RECENT JOHN JAY EVENTS
John Jay Salutes Its Vets
John Jay College counts many military veterans among its proud alumni, and on May 2, alumni veterans came back to reconnect with the College and with some of the many veterans in the current student body.
The “Salute to Vets” event drew nearly 100 alumni veterans, with New York City Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano (BS ’76), a Vietnam veteran, making another of his frequent return visits to the College to be part of the celebration. Also on hand was New York City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, who spoke about the advancements in education for veterans when they return from service, and praised John Jay College for being one of the largest educational institutions in the Northeast serving students with a military service background.
Special surprise greetings came electronically from alumna Candace Foster (BA '08) and alumnus Juan Agueda (BA '95), who are currently serving with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.
The Pre Law Institute Celebration
The Pre Law Institute was celebrated this month at an event with opening remarks by The Honorable Judge Judith Kaye (on right), Former Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals. The celebration featured a ribbon cutting debuting John Jay’s new Moot Court Room and recognized Microsoft as the first Partner of Pre Law and founding supporter Ernest Rubenstein on behalf of the Samuel and Anna Jacobs Foundation.
The Pre Law Institute at John Jay College builds student success. Our most recent graduates were admitted to more than 55 law schools and received more than $3.1 million dollars in scholarship awards including many full tuition scholarships to well-regarded law schools including several in the metropolitan New York City area such as Fordham, Cardozo and Brooklyn Law School.
Click here to view a film about the Pre Law Institute, see photos of this special event and support the Pre Law Institute.
John Jay and NY1 Host First Live Mayoral Debate
On April 24, John Jay, in partnership with NY1, hosted the first live mayoral Democratic debate. Moderated by Political Anchor Errol Louis, the candidates debated public safety issues. John Jay students also had a role in the evening, asking the candidates questions on domestic violence, the mishandling of DNA and Commissioner Ray Kelly’s leadership. NY1 Panelists Juan Manuel Benitez of NY1 Noticias and Criminal Justice reporter Dean Meminger of NY1 also asked questions. The debate was cosponsored by John Jay's chapter of College Democrats. William Thompson, former New York City Comptroller; Reverend Erick Salgado; Christine Quinn, New York City Council Speaker; John Liu, New York City Comptroller; Bill de Blasio, New York City Public Advocate; and Sal Albanese, former New York City Councilman all participated. (Photo above L-R)
Remembering Newtown Memorial Concert Features Mia Farrow
On May 6, the College’s Remembering Newtown Concert paid homage to the victims of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary and to victims of gun violence nationwide. It also served as the capstone to a semester-long spring series of art and lectures that spurred dialogue and action to end gun violence. The series was launched on March 12, when John Jay students created the Remembering Newtown Expression Wall.
The producer of the Memorial concert, pianist Caroline Stoessinger, President of the Mozart Academy and Artist-in-Residence at John Jay, created a touching closing event program featuring music by the Children’s Orchestra Society, Bass Baritone Terry Cook, Violinist Sirena Huang, Soprano Janinah Burnett, and Clarinet Anthony McGill. Guest speakers included Actress and Activist Mia Farrow (above) and Richard Aborn, President, Citizens Crime Commission. Two students, Jaraed Thomas and John Cusick, read from “Our Forefathers' Promise.” The audience of more than 300 included civic leaders from Newtown Connecticut. The special evening included an invocation from Rabbi Shaul Praver from Congregation Adath Israel, a benediction by Reverend Matthew Crebbin from Newtown Congregational Church and remarks from John Jay President Jeremy Travis.
Click here to view photos and here to view video highlights of the semester-long Remembering Newtown Series.
Watson Fellowships Awarded
Sophomores Man Cheung and Ariel Roland-Waring, both Forensic Psychology majors, are recipients of the prestigious Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship. The Watson Fellowship assists students making the transition from college to a career through development of professional skills. It focuses on job education though internships, mentoring, and enhanced educational opportunities to undergraduates who are striving to expand their career opportunities and life experiences. The Fellowship provides the recipients with three summers of paid internships with the third internship located outside New York State or abroad. Students declare their preferences for placement and then interview with each agency. The Fellowship is intended to develop leadership skills, experience within the professional arena, and preparation for graduate programs, fellowships and jobs.
When Man Cheung entered John Jay as a freshman his dream was to be a police officer. That summer he started mentoring as part of the service learning program at the Chinese American Planning Council on a range of topics from resume building to breast cancer awareness. While at the Council, Cheung began to consider other vocations and opportunities. After he worked as a cognitive psychology research assistant with Professor Deryn Strange in the Department of Psychology, he applied to the Watson Fellowship. Now as a Watson Fellow, Cheung said he is most interested in interning at the Bronx Defenders, Global Kids Incorporated, Beth Israel, and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
“I was surprised to receive the Watson. I’m so excited to step out of my comfort zone. I think this will be a very good experience for me,” said Cheung.
Ariel Roland-Waring became passionate about forensic psychology when she took a class in forensic psychology in high school. After completing core classes for the forensic science major at John Jay, Roland-Waring’s interests in the mind and forensic psychology were reinforced.
“When I came to John Jay, I was so interested in the mind and how the brain works. It poses the biggest puzzles to science, and I love trying to solving them,” said Roland-Waring.
Roland-Waring is interested in doing her internship at the Studio Museum in Harlem or the Beth Israel Cancer Center. In the future she may like to pursue a PhD in forensic psychology and work for youth justice. While at John Jay she is beginning her own art club called Creative Hands. She hopes it will be a means to showcase students’ artistic talent and become a hub for John Jay’s art community.
“I’m excited for Watson. I’m excited to learn and see what’s out there,” said Roland-Waring.
Students: Learn more by contacting the Office of Fellowship & Scholarship Opportunites (OFSO@jjay.cuny.edu) and check the OFSO website for more information.
John Jay's Commitment to Supporting Military Veterans
In an effort aimed at recognizing the unique assets that U.S. military veterans bring to the John Jay College community, the College has stepped up its efforts to address the specific needs and concerns of current and prospective students as well as alumni.
“Our goals are to be the college that military veterans want to attend — and to provide students and alumni who are veterans with the most effective opportunities for lifelong educational and work-life growth," said Peter Beshar, the John Jay College Foundation trustee who is spearheading the initiative.
Following more than 10 years of military engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan, a record number of veterans are coming home from active duty to the reality that in addition to their service, they must earn a college degree to succeed in the workplace.
To the College, this need is a welcome opportunity. In fact, more veterans are enrolled at John Jay than at any other college in the Northeast. From its very beginning, thanks to its focus on public service, John Jay College has provided a welcoming environment for veterans. The Founding Generation included many students who entered the New York City Police Department and other public safety agencies after coming home from Vietnam, and went on to earn their degrees at John Jay.
Students who are military veterans typically possess personal qualities and work habits that lend themselves to academic success. Focus, honesty, goal orientation and a strong work ethic translate easily from the battlefield to the classroom. In addition, veterans’ military experience fosters a level of maturity and compassion that gives them a leg up in the educational arena. "They are able to take the long view," noted John Jay President Jeremy Travis. “They don’t let distractions hold them back.”
The first-ever reception for veteran students and alumni took place on May 2. More than 70 attendees from every generation in the history of the College attended. The group heard from Richard Koehler, John Jay College Foundation trustee and Chair of the Alumni Campaign, who recalled his own experience serving in the US Navy during Vietnam.
On May 7, John Jay hosted a first-of-its-kind meeting for executives from major corporations and city agencies that have a stated commitment to provide workplace opportunities for veterans. Fifteen attendees represented eight different businesses.
Together with President Travis, Beshar and foundation Chair Jules Kroll, attendees explored the unique assets that veterans bring to the table, and the challenges they face when making the transition from active duty to civilian life. A follow-up meeting will be held in the fall to discuss ways that John Jay can help private- and public-sector organizations attract and retain more veterans to their employee rosters.
John Jay alumni who are veterans are encouraged to stay tuned for further information on programs and services that can help you use their unique background as a stepping stone for ongoing growth and success.
DREAM Fellowship Awarded
Being an immigrant in the United States is tough enough. When you’re undocumented, the difficulties escalate exponentially. Just ask Mehdi Mahraoui, or Danyeli Rodriguez, or Korede Griffith – all John Jay students from other countries who have struggled to overcome the challenges of being an undocumented immigrant.
Mahraoui, Rodriguez and Griffith are among 14 City University students recently chosen to participate in the 2013 DREAM Fellowship Program, a leadership development and internship program that provides college scholarships to undocumented students who demonstrate exceptional commitment to community engagement. The program is run by the New York Immigration Coalition and the Fund for Public Advocacy.
The DREAM Fellowship provides crucial financial support for students whose undocumented status makes them ineligible for federal or state financial aid. Mahraoui, a native of Morocco, has been in the United States for 15 years, 14 of those illegally. (“I just got my Green Card!” he said proudly.) He recalled the heartbreak of his senior year of high school. “I never understood what it meant to be undocumented until I watched my peers get into the colleges of their choice and receive financial aid. I hid my status from my friends and teachers for a long time, but finally I couldn’t take it anymore and broke down in tears. It was my coach and my teammates who helped me raise money for my first year of college.”
One of John Jay’s inaugural Jay Walk Scholars last year, Mahraoui is now in the John Jay BA/MPA program, and has been accepted into a one-year City University pipeline program that will prepare him for doctoral studies in social work. He wants to work with the underprivileged, as a way of giving back for help he has received. “I will never forget the kindness of my community in helping me to reach my full potential. The DREAM Fellowship has helped me fulfill my desire to advocate for immigrant communities, and by sharing my story I hope to help change the immigration system in this country.”
Mahraoui, Rodriguez and Griffith were introduced at an April 29 press conference, where they shared their own stories of resilience, hope and perseverance, and spoke of their travels to Albany and Washington to advocate for meaningful immigration reform. Rodriguez, a 18-year-old sophomore majoring in Humanities and Justice, came to the United States from the Dominican Republic at age 8, to seek a better future. “Although my struggle has been hard, learning English, finding friends who could understand me, working to make it to college, programs like the DREAM Fellowship have helped me keep my hopes up and keep fighting for comprehensive immigration reform. I am more motivated than ever and will continue to persevere.”
Griffith, a sophomore Criminology major and a member of the John Jay men’s basketball team, is a native of Guyana whose family moved to the United States for better economic opportunities. “I have faced many barriers because of my legal status,” he said, “but I have always believed that life is 10 percent what happens and 90 percent what you make of it, so I have worked hard in school in order to make it. Opportunities such as the DREAM Fellowship have helped make my life as an undocumented student easier, and is something I am grateful for.”
Urban Fellowships Awarded
The New York City Urban Fellows Program is so prestigious and so selective that in 2012 only two students from the entire City University of New York were chosen to participate. This year, three John Jay graduating seniors have been selected for the program that provides exceptional students with an introduction to city government and public service.
John Cusick, Rosmarin Belliard and Keenan Lambert are among 25 undergraduates nationwide who were chosen as 2013 Urban Fellows. The program offers students the opportunity to work in the Mayor’s office or one of many city agencies. The fellowship program also includes a seminar series, site visits and trips to Washington, DC, to help Fellows understand the interconnection among city, state and federal governments.
“The Urban Fellows Program provides an unparalleled opportunity for young professionals to gain meaningful work experience in public policy, urban planning and government operations as they consider careers in public service,” said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “It demonstrates New York City’s commitment to shaping future leaders. I am proud to sponsor this program."
John Cusick, who will graduate in May with a major in Humanities and Justice and a double minor in English and Political Science, is interested primarily in the intersection of youth culture, the law and public health. He credits his passion for public service and youth empowerment to the internships and off-campus leadership roles he has enjoyed.
“My desire to go to law school and work in government was sparked when I was a freshman and took courses exploring government frameworks,” Cusick said. “To prepare myself, I interned at the New York County District Attorney’s Office and for the Hon. Judy Harris Kluger [Chief of Policy and Planning for the New York State Unified Court System]. “Working on projects involving problem-solving courts and juvenile-justice issues during my internship with Judge Kluger revealed to me the importance of a public health perspective to the law.”
This semester, Cusick has been working as an intern in the office of President Jeremy Travis on the project “From Punishment to Public Health,” which seeks to achieve closer integration of public health and criminal justice strategies to reduce mass incarceration.
A New Jersey native, Cusick attributes his affable demeanor to the five years he lived in Vermont; he credits his sense of pluralism and civic duty to his John Jay experience, notably the College’s diversity and the perspectives students bring to group discussions on a variety of topics.
“John Jay has been a home for me, and the continued support of my mentors has been integral to my success,” said Cusick. “This opportunity to work in city government is an unparalleled experience because government is in a unique position to change social policy. The Fellowship allows me to combine my grassroots work with policy-making in a more meaningful way. I will be able to bring some of my own perspectives, allowing me to contribute to initiatives that are affecting New Yorkers.”
Keenan Lambert, a Political Science major with a concentration in Urban Affairs, has had the Urban Fellows program on his radar since his sophomore year when he discussed strategies for obtaining the sought-after Fellowship with his mentor, Professor Janice Bockmeyer in the Department of Political Science. Professor Bockmeyer suggested that Lambert participate in internships to broaden his experience and develop his skills. He went on to work as an intern for Assemblyman Nick Perry of Brooklyn, for the New York City Commission on Human Rights and for City Councilman Jumaane Williams of Brooklyn.
“I think my goal in life is to be someone who is remembered and someone who does something positive for my community and for my nation,” said Lambert. “This Fellowship will give me an understanding of government that the classroom would not. The professors in the political science department are amazing and really gave me a wonderful foundation for all I am about to accomplish.”
In Lambert’s view, internships were essential to his college experience because they allow students to apply their academic and theoretical work to real-world experiences. After the one-year Urban Fellowship, Lambert plans to attend graduate school at either Brooklyn or Hunter College.
Rosmarin Belliard is majoring in Political Science with a minor in History, both disciplines that have fueled her interest in public affairs, women’s issues and immigration. Belliard said she was drawn to the Urban Fellows program’s holistic, hands-on approach to learning about public policy, and is particularly interested in learning about the interworking of local, state and federal government and how policies are used as tools to improve communities.
“I am a proud John Jay student,” she beamed. “My exposure to diverse views, people and social problems has instilled a greater humanity within me and has revealed that I can only pursue a career that will bring positive change to many lives.” Belliard has furthered her passion for both law and politics in a variety of settings, serving as a John Jay Peer Ambassador and as president of the Political Science Honor Society, and interning with the Law School Admission Council, the office of former Gov. David A Paterson, and the Hon. Marguerite A. Grays, Presiding Justice of the Queens County Supreme Court.
Belliard counts herself as a grateful participant in John Jay’s Pre Law Institute, citing the steadfast support of the PLI’s Director, Vielka Holness. “Vielka has had a positive, influential role in my transformation as a student,” said Belliard. “Her dedication to her students’ success and amazing work ethic has inspired me to be very dedicated in all that I do. I hope one day young Latinas can look to me as a role model just as she has been for me”.
Belliard says the desire to serve was instilled in her by the generosity and values of her parents, who came to the United States from the Dominican Republic in the 1970’s. “My parents are very excited for the new chapter that awaits me as an Urban Fellow. I’m happy to have fulfilled their dream and for finding my own along the way.” Belliard, who envisions attending law school in her future, sees the Fellowship as a life-changing experience that will complement her experience thus far, help her find her place in policymaking and fulfill her ultimate goal of serving the larger community.
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Volunteering in Harlem
Freshmen Ariana Castillo, from Bayonne, NJ, and Jessica McFadzean, from Queens, both Forensic Psychology majors, wake up at 6 AM three days a week and travel to 127th Street in West Harlem. They spend four hours each session at Public School 154 tutoring fifth-grade elementary students in math and English.
The mutual goal of Castillo and McFadzean, who met during their first semester at John Jay last fall, is to become psychologists and to work in prisons. Their inspiration for tutoring children before school originated with a suggestion from Chairperson and Associate Professor Carlton Jama Adams in the Department of Africana Studies who teaches their Ethnic Studies class this spring. He proposed to them that if they wanted to eventually work within the forensic psychology field the best foundation was to study the arc that spans from normal behavior to criminal and pathological behavior. He suggested working with at-risk children first, then progressing to troubled teens, and then troubled adults.
“If we could help these kids, if we show them that someone cares now, then it will be a domino effect. They’ll do better and then they will want to help someone else do better,” said Castillo.
Both students said that Professor Adams encourages them to think critically like forensic psychologists and that they need to acknowledge and listen to the students they mentor.
Mcfadzean chose Forensic Psychology because it was a perfect combination of her two loves: science and psychology. Castillo originally wanted to be a firefighter and was interested in John Jay because of its Fire Science program. However, after her mother dissuaded her she turned to other academic areas that intrigued her—criminology and psychology.
“We always try to give our students the benefit of the doubt,” said Castillo, “because so many people in their lives just doubt them. In some ways, society and the system has let them down so much that no one is pushing them for a better future. So we do it. We push them. And some of them really do thrive.”
McFadzean and Castillo have also devoted their time to help launch Prisoner Reentry Education and Peer-Support (PREP), a new student club that will focus on helping former offenders make the transition back to their communities.
More than 3,300 students will become the newest John Jay alumni on May 28 when they receive their degrees in dual Commencement ceremonies. The College’s 48th annual Commencement will be held once again at the Jacob Javits Convention Center North, at 10:30 AM and 3:30 PM.
“It is hard to believe, but we are rapidly approaching the end of the school year and the celebrations that mark the awarding of degrees to our students,” said President Jeremy Travis. “For my part, I am looking forward to what promises to be a wonderful and festive celebration of our students’ accomplishments.”
The 3,339 graduates – the largest graduating class in John Jay history – include 1,967 females and 1,372 males, ranging in age from 19 to 71. There will be 2,642 bachelor’s degrees awarded, along with 624 master’s degrees, and 212 students will be graduating with honors. The graduating class includes 141 military veterans, and represents 20 U.S. states and 87 countries. There will also be six pairs of siblings graduating together, and one father-daughter pair: Ernest Morales III, who will be receiving his master’s degree in Protection Management, and his daughter, Justina Marie, who will receive a B.A. in Criminal Justice.
The Class of 2013 will be led by valedictorian Rizwan Ali Raja, who earned a perfect 4.00 grade-point average majoring in Political Science, with a minor in History. Salutatorian Elena Daniels completed her bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies in February, with a minor in Psychology, and also with a perfect 4.00 GPA. The tiebreaker is based on credits earned at John Jay.
Honorary doctorates will be presented this year to two towering figures in the law, who have proven themselves to be fierce advocates for justice: criminal defense attorneys Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, co-founders and co-directors of the Innocence Project. (See profiles below.)
Pre-Commencement activities include departmental and College-wide awards ceremonies, a two-day Graduate Salute and a harbor cruise for graduating seniors.
For complete information, visit the Commencement page on the John Jay Web site.
Honorary Doctorate Recipients
At the 2013 Commencement, John Jay will award honorary doctorates to two nationally recognized criminal defense attorneys who have dedicated themselves to pursuing justice for the wrongfully convicted.
Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld are co-directors of the Innocence Project, which they co-founded at Benjamin Cardozo School of Law in 1992. Scheck and Neufeld had become involved in studying and litigating issues concerning the use of forensic DNA testing in 1988, and since then their work has shaped the course of case law across the country and led to influential research and important state and federal legislation.
Both began their lifelong involvement in criminal defense as staff attorneys for the Legal Aid Society, and both served on the legal “Dream Team” that successfully defended O.J. Simpson against murder charges in 1995. In addition, Scheck has represented headline-generating clients that include British au pair Louise Woodward and Duke lacrosse player Reade Seligmann.
Neufeld represented Abner Louima in his claim of having had his civil rights brutally violated by New York City police officers. He later won a $2.25-million judgment on behalf of Earl Washington, who was wrongfully sentenced to death for a 1982 rape and murder based on a confession fabricated by a Virginia State Police investigator.
The Innocence Project, which in 2004 became an independent nonprofit organization, although still closely affiliated with Cardozo Law School, is dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice. Since the project’s founding, 292 people have been exonerated through DNA testing in the United States, including 17 who were at one time sentenced to death.
Every year, more than 3,000 people write to the Innocence Project for the first time asking for help, and at any given time the project’s staff are evaluating between 6,000 and 8,000 potential cases, through a nationwide network of clinics.
Scheck and Neufeld are co-authors, along with Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Jim Dwyer, of Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution, and Other Dispatches From the Wrongly Convicted, (Doubleday, 2000), based on actual cases of the Innocence Project.
In 2010, the College presented Scheck and Neufeld with the John Jay Medals for Justice.
FACULTY & STAFF NOTES
The Printed Page
Gerald Markowitz (History) has a new book, Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America’s Children, written with his longtime co-author, Professor David Rosner of Columbia University. The book was published by the University California Press. Watch him on PBS on May 19! Click here for more information.
R. Terry Furst (Anthropology) has had his article “Suboxone Misuse Along the Opiate Maintenance Treatment Pathway” published in the April 2013 edition of the Journal of Addictive Diseases.
David Kennedy (Criminal Justice/Center on Crime Prevention and Control) published an op-ed commentary, “Another Kind of Gun Control,” in the Los Angeles Times on May 5. In the article, Kennedy argues that instead of struggling to pass contentious legislation, government should focus police and social-service resources on “hot” groups and places.
John Matteson’s (English) book The Lives of Margaret Fuller has been named as one of the finalists for the inaugural Plutarch Award for the best biography of 2012. The Plutarch Award is presented by Biographers International Organization. The winner will be announced on May 18 at the annual Compleat Biographer Conference in New York.
Jeremy Travis (President) delivered the keynote address before a conference on “Education for All: Improving Educational Access in Correctional Facilities and Beyond,” hosted by the Department of Education and the Ford Foundation in Washington, DC, on April 29. Travis spoke on “Restoring College Education to the Nation’s Prisons: Assessing the Prospects for Change.” Click here to read more.
Susan Opotow (Sociology) was a guest on April 26 on the morning drive-time talk program “Stand Up! With Pete Dominick” on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. Opotow discussed her research on the environment and justice and its implication for pro-environmental policy making.
Karen Terry (Criminal Justice) has received a $215,000 grant from the Foundation to Promote Open Society to assess the impact on crime rates of the New York City Police Department’s stop, question and frisk strategy. The study will examine the strategy’s impact across police precincts and microspatial areas from 2006 to 2011.
Jeffrey Butts (Criminal Justice Research and Evaluation Center) received a $250,000 appropriation from the New York City Council for implementation and outcome assessment of the New York City Anti-Gun Violence Initiative.
Jonathan Jacobs (Philosophy/Institute for Criminal Justice Ethics) received a $25,000 grant from S&E Hammerman to support the “Agency, Character and Identity” research project.
Cathy Spatz Widom (Psychology) has been named winner of the 2013 Edwin H. Sutherland Award presented by the American Society of Criminology. Widom is the first John Jay faculty member to receive the ASC’s highest honor, and one of only five female honorees since the award was established in 1960. Widom was cited for her “internationally renowned…scholarship on child abuse and neglect and its consequences.”