Thursday, July 10, 2014

Bon Voyage! Verrazano Student Heads To France For Fall Semester

Veronica LaManna, a member of the Verrazano Class of 2016 studying International Business with a minor in French, will be spending the Fall 2014 semester in Nice, France.  Veronica received a Verrazano Study Abroad Scholarship to help support her study abroad endeavor, and she will be sharing her experiences on the Voyager over the coming months.  Read below for her first blog post.

Bonjour! I will be studying in Nice, France during the Fall 2014 semester. Before I came to the College of Staten Island, I knew that my ultimate dream was to travel the world.  Like most college students, choosing a major was very difficult for me.  I knew that I wanted to incorporate my dream of traveling with my area of study. Keeping traveling in mind, I chose to major in business with an international concentration and to minor in French. During my freshman year, a representative from the Center for International Service at the College of Staten Island gave us information about some study abroad programs that were offered.  I knew right away that before I graduated I wanted to study abroad.  Although I was anxious to study abroad, I decided to wait until my junior year of college so I would be able to have more knowledge of the French language.  I also found out that I could potentially receive a scholarship from The Verrazano School that would help with the cost of studying abroad.

I went to the Center for International Service and gathered some more information about studying abroad. I knew that I definitely wanted to study in France because I have taken French classes for seven years and have always loved French culture. The representative from the Center helped me select a program that would fit my field of study and fit my budget.  After a lot of thinking I decided to apply for the CSI Ambassador Exchange Program at IPAG Business School in both Paris and Nice.  This program was perfect for me because it was being offered to only students who are business majors. The students who are accepted pay the College of Staten Island tuition, which is very affordable, along with room and board. Shortly after applying to the program, I received not only an acceptance letter for the program, but also one from the Verrazano School informing me that I had received a scholarship.

I decided to study at the IPAG Business School campus in Nice since I have already been to Paris. Nice is a beautiful city in the Côte d’Azur region located in the South of France. It is the second most popular city to visit in France right after Paris.  The university I will be studying at is only a fifteen-minute walk from the Mediterranean Sea. I will be living in an off campus apartment with another student from the College of Staten Island, and the apartment is located very close to the school. Nice is also situated between Italy and Spain, which are very easy to travel to. IPAG stands for Institut de Préparation à l’Adminstration Générale - that translates into the Institute for General Administration Preparation.  The University is French but most of the student body is made up of Erasmus or exchange students.  My classes will be taught in English, but I will be taking a French class in a level that is not offered at CSI. I will be taking business courses as well, which will give me insight on the economy from another country’s perspective.  I know that university professors in Europe have a very different style of teaching, so I am anxious about being in a different learning environment.  Although I am nervous, this will be a good experience to prepare me for my future career in international business. 

During these final weeks before I leave for France, I am both excited and nervous.  I am excited because this is an opportunity that I have dreamt of for years and it is finally becoming reality.  I am also nervous because I have never been away from my family and friends for so long.  I have also been preparing for my stay by applying for my student visa, looking for a place to stay, and searching for a flight to book.  Through my study abroad experience, I hope to become more proficient in the French language, understand the culture of France and of other countries, learn more about the global economy, and make lasting memories!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Verrazano Honors Students Make The Most Of Summer Break

Verrazano Honors students are spending the summer conducting research, participating in internships, and exploring the world, and some of them have been selected for special opportunities. Here's what some of our top students are doing this summer.

Abeer Husein, Verrazano Class of 2016, is participating in a Teach & Travel program in Turkey.  This is a month-long program in which participants teach English to elementary school students while gaining valuable work and cross-cultural experience.  Abeer is pursuing a combined BA/MA degree in History along with the Adolescent Education certification. 


Juliet Baidoo, Verrazano Class of 2015, has been selected for a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at Princeton University.  She will be working with Dr. Celeste Nelson, whose research is focused on tissue morphodynamics.  Juliet is part of the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) which aims to increase the number of underrepresented minority students pursuing graduate and bachelor's degree in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.  Juliet is majoring in Chemistry and plans to apply to medical school.

Kamal Kaur, Verrazano Class of 2017, has been accepted to the New York Needs You (NYNY) Fellows Program.  The New York Needs You Fellows Program is an intensive program for high-achieving, low-income, first-generation college students.  The two-year program offers career development workshops, access to internships, and professional development grants, and Fellows are matched one-on-one with a successful and motivated professional mentor. Kamal joins a growing list of Verrazano students who have been selected for the NYNY Fellows Program, and she is studying Biology. 

Dennis Lam, Verrazano Class of 2015, is working with Dr. Sharon Loverde in the Chemistry Department at the College of Staten Island this summer, where he will be using molecular dynamics (computer simulation) to analyze Camptothecin (CPT) drug delivery.  Dennis is majoring in Biochemistry with a minor in Chemistry and has been involved in undergraduate research since his freshman year.

Adriane Musacchio, Verrazano Class of 2015, has been accepted for a CSI Summer/Fall Undergraduate Research Fellowship.  She will be the research assistant for Dr. Zara Anishanslin’s forthcoming book on eighteen-century women’s history to be published by Yale University Press, and Adriane will be fact-checking, obtaining image permissions, and researching eighteenth-century primary sources – images that are in museums, online history collections, and other information accessed through various archives.  Adriane is pursuing a double-degree in Dramatic Arts and History/Adolescent Education.

Allison Fremer, Verrazano Class of 2017, was selected as the Undergraduate Intern for Finance and Operations at the Brennan Center for Justice through a competitive application process.  Allison is studying Accounting and hopes to attend law school in the future.  

Friday, June 6, 2014

Verrazano Honors Graduate Named 2014 CSI Salutatorian

Congratulations to Elizabeth Krawczun, Verrazano Class of 2014, who was named the 2014 CSI Salutatorian and Honors Convocation Speaker!  Elizabeth pursued a concentration in Epidemiology through the CUNY Baccaluareate Program for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies, and this fall she will be attending the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom for a MSc in Medical Anthropology.  

Elizabeth is graduating summa cum laude, and she served as the Class Speaker at the Verrazano Senior Convocation and was the President of the CSI Chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and a member of the Senior Class Gift Committee.  Elizabeth studied and traveled abroad three times during her undergraduate experience.

You can read more about Elizabeth and her accomplishments here on CSI Today.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Verrazano Honors Graduate Named 2014 CSI Valedictorian

Congratulations to Blaze Fraser, Verrazano Class of 2014, who has been named the 2014 CSI Valedictorian and Commencement Speaker!  Blaze studied Biology with a major in Chemistry, and he will be attending Rutgers School of Dental Medicine in the fall.  Blaze is graduating summa cum laude and is receiving a Phi Beta Kappa Associates Award, the Biology Department Faculty Award, and the CSI Auxiliary Service Corporation Award for Academic Excellence in Biology.  Blaze was also selected to Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.

You can read more about Blaze and his accomplishments on CSI Today.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Study Abroad: Global Public Health and the Future of Water

Elizabeth Krawczun, a Verrazano and CUNY BA student studying Epidemiology in the Class of 2014, had the opportunity to spend the winter intersession in the Dominican Republic on a global public health study abroad program.  This was the second study abroad program in which Elizabeth participated, having spent last winter in rural India.  Below she shares her experience in the Dominican Republic.

I was very excited to be accepted into CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange)/Macaulay Honors College's Global Public Health and the Future of Water program in Santiago in the Dominican Republic. The experience ​reaffirmed my choice of ​​study, and my fellow students ​made my time there enjoyable and emotional at the same time. The reading and daily morning classes were informative and interactive. Dr. David Simmons​​, a medical anthropologi​st at the University of South Carolina, was a wonderful teacher, site instructor and mentor​.

​During class, we read articles related to public health in the Caribbean and Hispaniola, focusing ​primarily ​on vector and water borne diseases, such as cholera and malaria. To highlight our ​readings and ​classroom​ activities, we visited two water treatment plants​, one urban and one in the countryside, ​and learned of the filtration and transportation systems of water. We traveled to several communities in the Dominican Republic to study the effects of water inadequacy, access and abuse.

​However, in these communities, it was difficult to concentrate on the tour of the water system as nearly all the children from the village swarmed us to hold our hand​s​, be carried or to ride on our shoulders.  We met several physicians who travel through these poor communities, called "bateys,” monthly and take care of those who are ill and cannot afford to travel and receive treatment at a health care facility. In conjunction with water scarcity, we studied the discrimination of Haitians in the Dominican Republic; all the bateys we visited were Haitian communities. Often, when Haitians contract a water borne disease, they are unable to travel to a hospital as many Haitians are not issued a birth certificate, ID or passport​. The Dominican Government has implemented checkpoints, so that Haitians are stopped and deported if they cannot provide Dominican paperwork. We saw the devastating effects of the denial of healthcare in the condition of the sick community members.​

​For the course, ​we were assigned two papers, a final presentation and a final exam. For my final presentation, my group decided to focus on our visit to one of the bateys. At this particular community, Baraguana, the ​group​ of us was split into smaller ​groups of four, provided a translator, and conducted interviews with members of the community to determine if they knew where their water came from, when water was clean, how they received their water (trucks, bottles, the river, etc) and ​which water was used for what household activities, etc.

We saw that many members knew when water was dirty and understood which sources were the cleanest. However, most members did not have the means to buy bottled water and had to use the polluted river or rain water as their primary water source. ​When we traveled to ​Baraguana​, we stayed at a hotel that had first been described as

​"​rustic​" by our guides​. When we arrived, the hotel ran out of water within twenty minutes. This hotel, like the communities in the area, was ​only supplied with water for a certain amount of time​ during the day​ and was​ only ​provided ​a limited amount. That night we did not have water to brush our teeth, flush the toilet, or take a shower. We all took "baby wipe​"​ baths. The next day, water was supplied to the hotel for ​only a few hours, so we all took three minute shower​s​, as the water ​was only available for five minutes on each floor​. This was certainly an experience I was not expecting and it was extremely difficult to adapt to having no access to water, a privilege that I had taken for granted.

We took classes at ALPI (American Language Partnership International), a language institute in the center of Santiago and a ​forty-five​ minute walk from the hotel. When we were not visiting ​communities or in class, we were allowed to explore on our own. Dr. Simmons encouraged us to walk around the area and explore the city, beli​e​ving that the best way to learn the language and the culture was to live it, and not to learn about it in a classroom. Some of us visited Santo Domingo and the beach in Sosua on the North Coast. CIEE provided each of us a stipend for meals. Ordering ​in a restaurant for almost every meal was a challenge in itself. Navigating the city by "concho", the equivalent of a New York City taxi but which has a specific route and "fits" up to six people, was also an unforgettable experience and squeezing into the back seat with five other students definitely brought all of us a little closer. ​Not knowing more than a sentence or two ​of Spanish​ before arriving ​was ​certainly a disadvantage, but the group of us often traveled together and many students were proficient.


I had not expected the group to become as close as we did in such a short amount of time. The ​community visits were ​emotional experiences that ​exposed certain insecurities ​in ourselves. I​ believe that many of us became close because we were emotionally vulnerable together. In the afternoon of our second to last day we held a reflection session on the professor's roof, where students had the option to share their experiences .The majority of students shared felt that this trip showed ​them that it is impossible to change the world, but it is possible to affect and change a few lives for the better. ​It is important to recognize this and to understand that we have to be open to change too​, and in doing so we become better people. Meeting the physicians and community members of the bateys ​showed us how true this can be.

The trip was an adventure and I am extremely glad I was accepted into the program. I met people who have the motivation and intellect, as well as the emotional maturity,​ to go very far in their discipline. Dr. Simmons ​("DSimms") is a wonderful person, whose thoughtfulness and care was evident when we spoke in class or walked through the villag​es​. He made the experience what it was and made sure that we ​interacted with physicians and community members. He is an example of someone who loves what he does and dedicates his time and influence for the populations that do not have the means to ask for help. Dr. Simmons opened his home to all of us as a personal space and ​a ​break from the impersonality of the hotel. No matter when we showed up (usually with bags of dirty ​laundry to do), he would spend hours talking with us, trying to help us figure out what type of future goals we had. What I took away from the experience is that projects like this are important and that caring for the underprivileged is important, that seeing the globe as one entity with many pieces is important, particularly for health and global health, and that it takes effort to affect change.

Photo Descriptions

The first photo is of me with a child in the Baraguana community.

The next two photographs are of the group of us on the first day. We took a tour of the major landmarks of Santiago. The picture was taken from atop "the monument". This monument was located in the middle of the geographic basin that Santiago was in and it was erected after Dominican independence.

The following three pictures are from the community of Baraguana. We interviewed and interacted with the community members and the children.

The next photo is of the "bus" that we traveled in to get to the communities. We were tossed around for up to an hour and a half in this open-air seat belt-less vehicle. There was no door, gate or other safety feature in the back and so those of us who sat back there was very afraid that we would fall out. It was quite an experience.
These two group photos were taken from the optional trip to "27 Charos", or 27 waterfalls, in English. We climbed to the top of a mountain and trekked through streams and rivers to 27 different waterfalls of varying heights and types. Some areas along the trail were very treacherous and all of us left with many cuts and bruises on our legs. This tourist attraction lasted over three hours. I am very glad I decided to do it because it was a fun opportunity and certainly a once in a lifetime adventure.
The last picture was taken on our second to last night in the Dominican Republic. We had our farewell dinner with the professor, the Dominican students whom we interacted with, the staff of CIEE, and the physicians we worked with.
To learn more about study abroad programs and opportunities, please explore the following three online resources:
Center for International Service

CUNY Study Abroad Opportunities

College Consortium for International Studies