CSI Alumnus Keegan Fernandes Receives Jonas Salk Scholarship

Keegan Fernandes is the recipient of a Jonas Salk Scholarship.

College of Staten Island (CSI) alumnus Keegan Fernandes ’15, ’16, ‘17 has won a Jonas Salk Scholarship.

Through the Scholarship, in fall 2017, Fernandes will attend the Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine at Campbell University in North Carolina, where in addition to pursuing a Doctor of Osteopathy degree, he will also conduct research relating to epileptic seizures and type II diabetes.

“I am so humbled and want to express my deepest gratitude for being awarded the Jonas Salk Scholarship. This prestigious award will allow me to pursue my dreams and for that I cannot thank the Jonas Salk committee enough,” said Fernandes.

A veteran of the U.S. Army, Fernandes has received a Purple Heart Medal and Ribbons denoting Army Commendation, Army Service, NATO Service, and Global War on Terrorism.

“Having spent seven years in the military, retuning to civilian life was difficult. I was grateful to find a home with the Veteran Support office where Laura Scazzafavo helped me focus on reaching the dream of becoming a doctor,” remembers Fernandes, who graduated with both a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 2015 and went on to complete a Master of Science in Biotechnology at CSI in spring 2016. The graduate student is slated to receive a second Master of Science in Neuroscience and Developmental Disabilities in spring 2017.

While in the Army, Fernandes served as the lead medic for his platoon and found his inspiration to become a physician after saving the life of his friend (and fellow soldier) in Afghanistan, who was severely injured by an improvised explosive device.

At CSI, Fernandes instructed tenth grade high school students in neuroscience and mathematics through the CSTEP Program, received honors in his major and served as a Veteran Support Specialist and a member of the Armed Forces Club and the Pre-Medical Society at CSI.

As an undergraduate, Fernandes worked in a laboratory with Dan McCloskey, PhD, examining the paradoxical lack of brain Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor in the African Naked Mole-Rat.  According to Dr. McCloskey, “He helped develop first neuronal cell culture studies on this species and his research revealed that this unusual mammal uses alternative strategies to grow new blood vessels in the brain, which allows them to handle low oxygen environments in their native habitat. This work informs us of new strategies for human vascular growth to counteract stroke and heart disease.”

“Academically, the professors that I have crossed paths with saw my truest potential even when I couldn’t see it in myself. Having the backing that was offered at CSI has played a huge role in receiving this award,” said the student, who in particular recalls the support of Bill L’Amoreaux, PhD; Abdeslem El Idrissi, PhD; and Dr. McCloskey.

“Without their belief in me I would not be finishing my degree. Their mentorship held me up when life was too much, and here is the proof that anything is possible,” he said.

Dr. McCloskey, who serves as the student’s research mentor and pre-med advisor, added that, “Keegan has propelled himself toward this award. I have been fortunate to work with truly great students here at CSI, including previous Salk Scholarship Awardees, but I have never met a student like Keegan. I have no doubt that he will go on and continue to do amazing things.”

“CSI is very proud of Keegan for his academic achievements as well as his brave service to our country. He is to be commended for his involvement in research throughout his academic program here. There is no doubt that the outstanding mentorship by Dr. McCloskey provided a major boost toward his securing this great recognition,” noted Gary Reichard, PhD, CSI Provost.

The hard-working student and soldier believes, “No matter how long or tough the road is, if you stay with it and you really want it, you will achieve it. This journey is not over. It is the stepping stone to the future I am now certain of, given every challenge I have conquered.”

 

History of Salk Scholarships recipients

 

2017

Keegan Fernandes ’15, ’16, ‘17

 

2015

Anton Mararenko ’15

 

2014

Christina Vicidomini ’13

 

2012

Eric Rios-Doria

 

 

Remembering Veterans, Serving Veterans

Matt Basile ’16, Borough Veteran Community Outreach Specialist stands at the College of Staten Island's Flags for the Fallen installation on Alumni Walk at the Willowbrook Campus.

U.S. flags flap bravely in the wind this Veteran’s Day reminding all in the community of the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform.

At the College of Staten Island (CSI), the outreaching arms of commitment to veterans continues to expand with a new partnership between the College and the New York City Department of Veterans Services. Through the collaboration, a Department and Borough liaison will be provided an office at CSI Willowbrook to assist CSI student-veterans and veterans in the community who are not students.

CSI alumnus and veteran Matthew Basile ’16 was the solid choice for the liaison role.

As the Community Outreach Specialist, Basile brings knowledge, experience, and compassion to the post. The Tottenville resident served in the U.S. Navy for four years before earning his dual degree in Economics and Political Science. While at CSI, Basile worked at Veteran’s Affairs as well as the Registrar’s Office.

The liaison’s role is to provide accessible resources and assistance for veterans on Staten Island, and student veterans with the college’s Veteran Support Services office, saving them one or more tedious trips to agencies outside of the Borough.

“CSI is a good option, geographically speaking, as it’s very central and also accessible via public transportation. Parking is abundant, and it’s just a great fit overall,” said Basile, who, in his new role, will serve student-veterans with such things as advisement, veteran-alumni with career help, and veterans in the community with general resources such as VA claims or military record retrieval.

“Most veterans believe that there are not enough resources and services available to them, and, more importantly, many are unaware of this availability,” noted Jamal Othman, Assistant Commissioner for Education, Employment, and Entrepreneurship, adding that veterans can also have difficultly dealing with multiple and remote agencies.

“By establishing satellite offices, we can go to the community and create a venue for those who can’t make to it to New York City or places outside their communities,” Othman said.

In addition to the office at CSI, a nationally-ranked a “Top Military Friendly School” by GI Jobs magazine for the past seven years, Basile maintains an office at Borough Hall in St. George.

“Veterans Day is a great reminder of all that our veterans have done for us, but it’s also important to continue to care for our veterans year-round,” said Borough President James Oddo. “Having Matthew Basile on Staten Island will make it easier for local veterans to navigate the veteran benefits system and get help if they need it. We are happy to have Matt at Borough Hall and encourage all veterans to visit him here or at CSI. Thank you to the administration and everyone at the Department of Veterans Services for working with us to address the needs of Staten Island’s veterans.”

“CSI is proud to continue to improve and expand upon our services for veterans. As a nationally-ranked ‘Military Friendly School,’ we are always looking for innovative and collaborative ways to ensure that the veterans in our community are given the best possible resources and services,” commented William J. Fritz, PhD, President of the College of Staten Island.

“The information is there and veterans need access to it. If you don’t know the ins and outs, it could be a very trying situation,” noted Basile, explaining that, for example, the GI Bill stipend has an expiration date and if students do not plan accordingly, they could run out of benefits before receiving their degrees.

Commissioner Loree Sutton, MD, said she was “very pleased to be working closely with CSI and the Staten Island community to improve the delivery of resources and services to all veterans.”

“It’s a pleasure to collaborate with the College, and I look forward to moving our successful working relationship towards bigger and better things for the veteran community,” said Sutton, a retired Brigadier General, U.S. Army.

Matt Basile’s office is located at the College of Staten Island, 2800 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island NY, in Campus Center room 216. He has additional office hours at Borough Hall, 10 Richmond Terrace in St. George. He can be reached at mbasile@veterans.nyc.gov and 646.799.2743.

CSI Alumnus Featured in G.I. Jobs Magazine

Shortly after John Murray left Cantor Fitzgerald, the North Tower of the World Trade Center was attacked on Sept. 11. The tragedy moved Murray to join the United States Army where he served for eight years. His next mission: the College of Staten Island (CSI). Murray received a degree in Social Work from the College, which was designated a 2016 Military Friendly® School.

CSI received the designation from Victory Media, the publisher of G.I. Jobs, STEM Jobs, and Military Spouse.

A recent article in G.I. Jobs celebrates the first CUNY designation this year. Murray was one of three CUNY alumni featured in the article “A Military Friendly First” in the August 2016 issue (the article begins on page 30 in the magazine).

Vice President for Student and Enrollment Services Jennifer Borrero noted that CSI has been working hard for many years to create an environment that supports military and veteran students, and she is excited that CSI has joined the ranks of Military Friendly schools.

“CSI is proud to have so many military and veteran students enrolled, and we are dedicated to serving those students to the fullest extent possible, just as they served our country,” commented Borrero.

This year marks the seventh consecutive year that CSI has been named to this prestigious list, appearing every year since the Military Friendly® Schools designation has recognized service members and their families with transparent, data-driven ratings about post-military education and career opportunities.

In the G.I. Jobs article, CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken stated, “…we expanded opportunities for veterans to obtain CUNY credit for prior services training, and we developed support services to ensure post-graduation career success for our veterans.”

The Military Friendly® Schools designation is awarded to the top colleges, universities, community colleges, and trade schools in the country that are doing the most to embrace military students, and to dedicate resources to ensure their success, both in the classroom and after graduation.

 

 

 

CSI Named to Top Military Friendly Schools List

The College of Staten Island announced today that it has been designated a 2016 Military Friendly® School by Victory Media, the leader in successfully connecting the military and civilian worlds, and publisher of G.I. Jobs®, STEM Jobs and Military Spouse.

This is the seventh consecutive year that CSI has been named to this prestigious list, appearing every year since that the Military Friendly® Schools designation has recognized service members and their families with transparent, data driven ratings about post-military education and career opportunities.

The Military Friendly® Schools designation is awarded to the top colleges, universities, community colleges and trade schools in the country that are doing the most to embrace military students, and to dedicate resources to ensure their success both in the classroom and after graduation. The methodology used for making the Military Friendly® Schools list has changed the student veteran landscape to one much more transparent, and has played a significant role over the past seven years in capturing and advancing best practices to support military students across the country.
“Post-secondary institutions earning the 2016 Military Friendly® School award have exceptionally strong programs for transitioning service members and spouses,” said Daniel Nichols, Chief Product Officer of Victory Media and Navy Reserve veteran. “Our Military Friendly® Schools are truly aligning their military programs and services with employers to help students translate military experience, skills and training into successful careers after graduation.”
For more information about the College of Staten Island’s commitment to attracting and supporting military students, visit www.csi.cuny.edu/veterans.

Mission Accomplished: An 87 year tour of duty culminates with Bachelor’s degree

New York City Councilwoman Debi Rose joins William Carey at the 4th Annual Veterans Commencement Luncheon of the College of Staten Island, Summer 2015.

Life got in the way for William Carey near the end of WWII when he put his plans for a college degree on hold and enlisted into the U.S. Army as an Infantryman.

After decades of service to his country, and with the help of the Military Services Scholarship awarded to him by the College of Staten Island Veterans Support Services program, Mr. Carey’s journey to a Bachelor’s degree comes to fruition Spring 2016 as he plans to graduate with a History Degree in American Studies at the age of 87.

The journey has been filled with many pitfalls and adventures. After a severe injury during cold weather military training in Colorado, Mr. Carey was honorably discharged from the Armed Forces and became an officer with the New York Police Department, retiring after 22 years. He then worked as a Deputy Marshal and after that as a salesman. His dream of earning a Bachelors’ Degree ignited again a few years ago when he decided to take courses at Kingsborough Community College, earning two Associate’s Degrees.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0bnHjpMIc4[/youtube]In Summer 2014, with an eye on his baccalaureate, Carey toured the College of Staten Island campus.  He visited the Veterans Support Services Center and enrolled for CSI’s Winter Session.

It is at CSI where Mr. Carey’s dedication to his mission is evident. He travels from Brooklyn via Access-A-Ride through all types of weather—even during the harsh winter storms that emptied campus, Bill Carey was present and ready to learn. He hand writes all of his papers since he is unable to use the computer and even Summer Session classes this year to ensure a 2016 commencement. Everything about how he conducts himself on campus serves as an example of how important receiving a CSI education is to him.

“He is on a mission,” commented Jen Pizzuto of the CUNY Start Continuing Education Center, and “His dedication is an inspiration to the students he encounters.”

“Veterans Support Services is so proud of Bill,” added Ann Treadaway, Director for Veterans Support Services, “and I thank the contribution of our faculty, students and Veterans Educational Transition Services staff that have been such a huge part of making this possible.”

Along with awarding Mr. Carey with the Military Service Scholarship, which is administered by the CSI Foundation, Veterans Support Services collaborates with his professors and staff to ensure that Bill has full access to all of the resources he needs to complete his mission. They also aid him with getting his textbooks, printing copies, as well as filling out all necessary forms.

Treadaway hopes that the funds can be raised in order to continue awarding the Military Services Scholarship yearly to aid a former service member to accomplish the same mission that William Carey is on—one that all men and women who have served in our military deserve. “The Military Service Scholarship will serve as an opportunity for more veterans like Bill to have a chance to enrich our campus and serve as an excellent example of what dedication, hard work, and following your dreams, no matter how long they take to come true to our students.”

The Military Service Scholarship will awarded yearly to a military veteran who was honorably discharged and is no longer eligible for state or federal benefits to attend college. The student must be enrolled fulltime and have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and have served at least three years.

For more information visit the Veterans Support Services website.

To support future veterans through the Military Service Scholarship, make an online gift today!>

 

College of Staten Island mounts homage to nation’s fallen heroes

STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE — They are fallen but they are not forgotten.

The 6,747 [enlisted men and women] who have given their lives protecting our country since Sept. 11, 2001, were honored just before dusk Friday with a ceremony on the Great Lawn of the College of Staten Island (CSI) in Willowbrook.

The highlight of “Flags for the Fallen” was a sea of red-white-and-blue installed on the greensward over two days — one flag for each man or woman who died serving in Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and New Dawn, said Ann Treadaway, the school’s director of Veterans Support Services.

“We just tried to come up with the best way to remind people of the services and sacrifices of those who have served in the armed forces,” said Ms. Treadaway, herself a U.S. Army veteran who served in Baghdad in 2003 and Mosul in 2005.

Vice President of Student Affairs Ramona Brown called the display of the flags, row on row, “compelling and beautiful.”

“It speaks to the deep sense of dignity, pride and gratitude to all those who serve,” she said. “Each and every service person, those living and those who have passed away, deserves our most humble gratitude and respect.”

Friday’s program included the national anthem, a bugler’s playing taps and the lowering and folding of Old Glory by the U.S. Coast Guard Color Guard.

The 150-plus attendees were deeply moved.

“It’s very touching because you don’t realize the magnitude of [death] until you see all the flags laid out,” said Dennis McLoone, county commander for the Richmond County American Legion. McLoone served in the Vietnam War, in which 58,000 Americans died.

“You realize this is still such a loss for the families and the troops and it really just brings to light that we are still at war,” he said.

“If I can pay my respects in any way for people who risked their lives just to protect mine, I am all for it,” said senior nursing student Diana Macaulay of Port Richmond.

Student Irma Gachechiladze of Brooklyn said the deaths of so many “is a big number for the 21st century. It makes me cry and appreciate what they do for us a lot.”

The school is highly veteran-friendly, noted Ms. Treadaway. It recently established a scholarship for veterans and has a student population of 243 veterans and veterans’ dependents. CSI Communications Director Kenneth Bach noted that for the fifth consecutive year, the school has been recognized as a Top Military Friendly School by GI Jobs magazine.

This story by Kiawana Rich originally appeared in the Staten Island Advance and SILive.com on November 08, 2013 and is reprinted here with permission.

 

 

Flags for the Fallen

Since September 11, 2001, over 6,700 service men and women have perished in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.

Beginning the morning of November 7, 2013 the College of Staten Island CUNY Veterans Support Services (VSS) will place 6,700 American flags, each bearing an individual’s name, on CSI’s Great Lawn in remembrance of the fallen.

The two day ceremony will give students, faculty and staff, as well as the Staten Island community, the opportunity to join VSS in placing the flags between the hours of 7:00 am and 5:00 pm on November 7th, or walk among the rows of flags and reflect on the sacrifice of all of those who served on November 8th.

The program’s conclusion November 8th  will include a Retreat Ceremony which begins at 4:45pm with the singing of the National Anthem, student members of the Disabilities and Veterans Affairs Commission offering thanks to those who served followed, and remarks by  President Dr. William Fritz. At 5:00 pm a bugler from Bugles Across America will perform Taps while a color guard from Fort Wadsworth lowers the American flag outside the Center for the Arts, Building 1P.

Ann Treadaway, Director of the VSS and organizer of the event, credits her inspiration for the ceremony to the Student Veteran Alliance at Marywood University which began their Flags of the Fallen program last year at which they read the names of all of the service members who have perished since 9/11.

“Hopefully, our ceremony will inspire other schools in the future,”  commented Mrs. Treadaway, a Veteran herself. “We all have lost friends,” she added, noting that many of the members of her staff and CSI students want to personally place flags of people they knew.

VSS, and event co-sponsors  Disabilities and Veterans Affairs Commission, CSI Student Government, Veterans Educational Transition Services and the Armed Forces Club, have also been working with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the American Legion, the United War Veterans Council and community based veteran organizations in order to put together this solemn event. Several Coast Guard volunteers from Fort Wadsworth and the Farrell High School student group, Hearing our Heroes, will also be participating in the placing and removing of the flags.

“There has been a lot of community participation,” said Mrs. Treadaway commenting on the outpouring of support from members of the Staten Island community. “Odds are many college aged students probably don’t even know a vet,” continued Mrs. Treadaway. “We are doing this to remind everyone of the ultimate sacrifice some of our service men and women have made as well a reminder to our current vets that no one is forgotten.”

In conjunction with the event, VSS has also begun the Flags for the Fallen: Military Service Scholarship Fund in honor of our fallen heroes. The scholarship will go to assist student veterans who are not eligible for state or federal veteran education benefits. All who would like to donate are urged to visit and select Flags for the Fallen in the Designation drop box.

For any questions regarding the event or the scholarship please contact: Ann Treadaway, M.A., Director, Veterans Support Services at (718) 982-3108.

CSI Ranked Top Military-Friendly School in the Country

G.I. Jobs magazine named the College of Staten Island a Top Military-Friendly School in the country based upon the college’s commitment to serving the needs of students with military experience and its wide array of services designed for student veterans.

This is the fifth year in a row in which CSI was ranked in the top 20 percent of military-friendly colleges, universities, and trade schools in the nation.

Student veterans who enroll at CSI can take full advantage of the services and programs offered by the Veterans Educational Transition Services (VETS), located in the Office of the Registrar, and Veteran’s Support Services (VSS), located in the Campus Center, to facilitate a smooth transition from military to student life for veterans and their families. VETS and VSS provide a strong support system and offer centralized, “vet-friendly” services on campus.

“Vets attending CSI can take advantage of many of our services that aim to fit the specific needs of a military veteran,” said Ann Treadaway, VSS Director. She went on to discuss how CSI and her staff are well equipped to understand and help veterans who attend CSI. “I am a combat veteran myself as is most of my staff. We understand what our veteran students are going through and what they will need to succeed.”

What makes CSI such a military friendly school is not only the knowledgeable and sympathetic staff, but it also honors and cares for veterans while they are on campus. CSI offers the most transferred college credits to veterans than any other school—up to 90 depending on the student’s military training.

Beyond the credits, all incoming veterans and dependents are offered CORE100, a General Education course that satisfies a requirement as well as creates a learning community to assist in their transition. The course provides a platform for veterans to speak out about their experiences while discussing U.S. government, history and economics.

Mrs. Treadaway’s office offers free tutoring for all student veterans and their dependents as well as the ‘vet to vet’ mentoring program, a program that takes advantage of the experiences that vets may have shared to make incoming vets feel more at home. VSS offers numerous services and resources for student veterans and their dependents from translating their military jobs into civilian terms on resumes to helping them navigate the Department of Veterans Affairs to obtain the benefits they have earned.

“We also offer job training and internships,” added Mrs. Treadaway. “Our goal is to have the transition be as smooth as possible.”

Mrs. Treadaway also offered many other little known statistics, underscoring the importance of ensuring CSI remains vet friendly. “Vets are more likely to have a high school diploma but are less likely to have a college degree than the general population,” she began.

“The veteran unemployment rate is also higher than the national average.  CSI is in unique position to help veterans, a population that has doubled on the campus over the last three years and looks to increase even more as New York City is expecting about 6,000 returning vets in the upcoming year,” Mrs. Treadaway added, emphasizing that CSI has done much to “take care of our vets after they have sacrificed so much.”

The CSI VSS and VETS sponsor a number of events each semester. For information about such events, visit http://www.csi.cuny.edu/vets/.