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City College names Class of 2020 Valedictorian & Salutatorian for first “Virtual Salute”

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, student success and recognition continue to be at the forefront of The City College of New York’s age-old mission. The 173-year-old institution announces the selection of Sabastian Hajtovic as its Class of 2020 Valedictorian. Isabella Joseph is Salutatorian.

Hajtovic is graduating summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA from the CCNY-based CUNY School of Medicine’s (CSOM) Sophie Davis Biomedical Education Program. The Queens resident has earned a BS degree in biomedical science as he continues work toward his MD from CSOM in spring 2023.

A member of CCNY’s Macaulay Honors College, Joseph is also graduating summa cum laude with a 3.94 GPA. She will receive a bachelor of architecture degree from the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture and is the first CCNY Salutatorian from the Spitzer School. She minored in anthropology.

Following are brief bios on CCNY’s Class of 2020 Valedictorian and Salutatorian:

Valedictorian Sabastian Hajtovic
Brought up in Rockaway Beach to a family of Turkish heritage, Hajtovic is described as a talented researcher and gifted student by mentors. His graduation honors include the Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence. He received the Rudin Research Fellowship in Dr. Linda Spatz’ lab for his work on molecular mimicry and cross-reactive antibodies in patients with lupus. He also received a Colin Powell Fellowship in Leadership and Public Service, under which he studied NYCHA housing conditions and asthma prevalence. He was also on the Dean’s List for his entire undergraduate years.

Hajtovic has shown exemplary leadership and excellence outside the classroom and lab, too. He’s served as treasurer, and is currently president-elect, of the CSOM chapter of Physicians for Human Rights, for which he’s coordinated an opioid crisis summit and Naloxone (opioid overdose prevention) training sessions. Hajtovic is also president of the Surgery Group at CSOM.

Other highlights of the Valedictorian’s accomplishments include serving as a BronxCare Hospital pediatrics department intern. There he designed a screening program for Social Determinants of Health.

As he works toward his medical degree, Hajtovic is interested in pursuing a surgical subspecialty. His interest in neuroscience peaked last summer during a six-week research fellowship at Istanbul University, working in a neuro-immunology lab and shadowing the neurosurgery department.

Salutatorian Isabella Joseph
Born of Indian immigrant parents in upstate New York, Joseph is a Macaulay Honors standout. She’s lauded in the Spitzer School of Architecture as “a model of the future student who pursues diverse skill sets to more effectively perform and address society’s myriad of issues.” She’s made the Dean’s list every year at City College.

Joseph helped revive the J. Max Bond Center for Urban Futures, the Spitzer School’s applied research center, and was recently part of a team that developed mapping resources for community boards 9 and 10 in response to COVID-19. She gained valuable experience as an architectural intern at the global firm Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) Associates collaborating with its design team on the Changi Airport Terminal 5 project in Singapore.

Her other accolades include being named a WX Women in Real Estate Scholar of Merit this April, CUNY Chancellor’s Global Scholarship in summer 2018; and the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) Greenbuild Scholarship in fall 2016.

Crossing disciplines, Joseph received a Climate Policy Fellowship from the Colin Powell School. Her work included co-writing a policy brief with teammates from economics and mechanical engineering on innovative financing strategy for resilience projects at NYCHA public housing developments. She is currently working on concurrent architectural and written thesis projects also dedicated to NYCHA housing in the architecture school and the Macaulay Honors College.

She aspires to become “a civically-engaged architect who not only designs and plans infrastructure projects, but also contributes my abilities, voice, and perspective to the most pressing issues of my time.”

About the City College of New York
Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided a high-quality and affordable education to generations of New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. CCNY embraces its position at the forefront of social change. It is ranked #1 by the Harvard-based Opportunity Insights out of 369 selective public colleges in the United States on the overall mobility index. This measure reflects both access and outcomes, representing the likelihood that a student at CCNY can move up two or more income quintiles. In addition, the Center for World University Rankings places CCNY in the top 1.2% of universities worldwide in terms of academic excellence. Labor analytics firm Emsi puts at $1.9 billion CCNY’s annual economic impact on the regional economy (5 boroughs and 5 adjacent counties) and quantifies the “for dollar” return on investment to students, taxpayers and society. At City College, more than 16,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in eight schools and divisions, driven by significant funded research, creativity and scholarship. CCNY is as diverse, dynamic and visionary as New York City itself. View CCNY Media Kit.


April 28, 2020 — A John Jay College of Criminal Justice project on cyber-terrorism is one of 13 selected by the Department of Homeland Security as part of the National Counterterrorism Innovation, Technology, and Education (NCITE) Center, a new DHS Center of Excellence. The project will be housed at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (see press release).

Goal “to prevent a potential ‘cyber-9/11.’”– Prof. Josh Freilich

John Jay College Criminal Justice Professor Joshua Freilich, along with Ph.D. candidate Emily Greene-Colozzi ’16, ‘22 and Master’s of Forensic Psychology student Karla Sosa ‘20 will all work on the project, which will study and aggregate ideologically motivated cyber-attacks.

“We are examining the social and developmental life histories of individuals committing ideologically motivated acts of cybercrime, or who harm virtual targets through the use of computer hacking and fraud, and targeted violence through online platforms,” said Professor Freilich was has been working on this over the past year with professors at Michigan State University. “Combined with research on the link between reporting of suspicious activity and pre-planning behavior, we hope to improve our cyber-listening abilities to prevent a potential ‘cyber-9/11.’”

“Working with the Department of Homeland Security, Professor Freilich and his colleagues will transfer their expertise researching violence in the United States to cyberspace, where they will search for patterns and evidence to help locate future cyber-terror threats,” said John Jay College President Karol V. Mason. “This is a great example of how John Jay’s criminal justice experts adapt and evolve their research to help solve new problems.”

This new NCITE project builds off an in-progress study funded by DHS through its center of excellence CAOE at Arizona State University. It will create a new, unique dataset – the Cyber-Extremist Crime Database (Cyber-ECDB) – which will track ideologically motivated cyberattacks against U.S. targets from 1998 to present.

Freilich, Greene-Colozzi, Sosa, and their MSU collaborators began compiling these data last year, using the same open source methods used to create both the U.S. Extremist Crime Database (ECDB), and the U.S. School Shooting Database (SSDB).

Consortium Members NCITE boasts a 63-person consortium across the U.S. and one international partner. In addition to John Jay, other experts are from Stanford University, King’s College London, University of Maine, Pennsylvania State University, George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, University of Central Florida, San Diego State University, Chapman University, Michigan State University, SUNY-Albany, University of Oklahoma, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska Medical Campus, the National Security Research Institute, and Research Triangle International.

About John Jay College of Criminal Justice  
An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York is a Hispanic Serving Institution and Minority Serving Institution offering a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. John Jay is home to faculty and research centers at the forefront of advancing criminal and social justice reform. In teaching, scholarship and research, the College engages the theme of justice and explores fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit www.jjay.cuny.edu and follow us on Twitter @JohnJayCollege.

Elected Officials Address NYC College Students’ Pandemic Concerns

New York Elected Representatives and New York City college students discussed issues facing college students in the age of COVID-19.

Student representatives from Young Invincibles — an organization that addresses issues of health care, higher education and economic security for young adults — shared their experiences as New York City college students living through the pandemic.

Topics covered included access to mental health services, housing and food insecurity as well as emergency funds for struggling students.

New York State Assemblymembers Deborah Glick and Harvey Epstein fielded student questions, with both emphasizing the need for a federal bailout to allow for CUNY and SUNY systems to best support students. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has warned that budget cuts to higher education, K-12 and healthcare may come soon if the federal government does not provide additional funding.

Mental health resources proved to be a key concern for students. However, Glick explained that even with additional funding, counselor availability on college campuses may remain an issue.

“We have to get federal bailout dollars and if they arrive, [counselor availability] will still be a problem,” Glick said at the event. “The flip side is that this crisis has made people realize the inequities in our society and the fact that people like myself are not struggling the same as people in minority communities or as young people are struggling.”

Glick emphasized that while mental health resources on campuses may remain elusive, the state has set up a mental health hotline for which 10,000 mental health professionals have volunteered their time to take calls.

Around 78% of CUNY enrollment are minority students and before the pandemic around 48% of 22,000 CUNY students responded to a survey saying they faced food insecurity, making these students especially vulnerable to the financial and emotional tolls of COVID-19.

While mental health resources were a hot-button topic, City College of New York senior Marcia Collier, who attended the town hall, said that in her experience, housing insecurity has been the biggest concern that students face. Before the pandemic 14% of CUNY undergraduate students were experiencing homelessness, according to a media advisory.

“I know a few students who are borderline homeless, they’re moving from place to place and there is no assistance at all with help,” Collier told WSN. “The only option you have is to stay in the dorms, which is only available for a certain amount of individuals and it’s extremely expensive.”

In addition to housing insecurity and limited access to mental health services, Hunter College senior Tanisha Williams raised concerns regarding access to food pantries for college students dealing with food insecurity in New York City.

“As campuses close access to food for many students is harder than ever especially as food pantries are closed or offer extremely limited hours,” Williams said before asking representatives what they can do to open up access to food pantries for college students. “Meanwhile, the state’s investment in food pantries has not increased since 2018 and very few college students enroll in food stamps.”

In April, the city approved $25 million to be allocated toward emergency food providers.

Representatives Glick and Epstein agreed that the Grab-and-Go programs implemented by the city should have been based on college campuses. Glick also raised that food pantries should be open to all university students, regardless of which school they attend. This measure would have been especially useful for NYU students facing food insecurity, as the university does not have a food pantry.

“Students who have a school ID should be able to go to any campus,” Glick said. “The city has not put any of the Grab-and-Go on campuses which would have been helpful in those neighborhoods where the campuses are and I don’t quite understand why they didn’t do that.”

Paola Cruz, a Columbia University student, added to the conversation that university emergency funds have also proven difficult to access for students who have applied. She cited a friend whose application was denied.

“For some colleges the emergency funds have already existed, but the demand is very high as students and families lose work while potentially taking on new expenses like internet access or computers to make sure they can keep up with classes,” Cruz said at the event. “We also know that the federal government is sending money to New York’s colleges for emergency aid as a part of the CARES act. These emergency grants funded from the CARES act must address urgent needs students may be facing from housing to childcare to accessing food.”

However, Senator Robert Jackson emphasized that private universities with large endowments, like Columbia University or NYU, should be able to provide for students in need.

“As far as endowment, Columbia University has billions of dollars in endowment so they should be able to set aside X amount of dollars when it comes to cash for food, for housing,” Jackson said during the session. “Columbia — I don’t know if they’re doing that. They have a huge endowment to do that, whereas the City College comparatively does not.”

While discussion centered around meeting fundamental health and safety needs, Williams also brought up concerns that money awarded to students through the New York State Tuition Assistance Program may be put in jeopardy by budget cuts or suffering GPAs due to the financial and emotional strains brought by COVID-19. Assemblymember Epstein assured students that they would work not only to protect TAP awards, but also to extend funding.

“If you can’t get your four years, your eight credits from the TAP, we need to ensure that students have additional time and additional semester of TAP not losing that opportunity,” Epstein said.

But the question of budget cuts still hangs heavy in the minds of CUNY college administrators and students. Young Invincibles advertised a petition at the end of the call, demanding that Governor Cuomo not follow through on plans to slash education budgets in the coming months if a federal bailout does not appear.



Without in-person classes, many students have essentially gone missing, teachers say

GREENVILLE, S.C – Most of Shasta Looper’s fourth-grade class has been in regular contact with the teacher, but about 15% of her students haven’t been turning in assignments.

And there’s one student she hasn’t heard from since the Blythe Academy in Greenville, South Carolina, closed in March to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

“That one student is still at the forefront of my mind,” Looper said. “That’s been really difficult, I think, for a lot of teachers. For those kids that you can’t reach, you have no idea what they’re experiencing.”

In a survey of about 4,000 South Carolina teachers on April 1, only 17% said they had contacted all of their students. About 21% of the teachers said they had been in contact with less than half of the students in their classes.

Based on that survey, state Superintendent Molly Spearman told a panel of leaders that she estimates between 4% and 5% of students — or about 31,000 to 39,000 — have been unaccounted for since public schools closed.

Even the students who have made contact with teachers aren’t all keeping up with their work, leaving educators to wonder what knowledge students will have retained if and when they return to classrooms in the fall.


News Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/education/2020/05/04/coronavirus-thousands-students-sc-not-doing-their-school-work/3078809001/

Effective Marketing Tips For Building Business Brands

#1 Product Packaging


First impressions matter and brands are always judged by their product packaging. When we talk about product packaging we don’t only mean literal packaging — packaging can also refer to your menu design, logo, layout of tables, outdoor signage, etc. Something as simple as having your brand’s logo engraved on all cutlery can make a big impact on your customers.


The stirrers you place in cocktails could also be used to showcase your brand logo at popup events. People will be reminded of your bar each time they see it. You can hire professional designers, like Designhill, to help you create the most effective logo for product packaging. Such professionals can customize the logo to your requirements so it can be showcased on business cards, digital ads, marketing emails, napkins, pens, etc.


#2 Center Your USP in Everything


Perhaps your business partners or angel investors are funding your idea because they know it has a lot of potentials. The biggest potential the majority of investors look for is a UPS (Unique Selling Point). A USP can be anything from using only vegan-certified ingredients, making the best pizzas in town, offering the fastest food delivery service, accepting unique payment methods (eg. Bitcoin), etc. You should always showcase your brand’s USP on all packaging and marketing materials.


#3 Start a Blog


Any good SEO strategy begins with a blog. Ideally, the blog should be hosted on your own website. You should also ensure the blog is integrated with all other social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, so that every post gets as many eyes as possible on it. All content on the blog should be written for readers, not just search engines. If you can afford a moderation team, opening up the comments sections on posts can help to improve customer engagement.


A blog can be one of your business’s best channels of communication where you can cultivate a massive following from people interesting in your brand. A good strategy to grow your blog is to partner with popular food bloggers and influencers and ask them to submit guest posts that they will share with their own audiences.


#5 Use Email Marketing


Create an email marketing campaign and set up a monthly schedule so content sent out is relevant to the season and sufficiently spaced out. E-mailers are easy to send — all you need is an email list containing current and potential customers. Send mailers about competitions, new product offerings, discount coupons, specials events, etc. to keep the audience engaged.


#6 Embrace Social Media Marketing


Do you understand the impact of choosing the right Twitter profile header design has on your online marketing efforts? Global companies like Burger King and Starbucks are famous for being tech-savvy and relatable to today’s generation as they have a presence on all social media platforms, including Reddit, Instagram, and Foursquare.


Instagram is arguably the best platform for businesses in the Food & Beverage industry to thrive. Take a look at Proper Popcorn who have got it right. People love to click on photos of food. You can post photos of all the dishes your venue serves and encourage your customer to post reviews with photos of their meals.


#7 Host Events at your Venues


You can host seasonal or annual special day events, such as Valentine’s Day celebrations, St. Patrick’s Day parties, Mother’s Day specials, Easter Egg hunts, Christmas parties, etc. The events can be advertised both online and offline — think posters, fliers, newspaper ads, social media platforms, and more. The amount your spend on marketing will depend on the scale of the event. Hosting events is a great way to build brand awareness and get people talking about your business for all the right reasons.

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