Student Speakers Set the Tone As Queensborough Celebrates Its Distinguished Honorees At The 2015 Partners For Progress Gala

Honors student Kyle Chin-How, who will graduate this spring with an A.S. degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences, opened the program portion of the Partners for Progress Gala, noting “I will graduate from Queensborough with a vision uniquely defined.”

Kyle is one of three outstanding Queensborough students to be awarded a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. They were chosen out of 90 scholars selected from 2,061 applications representing 540 community colleges from across the U.S. The award is the largest private transfer scholarship and provides up to $40,000 per year to help cover a significant share of the student’s educational expenses. Queensborough is the first among all CUNY colleges to have three simultaneous winners of this prestigious award.

Kyle is a leader and mentor both on and off campus. He is a member of the Lambda Sigma Chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society and carries a 3.8 GPA; he is a Model Senator in the NYS Session Senate Project, has held leadership positions in the College’s Student Government Association, and he is an intern with the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG); Kyle established “Talk Out Loud,” a student public speaking group at Queensborough and he is also a mentor to students of Men Achieving and Leading in Excellence and Success (M.A.L.E.S.).

Kyle’s remarks were among many shared by students at Queensborough’s Partners for Progress Gala 2015, which was held last evening at Terrace-on-the Park in Flushing Meadows Park, Queens. Approximately 500 guests convened for the event, including corporate, community and business leaders, alumni, faculty, staff, students, retirees, friends and legislators.

Other students who addressed the guests during the evening included Tia Wright and Tony Jackson, 9th grade students in the Business Technology Early College High School (BTECH), a new and innovative six-year education program that was developed through the partnership of Queensborough Community College, multinational software corporation SAP, the New York City Department of Education and The City University of New York (CUNY). The initiative enables students to earn a high school diploma and an associate degree in either Computer Information Systems or Internet Technology. The BTECH School provides applicable experience in the business technology field for students enrolled in BTECH.

“It is wonderful that all of you have come together tonight to support our students,” said Dr. Diane B. Call, President of Queensborough Community College. “Students like Tia and Tony, who are on their way to a Queensborough degree; those like Kyle, who are currently enrolled, and those who have graduated and become our alums. Your investment in the students and programs of your community college will continue to provide annual returns as our students are not only the workforce of tomorrow, but they also become our community leaders, our neighbors and our friends. We are also extremely proud that our students can compete academically and win on a national level. Tonight you will learn more about our students’ stories and our distinguished Honorees who have made such a difference in the lives of our students.”

Corporate Partner of the Year
Francis W. Korzekwinski, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Real Estate Lending Officer, Flushing Savings Bank

Frank Korzekwinski is Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Real Estate Lending Officer at Flushing Bank, a New York State-chartered commercial bank and subsidiary of Flushing Financial Corporation in Lake Success, New York. In 1993 he was named Assistant Vice President and Loan Officer of Flushing Bank, a position that launched his career in finance and real estate services. As Assistant Vice President, he initiated a commercial real estate lending business that has led Flushing Bank from a local, mutually owned savings bank with $600 million in assets, to a publicly owned commercial bank with $5 billion in assets.

Mr. Korzekwinski grew up in Queens and began his college career at a community college, which he described as “an opportunity for self-reflection; it allowed me to learn more about myself and to think about my choices from an educational and professional standpoint.”

Mr. Korzekwinski continued his studies at Long Island University, C.W. Post campus, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, primarily focusing on Finance and Economics. Mr. Korzekwinski’s connection to Queensborough Community College began when he joined its Business Advisory Council four years ago. Since then he has met with groups of students, including those students on the Fed Challenge Team, who are interested in pursuing careers in finance and banking. Several Queensborough students have successfully applied for internships and position openings within Flushing Bank.

Art Gallery Partner of the Year
Liren Wei, Managing Partner, Wei, Wei & Co., LLP

Liren Wei first learned about Queensborough Community College several years ago when he attended the opening of a major African art exhibit at the QCC Art Gallery. The high caliber of the show and the Gallery’s acclaimed permanent African Art collection left a powerful impression on him.

Over the years, as Mr. Wei became a frequent visitor to Queensborough, he observed that, “The gallery is an extension of the classroom, where students are free to learn hands-on; exploring various artistic forms and cultures. I strongly believe that such enrichment translates into improved academic performance, and increased retention and graduation rates.”

Mr. Wei grew up in Queens and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Baruch College of The City University of New York with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting. Today, he is the managing partner of Wei, Wei & Co., LLP a successful, full-service accounting firm he founded with his brother in 1995. The company is the largest Chinese-owned Certified Public Accounting firm in the United States with offices in New York and Los Angeles, and also an office in Beijing. Mr. Wei, a Certified Public Accountant, advises clients on a wide range of businesses and industries, including banking and finance.

Alumna Partner of the Year
Vicki C. Kasomenakis, C.P.A. ’81, Memorial Tribute

Associate Professor, Business Department, Queensborough Community College

Professor Kasomenakis was a successful accountant, financial planner and accounting professor at Queensborough Community College for nearly two decades. She was held in the highest regard by the entire college community and by her peers throughout the Greater New York City region.

She was also an alumna who returned to Queensborough and gave back to the academic institution that provided the groundwork for her many outstanding achievements. She had often said, “Queensborough inspired me to be what I am today.”

Professor Kasomenakis began her academic career at Queensborough where she received her Associate degree in accounting in 1981. Her professor and mentor, Laurence Cohen, encouraged her to continue her education at Queens College and Long Island University. Between 1987 and 1992, Professor Kasomenakis pursued studies in various aspects of accounting, finance and business administration, setting the stage for a highly diversified career. Upon receiving her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Accounting, she earned additional designations, including Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Certified Senior Advisor (CSA).

As a celebration of the impact and importance of philanthropy in enriching the educational experience of students, special proclamations were given to the Honorees by elected officials, including Borough President Melinda Katz and New York State Assembly Members, David Weprin, Nily Rozic and Edward Braunstein.

All funds raised by the Gala will benefit Queensborough Community College (QCC). Scholarships will be awarded to students so they can access, attend and complete a degree at QCC, giving them an extra edge to find a career and earn a living wage. Funds will also be used to enrich the student learning experience by supporting Faculty Development, the Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives (KHRCA), the QCC Art Gallery and the Queensborough Performing Arts Center (QPAC).

The annual Partners for Progress Gala is hosted by the Queensborough Community College (QCC) Fund, Inc. The officers of the QCC Fund, Inc. are Chairman Mark Kupferberg, Kepco, Inc., Vice Chair Charlene Prounis, ʼ76, Flashpoint Medica who also serves as Chair of the foundation’s Edge for Success Campaign, Treasurer Charlotte Biblow, Esq. , Farrell Fritz, P.C., and Secretary Patricia Tiffany, Flushing Bank who also served as Chair of this year’s Gala.

Ranked in the top 100 community colleges among approximately 1,200 community colleges nationwide by Community College Week, the College is committed to open-admission access for all learners and to academic excellence. Queensborough is one of the most diverse campuses nationwide, with students coming from 143 different countries, speaking 84 different languages. The ethnicity of the student body is almost evenly split among African Americans, Asians, Caucasians and Latinos. Queensborough is a critical gateway into higher education for many students who are the first in their families to attend college.

Queensborough Community College, a college of The City University of New York, is located on a lush 37-acre campus in Bayside, Queens, New York. The College was established in 1959 on the former site of the historic Oakland Golf Club and offers a rich liberal arts and science curriculum as well as career and pre-professional courses. The College’s transfer programs are designed for students who plan to continue their studies at a four-year institution. Career programs provide the academic foundation and training for students who plan to begin or advance a promising career. Queensborough offers the Associate in Arts (A.A.), the Associate in Science (A.S.) and the Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degrees, as well as non-credit Continuing Education programs. More than 16,000 credit and another 10,000 Continuing Education students are enrolled at Queensborough. Nearly 70 percent of graduates transfer to senior colleges or universities, and others obtain the necessary skills for career advancement.

The College has several Dual/Joint Degree programs with its sister CUNY institutions: Nursing with Hunter College, York College and CUNY School of Professional Studies; Biotechnology with York College; Criminal Justice, Forensic Accounting and Forensic Science with John Jay College of Criminal Justice; and Education with Queens College.

The College is also dedicated to providing cultural and artistic opportunities to students and the community through the Queensborough Performing Arts Center (QPAC), QCC Art Gallery and the Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives.