Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Exploring The Healthcare Field Through A Summer Internship

Leo Stoll, a Nursing major in the Verrazano Class of 2015, was accepted to the Rusk Health Career Opportunity Program for the summer.  Through this intensive internship program, Leo had the opportunity to gain real world experience and network with professionals while building his resume.  Read more about Leo's experience with the Rusk internship.

During the spring term of my first year of college at The Verrazano School at the College of Staten Island, I received an email from Katie Geschwendt, the Verrazano Coordinator. In the email was a link to an application for a summer internship at New York University Langone Medical Center. It was for a program called Health Career Opportunity Program at the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine at NYU. This program offers strictly summer internships in three four-week sessions that last from May until August in specific medical fields at one of NYU’s many hospitals. Some of the departments available to applicants are Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, Psychology Research, Social Work, and Speech Pathology. Any department a student is accepted into will offer a great opportunity in one of three fields of their choice. I was accepted into the Nursing Department and placed into NYU’s Cancer Institute with a Doctor of Nursing Practice who specializes in Pediatric Neuro-Oncology.

An average day consisted of me shadowing my DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) by assisting her with her patients. I was able to meet and listen in on patient treatment discussions and follow-ups. Since she specialized in children with brain tumors I gained valuable experience in dealing with young patients who are just trying to live a normal life. I will never forget all of the young kids I met who fight to survive every day of their lives. Although many of them were too young to understand what was going on, their physicians, nurse practitioners, and registered nurses took great care of them. I was lucky to be able to see what a loving and caring environment NYU’s Cancer Institute provided the patients. The daily hospital visits that many of the patients experienced were turned into playful memories by all the volunteers and interns who came to make each and every day special for the children.  I will always value these experiences and use them to make myself a better camp counselor during the summer.

On specific days of the week I accompanied my DNP to board meetings, office meetings, and hospital lectures. I was allowed to sit in and listen to various discussions on all patient matters. I learned that it takes an entire practice of health care professionals to tend to a patient and that each one of them makes a difference in a patient’s overall care. Along with specifically shadowing my DNP, I also spent many hours with other professionals in the office who were physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, nursing attendants, phlebotomists, social workers, registered dieticians, physical therapists and recreational therapists. I was able to see how everyone in the office worked together and how the patients benefited from the work put in by all health care professionals.

As a kid I hated going to doctor appointments because they were always so long and boring, but The Stephen D. Hassenfeld Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at NYU Langone Medical Center made the experiences as fun and enjoyable for the children as possible. There is a play room where the kids can participate in various activities such as arts and crafts and video games where they are provided snacks during and in between treatments. There are multiple volunteers who come in on a daily basis to provide other entertainment like magic shows and animal therapy. I spent many afternoons myself in the play room and enjoyed every moment of it as the kids were exposed to a fun, educational, and social environment that usually only school can offer for multiple hours at a time. The play room is a vital part of Hassenfeld Children’s Center and made the kids want to come to see their favorite volunteers and many friends. I am sure that as these kids grow up they will remember the fun times they experienced in the play room and keep the friends they met there for years to come; I know that I will never forget any of them. This internship was truly an experience of a lifetime. 

After reading Leo's story, are you interested in the Rusk Health Career Opportunity Program? To learn more and find out how to apply, visit http://rusk.med.nyu.edu/health-career-opportunity-program.

The application deadline for Summer 2013 is February 1st.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Preparing for a Ph.D. - A CUNY Pipeline Fellow's Summer Experience

Christina Terracino, an English Literature major in the Verrazano Class of 2013, is a CUNY Pipeline Fellow.  The CUNY Pipeline Program is designed to provide educational and financial support to CUNY undergraduates from groups currently underrepresented in our nation's universities who are interested in pursuing the Ph.D. in preparation for college-level teaching and advanced research.  Christina completed the Pipeline Summer Institute and shares more about her experience there as well as her plans for her final academic year as an undergraduate. 

Hi again, everyone. This is Christina Terracino. I wrote an entry for the Verrazano Voyager at the beginning of the summer, looking ahead to my experience as a fellow in the CUNY Pipeline Honors Program. Now, I've completed the Pipeline Summer Institute. For most of the summer, I would commute to the CUNY Graduate Center and attend courses as a part of this fellowship. Since I am an English major, I was placed in the Humanities seminar in the mornings. The seminar was designed to imitate a graduate level seminar, to give students a glimpse into what a graduate course entails. Since all nine students in this seminar were from different majors, we focused on a wide variety of subjects, from literature to the visual arts to opera. This seminar introduced us to the general format of in-class presentations, homework assignments, and elevated discussions which are typical of graduate seminars. One aspect which I found helpful was the amount of criticism which we were required to read. As scholars who one day hope to enter academia, influential scholarly criticism will become a large portion of our expected knowledge. This seminar was work-intensive, but very rewarding. It was very valuable as a potential glimpse into graduate school.

As a part of the summer courses, all Pipeline students were required to take a course entitled Graduate School 101. This entire course focused on the application process for graduate school, particularly admission into Ph.D. programs. This course will be crucial to my graduate applications. It provided me with motivation to become extremely organized and focused. It also was a chance for all of us to share our concerns and uncertainties with our Pipeline instructor, who was able to answer all of our inquiries about the admissions process, and graduate study in general.  

Another course we took was entitled Critical Thinking and Writing. This course revolved around the infamous statement of purpose. Any graduate student, when asked, shudders in horror at this phrase. It is the single most important part of any graduate application (or so we are told), and is therefore an extremely pressure-filled part of the application process. As a part of the program, we were assigned "MAGNET" mentors: graduate students from the CUNY Graduate Center whose main goal is to help us write our statements of purpose. They are also there to mentor us through the application process as a whole, and to help us along through the stressful process of applying for, being accepted into, and beginning graduate studies. Just about all of the Pipeline fellows feel tremendous stress when it comes to writing the statement of purpose. This is a description of why we want to attend graduate school, why we are ready to do so, and why we will be a good fit for the specific graduate program we are applying to. Not due until December at the earliest, we all know that it will take all of the fall (as well as all of the summer when we began drafting) to produce a polished draft of this piece. 

I won't outline it in much detail, but the program also provided us with a GRE prep course. Now having taken my GRE, I am very grateful for that course, and for the confidence it provided me with to take this test. All of these courses filled my summer with challenging work, but they definitely forced me to develop some time-management skills, which I know will be beneficial as I move on towards graduate school. This fall will probably be hectic for me and all of my fellow Pipeline students, due to all of the work we need to keep up with in order to create stellar graduate applications. Although this is a stressful time, we encourage each other and look to each other for motivation, encouragement, and support. I'm very happy to be a member of this cohort of truly wonderful people. Now, it's all about working towards getting into the programs that will allow us to pursue whatever field we wish to study. Hopefully the process will be as smooth as possible for all of us.

I am looking forward to completing my graduate applications, and of course, continuing to work on my Pipeline Senior Thesis, which is another component of the CUNY Pipeline Program. There is so much to do, but I know that the end result (a great graduate program!) will make all of the hard work worthwhile. As I work on graduate applications, I wish everyone a great semester, and good luck to anyone else who is applying to graduate school this fall/winter!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Journey to Becoming a Better Leader: ELP

Nicole Macri, a Psychology major in the Verrazano Class of 2015, was selected to participate in the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) at the College of Staten Island for the 2012-2013 academic year.  Nicole shares more about how she got involved in ELP.

As a student with so much on my plate already, I was reluctant to add any more activities to my already hectic schedule. With classes, work, and my internship how would I have time for anything else? So at the beginning of the summer when I received an invitation in the mail to join the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP), a full year program designed for students who wish to develop and expand their leadership skills, I immediately brushed it off and decided that I didn’t have time to participate. After re-reading the letter and going over all that the program entailed, however, I realized that being accepted into ELP could be a great opportunity and I decided to apply.

Nicole at orientation

Several weeks after submitting my application, I was asked to schedule an interview. At this point I was excited but very nervous at the same time. I had never been on an interview before and I was afraid that I wouldn’t have the answers they were looking for.

Two weeks after the interview, however, I was delighted to receive a letter in the mail saying that I had been accepted into the program. My next step was to attend the three day orientation that took place before school started. On the first day of orientation I was worried that I’d feel awkward and shy since I didn’t know anyone else in the program. The first exercise that we did, however, helped alleviate this fear of mine. During the exercise every new ELP member formed a circle, picked an animal that began with the same letter as their first name, and repeated everyone’s name and animal that stood before them in the circle. Not only did this exercise serve as an excellent ice breaker but it also helped me remember everyone’s name after just one day! 

For the second day of orientation we did more team building exercises which helped us learn the importance of working together as a team and the significance of communication. In addition we also listened to a presentation by Jane Marcus-Delgado, the associate professor and chair of the CSI department of World Language and Literature, in which we learned about the significance of living our passion and making our mark on the world. Although I gained so much knowledge from the first two days of orientation, the third day of orientation was the most memorable for me. On this day we took a bus from CSI to Thompson Park where we not only used cooperation to solve team building exercises but we also had the chance to overcome fear by completing the zip line course. The zip line was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life. Not only was I able to overcome my fear of heights and complete a task I never thought I would even have the opportunity to attempt, but I also had a great time doing it. The zip line course taught me not only to believe in myself and my own abilities but it helped me realize the importance of encouraging others, especially if they are having a difficult time. Who would have thought that I would find so much encouragement from people I had only known for three days?

With that said, I really believe that this experience has helped me to break out of my comfort zone, try new things, and interact with new people. This is only the beginning of ELP but I can already see a change in myself. Now not only have I made new friends but I also have the confidence to face any challenge and push through any obstacle. I know that this program will benefit me in both my college and future career by helping me to develop the necessary skills to become a leader. I really feel like I’ve found a new family in ELP and I am very excited to continue with the program. 

To learn more about ELP and how to apply for Fall 2013, please visit:

photos by Robert King Kee 

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Life-Changing Summer in China

Joanna Irizarry-Zaraza, a Psychology major in the Verrazano Class of 2013 and Verrazano Study Abroad Scholarship Recipient, returned from a rewarding study abroad program in China and shares some of her experiences.

Wisdom Path, Hong Kong
As I arrived back in New York from China, I realized that life as I once knew it had changed.  I could not believe how quickly I was able to adapt to Chinese culture during my study abroad program, and now that I have arrived back to my hometown I do miss living in China.  I struggled to adapt to the American lifestyle when I returned.  When I first came back I was happy to see my family, but I also could not stop thinking about my new extended family that I grew to love.  I thought returning home would be the easy part of my entire experience, but I learned that I was wrong.  I had to go through the same adjustment period that I did when I first arrived in China earlier in the summer.

Getting on the Dragon Boat
Studying abroad was very rewarding.   I feel as though I accomplished many of my personal and professional goals.  I was able to leave my loved ones and the culture I am used to and appreciate the lifestyle in another part of the world.  After my experience I am able to better understand Chinese culture, and this will be beneficial for me since my minor is Chinese Studies.  Also, going to China has been my dream since I was a child, and now I have been able to achieve this personal goal.   I am a psychology major, and I think this experience will also help my professional goal of becoming a counselor in the future.  I have become more of an observer after learning to appreciate the culture of China, and I have become more sensitive to cultural values.
Visiting the Big Buddha in Hong Kong
Throughout the trip I read a lot about China's history, and I also had the pleasure to see and experience what I read about.  I learned about Buddhism and went to many different Buddhist temples as well as the Big Buddha in Hong Kong.  I learned about the Silk Road and its importance to China's culture and values.  The transportation of goods along this route allowed the people to interact with different cultures, religions, and belief systems.  Xi'an was the starting point of the northern route of the Silk Road, and it was a beautiful city full of history.  One important location we visited there was the Muslim Quarter.  Muslims lived there with the Han and build a Great Mosque which I was able to visit.  There are streets full of vendor food, clothing, and other souvenirs.  

Another place I visited was Yellow Mountain.  I hiked for more than eight hours and made it to the highest point of Yellow Mountain; this was an accomplishment because I did not believe I was physically in shape to do it.  However, I pushed myself mentally and physically and completed the hike at the same time as the other students.  I also fulfilled a personal dream when I visited the Great Wall - a historical and famous site.  Just being there with its thousands of years of history was amazing.  Throughout this trip I learned a lot about Chinese history but was also able to relate by visiting the historic sites I read about in my classes. 
Celebrating my accomplishments at Yellow Mountain.
Yellow Mountain with my hiking buddy Zhi.

One aspect of the experience that I would have preferred to be different would be to study in an academic setting at a university in China.  Unfortunately I did not have that experience because my program consisted of a lot of traveling from city to city.  The entire month I was living in different hotels, and our class met in the hotel conference rooms.  After the trip I spoke with my friend who studied abroad in China on a program through the College of Staten Island instead of through Brooklyn College as I did.  She said that she had observed many differences; for example, she said that the university library was strictly for studying and students were not able to roam around the library and leave their stuff around or they would receive a ticket.  My friend also observed that the classroom setting was different and the professors were more strict and had higher expectations of the students in contrast to the United States.  My program was more of a self-taught class and did not provide experience in an international university setting as I would have liked. 
At the Great Wall

Something I came to realize was that it is challenging to communicate with others while living in a country that speaks a language you are not familiar with.  Although I know basic words and sentences, this knowledge only allowed me to ask questions.  Chinese is spoken with different tones at a quick pace, and it was very difficult for me to understand the answers to my questions.  Most of the time I asked Chinese students who came on the trip to translate for me, and they did for this for other students as well.  This has made me more sensitive to foreigners in this country.  My trip made me realize how much foreigners struggle to communicate with people and how frustrating that could be; I never thought about that before.

Fishing village in Hong Kong
I experienced some challenges and struggles after I arrived back in New York, but I also realized how much I had grown as a person.  One thing I struggled with the most was the time change and how jet-lagged I was for two weeks.  I would wake up when it was time to go to sleep and throughout the day I didn't have much energy.  After I returned home, I realized that the trip didn't affect my family the way it affected me, even though I told them all about it.  I learned a different way of looking at life than I had before I left for China.  I have changed and learned to have patience and to appreciate the life I have.  I have also changed in some ways such as having a greater appreciation for nature and being more independent.  I learned to appreciate family interaction more than I used to, and I have reflected more on my family background, history, and values than I did before.

At a Buddhist temple in Nanjing
Study abroad is an amazing experience. Not only do you push yourself from leaving your comfortable life and experiencing a different lifestyle, but you also come to realize your strengths and weaknesses. You learn to love and appreciate many things you are not aware of in your daily life.  I would recommend for everyone to study abroad in a country that you're curious about and enjoy the culture that you can only read about here.  I recommend the program that I did if you are willing to travel throughout China and have classes which are mostly self-taught. There are many advantages in being able to explore your interests within China and choose where to go and who to explore with.  Also, with this program you become very independent because you have to survive by socializing and interacting with local people.  I can honestly say that I would love to relive this experience many times over again and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in traveling throughout China.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Gaining Real World Experience Through a Summer Internship

Tori Brando, a Corporate Communications major in the Verrazano Class of 2014, interned at Magicx Studios over the summer.  Read more about her experience!

Tori Brando, Class of 2014
An internship is a wonderful opportunity for college students to gain some real world experience in the career field, build their résumés, and achieve knowledge about the field they hope to go into after graduation.  This summer, I had the pleasure to intern with Magicx Studios and learn a lot about the fields of web design, advertising, and marketing.  As a corporate communications major, Magicx Studios taught me so much about several different fields of advertising and marketing.  I learned how to write for advertisements, write for marketing campaigns, conduct a proper business meeting with clientele, produce commendable work in the field, use social media as a way of advertising and marketing, and how to utilize the Internet to create successful marketing campaigns.

My internship was beneficial to me for several different reasons.  One of those reasons was the networking I was able to do and the connections I was able to make.  I was able to make wonderful connections with the two owners of Magicx Studios who I worked closely with over the summer.  Since Magicx Studios is the largest and most successful web design and advertising company on Staten Island, I am very grateful that I was able to work with the owners through this internship.  Knowing and working with the Magicx owners might prove to be very useful to me post-graduation.  I also met several Magicx Studio clients throughout the summer who own successful businesses throughout New York.

One of my main responsibilities throughout this internship was writing, and because of this internship I have learned so many new skills.  Writing is one of the most vital skills in the work force today and I believe my writing has improved while working for Magicx Studios.  I have learned to write in more creative and imaginative ways and, most importantly, I have learned to write for advertising and marketing.  I was taught how to implement certain techniques to grab the readers’ attention and how to make my writing more accessible to readers and their wants.  I really learned how to put that marketing “spin” on my writing.

My internship this past summer was so beneficial to me and opened so many doors for me.  I made wonderful connections with exciting and successful businesspeople in my desired field, learned how to write for advertising and marketing, learned how to conduct a successful business meeting, and learned how to work in the field.  Additionally, I was able to start forming my résumé for after graduation and gain some essential knowledge about the inner workings of the field I hope to be successful in after I graduate from the College of Staten Island.  Interning turned out to be so beneficial for me and I hope my experience encourages other Verrazano students to see what interning can do for them.   

Are you interested in interning with Magicx Studios?
Magicx Studios Media Advertising is currently looking for interns in their Marketing, Editorial and Web/Graphic Design Departments.  Students interested in an internship opportunity with Magicx Studios should send a copy of their resume to Richard Krysztoforski, Career Development and Internship Specialist in the Career and Scholarship Center (1A-105), at Richard.Krysztoforski@csi.cuny.edu and indicate which position(s) they are applying for in the body of the email.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Memories of Paris

Alicia Jimenez, an English Literature major in the Verrazano Class of 2013 and a Verrazano Study Abroad Scholarship recipient, shares her reflections upon returning home from her summer study abroad experience in Paris, France.

Alicia (center) with friends at Monet's garden.
I haven’t been home for very long, but even before my plane left Charles de Gaulle Airport, I started to miss Paris. Home feels good, and I’m still adjusting to being back in the same way I had to adjust to Paris at first, but the excitement and thrill of being in Paris hasn’t left me yet, and I can’t imagine those feelings ever really leaving me. I can reflect on my trip and miss the city fiercely, and I can still love the city and love the experience that I had. My trip taught me a lot about myself and about what I’m capable of, and this knowledge has made me braver. I feel like more of an adult now, and I have all of my adventures in Paris to thank for that.

From planning and executing a day trip to Monet’s breathtaking Giverny, to climbing up to the tallest point in Paris at Montmartre, every experience was new and full of interesting people and situations. My literary dreams came true as I had the chance to sit in cafés that my heroes and idols had often frequented. I passed their houses, strolled the parks that they strolled through, and I felt very close to them as I did. Paris is where all of my literary idols became real people for me, and reading and writing about them as I followed their physical footsteps was an amazing experience. 

Sacred Heart (Sacre Coeur) Basilica of Montmarte
It is impossible to know a city completely in a month, but I absorbed as much of Paris as I could, alternating days of sightseeing and museum visits with more low-key trips just wandering around the colorful arrondissements. I learned the Paris Metro very well, eventually coming to prefer it to New York’s hectic and often unreliable subway system. For all of the criticism about Parisian style over substance (criticism which we discussed at length in class, of course), the inner workings of Paris ran like a well-oiled machine for me, and I feel fortunate to have gotten to know it.

Paris had always seemed like a dream to me, as if it only existed in movies and books. I came to Paris determined to treat it like a real city, to learn and experience the reality of it, and Paris did not disappoint me. I think every city is what a person makes of it, and some people may think that Paris is just a beautiful collection of old buildings and pretty lights: style over substance, as the critics say. I have been lucky enough to watch Paris light up from the boat on the Seine, and I see that Paris, that magical, glittering Paris. It’s breathtaking, and everything the movies says it is. But Paris is more than that. Our class was broad enough to show us different writers’ takes on Paris, and George Orwell’s Paris is different from Ernest Hemingway’s Paris. My Paris is different, too.
Alicia (right) and her roommate at the Orsay Museum.
My Paris smells like strong coffee and pain au chocolat, and it sounds like train doors slamming shut. It’s been only a couple of weeks since I returned, and I haven’t lost the memory of those smells or those sounds, and every day I remember a new small slice of Paris to tell my family and friends about. Everyone has asked me what my favorite place in Paris was, and every time I answer I think of a different place: the cool, hushed walls of Notre Dame, the rush of the crowd up at Montmartre, or the buzz and bustle of our favorite café at lunchtime.  I am very excited now to do more traveling and collect more versions of different places to keep with me, as I will keep my version of Paris forever. And I would definitely encourage others to do the same.