Continuing Education Celebrates Summer App Build Program at the CSI Tech Incubator

Port Richmond High School Student Ryan Horgan presents his app.

Imagine. You are racing down Bay Street to catch the morning ferry. You miss it by seconds and are forced to jump into the choppy bay waters and battle hungry human-like fish to catch the boat. By way of Manhattan, you arrive in the Borough of Queens at a crowded subway station. As the 7 train rumbles overhead, you luckily have an arsenal of pizzas to whirl into the mouths of angry, attacking commuter zombies rendering them less angry. When you finally arrive at your destination, after leaping from treacherous moving scaffolding, you zoom away in a helicopter.

Though fictionalized in at least some respects, this may sound close to a typical day of commuting in New York City. The City’s infamous commuting experiences are what inspired mobile app designer and high school student Ryan Horgan to create “NYC Splunking” in a STEM summer program offered at the College of Staten Island (CSI).

Horgan, a sophomore at Port Richmond High School, was one of ten high school students who participated in the “Summer App Build” program for high school students. The program was created by CSI’s Office of Continuing Education and Professional Development. With tuition funded by AT&T, the program marks another successful collaboration between the College and AT&T.

“With the technology sector booming in New York City, it is essential that colleges serve the City and its residents by offering programs that provide access to this fast-growing employment sector,” said Christopher Cruz Cullari, Executive Director for Continuing Education and Professional Development. “With support from AT&T, we have been able to do this in two ways.  First, through a workforce development program for out-of-work/ out-of-school youth, we created a program that provided entry into the field for high school graduates looking for well-paying jobs. Now, this summer, we are working with students while they are still in high school, tapping into their technological creativity and hopefully creating excitement about attending college and studying one of the STEM fields.”Horgan's "NYC Splunking" App

In the summer program, high school students worked diligently during the month of August to create their own apps, learning the science and math behind computer programming. The program culminated in a presentation ceremony at the new CSI Technology Incubator in St. George where the students showcased their work. Director of the CSI Technology Incubator Jarred Sutton spoke briefly about the space, urging that “Staten Island is in a unique situation to harness its great talents with the College of Staten Island to invigorate economic development in the technology industry locally. With support from a myriad of organizations, partners in the community and the resources of CSI and CUNY we can build tech related businesses right here on Staten Island.”

Deputy to the President Kenichi Iwama congratulated the students and thanked AT&T as well as the Continuing Education staff.  He noted that, “On a small scale, this program celebrates student creativity, while on a larger scale it celebrates the innovation taking place in the country. Hopefully, we are igniting this creativity through programs like this one.”

“I’m proud of our students, and I’m very grateful to AT&T,” said Cruz Cullari. He added, “The students would not have been able to participate in this program without the tuition funded by AT&T. They are some of the brightest young minds on Staten Island, and it is an honor to be able to support their talent, which in the long run, will benefit the Borough and the City.”

Approximately 50 family members and CSI staff joined in the enthusiasm as students presented their apps and explained their processes.

Port Richmond High School Student Angelina Vega presents her app.

“My favorite thing was that this program opened my mind to the coding world and to this new generation of computers,” said Angelina Vega, a sophomore at Port Richmond High School, who created Duos Adventure, a game inspired by Super Mario Brothers.

Both Vega and Horgan used to create the graphics.

Horgan said he wants to be a game or app developer and work for a large company like Google.

David Brim, an instructor in the program, congratulated his students on conquering the “herculean task of creating apps in essentially eight days.” Brim highlighted some of the knowledge that students gained including algebra, the logic of a computer, and how software correlates with hardware. “I couldn’t be happier and more proud. My students had no experience with this and they worked like crazy.”

Here is the complete roster of “Summer App Build” students:

  • Cameron Baldovin – Age: 16, Grade: 11, School: Xaverian HS
  • Jorge Quintero-Blancas – Age: 16, Grade: 12, School: New Dorp HS
  • Jordan Clanton – Age: 13, Grade: 8, School: NEST+m​
  • Ryan Horgan – Age: 14, Grade: 10, School: Port Richmond HS
  • Joseph Malak – Age: 15, Grade: 10, School: Port Richmond HS
  • Genesis Taveras – Age: 18, Grade: 12, School: Clark Academy
  • Khaleed Sadakah – Age: 16, Grade: 12, School: Susan E. Wagner HS
  • Nouha Sadakah – Age: 14, Grade: 9, School: Susan E. Wagner HS​
  • Angelina Vega – Age: 14, Grade: 10, School: Port Richmond HS




Teacher Education Honors Academy Students Change the World

Samantha Haimowitz '14, Dr. Deirdre Armitage, Dr. Jane Coffee, and Stephanie Palumbo '14

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.

“I love the program. The students come in with hands-on, practical knowledge, and we get to work with them while they are completing coursework, which is key,” said DeAngelis, explaining that these new hires participate on inquiry teams, sit beside teachers, help with assessments and rubrics, and analyze data. “They also come in with much higher level skill in terms of use of technology, which benefits teachers who don’t have that kind of background,” she added.

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.

[video] Meet Christopher Bitetto – 2013 Co-Valedictorian

Christopher Bitetto is graduating from The Verrazano School Honors Program as a Communications major with a concentration in Media Studies. Upon matriculating to CSI after graduating fifth in his class at Susan Wagner High School, Christopher set out to accomplish two goals during his career at CSI: To maintain a 4.0 GPA and to become the Sports Director at WSIA so he could broadcast all of CSI’s basketball and baseball games, and host a weekly sports talk show.  He is proud to say that both goals have been met.

[youtube][/youtube]He realizes, however, that his goals at CSI have not only been met, they have exceeded even his high expectations.

During his tenure at CSI, Christopher interned at Sirius XM Radio; he presented his honors thesis production, “Moneyball: The New Formula to America’s Pastime,” at the Undergraduate Conference on Research, Scholarship, and Performance; and completed an independent research paper on baseball as a microcosm of society.  He thanks his family and the CSI faculty members, without whom he would not have been able to reach his full potential.

Christopher’s mindset in life is “if you are going to do something, why not be great at it?” and he has approached every challenge with which he has been faced as a student at CSI.  He is proud and thankful for receiving the Valedictorian honor.

High School Students Gain Insight into the “World of Accounting”

High school students learned about the World of Accounting this semester at an event in the Center for the Arts.

Earlier this semester, the Williamson Theater turned into the “World of Accounting.”

The event, which was sponsored by the Staten Island Chapter of the New York State Society of CPAs (NYSSCPA) was coordinated by Cynthia Scarinci, Assistant Professor of Accounting, who is also the past president of the chapter and currently a state board member of the NYSSCPA.

The purpose of the event, which also took place in the fall of 2010, was to provide high school students with information about the field of accounting.

The program featured guest speakers from different industries within the accounting profession, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

More than 150 high school seniors attended, along with a number of Staten Island high school faculty members, from schools including Tottenville High School, Curtis High School, St. Peter’s Boys High School, Susan Wagner High School, Monsignor Farrell High School, New Dorp High School, Moore Catholic High School, and the Michael J. Petrides High School.

The guest speakers from the FBI, Supervisory Financial Analyst Michele A. Palumbo and Forensic Accountant Daniel J. Tempone, discussed their respective positions within the bureau. Richard Singer of Robert Half spoke about interview skills and building a winning résumé. Professor Scarinci discussed the accounting curriculum and requirements for the CPA exam and licensure. Lastly, Rebecca Russo-Iacobellis, CPA, discussed her career path in the field of public accounting.

The event also featured mock college-entrance interviews, conducted onstage with student volunteers, with feedback provided by a panel of local CPAs.

High school teachers and students in attendance expressed how pleased they were with the event, which provided insight into a field of study for the “soon to be graduating” students.

The Verrazano School Prepares Students for Life at One of CSI’s Most Prestigious Programs

Incoming Verrazano students enjoy a day of team-building on the College’s Great Lawn.

The Verrazano School held its Freshmen Orientation for the Class of 2015 last month. The Orientation program was comprised of workshops orienting the students to campus resources as well as activities designed to build community among the approximately 80 entering freshmen. 

Professor Charles Liu, Director of The Verrazano School, welcomed the new Verrazano students in the morning. He encouraged them to take advantage of all that CSI and The Verrazano School have to offer, meet with professors, ask questions, and declare a major when they know what they would like to study.  Perhaps most importantly, Professor Liu told the students, “You are in charge of your education. You are capable of great things, and you will achieve great things if you actively pursue the opportunities available to you here.” 

The incoming freshmen were divided into several groups and spent half of the day taking part in team-building exercises such as “The Web” and “Pipeline” with Project U.S.E.–an experiential education organization that has facilitated the teambuilding component of the Verrazano Orientation for four years. In “The Web,” a favorite among the participants, students navigated their way through a web made up of several ropes. The exercise required cooperation and problem-solving and helped the students get to know each other through the process.  Likewise, “Pipeline” tasked the students with running a small ball through a series of pipes. Each student is given a short length of “pipe” and in order to reach the finish line, students must take turns carrying their segment to the end of the pipe, allowing the ball to roll through.  

The students, a bit hesitant at first, quickly warmed up to each other and started to form friendships within their respective learning communities. As a cohort, this class of students will be spending the next four years taking classes, studying, working, and eventually, graduating together. “The orientation is intended not only to provide information about CSI and The Verrazano School but also to help them begin to establish relationships with peers and develop a sense of community and belonging here,” said Katie Geschwendt, Coordinator of The Verrazano School. 

Many of the students are Staten Island residents who were looking for a great education close to home and most graduated at or near the tops of their classes.  Jeffrey Bender, an incoming student who is planning on studying Pre-Med, quickly understood the purpose of the exercises. “They want us to work together,” he said.  “We’ll be spending a lot of time together and this is good because it makes sure even the shy kids make friends.”  

The students in The Verrazano School receive the extra benefit of smaller class sizes as well as priority registration. What really attracted many of the students to the school was the ability to perform research with experts, starting on day one. “I can’t wait to get into the lab and start studying things I really care about,” said Nick Galati, another incoming freshman.  

Along with Prof. Liu, 2011 CSI valedictorian Melissa Horne was on hand to welcome students in the morning as well as speak with them during the lunch break. Horne, a graduate of The Verrazano School, cited the smaller class sizes and the ability to work directly with professors as her motivation for applying to The Verrazano School. “The professors are great and they really want to help.” She even added a little extra motivation for the students in attendance by saying, “everyone who was a magna cum laude finalist graduated from either The Verrazano School or Macaulay Honors program. I guarantee someone in this room will be valedictorian in four years.” 

As if to validate Melissa’s point, one of the students pointed across the room, “my high school’s valedictorian and salutatorian are here.”  

As the students headed toward their next event, Merlin Raj, the 2011 class valedictorian at Susan Wagner High School, excitedly spoke of her reasons for applying to the Verrazano School. “The program is great, I like the fact that they help guide you every step of the way while still treating you like an adult.”  

During the next four years, much will be expected from the students entering The Verrazano School this fall, and while every student is excited about the prospect of working closely with professors, engaging in research and internship opportunities, and studying with like-minded individuals, they made sure to not put too much pressure on themselves. “I’m going to have as much fun as possible this summer,” said Jessica B., one of the incoming students. “I know that once we start in September, I’ll be working really hard. I expect great things.”

Jessica M. Ng, Graduating Class of 2011

Jessica M. Ng graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology at CSI.

Jessica M. Ng graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology at the College of Staten Island. She is a member of the Dean’s List (2008-2011) and is the recipient of several awards, including a Phi Beta Kappa Associates Award, the College of Staten Island Club President of the Year Award (2009-2011), the Anya Gabriela Kuppersmith Memorial Award, the Student Government Student Service Award, and the Peter F. Vallone Scholarship (2008-2011). 

During her time at CSI, Ms. Ng has been involved with a multitude of student organizations, College committees, and work environments. She was the President of the CSI Psychology Club and served as a division board member on the CSI Association, a non-profit organization that handles the financial aspects of College life. She has organized various campus activities throughout her role as President, including advisement workshops, Psychology Lab tours, internship recruitment sessions, etc.    

Ms. Ng balanced her time between a 22-hour school week with working as a Peer Educator in the Peer Drop-In Center next to the Health and Wellness office. There, she worked closely with students who are dealing with health-related issues, such as nicotine replacement therapy, sexual harassment, stress management, and much more.  She also worked as a Teacher’s Assistant at Curtis High School, tutoring students in a wide array of subjects ranging from biology and algebra to Spanish.  

As well as all of her work in and out of the classroom, Ms. Ng has dedicated much of her time working to benefit the CSI College community by being a member of the CSI Sustainability Committee and the CSI Institutional Planning Committee.

Ms. Ng will be attending New York University in the fall pursuing a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy where she hopes to develop the skills and knowledge she needs to become an occupational therapist, working closely with people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing support for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes.

Students Urged to Participate in This Year’s Undergraduate Conference

Students are encouraged to participate in this year's Undergraduate Conference on Research, Scholarship, and Performance.

CSI students from all disciplines are encouraged to participate in the Tenth Annual Undergraduate Conference on Research, Scholarship, and Performance (URC). The event will be held on Thursday, April 14 in the Center for the Arts from 1:30pm to 4:00pm.

Every year, the goal of the event is to celebrate the student-faculty collaborations that have become a hallmark of the College of Staten Island.

Discussing the importance and wide range of scholarship at the Conference, Dr. Ann Lubrano, Acting Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies and Academic Programs, says, “The URC is an outstanding opportunity for CSI students to showcase the work they have been engaged in under the guidance of faculty mentors. The conference represents the breadth of experiences and disciplines at the College presented in a manner that prepares the students for professional participation. There are poster presentations of scientific research, dramatic presentations, musical and dance performances, conference-style paper presentations, and art and sculpture exhibits. The Conference is a wonderful occasion for personal and professional development for CSI students.

Dr. Eun Park, CSI Dean of Research and Graduate Studies, sums up the many benefits for participating students. “The URC provides a valuable educational experience for undergraduate students through participation in various forms of projects and research. The research projects feature the high-quality interaction and work of students with faculty mentors. Those students who are exposed to the URC with research projects are in a better position, and are prepared and equipped for graduate study and research work if they decide to pursue graduate studies and degrees. The experience will be greatly beneficial for them.”

Ben Silfen, a senior Psychology major will be one of the students taking part in the Conference this year. He will present the findings of research that he conducted for his Honor’s Thesis, with the guidance of Assistant Professor of Psychology Dr. Florette Cohen, which examines different stereotypes that exist among students who are majoring in the social sciences, natural sciences, the arts, and business.

“I feel that presenting at this Conference is important on a professional level because it allows researchers to teach other new things, things that can be applied from one researcher to another, things that can be applied to everyday life,” he explains. “I feel that it is important for researchers to be informed and understand what else is going on in the world around them. I also feel that it is important for me on a personal level to be allowed to present because for the past several years every Psychology major who has conducted an Honors Thesis has been invited to present at this conference. I feel that the URC is a symbolic initiation ceremony to researchers who have been able to finish their research projects after more than a year, sometimes two years, of hard work and dedication. All I know is that ever since the first research conference I was allowed to attend two years ago, I have been anticipating this moment ever since, and I am very honored and excited to be a part of such an important academic endeavor.”

Kristina Toropova, a senior Psychology major who will present the breast cancer research that she conducted under Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Jimmie Fata, is also very enthusiastic about the URC. “I am looking forward to seeing how my poster will bring together almost a year full of research, as well as being able to look at what other undergraduate students of all majors will present. The scientific community at the CSI campus is thriving, and everyone should experience it.”

Students who wish to participate should submit their abstracts electronically via the Undergraduate Research Conference Website  no later than Friday, March 4, 2011.
In addition, special conference preparation sessions (PowerPoint skills, large poster production) will be available to student presenters on Thursday, March 24 and Thursday, April 7 from 1:30pm to 3:30pm. Both training sessions will be held in the Media Services Lab located in the Library (Building 1L), Room 201. Please contact  to reserve a seat.
Students or faculty mentors who wish to receive more information about the conference are encouraged to contact Jessica Stein, the event coordinator, at 718.982.2341.