Tag Archives: Queens College

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.

NashwaElSayedMC7

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.

NashwaElSayedMC3

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

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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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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Monday: Sunny to partly cloudy. High around 65. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph. Monday night: Mostly cloudy. Low 47. Winds ESE at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Abdias Nascimento: Artist, Activist, Author

Author, playwright, senator and artist Abdias Nascimento was a critical political figure in Brazil and a founding force for the South American country’s black movement. Queens College will exhibit 40 large-scale, brilliantly colored digital prints of Nascimento’s art based on the theme of the forces of nature and mediators between heaven and earth, humans and the gods. Free. Through June 21. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Wake Monday for 2 4-year olds killed in Far Rockaway fire

Family and friends will gather Monday to say goodbye to two young children killed in a fire in Queens. Read more: ABC New York

NY bill would bar condoms as proof of prostitution

New York City spends more than a million dollars every year to distribute free condoms to combat unintended pregnancies and diseases such as AIDS. Yet police are allowed to confiscate those very condoms as evidence of prostitution. Read more: NBC New York

Lawmaker wants big businesses to offer commuter tax benefit

Big employers in the city may have to enroll in a federal commuter tax benefit program that transit groups say can help thousands of subway and bus riders save hundreds of dollars a year. Read more: am New York

Killer son played dumb at parents’ funeral: prosecutors

A spoiled brat killed his Queens parents because they cut him off financially, prosecutors say — and he even pretended to mourn them at their funeral. Read more: New York Post

Thousands pack St. Peter’s Square for canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II

Generations of church history have passed, but Catholicism has never seen a ceremony like the one that enrolled John XXIII and John Paul II as saints. Read more: CBS New York

Small business advocates push for new Queens development center


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Queens needs another small business development center, but one with flexible hours staffed with “culturally competent” workers, advocates and lawmakers said Tuesday. 

The borough currently has two heavily-used centers, one in Long Island City’s LaGuardia Community College and another in Jamaica’s York College.

Advisers give free consultations and offer low-cost training at the centers, which are partially funded by federal Small Business Administration (SBA) funds.

But minority and immigrant owners struggle too much with language barriers at the existing sites to benefit from the services, small business owners and advocates said. And conflicting work hours are a huge deterrent.

“These centers run regular hours. But when you’re a business, you work 80 hours a week,” said Bill Imada, co-founder of the Asian Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce.

Imada and a panel of small business advocates urged the SBA to fix its outreach to minority owners during a Congressional Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce hearing held at Queens College.

Local shop owners and Congressmember Grace Meng, who held the rare field hearing, said underserved areas like Flushing need help from staff members who speak mostly Chinese, Korean and Spanish.

“The other locations are very inconvenient for us in Flushing,” said Zhejiang Chamber of Commerce President Howard Dai. “It would give small business owners easier access, and information would spread word of mouth.”

Businesses can shut down when its owners, seeking aid, are turned away due to bad translations, said Joyce Moy, the executive director of the Asian and Asian-American Research Institute at CUNY.

“A third center in Queens, particularly with Asian and Hispanic language capacities, is urgently needed,” Moy said. “Without competence in culture, language and technical support, all of this outreach is nothing but false promises.”

The SBA’s acting chief of staff, Michele Chang, said the administration would implement more training and urged business owners to get virtual help using the SBA’s online learning center.

“We understand that being a small business owner is a hard job,” Chang said. “You work all hours of the day. It’s your lifeblood.”

 

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J. Cole returns to Queens following Grammy Awards


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

KATELYN DI SALVO

St. John’s University graduate and former Queens Courier employee Jermaine Lamarr Cole, better known as J. Cole, was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration Sunday night, but unfortunately lost out to mentor Jay Z.

He returns to the borough Monday night, where he will be performing at Queens College for the VH1 Super Bowl Blitz.

J. Cole first received recognition in 2007 with the mix tape “The Come Up,” which was followed by two more mix tapes in 2009 and 2010; “The Warm Up,” and “Friday Night Lights.” In 2009 J. Cole was signed onto the Roc Nation Label, under the guidance of Jay Z.  The Roc Nation rapper’s debut album, “Cole World: The Sideline Story,” sold over 200,000 units in its first week.

In a 2011 interview with Courier sister publication Aspire magazine, J. Cole praised Jay Z.

“His advice is the best advice. Every time he gives advice, I realize why he is where he is. It wasn’t an accident—he really did study the game and he really knows what he’s talking about,” he said.

His most recent album, “Born Sinner,” released in 2013, was nominated for a Grammy for the song Power Trip featuring Miguel, for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Unfortunately J. Cole lost to Jay Z for his collaboration with Justin Timberlake for Holy Grail.

J. Cole is currently touring the world, promoting the “Born Sinner” album.

Before making it big, J.Cole worked at The Queens Courier in 2008 as a part-time sales telemarketer selling classified ads.

“It was the only job I could find that was real flexible with the hours; so I could go to the recording studio and be up real late and then go in to work at, like, 1 p.m,” J. Cole told Aspire.

 

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Queens College plans $1.5M TV studio renovation


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Queens College is planning to give its outdated TV studio a $1.5 million facelift, officials said.

It will be the studio’s first major renovation in more than 50 years, when the campus’s King Hall building was first constructed.

“Everything in there is going to be new. Everything that you see or touch in there is going to be replaced. That’s our goal,” said Dave Gosine, the college’s director of facilities, design, construction and management.

About 260 media study students currently use the space to get hands-on training in directing and producing television shows, and creating plays and productions.

But the oldest equipment dates back to the 1980s, according to Gosine and Youwei Sun, the studio’s chief engineer.

The school has even donated three outdated pieces to the Museum of Moving Image, Sun said.

The project will make the 3,200-square-foot studio a handicapped-accessible, state-of-the-art facility, with updated digital technology and a new lighting system, comparable to “just about any TV studio out there,” Gosine said.

“This is a teaching facility. We’re making it more functional, more useable,” he said, adding that there is currently a lot of unused space. “You could have bigger sets, do bigger scenes.”

And it will all be managed by the hands of students.

“The real purpose of this project is to position our students to walk out of here and be marketable from day one,” Gosine said. “At the end of the day, we want them to get employed and go on to have great careers.”

The estimated $1.5 million project will be paid for by city and state funds. It is currently in its bidding phase and is expected to be completed in fall 2015.

 

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Transit committee finds new support for restarting Rockaway Beach Line


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Jeff Liao

One by one, members of the Queens Public Transit Committee (QPTC), an organization focused on improving transportation in the borough, thanked Community Board 5 (CB5) last week.

The board voted to support the idea of restarting the defunct Rockaway Beach Line last month, in part to help ease traffic congestion issues on major thoroughfares, such as Woodhaven Boulevard.

The news was significant for QPTC, because the 3.5-mile trail could also be transformed into a park.

“Getting more people like CB5 is tremendous because they realize overcrowding is becoming a major problem,” said Phil McManus, chair of the QPTC.

In November of last year, Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder, who has voiced support for a new train, announced that Queens College will be doing a study of both the train and park ideas.

The Friends of the QueensWay (FQW), a group made up of residents that live near the trail who are pushing to transform the former rail line into a public green space, has argued against restarting the line.

“After over five decades of abandonment and multiple studies concluding that rail reactivation is not feasible, the time has come to utilize the over 50 acres of land that make up the QueensWay,” according to a statement from FQW. “As evidence shows, rebuilding this abandoned land will dramatically improve the quality of life, create jobs and safer streets, and highlight the incredible history and cultural diversity of central and southern Queens.”

FQW also said that the new park will have a much needed bike path, which could be used for transportation.

Not everyone has taken a side though. Members of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) would like to see formal proposals, instead of making a decision on speculation.

“We want to make sure a lot of concerns are answered. Can’t say that we are for or against,” said Martin Colberg, president of the WRBA.

McManus said the QPTC isn’t opposed to doing both ideas in some capacity, but a FQW representative said that isn’t a possibility.

“I just don’t see that as being realistic,” said Travis Terry, a member of FQW Steering Committee. “I wouldn’t even like to consider that option until there is some proof.”

 

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Queens Borough President Melinda Katz sworn in by Mayor de Blasio


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Mike DiBartolomeo

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz was officially sworn into office Thursday in a star-studded political gathering.

“It’s an exciting time for me,” said Katz, in front of hundreds of supporters and a lengthy list of dignitaries. “I’m humbled and I’m honored to be the Queens Borough President.”

The 48-year-old Forest Hills mom of two was installed Jan. 9 by Mayor Bill de Blasio, with the help of Congressmember Joe Crowley.

“I have to tell you that Melinda brings so much to this job,” de Blasio said. “She has a real passion for the people she serves. She loves this borough. I can tell you that because I’ve seen her stand up for Queens many times.”

The mayor said the “exemplary” and diverse borough “epitomizes the American Dream.”

“Melinda Katz gets to be the person who brings all those beautiful strengths together and makes this borough work for the people,” de Blasio said.

The newly elected borough president, dedicating the night to her parents, took her oath of office with her hand upon her father’s copy of the Old Testament.

Crowley, citing Biblical figures, said he hoped for Katz “the wisdom of Moses, the leadership of Joshua and the valor and the strength of Esther.”

“She possesses many of those qualities and more,” Crowley said. “We’re going to have the opportunity to see her grow.”

The standing-room-only ceremony at Queens College’s Lefrak Concert Hall also featured U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Public Advocate Letitia James, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and dozens of Queens legislators.

Katz’s partner, Curtis Sliwa, and the couple’s two sons, Carter and Hunter, watched from the audience.

Katz, a former member of the City Council and state Assembly, was elected Nov. 5 to be the 19th borough president of Queens. She succeeds Helen Marshall, who held the seat since 2001.

Her plans for the borough include making the Rockaway ferry permanent and pushing for more primary and urgent care facilities.

“Let’s move it forward,” Katz said. “Let’s make it a place for families to have everything they need right here in the borough of Queens.”

“My only wish is I never let you down,” Katz said.

 

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Puppies ease finals stress at Queens College


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos and video by Melissa Chan

Dog-tired Queens College students, cramming during finals week, put their studying on “paws” to pet some fluffy pooches.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE PHOTOS

Nearly 3,000 scholars visited the “Puppy Room” at the college’s library this week to de-stress with the help of some cute canines.

“The response has been overwhelming. The demand is incredible,” said Matthew Louie, president of the Student Association, which created the pet fest. “Students seem livelier. Some are actually coming down to the puppy room before every final.”

Six pups and two adult dogs from Puppy Paradise, a pet spa and resort in Brooklyn, were on hand from Dec. 16 to 18 to help students unwind.

They helped sophomore Samantha Mustafich momentarily forget about her upcoming three finals, including a dreaded calculus exam.

“I’m just so stressed. I [came here] all three days,” said Mustafich, 16, of Fresh Meadows. “The puppies put me in such a good mood. I feel like I can do it.”

The tail waggers ranged in age from 12 weeks to 13 years old. They included a Boston terrier, dachshund, Yorkshire terrier-poodle, a one-year-old Australian shepherd named Edward Scissorhands and Jimmy, a 13-year-old Golden Retriever.

Rolf Swensen, the college’s acting chief librarian, watched in amazement.

“Have you ever seen so many smiles during finals week?” he asked. “The grades will go up — watch.”

 

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