cunny matters logo


May 2002
Future CUNY Facility on Governors Island Announced by Governor and Mayor.
Student Media Conference Addresses "Attack Mentality" after 9/11
Baruch Orients City Council Freshmen
Turning "D"s into Degrees: A CUNY Student Tells How
Life Resumes 500 Feet from Ground Zero
A Diaspora of CUNY Students into Halls of Power
A View to a Krill: Antarctic Expedition by College of Staten Island Scientists
The City University Attracts Talent from Near and Far
CUNY, PSC Announce Agreement on a New Contract
Chancellor Goldstein Initiates New Efficiencies, Greater Student Access to Learning Technology
Pulitzer Prize to Louis Menand
Executive Leadership Program Inaugurated
First Betty Shabazz Chair Appointed at Medgar Evers College
City University Retains New Fundraising Consultant
Former Congressman Dellums to Speak on AIDS at CCNY
City Tech Scholarship For All Four Seasons
Major CCNY Grant for Remote Sensing

Student Development, Enrollment Conference by Mayor

ReBuilding New York

New City College Biomedical Engineering Department

"Trailer Heroes" of BMCC Build at CCNY

A Life of Laura Bridgman—Disabled Pioneer in Education

Exotic Bird Alights at The Graduate Center


A Diaspora of CUNY Students into Halls of Power

City Council Finance Committee Chair David Weprin, seated, conferring with intern Damion Noel, left, former intern Marie Adam-Ovide, and intern Hemraj Singh in his Queens district office. Photo, Rob Klein.
After coming to the United States from Haiti in 1986, at the age of 14, Marie Adam-Ovide attended Tilden High School in Brooklyn and then headed for City College with the hope of studying architecture. But after spending several years out of school caring for her cancer-stricken mother, she returned to campus with interests that had shifted to politics.

While working toward her CCNY B.A. in Political Science, Marie heard about the CUNY Internship Program and applied. Little did she realize this would lead her, in a few short years, to a full-time position in one of the most important offices of the New York City Council. She now manages the calendar of newly elected City Councilman David I. Weprin, chair of the Council's Finance Committee, which has become all- important as the Bloomberg administration and City legislators face the challenge of the 9/11 aftermath and the simultaneous economic downturn.

Marie's Fall 2000 internship was with Weprin in his position as leader in a north-east Queens district that encompassed parts of Hollis, Queens Village, and Fresh Meadows. There, she says, "I learned all about its community boards and police precincts, and became familiar with the people in the constituency." After the internship, Marie worked with Weprin's predecessor in City Council District 23, Sheldon Leffler, then in subsequent months as a volunteer on Weprin's own campaign for the office.

On the jubilant evening of Weprin's election, he popped the question: would Marie like to join his staff full-time. As Weprin explains, 'I was so impressed with Marie's energy during the internship, and then, afterward, when she went above and beyond the call of duty and volunteered to work on the campaign. She never said ‘no’ and was really performing so many of the functions of a legislative assistant.”

Having become hooked on 'knowing what's going on in government from the inside,' Marie accepted the offer with delight, and now she is honing her diplomatic skills as Weprin's chief scheduler.

Asked if she might be tempted into public service herself, Marie. 'Oh, yes! But not any time soon." Referring to her two-year-old, Patrick, she explains, "My son wouldn't have a mother! I have seen how much time running for and holding elective office demands—all the functions and long hours. That leaves very little time for family life." For 34 years, since 1968, the CUNY Internship Program has been ushering students like Marie Adam-Ovide into the halls of power throughout the five boroughs, at City Hall, up in Albany, and on Capitol Hill.

The name was officially changed last year to the Edward T. Rogowsky Intern-ship Program in Government and Public Affairs, in honor of its late, greatly admired director from 1995 to 2001. One of Rogowsky's former Brooklyn College interns, Anthony Alexis, was so inspired by the experience that he actually ran for City Council himself last fall in Brooklyn's District 41. Though he lost in the primary, Alexisà campaign proved so impressive that the eventual winner, Tracy Boyland, hired him as her full-time chief of staff.

According to the present director, Anthony J. Maniscalco, in a typical year about 300 CUNY students, mostly juniors and seniors, become interns. They may serve in district attorney offices, with advocacy groups like the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), in the offices of local and state government officials, or those of Congressmen like Gary Ackerman, Major Owens, and Vito Fossella.

Every summer 12 Rogowsky interns head down to Washington for a two-month tour of duty, and this year, Maniscalco says, "there is a banner number of 26 spring interns serving in the State Legislature in Albany." He is also pleased that Rogowsky interns will soon be emanating from CUNY's community college campuses. Borough of Manhattan Community College became the first to come onboard in Fall 2001, and efforts are under way to bring the other community colleges into the fold.

All interns enroll in a three-to-six-credit weekly seminar course in Political Science or Public Affairs on their home campus, while agreeing to work 10 to 15 hours a week in their assigned office. More than a third of these students exercise the option to register for a second internship in a succeeding semester. For Rogowsky interns, the highest praise is the offer of a full-time job, and Maniscalco says with pleasure that examples of this happy segue "occur all over the place."

He notes, for example, the full-time hire of Jennifer Hom, a former York College intern, in the district office of Democratic Representative Nydia Velazquez, then tells of a current intern, Rasheida Smith, also from York College. Smith must have made a very good impression on new District 27 Councilman Leroy G. Comrie, because in mid- internship he offered—and she accepted—a full-time position in his Queens office (Smith will continue her York course work).

In 2001, three Washington interns remained in their assigned offices as full-time employees. Two others were offered full-time positions but decided to return to New York to complete their studies.

For the Rogowsky Internships, the highest compliment is the government official, legislator, or executive who comes back for more. Councilman Weprin has fallen eagerly into this category. "It's a great program, and I'd love to see it expanded," he says. "What with limited full-time staff capacity, my office at 250 Broadway simply could not function without them, and my new responsibilities as Chair of the Finance Committee make their presence even more valuable."

Now helping to keep Weprin's Broadway office functioning is Christine Falbe, a confirmed lover of the city who arrived from Cincinnati at age 17 to study jewelry design. Restless after earning her Fashion Institute degree in that field, Christine moved on to Baruch College, where she is a junior majoring in Finance and Investment. She has clearly landed in the right office.

Weprin has also just gained a second Rogowsky intern, one of the pioneers from BMCC, Damion Noel. Damion, who arrived from Trinidad just eight months ago, is a Business Management student on the Chambers Street campus. His prospective area of interest is finance: he, too, has clearly landed in the right office.

Just completing an internship with Weprin is yet another Rogowsky intern, Hemraj Singh, a native of Guyana who is graduating this June in Political Science from York College. Singh, who plans to work after graduation and then hit the law books, earlier interned with Queens State Assemblyman Michael Cohen.

Falbe and Noel are among the approximately 50 CUNY students working for City Councilmen this spring. In addition, the Internship Program placed CUNY students with each of the five Borough Presidents, as well as the office of Betsy Gotbaum, New York City's new Public Advocate.