CUNY’s Truman, Goldwater and Thurgood Marshall Scholars

For the third consecutive year, a student from the Macaulay Honors College of The City University of New York was today awarded a prestigious 2007 Harry S. Truman scholarship, the latest in a string of CUNY students who have been honored with national awards, including three 2007 Goldwater Scholarships and a 2007 Thurgood Marshall Scholarship.

Christine Curella, who investigated urban planning in China, Argentina, India and New York City as a Macaulay Honors College student at Hunter College, joins 2006 Truman winner Ryan Merola of the University’s Macaulay Honors College at Brooklyn College, and 2005 winner Claudio Simpkins of the Macaulay Honors College at City College who is now attending Harvard Law School.

Five Truman Finalists

CUNY garnered five Truman finalists—including four Macaulay Honors College students, the most of any college or university in the nation. The University of Chicago and West Point placed four finalists apiece; Harvard, Annapolis, Stanford and Northwestern Universities, had three apiece; and Yale and Princeton Universities, had two.

Three more CUNY students, including 2005 National Intel Science Prize first place winner David Bauer, have been awarded prestigious 2007 scholarships from the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. Bauer, of the Macaulay Honors College at City College, was honored along with Itamar M. Belisha of City College and Miriam B. Ginzberg of Queens College. They join two others from City College and Queens College who have won Goldwater scholarships in the last three years.

Additionally, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund recently awarded a Marshall Scholarship to Louise Anderson, a CUNY Baccalaureate student who graduated magna cum laude from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in January.

The awards come as the University continues an impressive seven-year streak of enrollment gains, topping levels that have not been seen in more than three decades. In spring 2007, approximately 224,500 students enrolled at CUNY, the highest spring enrollment since 1976.

Chancellor Matthew Goldstein stated: “I wish to congratulate Christine on her extraordinary achievement in being named a Truman Scholar. CUNY students have now won this highly competitive award for three years in a row. CUNY had more finalists this year than any other university in our nation. This attests to the outstanding academic quality of our students and to the support they receive from our world-class faculty.”

The Chancellor added, “We are especially proud of our students who won highly-coveted Goldwater Scholarships, also the third year in a row that our students have been so honored. Our Thurgood Marshall Scholarship winner is the second in the past three years.”

The 2007 Truman Scholars were elected by nineteen independent selection panels on the basis of leadership potential, intellectual ability, and likelihood of “making a difference” in public service. Each Truman Scholarship provides $30,000 for graduate study.

Curella recently returned from a semester-long study abroad program in cities of Argentina, China, and India, where she explored the inequities of urban development and the connections between local conditions and the global economy. After a summer-long internship in Africa and completing her senior thesis on environmental justice, Christine plans to pursue degrees in International Affairs and Urban Planning to create diverse, equitable, and inclusive communities around the world.

Curella’s public service includes stints as a special assistant in the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, as an assistant to the chairman of the Erie County (N.Y.) Fiscal Stability Authority, at the NYC Department of City Planning as a special assistant in the executive office, and with the Institute of International Education as a special assistant to the president. In 2003 she was named a “Rising Star” by Women’s Day Magazine in its “Women Who Inspire Us” special edition. She has studied in Germany under the Bridge to Berlin program, and in South Korea with Project Bridge to Korea.

Hunter College President Jennifer Raab said: “We at Hunter congratulate Christine Curella on being chosen as a 2007 Truman Scholar. This honor is testament to her hard work, outstanding leadership abilities, and excellent academic record.”

Macaulay Honors College Dean Ann Kirschner said: “Christine is an outstanding student, whose insatiable thirst for knowledge has taken her to distant countries. Her intellectual curiosity, global perspective, and wide-ranging interests are absolutely emblematic of Macaulay students.”

Goldwater Scholarships, offered to sophomores and juniors in the United States, cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

City College Goldwater Scholar Belisha is majoring in electrical engineering, and hopes to earn a medical degree and a doctorate in electrical engineering. His goal is to conduct research on neurological disorders. Goldwater Scholar Bauer, a chemistry major whose goal is to earn a doctorate in the field, plans to pursue a career in academic research. He is interested in conducting research to apply fundamental principles of bio-organic chemistry to the larger fields of structural biology and medicinal chemistry.

City College President Gregory Williams said: “As the home of The City University of New York’s flagship science and engineering programs, everyone at The City College joins me in saluting David and Itamar’s achievements.”

Queens College Goldwater Scholar Ginzberg is a chemistry major who hopes to earn a doctorate in biochemistry. Her goal is to teach and conduct research in pharmaceutical materials science that focuses on using nanotechnology/advanced materials to develop new medical technologies.

Queens College President James Muyskens said: “Miriam Ginzberg’s passion for research on biosensors puts her at the intersection of materials science and biochemistry, an area of expanding knowledge and discovery. A young woman with extraordinary focus and initiative, Miriam embodies all that we value most in our students.””

Thurgood Marshall Scholarships, based on merit and financial need, awards approximately $2,200 per semester for graduate study. Anderson, a therapeutic facilitator who runs her own business, returned to school shortly after 9/11 to complete her degree. Her area of concentration, “Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice,” was comprised of 10 courses at John Jay College in anthropology, drama, political science, psychology and sociology.

John Jay College President Jeremy Travis said: “It is a great honor for John Jay to have one of its students win the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship. John Jay and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund are both committed to preparing a new generation of leaders. This scholarship affords Louise Anderson the opportunity to realize her potential.”

In addition to the winner, here are profiles of the other four 2007 Truman Scholarship Finalists:

Paul G. Dana, a student at Hunter College who is enrolled in the CUNY Baccalaureate Program, is preparing for a career in the field of international social justice. An independent learner and thinker, he is driven to make positive changes in the world and has a passion for social justice and peace, particularly in Israel and Palestine. Through the CUNY Baccalaureate Program, Paul was able to create an independent study that allows him to earn credit working outside the classroom organizing a “reality tour” of Israel and the West Bank. As a Labor Studies student at Queens College he worked a hands-on 32 hour-per-week internship at one of the nation’s largest labor unions while taking three night classes related to labor studies. Beginning in middle school he chose to be home schooled in order to pursue his passion for the environment through his studies. At high school in San Diego, California, he attended school part-time and traveled the country registering youths to vote in the 2004 presidential election because of his passion for getting young people involved in the election.

Ethan Frisch is a Macaulay Honors College student at CCNY who is enrolled in the CUNY Baccalaureate Program. Each summer since he was a high school freshman Ethan has traveled abroad on community service and study programs, taking him to seven countries on five continents. From an orphanage in Ghana to a free-lunch school cafeteria in Argentina, a fourth grade classroom in South Africa, and a soccer field in Costa Rica, children have been central to his experiences abroad and have had a profound impact on his CUNY Baccalaureate career. Ethan has a deep interest in why conflict takes place, how it affects the people involved, and what can be done to resolve it. His fascination with the role that education and children have in conflict led him to design two Areas of Concentration for his CUNY BA: “Conflict Studies” and “Education and Social Change.” He intends to spend time between his graduation from CUNY and graduate school working in the developing world in the fields of conflict and education. Following graduate school he plans to work with children affected by violent conflict, focusing on education and educational systems. Eventually, he hopes to have a leadership position addressing the need for education for such children. Ethan works at Family Care International, which promotes reproductive health, rights advocacy, and education in the developing world, with a focus on women and children. He interns at Common Cents, which runs the annual Penny Harvest program in 750 schools around the city that teaches children the value of community service; and he is an after-school science teacher in two elementary schools for grades K – 2.

Christopher Hue, a Macaulay Honors College student at CCNY, attended Francis Lewis High School and gravitated toward the Macaulay Honors College because of its strong academic programs and the diversity of the student body. A class in “Research Methods and Biostatistics” helped him appreciate the interface between engineering technology and medicine.

Christopher credits Professor Luis Cardoso Landa, who taught a class in “Dynamical Systems and Modeling,” for being a strong influence because of his enormous dedication to his work and to his students. His current independent study project, funded by NASA, is to build a minimally invasive bio-monitor. It is designed to be suitable for use by astronauts and includes electrocardiography and UV radiation sensors. Christopher plans to attend medical school and get a degree in public heath, with a focus on bringing innovative medicine to developing countries. He enjoys playing the piano and singing and volunteers teaching music to patients at Mt. Sinai Hospital.

Julia Yang, a student at the Macaulay Honors College at City College, is majoring in International Studies and Political Science. Her academic interests are varied, but lately she has been consumed by issues related to immigration, voting rights, civic participation, and education. At City College, Julia is the founder and director of Partners in English (PIE), a volunteer-based program that matches English-speaking volunteers with limited-English proficient students. She is also an intern at the Asian-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, working on various projects related to Voting Rights. During her freshman summer, Julia interned at the Center for Law and Social Justice, a community-based research and advocacy organization located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. During her sophomore summer she interned at the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank located in Washington, DC.


Ryan Merola, who was named a Truman Scholar in 2006, is a Macaulay Honors College student at Brooklyn College who is studying philosophy and urban politics. He has conducted research on municipal government election reform and the effectiveness of the New York City Charter Revision Commission in amending the New York City Charter. Ryan is preparing for an eventual career in New York City, focusing on government reform, and plans to pursue a JD/MPA to better his understanding of policy within the context of the law.

Claudio Simpkins was named a Truman Scholar in 2005 and is presently enrolled in Harvard Law School. He majored in political science and philosophy at the Macaulay Honors College at CCNY. Claudio credits the Macaulay Honors College and CCNY for helping him develop communications and interpersonal skills that enabled him to excel in the Truman competition. In 2004 he led CCNY’s Model United Nations Team to the award as an Outstanding Delegation at the National Model UN Conference, a competition among 245 universities from 22 nations. A graduate of Grover Cleveland High School, he moved to New York from Charlotte, North Carolina, when he was 16.


April Mojica was named a Thurgood Marshall Scholar in 2005. She graduated from Medgar Evers College and majored in English. April plans to continue her education in graduate school.

About The City University

The City University of New York is the nation’s largest urban public university. CUNY is comprised of twenty three institutions: eleven senior colleges, six community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College, the Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law at Queens College, the CUNY School of Professional Studies, and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education. The University serves more than 226,000 degree-credit students and 230,000 adult, continuing and professional education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program for 32,500 high school students is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 280 high schools throughout the five boroughs of the City of New York. The University has launched an on-line baccalaureate degree through the School of Professional Studies, and a new Teacher Academy offering free tuition for highly motivated mathematics and science majors who seek teaching careers in the city’s public schools.

The William E. Macaulay Honors College is a flagship program of CUNY that provides an enhanced undergraduate education to academically gifted students. Since its inauguration in 2001, the Honors College has grown rapidly, drawing on the unique resources of CUNY and New York’s cultural, scientific, government, and business communities to provide its students with a broad-based and challenging liberal arts education.

The City College of New York, founded in 1847, is the oldest college in the CUNY system. For 160 years CCNY has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. Over 13,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Science, the School of Architecture, the School of Education, the Grove School of Engineering, the Center for Worker Education and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education. Nine City College alumni have won the Nobel Prize, placing CCNY in the top ranks of America’s public colleges.

Hunter College, founded in 1870, is the largest college in CUNY with 21,000 students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees in more than 170 different programs of study. Comprised of several schools and centers, Hunter is an urban leader in educating a diverse student body and also maintains distinct leadership in educating women, providing educational opportunities for minorities, and conducting advanced research and study in disciplines across the academic spectrum. A pace-setter in serving the public through research on public policy questions such as aging populations, AIDS, and gene structure, Hunter also has stellar social work and education schools, as well as a top-rate health science program offering one of New York City’s few Bachelor of Science degrees in nursing.

Queens College prepares students to become leaders of our global society by offering a rigorous education in the liberal arts and sciences under the guidance of a faculty dedicated to both teaching and research. Students graduate with the ability to think critically, address complex problems, explore various cultures, and use modern technologies and information resources. With a faculty and student population that reflects the diversity of New York City, Queens College provides an unusually rich education.

John Jay College of Criminal Justice is an international leader in educating for justice, offering a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to more than 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. In teaching, scholarship and research, the College approaches justice as an applied art and science in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law.

The CUNY Baccalaureate was established in 1971 and is CUNY’s only university-wide individualized bachelor’s degree program. The Program is offered under the auspices of The CUNY Graduate School and University Center. Working one-on-one with CUNY faculty mentors, students create their own “areas of concentration” (majors), many of which are interdisciplinary. Examples include Disability Studies, Engineering Psychology, Marketing Anthropology, Middle Eastern Studies, Community Development and Technology, Artistic Traditions in Religion, and Environmental Biology. Students may take courses at any CUNY college, including The Graduate Center, The CUNY School of Professional Studies, and the CCNY Center for Worker Education. They are encouraged to pursue independent research, fieldwork, study abroad, and other academic opportunities.