CUNY Merit Scholars Honored at City Council ‘State of City’ Address

A talented group of CUNY freshmen Merit Scholars were lauded at City Council Speaker Peter Vallone’s annual ‘State of the City” address at City Hall on January 13 for their academic excellence and community involvement on campuses and neighborhoods across the city.

CUNY Interim Chancellor Christoph M. Kimmich and more than a dozen Merit Scholars representing CUNY campuses were congratulated by Speaker Vallone, who asked the group to stand and be acknowledged by the enthusiastic crowd that filled the City Council chamber.

“The CUNY Merit Scholars are the pride of New York City, as energetic, diverse and sharp as the city itself, ” Vallone said, in reference to the 4,392 students on 17 campuses who qualified for the scholarships. “I am honored to recognize them for their achievement and welcome them into a profound legacy. CUNY graduates have made a tremendously positive impact on New York and our investment in them is timely and wise.”

The theme of investment in CUNY as key to the city’s future was echoed by Interim Chancellor Kimmich, who said: “The Merit Scholarship Program is a prudent investment in the City’s future that will be re-paid many times over.”

The Merit Scholarship Program was created last year by the City Council, which allocated $7 million for the $1,450 annual scholarships. The scholarships are open to all incoming CUNY freshman who were graduated from public or private New York City high schools in the past year. Winners were required to have a high school average of 80 and successfully complete 10 College Preparatory Initiative credits in the 1998-99 academic year. In addition, Merit Scholars must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 to insure ongoing eligibility.

Merit Scholarship Winners


JESSICA RUBENSTEIN – is an 18-year-old graduate of the LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts, where she achieved a 90 average, thus receiving many academic awards. She also received a Perfect Attendance Award for 4 years at LaGuardia. Both of Jessica’s parents attended college; dad is an accountant; mom a homemaker. Baruch College was Jessica’s first choice for higher education and she will probably major in Finance and minor in Marketing. She is also a keen athlete who plays tennis, softball and is also an avid chess player. Her volunteer experiences include the 92nd Street Y, and the Guild for the Blind. Jessica lives in Manhattan’s Upper East Side and aspires to be a securities broker.


MOHAMED ANWAR -is an 18 year old native of Pakistan, who emigrated to the United States in 1996. He attended Christopher Columbus High School for two years, graduating in June 1998, where he was a top scholar. The oldest of three siblings, Mohamed is the first within his family to attend college. Mohamed won a New York State merit scholarship, and is attending his first semester at Borough of Manhattan Community College. He is majoring in computer programming, and he expects to continue his education at a senior college,towards his goal of becoming a Computer Programmer.


ANA REYES – is a 19-year-old graduate of the High School of Fashion Industries in Manhattan, where she won the Golden Needle for best garment design in the ” Fantasy” category. Ana was born in the Bronx of Dominican parents, and is the second member of her family to attend college, following in the footsteps of her older sibling. A fluent Spanish speaker, Ana lives with her mother, a paraprofessional, and her three younger sisters. An Art major at Bronx Community College, Ana plans to eventually transfer to the Fashion Institute of Technology and working towards he goal of becoming a Fashion Designer. At present, Ana works for the Old Navy Clothing Company. Ana stated that she chose CUNY, because of its affordability and closeness to home.


LILY GLATER – is an 18 year-old graduate of the Yeshiva of Flatbush High School and is a freshman in the Brooklyn College B.A.-M.D. program who has a strong interest in philosophy as well as medicine. The youngest of two children, Lily’s distinguished herself by qualifying for a CUNY Merit Scholarship, a Brooklyn College Foundation Presidential Honors Scholarship and a New York State Merit Scholarship. Lily pointed to the affordability and academic excellence of the Brooklyn College as key factors in choosing the CUNY program.


(SAM) KAR LEUNG SIU – is an 18-year-old graduate of prestigious Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan. He is a freshman at CCNY where he will major in Bio-Med . He hopes to pursue a career in medicine. Mr. Siu was born in Hong Kong and speaks Chinese, and is the first in his family to attend college. The Brooklyn resident, who has previously worked as a Counselor at the YMCA, and enjoys Dragon Boat Racing, had also won awards in organic chemistry and physiology while attending Stuyvesant. When asked about his decision to attend CCNY, Siu sited the great reputation for the program of choice, and the affordability of a CUNY education.


WANDY VASQUEZ -is an 19-year-old graduate of John F. Kennedy High School in the Bronx. Wandy was born in the Dominican Republic, and is the youngest of four siblings. His father, who is Puerto Rican, teaches Mathematics at a Bronx intermediate school. Mr. Vasquez’s primary language is Spanish, but he has since mastered English. His goal is to obtain a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. In addition to his scholastic duties, Wandy serves in the U.S. Army Reserves and is an active member of the Hostos Community College Veteran’s Club. He aspires to an administrative career in law enforcement.


JOHN BARRIERO – is an 18-year-old who began his freshman year at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Fall 1998. John graduated with honors from Tottenville High School in Staten Island. While at Tottenville, John successfully completed an advanced placement course in Sociology and was the recipient of two Scholar-Athletic Merit Awards and an Award of Excellence in Medical Technology. John speaks Spanish and was very active in community service during high school. John is majoring in Forensic Science and was selected for The Distinguished Freshman Program. His research interests are genetics and criminalistics. John plans to become a Forensic Pathologist.


XIAYING HO – is an 18-year-old graduate of the Fashion Industry High School. One of four siblings, and the second in her family to attend college, Xiaying, resides in the Bronx. She is fluent in Chinese. She intends to major in business and hopes to transfer to Baruch College to major in Business Management. Xiaying chose to attend LaGuardia, becauseshe was unable to leave her family at this point in her life.


JANE LIMA – is an 18-year-old graduate of the High School of Health Professional and Human Services. Her family speaks Spanish in the Astoria, Queens home she shares with her parents. The youngest of three, Jane is the first female in her family to attend college. Jane’s success in high school included induction into the National Honor Society and AP Spanish Honors. While working many part-time jobs, Jane also received honors such as: Who’s Who in American High School, 1997, and Volunteer Certificate for her work performed at Elmhurst Hospital. Jane plans to major in Computer Science and pursue a business career Jane also works full-time in a garment district showroom, commuting four days a week to classes at Lehman College in the North Bronx. Jane sited the cheaper cost, and the closeness to home, as her decision for attending CUNY.


JOHNATHAN TAYLOR – is a 17-year-old graduate of William H. Maxwell High School.The fourth child in a family of five, all men, Johnathan follows in the footsteps of his older brothers, who all attended college. Throughout his high school career, Johnathan has received numerous awards. Some sited were, Council of Supervisors and Administrators of the City of New York Leadership Award, Music Educators Association of New York City-Awards for Excellence in Music, HackettMedal for Excellence in Oratory, just to name a few. In High School, Johnathan was also active within the Student Government Organization, where he has served as President of his senior class, and President of HOSA (Health Organization Students of America. Jonathan wants to attend medical school, towards becoming an ER or Trauma Physician. His interest includes football, baseball, soccer, swimming, and singing in his church choir. Although Johnathan wanted to attend Morehouse College, he chose Medgar Evers because he wanted to remain in his church and his church community.


SHERIDAN RAYMOND – is an 19 year-old graduate of Sarah J. Hale H.S. in Brooklyn. The middle child of three siblings, Sheridan is thefirst to attend college. Both Haitian Creole and English are spoken in the home. A computer science major at City Tech, Sheridan wants to start her own computer programming business after obtaining her degree. In high school, Sheridan received awards inscience, math, computer science and English. She also received the Presidents, City Comptroller and Mayors Award for Academic Excellence. This Merit Award winner also served as a volunteer at the Legal Aid Society for one year, helping with family law issues.


DIEGO M DIAZ -is an 18 year-old graduate of Flushing’s John Bowne H.S. and is a freshman at QueensCollege. An only child, who grew up speaking Spanish, Diego is a native of Colombia whose academic goals include studying economics and sociology. In high school Diego was among 100 Hispanic students honored by Mayor Giuliani and was vice-president of his Hispanic Club. And continues to be active as a volunteer in his church and local YMCA


UZMA MAHMOOD – is an 19 year old graduate of Richmond Hill High School in Queens, where she received awards in Foreign Language, andKey Clubs Honors. Born in Pakistan, Uzma is now a permanent resident of the U.S., and she resides in Richmond Hill. She is one of six siblings and the second member of her family to attend college. She speaks both English and Urdu. Presently while attending Queensborough, she is majoring in Liberal Arts. She plans to transfer to Hunter College and major in biology, while pursuing her career in the Medical Field.


MARK A. JOHNSON – is an 18 year-old graduate of Brooklyn’s Transit Tech High School where he specialized in Electrical Installation. Mark currently works for Ernst & Young in the Administrative Support area. Mark was born and reared in Bushwick, Brooklyn where he attended both public elementary and high school. The only brother to three sisters, Mark is a first-generation college student who is pursuing a degree in Psychology and a minor in business. He intends to work toward a Ph.D. and become a Human Resources Recruiter. Since February 1998, Mark has been working full-time at Ernst & Young, one of the big four accounting firms, while simultaneously attending York College full-time.