to CSTEP In the News
Students Present at
International Conference in Morocco
Posted on College of Staten Island
CSI Today Website May 29, 2012 By Ken Bach
dressed in traditional Moroccan kaftans
for a special dinner event during their visit.
Photo by Melinda Gooch.
Many college students spend spring break relaxing on one
of Florida’s famous beaches, soaking up the sun while
preparing themselves for the late semester push that can make
or break so many college undergrads.
However, some spend the break presenting at scientific conferences,
as was the case with 38 CSI students who attended the 18th
International Taurine Conference in Marrakech, Morocco.
The group of 38 students, consisting mostly of CSI undergraduates,
included students in the C-STEP program and The Verrazano
School. There were also graduate and PhD students who participated.
Students joined faculty from all over the world, many of them
experts on the amino acid and its effects on different organ
systems, as well as its effects on a wide variety of diseases.
Several of the undergraduates, including Evelyn Okeke, who
was highlighted in a recent CSI Today student profile, presented
their research on Taurine along with several hundred faculty
presenters at the conference. CSI Graduate students were also
among those who presented their work. All of the students
were science majors, earning one or two independent study
credits for the trip. Drs. William L’Amoreaux and Abdeslem
El Idrissi organized the conference, developed the study abroad
courses, and mentored the students. Many of the students had
worked and studied in the professors’ research labs
since they were freshmen.
“We had a huge number of students take part in this
study abroad program,” said Dr. Deborah Vess, Associate
Provost for Undergraduate Studies and Academic Programs, who
assisted the professors in implementing and organizing the
study abroad arrangements. The Morocco program is an example
of CSI’s faculty-led course abroad initiative, which
is now in its second year. The program was so popular that
Dr. Vess even went so far as to say that it was CSI’s
“most successful faculty-led study abroad program thus
While the point of the trip was to attend the conference,
“these students learned so much by just traveling to
Morocco and taking part in the culture,” said Debra
Evans-Greene, C-STEP Project Director. She also called the
program a chance for underrepresented and disadvantaged students
“to experience something wonderful and become a major
part of the College community.”
Evans-Greene also proudly pointed out that within a week
of returning from Morocco, Angelica Grant, one of CSI’s
C-STEP students, won first place in the social sciences at
the annual statewide C-STEP conference at the Sagamore in
New York, presenting in the field of psychology.
The trip to Morocco was not all business, however. This was
spring break, after all. The students spent time on excursions
such as visiting the Djemmaa el-Fna market place in Marrakech’s
Victoria Papazian, one of the students who traveled to Marrakech,
wrote in her “Dolphins Across the Seven Seas”
blog, “It was amazing to see so many people selling
different goods and the children running around together and
playing games.” The students also visited a huge carpet
store and were introduced to the Hassan II Mosque, near Casablanca.
The highlight for many of the students seemed to be the Cheez-Ali
dinner night, which reminded blogger Papazian of “Medieval
Times and Aladdin,” with camel rides and belly dancers.
The program, and the conference, was part of a larger course
experience with funding provided for several of the CSI students.
Although the cost of the trip (flight, room and board, and
conference fees) totaled approximately $2,000 per student,
many students received funding from the approximately $25,000
total in scholarships awarded to students this year to conduct
research and study abroad.
“This is a model we want to continue,” said Vess,
adding that the student’s success at the conference
was “a real tribute to our faculty and staff.”
The opportunities presented to the students who joined the
program were only half of the equation. It is a tribute to
the quality of CSI students that so many of them applied for
the study abroad program and spent their spring break leaving
their comfort zones in order to take advantage of this once-in-a
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