Kristina Lagasca

Kristina Lagasca

2012 Summer Program Alumna

As I was growing up with family members who were involved in the medical field, I thought that medicine was meant for me as well. Almost every single one of my family members is a nurse and very few of them are not. Since becoming a nurse was a stereotype for Filipinos, I wanted to be a little different from the rest and strove to become a doctor instead.

During my first two years of college, people would ask me what my major was and I told them that I majored in Biology and double-minored in Chemistry and Mathematics with a focus on pre-medicine. I would get commended by them for my hard work and dedication that I had put into my studies. However, they didn’t know that I moderately hated what I was studying. Of course, the lessons that were taught in class were interesting, but not enough for me to want to pursue a career at all in medicine.

After my first year in college, I told my mother that I didn’t want to be a doctor anymore. In reply, she said, “Give it one more year, my child. You might change your mind.” After another year of trying, my answer remained the same—I wanted to change my major. When she asked me what I wanted to change my major to, I grew anxious and realized I didn’t even think that far. I felt like my life was over because, for a short time, I had no idea what I wanted to be or do. One day, I came across an old photo of me and my friends (Sam and Ovie) that was taken while we were in the STEM Institute. I remember our robotics class being challenged to build a robot and program it to do a specific task as a team of 3. That memory gave me an idea to try out Computer Science. I was unsure of my decision at first, but I thought to myself I should at least try it out before I decide it’s not for me. Ever since I made this decision, I have not looked back.

Through the years, I had the opportunity to work at Microsoft for 3.5 years, which had opened up more opportunities for me after I graduated. I currently work as a Network Security Engineer for Presage Security and I hope to grow with this company as I grow in my career. I am active in the Information Security community of Twitter and I love that each day, I learn something new in my field. I am currently studying for the AWS Cloud Practitioner certification to further advance in my career. Outside of work, I am passionate about my own and other people’s privacy. I make it my mission to inform my family and friends about the things that I learn in information security so that they can keep themselves safe from any online dangers.

Jenny Zhang

Jenny Zhang

2011 Summer Program Alumna

Jenny originally intended to take a pre-college calculus course at CCNY during the summer of 2011. Serendipitously, she was chosen to participate in the STEM summer research program funded by NASA and NOAA-CREST. Under the mentorship of Soe Hlaing in Dr. Alex Gilerson’s lab, she evaluated satellite sensor chlorophyll-a concentration algorithms with data collected from the Long Island Sound Coastal Observatory. Captivated by the research process, she returned to CCNY the following summer to investigate the downscaling of soil moisture and ocean salinity data and evaluate soil moisture estimates.

Throughout her undergraduate career at Skidmore College, she continued pursuing her passion for academic research and studied Spinocerebellar Ataxia, a neurodegenerative condition. She also found herself participating in research at an Essential Tremor lab at Columbia University, a genetics lab studying Inflammatory Bowel Diseases at Mount Sinai, and a Familial Dysautonomia clinical lab at NYU Langone. Eager to see how research findings could be translated to improvements in human health, she took on more patient-focused roles and began working at a neurology clinic and Skidmore’s student health center.

After graduation, Jenny worked as a research associate at Karim-Jean Armache’s epigenetics lab at NYU. Jenny’s work on understanding the structures of PRC2, a protein complex heavily implicated in various cancers, landed her authorship on a peer-reviewed paper in the scientific journal Molecular Cell.

Jenny is currently nearing graduation from a Master’s graduate program at Sarah Lawrence College in Human Genetics. She’s ecstatic that, as a genetic counselor, she can use her rich research background and provide both genetic education and psychosocial support to individuals all the while performing risk assessments for individuals and their families for the occurrence or recurrence of genetic conditions. She is currently interested in specializing in prenatal, neurogenetic, and cancer counseling.

Randy Nguyen

Randy Nguyen

2009 Summer Program Alumnus

Randy was very blessed to attend the STEM Institute for the summer during his high school career. The courses he took during that summer prepared him for classes that he would be taking during college, which made him have a strong interest and passion for sciences and the medical field. While studying at Hunter College for his biology degree, the hard work and determination he developed from the STEM Institute helped him achieve his goal of graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Biology.

After graduating from Hunter College, he was on his way to medical school and after studying two semesters at medical school, he had a strong vocation and calling to become a priest more than a doctor. He left medical school and entered the seminary to study for the priesthood. Overall, the success that he has today is all thanks to the STEM Institute, which helped build his confidence and knowledge as a student.

Larry Ramos

Larry Ramos

2012 Summer Program Alumnus

Larry Ramos was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to New York City at the age of 16. Not only can he have a conversation in English, Spanish and Portuguese, and understand cultural differences, but he can also assist students in exploring their passion for mathematics. While attending the STEM program at the City College of New York in the summer of 2012, Larry developed competence in mathematical strategies that intensified his excitement for the art of mathematics. Coming from a disadvantaged background where he barely had access to opportunities to practice and be exposed to mathematics, Larry had a free pass to explore his curiosity for mathematics and science. He spent the summer in Professor Pichardo’s precalculus class as well as in Mr. Kapoor’s physics class, learning strategies to approach STEM related problems efficiently and exploring pragmatical aspects of each discipline that would engender long-term benefits in Larry’s career.

Nowadays, Larry is a full-time graduate student at Teachers College, Columbia University, pursuing a dual Master’s degree in Mathematics Education and Special Education. Moreover, Larry serves as a Mathematics Tutor for the Harlem Children’s Zone, a non-profit organization that serves elementary, middle, and high school students from low-to-moderate income backgrounds. He teaches strategies to solve pre-algebra, algebra, and geometry using research based approaches.

His aspirations include: reaching the age of 65 without drinking a drop of coffee and establishing a foundation that focuses on early childhood development to provide educational opportunities for parents and children from underprivileged communities across the globe.



2006 Summer Program Alumnus

“I took part in a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) summer program at City College.  That experience would prove to be a defining moment. I learned a lot in math and physics than my other high school friends, and because of the support and great experience I had, I decided to study math at CCNY,” says Jian Liu.  

Jian Liu (刘健) is the Associate in Bilingual Education in the Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages (OBEWL) at the New York State Education Department (NYSED), leading different projects that support all stakeholders in English Language Learners (ELL) and Multilingual Learners (MLs) community. Before that, Jian was an Assessment Manager in the Office of Assessment at NYC Department of Education, leading different projects that relate to the assessments for NYC public schools, particularly the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT). Jian is also an adjunct assistant professor at New York University-School of Professional Studies. At an earlier stage of his professional career, Jian was a high school bilingual math teacher in Brooklyn. 

Jian, a Chinese immigrant, arrived from Beijing, China to New York in April 2005 with only basic knowledge of English. Within six months of entering the United States, Jian became a student leader in the Asian American Student Advocacy Project (ASAP), a youth leadership program at the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF). In 2007, Jian graduated as valedictorian and served as President of the Student Government at Lower East Side Preparatory High School (LESP), a transfer high school in Manhattan, and was awarded the 2007 Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Leadership Award from NYS Senator John C. Liu. In the spring of 2008, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer recognized him for his volunteer and leadership work in under-served areas of the city by awarding him a Civic Leaders of Tomorrow Public Policy Fellowship for his demonstrated commitment to public policy and advocacy. 

Jian earned his B.A. from the City College of New York (CCNY) in Pure Mathematics, an M.A. from NYU-Steinhardt as a Teacher of Mathematics 7-12 and was a Math for America 2011 Fellow. In 2015, Jian earned his M.S. Ed in Bilingual Childhood Education from City College. In 2019, Jian received his M.S. Ed in Educational Leadership and Administration at The College of Saint Rose

Carmen Beatriz Rodriguez

Carmen Beatriz Rodriguez

2011 Summer Program Alumna

Carmen worked as a Peer Mentor for the Bard Educational Opportunity Program for three years. She graduated with many awards and scholarships including the Bard College President Prize, the M. Susan Richman Senior Project Award in Mathematics, and the Hearst Foundation Scholarship.

Carmen got her bachelors in Mathematics from Bard College and presented her thesis on a mathematical-graphical model for living donor kidney exchange. Carmen realized she was more passionate about research related to advancing health and preventing diseases through biostatistical and epidemiological methods instead of engineering. Therefore, in the Fall of 2015, she started a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH).

During her time at CUNY SPH, Carmen worked on projects designing statistical methods for quality control of The Cancer Genome Atlas database and as study coordinator of epidemiological pilot studies about breast cancer screening at Columbia Medical Center, Department of Epidemiology at Columbia. After graduating with her MPH in 2017, she transitioned as a Research Project and Data Manager of several NIH/NIC-funded studies examining breast cancer screening and prevention in a racially and ethnically diverse population at Columbia.

She is starting her Ph.D. in Biostatistics in the Fall of 2021, where she will be working on developing biostatistical and data science methods with application areas ranging from cancer, epidemiology, precision medicine, and health disparities (especially among Latinx populations).

Keisha Barry MD, MPH

Keisha Barry MD, MPH

2006 - 2007 Summer Program Alumna

Dr. Keisha Barry is a board-certified family physician in the New York City area. She is compassionate and dedicated to providing the best care for her patients. Her interests include ambulatory care, health equity/health disparity research, quality improvement, obesity medicine, women’s health, breastfeeding, and community health.

Keisha served as President of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA). While at Sophie Davis School, Keisha volunteered at Brookdale Hospital, Harlem Children’s Zone and multiple health fairs in Brooklyn and Harlem. She also received many awards and honors, including the Hyman Merenstein, MD Excellence in Family Medicine Graduation Award, the Richard L. Day, MD Award for Excellence in Pediatrics, and upon graduation, the Sophie Davis School cum laude. Keisha also graduated from SUNY Downstate College of Medicine with a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) and Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in May 2017. She has conducted extensive research on breastfeeding disparities in the Black community, becoming a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) to assist families in setting and achieving their breastfeeding goals. Keisha completed Family Medicine residency at Northwell Health in Glen Cove and is now an attending physician caring for patients in Central Brooklyn.

Jaffarguriqbal Singh

Jaffarguriqbal Singh

2012 Summer Program Alumnus

Year Attended STEM Institute: 2012

Originally from Punjab, India, Jaffarguriqbal immigrated to the United States at the age of four. His passion for learning geared him towards finding opportunities to learn new topics. When accepted to the STEM Institute during the summer of 2012, he received a wider understanding of the potential topics in STEM. This experience helped him decide on a future career in medicine and science. After graduating high school, Jaffarguriqbal attended Hofstra University Honors College, where he received his Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry. While attending Hofstra, he gained valuable research experience in working in both organic and inorganic research laboratories. With the pursuit of becoming a physician in his mind, he wanted to use the knowledge that he gained at Hofstra to first contribute to a cancer research laboratory. After graduation, he accepted a position in Tyler Jack’s cancer laboratory at the Koch Institute at MIT. There he was able to learn new techniques to help diagnose and treat cancer. Shortly after, he helped start a new lab at Yale Medical School with Dr. Mandar Muzumdar. This is where he contributed to research that showed a correlation between obesity and the progression of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma as well as how to limit the progression of this disease in the early stages. Currently, Jaffarguriqbal will be applying to medical schools with the aim to become a physician. He hopes to continue the pursuit of learning in the field of medicine and science that he gained throughout his time at the STEM Institute.

Jaffarguriqbal recently had his research about the relationship between Pancreatic Cancer and obesity from Yale published in Cell as a co-first author. His research article publication can be access at https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(20)30395-0

Kristoff Misquitta

Kristoff Misquitta

2018 Summer Program Alumnus

Kristoff is a rising senior at Stuyvesant High School, at his young age (17) Kristoff served as the Co-head of Operations at the NYC Aerospace and is a valuable member at the NY Academy of sciences.

After joining the STEM Institute in 2018, Kristoff has led his scientific passion to run free and continues to thrive. He holds the award for the national Genes in Space competition 2020.

“His research about the capillary action in microgravity will explore why pharmaceutical drugs are less effective in microgravity. Specifically, he will investigate whether spaceflight-induced changes in liver function may underlie the observed changes in drug efficacy. Results from his project will help improve understanding of how spaceflight affects drug metabolism and could aid the design of more effective treatments for astronauts on long-duration spaceflight missions.” – ISS National Laboratory

Kristoff’s piece of advice for other STEM Students is to take advantage of the advanced classes offered in High-School, be on the lookout to find the right mentors, and especially to persevere and never stop questioning.

“Without a doubt, the STEM Institute taught me the vital skills needed to make my dream a reality”- Kristoff Misquitta

Kayla Steele

2007-2008 Summer Program Alumna

Kayla Steele, MD is currently a Pain Management Fellow at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN and a graduate of SUNY Downstate Medical School. She attended the STEM institute during her sophomore and junior years of high school where she took courses in Algebra, Physics and Calculus. Her passion for the sciences was continually fostered during her experience at the STEM Institute, which prompted her to apply to the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education at CUNY City College. While at Sophie Davis School she engaged in a multitude of research experience including bench work on gene proteins involved in mitochondrial diseases and took advantage of an international research project in Trinidad and Tobago where she studied the influence of advertisements on alcohol consumption in school aged children. She strongly believes that the early exposure to science and research obtained during her years at the STEM institute is what helped her to facilitate the research work she engaged in during her pre-medical and medical years. At SUNY Downstate she quickly discovered her passion for Anesthesiology which led her to engage in research as a summer medical student anesthesia research fellow in the use of ACE/ARB medications perioperatively and its effect on intraoperative blood pressure response to vasopressors. She was able to translate her passion for mathematics and sciences that materialized during her time at the STEM institute into a career in Anesthesiology, when she applied and matched to NYU Langone Health in Manhattan for Anesthesiology Residency. She recently graduated from NYU Langone Health and will complete her fellowship in Pain Medicine in June 2020.

Sashary Marte

2006-2010 Summer Program Alumna

Co-op: Sashary was a cross-functional team leader at Trane Commercial Systems where she effectively applied lean product development techniques to increase productivity and improve product quality of the centrifugal chiller. She also directed the formulation and execution of strategies to mitigate project risks.

Research: Sashary was able to broaden her engineering capabilities by gaining valuable research experience under Professor Jorge Gonzalez through NOAA – CREST. As an intern she developed her knowledge in the field of sustainable energy by learning how certain parameters, like climate temperature, can impact energy demands in places similar to NYC.

Employment: Sashary’s collegiate and professional experience led her to attain a position in the Engineering Development Program at Honda of America Manufacturing (HAM). At HAM she will be rotating through several departments where she will be involved in various projects designed to maximize her knowledge in engineering.

Bryce Marte

2007-2010 Summer Program Alumnus

I am a proud graduate of the STEM Institute at City College, where I spent four years studying. I later returned to the program as a Physics and Robotics Teaching Assistant for two years. STEM enabled me to hone my math and science skills and develop my passion for mechanical engineering. It also taught me how to work with and mentor others. By the time I graduated from high school I had already earned 10 college credits. As a student at CCNY I joined the Toyota Technical Center, as part of a one-year co-op rotation. I was a member of the Engineering Drive Trainee Design team where I developed a system to optimize design specifications for parts to meet press fit loads and ejection forces. During my second co-op rotation I worked as a transmission evaluation engineer, running worst-case scenario testing for six speed transmissions to evaluate failure mode. As side projects I also benchmarked and evaluated previous transmission design processes to recommend and implement improvements for Toyota transmissions.


I became a team leader of several projects while attending CCNY’s Grove school of Engineering, such as CANSAT – an international competition where we developed a miniature payload that would descend from 1.2 miles in the air on its own without the use of a parachute. I developed various skills, such as reverse engineering, manufacturing techniques, and most especially computer-aided design software. This sparked my passion for engineering design. Our design team was able to come up with a unique design, using an autogyro, which was able to land the payload safely. During my last semesters at City College, I led a team that completed two senior design projects – one of which won First Place for the Most Creative Design Award for Senior Design, and the other was patented by our sponsor Jack Abel of Watermark Design. I am also a recipient of the Kaylie Scholarship at GSOE and a Xerox Scholarship.

Leonardo Abbrescia

2009 Summer Program Alumnus

“The STEM Institute’s summer program in 2009 was a life changing experience for me, I took the fantastic Calculus I and II courses taught by Doris Pichardo and Mr. Dario Cardenas. Mr. Cardenas and Miss. Pichardo are two of the most talented and kind instructors I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and learning from; the STEM Institute really is fortunate to have them. The mathematical background provided to me by STEM allowed me to succeed in some of the most difficult math and science courses offered by my high school, Brooklyn Tech. With the knowledge and confidence I gained from STEM, I went on to take 12 AP exams and earned five 5’s and five 4’s and two 3’s. This was a key factor in writing a successful application to Columbia University, to which I was accepted.

I majored in Applied Mathematics in Columbia, and even with the exceptional start afforded to me by the STEM Institute; it was an extremely difficult transition to higher level mathematics.

The STEM Institute also taught me how to persevere and handle a large amount of stress and work. Without that under my belt, I am certain that I would not have been able to be successful in my undergraduate career. I went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Math in 2015 and wrote a successful application to the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Student Research Fellowship Program (GRFP), which provides an annual funding of $34,000 to doctoral students. I highly recommend every student in the STEM Institute to apply to the NSF GRFP if they ever decide to pursue a Ph.D. in science. Please feel free to ask me for help.

After graduating from college, I started my Ph.D. in Mathematics at Michigan State University as an NSF Fellow. My field of research concerns partial differential equations, which as a fun fact, uses many of the techniques I learned from Miss. Pichardo: the chain rule, the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, and Integration by Parts. I anticipate completing my Ph.D. in Mathematics in spring 2020. I have successfully written an application for an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship, which funds my postdoctoral work that I will start at Vanderbilt University in fall 2020. In the future my goal is to be a Professor of Mathematics at a college or university.

The takeaway from my story is that none of my accolades would have come to fruition had the STEM Institute not put me on the path to success. They have some of the best instructors in the world; it is an absolute privilege and honor to learn from them.”

Two pieces of advice:

  • Be modest, and never forget who has helped you along the way. It really does take a village to raise a scientist, engineer, or mathematician.
  • Pay attention in your English courses. I certainly wish that I had. If you think you will not need to be a good writer or have good reading comprehension skills, think again! In any career that you end up in, including any career in STEM, you will need to have communication skills. Your English classes are built for this.

Michael Amoako

2013 Summer Program Alumnus

Michael Amoako is a recent graduate from MIT with a major in Business Management and minors in Computer Science and Mathematics. He is originally from Teaneck, NJ and partook in the STEM Institute after his sophomore year in Teaneck High School (THS) on 2013. The STEM Institute served shape his career interests by surrounding him with many other brilliant students interested in the STEM field. This helped him get ahead on classes he’d later take in his final years at THS, allowing him to graduate as THS’s first African American male valedictorian.

He currently works as a Program Manager at Microsoft in their two year AI Rotation Program in which him and his teammates empower other teams at Microsoft using AI solutions. Michael’s next plan is to join Harvard Business School’s deferred MS/MBA program. His ultimate goal is to empower entrepreneurs who seek to make a positive impact on society and have strong interests in both social impact and technology-related entrepreneurship. Michael firmly believes in the value of mentorship and feels that a community will reach its full potential when those with desired experience and knowledge serve as mentors to others.

Emmanuel Hiram Arnaud

2006 – 2007 Summer Program Alumnus

Year(s) Attended STEM Institute: 2006 – 2007

“Hello! I am a proud STEM alumnus and recent graduate of Cornell Law School. I had the pleasure and honor of attending the STEM institute, where I participated in research on New York City air quality, using technology such as LIDAR (Light Imaging Detection and Ranging).  Although my current career is a departure from science, the STEM Institute instilled and further refined in me, the important values of hard work, camaraderie, and a love for learning. I applied these values to my High School studies, which helped me to gain admission to an Ivy League school, Columbia University. I majored in 20th Century United States History, and focused my studies on race relations, critical race theory, and urbanization. I was also involved in various leadership positions among student organizations and dedicated much of my time to giving back to communities of color.  It was difficult to adapt to the intensity and rigor of Columbia University, but the work ethic I developed in High School, and as part of the STEM Institute program taught me to never give up, and that I was capable of anything as long as I worked to the best of my abilities. After I graduated in 2013, I was admitted to Cornell Law School. At Cornell, I served as President of the Latino American Law Students Association (LALSA); an associate and notes editor of the Cornell Law Review; had my student notes published in the journal; and was on the Dean’s List. I am currently embarking on a one-year fellowship at Justice 360 – a South Carolina non-profit, dedicated to reforming policies and practices in capital proceedings – where I will be working on the defense of death row inmates who likely suffered constitutional violations. My first job will be clerking for Judge Nelson Roman of the Southern District of New York.  My passion for the law stems from my passion for my community. As a first generation American, the son of a Puerto Rican mother and Dominican father, I have witnessed, experienced, felt, and learned about the extreme difficulties of not just my ancestors, but of communities of color and other underrepresented communities throughout our country. I am no longer engaged in solving complex equations or attempting to discover new planets (I love astronomy), but my passion for the law is attributable to a simple lesson I learned at the STEM Institute: you must always give back to those who come after you. Working in the public interest sector of the law, and attempting to fight against systemic racism and the death penalty is my small way to honor that lesson”. -Emmanuel

Vickie Wu

2007 Summer Program Alumna

Vickie Wu, 2007 STEM Institute Summer Program Alum

Vickie Wu majored in Human Evolutionary Biology and minored in Global Health and Health Policy at Harvard University. Since very young she was interested in the medical field and was very involved in community building. She joined the STEM Institute summer program after her sophomore year in High School. After graduating in 2013, she worked in clinical research at Massachusetts General Hospital studying infants hospitalized with bronchiolitis and their risks of developing recurrent wheezing. A year later, she matriculated to medical school at Albany Medical College.

“My success today is due in part to the foundation that the STEM Institute helped me build as a young high school student. Exposure to college-level courses while being surrounded by other students who came from the same socioeconomic background that I did, with immigrant parents who spoke no English, showed me that social barriers to success can be overcome so long as there are opportunities (such as the STEM Institute) to inspire the young community”.

Jermaine Heath

2007 Summer Program Alumnus

Student Name: Jermaine Heath

Year(s) Attended STEM Institute: 2007

Jermaine, participated in the CCNY STEM Institute Summer Program in 2007, right after his freshman year of high school. He truly believes that his early exposure to advanced math and science courses through his participation in our program helped him cultivate an aptitude and develop a deep interest in STEM fields. After joining us, he even gained the confidence to take several AP-level courses later on in high school. While in college, he developed an interest in medicine and health delivery. He interned at Montefiore’s Care Management Organization in the Bronx/Westchester and worked on various care delivery innovations spurred by the Affordable Care Act. He was a Health Policy fellow at The Dartmouth Institute of Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, where he carried out research regarding care delivery innovations and their impact on patient outcomes in health systems across the country. He recently began medical school at Howard University and looks forward to combining clinical practice with research to inform future health reform efforts from physicians’ perspectives.

Willie Caraballo

1999 Summer Program Alumnus

Willie Caraballo participated in the CCNY STEM Institute Summer Program for the first time in 1999. When asked about how the STEM Institute influenced him, he exclaimed, “One of the main factors that helped me realize my interest in engineering and science was the STEM Institute. It’s because of this program that I got to know what engineering was about. Not only did I gain insight as to what engineering was all about, [but] it also gave me the problem-solving skills, along with the motivation, to do better for myself.”

Upon graduating from high school, Willie enrolled in The City College of New York to pursue a degree in Electrical Engineering. Soon after, he became involved in conducting research thanks to Mr. Marte, who mentored him while he pursued his undergraduate studies at the CCNY Grove School of Engineering.

With Mr. Marte’s support, Willie’s first research experience took place in the summer of 2002 at Stony Brook University under the guidance of Professor Thomas Robertazzi. Their research focused on determining whether a simple circulatory structure of probability flux, for a two-class Markovian priority queuing system, existed.

Milana Zirkiyeva

2007-2008 Summer Program Alumna

Student Name: Milana Zirkiyeva

Year(s) Attended STEM Institute: 2007-2008

“Greetings! I am a proud STEM alumnus and recent graduate of St. George’s University School of Medicine. I had the pleasure and honor of attending the STEM institute, where I participated in the summer programs and Robotics Program for 2 years. I double majored in Chemistry and Biology and had a minor in theology at St. John’s University. During the four years of undergraduate, I participated in medicinal chemistry and biochemistry research and volunteered as a research volunteer at the current NY Presbyterian Queens Hospital where I was a co-author of study regarding increased hospital admission in the elderly population. I was the Head Skull of Skull and Circle Honor Society, President of Watson’s Pre-health Honor Society, and Secretary of Earth Club.


After I graduated in 2013, I was accepted to St. George’s School of Medicine where I was able to complete 2 years on basic sciences in Grenada and then 2 years of clinical clerkships in NY. I was secretary and treasurer of the Jewish Students Association and participated in health fairs. For 3 terms, I was tutor for Biochemistry, Genetics, and Immunology. In the 3rd year, I was nominated into the Gold Humanism Honor Society. Soon after graduating medical school in 06/2017, I was a clinical instructor for 3 months at Kingsbrook Jewish Hospital Center and had an opportunity participating in guiding medical students completing their clinical clerkships. Later in 09/2017, I was fortunate to start my Internal Medicine Residency at Queens Hospital Center. Currently, I am almost done with my first year of residency. My passion for medicine is unexplainable and I look forward to making a difference on a daily basis” – Milana

Brian Victor Portelli

2008 - 2010 Summer Program Alumnus

Student Name: Brian Victor Portelli

Year(s) Attended STEM Institute: 2008 – 2010

“I was lucky enough to be able to attend the STEM Institute for multiple summers during my high school career. The courses I attended prepared me for classes that I would be taking in school and fueled my interest and passion for the sciences. One summer in particular, I learned how to code in Matlab and interned with a NOAA research team to investigate a real-world issue. This opportunity allowed me to gain research experience and helped to disprove a theory concerning the rising water surface area of Lago Enriquillo, a hypersaline lake in the Dominican Republic. Overall, participating in the STEM Institute at the City College of New York inspired me to understand the value of study and helped to give me the motivation to exceed expectations.

While studying for my undergraduate degree in Wheaton College, the hard-working and determined attitude that I developed during my summers at STEM served me well. In my four-year undergraduate career, I completed the required courses for my neuroscience major as well as additional pre-medical requirements, maintained a stellar record at my on-campus job, and accepted memberships to two national honor societies. In addition, I served as secretary for the Pre-Health Society Executive Board; founded and directed the Pre-Health Society Mentoring Program; co-founded the AED National Honor Society Epsilon Chapter; and acted as a mentor for younger students. Lastly, I studied abroad at the University of Wollongong in Australia, where I took courses in biotechnology, philosophy, and cultural studies. In my free time, I explored several beautiful destinations and built lasting friendships with my local and international peers. After graduating two months ago, I am taking a couple of years to work and study before pursuing a career in clinical neurology. Although some aspects of my future are unclear, I know that my success to date is due in part to the dedication instilled in me by the rigorous STEM Institute at CCNY. My time there taught me that we should never rationalize inaction with self-doubt, fear of failure or scrutiny, and that no goal is unachievable”. -Brian