The Verrazano School Honors Program at CSI, home to the College’s co-valedictorians and salutatorian this Commencement year, celebrated its largest graduating class to date at the Verrazano Senior Convocation in the Center for the Arts on Friday, May 17.
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There are 56 graduates in the Verrazano Class of 2013, the program’s fourth graduating class, representing 20 different majors. The evening featured remarks by Professor Charles Liu, Director of The Verrazano School, as well as Provost Fred Naider and Associate Provost Deborah Vess.
Professor Liu provided background piano music before the start of the Convocation, and he entertained the guests throughout the event.
Noorelhoda Mahmoud and Nicole Wallace were selected as this year’s class speakers through an application process.
The ceremony concluded with the awarding of Verrazano certificates and honor cords to each graduate, and then graduates and their guests made their way over to the Green Dolphin Lounge for a dessert reception to cap off the evening. The dessert reception, catered by Jodi Merendino and her staff, kept with the Verrazano tradition of including an assortment of sumptuous, homemade miniature pies with the Verrazano “V” on top. The reception offered an opportunity for students to celebrate with their families and friends, professors, CSI administrators, and Verrazano alumni.
Verrazano students are very involved during their undergraduate years, and this class is no exception. Graduates participated in more than 2,000 hours of community service at organizations including public schools, the Salvation Army, the YMCA, Silver Lake Nursing Home, Project Hospitality, Eden II, Staten Island University Hospital, Sea View Rehabilitation Center, Million Trees NYC, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Meals on Wheels, Families Helping Families, Regional Food Bank, Hurricane Sandy Relief, and numerous Verrazano and other campus activities.
Over the past four years, Verrazano graduates participated in internships, locally and nationally, at organizations and companies including the Walt Disney Corporation, the Discovery Institute, Con Edison, Fraunces Tavern Museum, the New York County DA’s Office, the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum, Staten Island University Hospital, the Hilton Garden Inn, the Grace Foundation, the NYC Economic Development Corporation, Conde Nast Publications, and the NYS Assembly in Albany. Graduates also explored the world through study abroad programs and conferences in countries including Ecuador, France, Italy, Morocco, and Spain.
In addition to graduating with Verrazano honors, many graduates completed honors theses and projects in disciplines including business, communications, English, history, and psychology, and participated in undergraduate research in many fields. Six students are graduating summa cum laude, the highest Latin honor awarded to students based on cumulative GPA, and three students are graduating with a perfect 4.0. This year, the College of Staten Island’s co-valedictorians, Christopher Bitetto and Evelyn Okeke, as well as the salutatorian, Christina Terracino, are all graduating from The Verrazano School.
The Verrazano School serves all majors, and Verrazano students benefit from smaller class sizes and priority registration, additional support from faculty, scholarship opportunities for study abroad and research, and personalized advisement and career and graduate school preparation.
The Verrazano School also offers its exceptional, highly motivated students added assistance and guidance in pursuit of internships, research, and community service opportunities. However, none of that would matter if the students themselves were not motivated to make their experience on campus a memorable one.
Verrazano students strive for success, and a significant number of Verrazano graduates will pursue master’s degrees at the College of Staten Island as well as other CUNY schools, Adelphi University, New York University, McGill University, St. Johns University, and SUNY Downstate. Evelyn Okeke, one of this year’s co-valedictorians, will be attending Robert Wood Johnson Medical School to pursue a PhD in Molecular Biosciences. In addition, Verrazano graduates have been accepted to doctoral programs in optometry and physical therapy. Other Verrazano graduates are pursuing career opportunities at Clove Lakes Rehabilitation Center, Staten Island University Hospital, and Viacom International.