Yelissa Lopez

2018 Summer Program Alumnus

Yelissa Lopez, 2018 STEM Institute Summer Program Alum

“The STEM Institute gave me the confidence and ability to pursue my passions.” – Yelissa Lopez

Yelissa Lopez attended the CCNY STEM Institute Summer Program in 2018. While studying with us, she built a partnership with Louis Hernandez from the Grove School of Engineering. Yelissa continued to work with him after our Summer Program ended, and eventually, under Hernandez’s mentorship, Yelissa conducted research in aerospace engineering, learning about the aerodynamics of rockets. Yelissa was even able to participate in the Team America Rocketry Challenge, the world’s largest rocket competition.

This Summer 2019, Yelissa will be attending MIT and participating in Launch X, an entrepreneurship program, were she will design, develop, pitch and start her own business.

Charles Sosa

2004 Summer Program Alumnus

Charles Sosa, 2004 STEM Institute Summer Program Alum

Charles attended the CCNY STEM Institute Summer Program in 2004. He graduated from The City College of New York’s Grove School of Engineering in the fall of 2011, with an honors degree in Mechanical Engineering (Cum Laude). After graduation, Charles followed his dreams and attended the University of Michigan for his MSE and PhD in Nuclear Engineering.

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.

Emmanuel Hiram Arnaud

2006 – 2007 Summer Program Alum

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

Jovanny Sanchez

2011 Summer Program Alumnus

Student Name: Jovanny Sanchez

Year(s) Attended STEM Institute: 2011

Jovanny Sanchez a former STEM Institute TA and Chemistry instructor and a Proud STEM Alumn. Jovanny proved to be resilient in all the tasks he took on, and always shared the qualities required to achieve academic excellence with his students. As a successful SAT Math Coach and mentor he inspired many of our students in becoming successful not only academically. Soon after graduating he became a patent Litigation Intern for Skadden, Arps Corp.

Kasey Barias

2016-2019 Summer Program Alum.

Kasey Barias is a proud alum of the STEM Institute Summer Program. Kasey attended the the CCNY STEM Institute Summer Program for 4 consecutive summers, beginning in 2013, and she was highly involved in the program’s activities each year. Kasey is a highly-motivated student, and she has proven to be extremely hardworking.

After graduating high school, Kasey has been working as our Assistant Coordinator each summer from 2016-2019, assisting us with bookkeeping, registering students into the Department of Education’s system, and also serving as a teacher’s assistant for our College English course.

Kasey is currently enrolled at Villanova University, where she has earned a full scholarship. She is working towards completing her Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science. Outside of class Kasey is a member of Villanova’s Division I cheerleading team. She also enjoy still enjoys exploring the STEM fields, as she has for many years, while continuing her path towards a law degree.

Mary Zhuo Ke

2014 Summer Program Alumnus

Student Name: Mary Zhuo Ke

Year(s) Attended STEM Institute: 2014

Mary Zhuo Ke attended the CCNY STEM Institute Summer Program her junior year of high school, studying Calculus and Robotics. During her time with us, she won first place in her Robotics course for designing an innovative way to complete a task for the robotics soccer competition. In her senior year of high school, she won first prize in the NYC Regional Brain Bee at Columbia University and later went on to compete in the USA National Brain Bee Championship, which tests knowledge of medicine and life sciences. She developed a strong interest in life sciences and engineering due to her experiences, and as a result, she majored in biomedical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, where she received a full scholarship as a QuestBridge National College Match Scholar. During her time as an undergraduate, she studied abroad in Iceland, where she conducted research related to renewable energy resources. She was also a Microrobotics research intern at Harvard University, where she helped design and manufacture bioinspired mechanical prototypes. Mary was also a research assistant at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she studied behavioral neuroscience and designed tools and experiments to better understand and diagnose neurodevelopmental disorders. Presently, Mary is working as an engineer in the cognitive computing department at Epic Systems Corporation, a medical software company that creates diagnostic and electronic health record software for many hospitals in the United States. She hopes to continue to pursue careers and opportunities in STEM, and is a proud alum of the City College STEM Institute.

Josh Cutler

2013-2014 Summer Program Alum

Student Name: Josh Cutler

Year(s) Attended STEM Institute: 2013-2014

“I am a proud member of the STEM family, both as a student and a teaching assistant. Coming from a special education background, the STEM Institute was my very first experience in a “general” education environment. Very quickly, I learned a few life lessons that [have stayed] with me to this day: no challenge or adversity is insurmountable, and the greatest limiting factor in life is yourself. I started out with the STEM Institute in 2013 and returned prior to entering the Grove School of Engineering in 2014. During the summer of 2014, I conducted research for the CUNY Center of Advanced Technologies. My research involved the use of metamaterials as a means of autonomously steering laser beams with high precision. For two summers after that (in 2015 and 2016), I served as a Teaching Assistant for the Engineering/Robotics class, helping students learn such skills as Python programming, 3D printing, and technical writing. Overall, the STEM Institute gave me the tools and values I needed to follow my dreams. From the time I participated in STEM, and even before [that], I had developed a passion for the rail industry and wanted to find a way to apply it [to my future]. My dream job was to work on the actual rail cars themselves. My dream would come true the following summer, in 2017, when I created an internship program and became the very first intern for Kawasaki Rail Car, a train builder that makes many of the newer trains for the New York City Subway. I continued my internship during the following winter and summer breaks, and ultimately secured a job as one of the youngest systems engineers ever to work for Kawasaki. I am currently part of a team that is working on the class of next generation New York City Subway cars, known as the R211, which you will be able to ride in a few years.” –Josh

Afua Safo-Asante

2003 Summer Program Alumnus

Afua Safo-Asante is a proud alum of the 2003 CCNY STEM Institute Summer Program. In her sophomore year of high school, she participated in our summer program, taking college-level courses in Advanced Algebra and Physics. She benefited so much that she returned the following year and successfully completed our college-level Calculus and Physics II courses. Afua later went on to graduate from The City College of New York with a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2011.

For Afua, it was her experiences with the CCNY STEM Institute that motivated her to attend The City College of New York after graduating from high school. A high-achieving student, she was accepted into the Honors Program at City College, and she was extremely dedicated to being involved in hands-on research throughout her undergraduate career. Afua names the CCNY STEM Institute as the institution that introduced her to the importance of student research and exposed her to the many research opportunities available at City College.

Nazifa Prapti

2019 Summer Program Alumnus

Nazifa Prapti is a rising senior in Benjamin N. Cardozo High School, before joining the STEM Institute, Nazifa was unsure about which major to choose. With the support of the STEM Institute she decided to major in Mechanical Engineering. She will be the first in her family to work towards pursuing a career as a mechanical engineer.

“Through the six week course, I was able to develop my social and leadership skills. I was able to take college-level courses and adjust to the college campus life”. –Nazifa, 2019

Vickie Wu

2007 Summer Program Alumnus

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”.

Nicholas Schulman

Nicholas Schulman

2003 Summer Program Alumnus

Nicholas Schulman STEM Institute Former Student 2003.

Graduated CCNY with bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 2018. Currently pursuing a PhD in chemical engineering with a research focus on nanomaterials, thermodynamics and reaction engineering at Cornell University.  Nicholas was a very involved student, during his first summer at the CCNY STEM Institute Nicholas worked as a chemistry and physics TA.

Brian Victor Portelli

2008 - 2010 Summer Program Alum

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

Milana Zirkiyeva

2007-2008 Summer Program Alum

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

Ping Hsiang Liang

2012-2013 Summer Program Alum

Student Name: Ping Hsiang Liang

Year(s) Attended STEM Institute: 2012-2013

Ping Hsiang Liang grew up attending various summer camps with his two brothers. Although the ones with outdoor activities were his favorite, Ping enjoyed his time at the STEM Institute and attended our program for two consecutive summers. After graduating high school, Ping attended Stony Brook University and graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering. Throughout his four years of college, he joined several on-campus organizations and surrounded himself with hard-working future engineers. Ping interned at a small HVAC company during the summer of his sophomore year. There, he was exposed to hands-on repairing and troubleshooting of various cooling and heating systems. The summer of his junior year, Ping interned at Northrop Grumman Corporation in Baltimore, Maryland. He worked as an intern in the reliability lab and helped with testing and test setups. Ping was exposed to the working culture of a large company and the many processes that were involved to make things work. Ping learned how to use 3D printers and made models that he designed for various tests. After his college graduation, Ping started to work full time for Northrop Grumman in August 2018. He took a role as a mechanical designer for the space design group. He worked on circuit card assemblies that would be packaged up to meet performance under various vibrations and thermal requirements that are necessary for successful deployment into space. He also worked on various tests, research and development efforts that are related to fighter jets. Ping is excited to continue his journey as a young mechanical engineer, and he has recently accepted a new role as a mechanical designer for submarine launcher systems in Sunnyvale, California.

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.