Thursday, December 22, 2011

Announcement of First Verrazano Study Abroad Recipients

The Verrazano School is pleased to announce the first-ever Verrazano Study Abroad Scholarship recipients.  Deryn Cro, Class of 2012, and Lisa Migliorisi and Joseph Bushman, both Class of 2014, have been awarded scholarships to help support their study abroad experiences in Italy and Australia during the Winter 2012 intersession.

Deryn Cro and Joseph Bushman

Lisa Migliorisi
For the first time in the history of The Verrazano School, funds are available through an application process for Verrazano students to help support participation in study abroad programs.  Dr. Patricia Brooks, Interim Director of The Verrazano School, commented that she is “delighted that The Verrazano School is able to offer scholarships for study abroad that that additional funds will be available next semester for summer and fall.”  It’s a significant step for the program, and we hope that the opportunity for students to receive financial support for international experiences will increase the overall number of Verrazano students studying abroad.

Deryn Cro, a senior majoring in History and English Literature, will be spending the winter session studying art history in Florence, Italy through a CSI-based program.  Deryn intends to pursue a Masters Degree in Library Science with a concentration in Archives and Special Collection and envisions this is a great opportunity to blend her current interests with her graduate school plans.

Lisa Migliorisi, a sophomore studying Dramatic Arts, and Joseph Bushman, a sophomore studying Music, will both be in Australia during the month of January on a program called “Australia Today” through Hunter College.  Lisa got hooked on travel while spending the summer after her freshman year on a Semester at Sea study abroad program.  She sees this opportunity in Australia as a way to increase her global awareness and broaden her perspective on the world.

Joseph Bushman first traveled overseas in high school when his student-run music company went to Ireland to participate in an international music competition.  This brief trip, and his love for many styles of music, inspired him to apply for a study abroad program in Australia.   After learning of his award, Joseph remarked, "I'm thankful that Verrazano students have their own scholarship now, without it I would not have been able to afford to travel to Australia this January."   He anticipates that the study abroad experience will help build his resume and distinguish him as a candidate for future opportunities.

Deryn and Joseph showing where they'll be in just over a week!
All Verrazano Study Abroad Scholarship recipients will be posting blog entries about their study abroad experiences before departure, while abroad, and upon return.  We look forward to reading the updates from Deryn, Lisa, and Joseph!

Verrazano Study Abroad Scholarship Application deadlines are March 1st for summer and fall study abroad and October 1st for winter and spring study abroad.  Awards range from $1000-$5000, and through the scholarship application process students are encouraged to clearly identify how the proposed study abroad experience supports the pursuit and achievement of their academic and professional goals and how the program would benefit their academic and personal growth. 

For more information about the scholarship opportunity and for links to study abroad programs, please visit: 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Connecting Ambition With Opportunity Through The New York Needs You Fellowship

Megan Eisler, a Verrazano student planning to pursue a double major in Psychology and Nursing, was selected as a New York Needs You (NYNY) Fellow for 2011.  Megan now serves as a student representative of NYNY, and below she shares more about the program, the opportunities it provides, and how it has impacted her academic and professional life.

New York Needs You is a two-year career development program whose vision is to prepare low-income first-generation college students to realize their college and career potential. The mission is to close the opportunity gap through intensive career development and leadership training that includes life planning, community leadership projects, as well as core skills for success which will enable ambitious first generation college students to realize their career aspirations. With commitment to personal growth and development, NYNY offers countless benefits that aid in building the core strengths needed to compete in today’s competitive job market. Some benefits offered include over 800 hours of one-on-one mentorship with guidance and support; networking with over 200+ mentors per workshop as well as other industry specialists; access to two internships at prestigious companies and organizations within the time of the program, and a $2,500 professional development grant.

As a 2011 fellow, I can say with confidence that NYNY has motivated and inspired me to do more than I have ever dreamed. In the beginning of the program my mind was set on becoming a registered nurse and nothing or anyone could persuade me otherwise; that is, until the first workshop when I began networking with other fellows, mentors, and industry specialists. At one workshop I was introduced to a physician. I was amazed she was only 28, had already graduated medical school, works through the week at Mount Sinai hospital, and even owns her own clinical practice. As I Iearned more about her profession I was intrigued by how fulfilling a career as a physician would be so I immediately began research on medical schools, physicians, and physician specialists. Additionally, I was given a great opportunity through my mentor coach to speak with her roommate, one who is a doctor and the other a nurse, about their careers. As I gained insight on both professions I was conflicted as to which career path to follow. My mentor coach guided me in the path of the profession which suited my personal situation, being a single mother of two young children, including helping me map out the time frame needed to fulfill the educational requirements for each profession, the financial costs of each, as well as incorporating my personal situation with my educational needs. I concluded that the most realistic and successful path would be to obtain my master’s degree in nursing and later apply for medical school.

New York Needs You has opened opportunities I could only have dreamed of before. In January, I will intern in a pediatric clinical practice gaining experience and skills that will assist in my growth as a healthcare professional. Additionally, I anticipate securing a summer internship at one of the major New York City hospitals which will allow me to gain insight on which area of specialty I will choose for my career. With the guidance and support of the mentor coaches, volunteers, and staff at NYNY, I know I will gain knowledge and experience that will assist in the development of my career as a nurse practitioner and physician.  Thanks to this program, my family and I have nothing but a bright future ahead of us.

To learn more about New York Needs You, please visit:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Reflections on a Semester Abroad

Kubra Shirazi, an International Business major and Verrazano student in the Class of 2013, had the opportunity to spend her sophomore spring semester in Nice, France through a CSI Exchange Ambassador program.  Kubra has been reflecting on her experiences abroad last semester and stopped by to share some of her thoughts and experiences with us.
Hi Kubra.  Thanks for your interest in talking with us about your study abroad experience.  When and where did you study overseas?
I studied abroad in my Spring '11 semester in Nice, France.  It was the spring semester of my sophomore year. 

A restaurant on the beach.
This was my third day, after arriving in Nice. It was cool discovering cool things with a friend I
made from the hostel I was staying in.

How did you find your study abroad program? What made you choose your study abroad program instead of a different program?

I found my exchange program in the Center for International Service.  I saw the booklet about IPAG when I was browsing through their study abroad shelf.  I chose to study abroad in Nice because I knew it would benefit me in my studies as an International Business major. I took the opportunity that CSI was offering and used it to fulfill my ambition to study about business in a different country.

It's great to hear that you shaped your study abroad plans around your major.  What was the application process like?

The application process was long because I had to fill out many school applications, online applications, and apply for a visa from the French embassy. It was a challenge to keep up with my application process and make sure none of them were rejected. It was also my first time applying for a US Passport, so I had to get it processed before everything else because most applications asked for my passport number.

The Massena 
This is a large open area where performances are held, contemporary art is displayed, and where the tram stops. It also leads to a large shopping district.

Ah, your passport!  That's essential for study abroad.  Students should make sure they get their passports as soon as possible to enable international travel and study.  As you were applying, is there anyone who was particularly influential in the process?

Both my mom and Deborah Stengle (study abroad advisor) were very influential.  My mom was very supportive of my plans to study abroad. She helped me in calling travel agencies, keeping track of my applications, and working with me to fill them out. Deborah also helped me with them and found some information that I needed.

It sounds like you had a good support system which can really help.  Was there anything you were concerned about before your departure?

I had questions about how to take my money, what things to take in my suitcase, and where to find residency. I also was not sure if I could afford studying abroad, but with financial counseling, I figured out how to budget my expenses before leaving for Nice.


This is a small commune in the French Alps.  I went hiking here
with a group of students for over two hours.  It was the best experience I ever had.  

Finances are a significant concern for many students planning a study abroad experience, but I'm glad this didn't prevent you from going.  Fortunately now there are Verrazano Study Abroad Scholarships available for students through an application process so there is an additional possible funding source.

What, if any role, did your faculty advisor or staff members at the college play in your study abroad experience?

Deborah Stengle and Katie Geschwendt (Verrazano coordinator) were very helpful in my application process. They guided me through my applications and supported me with my goal to study abroad. While I was in Nice, I exchanged emails with them and asked for advice about schooling or just to update them about what was happening with me.

 Cliff Diving Area in Nice.
This is where the locals went to swim and cliff dive. I cliff dove here, but I bruised my legs by diving backwards.

We love to hear from students while they are studying abroad!  What were your living arrangements like?

I lived with three girls in a two bedroom apartment. We had two beds in each rooms and a pull out couch in the living room. The school was twenty minutes walking distance from my apartment.  My apartment was located right in front of the Mediterranean Sea, and I was able to spend time at the beach across from the building.  The best part was that it was situated right in the midst of a commercialized part of Nice. There were shopping centers, flower shops, restaurants, small and big bakeries, chocolate shops, and museums. There were so many by the sea shore, the ship docks, and deep into the city. Every two weeks, before going to school in the morning, I enjoyed fresh French bread and pastries for breakfast with my roommates and friends. 

A much different experience than your normal daily life here in Staten Island!  It sounds lovely.  What was a typical day like for you in Nice?

I had classes during weekdays, had weekends off, and my class schedule changed every week. I had to wake up really early to walk to my 8am class every other day. The most my class lasted up to was three hours. On my days off I studied, or took the train or the bus to a city close to Nice. I also went to the beach most of my time to swim, run, or walk. It was beautiful in the afternoon and evening to watch musical performances and the sun coming down.

It's great that you could walk to class and that the beach was close by as well.  As you reflect on your time in France, what would you say stands out the most?

It was interesting for me to explore France by myself and have regular French locals, in different cities, let me stay in their houses out of generosity. They showed me unique places where locals went for leisure, and shopping.

The French artistic culture, the architecture, and the gastronomy of food, stand out the most to me. There were hidden narrow alleys over a hundred years old, with tiny shops and eating places, in cities that I visited.  There were outstanding musical performances from the Mediterranean and French cultures in places where tourists and locals went. Artists painted murals, landscapes, and portraits within twenty minutes.  Nice had a flower parade, lasting the whole month of March, that brought tourists from all over France and Europe.

Students who study abroad for a whole semester often find they are able to get a better sense of the culture and daily life of local people.  It sounds like that was the case for you.  Did you have a favorite course you took while abroad?

My favorite was the French Civilization and Culture course. Three professors taught it to us, revolving around three different topics about French culture, history, and politics.

In what ways did your study abroad experience relate to your major or your future goals?  Have your career goals or personal goals shifted or changed because of your study abroad experience?

My study abroad experience provided me with practical knowledge about businesses and trade outside the United States. I learned a lot about the exchange of goods and services between countries in Europe and the Americas. I got an insight of which countries are good for investing in within the European Union and also some entrepreneurs’ perspectives on investing in other countries such as Russia, Argentina and China.

My future career and personal goals have shifted due to my experience. I have a goal to go abroad to do business with language and business management skills. I want to do more for my family to live a better life.

 Notre Dame.
I visited it in Paris during my Spring Break. It is the oldest church in France.

 A port in Cannes.
This was my first visit to Cannes.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

While in France I got to learn about the Nicoise people, locals from Nice, and their culture. In my four months there, I got to immerse myself into the Nicoise culture and lifestyle and was acknowledged as a local. I learned a lot about France and countries surrounding it and how the Euro was established. I met people who showed me some different parts of France, let me stay in their house and have meals with them, took me hiking in the Alps, and showed me how to travel by trains and buses in France. Most importantly, I learned the importance of taking caring of myself and got to balance going to school and having fun. I am glad that I went and made friends with people who made me appreciate things more.  It inspired me to keep working hard for my future in business.

For more information about the Exchange Ambassador program in Nice, France, please visit:

Monday, December 12, 2011

Greetings from Nice, France - Verrazano Student Studying Abroad

Francesca Navarro, Verrazano Class of 2012, has been spending the fall semester on a CSI Exchange Ambassador program at IPAG in Nice, France.  Francesca is studying Business Management with a minor in Corporate Communications.  Francesca recently sent us an update from France!

Traveling is an exciting and different way of learning how this world works. While some are content with viewing the world though others eyes, I decided I will not be this type of person. Therefore, I chose to do an exchange program in France.  I am currently in the South of France in the fifth largest city, called Nice.

For my first week in Nice, I stayed in a hostel near the city center. Of course there were many things I needed to do, but for the first couple of days I couldn't even figure out how not to fall asleep in the middle of the day; jetlag became my worst enemy. Once I was able to stay awake, I spent a lot of my time exploring; sometimes alone or sometimes with a new friend I met in the hostel.

The first challenge I encountered was finding proper living accommodations. So many questions surged through my mind: Where will I live? Who would I room with? Can I afford it? Will it be close to school? I must admit it wasn't very easy trying to find the right match, but eventually I did.

“To those who will see, the world awaits” and along the way you have an amazing opportunity to meet unique individuals who will change your perception of the world. Like I said before, I finally found an apartment where I am living with two girls from school: one is Swiss and the other is German. They have a lot of experiences with traveling abroad and so they have been great resources for me during my stay here. We share our thoughts, experiences, culture, music, and most importantly food. We always say that we are "spoiled poor students" because almost everyday we cook something new, invite friends over, and pop open a bottle of cheap wine - all on a small budget. These dinners truly makes it feel like we are a family and this has also made it much easier to adjust to living in another country.

Roomates: Francesca, Aline (Swiss student), and Ines (German student)

The most impacting experience so far has been a concept called couch surfing. Couch surfing is a social website where travelers search for people who will allow them to stay in their home for a few days in hopes of meeting locals and learning more about the city they are in -  COMPLETELY FREE! My roommates have had positive experiences with couch surfing and so they suggested that we help other couch surfers who are looking for somewhere to stay. The mission of couch surfing is "Teach, Learn, Share"and every person we have hosted has taught us something new and exciting. In exchange they learn about us and the city we are living in; together we all share stories, traveling plans, and so much more. In my opinion, couch surfing brings people together on another level that requires trusting others, something that a lot of people have seem to forgotten how to do. That's why this is so great!

Ines' birthday dinner with Alejandro (couch surfer from Venezuela), Sandy (friend from school), and Francesca

View of Ville Franche - 15 minutes from Nice

Plaza Massena - the main square of Nice

Monday, December 5, 2011

Verrazano Student Spends Summer Exploring Europe and North Africa by Sea

An increasing number of Verrazano students are spending time overseas participating in study abroad programs.  Lisa Migliorisi, a Verrazano student in the Class of 2014, participated in a unique study abroad program during the Summer of 2011 called Semester at Sea.  Semester at Sea is sponsored through the University of Virginia, and it uses a ship as a traveling campus to sail to various destinations on each voyage.  Semester at Sea operates during the traditional fall and spring semesters as well as during January and the summer months.

Hi Lisa.  It sounds like you had a very interesting summer.  What countries did you have the opportunity to visit on your voyage with the Semester at Sea Program?

The voyage took us to Spain, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, Morocco.

How did you find Semester at Sea?  What made you choose this particular program?

I couldn't decide on going to just one place, so when I saw this opportunity I thought it was perfect.

Can you describe your typical day as a study abroad student - both related to academics and outside of your course work.  How did you spend your time?

Well, there were two different types of days for me. A 'C' day (or Sea day) would be a class/traveling day. On those days breakfast was served from 7 - 8:30 and I would never miss breakfast. Then my first class was from 9:30-10:45. Then I would go back and take a nap because we were losing hours of sleep every night. My next class was 12:15 to 1:30 and lunch was served from 12:00 - 1:45 so I would run out as soon as class ended to grab lunch. After lunch it was usually time to read and tan. Between 1 and 4 was the most crowded time on the pool deck. And my last class of the day was 2:55 - 4:10. 

Luckily none of the classes I took were really heavy on homework so the rest of the day was dinner, snacks, (yes, there was snack time from 10:30-11:00) and movies. The TV was closed circuit so we could only watch certain movies on loop, but a lot of the people I became friends with brought their own movies and TV shows so we would have movie nights.

The other type of day was a Land Day, and during those days we were on our own. The ship would still serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner (no snack time though), but you did not have to attend. There was no curfew, and in fact they encouraged us to go out and experience the night life. Sometimes we would rent villas or apartments for the stay in certain countries and we wouldn't go back to the ship until we were leaving.

Your study abroad experience through Semester at Sea is particularly unique.  Is there anything that stands out to you about your study abroad program? 

This opportunity allowed me to not only compare the differences of one country to ours but of the various countries to each other.  I really got to see how each set of people were different than the next and even how small things like architecture of buildings differed greatly only a few miles away.

Did your study abroad experience relate to your major or minor or your future goals?  Have your career goals or personal goals shifted or changed at all because of your study abroad experience?

Before I left I was a declared Bio major with a pre-dental concentration. Although I wasn't completely sure this was what I wanted to do, I thought that I wanted to stay in the sciences.  But while abroad I took an Acting class, and my world was turned upside down. After returning back from my voyage I dropped all my science classes and registered for all arts classes. Since I had been at CSI I had only taken general education requirements and science courses. I never gave the arts a chance, but after experiencing this class I knew that I would be happier with the arts. Now, as I complete my first "arts semester" I realize that the arts are ten times harder than the sciences and it will require me to work that much harder but I enjoy this work and look forward to this challenge.

For more information about the study abroad voyages with Semester at Sea, please visit:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Verrazano Student Participates in Computer Science Research at CSI

Michael Cicero, a Verrazano junior majoring in Computer Science, has been involved in research at the CUNY High Performance Computer Center.  Michael stopped by to share his experience being involved in undergraduate research at the College of Staten Island.

Michael, could you tell us where you are participating in research and a bit about the research?        

I am currently doing research at the CUNY High Performance Computing (HPC) Center at CSI.  The research I am involved in is on the behavior of a special colony of Mole Rats found in East Africa.  The Moles are set up in a lab and their motion through the cage is tracked by RFID chips that are implanted into them. Each time a rat is tracked by an RFID reader, a piece of data is read into a computer. My job is to write software programs to organize the data into a more usable form.  The goal is to be able to understand the social behavior of these mole rats through a mathematical model of their movement throughout the day, which is produced using computers. It is ultimately a computer science approach to classical psychology experiments. 

How did you find this undergraduate research opportunity?        

I learned about this opportunity through The Verrazano School.  I was actually introduced to the experiment leader by Katie Geschwendt.

Before you officially got involved in the project did you have any concerns?        

Actually, yes. I was a little uncertain as to how research was actually done and I did not know what to expect; but after I started I knew it would be a great experience.        

Is your research experience credit-bearing, paid, unpaid, etc.?        

The research is paid.

What, if any role, does your faculty advisor play in your research experience?     

My faculty advisor allows me to work independently while checking in every so often to guide me in the right direction. This arrangement helps me to learn most things "on-the-job" while at the same time teaching me things I haven't learned in the classroom yet. 

What made you decide to participate in this particular research project?  

The experiment seemed out of the ordinary and that was very appealing. I wanted to get work experience in the computer world and this opportunity was a great match. It delves into the field of scientific computing, a sub-field of computer science, which could be a possible career choice when I graduate.

Are there any additional benefits to your research? 

Over the summer I enjoyed many benefits of the research. I attended multiple science seminars and conferences at the CUNY Graduate Center as well as CSI, which were very intriguing

What is it like working with other students and/or faculty members?      

Over the summer I worked alongside a fellow CSI computer science student as well as two computer science students from Montpellier, France who were doing a summer internship at CSI. It was really cool working in a team setting. We worked under the guidance of Professor Imberman of the CSC department and Professor Kress, the VP of Technology at CSI. It was valuable to see how the computer people and the psychology people interacted with each other to make the experiment work. I learned that every person plays an important role. 

Can you describe a typical day for us?

A typical day doing research was meeting at the HPC center, Professor Imberman’s office, or Professor Kress’ office. We would always update one another on the progress of the experiment and plan the next steps. During the semester it is more difficult to meet often, so a lot more is done through e-mail.

What would you say is the most interesting thing about the research you are involved with? 

The most interesting thing about the research, to me, is using the High Performance Computers. The computing power is remarkable and it is truly a privilege to work with them.

How does your research experience relate to your undergraduate studies (major or minor) and/or your future goals?    

I major in Computer Science and minor in Mathematics, and this research, in a nut shell, is the application of both fields to real-world problems. There is no doubt that this experience will aid me in the future, whether I use what I learned or get recognition by an employer for such an “unusual” research experience. 

Do you have any photos you’d like to share?

I have a photo of some of the summer research team taking a break to enjoy the beach. You can't be working ALL the time! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Verrazano Senior Spends Summer at the Rockefeller Archives

Deryn Cro, a Verrazano senior majoring in History and English Literature, spent her summer interning at the Rockefeller Archive Center.  We had the chance to catch up with Deryn and learn more about her summer internship experience.

Deryn, could you tell us where you interned and a little bit about that organization?

I interned with the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) in Sleepy Hollow, New York.  The center houses the papers of the Rockefeller family, the Rockefeller Foundation, Rockefeller University, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund along with other philanthropic instutitions such as the Common Wealth Fund and the Russell Sage Founation.

How did you find your internship?

I googled the phrase "archival internship" and it was one of the first results to pop up!

That's proof of the power of internet searches!  What was the application process like?  Were there any challenges or surprises?

The application process was pretty straight forward.  I had to submit a resume, cover letter, letter of recommendation and a transcript.  My interview was conducted over the phone which was something I had never done before.  I was able to have notes though, and I found that to be quite helpful.

Did you have any hesitations or concerns prior to starting your internship?

I had to find housing in Westchester which was somewhat challenging.  I was nervous about living with strangers, but I was able to get in touch with the other girls in the internship ahead of time.

Was your internship credit-bearing, paid, unpaid, etc.?

My internship was paid.

That's excellent!  Did your faculty advisor play any role in your internship?

My faculty advisor wrote me a letter of recommendation for the application which was very well received by the application committee.

What made you decide to choose this summer internship instead of another opportunity?

I had learned about the Rockefellers in school and was very interested to learn more about the family and their philanthropic endeavors.  Unlike other programs I was looking at, this one also offered guest lectures, a mentoring portion, talks with RAC employees and trips to many other archiving institutions.  I also liked the idea of traveling to some place I had never been before.

Were there any additional benefits to your internship?

I was able to visit many places connected to the Rockefellers and other collections of the RAC.  I also got to attend a summer picnic at Kykuit, the Rockefeller mansion in Tarrytown!

It sounds like you really got to explore another part of New York State this summer.  Could you describe a typical day at your internship?

My schedule changed day to day depending on the events or lectures they had scheduled.  I generally arrived at 9:00 a.m. and would work on my project for most of the day.  Twice a week at 10:00 a.m. I attended talks by guests or archivists who worked at the archive center.  These talks ranged from discussions on archival practices and the field to topics related to the Rockefellers.

What was most unique or interesting about your internship experience?  Is there anything that stands out as your reflect on your time at the internship?

For me it was the collections I worked with and the artifacts I got to see.  I processed the collection for Nobel Prize winner Max Theiler which included his Nobel Prize!  I was also able to see a piece of John D. Rockefeller Jr.'s wedding cake.  They keep it in an unassuming box in one of the vaults.

That sounds fascinating.  Did your internship relate at all to your undergraduate studies or your future goals?

I am currently applying to Master of Library Science and Information Science (MLIS) programs with a concentration in Archival Studies.  This internship allowed me to gain valuable experience and network within the field.

Deryn, thank you so much for sharing your summer experience with us.  We wish you the best for your senior year!

For more information on internships at the Rockefeller Archive Center, please visit:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Welcome Verrazano Class of 2015!

We're happy to welcome the Verrazano Class of 2015 to campus!  There are 80 students in this year's freshman class, and they came to campus on June 30th for the New Student Orientation.  To read more about the class and the Verrazano Orientation, please visit

Friday, June 10, 2011

Class of 2011

Congratulations to the Verrazano Class of 2011!

The Verrazano Senior Convocation was held on May 25th, and it was a wonderful evening celebrating the accomplishments of this year's forty-two Verrazano graduates.  To read more more about the event and this year's class, please see the following link.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Verrazano Director on the Physics of Football

Yesterday evening Professor Liu was a featured guest on Star Talk Radio Show, hosted by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, along with several players from the New York Giants.  Leading up to Superbowl Sunday, Professor Liu spoke about the physics of football.  Listen here:!