CUNY students are from any background and race, and it is always accepting new students. Photo courtesy

More than 50 students from the City University of New York are winners of prestigious national academic awards including Barry Goldwater Scholarships, the National Institute of Health’s Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program and the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program fellowships. The awardees exemplify the rich diversity of CUNY’s students, and their success reflects the University’s mandate to provide a quality education to students of all backgrounds and socioeconomic circumstances.

“We are proud of the achievements of CUNY’s prestigious award winners, and we wish them all the best in their endeavors as they move forward in their education, their careers and their lives. We are grateful to them for embodying the University’s historic mission,” said Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “At a time when so much of our attention is focused on the medical, economic and emotional hardships that have been wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, it is important that we take stock of the outstanding accomplishments of these CUNY students, and extend the congratulations and recognition that they richly deserve.”

The awards follow previously announced accolades for CUNY students and recent graduates, including 16 Fulbright U.S. Student Program scholarships; three highly competitive Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarships; and the renowned Soros Fellowship for New Americans.

Here are some of the good stories of CUNY’s student success:

Zachary Avrutis, of Queensborough Community College, won a National Science Foundation-Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF-REU) paid summer internship at Vanderbilt University for summer 2021. He became interested in science after working at NYU Langone research hospital out of high school, helping scientists to repair their facilities after Hurricane Sandy. He and a younger sister were raised on Long Island by his father, after his mother was incarcerated when he was 7 years old. Avrutis made the Dean’s List in every semester he studied at Queensborough. He is graduating with a 3.85 G.P.A. and plans to study chemistry at Hunter College in the fall.

Roy Quintuna is among three Baruch College students named as a 2020 Jeannette K. Watson Fellow.  Quintuna, an international business major with a concentration in finance, is a first-generation student whose parents immigrated to the United States from Ecuador. At age 8, Quintuna often accompanied his father — who was a taxi driver — on rides to JFK international airport. These trips inspired Quintuna to want to travel the world at some point in his life. Quintuna’s career goals include finishing the U.S. Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program so he can become a pilot. Through the Watson Fellowship, Quintuna says he is interested in working for IBM Watson or the Institute of International Education, two jobs that can help lay the foundation for a career that would “surpass his parents’ aspirations.”

The child of immigrants, Macaulay Honors College – Hunter student Nibras Ahmed has been named a Goldwater Scholar for the 2020-2021 academic school year. His dream is to earn an MD along with a Ph.D. in biology, so that he can tailor his research to the treatment of patients. As a researcher in Dr. Andrew M. Intlekofer’s lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, he has been studying how metabolic pathways regulate cell behavior and how deregulation of certain metabolic pathways contributes to cancer.

CUNY’s winners of prestigious student awards include:

Barry Goldwater Scholarships – Provides scholarships to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering. Goldwater scholars receive one-and two-year federal grants of up to $7,500 a year for undergraduate study in math, engineering and the sciences.

  • Nibras Ahmed, Macaulay Honors College – Hunter
  • Benjamin Reichman, Macaulay Honors College – City College

National Institute of Health Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program (OxCam) – An accelerated, individualized doctoral training program for outstanding science students committed to biomedical research careers. NIH covers full tuition and fees, provides stipend, medical benefits, and a travel allowance for all four years of the program.

  • Samantha Lish, Macaulay Honors College – Hunter College

National Science Foundation – Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF-GRFP) – Seven CUNY graduate students earned National Science Foundation-Graduate Research Fellowship Program fellowships. The fellowship recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based Master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions. Each Fellowship consists of three years of support during a five-year fellowship period. Currently, NSF provides a stipend of $34,000 to the Fellow and a cost-of education allowance of $12,000 to the graduate degree-granting institution for each Fellow who uses the fellowship support in a fellowship year.

  • Ethan Bendau, CCNY
  • Fatoumata M Ceesay, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
  • Samantha Chiu, Queens College
  • Jennifer Ferd, Hunter College
  • Ariane Marchese, Macaulay Honors College – Hunter
  • Teresa Panurach, Hunter College
  • Gina Sissoko, Hunter College

Gilman International Scholarships – A grant program of up to $5,000 for one academic year of undergraduate study abroad. that enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad, providing them with skills critical to our national security and economic prosperity. 

  • Felicia Basdeo, Lehman College
  • Alessandra Cappa, Baruch College
  • Sophia Chow, Baruch College
  • Fatoumata Diallo, Baruch College
  • Nesrine Hamouda, Baruch College
  • Kimberly Kazdal, Baruch College
  • Kerisha Lashley, Baruch College
  • Sara Meza, Baruch College
  • Mary Naughton, Baruch College
  • Anapatricia Olvera Medina, Lehman College
  • Ifueko Omoregbee, Baruch College
  • Corina Portes, Lehman College
  • Dianis Rivera, Lehman College
  • Carolyn Seminario, Baruch College
  • Makinoon Sami, Macaulay Honors College – Baruch College
  • Marie Traore, Macaulay Honors College – Baruch College
  • Yina Torres, Macaulay Honors College – Baruch College
  • Jasmin Vidal Ventura, Baruch College
  • Jazmine Webb, Baruch College

Jeanette Watson Fellowships – Fellows are provided with annual funding of $6,000, $7,500 and $8,500, in addition to a $2,000 Discovery Fund to develop their personal, professional, and cultural potential.

  • Annabel Gregg, Hunter College
  • Sahiti Kovvuri, Baruch College
  • Luz Maria Cespedes, City College
  • Ana Maria Oliynyk, Macaulay Honors College – City College
  • Julie Margolin, Macaulay Honors College – Baruch College
  • Roy Quintuna, Brooklyn College
  • Yvonne Scorcia, Macaulay Honors College – Queens College
  • Christy Suquitana, Queens College
  • Hannah Tetreault, Macaulay Honors College – John Jay College of Criminal Justice
  • Camille Wilson, Macaulay Honors College – Hunter College
  • Rene Yaroshevsky, Macaulay Honors College – Queens College

Jonas Salk Scholars – The Salk award is named for the renowned City College alumnus who developed the first polio vaccine, and students are selected on the basis of original research papers undertaken with mentors who are prominent scientists. It provides recipients with $8,000 over four years to defray tuition costs. It is awarded annually to eight graduates of CUNY senior colleges who have been accepted by, and plan to attend, U.S. medical or graduate schools.

  • Marianna Babadzhanov, Brooklyn College
  • Miar Elaskandrany, Macaulay Honors College – Brooklyn College
  • Tiffany Merlinsky, Macaulay Honors College – Hunter College
  • Swathi Mettela, CCNY and Macaulay Honor College
  • Jazmin Morales, CCNY
  • Yasmine Oprea, Hunter College
  • Netanel Sapir, Queens College
  • Branden Sosa, Hunter College
  • Jenny Vasquez, Hunter College

Luce Scholars – Launched by the Henry Luce Foundation in 1974 to enhance the understanding of Asia among potential leaders in American society. The program provides stipends, language training, and individualized professional placement in Asia for 15-18 Luce Scholars each year. Scholars receive a monthly stipend during their Luce year. The stipend, augmented when necessary by a cost-of-living allowance and a housing allowance, is sufficient to meet all of a Scholar’s normal expenses in Asia.

  • Jennifer Dikler, Macaulay Honors College – Hunter College
  • Saif Zihiri, Macaulay Honors College – Hunter College

The City University of New York is the nation’s largest urban public university, a transformative engine of social mobility that is a critical component of the lifeblood of New York City. Founded in 1847 as the nation’s first free public institution of higher education, CUNY today has seven community colleges, 11 senior colleges and seven graduate or professional institutions spread across New York City’s five boroughs, serving 500,000 students of all ages and awarding 55,000 degrees each year. CUNY’s mix of quality and affordability propels almost six times as many low-income students into the middle class and beyond as all the Ivy League colleges combined. More than 80 percent of the University’s graduates stay in New York, contributing to all aspects of the city’s economic, civic and cultural life and diversifying the city’s workforce in every sector. CUNY’s graduates and faculty have received many prestigious honors, including 13 Nobel Prizes and 26 MacArthur “Genius” Grants. The University’s historic mission continues to this day: provide a first-rate public education to all students, regardless of means or background.