MEA CDP 2023 Scholarship Winners

We are delighted to announce the 2023 Joel Fishelson Scholarship Award Winners. The NYC MEA Career Development Program selection committee received a record number of applications this year. We extend our best wishes to all the scholarship winners.


Cataline Vincent. I’m a native New Yorker, hailing from the vibrant streets of Manhattan. I embarked on my academic journey at Bernard M Baruch College, where I earned my undergraduate degree. In 2007, I began my professional journey by joining the dedicated team at New York City Health + Hospitals. With a strong commitment to healthcare and a passion for making a positive impact on the community, I’ve spent my career working to improve the well-being of our city’s residents.

Demar Henry. I am passionate about utilizing technology and data analytics to improve the lives of others. For the last nine months, I have worked at the NYC Department of Social Services, applying my education and professional experiences to enhance the experience of the clients we serve. I am committed to continuing my educational journey to further develop my knowledge and skills. My aim is to amplify my ability to positively impact the lives of others.

Hany Youssef. Hany began his work within DCP nearly fourteen years ago as a CPS worker at FSU. He joined the Department of Health where he was responsible for implementing the Mental Health First Aid Program on Rikers Island and the Dept of Corrections. Hany returned to ACS in 2018 as a Child Welfare Trainer within JSA and in October 2020 became a member of the WI’s CARES Coaching Team. Hany is CASAC certified and brings his strong CPS experience, facilitation, and engagement skills to his new role as the First CARES Manager. Hany is pursuing an MSW degree at Stony Brook University to enhance his work within the agency, particularly in working with communities and policies.

Karina Smith is Assistant Commissioner for Community Outreach & Partnership Development at NYC Parks and has been a civil servant for more than 16 years. Prior to joining Parks, Karina worked in the corporate finance and insurance sector for more than 13 years but has always had a passion for community building and empowerment. At Parks, she oversees 6 distinct external affairs divisions which effectively collaborate to engage a broad range of stakeholders in the work of NYC Parks. With everything from temporary public art and permanent historical parks features, intergovernmental and consular relationships, and licensed public/private partnerships, to creative placemaking efforts, citywide community gardening, park volunteer stewardship, Karina and her teams play a critical role in Parks’ strategic engagement practices and guides the agency’s work by continuously identifying ways to improve customer service and championing the value of community and public-private partnership. Through her leadership on innovative initiatives like Let’s Green NYC, NYC Parks Renaming Project, the creation of The Gate of the Exonerated in Central Park and the agency’s Language Access Program, Karina diligently works to advance Parks’ mission and commitment to creating a more sustainable an equitable park system, and promotes the importance of seeing Parks’ green and open spaces as hubs for genuine community development work and spheres from improving public health for all New Yorkers. Karina is a multi-award recipient, sits on several internal and City task forces, is a proud Howard University alum and an even more proud Harlem native and resident. In her free time, she remains committed to community advocacy, youth empowerment and engagement, leadership development, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work. 

Kimberly Campbell-Taylor. Ms. Campbell-Taylor serves as the Director of Nursing Simulation at NYC Health and Hospital, the largest public health care system in the country. As a Certified Healthcare Simulation Educator (CHSE) creating, organizing, directing, coordinating and evaluating nursing and interdisciplinary simulation inclusively is her passion. Simulation is a powerful tool to improve nursing system processes, assess quality of established and new processes, improve teamwork and communication skills and improve clinical procedural skills. Mrs. Campbell-Taylor has a particular fondness on In Situ (unit based) simulation, this is simulation that takes place in the actual patient care setting/environment in an effort to achieve a high level of realism to examine work systems and processes. Utilizing simulation experiences empowers nurses to practice technical and behavioral skills to enhance the safety and quality of health care of over 8,000 nurses. These strides to greatness are led by visionaries such as nursing theorist Jean Watson and by integrating NYC Health and Hospital ICARE values (integrity, compassion, accountability, respect, and excellence) in everything we do.  As a registered nurse with a longstanding commitment to improving the health care of women and children Mrs. Campbell-Taylor has practiced as a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurse and nurse educator at NYC Health and Hospital/Jacobi. This led to role of nurse educator in the Maternal Mortality Reduction Program for NYC Health and Hospital Simulation Center- which she continues to serve as the lead. This city hall initiative was developed in 2018 with the goal of reducing maternal mortality in NYC utilizing interdisciplinary simulation education, training, and debriefing through the lens of equity for underserved birthing communities. Mrs. Campbell-Taylor Obtained a BSN from Adelphi University and MSN in nursing education from Sacred Heart University. She has also received the Nurse Excellence award of 2019.

Rawle Titus. Rawle Titus is an accomplished communications and healthcare administration professional with over 15 years of experience. He is currently pursuing a Master of Health Administration degree at Phoenix University while working as Assistant Director of Communications at Jacobi Medical Center and North Central Bronx. Titus earned a Master of Arts in International Journalism from City University in London in 2003, during which he was nominated for several prestigious student journalism awards. He previously obtained a Post-Graduate Diploma with Honors in Mass Communication from the University of the West Indies in 1994, winning awards for public service announcements and radio production. Over his career, Titus has leveraged his background in journalism, mass communications, and health administration in roles spanning both fields. As Bureau Chief for the Caribbean News Agency, he wrote daily news articles and radio reports. As Director of Information for the Grenada Government, he led communications efforts through speeches, press releases, and conferences. At his current role with Jacobi Medical Center, he develops multimedia campaigns and content to engage the community.

Sean Newman. My name is Sean Newman. I am a United Stated Veteran who served 6 years in the United Marines.  I have been employed at Health and Hospitals since 2015 and I work at Lincoln and Jacobi.  In my free time I love to watch Knicks games and play video games with my 6 year old son. 

Stephanny Comahig. My heartfelt goal is to support the nursing community and the patients they serve by approaching all interactions with empathy and understanding. My hope is to create a meaningful impact in the lives of healthcare professionals by not only leading by example but also nurturing a new generation of nurse leaders who share the same values and compassionate approach to patient care. I am deeply committed to this mission and am confident that with my unwavering dedication, I can contribute to positive change in the healthcare industry.


Aidan Torres. My name is Aidan Torres. I am the recipient of the NYC MEA Career Development Program Scholarship. I was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. Currently, I am a sophomore at SUNY Oneonta, studying Adolescent Education with a concentration in Social Studies.  Some of my activities include being involved in hall government, which I am proudly serve as the vice president in my dorm hall.  Also, I am a member of the skiing and snowboarding club, a student worker for Sodexo, and participated in the intramural volleyball club with my roommates.  I am very grateful for the scholarship that I received and when I complete my undergrad, I intend on continuing my education.

Alyssa Burtsev. My name is Alyssa Burtsev.  I was born and raised in New York City.  I am attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute majoring in physics to attain a bachelor’s degree in physics.  I chose this major because I love learning how the world works and I have always had a passion for the environment. I plan to use the knowledge that I learn to solve the environmental challenges New York City faces every day.

Ashanti Bolling. My name is Ashanti Bolling. I am currently a senior at the University of Connecticut majoring in Political Science with a minor in Africana Studies and Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies. Along with being a full-time student, I am a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the current National PanHellenic Council President, a Resident Assistant, a UConn Women’s Basketball Manager, and a member of multiple clubs on campus. In five years, I hope to be pursuing my dream career of being a Sports Attorney or Criminal Defense Attorney.

Beyonce Owusu. My name is Beyonce Owusu.  I currently attend the University at Buffalo with a chemistry major with a minor in Psychology.  I hope to be attending Pharmacy School in the future.  

Christopher Lopez. My name is Christopher Lopez. I was born and raised in New York on Long Island.  I currently attend Purdue University in the Engineering program while I pursue my degree in Mechanical Engineering. 

Connor Fareth.  My name is Connor Fareth.  I graduated from Archbishop Molloy High School and now I attend St. John’s University as a freshman majoring in computer science.  I aspire to develop and work on artificial intelligence (A.I.) in the future. 

Daniel Olton.  My name is Daniel Olton.  When I attended the Scholars’ Academy, I consistently maintained a 4.0 GPA, was a member of the National Honor Society, was awarded Exceptional Scholastic Performance for my academic performance and sports accomplishments and was a recipient of the National African American Recognition Award from the College Board. I am a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, studying Computer Engineering with a focus on robotics and artificial intelligence. I am a scholar under the coveted A. James Clark program that promotes emerging leaders, a member of the UPenn’s Wharton Apex Fellowship program and co-founder of the non-profit GreenBlocs, Inc., that promotes community environmental awareness and STEM empowerment in the East New York community and a volunteer with the Rockaway Initiative for Sustainability and Equity (RISE) working weekly to promote community health, and addressing climate change and green spaces for public recreation.  Among my many athletic accomplishments, I achieved the rank of brown belt karateka, which I won numerous karate titles competing in the United States and Canada; I am also a certified lifeguard at the YMCA.  In my spare time, I enjoy playing basketball, exercising, and exploring different restaurants.

Derek Lucido.  My name is Derek Lucido. I attend Stony Brook University, majoring in Civil Engineering.  I am dedicated to helping others and improving the world one step at a time through kindness, care, and love. 

Ebu Ojogwu. My name is Ebu Ojogwu.  I am an undergraduate at the University of South Florida (USF) majoring in Cell and Molecular Biology. I am a first-generation Nigerian American who grew up in New Jersey, where I discovered my interest in healthcare and helping underserved communities. At USF, I serve as the Recruitment Chair for the Maternal and Child Health Student Organization, am a student volunteer researcher in the Biobehavioral Health Lab, and tutors refugee K-12 students.  My goal is to combine my passion for community service and medicine by becoming a physician. 

Emilia Cooper. My name is Emilia Cooper.  Before attending college, I volunteered as a primary school teacher at a rural primary school on the Coast of Kenya. Since then, I have been independently fundraising to support the village, where poverty rates are high and employment opportunities are next to none. I am in my third year at Bard College, studying Economics. I am pursuing the Open Society University Network (OSUN) Academic Certificate in Public Policy and Economic Analysis. Also, I am an OSUN Global Fellow, serving as a leader of civic engagement on Bard campus and within the international network. I work as a Research Assistant for the Economic Democracy Initiative, advocating for economic policy changes, such as the Job Guarantee and previously worked with the Federal Policy team of the nonprofit Results for America, implementing structures for evidence and data in federal policymaking. I am passionate about creating change in the economic system through the reform of global financial institutions.

Gabriel Fareth. My name is Gabriel Fareth.  I am a student at SUNY Maritime studying Marine Environmental Science with a minor in Marine Biology. I enjoy running in parks and forests, reading books, and traveling.

George Georgelis. My name is George Georgelis.  I am from Flushing, NY and currently a sophomore studying Applied Quantitative Finance at Villanova University School of Business. My strong passion for Mathematics led me to pursue a career in the “business world” where I strive to use my mathematical and analytical skillset to make crucial decisions for the overall betterment of others. Seeing my father and mother work as public servants for NYC, I was exposed to the concept of using one’s best traits towards helping a larger community from a young age. Continuing these ideas from my parents is something I hope to properly accomplish, and I feel that I am currently on the perfect path to do so. As part of the highly selective Applied Quantitative Finance program, I am taking courses involving finance, higher-level mathematics, statistics, analytics, and computer science. I hope to not only perfect my technical skillset but also my leadership and team-oriented qualities during my time at Villanova through various extracurriculars such as being the Operations Director of the Villanova Leadership Program and being an active member in the Villanova Investment Academy, Mergers & Acquisitions Society, and Society of Actuaries. I look forward to the remainder of my academic career at Villanova and the beginning of my professional career, where I will continue my parents’ service principles.  

Gerald Bellamy. My name is Gerald Bellamy.  I am a New York-based actor, playwright, poet and filmmaker currently pursuing a BFA in Acting at Syracuse University and expect to graduate in 2027. I am a 2023 graduate of Walnut Hill School for the Arts, a boarding school based in Natick, MA. My previous artistic endeavors include participation in the New York Theater Workshops “’Mind The Gap” playwriting program in the summer of 2022, as well as teaching and mentoring in the summer of 2023. In 2021, I served as a youth spokesperson for REALEMN Productions. I strive for creative freedom and aim to share that sentiment with all who wish to do the same.

Ivan Burtsev. My name is Ivan Burtsev.  I was born in Staten Island, NYC. I graduated from New Dorp High School and now attend Florida State University. I am always up for a challenge and embrace the difficulties of life. I am passionate about computer science and fitness. Through these opposite interests that I have, I strive to be the most well-rounded person I can be. I would love to share my values and goals with New York City and make it a better place.

Joanelle Mirville. My name is Joanelle Mirville.  I am from Queens, NY. I am attending Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey to attain a Biological Sciences degree.  I am proud and grateful to be awarded the Joel Fishelson Scholarship Award. I absolutely love kids and dogs.  As an aspiring pediatrician, I plan to provide compassionate care and hope to make a positive impact on the lives of young patients.  This scholarship will be a steppingstone toward achieving my goals and making a positive contribution in medicine.

Julianne Morris. My name is Julianne Morris.  Originally from Brooklyn, NY, I spent the last three years attending the University of California, studying Human Biology and Society in Los Angeles, CA. My major has provided me with a unique understanding of how scientific advancements impact society and ways we can navigate these changes. Beyond my passion for science, I have delved into my interests in business and entrepreneurship. I am actively involved in Bruins for Business Health (BBH) and serve as director of the Young Entrepreneurs Program (YEP!) at UCLA. My career goals involve working in healthcare administration/management or life sciences consulting. I’m driven by my passion to positively contribute to patient communities by applying both my scientific knowledge and entrepreneurial mindset.

Kayla Satt. My name is Kayla Satt, I am a second year student at New York Law School. I went into law because I wanted to make a difference by serving underprivileged communities and furthering access to justice. I am interested in a variety of fields of law such as criminal defense, immigration, and IP law. Coming from a family of immigrants, my goal is to help give back to the communities that helped me get where I am today.

Kendel Owusu. My name is Kendel Owusu. I am an African America student attending Suny Polytechnic Institute as a junior, majoring in biology.  My goal of advancing my career and going to PA school in the future.

Kyrie Mbonu.  My name is Kyrie Mbonu.  I am a Senior at Dickinson College, where I have immersed myself in the study of English and Economics. My academic journey has been enriched by diverse experiences, including a transformative semester at the University of East Anglia, UK. Currently, I am serving as the President of the Dickinson Frisbee team and I previously chaired the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.  My commitment to excellence and a strong work ethic has been honed through these leadership roles. Thank you for this scholarship.

Linh Luu. My name is Linh Luu. In high school, I participated in volunteer programs and contributed to my school community, in which I plan to pursue.  I am currently a freshman at the City College of New York. I entered college with the intention of majoring in Chemistry on the pre-health track, however, now I have opened my educational interests to mathematics and biology. Outside of my career aspirations, I am an avid photographer and videographer, with experience in editing and filmmaking from high school. In addition, I have a strong relationship with my Vietnamese Chinese ancestry, partaking in volunteering at my Vietnamese temple and learning Vietnamese in my free time. With my passion to help others and my interest in STEM, my aspiration is to delve into careers within the medical and pharmaceutical fields, while being open-minded to other career paths.

Lotfi Zigha. My name is Lotfi Zigha.  I am currently attending the University of Montreal pursuing a degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine to achieve my goal of becoming a doctor. My aspiration will allow me to help people on an everyday basis and to assure myself that I am making a positive impact in this world. 

Matthew Castro. My name is Matthew Castro.  I am currently a graduate student at Queens College studying accounting.  I hope to use my education to become a certified public accountant. On top of being a student, I am also a member of the Queens College Track and Field team, where I received All-Conference honors in the Javelin Throw in 2023.

Mohamed Fofanah. My name is Mohamed Fofanah.  I am a first-year student at the University of Alabama College, where I am   pursuing a degree in Aerospace Engineering. I am  a member of the University of Alabama Tuska UAV design team, which is an independent student-led team that builds multirotor and fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles for photogrammetry, racing, and many other applications. Also, I recently joined the Battery Workforce Challenge at the University of Alabama which plans on building a battery pack by 2026 that will be integrated into a Stellantis vehicle. Upon completion of my undergraduate studies, I intend to apply to graduate school to further my knowledge in Aerospace Engineering. Outside of college, I spend my free time discovering new and old technologies, talking to friends, and playing the Kerbal Space Program-a game about designing and building rockets. I am always looking for ways to improve the world, whether it be through my extracurricular or academic endeavors. 

Olukemi Jemilugba. My name is Olukemi Jemilugba.  I am a Senior in NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing. I am currently in the final stages of completing my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. My goal is to enter the field as a pediatric nurse, with the hopes of pursuing my master’s degree to become a Pediatric Nurse practitioner. I am passionate about providing care to marginalized communities and hope to be able to provide support to those who need it most.

Onyi Ojogwu. My name is Onyi Ojogwu. I am an undergraduate student at the University of South Florida majoring in Microbiology. I grew up in Bridgewater, New Jersey where I discovered my passion for science and helping others. On campus, I am the Health Chair for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NACCP). This position allows me to advocate for the well-being of students on campus despite their backgrounds. I am passionate about health advocacy for underserved and marginalized communities and volunteering.  I am grateful that this scholarship will help support my goal of becoming a doctor. 

Steven Chang.  My name is Steven Chang.  I am a first-year student in the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education/CUNY School of Medicine to obtain my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences in an accelerated 3 year [program on the campus of City College of New York. In the fall of 2026, I plan on matriculating to the CUNY School of Medicine as part of the class of 2030 to obtain my Doctor of Medicine degree.

Willow Veytsman. My name is Willow Veytsman.  I am a Computer Science major at the University of Rochester. In addition to my studies, I participate in campus life as the IT Director at the college’s radio club, WRUR, where I’m working to build a new platform for the web radio station. I also play the flute and participate in the orchestra on campus. I strive to contribute to the campus community in the unique ways that I can while excelling academically.