Noteworthy grads

December 3, 2015

Noteworthy graduates: Ayisha Irfan, policy analyst

On Sept. 11, 2001, Ayisha Irfan believed herself to be just another Brooklyn-born 13-year-old. “When I woke up the next morning, everything had changed dramatically,” says Irfan, now 27, and an analyst in charge of education, justice and policing for Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

October 1, 2015

Noteworthy graduates: Hari Kondabolu, comedian

An earnest and smart boy, Hari Kondabolu was blessed and cursed with the insatiable curiosity essential to a future writer and stand-up comic. “We were learning to think critically about the work of da Vinci and Chagall and Picasso and Klee, and we were in the third grade!” says Kondabolu of his experience at PS 69 in Jackson Heights.

July 10, 2015

Noteworthy graduates: Daniel Messina, hospital executive

Daniel J. Messina is an unabashed optimist, a fierce competitor who communicates in the tough-love, coach-talk of a lifelong athlete. Now the president and CEO of Richmond University Medical Center, Messina says his best school memories are from his time at New Dorp HS, where he may have shone more on the baseball field than behind a desk.

May 7, 2015

Noteworthy graduates: Andrea Hecht, public interest lawyer

Andrea Hecht is a senior counsel for the Law Department of New York City. In Family Court, Hecht represents custodial parents who live out of state in matters from establishing paternity to securing child support payments from a parent who lives in New York City. She also conducts presentations at schools and throughout the community on child support and family law issues. 

March 5, 2015

Noteworthy graduates: Gail Salem, real estate agent

Gail Salem, an actress-turned-top-realtor, was a daydreamer as a child. The first teacher to penetrate Salem’s fanciful fortress of make believe was Mrs. Leherer, her 3rd-grade teacher at PS 184 in Whitestone, Queens, in the 1960s.

January 8, 2015

Noteworthy graduates: Jani Decena-White, English professor

Everything Jani Decena-White, who teaches English at Hudson County Community College in New Jersey, needed to become an effective and inspiring educator, she learned in the fourth grade from Miss Harris, her teacher at PS 115 in Washington Heights.

November 6, 2014

Noteworthy graduates: Jelani Cobb, professor and journalist

Jelani Cobb, a graduate of Jamaica HS in the class of 1987, has constructed a life at the nexus of academia and journalism. “Jamaica HS set me in good stead academically, intellectually and socially,” he says.

September 4, 2014

Noteworthy graduates: Menachem Tabanpour, research scientist

One of the summer’s big stories was the environmental crisis in Toledo, Ohio, where algae blooms in Lake Erie made the water supply undrinkable for several days. It’s an issue with which Menachem Tabanpour is intimately familiar: He has been studying phosphorous in wastewater ever since he was a student at James Madison HS in Brooklyn.

June 26, 2014

Noteworthy graduates: George Monasterio, chief architect, Grand Central Terminal

George Monasterio oversees the design, construction and aesthetics of Grand Central and Metro-North’s outlying stations — which makes him responsible for supervising everything from the erection of railroad overpasses to the blueprints of a new store inside the terminal.

May 15, 2014

Noteworthy graduates: Erinn Smart, Olympic fencing champion

A silver medalist in fencing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Erinn Smart credits her Brooklyn public school teachers with helping her succeed in sports and life.

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