Tag Archives: Queens College

Fresh Meadows man stars on new reality show ‘Little Women: NY’


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos by Patrick Eccelsine

Jason Perez may be a little man, but he is representing the biggest borough on a new Lifetime reality show.

Perez, a 27-year-old Queens College student from Fresh Meadows, is starring on “Little Women: NY,” premiering Wednesday night.

Standing at 4 feet 4 inches tall, he is the only male cast member among seven little people whose lives are documented on the series, which takes a look at how the group of friends navigates the Big Apple.

lwny_gallery-jason_150112-pe-021“New York is one big city and we are little women…well, six little women and the one guy that can handle them,” the first episode starts.

“Little Women: NY” is a spin-off of the network’s hit reality show “Little Women: LA,” which just concluded its second season on March 18 and featured New York cast member Lila Call in several of its recent episodes.

A friend of “Little Women: LA” cast member and executive producer Terra Jolé, who is also an executive producer for the New York version, Perez was easily convinced to appear on the new show.

“I think it will be very enlightening, very educational. It will also take the stress of the day off,” he said, promising the one-hour program will bring as much reality show-style drama as its West Coast counterpart and a true look into the world of little people.

Born in Brooklyn to a close-knit Filipino family, Perez grew up in Ozone Park before moving to Fresh Meadows in 2000, where he attended St. Francis Prep.

Though he faced bullying because of his dwarfism and is the only little person in his family, he said his loved ones have always given him strength.

“They just took me as a regular person,” Perez said. His parents always told him to “cry but not for long” and to “just get up and keep moving.”


After high school, he earned a culinary arts degree and started working as a cook. But his childhood love for performing led him from the kitchen to a job as a singing server.

Today, he is studying political science and history at Queens College, but is still pursuing his passion for entertainment through performing, and voice, dance and acting lessons. He has even won several talent competitions, including at the MGM Grand Las Vegas and the Coney Island Talent Show, and has performed in Radio City’s Christmas Spectacular.

Perez is also hoping to entertain viewers on “Little Women: NY,” which he says will step it up a notch from its LA counterpart because of the challenges of fast-paced New York City, such as commuting on the subway, hailing cabs and traversing crowded streets.

Jason Perez with "Little Women: NY" co-stars Lila Call and Dawn Lang (Photo by Zach Dilgard)

Jason Perez with “Little Women: NY” co-stars Lila Call and Dawn Lang (Photo by Zach Dilgard)

“New York in itself is an animal and to survive you need to have skills,” Perez said.

The show will also look at some of Perez’s personal struggles — a sensitive issue he discusses with his conservative family while living at home and his difficulties in finding the right person to settle down with.

“We may be small but we have emotions like everyone else, we have ambitions like everyone,” he said. “Just because we look different doesn’t mean we are out of the loop.”

“Little Women: NY” airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on Lifetime. 

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Open call for new Queens poet laureate


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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BY LLEWYN SHIN

Borough President Melinda Katz has launched an open call for applications for the next Queens poet laureate, a prestigious three-year position charged with promoting a love of poetry and literacy throughout the borough.

“Because Queens is such a diverse borough, the Queens poet laureate must be a compelling wordsmith who is capable of synthesizing the borough’s many cultures and languages into poetry,” Katz said.

The Queens Borough President’s office and Queens College have been partners in the Queens poet laureate project since the search for the first Queens poet laureate began in 1996. This year, the Queens Borough Public Library joined the partnership for the first time and will provide meeting space for the next Queens poet laureate to present poetry and conduct outreach to the Queens community.

“As a primary source for culture and literature in our borough, Queens Library is delighted to partner with Borough President Melinda Katz’s office to find the next poet laureate. We look forward to hosting the new poet laureate at the library,” Queens Library Interim President/CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey said.

Queens College President Felix V. Matos Rodriguez added, “We are delighted that Borough President Katz is continuing this position and committed to promoting poetry – literature that can touch people of all backgrounds in a profound and universal way.”

The process of selecting the Queens poet laureate is overseen by the Queens Poet Laureate Administrative Committee.

Applications are available at www.queensbp.org/poet and must be submitted by April 24. Applicants must have a published portfolio and are expected to submit representative samples of their poetry, including poems related to Queens. This writing sample should not exceed 10 pages per applicant.

A panel of expert judges will review the applications and recommend three finalists to the borough president, who will make the final decision on who will be appointed.

The past Queens poet laureates are as follows: Stephen Stepanchev (who served from 1997 – 2001), Hal Sirowitz (2001 – 2004), Ishle Yi Park (2004 – 2007), Julio Marzan (2007 – 2010) and Paolo Javier (2010 – 2014).

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Queens College recognized as a ‘best value college’ for affordable cost


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens College

Queens College has earned itself a place on the top ten list for the nation’s “Best Value” colleges, according to a new survey conduced by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.

The Flushing college, located at 65-30 Kissena Blvd., was named a “2015 Best Value College” by the finance magazine, which ranks four-year colleges that bring together outstanding academics with affordable costs.

Queens College was named among the top ten schools in the “24 Best College Values Under $30,000/Year 2015,” and was included in the category “Kiplinger’s Best College Values (Public Colleges).” The complete list is available at kiplinger.com/links/college.

“We salute this year’s top schools,” said Janet Bodnar, editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. “Balancing top-quality education with affordable cost is a challenge for families in today’s economy, which is why Kiplinger’s rankings are such a valuable resource. The schools on the 2015 list offer students the best of both worlds.”

Queens College was also selected by The Princeton Review as one of 200 schools profiled in its recent book, “Colleges That Pay You Back: The 200 Best Value Colleges and What It Takes to Get In – 2015 Edition.”

“We highly recommend Queens College and all of our ‘Colleges That Pay You Back’ schools,” said Robert Franek, senior vice president and publisher of The Princeton Review and lead author of the book. “They stand out for their excellent academics, impressive career preparation services, and affordability to students with need – via comparatively low sticker prices, generous financial aid, or both. Plus their students graduate with great career prospects.”

Earlier this month, Queens College was also acknowledged as a top producer of Fulbright students by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The Fulbright Program is the nation’s flagship international educational exchange program in which students, who are selected for their academic merit and leadership, are given grants to study, teach English and conduct research in more than 140 countries.

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BP Melinda Katz delivers her first State of the Borough address


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Borough President Melinda Katz delivered her first State of the Borough speech on Thursday, celebrating the borough’s diversity, its recent prominence as a tourism destination and the nurturing environment that she said has made Queens “the borough of families.”

“If it’s good for our families, it’s good for Queens,” said Katz, repeating what she said is her administration’s motto at Borough Hall and what was the focus of her 50-minute speech at Colden Auditorium at Queens College.

After a five-minute video that included Queens residents talking about the borough and Katz recounting how she grew up here, the daughter of civic-minded parents proud of the borough they called home, Katz took to the stage and welcomed the audience in eight languages.

“My parents believed that Queens held all the elements of any great city, and that no one should need to cross a bridge or tunnel to experience arts, culture, fine dining or great neighborhoods,” Katz said. “I inherited their vision while growing up here, from my childhood in Forest Hills to my education at our public schools to studying law at St. John’s.”

Packed into the 2,124-seat auditorium, filled nearly to capacity, were a host of elected officials, civic leaders and residents from across the borough.

Elected officials Katz mentioned individually included State Comptroller Tom Di Napoli, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, former Council Speaker Peter Vallone, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, as well as the borough’s entire City Council delegation and state lawmakers.

She made a special point to welcome newly-minted state Sen. Leroy Comrie, who she hired as a deputy during her first year as borough president before he was elected state senator.

And Katz twice asked for a moment of silence, once for the two officers killed in Brooklyn last month and another for former Gov. Mario Cuomo, a son of Queens, who died on New Year’s Day.

While Katz spent much of the time celebrating recent successes, like the borough’s designation as the nation’s top tourist destination for 2015 by travel guide publisher Lonely Planet and its recognition as being “the intersection of the world” for its sweeping ethnic and racial diversity, she also laid out challenges and goals ahead. They included the following:

  • Job creation, especially for LaGuardia and JFK airports and the health sector.
  • Advocating for the return of the Rockaway Ferry, which saw a brief existence during the post-Sandy recovery but was discontinued soon after.
  • Creating more pre-K seats to expand the program’s reach and expanding the Gifted and Talented program. She also emphasized the need to invest in the CUNY schools within Queens “so that folks stay in Queens or they come back and build a family.”
  • Providing affordable housing, especially for seniors, many of whom become the caretakers for young families.

Katz, who is raising her two children in the same Queens home where she grew up, blasted Common Core, the controversial new teaching curriculum being used across schools in the city and state.

“I feel in my gut that there’s something wrong here,” she said. “It’s not a common core. It’s a common problem. We’ve got to do something about it.”

And at the core of all of these issues, Katz said, is the family. Here in the “World’s Borough,” Katz said, the American dream is alive and well. And that’s all thanks to the families.

“Both new arrivals and long-established families create the communities which make it uniquely attractive, for visitors and for investors alike,” she said. “And like generations before them, they come here to work hard and raise their children as Americans. People spend their life savings to come here from all over the world just to educate their children right where we are sitting right now.”

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Construction finally set for $20M Louis Armstrong Museum annex


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of Louis Armstrong House Museum 

A $20 million annex expansion of the landmarked Louis Armstrong House Museum, named for the famed jazz musician, is on the way after meeting zoning regulations.

Plans have been filed with the Buildings Department on Friday to construct the proposed educational visitors center on vacant land near the museum at 34-49 107th St. in Corona.

Design work on the new center dates as far back as 2007, but construction on the project was stalled due to a necessary variance application from the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA).

The new two-story project needed approval for a waiver to be built closer to neighboring property lines than zoning laws allow.

The BSA gave the project the green light last year, following support from Community Board 3 and the borough president’s office. Now the project is in the construction phase, according to a representative.

The museum is hoping to build the new 8,737-square-foot annex, which is designed by architecture firm Caples Jefferson, for more exhibit space and a store to better accommodate the more than 12,000 visitors who come to the museum each year.

The center will “create a wonderful cultural campus in Corona that allows us to expand our programming for the community and our visitors from around the world,” said Jennifer Walden, director of marketing at the museum.

The museum is a national historic landmark and a New York City landmark dedicated to preserving and promoting the legacy of the iconic musician.

Armstrong and his wife Lucille lived in the house from 1943 until his death in 1971, and the house was declared a national landmark in 1976.

 

THE COURIER/File photo

THE COURIER/File photo

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Rockaway train line would serve half a million riders a day, says study


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Throwing a wrench into plans for the QueensWay park, a new study claims the restoration of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line would generate nearly half a million rides a day.

“The rail line would connect north and south Queens like no other [form of transportation],” Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder said at a press conference in Queens College Monday.

“The results of this study clearly show that reactivating the Rockaway Beach Rail Line is the best, most cost-efficient way to decrease commute times, improve access to existing parkland and grow our small businesses in Queens.”

The study, “A community impact study of proposed uses of the Rockaway Beach Branch right of way,” surveyed thousands of residents and assessed transportation and park needs in the surrounding communities of the rail line.

If reactivated, the study says, the rail line will ease congestion and commute times, and connect north and south Queens in a way that is currently not available with existing subway lines.

The project was student-led under the watch of Dr. Scott Larson, director of the office of community studies at Queens College.

“We did not come to the conclusion of what the best use for the land would be. That wasn’t the point of it,” Larson said. “We did it to add to the debate and provide objective information.”

A summary of the study reads: “The Rockaway Beach Branch line presents a unique opportunity as a potential transportation improvement. The effect would be faster travel between southern Queens, including the Rockaways, and northern/western Queens, Midtown Manhattan and points north.”

It goes on to mention that while ridership in south Queens is low compared to other parts of the city, commute times are long and the restoration of the line could lead to positive savings in travel times for the riders.

The rail line has been out of commission since the 1960s. If the rail line was seen as the most viable option for the land, it would cost about $700 million to fully restore it.

Currently, there is a debate on whether the land should be used to restore the transit line, make access to the QueensWay, or use the land for both transportation and park features.

The QueensWay would cost about $120 million to fully build out. Advocates for the QueensWay say the land would better be used as parkland rather than for transportation.

“The QueensWay would be free to everyone,” said Mark Matsil, a representative from the Trust for Public Land. “We have support from many elected officials. The QueensWay is economically feasible.”

Matsil said they are in the process of raising funds for the design phase of the QueensWay.

But Goldfeder believes that more and improved transit in Queens is a top priority for the borough, and not using this existing infrastructure would be a waste.

“Complete restoration of the rail line will increase transit options for every resident in Queens and NYC, create quality jobs, boost our economic development, ease commutes and congestion and clean our environment by taking thousands of cars off the road,” said Goldfeder. “I urge the MTA to include restoration of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line in their next capital plan.”

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Queens College to stage Bernstein’s ‘Mass’


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Edward Smaldone

Queens College is hosting a full staging of “Mass,” an awe-inspiring musical about the crisis of faith, composed by the legendary musician Leonard Bernstein. More than 200 artists will take to the stage for two performances on Nov. 1 and 2 at the Kupferberg Center for the Arts.

Renowned conductor Maurice Peress, who was at the helm of the musical’s premiere performance in 1971, will conduct this performance too.

Due to the large number of performers required for a full staging, “Mass” is more often performed as a concert piece. It is rare to see a full staging. This performance features Queens College students from the Aaron Copland School of Music, and members of the Queens College Opera Studio, Choir, Women’s Choir, Children’s Choir, Jazz Ensemble, and Orchestra. Victor Starsky, tenor and student at Aaron Copland, has been cast as the Celebrant, the central character in this musical.

Bernstein’s “Mass” was commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis for the 1971 inauguration of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. “Mass” begins by showing performers from different genres being in harmony. However, soon discord sets in and as the crisis of faith hits its peak, the Celebrant sings a solo about losing his faith.
“Mass” was composed in honor of John F. Kennedy. Peress, who was assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic under Bernstein, writes about it in his new memoir “Maverick Maestro,” slated to release in March. In the book, Peress calls “Mass” a “compelling dramatic story” in which “the loss of a beloved leader who gave us hope is honored by a formal Latin Mass, at the same time a young street community asks tough questions as they search for faith.”

He also says that as he studies the familiar piece again, “fresh and deeper insights surface.” He regrets that the message is still timely. “In 1971, the quicksand of Vietnam dominated the news, now it is the Middle East,” he wrote.

Something else has changed in the 43 years since Peress first conducted “Mass.” The stage director then was Gordon Davidsonbut for these two performances, Peress’ daughter Lorca will be the stage director. Lorca is the founder and artistic director of MultiStages, a multicultural, multidisciplinary theater based in New York that has won quite a few awards since its inception in 1997.

Harry Feiner, a Broadway professional and professor of drama at Queens College, is in charge of set and lighting.

Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass” will be performed on Saturday, Nov. 1, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 2, at 3 p.m. at the Colden Auditorium at Kupferberg Center for the Arts, Queens College. Tickets cost from $15 to $25 and can be purchased online at www.kupferbergcenter.org or by calling 718-570-0923 or at the box office in Colden Auditorium. Additional fees may apply.

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Ridgewood woman recounts childhood abduction to Egypt, escape in YouTube video


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos © Moral Courage Project 2014

She found the courage to escape. She then found the courage to share her story.

Nashwa El-Sayed was abducted to Egypt from Queens at the age of 2 by her father. After suffering from abuse, years of separation from her mother and an impending arranged marriage at the age of 17, she was finally able to leave the country and return to America.

El-Sayed, now 24, and living in Ridgewood, has since graduated from Queens College with a degree in international relations and recounted her tale, hoping others in her situation will do the same.

“Hopefully they see it as something that can change lives,” she said.

Though El-Sayed has shared her story before, she is telling it in a new medium: video.

The Moral Courage Project, an educational nonprofit started in 2008, posted a video of El-Sayed’s story, “Forced marriage in Egypt: How I escaped,” on its YouTube channel last month.

The nonprofit mentors, teaches and provides role models for people who want to build up moral courage, or do “the right thing in the face of your fears,” according to Adam Grannick, multimedia producer with the Moral Courage Project.

It showcases its role models through videos it creates for its YouTube channel, Moral Courage TV. They are “everyday people” from a middle-schooler facing a bully to corporate whistleblowers and everyone in between.

Launched in April 2012, the videos are accompanied by related social media posts to bring awareness to whatever issue they highlight and can each have their own look, depending on the story.

Since filmmakers didn’t have footage from El-Sayed’s childhood, her video featured animation.
“Animation usually takes away from the seriousness of a story, but this one was not the case,” El-Sayed said.

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El-Sayed’s story begins on Father’s Day 1993 — the day she was taken. She was living in Richmond Hill at the time, and her Egyptian father and American mother were in the process of filing for divorce.

“[My mother] knew deep down that she wasn’t going to see me again,” El-Sayed said in the video.

A couple of years after landing in Egypt, El-Sayed was living in Alexandria with her father and a stepmother who physically and emotionally abused her. She also had to be “a pious Muslim girl who should not be seen in public, who should not speak in public.”

At around age 9, she found some relief when her father divorced the woman. He soon married another woman who also tried to abuse El-Sayed, but she retaliated and the woman never tried it again.

Also at 9 years old, she saw her mother for the first time since she was abducted. That moment was when she knew there was another place she belonged to and that she could study what she wanted.

Her mother from then on would send her items from the U.S. — media, such as music from the Backstreet Boys; toys, such as Barbies; new gadgets, such as CD players; and school supplies, such as glitter.

NashwaElSayedMC5

El-Sayed’s father promised she could go to college in America as long as she got good grades. But during her final year of high school, her father told her that he found her a husband and that she was going to meet him on her wedding day in four months.

“All of a sudden there is a major change in plans and that is when I decided it was time to go,” El-Sayed said.

She called her mother in April 2008, who contacted the appropriate authorities, and within a few months El-Sayed was touch with the FBI and American embassy to plan a way out of the country.

But after her father found out about a visit she made to the embassy, she was put on lockdown and became suicidal.

As she recounts in the video, El-Sayed, through luck and bravery, managed to escape while she was at a friend’s house in Cairo.

But El-Sayed’s story and her ups and downs didn’t end with her escape.

NashwaElSayedMC2

Most of the Moral Courage Project videos are two to three minutes long, but El-Sayed’s is 10 minutes.

“I tried cutting it down but it just felt wrong to leave out a lot of it,” said Grannick, who wanted the video to discuss El-Sayed’s life after she returned to America.

Back living in Richmond Hill with her mother, El-Sayed went through a major depression the first year as she tried to figure out her purpose and why she went through what she did.

Her relationship with her mother, good for the first two years, became fractured when differences began to show between them, and they disagreed over El-Sayed’s publicly sharing her story, including a June 2013 Daily News article.

But she considers herself one of the lucky ones. Children around the world are abducted by parents every year, she said, and she is not only one of the few who has survived and is functional, but is one of the few who has also come out with her story and become an activist.

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After graduating from Queens College in the summer of 2013, El-Sayed now works with the school’s Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue Program as the assistant manager. The program gives college students from a variety of religious backgrounds the opportunity to travel to the Middle East to interact with government officials, entrepreneurs, students, educators and philanthropists, create a dialogue and experience what the region is really like.

El-Sayed also works, through the Epic Theatre Ensemble, with a women’s group regarding issues in the Arab American community, and continues to work with the FBI to bring awareness to the issue of childhood abduction by parents.

“It is possible for you to survive,” she says to end the video. “It is possible for you to leave behind the stigmas and actually carry on and make something of yourself.”

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Queens College women’s basketball heading to Madison Square Garden for second time


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens College Knights

The Queens College women’s basketball team will play a game in Madison Square Garden next year where they will go up against Immaculata University.

The competition is part of the ninth annual Maggie Dixon Classic, the premier women’s basketball regular-season tournament in the nation. This game, on Jan. 4., will be the second time that the Queens College women’s basketball team plays at the Garden. The first time, they lost to Immaculata, 65-61. And the game included notable Queens names such as Donna Orender, Gail Marquis and Coach Lucille Kyvallos.

The other game that day is St. John’s University, which is playing defending national champion, Connecticut.

The team comes off of a 2013-14 season that saw them win 20 games, advance to the ECC Semi-Final and have two players given the All Met status. The team also posted the 15th best turnaround in Division II from the previous season. Queens opens the 2014-15 campaign on Saturday, Nov. 14, when they go against Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont.

The tournament is named in honor of former United States Military Academy (Army) head coach, Maggie Dixon, who died of a heart condition following her first season in West Point. The event also includes a health and heart expo.

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Take a first look inside Mela’s Café in Kew Gardens Hills


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Mela’s Café may be replacing another diner in Kew Gardens Hills when it opens on Wednesday, but owners promise it will bring new flavor in more ways than just taste.

The left side of the restaurant has booths and tables with exposed brick walls, while the right side has large windows that will guide in natural light, giving customers different ways to experience the eatery. The diner seats 90 people, but it can expand it to about 120 seats if necessary.

cleared space

There are electrical outlets and USB ports scattered around the restaurant so patrons can charge their mobile devices, and free Wi-Fi is set up for people needing to use the Internet. With these features, they expect to attract the younger crowd from nearby Queens College.

“If we are going to make a difference we can’t go old, we have to think now,” said Melissa Guzman, daughter of the owner and the morning manager. Owner Franklin Rivera named the diner after her nickname, Mela.

Booths 2

Mela’s Café will be open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

In terms of food, head chef David Nunez will be mixing his knowledge of Latin dishes with various flavors from other nationalities, such as Japanese, to bring a new culinary experience to the neighborhood.

“We didn’t want people to say, ‘Oh that’s a Dominican family so it’ll be only Dominican food,” Guzman said.

large windows

However, at the moment Mela’s is still waiting to get liquor license approval, so they won’t be selling alcohol for a little while.

Although Mela’s will bring many new features to the area, the one thing that may be familiar to local customers will be the staff.

There are 45 employees in the establishment, according to the human resources manager, and owners made a push to rehire servers from the former restaurant, because of their proximity to the diner and familiarity with neighborhood.

The family held an emotional meet-and-greet on Friday to thank community members and leaders for their support. They are looking forward to introducing their food to the neighborhood.

“To be honest, I’m anxious and nervous, but I’m very excited,” Guzman said. “This is a big [moment] for my family. I’m pretty stoked.”

Mela's family

Visit the restaurant’s website for more information.

 

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Queens College soccer alum to train with Liverpool, Arsenal, AC Milan


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Queens College

After recovering from six surgeries, former Queens College soccer captain Peter Touros is making strides toward his dream to become a pro.

The Astoria native was chosen as one of five grand prize winners in Gatorade’s “Unreal Around the World” contest and will have the opportunity to train with elite football clubs Liverpool, Arsenal, Barcelona, AC Milan and Boca Juniors. He’ll also travel to Brazil for a scrimmage game at Maracanã Stadium, the site of the 2014 World Cup final.

“It’s absolutely tremendous. He’s a great kid and he has been through a lot,” said Queens College soccer head coach Carl Christian. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I compare it to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It’s the golden ticket.”

Touros, who scored five goals and led the 2013 Queens College team to a 9-5-3 overall record, suffered three of his six injuries — a torn labrum and two ACL tears — during his soccer college career.

The Gatorade contest challenged entrants to demonstrate how training and hard work could translate into success. Touros submitted a video entitled “6 Surgeries Won’t Stop Me,” in which he performed a number of high level shots. Now he’ll be able to train with some of the world’s top teams.

“After all I think he’s been through, it’s well-deserved,” Christian said.

Click here to see Touros’ video.

 

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CUNY appoints new Queens College president


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of CUNY

PAULINA TAM

Dr. Felix V. Matos Rodriguez, a former cabinet secretary of the Department of Family Services for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, was appointed as the president of Queens College by The Board of Trustees of The City University of New York (CUNY), the school announced Monday.

“He brings to Queens College an impressive blend of scholarly accomplishment, public service, a strong commitment to student success and a deep belief in the University’s educational mission,” Chancellor James B. Milliken of CUNY said.

Rodriguez graduated from Yale University with a degree on Latin American Studies and later received his Ph.D in history from Columbia University. He is an academic in the status of women in Puerto Rico and he has written and co-written many scholarly works on the topic.

Prior to his recent appointment, Rodriguez served as president of Hostos Community College, another CUNY affiliate, since 2009.

“I look forward to joining the vibrant community of students, faculty, staff and alumni that have made Queens College a beacon of excellence, opportunity and innovation through the years,” Rodriguez said. “In the spirit of Queens College’s motto — ‘We learn so that we may serve’ — I pledge to put all the experience and learning of my scholarly, administrative and public service career at the service of an institution that has, and will continue to serve, Queens, New York City, and the nation with the highest standards of excellence and dedication. Thank you for the opportunity to serve, and I look forward to becoming a member of the Queens campus community for many years.”

 

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Students to analyze Queens waters in summer CUNY program


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

More than 30 high school students will test the waters of Queens as part of a special City University of New York (CUNY) summer program.

Macaulay Honors College of CUNY is hosting the course to sample and analyze water at the Queens base of the Throgs Neck Bridge, Flushing Bay and Meadow Lake in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, so students can learn about threats to the ecosystem.

Led by Queens College professor and oceanographer Gillian Stewart, students from Brooklyn Tech H.S. will identify issues facing each body of water and think of possible solutions.

The site sampling is intended to foster students’ interest in science and the environment and the program will begin on June 30. On July 3 students will take a full-day field trip to the sites to sample the bodies of water.

“We really just want to take the students out there to show them New York is surrounded by water,” Stewart said. “But New York has one of the most contaminated waterways in the country.”

Students will analyze water samples from the three sites and use tools to identify the pH and oxygen levels, the amount of metal in the water, plankton and the diversity of sea life. They will also identify threats such as the raw sewage that leaks into Flushing Bay and the pollution from car traffic into Meadow Lake, Stewart said.

Although the program will show students issues facing the waterways, Stewart hopes the students stay positive.

“Most New Yorkers don’t realize how threatened those waters are,” Stewart said. “I hope these students walk away with an interest in science and environment…but also the optimism that they could make a difference.”

 

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Undercover operation busts eight Queens stores for selling alcohol to minors


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

LiquorBottlesHC0401_L_300_C_Y

An undercover investigation has caught eight Queens stores, mostly near high schools and colleges, for allegedly selling alcohol to minors.

The busted businesses, located in Astoria, Long Island City and Flushing, were part of an effort by the State Liquor Authority (SLA) to fight underage drinking in the city, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo, who announced the results of the investigation Monday.

“The law is the law, and we will continue to do whatever it takes to crack down on underage drinking and hold accountable those who serve alcohol to minors,” Cuomo said. “Our message is simple: If you put children at risk by placing alcohol in their hands, you will face the consequences.”

From April 17 to May 1, the SLA used decoys to visit 74 liquor and grocery stores throughout the five boroughs, according to the governor.

The operation was conducted by the SLA’s newly formed part-time investigative unit, which was funded using a $147,000 grant from the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During the sting, uncover minors were allegedly able to buy alcohol at 32 of those businesses, including WooYong Corp., Astoria Vitality & Health Inc. and Green Leaf Deli & Mini Mart in Astoria; Cruz Mexican Products Inc. in Long Island City; and Parsons Convenience Store Inc., Parsons Wine & Liquor Inc., R & H Food Corp., Amy’s Deli, and P & M Convenience Store Inc., in Flushing.

Some of the stores are within walking distance of several high schools, as well as St. John’s University and Queens College.

Businesses can face civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation if charged for selling alcohol to minors as well as fines, starting at $2,500 to $3,000, for a first time offense. Repeat offenders can potentially have their licenses suspended or revoked.

 

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Jamaica Estates woman competes in Ms. New York Senior America Pageant


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Rose Scalia

When Jamaica Estates resident Rose Scalia heard about the 29th annual Ms. New York Senior America Pageant, she immediately applied to be a contestant.

The pageant, for those 60 and older, salutes inspiring women and serves as a stepping stone to the national Ms. Senior America Pageant in the fall.

At age 64, Scalia, who recently retired from her job as the director of human resources for a real estate firm, saw the contest as a challenge and a way to reinvent herself.

“On the cusp of retirement, I just said, ‘I need to change what I’m doing,’” Scalia said. “This is a new chapter in my life, but it’s a new chapter of reinvention.”

Though she didn’t win the contest, Scalia was awarded “2014 Ms. Congeniality” of the pageant on Sunday, April 27, at Hofstra University, for her ability to interact and connect with the other contestants. Jane Rubinstein of Merrick, N.Y., was crowned the 2014 Ms. New York Senior America.

The women in the contest were judged based on an interview, an evening gown presentation which focused on elegance, their philosophy of life and a talent demonstration. Scalia said her past experience helped her to compete.

She holds a master’s degree in mass communications from Queens College, was a theatre performer and was once a staffer for U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman. She has also been an adjunct professor at New York University for about 15 years and is now a full-time teacher at the school.

Even though she didn’t win, what Scalia said she learned from the experience was very significant.

“Make your age work for you, no matter how old you are,” Scalia said. “It tells me that I can do what I’ve done and love to do. I may tackle theatre again.”

 

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