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CSTEP Celebrates Four December Graduates

December 6, 2021

This December, four members of St. John Fisher College’s New York State Education Department’s Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) will successfully earn their diplomas. During a ceremony on Friday, Dec. 3, seniors Alexis Diaz, Ashley Wightman, Naima Omar, and Alex Carabello were honored and recognized for their academic accomplishments.

Tyana Velazquez-Smith (left) with the four December 2021 CSTEP graduates.

The CSTEP program at Fisher serves historically underrepresented and/or economically disadvantaged students who have a career interest in STEM fields, or majors that can lead to licensure as a mental health counselor, certified public accountant, or actuary, among others.

During the ceremony, the graduates heard a keynote address from Bethzaida Melendez, director of enterprise applications for the Office of Information Technology, and an alumna of Clarkson University’s CSTEP program. Tyana Velazquez-Smith, CSTEP program director, also offered words of congratulations to the four graduates before presenting them with special stoles they can wear when they walk the stage in May.

Diaz, a biology major with a Spanish minor, plans to attend medical school after graduation. She hopes to pursue a career as a cardiologist or neurologist.

“Graduating as a CSTEP Scholar means the world to me because growing up in a middle-class family I never thought I'd be able to not only attend college but be accepted for who I am,” she said. “CSTEP has brought me so much confidence and joy.”

A biology major and chemistry minor, Wightman plans to further her education in a physician assistant program. Her ultimate goal is to become a pediatric physician assistant.

“Graduating as a CSTEP scholar is very rewarding and makes me aware that I am not alone and there are always people rooting for me and there to lean on when I need help,” she said.

Omar was a biology major at Fisher. After graduation, she plans to spend a gap year traveling before enrolling in pharmacy school. Her career goal is to become a pharmacist.

“Being a minority and a female, you go through life facing many obstacles, and believing in yourself can be difficult at times. But now that I have come this far, I believe I can accomplish all of my goals and I will not let anything get in the way. I am so proud to be a CSTEP Scholar,” she said.

Carabello, a biology major and chemistry minor, plans to attend dental school with the goal of becoming an orthodontist. A first-generation college student, he has a passion for seeing more Puerto Ricans and Hispanics represented in the health care system.

“CSTEP is a program that exists to spark interest in other students from underrepresented groups to study the sciences which can then lead to careers in health care,” he said. “This makes me proud to graduate as a CSTEP scholar because I am a part of something that will increase the representation of my people and my culture within the health care field.”