- Seema Agnani, Executive Director of Chayya Community Development Corporation, is being honored for her role in combating the foreclosures that are threatening the South East Asian community of Queens. She founded Chayya in 2000 with the mission of creating a grassroots group that would address housing and community development issues in one of the most diverse communities in the city, Jackson Heights, Queens. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Association for Neighborhood Housing Development and the New York Immigration Coalition.
Business Leader Award- Jessamyn Rodriguez, Founder and CEO of Hot Bread Kitchen, is being honored for empowering immigrant women to build their economic security by opening pathways to professional opportunities in the food industry. Frustrated by the fact that despite the rich culinary history of immigrant women, they were still predominately cooking in people’s homes instead of fine dining establishments, she founded Hot Bread Kitchen out of her own home in 2007. She designed a program that trained and paid women in the technical skills and English fluency necessary to succeed in the food industry. Since then she has grown Hot Bread Kitchen into a nationally respected bakery and training program that has trained 41 women from 15 different countries, supported over 20 immigrant entrepreneurs in growing their own food businesses, and has hired over 60 full-time and temporary positions to their bakery in the historic La Marqueta in Spanish Harlem.
Community Builder Award- Ligia Guallpa, Executive Director of Workers Justice Project, is being honored for her role in improving worker rights for the over 3000 mainly undocumented Day Laborers in New York City who are highly vulnerable to wage and job safety abuses. She was instrumental in building hiring halls from shipping containers in Brooklyn so that Day Laborers would have a place to negotiate a fair wage with contractors. A few months after their hiring hall in Bensonhurst was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy, she was able to foster community support and rebuild as she noticed the increasing demand for Day Laborers in post-disaster cleanup.
New York’s Uniform Award- Sergeant Dhendup Chadotsang, of the 75th Precinct in Brooklyn, is being honored for his exemplary service with the Tibetan community. Tibetans in New York City tend to not speak English, lack a basic understanding of the law and are often victims of predatory practices. Dhendup volunteers with his community by guiding them through the often complicated process of living and working in New York City. He assists them with finding housing, filling out job applications, paying their electric bills and overall making the NYPD approachable to his community.
Visionary Award- Yolanny Rodriguez, Director of Teatro Las Tablas, is being honored for her work in raising awareness for women and children’s rights through her production of “The Vagina Monologues,” of which all of the proceeds go to various women’s organizations. She founded the non-profit cultural organization Teatro Las Tablas which promotes and produces Latino theater in Spanish for Upper Manhattan. Additionally, she is a tenant organizer, activist and proud drama teacher to students with Down syndrome.
Rising Star- Angelo Cabrera, Founder and President of MASA, is being recognized for his work in helping immigrant children achieve academic success and ultimately graduate high school. He founded MASA in 2001 as part of a campaign focused on attaining the rights for undocumented students to qualify for in-state tuition at CUNY and SUNY schools. As part of this campaign, Angelo and several others held a hunger strike to urge CUNY’s policy of in-state tuition for undocumented students to become law. After the law passed in 2002, MASA began to focus its efforts on promoting access to higher education for students of Mexican descent living in New York. Having immigrated to the United States at the age of 15, he understands first-hand the many complex barriers Mexican youth face today. In order to serve his community better, he is pursuing a Masters in Public Administration at Baruch’s School of Public Affairs.
Rising Star – Marybeth Melendez, Student Development Assistant for the College of Staten Island, is being recognized for her work with the immigrant community of Staten Island. She is a single mother of three who lost her eyesight to a degenerative eye disease that compelled her to retire from a promising career in a law firm. She and her seeing-eye dog Trixie have served as volunteers for three years with El Centro del Inmigrante in Staten Island by working in their soup kitchen and distributing food and supplies to home-bound immigrants in Staten Island. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, she and several classmates volunteered in Staten Island delivering food, water and clothing. Their actions prompted the Coast Guard and the FDNY to designate New Dorp as a central receiving and distribution site.
Rising Star – Denise Vivar, student at Sunset Park High School, is being recognized for her work in mobilizing her school behind the passage of the DREAM Act. After attending a presentation about the DREAM Act with two other students, she led a petition in her school and the community around Sunset Park, placed advertisements in favor of the DREAM Act in businesses and filmed a PSA about the issues affecting the passage of the bill.
Sharing Ellis Island Immigration Stories
The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and the National Park Service Rangers from Ellis and Liberty Island will hold over twenty educational programs at schools, community and cultural institutions across the five boroughs during Immigrant Heritage Week. The Ellis Island Immigration Museum sustained severe damage from Hurricane Sandy and is not expected to re-open to the public this year. Through this partnership, Rangers will bring the stories of the millions of immigrants who passed through Ellis Island and whose descendants account for almost half of the American people into communities.
The programs being offered by the staff of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum are:
•“We Are Ellis Island” The Neighborhood Ranger will show the award-winning documentary “Island of Hope; Island of Tears”. The documentary chronicles the moving stories of people and families with dreams of opportunity leaving their homeland with what they could carry. The film also contains magnificent archival footage from Ellis Island when it was the primary port of entry for millions of European immigrants. The film is preceded by a 15 minute conversation led by a Park Ranger. Internet access or a DVD player and television monitor are required for this program.
•“Immigrants: Let Us Entertain You” Between 1892 and 1954, immigration officials processed over 12 million immigrants at Ellis Island. Immigrants helped build the United States of America and their efforts continue to define and enrich our nation’s and our city’s identity. Some of those passing through Ellis Island reaped a variety of riches in their adopted home. Some were honored for their contributions to variety of fields. As we celebrate this year’s Immigrant Heritage Week, we salute immigrants who entered through the doors of Ellis Island and went on to leave an indelible mark on the arts. Attendees will be able to see the ship manifest records of Bob Hope, Cary Grant, Irving Berlin and Maria Von Trapp. They will also hear about three Ellis Island immigrants who were eventually elected Mayor of New York City. In addition, participants will discuss immigrants who made significant contributions to the fields of architecture and dance, and children will enjoy hearing the story of Chef Boyardee (yes, he too arrived at Ellis Island!). Participants over the age of 12 will experience the story of Ellis Island and be provided with tips to preserve their own family stories for generations to come.
•“Punching the Ticket” As immigrants finished processing at Ellis Island, many confronted the difficulties of communicating with others in a different language. Symphonies of Italian, Russian, and a host of other languages filled the air as they made their ways to their new homes. In Punching the Ticket, the Neighborhood Ranger will explore some of the communicative challenges and other difficulties immigrants faced as they settled in their new country. The program is highly interactive and designed for recent immigrants to the United States.
•“It’s Story Time” History, liberty, democracy, immigration and citizenship are represented in American symbols explored in these colorful, small-volume story books for children in the 3rd, 4th and 5th grades. The Neighborhood Ranger will read aloud from children’s books in which children will learn about liberty, pride, freedom and themselves. The following are suggested story books: What is the Statue of Liberty? by Janice Behrens; Lily and Miss Liberty by Carla Stevens; Dreaming of America by Eve Bunting, and The Memory Coat by Elvira Woodruff.
Celebrating the Stories of Our Community Campaign with WNET/Thirteen
The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs has worked with WNET/Thirteen to create the Celebrating the Stories of our Community campaign. Currently broadcasting on WNET/Thirteen and their website, Community Stories highlights the rich cultural heritage of diverse New Yorkers. Some of the community stories include Staten Island Borough Present Molinaro, New York State Assemblyman and former Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Guillermo Linares, Suri Kasirer, and a Windows on the World restaurant worker and 9/11 survivor. Viewers are invited to share their family immigration stories by recording and uploading videos of their own that may be featured online or on television. WNET will also feature some of their immigrant-focused programming on air during Immigrant Heritage Week.
CSI Senior Elizabeth Che (Macaulay Honors ’13), won first place for the best poster in the Social and Behavioral Sciences category at the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference (NCHC) in Boston, recently. The experiment, entitled “The Enhancement of Cognitive Flexibility through Aesthetic Experience,” examines how creativity can influence spontaneous “out-of-the box” thought.
With the help of Associate Professor of Psychology Irina Sekerina, Che used advanced, state-of-the art eye-tracking equipment to track the amount of eye movements subjects thaat had while viewing certain pieces of art. The amount of eye movement would then correlate to the creativity of the subject—basically, the more the eye moved from picture to picture, the more creative the subject.
“This experiment could only have been possible at CSI,” noted Professor Sekerina, saying that CSI is the only CUNY school with the expensive, eye-tracking software.
The experiment took countless hours and even more patience but Che said that it “was all worth it,” as the subject was a “real passion of mine.”
The impetus behind such an experiment came from the fact that Che is a Psychology major and a Studio Art minor, and the two philosophies sometimes caused a conflict within her. “I wanted to find a way to show people the value in art, not just philosophically, but scientifically, as well.” She wanted to answer one question, “does art actually have an effect on people?”
Prof. Sekerina backed up that line of thought we she addressed the long-ranging possibilities of conducting experiments such as the one that won Che first place. “Elizabeth’s experiment has so much practical value,” Sekerina said. “This is a chance to use this technology to track the use of eye movements during lectures, art education, and even in museums.”
The experiment basically asked 18 students to first take what is known as Guilford’s 1956 Brick and Unusual Uses test—students were asked what the many possible uses for a coat hanger were—which can be used as an indicator of how creative a person is. They were then given a questionnaire that was also used to help determine the curiosity level of the students. The meat of the test began when the volunteers sat in front of images of paintings—some surreal, others realistic—hooked up to the ISCAN ETL-500 remote eye-tracker, which tracked the eye movements of the students as they were asked to look at different parts of the paintings. The thinking was that studying the surreal paintings would cause the students to become more creative during the post-test, which was another Guilford test.
If the experiment sounds like it required a lot of time and effort on Che’s part, that’s because it did.
“This is serious work,” announced Prof. Sekerina, who trained Che on using the ISCAN eye-tracker. Although Che has not officially counted, she believes she has easily logged several hundreds of hours on her experiment, adding the amount of preparation plus training she had to put in. “There was so much data,” she said. That extraordinary level of patience paid off for Che in the form of her first-place poster at the NCHC where she says she was “just happy to be there—I never expected to win.”
Che called her experience at the conference very “new and exciting. I learned so much about my poster.” She was impressed by the questions she was asked about her poster—many of which were from professors, researchers, and graduate students—that she said she “really needed to be sure I knew what I was talking about.”
Che, who already has a Dean’s Undergraduate Research Award, has begun applying to several schools for graduate study, though she is torn between law school and the social/behavioral sciences. Needless to say, the self-described “half-scientist, half-philosopher” will be successful in whatever future endeavors she chooses.
David Rodberg, a CSI sophomore who is a Cinema Studies major, has won First-Place honors in the CUNY Student Photo Challenge for November.
Rodberg snapped the photo, entitled, “Reflections of the Storm,” after Superstorm Sandy roared through the area, capturing the reflection of a church in his neighborhood in the flood waters that the storm left behind.
Commenting on his motivation to take the picture, Rodberg says, “The morning after Hurricane Sandy devastated my neighborhood, I felt the need to document one of the most traumatic moments of my life by watching the high tide come back in, down my street.” He adds, “I find it interesting that there is a rich level of surrealism to this photograph, when there was only a mere perspective change of reality.”
In his spare time, Rodberg notes that he enjoys “photography, watching film, playing the drums with my band, and spending time with my girlfriend.”
Looking to the future, he states that he has “always wanted to work as a cinematographer in the Union (ASC).”
More information on the CUNY Student Photo Challenge is available online.
Angelica Grant, a senior Psychology major enrolled in The Verrazano School at CSI, won first place for her poster at the 20th Annual CSTEP Conference in Lake George recently.
CSTEP students from all over the state presented their posters to students, faculty, and a panel of judges. The conference was comprised of several student workshops as well as programs geared to professional development. The highlight, however, was when the students themselves took center stage during the presentation of their posters. Grant’s poster, entitled “Children’s Socio-Cognitive Understanding of Jealousy: Effects of Age, Gender, and Perspective-Taking Ability during Middle Childhood,” earned her first-place honors and some very interesting research on child development. Her research centered on the personal narratives of children aged five to 11 and their “talk about their jealousy experiences as it relates to their emotion understanding and perspective-taking ability.” She hopes that her results will help in the development of ways to better support children who have difficulties in their relationships with others.
Grant, normally a shy, quiet speaker, remarked that she was “so happy to present my poster, I would gladly do it again.”
She also went on to describe her time at CSI, specifically with CSTEP, as “a great experience. The faculty, the staff, other students, everyone is really helpful and makes it a fruitful college experience.”
Many other CSI-CSTEP students presented at the conference, including Juan Cordona, Doriane Bouobda, Frantz Pierre-Toussaint, Melice Golding, and Norma Matos-Jackson.
“All of our students made quite an impression on the judges and faculty in attendance,” said Debra Evans-Greene, Director of the CSTEP program at CSI.
Angelica is currently working on applications for graduate school and recently completed an internship at an adult rehabilitation center, caring for people with psychiatric disorders. She called her time at the rehabilitation center, “refreshingly different from what I have done in the past” and believes it has opened up several new opportunities she did not believe she had.
In all, the CSTEP program is all about opening up new opportunities for a number of historically underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students. CSTEP students receive intense training in the sciences, as well as one-on-one mentoring and access to faculty and research. They also receive internship opportunities and career guidance specifically tailored to their fields of expertise.
“What sets CSTEP apart is the support,” said Evans-Greene. CSTEP recruits approximately 20 incoming students every summer and the mentoring begins there. The students join workshops with the science faculty to expose them to the possibility of working with some of the best researchers in the country. Once enrolled, each cohort of students spends about one month together for five hours a day focusing on math and writing skills. At these workshops, they also get the chance to meet with engineering, math, and nursing faculty, and professors from many of the other sciences to help them determine which major they would like to eventually join.
Evans-Greene works as the Director of the program, but much of herself goes into her work. Much of what she does is act as a sounding board for the students. “Sometimes we have to work through the issues that prevent them from achieving academic excellence,” said Evans-Greene. “We don’t settle for in-between.”
Many CSTEP students go abroad to perform research and several have gone on to become PhD candidates. One student has been with CSTEP at CSI since the ninth grade. The support and expectation of excellence helps to ensure that CSTEP students have a bright future once they graduate, or, as Evans-Greene puts it, “Set the bar high, you will achieve it.”
One of CSI’s own, Destiny Santiago, received the Soroptimist International Women’s Opportunity Award this spring. She received the honor during a ceremony honoring women returning to college who display strong academic motivation, and have both an academic and career plan, excellent academic references, and financial need and dependents.
The Women’s Opportunity Award offers stipends to its recipients and has so far awarded $30 million since its inception in 1972. The Women’s Opportunity Awards program involves three levels of cash awards. The program begins at the local Soroptimist club-level, where award amounts vary. Local-level award recipients become eligible for region-level awards of either $3,000 or $5,000. Region-level award recipients then become eligible to receive one of three international-level awards of $10,000.
Santiago, a CSI sophomore with aspirations of attaining a Social Work degree, plans to counsel at-risk teens and young mothers, as well as stress the importance of a solid education.
“Destiny is only 22, but because the committee felt so strongly about her ability to turn her life around in spite of so many obstacles, we felt compelled to present her with this award to reinforce her commitment to succeed,” said Catherine O’Brien, Director of Health Education for the Staten Island Breast Cancer Research Initiative with the Center for Environmental Science at CSI, during her speech at the awards ceremony. “She sees herself as an example of hope, perseverance, and diligence.”
The word Soroptimist was coined from two words, “soro” and “optima,” which loosely translates as “best for women.” The organization seeks out women of all ages and backgrounds who they consider leaders who also serve as role models for younger women at the beginning of their careers. Santiago, through her work at CSI and elsewhere, is one of Soroptimist International’s youngest winners, but she is not the only from CSI.
This year’s runner up, Danielle Lopez, is a recent CSI graduate, is aspiring to be a clinical psychologist, and has enrolled in the Clinical Psychology program at The Graduate Center, CUNY.
Last year’s winner is also a recent CSI graduate who is starting the MARC Foundation, an organization for enhancing the opportunities of at-risk youths via education and resources.
Soroptimist International is a worldwide organization for women in management and the professions, working through service projects to advance human rights and the status of women. The organization strives to be a voice for women through awareness, advocacy, and action, and is committed to servicing local, national, and international communities, and participating actively in decision making at all levels of society.