Thursday, May 31, 2012

Announcement of Verrazano Study Abroad Scholarship Recipients

The Verrazano School is pleased to announce the Spring 2012 Verrazano Study Abroad Scholarship recipients.  Joanna Irizarry-Zaraza, Alicia Jimenez, and Mark Kavanaugh have been awarded scholarships to help support their study abroad experiences in China, France, and Spain during the upcoming summer.  These students will pursue language and cultural studies related to their areas of interest and come back having gained valuable experience and memories to last a lifetime.

Alicia Jimenez, Mark Kavanaugh, and Joanna Irizarry-Zaraza

Joanna Irizarry-Zaraza, Class of 2013, is pursuing a Psychology BA with minors in Chinese and Disability Studies.  She will be spending the summer traveling to various cities in China on a program through Brooklyn College.  Joanna is thrilled about her upcoming experience, saying “I have been dreaming about going to China for many years now but I would use every excuse there was,  such as I can't afford this trip, I don't have enough support, or I'm too scared. Luckily for me I received a scholarship from The Verrazano School that will pay for the entire program, tuition and my flight to China. Thank you Verrazano for eliminating two of my excuses; you have supported me financially and emotionally as well.  Although I am still very nervous to fly on my own and leave my loved ones for one month, for the first time in my life, I am more composed and courageous in having my dream come true!”

Alicia Jimenez, an English Literature major in the Class of 2013, will be participating in a program through Queens College titled “Paris, A Literary Adventure.”  This program is a perfect fit with Alicia’s major, and she can’t wait to explore the winding streets and soak in the Parisian culture during her studies.  Simply put, Alicia is “ incredibly excited for Paris this summer!"

Mark Kavanaugh, Class of 2013, is an English Literature major with a minor in Spanish.  Mark will be spending his summer in Santander, Spain with a program offered through CSI.  Mark has spent many hours outside of the classroom practicing his language skills with Professor Sarah Pollack, and upon learning of his scholarship he commented that, "I'm absolutely thrilled to be studying in Spain, a country with a rich and varied culture. It absolutely could not have been possible without the Verrazano Study Abroad Scholarship and I'm very grateful."

All three of these scholarship recipients are active members of the Verrazano community and the broader CSI community and will serve as wonderful ambassadors for study abroad while they are away and after they are back on campus.  Joanna, Alicia, and Mark will be posting blog entries about their experiences before they leave, while they are abroad, and upon their return.  We look forward to hearing more from these students!

Funds are available through an application process help support for Verrazano student participation in study abroad programs.  The deadlines to apply for a Verrazano Study Abroad Scholarship are October 1 for winter and spring study abroad and March 1 for summer and fall 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, please visit: 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Nicole Wallace Completes NYS Senate Internship

Nicole Wallace, Class of 2013, spent the spring semester as an intern with the New York State Senate in Albany.  This is the final post in her series on her experience in Albany.

The month of April was especially exciting for session assistants up in Albany as we prepared for the 2012 Model Legislative Session.  The Model Legislative Session is a mock session where each session assistant has the opportunity to present their own bill that they have drafted.
The preparations began in mid March when we nominated and then elected our president.  The election was close between CUNY Baruch senior Isis Hollis and SUNY New Paltz senior Nick LaStella, but in the end Nick won by just two votes.  Immediately after that we broke into our party's by random draw.  I was part of the majority party which was entitled the Phoenix Party, and the opposing minority party was named the Vox party.  After selecting party names we nominated leaders.  SUNY Albany senior Javerea Khan was majority leader and I was deputy majority leader.  The minority leaders were Jimmy and Vincent, seniors from SUNY Albany.
The next few weeks were spent analyzing our party bills as well as the minority party's bills.  On April 19, 2012, both parties held a rehearsal in the Senate chamber where we learned the proper rules and procedures of session.  On April 20, session began promptly at 9am. President LaStella opened session with a well presented speech as well as greetings to our friends and family who were attending this exciting event.  Soon after we began presenting of our bills.  I was especially nervous because my bill was second on the calendar.  The first bill, dealing with implementing new traffic light signals, passed unanimously.  Next, I delivered my speech, which mandated a low student to teacher ratio in High School Math classes, and then nervously sat down.  I thought the hard part was over; however, the other party choose my bill to be debated.  This meant my colleagues were going to ask me questions about my bill and try to stump me.  The questions were fierce, but I articulated my answers clearly and with confidence.  In the end my bill was passed by a vote of 14-8. I was excited and glad many of my colleagues supported my bill.  The rest of session was fun and entertaining.  I debated a couple of bills and stood up in support for a few as well.

Nicole Wallace and peers voting at the Model Legislative Session

By the end of session, all but one of the bills had passed.  My friend, SUNY Old Westbury senior Jeremy Brown's bill had not passed.  Jeremy's bill gave all living things the same rights as humans.  Jeremy's intent was to write a bill that would end animal abuse.  However, his language did not specify just animals, but used the term living things, which made cutting trees down, hunting, and fishing all illegal.  Although many of my colleagues did not agree with Jeremy's bill, I voted in the affirmative based on his intent of the bill.  However, in the end the bill was defeated by a vote of 6-16.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time in Albany at the New York State Senate.  I met a lot of amazing people and learned about the bill process and how bills are passed.  I would definitely recommend the program to anybody thinking about it.  It was a great opportunity.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Verrazano Student Accepted to CUNY Pipeline Program

We are pleased to announce that Christina Terracino, Verrazano Class of 2013, has been named as a CUNY Pipeline Fellow.  Christine will be sharing her experiences in the CUNY Pipeline Program over the next year on the Verrazano Voyager, and below she explains more about the program and her academic interests.

Hi everyone!

My name is Christina Terracino and I’m a fourth year Verrazano School student here at CSI. I’m majoring in English Literature and am looking forward to a long and productive career as a professor. In order to become a full-time professor, a PhD is generally required. I’m excited to move onto graduate school and receive my PhD in English Literature. I’ll be applying for these programs next fall and winter, and I can honestly admit that I’m a bit nervous about the intense application process. However, now that I’ve been accepted into the CUNY Pipeline Program at the CUNY Graduate Center, I’m a bit more confident and infinitely more excited.

The CUNY Pipeline Program is a fellowship which is designed to assist students who wish to pursue careers in research and college teaching. It is specifically for students from underrepresented groups in doctoral studies. I know this seems a bit ambiguous, so I will try to explain. This is not a fellowship simply for minority students. The Office of Educational Opportunity and Diversity Programs at the Graduate Center is looking for students who are diverse, and who are from backgrounds which may or may not be considered a minority in the general sense of the term, but who are underrepresented in the nation’s PhD programs. According to the CUNY website, the following groups are underrepresented: Alaskan Natives, Asians, Blacks/African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Italian Americans, Native Americans, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders, and Women. (For more information on this, I would check out the diversity policies of CUNY, which can be found on the website at this link: As an Italian American and a woman, I fit this bill and was able to apply. I would encourage anyone who feels they would bring diversity to doctoral studies to apply to this program. The only people who are specifically discouraged from applying are those who wish to pursue medicine or law.

The CUNY Pipeline is a program which includes a summer institute at the Graduate Center in Manhattan, and various colloquia throughout the academic year. It is a one-year program for those entering into their final year of undergraduate studies. The Summer Institute includes courses on graduate research as well as GRE preparation. A senior thesis is required, which fellows may present at the annual CUNY Pipeline conference. The program also includes assistance with many of the aspects of graduate school applications, such as the letter of intent. I am looking forward to receiving a level of structure from this program during what I’m sure can be a very stressful process. I’m also thrilled at the chance at attending a graduate seminar to get a first-hand idea of what it is really like to take a graduate course. I’m hoping that this program will give me a better overview of what professional conferences are like, since they are a large part of careers in research. My field is Renaissance literature, which I hope to learn much more about during the time I work on my Pipeline thesis. I’m working on developing a research thesis topic for the start of the Summer Institute.

This program is a great opportunity for anyone who knows they plan to pursue doctoral studies, I hope many other Verrazano students will apply in the future, and I’m looking forward to the great benefits I know I will receive from being a Pipeline fellow.