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St. John’s Staten Island campus Professor Kicks off “Difference Makers”, New High School Outreach Program

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The inaugural Difference Makers certificate ceremony on December 5 was attended by 80 people including 29 students from Staten Island’s Susan E. Wagner High School and their parents at the Staten Island campus to celebrate the completion of a detailed academic service-learning project led by Dr. William Reisel, Tobin professor of Management. “The model I used is based on high-level AS-L projects normally reserved for sophomores and seniors from the Tobin College,” he explained. “This is the first time I piloted the concept with high school students.”

Difference Makers is part of the Staten Island leadership’s civic engagement strategy directed by James O’Keefe, Ph.D., Vice Provost, Staten Island campus, and Robert Fanuzzi, Ph.D., Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and Director of Civic Engagement, Office of the Vice Provost.  The provost has made civic engagement a cornerstone of the campus’s growth. Difference Makers, an innovative program funded by a Vincentian Institute for Social Action (VISA) Sinatra grant, links St. John’s mission of service to local high school students. 

The high school students raised $846 donate to Central Family Life Center (CFLC)’s after-school-tutoring program. CFLC is a nonprofit organization with strong community partner ties to St. John’s Staten Island campus. The students also produced a body of research to design a plan for delivering online tutoring services to young children in the CFLC program. Rev. Demetrius Carolina, Ed.D., CFLC’s Executive Director, accepted the donation at the event, which was also attended by Staten Island civic and business leaders. 

During the evening ceremony, Lynn Stravino, St. John’s Academic Service-Learning Director,  and Carline Bennett, St. John’s Ozanam Scholars Program Director, as well as Dr. O’Keefe and Dr. Fanuzzi, stressed the importance of the University’s Vincentian mission as high school students prepare for college and future careers.   “Many of the students wrote to me after the ceremony stating how good they felt by being a part of something that makes a difference. This sort of Staten Island activity is what makes St. John’s—Saint John’s,” said Reisel.