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Summer 2002
CUNY Biologists Cultivate New Medicines
Remarkable June Grads Break the Mold
Major CUNY Response to Nursing Shortage
Harlem Hospital Leader a Role Model for Salk Scholars
"Votes Rebuild New York" Campaign Launched
Goldstein “Closeup” On Honors College Governors Island, High Schools
CUNY ANNOUNCES 9/11 Memorial Competition
CCNY Engineer Honored by the Nation

Seminar-in-a-Book Ponders 9/11

From "Ground Zero" Rapper to City Council Candidate
Turning Anger into Literature
Model City Council Planned in the Fall
Highlights of 2002-2003 State Adopted Budget
Two New CUNY Trustees Appointed
Biomedical Engineer Wins Guggenheim
City University Leading Producer of Hispanic Graduates
The Challenge of AIDS in Africa
Bilingual: College French, Scientist's Latin
Presidential Appointments for Queens and York Colleges

Queens College Artist Adds New Passion to His Palette

El Diario-La Prensa Editor Honored at Model Senate

Intel Chief Plunges into Memory

Dual Citizen of the Pen

"Opticals" for Woody Allen, Illustrations for Mother Nature
CUNY Faculty Experts on Post-9/11 Response Listed on Web Site
 
 

Remarkable June Grads Break the Mold

Mathematician Freeman A. Hrabowski III
Mathematician Freeman A. Hrabowski III, President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, gave the keynote address and received a D.H.L. at the Brooklyn College commencement.
Among the marquee names headlining the round of Spring 2002 City University commencement ceremonies were Senator Hillary Clinton, who addressed BMCC graduates at Madison Square Garden, the former Surgeon General David Satcher, the speaker at the CUNY Medical School, and, in one of her rare speaking roles, the soprano Jessye Norman, who addressed graduates of John Jay College. Former president of the Dominican Republic Leonel Fernandez Reyna was the featured speaker for Lehman College, while former Mayor David Dinkins addressed CUNY BA grads at Cooper Union’s Great Hall.

A notable theme among the 21 exercises that took place from May 24 to June 10 was remembrance of the World Trade Center attacks. Frederick Curry accepted an award on behalf of his wife Beverly, a College of Staten Island student who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald. Police and Fire Commissioners Raymond Kelly and Nicholas Scoppetta accepted the President’s Medal on behalf of uniformed responders at City College’s commencement.

Brilliant humanitarian or artistic accomplishment was honored as well by a wide array of degrees honoris causa. Queens College honored its longtime champion, former Borough President Claire Shulman, and master dancer Marion Cole. Brooklyn College celebrated the careers of two alumni: the cinematic man-of-all-work Paul Mazursky and media journalist and financial analyst Myron Kandel. Among those receiving laurels from the Graduate Center were feminist author Gloria Steinem and Rachel Robinson, founder of the Jackie Robinson Foundation. Medgar Evers College posthumously honored jazz drummer and scholar William “Willie” Jones, for whom the College’s Jazz Archives have been named. City College honored architect Frank Gehry.

The great cause for rejoicing was not on the dais, however, but in the audience among the mortarboards and shiny new class rings. University officials estimate that slightly more CUNY students—about 29,000—will earn degrees this commencement season, from certificates up to the doctorate. As always, there are among these new graduates some life stories that deserve an A+ for courage, determination, creativity, or sheer serendipity. Following here is but a small sampling of some graduates this year who cracked the mold on their way to a commencement procession.


Xavior and CSI grad Courtney Gross
No Lazy Dog Days at College of Staten Island

At age ten, in spite of more than two dozen eye operations, Courtney Sue Gross entirely lost her sight. Passionate about reading, however, she whizzed through Grades I and II of Braille in a mere five months and went on to a stand-out career in elementary and high school.

Then came the banner year of 1999, when she graduated from a cane to Xavior, a male golden retriever seeing eye dog—and matriculated into the Honors College of the College of Staten Island, turning down an offer from Barnard College. Having arrived at CSI with 16 college credits, Gross was able, in just three years, to earn her Bachelor’s in psychology, specializing in forensic psychology and maintaining a 3.87 GPA.

“CSI’s professors have been encouraging and supportive, providing guidance, opinions and insights,” comments Gross, “and have always encouraged me despite my blindness, and were willing to give their assistance, even if it didn’t directly involve class matters.” After graduating from CSI’s Honors College—not to be confused with the new CUNY-wide Honors College inaugurated in 2001—Gross will begin work in the fall toward a Master’s in forensic psychology at John Jay College.


Violinist Pierre Constant in action.
Constant Loyalty to City Tech

Some time back, Daniel Constant and Gessie Castel, both natives of Haiti, met at New York City Tech as math tutor and student. They married, Gessie graduated, becoming a registered nurse, and Daniel became a City Tech adjunct in math. Fast forward: their three children Pierre (18), Daniel (17), and Jessica (14) are now all City Tech students, and all three are also taking the musical world by storm as the Constant Family String Trio. When they performed at the Kennedy Center last fall in a program honoring the publisher Katharine Graham, Washington's mayor proclaimed "Constant Day."

Star among these prodigious progeny, for the moment at least, is Pierre Constant who, in addition to appearing as violinist and violist on the concert stage, is receiving an Associate's degree in computer information systems. He registered at City Tech at age 13, after a perfect performance on the CUNY admissions test. In order to look older on campus, he conceived the perfect disguise: a business suit, garb he has continued to wear. His proud family watched him march in the College's June 3 commencement procession.

Pierre plans to continue his two-part invention of a career. This fall he will continue on at City Tech for a bachelorés and is also enrolling at the Juilliard School, majoring in performance. "My goal is to become a soloist for major orchestras," Pierre explains. "While I'm doing that, I would like to work for a major computer company."




Ariunkhishig Gonchigdorj pressing the
flesh on the Mongolian campaign trail for her father.
Fan of Mongolian Democracy

Mongolians have had just a little more than a decade to acquire the taste for democracy, but they have done so with real enthusiasm. In spite of its nomadic, scattered population and obstacles like the Gobi Desert, 86% of the electorate trek to the polling booth, putting American voters to shame. Hunter College economics major Ariunkhishig Gonchigdorj—“a brilliant student, one of the best I have ever had,” says professor Cordelia Reimers—hopes some day to run for office in her native land.

Like father, like daughter: he played a major role in the democratic revolution, served as a member and speaker of its Parliament, and just last year ran for the presidency. Ariunkhishig took a leave to campaign for him. Though he lost, she speaks enthusiastically of the experience, caravanning to every Mongolian city. The Astoria resident came to the U.S. at age 16 to study English, transferring from Utah Valley State College to Hunter in 1999 because of its strong pre-med program. Economics caught her fancy and she changed majors.

Last summer Ariunkhishig interned at the Central Bank of Mongolia, and she is now taking master’s-level classes. Her future plans include a few years in Mongolia teaching part-time and working at the Central Bank, a return to the U.S. for a Ph.D. in economics, and then… the voters.

 

Mildred and Lynn Schaefer
Adriana Espinosa
One Day, One Family— Two Ph.D.s

Mildred Schaefer brought a lot of life experience to bear on her sociology dissertation, “Factors Related to Outcomes of Drug Abuser Participation in a Prison Therapeutic Community.” For six years (until federal and state funding was cut), she taught college courses in one minimum- and two maximum-security New York State prisons.

She thoroughly enjoyed the experience. “There were the usual jokes about my captive audience, but I felt it was really their intelligence that was captive,” she recalls. And Mildred—whose B.A. was in anthropology and Master’s is in sociology (both from SUNY New Paltz)—also liked the challenge of teaching courses in Race and Ethnic Relations and the Sociology of Women to her all-male classes.

On May 30 both she and her daughter, Lynn Schaefer, received doctoral degrees from the Graduate Center. Lynn’s studies were in psychology, with a concentration in neuropsychology, and she completed her dissertation on “Visual Selective Attention in Alzheimer’s Disease” while coping with newly born twins.

 

Stopping Traffic with a Ph.D.
V incent Henry has pulled duty directing traffic recently—it comes with the NYPD job, even when you’re a 19-year veteran of the force. But Henry has in recent years been performing heavy surveillance in another precinct: the B. Altman Building. At the Graduate Center’s May 30 Commencement, Henry received his doctorate in Criminal Justice.

The first police officer to be awarded a Fulbright Fellowship (in 1989) and the son of an officer, Henry’s eerily prescient dissertation is titled, “The Police Officer as Survivor: The Psychological Impact of Exposure to Death in Contemporary Urban Policing.” Though he completed it before 9/11, Henry was soon watching his theories tested throughout the city. Not surprisingly, that other B. Altman resident, Oxford University Press, has snapped the dissertation up for publication. Not yet finally titled, the book will not be Henry’s first, however: just out in early May is a college textbook, The Compstat Paradigm: Management Accountability in Policing, Business, and the Public Sector. Compstat is a statistics-based form of police deployment introduced in New York City during the tenure of Commissioner William Bratton, who wrote the foreword for Henry’s book. When, in the fairly near future, he turns in his badge, Henry hopes to be directing traffic in a college classroom.


Adriana Espinosa
Ushering the GAO into e-Government

Adriana Espinosa got high marks
from the Comptroller General of the General Accounting Office for a report she submitted on the agency’s Web presence and the challenges of e-government. She produced the report during a CUNY Rosenberg/ Humphrey internship two summers ago in the Office of the Chief Economist in the nation’s capital. Among her findings: it was difficult to locate GAO information via a typical search engine.

Last summer, Espinosa was one of 29 students who attended the American Economic Association’s summer Minority Program at the University of Colorado. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, she was also valedictorian at the City College of New York’s 156th commencement on May 31.

“The opportunities City College has given me helped me to grow in ways I never thought possible.” This fall Espinosa takes with her two major fellowships—a Graduate Opportunity and a Ford Founda-tion—as she begins advanced economics study at the University of California at Berkeley.

 

Marcia Devoe
A Classic Case of Career Shift

Though Marcia DeVoe arrived in the city from Missoula, Montana, to study art at the Pratt Institute, she found herself thumbing compulsively through her grammar books from high school Latin rather than haunting the studio. Heeding the call of the ancient world, DeVoe soon transferred into Brooklyn College’s famed classics department, where (as a 3.98 GPA indicates) she excelled in spite of a serious car accident that required strenuous rehabilitation to a shattered foot. She was a member of the College’s Honors Academy and the winner of a Beinecke Brothers Scholarship. Last summer she spent on archaeological digs in Greece and Turkey.

Missing the canine companionship of rural Montana, DeVoe has also worked as a dog groomer for seven years (now as a trainer of apprentices), managed a Manhattan boarding kennel, and now heads an organization that finds new owners for abandoned dogs.

In the fall DeVoe is headed for the nation’s top classics program at the University of California at Berkeley, which has offered her one of its most generous graduate fellowships. Her field will be Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology.

 

Rena Jordan
Subtle Racism Creates a Historian of Race

After earning an Associate’s in Media from Brookdale Community College, Rena Jordan worked for 10 years on television sets, in film studios, and on radio stations. She recalls witnessing plenty of “incidents of subtle racism and overt sexism” and feeling she “needed a way to understand and articulate the complexities of those events.” So Jordan returned to school at Brooklyn College, where one course in particular, titled “Reading Race,” opened her horizon. “Reading Jefferson, Susan B. Anthony, and Frederick Douglass gave me insight into American society and a desire to participate in a more meaningful way,” she says. For a Project Ascend/McNair research project she examined the influence of religion on the activists Sojourner Truth and Fannie Lou Hamer. A Mellon Minority Fellowship helped her to produce another essay on Sojourner Truth and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

But Jordan expects her first book to emerge from her current work conducting oral history interviews of African-American soldiers who married European women in World War II. The cum laude CUNY-BA graduate in American history, who was also a Belle Zeller Fellow in 2000, heads this fall for doctoral study in history at Princeton University, where she has been awarded one of its Presidential Fellowships.

 

Seymour Honig
Diploma at 83 for KCC Booster

Hey, Seymour, thanks for all your computer help!” a student calls out to Seymour Honig as he crosses in front of the Kingsborough Community College Library. “I get that all the time,” says Honig. “I love helping out the younger students. I say I may not have a B.A., or a Master’s, but I’ve got a CS degree—common sense.”

One of 2,000 “My Turn” program students over 60 who are served each year at KCC, Honig was born in 1919 and served in WWII. Afterward, he had to cut his education at NYU short to support a family on the “good money”—$1.60 an hour—the Post Office was paying. After a 27-year stint, he retired and began attending KCC with his wife 12 years ago.

“These have been the best years of my life,” Honig says, “I love the facilities, location, attitude, and family feeling; it’s my home.” The campus has become even more a home, since his wife now must reside in a health care facility.

Honig earned his 2002 Associate’s degree in the KCC Travel and Tourism program, where he has helped to develop the Meeting and Planning Virtual Enterprise business at the College. This program allows students to work in virtual businesses much as a pilot or a police officer does in a virtual cockpit or street simulation.

Honig feels he has learned so much from his KCC professors. “I’ve never had a bad class. Each teacher provides a unique perspective and I learn from all of them.”

“Even after I graduate, I’m going to keep taking classes. Maybe I’ll go for a degree in computers. Kingsborough is my salvation.”