Monday, December 4, 2017

Volunteering: It's Marathon, Not a Sprint!

Lilian Al-keswani, a Biology major in the Verrazano Class of 2020, challenges herself, then gives back to those who supported her!

Lily finishes the Brooklyn half-marathon
        It was January 14, 2016. It was 6 am. It was cold. It was dark. But I felt alive. I ate my usual breakfast of oatmeal, laced my running shoes up and headed out the door. Running at this time, the air felt so pure and so clean. I felt the cold air hit my face and smiled. Training for the Brooklyn half marathon wasn't so bad, for a minute.....  This thought would last for a moment and then it would flee. It was hard to think about anything except for the pain. And to not think of the pain, I think of numbers. 5 miles down, 3 more miles to go. And this was considered a "short" run. I'm going to take a break after 720 meters. "I can do it, think about something else," I tell myself. Then I focus on the thumping sound that my feet makes against the ground. 1 thump 2 thump 3 thump and so on. 
       Some running days were better than others. Perhaps it was my diet for the week, or even if I was just too sore to go out for a run but no matter what you're feeling, you always need to push yourself when you have a huge commitment like this (unless you feel like you have an injury, then you should probably take a rest.) I trained alone for 4 months before the big race but on May 21, 2016 , the day of the Brooklyn half marathon, I ran with 50,000 other people. We all had the same goal in mind: have fun and cross the finish line without puking. 
       We started in the Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, through and around Prospect Park, onto the highway approaching Ocean Parkway and made our way to the Coney Island board walk. There were moments where I wanted to stop and take a break but all of the volunteers who were handing out water and electrolytes and all the family members and people cheered me on for miles and I couldn't let them down. I met a volunteer by the name of Veronica whom gave me advice to take a pace myself accordingly to my training and to take deep, controlled breaths. Also, the 4 months of training made me a stronger person. "If I stop now, I'm going
Gotta celebrate!
to have to restart and regain all the momentum and speed again, no time for that.l" And with that mindset and advice given to me, I crossed the finish line of 13.1 miles in 2 hours and 7 minutes. This moment was so worth the 4 months of hard, critical training. It was worth all the pain I've endured. It was also worth all the nights staying up late to plan for the week coming up and I wanted to do it again. And so I did ... a few months later. 
       I trained for another 4 months to run the New York City half marathon. This time, I knew my previous mistakes. I knew my body even more and how much potential my body can take me if I put my mind to it. And this time, I crossed the finish line in 2 hours flat. 
You might think "ok big deal, she was 7 minutes faster." But those 7 minutes was difficult to achieve as an 18 year old. If I wasn't a runner, I would want to sit home all day and eat some chocolate. But because I wanted to break my 2 hour time, I put the chocolate to the side and mentally trained  myself that giving up this moment would bring me a greater moment in the future. 
     After my second half marathon, I wanted to experience what it was like to be a volunteer. I wanted to cheer runners on and motivate them to not stop. I wanted to comfort those runners by giving them a positive pep talk because, let's be real here, running 13.1 miles is not easy. I wanted to give back everything those volunteers gave me. One day, I get an email from my academic advisor   (Cheryl) asking for volunteers to participate for the full New York City marathon. I eagerly applied. The morning of the marathon, I woke up at 5 am, got some coffee and ran out the door. 

Lili and Liridona help at the NYC marathon!
     Upon arriving to the starting line, I noticed the runners waves of colors. As runners, we tend to wear colorful sneakers and attire. No idea why but I'm accepting of it. I see runners warming up and running around the Verrazano bridge. I see runners laying down sleeping because it was 5 am, and I saw runners drinking the last bit of their protein shakes. I met a runner by the name of Joey and he ran 42 full marathons and even had a tattoo of the TCS NYC marathon logo on his calf. After meeting him, I was told to arrive at my assigned corral and help the runners prepare before the gun shot went off. Lined up runners would pass (and throw) their sweaters to me for donation. It was my job to place them in plastic containers. It was also my job to hand out water and Gatorade. As I pass one to a runner, it coincidentally happened to be a girl with the name Veronica and I thought that I was destined to meet her because what are the chances that I would meet a runner with the same name as the volunteer who gave me a pep talk when I was a runner for the marathon. I enjoyed my time as a volunteer so much I was asked to go to take the private charter bus owned by the TCS NYC marathon company to the finish line for an exclusive view and cheer on the finishing runners after running 26.2 miles. They inspire me to try an attempt the 26.2 miles but for now, I want to focus on running half marathons and continue volunteering. I will be volunteering for the next NYC marathon in November. Contact me at lilianalkeswani@gmail.com for more information on volunteering for an amazing experience that may change your life. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Toufic Eid: Big Win in the Big Easy



 Toufic Eid (Class of 2017) completed his BS with a major in Business and concentrations in Management and Marketing. He is currently enrolled in the Master's of Science in Business Management at the College of Staten Island.

Toufic Eid posting with his team's award
One of my most memorable moments in my college years would have to be when I competed in the International American Marketing Association Case Competition, where chapters develop a full marketing plan for the upcoming year for a sponsor. At first, when entering the competition, I was unsure of our potential. However, after watching the team blossom in their strongest areas, I now see the potential and strong attitude we dolphins hold. With the strong encouragement from the loving and caring staff as well as the motivation provided by professor Dan Zhang, my team was able to lose our insecurity and build confidence within the real-business world. I can say that I now truly understand the hard work and energy it takes to become a marketer.
         From the extensive rehearsal hours to the sleepless nights, my team placed 3rd in the competition out of 250 competing universities. I know for a fact that just because we looked like the smallest team there, we still walked in with our fins held high as we stood in front of the eBay executives. I guess it is true to say that people really do "fear the fin!" This experience has strengthened my passion for business. I took it all in: traveling to New Orleans, networking with other students from other universities, observing different cultures, and of course the amazing food. How could anyone not love beignets, gumbo, and grits? This travel experience was life-changing; I learned a lot, from the fine points of business dress, how to socialize in a professional setting, and developing my public speaking abilities. This was one of the most memorable moments of my college life.



CSI takes third place in an international marketing competition

However, this entire trip would not have been possible without the crew working behind the curtains. With the help of the dean Susan Holak and staff members like Debbie Laura, we were able to travel to the conference that was held in the Sheraton Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana. The school of business has been a tremendous contributor to the whole team and has helped us attend the event. I could not have been more appreciative and thankful for all the school of business does and provides. For that I am proud to be a CSI-School of Business, undergraduate, an helping set the standard for future teams.
I hope to continue the success for the school of business by encouraging more leaders and outstanding students to join future teams to compete. We learned the value of practicing in front of unfamiliar faces and of playing to our strengths. After watching the winning team, it was noticeable to see the time and effort it took to design the slides. For future teams, I recommend picking a design major undergraduate to spice up the full package. I wouldn't be discouraged if you felt you didn't have the resources to compete; for instance, the heat maps I generated were completed from scratch using no programmed software. Lastly, I would like to remind the future team that they are capable of anything just like any other teams and students from other universities. We are dolphins--Fear the Fin!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Suki Wong: Nursing and Beyond!




Suki Wong (Class of 2017) is a Nursing Major finishing up this challenging program and looking forward to the next set of adventures in her life.

“Every flower blooms in its own time.”
-- Ken Petti

Hello! My name is Suki Wong, Verrazano Class of 2017. I’m a senior majoring in Nursing. It’s crazy to think that in less than 6 months, I will be graduating at College of Staten Island. I survived nursing school! Time has passed by in a blink of an eye and I am proud to say I am a Registered Nurse.

At the RN Pinning Ceremony 2016
Throughout the years, I have stepped outside of my comfort zone and tried new experiences.  I interned at New York University Langone Medical Center through the HCOP Internship Opportunities Program. My most memorable experience was seeing an autopsy being done and it was pretty cool. I shadowed nurses and attended lectures and conferences. I also had a lot of interactions with the patients. From this experience, I was determined that pursuing a nursing degree was the right choice.

On the Dean's List, with President Fritz, 2016
Now, I am working on my Capstone project “Nursing Practice and Strategies for Responding to Child Abuse”. The objective of my capstone project is to find the most effective strategy for preventing or reducing child abuse. Most importantly, I want to encourage and establish a universal protocol in all professional work places in responding to suspected child abuse cases.

It was a pleasure to be part of the Verrazano family. I have met amazing people and developed close friendships with my nursing classmates.  I want to thank all my professors, mentors, and my friends who have supported me throughout the journey. I will definitely miss going on field trips with Verrazano. Not to mention, on one of my VELA events, I met Park Shin Hye, a South Korean actress!

Exploring the Brooklyn Bridge!
My advice to incoming students is to do at in your own pace. There is no need to compare yourself to others and worry about being behind. And when you are feeling unsure or don’t know what to do anymore, do not give up. Being lost is part of the path and eventually you will find the path that is meant to be.

I am super excited for the adventures ahead. I am looking forward to sharing more about my adventures!